64 days to USC football: Damon Bame was the centerpiece of the 1962 title

RoT Countdown / Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images (Reign of Troy) /

Linebacker Damon Bame was a revelation for USC football in the 1960s, which was an excellent decade for the No. 64.

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There are only 64 more days to wait until USC football takes the field again in 2019.

The Trojans are scheduled to face off with Fresno State on August 31.

CHECK OUT: USC “what ifs” that could have been titles

Since that still feels a ways away, why not pass the time by remembering some Trojan greats:

Who wore it best?

The 1960s were good to the No. 64 and USC.

The 1960 and 1961 seasons weren’t exactly great. John McKay opened his tenure as USC’s head coach with two four-win seasons. Guard Britt Williams was one of the few bright spots from those campaigns.

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The 6-foot-1, 212-pounder was voted captain ahead of the 1961 season, becoming the first solo captain in over a decade. Despite undergoing surgery to fix a broken nose early in the season, he was selected to the AP All-Pacific-Coast team as well as the All-AAWU squad.

The man who took over Williams’ shirt in 1962 was junior college transfer Damon Bame.

Bame almost avoided enrolling at USC, for fear that he would be unable to make the Trojan squad.

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It’s a good thing for USC that he trusted himself to compete. He had two interceptions in his debut.

By the end of the 1962 season, an 11-0 national-title triumph for the Trojans, the Long Beach Independent had this to say about the defender:

“USC linebacker Damon Bame, a mashed-nosed, giant-jawed, mild-mannered roughness, has been declared an all-American and it might be the upset of the year in college football.”

It was an upset because All-American teams are notoriously dependent on publicity, and Bame had none. He wasn’t a household name and USC hadn’t put much effort in campaigning for him. Hal Bedsole and others had received most of the attention. Bame was simply a great football player and the Associated Press recognized it, even if they had to list him at guard because linebacker wasn’t a position included on All-American ballots in the day.

MORE: The 15 best Trojans who weren’t All-Americans

“If we are a good team, it is because we have a good defense, and if we have a good defense it is because of Damon Bame,” said John McKay in the Independent.

In 1963, Bame was the lone repeat selection for the AP All-American team.

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Upon Bame’s graduation, left guard Steve Barry took on the jersey and proved a reliable starter in 1965, that is until he dropped a sword on his foot and cut his anterior tibial tendon the day before USC began preparations for their Rose Bowl date with Purdue.

Fortunately, things worked out a bit better for Fred Khasigian, who was a two-time all-conference selection.

Khasigian, who arrived at USC as a fullback but converted to the offensive line after his freshman year, filled in at guard in the 1968 Rose Bowl as the Trojans clinched a national title.

The next two years as a starter, during which USC went 19-1-2, he cleared the way for O.J. Simpson and Clarence Davis.

All the while, he managed to maintain Academic All-American and National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete levels in the classroom as a pre-med major. John McKay called him “our Rhodes scholar candidate.”

Who wears it now?

The No. 64 went 20 years without a player of distinction until exceptional guard Roy Foster wore it with All-American acclaim in 1980 and 1981.

It’s been almost 40 mostly-barren years since then.

The jersey currently belongs to walk-on offensive lineman AJ Mageo, a redshirt freshman.

Stats to know: 64

  • Defensive tackle John Grant was USC’s 64th All-American of all-time in 1972.
  • Defensive tackle Gary Jeter had 64 tackles in 1974. Defensive end Leonard Williams had 64, including 13.5 tackles for loss, as a freshman in 2012.
  • O.J. Simpson’s iconic cutback run touchdown run against UCLA in 1967 was 64 yards.
  • Wide receiver Ronald Jones’ 64-catch, 692-yard season in 2010 is the 23rd-best in USC history.
  • The record for fewest points ever scored by a USC team in a season belongs to the 1941 squad, which managed 64 in nine games.

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