You can't expect me to mention Southern Cal without posting a Song Girl picture, can you?
I know, I know, everyone wants a piece of the Trojans these days, but I want to see them on the schedule because there's actually a good bit of history between the two programs. Unlike several other big name teams, Alabama and Southern Cal have met more during the regular season than in the post season. Of the seven meetings, only two have been in bowl games while three have actually been season openers, and almost all have been memorable for Alabama fans.
The first meeting between the two took place at the start of the 1938 season. Tide coach Frank Thomas took a Crimson Tide team that had lost to Cal in the Rose Bowl to sour a perfect record the season before back to Las Angeles to face the Trojans. Southern Cal was coming off of two straight 4 win seasons, though they had beaten the hated cross town Bruins to springboard them into 1938. Alabama managed to come home victorious that year, defeating the Trojans 19-7, before ending the season 7-1-1 while Southern Cal went on to win the Pacific Coast Conference with a 9-2 record and a victory over Duke in the Rose Bowl.
The next meeting between the two teams wouldn't take place until 1946. Frank Thomas brought his SEC Championship team west with a 9-0 record, while Southern Cal boasted a Pacific Coast best 7-3. According to west coast sports writers, Alabama had little hope of winning against the Trojans, as this was it's ninth appearance in the Rose Bowl and the Trojans were a perfect 8-0 in the historic game. A famous quotation concerning the match is oft repeated, though I'm not sure who deserves the credit:
The Tide went on to win 34-14 in a spectacular display of superiority, holding a 21-0 nothing lead at the half while limiting the Trojans to -24 yards on 21 plays.
Remember the Rose Bowl...
Southern Cal finally comes east to kick off the 1970 season and collect it's first win, shredding the Tide 42-21 at Legion Field. The defeat has been considered a watershed moment for integration in the south. Alabama was still all white, while Southern Cal featured a black Fullback by the name of Sam Cunningham who scored three TDs that afternoon. More importantly, Birmingham native Clarence Davis ran wild on the Tide, racking up yardage and a score against the home state team that he could never play for. Folks in Tuscaloosa, and Coach Bryant himself, have said many times that those two Southern Cal players did more to integrate the University of Alabama in 60 minutes than Martin Luther King did in 20 years. The rest of the 1970 season was similarly unkind to the Crimson Tide, as Alabama finished 6-5-1. However, the '71 season saw Alabama back in form just in time for a trip to the left coast.
After tieing the Oklahoma Sooners at 24 in the Bluebonnet Bowl to end 1970, Coach Bryant decided to make a change in his offensive approach. After spring practice that year, he flew to Austin to learn how to run the Wishbone that the Sooners had used so effectively against Alabama the previous year. In typical Bryant fashion, he installed the new offense just three weeks before the first game of the season, even going so far as having his team "practice" the old pro set for the press while secretly working on the Wishbone during practices closed to both the media and the public. The deception worked, as Alabama upset a Trojan squad 17-10 that had prepared to defend the pro set passing attack they had seen the year before.
1977 saw Alabama back in LA. The Trojans had won four straight to start the season, while Alabama had dropped a 24-31 contest to the 'Huskers in Lincoln during week two. The Tide came home with a win, though, continuing the tradition of winning in California. Southern Cal would go on to post an 8-4 record with a win over Texas A&M in the Bluebonnet Bowl, while Alabama would capture the SEC on it's way to an 11-1 record and a defeat of Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
The next season, Southern Cal returned to Birmingham, and once again left victorious, handing the Tide it's only loss during a National Championship season that culminated in the famed "Goal Line Stand."
The final meeting between the two programs took place on December 28, 1985 in the Aloha Bowl. Alabama capped off a 9-2-1 season with a win over it's old foe, though the Trojans were a fairly lackluster 6-5 coming into the game.
Since then, Southern Cal has gone from lowly Pac10 middler to what many would argue is the premier program in college football. Looking at recent schedules, the Trojans have opened their past 7 seasons with the likes of Penn State, Auburn, Virginia Tech, and Arkansas, hardly an OOC slate to blink at. Since the Trojans have shown a willingness to schedule strong teams from across the country, let's show some of that back and get these guys on the schedule.