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Warner Home Video presents
Trojans: The History of USC Football (2005)

"It was like Camelot."
- John Robinson, on his years as head football coach at USC

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: September 21, 2005

Stars: John McKay, John Robinson, Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Charles White, Marcus Allen, Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush
Director: Roger Springfield

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:15m:26s
Release Date: September 13, 2005
UPC: 012569736245
Genre: sports


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B+BB- C

DVD Review

Full disclosure requires me to tell you that not only am I a Southern Cal alum, but that my cell phone ringer of choice is the USC fight song. This DVD is for me and for those like me who pull hard for SC on Saturdays; Bruins need not apply. As such, it's a highly selective, rah rah look at football at USC, which will have you on your feet and cheering or turning it off in disgust, depending upon whose sideline you sit behind at the Coliseum—you can easily imagine the university's athletic department sending out copies of this to fat cat donors in search of big checks, and it would probably meet with success.

What's here is basically a highlight reel, filled with old film clips of games from previous generations, and lots of new interview footage with players, coaches and sportswriters who recall their moments of glory, even from decades ago, with remarkable clarity and specificity; no doubt many of them have been dining out on these anecdotes at chicken-dinner banquets since their NCAA eligibility ran out. There's a brief prologue, in which current head coach Pete Carroll is basically hailed as a messiah for bringing the Trojans back to glory; I love what the coach has done, but I'm also a Jets fan, and his tenure there makes me leery of anyone calling Carroll a genius. Anyway, the first part of the feature emphasizes the Thundering Herd and the first golden era, the 1930s, when Howard Jones turned USC into a national powerhouse; we jump quickly from there to the years of John McKay (1960-75), when the Tailback U. reputation was cemented. Past Trojans such as Mike Garrett and Lynn Swann are interviewed, along with a few gracious opponents, including Gary Beban of UCLA and Ara Parseghian, of Notre Dame. Necessarily mentioned here is the 1967 season and the Heisman campaign of O.J. Simpson; there's no new interview footage of him, though, nor any mention of, um, his life after football.

McKay jilted the Trojan Nation by forsaking us for the NFL; as his lowly Buccaneers played ignominiously, John Robinson took over at SC, with a worthy if not absolutely spectacular tenure. The film then jumps over the lean quarter century to follow—Larry Smith, anyone?—to Carroll, first with Carson Palmer as a warmup, and then on to reigning Heisman winner Matt Leinart and consecutive national championships. There's the obligatory swipe at the BCS, for jilting USC in 2003, followed by last season's pasting of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. All the trimmings are here: the marching band, the cheerleaders, the faux-Roman architecture of the Coliseum. If you can't make it to a game this season, or can't wait until Saturday for the Trojans to lace ‘em up, this is the next best thing. 

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The archival footage varies in quality; that and the newer stuff has been transferred competently.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Unremarkable here, with a bit of static. Happily, we are spared the marching band's rendition of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 9 cues and remote access
4 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The McKay Mystery (03m:25s) discusses the death threats against the USC coach and his son, a player, in the days leading up to a Rose Bowl; The Heisman Club (05m:55s) is a look at the six who have won the prestigious award while a Trojan (Garrett, Simpson, Charles White, Marcus Allen, Palmer and Leinart). Second Banana (04m:44s) is an appreciation of John Robinson, who won a single national championship, but who had two more teams finish at #2; and Story Tellers (12m:31s) is a collection of SC locker room chatter, with an emphasis on McKay as a motivator, recruiter, and halftime speaker. And it is of course the USC fight song that plays over the main menu.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

This DVD is the very definition of preaching to the choir—why anybody who's not a USC fan would be interested in watching it I do not know, but it's full of plenty of chest thumping and big wins over the Irish and the Bruins and in the Rose Bowl, which should hold you over as the Trojans go for their third straight. Fight on! 

 


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