Welcome to the USC Friday Notes Column Supplement.
Let’s take a deeper look at Ricky Bell, who I have no problem saying should be one of the top 5 tailbacks in USC history.
Bell made his first start in the season-opener in 1975 vs. Duke. He rushed for a school record 256 yards in 34 carries.
Asked if he knew during the game he set a record, Bell said, “I knew. Even the guy who tackled me knew. He congratulated me when he helped me up.
“It’s funny but (before that game) I had been at USC for two years and nobody noticed. Then for three hours work I got more attention than I did for two years.
“Before the game, for example, I wanted to bring a football home, so I could walk around and get the feel for it. I thought it would help keep me from fumbling. But the equipment manager told me no I couldn’t take one home.
“Then they game me the game ball.”
Bell came to USC as an outside linebacker and then moved to fullback before John McKay made him a tailback.
“Ricky Bell has qualities that not many backs in the history of football have had,” said former USC coach John Robinson. “In my memory, I can only think of two like him, O.J. Simpson and Jimmy Brown. Like them, Ricky has power and the flat-out ability to make them miss.”
Bell led the nation with 1,875 yards rushing in 1975, finished third in the Heisman Trophy results and was an All-American. In 1976, Bell rushed for 347 yards against Washington State and was second in the Heisman balloting behind Tony Dorsett.
He was nicknamed “Bulldog” by his teammates, “because of a crazy growling noise I make when I run. I didn’t even know I was doing it. I was embarrassed when I found out.”
“I’ve had a lot of great tailbacks and I think I know something about them,” McKay said. “Bell doesn’t have any weaknesses. He’s fast, tough, big, strong and has tremendous power and acceleration. He absolutely shatters defensive backs.”
Bell’s brother founded the singing group, “Archie Bell & the Drells” in 1965. In 1968, the single “Tighten Up” sold 1 million copies.