Spend a day at USC, and you’ll hear the moniker Trojan Family a million times. The saying, which alludes to the tight-knit alumni base of the university, has no better literal meaning at USC than in athletics. The Trojans have had a slew of families play football at USC, from the Katniks to the Obradoviches, to current player Marquis Simmons and his brother Champ, and even the Ting twins.
Today on Fathers Day, we recognize some of the notable father and son combos in Trojan history.
USC has had just one All-American father and son duo in history, with a pair of McDonalds. In 1986, Tim McDonald was a consensus All-American with the Trojans as a safety, and was drafted in the second round of the 1987 NFL Draft. He was a six-time All-Pro defensive back in the NFL and won Super Bowl XXIX with the San Francisco 49ers. Tim’s son, T.J. McDonald lettered at USC from 2009 to 2012, earning All-American honors in 2011 at safety, just like his father, before being drafted by the St. Louis Rams in April. Both players were two-time All-Pac-12 selections, as well.
While the McDonalds may be the most-decorated father & son duo at USC, the Matthews Family is hands down the most decorated family in USC history. Clay Matthews Jr. earned All-American honors in 1977 as a linebacker at Troy, while his brother Bruce Matthews was a consensus All-American in 1982 as an offensive tackle. Clay Matthews III was left off the All-Pac-10 team in 2008 as hybrid defensive end/linebacker, but he was part of USC’s prolific linebacker corps that included Brian Cushing, Rey Maualuga and Kaluka Maiava. All three players in the Matthews family were drafted into the NFL out of USC, and most astoundingly, they were all first round picks. Together, they have combined for 22 Pro Bowl selections and counting. To this day, Clay Matthews Jr. and Clay Matthews III are the only father-son duo in USC history to both be drafted in the first round.
A teammate of Clay Matthews Jr., Marvin Powell was a two-time All-American at USC, in 1975 and 1976 and earned All-Conference honors in all three years as a starter. The big offensive tackle won a pair of Rose Bowls while at USC and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994. Powell went on to be a first round pick in the 1977 NFL Draft, going fourth overall to the New York Jets, before making five Pro Bowls in 11 years as a professional. In the mid-1990’s, Powell’s son, Marvin III, lettered for four seasons at USC, splitting time between playing fullback and safety. Like his father, he too played in the NFL, getting some time with the New Orleans Saints in 1999.
Currently, just one Trojan has a father that lettered at USC, and that’s offensive tackle Kevin Graf. His dad, Allen Graf, letter from 1970 to 1972, playing on the legendary ’72 National Championship team alongside teammates like Sam Cunningham, Charle Young and Richard Wood. The Trojans went 12-0 that year, winning their games by an average margin of victory of 25 points. Allen Graf now works in the movie industry as one of Hollywood’s top stunt coordinators.
And father and son duos don’t stop with just players, as even some coaches have had notable sons. When Pete Carroll was coaching the Trojans in the oughts, he hired his son Brennan Carroll at the young age of 23. Brennan became an integral part of the Trojans’ recruiting staff, ultimately coordinating USC’s recruiting efforts before departing for the Miami Hurricanes in 2010. Carroll is now the wide receivers coach with the Canes, in addition to being their recruiting coordinator. As for Pete? Well, he won two national championships as head coach of the Trojans and took USC to an unprecedented seven consecutive BCS bowls.
Lastly, the Trojans’ most iconic pair of kin are the father and son combination of legendary coach John McKay, and his son J.K. McKay. John is the all-time winningest coach in USC history, and won plenty of games with J.K. on the field at receiver, including the 1975 Rose Bowl, which was won with a 38-yard touchdwon pass from Pat Haden to J.K. McKay. Ironically, or possibility naturally, Haden and McKay are now athletic directors at USC after growing up as best friends. As for their office? Well, it’s named after the man that recruited them: J.K’s father, John McKay.
Coach McKay was known for being one of the best quotes that college football has seen, with arguably his most iconic quip coming at the mention of J.K.. When McKay was asked about coaching his son and recruiting him, he replied both simply and honestly.
“I had a rather distinct advantage. I slept with his mother,” he said.
And with that, we at Reign of Troy, wish all you fathers out there a very Happy Fathers Day.