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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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O.J. Simpson wins Heisman, November 27, 1968



1968_1127_simpson02 O.J. Simpson won the Heisman Trophy as the best college football player of 1968 after a remarkable two-year USC career.

Dwight Chapin's story in The Times portrayed the lack of suspense--even Simpson said he was "pretty confident." Who could blame him? After all, he set NCAA records in 1968 for yards gained and carries and scored 21 touchdowns.

Looking back on any Simpson story has its weird elements. Chapin's story recounted a friendly exchange between Simpson and LAPD Chief Tom Reddin who said at one point, "I'm so happy for you. I'm a hero worshiper and you're the greatest."

And there's a quote from Simpson about his former surroundings: "I go home to my old area and some of my friends actually hide from me. I guess maybe it's that I'm different now. They're doing the same things I used to do but they're still doing them. I'm not."

Where Simpson would play next year was a hot topic in The Times with lots of twists and turns. Here are a few examples:

USC-UCLA, 1967
--Oct.  26: The Eagles and Steelers will play in the Simpson Bowl, with the winner being the loser. Both teams were winless, so the theory was the losing team would have the best chance to draft O.J.

--Nov. 13: The Rams had three first-round draft picks in the upcoming college draft, but owner Dan Reeves told Bob Oates that the team won't trade them all for the rights to Simpson. The Rams eventually drafted running back Larry Smith, wide receiver Jim Seymour and tight end Bob Klein.

--Nov. 14: Simpson was offered a $1 million contract from a San Antonio man who wanted to start a new team or his own league, Chapin reported. A copy of the offer was wired to The Times, Chapin wrote. The paper received it before Simpson did.

--Nov. 27: The Eagles will draft Simpson and there's a 50-50 chance that Vince Lomardi "will be with him too," Bob Oates reported.

--Nov. 30: The Buffalo Bills might not draft Simpson if they get the chance, Mal Florence wrote.

--Keith Thursby

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Comments (1)

That video of the 1967 UCLA-USC is a bit one-sided.

Notice the UCLA Bruins aren't shown to be scoring once on the entire video?

I seem to recall that the Bruins did score three touchdowns in that game with the point after being blocked after one of the TD's. That missed point after proved to be the difference in the game.

O.J. Simpson is the obvious star of the show in this video with the Trojan defense getting costar status. If not slo-mo replays of SImpson running with the ball, it's the USC defense sacking the Bruin quarterback, Gary Beban.

Watching this video, if not for the brief shots of the scoreboard, one gets the impression that the game was a rout with the USC defence shutting down Bruin offense the entire afternoon and the Trojan offense scoring touchdown after touchdown.

The short Bruin quarterback in the video, Gary Beban, did acquit himself well enough in this game to win the Heisman Trophy that year.

Amazing how small and skinny the football players of that era were. "Gutty little Bruins" for sure!

Loved the stunt play the Bruins pulled in that game athought it didn't get them much yardage. Tommy Prothro, the UCLA coach at the time, was infamous for doing that sort of thing.


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