USC Trojans Football Mount Rushmore

As Last Word On Sports continues its Mount Rushmore series, the focus shifts to the USC Trojans. USC is one of the most accomplished football programs in college football history, so narrowing this list down to four people proved to be quite the challenge. That being said, here are the four USC Trojans most deserving of the honor.

USC Trojans Football Mount Rushmore

Marcus Allen (Running Back – 1978-1981)

A USC Trojans football Mount Rushmore would not be complete without Marcus Allen. Allen did the majority of his damage during his final two seasons as a Trojan, becoming college football’s first 2000-yard rusher in 1981. That season, he recorded 2,427 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns. Those impressive numbers earned him a Heisman Trophy, beating out Georgia running back Herschel Walker for the award. Allen was inducted to the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995  and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000. Allen was a member of the 1978 National Championship USC Trojans as well as winning the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and being named First-Team All-American in 1981. Allen has the legendary statistics, the individual awards, and the team success, making his resume the total package to be included on our USC Trojan Mount Rushmore.

Matt Leinart (Quarterback – 2002-2005)

Matt Leinart’s collegiate accomplishments are probably even more astounding than most people remember. While Carson Palmer makes a strong case for the most talented quarterback in USC Trojan football history, Leinart is certainly the most accomplished. He earned First-Team All-American honors three times (2003, 2004, 2005) and he was on the Heisman ballot in all three of those years (winning the award in 2004). Other individual awards he obtained include the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award (2004), AP Player of the Year (2004), and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm (2005). Leinart averaged 3,564 passing yards and 33 passing touchdowns per season during his three years as a starter. To top off his resume, he led the Trojans to two National Championships (2003 and 2004). Like Allen, Leinart is the total package.

John McKay (Head Coach – 1960-1975)

This slot for the greatest coach in USC football history came down to John McKay and Pete Carroll, but ultimately McKay has the edge because of the greater number of championships and the fact that Carroll left the program on shaky terms, to put it nicely. In 16 seasons, McKay posted an impressive record of 127-40-8, winning four National Championships and nine conference titles in the process. He coached two Heisman winners (O.J. Simpson and Mike Garrett) and paved the way for John Robinson to succeed after he left the program. The famous “Tailback U” nickname was generated during his time as head coach because of tremendous tailbacks like Simpson, Garrett, Anthony Davis, Ricky Bell, and Sam Cunningham. McKay won the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award twice (1962 and 1972) and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

Ronnie Lott (Safety – 1977-1980)

Ronnie Lott is one of the greatest safeties in college football history. Lott was a contributor on the 1978 National Championship team and his 14 career interceptions are the fourth most in USC history. He received First-Team All-American honors in 1980 as a captain of the team. A member of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame (inducted in 1995) and the College Football Hall of Fame (inducted in 2002), Lott’s status as one of the toughest football players of all-time is also noteworthy. During his professional career, Lott famously amputated his pinky finger so that he could play at the beginning of the 1986 season. Lott was a hard-hitting, ball-hawking defensive back who deserves this spot because of his talent, leadership abilities, and toughness.

With any storied program like USC, being a great football player is not enough to make the Mount Rushmore. These four people shine because of the way they impacted the program and the way they represented the university. O.J. Simpson and Reggie Bush were disqualified from this list because of their respective off-the-field issues. Pete Carroll came close, but he left the program far worse than John McKay did when he left, so McKay has the edge. There were many other great Trojans who were considered (and would probably make the Mount Rushmores of most other programs), but ultimately Marcus Allen, Matt Leinart, John McKay, and Ronnie Lott are the most deserving.

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