“Cardinal and Gold: The Oral History of USC Football” by Steve Delsohn
Football (American), college, history, USC
August 16, 2016
4 of 5 stars (very good)
As one of college football’s more glamorous programs, the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans have had a storied history, especially in the last 40 years. That era of USC football is captured through the stories of many men who coached and played for the Trojans in this book by journalist Steve Delsohn.
Through many interviews and thorough research, Delsohn captures the spirt of the USC program in which the Trojans rose to prominence under coach John McKay in the 1970’s and was able to maintain that standard of excellence for the most part over the next 40 years. Of course there were some down seasons and a few coaches such as Lane Kiffin and Larry Smith were fired.
The interviews are interspersed in each chapter that covers one or two seasons of football that are not just game recaps but also recollections of the stories behind the games as well. No matter which season or decade is being discussed, the stories from the players make the book very entertaining and worth the time to read. It is also interesting to see some of the interviewees dispute some of the stories that were reported by the press and widely believed to be the truth.
One example of a good story from a player being interviewed came in the discussion about quarterback Matt Leinert returning to USC for the 2005 season. It was widely thought that Leinert would declare for the NFL draft, but he decided to play his senior year at USC. The common belief was that Leinert just wanted to show his loyalty to USC but teammate Petros Papadakis disputed that, stating that Leinert was coming off two surgeries. I felt the animation in Papadakis’ account just reading that interview – one can only imagine what it was like to actually sit in that room.
This is just one example of the many stories and interviews that make the book a fun read for USC fans. However, since the program has always been one that has a large national following and because of this, Delsohn’s book is one that many college football fans will enjoy, even if they don’t follow the USC program closely.
I wish to thank Crown Publishing for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Format Read: