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Old 01-18-2014, 02:38 AM   #1
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Default What It Was Like Back Then

Tons of memories. I honestly feel sorry for those who were not yet around to enjoy them or were still too young to understand it all.

Although I was born in Columbia and both sides of my family were from the Midlands, I grew up in Charleston. We moved back to Columbia. It was right before the school year began, thus still before the basketball season began. I was in my early teens and not liking the move and losing all my friends. Being a juvenile was bad enough, but relocating made me a really big jerk.

Dad came in from work and said, "I got two tickets to the first game at the Carolina Coliseum tonight." Thinking I would be clever and somehow punish him for moving the family, I declined the offer. He went to the game with an Uncle and came back glowing about the place and what an exciting game it was.

John Roche hit a last second shot from the top of the key that first bounced off the front of the rim, hit high off the backboard, and still fell in to beat Auburn 51-49. After that, the light came on about how stupid I had been and me and Dad went to every home game until I left for college a few years later. Luckily, in his job position with the company he worked for, they always got several tickets to basketball and football. We also went to all the football games during that time.

You pretty much had to know someone to get tickets, it seemed back then for they were almost like a social status and you felt privileged to go. Students camped out overnight to get tickets and every game was sold out and every seat was filled.

It is difficult to explain the atmosphere at the CC. It really almost felt like there was a continual electric current running through the crowd. The anticipation and excitement was something you could nearly touch. Most teams we played were beaten before the opening tip. Our fans were generally well behaved (by that you did not hear common cursing or anything vulgar as is often the case today), but they were into the game from the get go. Our fans became very intelligent and basketball smart. Almost every team we played was intimidated by the grandeur of the place, the big league introductions, and how loud and vocal our fans were. The Pep Band was superb, too.

When we got on a roll, and it was nothing to put a game away in a blink of the eye, the crowd just roared when we played well. The only thing that comes to mind in comparison is that I imagine it was similar to what the crowds at another Coliseum, the original in Rome, when they saw Gladiators fight. It hit like the impact and force of a wave. At times I think it was louder than the roar of a jet engine. The steps and rows of seats going all the way up to the top were quite steep, but allowed for the compression of the crowd in relationship to the arena floor, making the noise pour in easier and there was not a bad seat in the building.

All home games were broadcast statewide by WIS TV (only 3 channels back then) and most away games were broadcast by Jefferson Pilot as we were must see TV. We were on national TV at least a couple of times each year. For the road games that were not on the air, I would always tune into Bob Fulton and have a legal pad marked down with all our players names. I would keep tally of the points, rebounds and fouls they had and just the team fouls for the other team.

Our kids were brilliantly smart kids of the game and knew how to play ball, both as a team and individually. Without the 3 point line, no shot clock, and stalling opponents, they often were near or over 100 points. Sure, they maybe are not athletic as kids today and the game has changed, but if you put them in their prime, I still think they could beat any team in the nation, possibly handily. Almost every kid could shoot the eyes out of the basketball and had great form. To this day, the best jump shooter I have ever seen was Brian Winters. Each time it looked like a work of art. He carried that into a fine NBA career, too. They were all tough as nails, too, and would back down to no one, no matter where they were.

If we had no John Roche, Tom Owens would have been the best player to ever wear a USC uniform, no doubt in my mind. He led the ACC in rebounding all three years he played, played solid defense, could alter or block shots, and could score inside or from outside. If he needed to, he could have easily averaged well over 20 points a game. He will never come back, so we need to go ahead and do what we should have done the day we retired the #11 of Roche, retire #24.

Roche won the ACC Player of the Year Twice and should have won it the third time, but the hatred of him and USC was so bad by the ACC, several voters refused to vote for him at all, allowing someone else to win. Not only was he a great shooter from deep (again, no 3 point line), he had a great running one handed bank shot off the boards that drove defenders mad. He and Owens played together so long back in NYC, they knew each other's moves with their eyes closed and many times ran perfect pick and rolls for easy baskets. The defender tried to guard Roche closely, he would make a deft pass to Owens for a lay up. if the defender backed off too far, Roche would blow past him for his own easy shot.

Better than all that was watching him dribble the ball late in the game when we had a lead. He looked like Curly Neal of the Globetrotters. Often two or three players would chase him, at the same time, trying to foul him. Even then it was tough. It was not unusual if he fouled out two to three players in each game. Of course he was one of the best FT shooters in the nation, so he added to the lead when they did foul.

These guys and McGuire were our first heroes, for we never had success in any sport and we started kicking the snobs in the rest of the ACC and they hated us for it. Believe it or not, basketball became more popular in the state than football back then. Many Clempson fans (who still had bad teams) actually pulled for USC in basketball because they were also treated like dirt, so this was a vicarious thrill. We were united in our hate of the ACC.

Everyone heard about basketball goals springing up all over the state and kids mimicking Roche as he crossed himself before every free throw. Even I tried to copy all his shots and how to dribble with either hand, behind the back, between the legs and so forth.

As Much as we love SOS and many of the kids who played for him, like Lattimore, Clowney, Shaw, Ellison, etc., this pales to match how we felt about Frank and his boys. Not even close. This was almost like Beatlemania. Not quite, but somewhere between those two extremes.

Best ride we have ever had and those who experienced it were blessed. Thanks to coach and all his boys.
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Last edited by brat; 01-18-2014 at 04:30 AM.
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Old 01-18-2014, 02:54 AM   #2
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

You just took me back to being a kid watching the Gamecocks kick ass ! Great read and true.
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Old 01-18-2014, 03:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

I can't remember the height of the McGuire era as I didn't move to Columbia until '72 as a 3rd grader and only went to one game during his era. I certainly remember people talking about how hard it was to get tickets, etc. When we had a couple of excellent seasons in the 90's it was obvious that this city would support a good basketball team with a lot of passion. I hope everyone is patient for another year or two until Frank 2 turns it around.
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Old 01-18-2014, 08:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Those basketball teams of the late sixties were the reason I became a Gamecock fan. Just to hear the names Roche, Owens, Joyce brings back great memories.
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Quote:
Originally Posted by scfanz View Post
Those basketball teams of the late sixties were the reason I became a Gamecock fan. Just to hear the names Roche, Owens, Joyce brings back great memories.
+ Bobby Cremins, John Ribock, Tom Riker etc....

Had been a Gamecock fan for a few years prior to Frank McGuire putting
that team together, but I was there from the start and loved every minute
of it. Still convinced had we been independent at the time, or in another
conference beside the ACC, we would have had a National title trophy
with that group. The ACC schedule was tough enough, but having to fight
The Tobacco Road four AND the ACC Commissioner that favored them was
too much of hill to get over. Also am 100% convinced that had there been
a shot clock and three point line at the time, we would not only have
won a national title, but would have cruised into it.

Brat:

LOVED THE POST BRUH ! ..... brings back a lot of really good memories
and even though I don't get excited by the basketball teams we've put
out lately, I'm still following the program and hoping that we can soon
put together a team that will win the SEC and get us back to the NCAA
Dance. ....I'll be honest with you. In spite of the losses we are putting up
right now, I see some REAL talent developing with the team we have on
the court right now. I think this is the foundation of a team that will give
us a shot at winning the SEC, and a run in the NCAA tourney. Patience
by brothers and sisters......Patience
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:10 AM   #6
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spurticus View Post
+ Bobby Cremins, John Ribock, Tom Riker etc....

Had been a Gamecock fan for a few years prior to Frank McGuire putting
that team together, but I was there from the start and loved every minute
of it. Still convinced had we been independent at the time, or in another
conference beside the ACC, we would have had a National title trophy
with that group. The ACC schedule was tough enough, but having to fight
The Tobacco Road four AND the ACC Commissioner that favored them was
too much of hill to get over. Also am 100% convinced that had there been
a shot clock and three point line at the time, we would not only have
won a national title, but would have cruised into it.

Brat:

LOVED THE POST BRUH ! ..... brings back a lot of really good memories
and even though I don't get excited by the basketball teams we've put
out lately, I'm still following the program and hoping that we can soon
put together a team that will win the SEC and get us back to the NCAA
Dance. ....I'll be honest with you. In spite of the losses we are putting up
right now, I see some REAL talent developing with the team we have on
the court right now. I think this is the foundation of a team that will give
us a shot at winning the SEC, and a run in the NCAA tourney. Patience
by brothers and sisters......Patience
Skip Harlicker(sp) and Jack Thompson for me

Last edited by Rooster'srule; 01-19-2014 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:28 AM   #7
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

I was in elem then HS during that era.

There were lots and lots of people that got into Gamecock basketball during that era and the whole state of SC basically became a basketball state.

Some of the tourney games were during the day, so people had their radios on and would keep others abreast of the progress if possible.

In those days, the radio was huge...it was your lifeline to something happening in your imagination and the announcers were artists who tried to paint a mental picture for you if they could.
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:31 AM   #8
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

I moved to Columbia in 1970, and started 4th grade at Rosewood Elementary. I too was blessed to witness that great era, and it was basketball heaven for a kid. We used to argue over who got to be John Roche when we played in the backyards all over Shandon, and at Sims Park.
My dad took me to meet the bus at the Roost when the ACC champs returned home, and it was electric when the team walked off the bus. Those guys were real life heroes to all of us.
Great post!
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:46 AM   #9
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Did we go to the Final Four or anything? Pardon my ignorance but I'm younger
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:56 AM   #10
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

When I first attended games there 30 years ago, I remember the metro conference, sitting in. the letter sections, and having these bifold programs I could keep score on and get players to sign them. Ask...those were the days
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:29 AM   #11
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

I feel right at home in this thread. I guess you just had to be there to understand why us guys and gals treasure Frank and boys the way we do..................You just had to be there

P.S. Joyce was my favorite
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:40 AM   #12
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flameout12 View Post
I was in elem then HS during that era.

There were lots and lots of people that got into Gamecock basketball during that era and the whole state of SC basically became a basketball state.

Some of the tourney games were during the day, so people had their radios on and would keep others abreast of the progress if possible.

In those days, the radio was huge...it was your lifeline to something happening in your imagination and the announcers were artists who tried to paint a mental picture for you if they could.
^
Sooo Right !
Bob Fulton doing Basketball and Football (some baseball) PxP in those
days. Was how I got my "Fix" of Gamecock sports from 1965 to 1970(is).
When I get my mental flashbacks of my early great memories of Gamecock Sports
Every one of them include the voice of Bob Fulton making the call of the
plays.
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:45 AM   #13
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coulwoodwarlord View Post
I feel right at home in this thread. I guess you just had to be there to understand why us guys and gals treasure Frank and boys the way we do..................You just had to be there

P.S. Joyce was my favorite
Kevin was a great player as well, but I still to this day, consider John
Roche to be one of the the group of 5-6 best Gamecock sports figures in my
lifetime. He, Jeff Grantz, Sterling Sharpe .... Couple of others (including
Connor Shaw). What a memory highlight reel !
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:49 AM   #14
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectricCock View Post
Did we go to the Final Four or anything? Pardon my ignorance but I'm younger
Unfortunately not. There was a different selection process to the NCAA
and NIT tourneys in those days, Fewer teams and a lot of rules regarding
teams that got invited, and hosted tournaments. ... We got in a couple of times, but
unfortunately we played some of our worst ball of the season when we
got there. Great teams, but just didn't handle the post season well at the time
we did go.
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Old 01-18-2014, 10:54 AM   #15
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spurticus View Post
Kevin was a great player as well, but I still to this day, consider John
Roche to be one of the the group of 5-6 best Gamecock sports figures in my
lifetime. He, Jeff Grantz, Sterling Sharpe .... Couple of others (including
Connor Shaw). What a memory highlight reel !
Roche was and is the king, of this there can be no doubt !

Roche and Owens .....greatest two man basketball I've ever seen.
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Old 01-18-2014, 11:14 AM   #16
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

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Tons of memories. I honestly feel sorry for those who were not yet around to enjoy them or were still too young to understand it all.

Although I was born in Columbia and both sides of my family were from the Midlands, I grew up in Charleston. We moved back to Columbia. It was right before the school year began, thus still before the basketball season began. I was in my early teens and not liking the move and losing all my friends. Being a juvenile was bad enough, but relocating made me a really big jerk.

Dad came in from work and said, "I got two tickets to the first game at the Carolina Coliseum tonight." Thinking I would be clever and somehow punish him for moving the family, I declined the offer. He went to the game with an Uncle and came back glowing about the place and what an exciting game it was.

John Roche hit a last second shot from the top of the key that first bounced off the front of the rim, hit high off the backboard, and still fell in to beat Auburn 51-49. After that, the light came on about how stupid I had been and me and Dad went to every home game until I left for college a few years later. Luckily, in his job position with the company he worked for, they always got several tickets to basketball and football. We also went to all the football games during that time.

You pretty much had to know someone to get tickets, it seemed back then for they were almost like a social status and you felt privileged to go. Students camped out overnight to get tickets and every game was sold out and every seat was filled.

It is difficult to explain the atmosphere at the CC. It really almost felt like there was a continual electric current running through the crowd. The anticipation and excitement was something you could nearly touch. Most teams we played were beaten before the opening tip. Our fans were generally well behaved (by that you did not hear common cursing or anything vulgar as is often the case today), but they were into the game from the get go. Our fans became very intelligent and basketball smart. Almost every team we played was intimidated by the grandeur of the place, the big league introductions, and how loud and vocal our fans were. The Pep Band was superb, too.

When we got on a roll, and it was nothing to put a game away in a blink of the eye, the crowd just roared when we played well. The only thing that comes to mind in comparison is that I imagine it was similar to what the crowds at another Coliseum, the original in Rome, when they saw Gladiators fight. It hit like the impact and force of a wave. At times I think it was louder than the roar of a jet engine. The steps and rows of seats going all the way up to the top were quite steep, but allowed for the compression of the crowd in relationship to the arena floor, making the noise pour in easier and there was not a bad seat in the building.

All home games were broadcast statewide by WIS TV (only 3 channels back then) and most away games were broadcast by Jefferson Pilot as we were must see TV. We were on national TV at least a couple of times each year. For the road games that were not on the air, I would always tune into Bob Fulton and have a legal pad marked down with all our players names. I would keep tally of the points, rebounds and fouls they had and just the team fouls for the other team.

Our kids were brilliantly smart kids of the game and knew how to play ball, both as a team and individually. Without the 3 point line, no shot clock, and stalling opponents, they often were near or over 100 points. Sure, they maybe are not athletic as kids today and the game has changed, but if you put them in their prime, I still think they could beat any team in the nation, possibly handily. Almost every kid could shoot the eyes out of the basketball and had great form. To this day, the best jump shooter I have ever seen was Brian Winters. Each time it looked like a work of art. He carried that into a fine NBA career, too. They were all tough as nails, too, and would back down to no one, no matter where they were.

If we had no John Roche, Tom Owens would have been the best player to ever wear a USC uniform, no doubt in my mind. He led the ACC in rebounding all three years he played, played solid defense, could alter or block shots, and could score inside or from outside. If he needed to, he could have easily averaged well over 20 points a game. He will never come back, so we need to go ahead and do what we should have done the day we retired the #11 of Roche, retire #24.

Roche won the ACC Player of the Year Twice and should have won it the third time, but the hatred of him and USC was so bad by the ACC, several voters refused to vote for him at all, allowing someone else to win. Not only was he a great shooter from deep (again, no 3 point line), he had a great running one handed bank shot off the boards that drove defenders mad. He and Owens played together so long back in NYC, they knew each other's moves with their eyes closed and many times ran perfect pick and rolls for easy baskets. The defender tried to guard Roche closely, he would make a deft pass to Owens for a lay up. if the defender backed off too far, Roche would blow past him for his own easy shot.

Better than all that was watching him dribble the ball late in the game when we had a lead. He looked like Curly Neal of the Globetrotters. Often two or three players would chase him, at the same time, trying to foul him. Even then it was tough. It was not unusual if he fouled out two to three players in each game. Of course he was one of the best FT shooters in the nation, so he added to the lead when they did foul.

These guys and McGuire were our first heroes, for we never had success in any sport and we started kicking the snobs in the rest of the ACC and they hated us for it. Believe it or not, basketball became more popular in the state than football back then. Many Clempson fans (who still had bad teams) actually pulled for USC in basketball because they were also treated like dirt, so this was a vicarious thrill. We were united in our hate of the ACC.

Everyone heard about basketball goals springing up all over the state and kids mimicking Roche as he crossed himself before every free throw. Even I tried to copy all his shots and how to dribble with either hand, behind the back, between the legs and so forth.

As Much as we love SOS and many of the kids who played for him, like Lattimore, Clowney, Shaw, Ellison, etc., this pales to match how we felt about Frank and his boys. Not even close. This was almost like Beatlemania. Not quite, but somewhere between those two extremes.

Best ride we have ever had and those who experienced it were blessed. Thanks to coach and all his boys.
Thanks for the story. I didn't move to South Carolina until I was 17, back in 1975. I just missed it. But I had a lot of friends that said the same as you. I really enjoy some of the articles that have been written about our rebellion and destruction of the ACC blue bloods. We were destroying them at their places, and their fans were throwing trash and hurling insults, mainly at our players who were not of the acceptable ACC mold. It was the AC blue bloods that had to resort to four corners defense to have a chance against our teams back then. The ACC hated us back then even more than they hate us now.
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Old 01-18-2014, 11:25 AM   #17
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

I have stories I learned from my Dad. He was sports editor for The Columbia Record back then and covered a ton of the ACC basketball games.

You think Clemson and South Carolina hate each other...you should have seen the hate in basketball especially between North Carolina and South Carolina...my Dad would go up to Chapel Hill and cover games between us and the fans were absolutely terrible. They would throw things at the players and coaches. They would yell terrible stuff. My mom would go with my Dad and sit with all the press' wives and coaches wives. They were treated terrible.

This started my dislike of North Carolina after hearing all these stories. BUT it just wasn't North Carolina, all the North Carolina schools in the ACC were bad. No one liked each other at all.

I was only a baby when all this went on...I so wish I had been older and able to see and be a part of it.
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:17 PM   #18
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

My dad was there when it all happened and has always told me stories about these guys. About how skilled these players were, how we were UNC before UNC, etc. I really hope we see another winner like that during my lifetime.

I imagine it'll be pretty similar way down the road when I'll be telling my kids about Scott Wingo, Michael Roth, and Matt Price in baseball and the championships we won as well as in football with all the 11 win seasons and elite players. Hopefully we're still competing at a high level in these sports so they don't have to be the "remember what we had" stories but moreso "remember when it started".
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:20 PM   #19
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

It is hard not to talk about those days without eventually going into the sides issues.

This is an often repeated topic, but there are always new fans, younger fans that come along who are unaware of this portion of our history, at least in detail.

I look at this is as a Gamecock "Declaration of Independence".
=======================================
There were many reasons why we left the ACC.

Several of these points, but not all, were featured in two books written by Bob Fulton, in several Halls of Fame for broadcasting, and did play by play for the Gamecocks for about 44 years and prior to that did a couple of decades of mostly baseball on the radio, including some MLB games with none other than the legend, Dizzy Dean. I never heard anyone say one word bad about the man. He was such a pro, he never became a "homer" on the radio and took pride in calling the games straight down the middle. He was well known by everyone in the business, including the top people in the ACC, for decades. It was well known he wrote these books, for they sold well, and if what he put down was false, they had every reason and opportunity to make him retract it. They never did.

A double standard toward USC, different than any other school, was a key element of friction. If a student-athlete's eligibility came into question, he had to stop playing until the outcome was determined. Sounds reasonable until you realize this pertained only to USC, not anyone else in the ACC. Those schools were allowed to keep playing until when and if something was discovered, in fact, wrong. This situation stemmed from the situation detailed below.

A couple of years after Frank McGuire came to USC, he recruited and signed a kid that was rated either the #1 or #2 kid in the nation, some felt Lew Alcindor was better. Little known was that Alcindor, a New York City native, had told McGuire he wanted to play for him, but McGuire told him that he didn't think the South was ready for a black player, so he went to UCLA, instead. At any rate, the recruit in question was a young man out of New Jersey, a Center named Mike Grosso. Just about everyone in the nation wanted him, including UNC and Duke, which he spurned. He enrolled at a time which Freshmen could not play for the varsity, but in scrimmages against the varsity, one time he scored over 30 points and had over 30 rebounds. Such was his talent.

When McGuire decided he did not want to stay in the NBA, he left one year and was asked by the USC President to come down to discuss an opening for the basketball job. When word got out, several ACC people, UNC, Duke, the Commissioner, came to Columbia to talk to the President and they tried to convince him not to hire McGuire, for they did not want him back in the conference. Of course, the President ignored them, as he should.

Eddie Cameron of Duke, hated McGuire with a passion. Certain ACC people got together to find a way to get rid of McGuire's prize recruit. Grosso scored a 789 on his SAT, so he had to pay his way, at first. It was discovered that his uncle paid his tuition. This same uncle ran a small bar, which had no employees, just him. The check he wrote for the tuition was on the account of the business name, not his own name. Since he owned the bar and had no employees, he cheated no one in doing this, but this was something that was jumped at for an offense, not a NCAA offense, mind you. According to information I read on an ACC board a year or two ago, I forgot which, mentioned this case. They said ACC officials barged in the Grosso home in the middle of the night to interrogate them and to try to find some hard evidence of wrongdoing. They found nothing, no money, no hidden accounts, no paper trail of illegal promises, etc. They decided the family was too poor to be able to sent their kid to school, therefore what the uncle did was wrong. Seems his family being poor was the very reason the uncle helped them out. The ACC (led by Cameron) declared Grosso could never play basketball in the ACC. Shortly before Grosso left school, he blew out his knee in a scrimmage against another school. He went to Louisville and never was the player he might have been, although with a bad knee he still managed to play in the NBA for one year and made the Louisville Hall of Fame.

Read an article a few months ago about Grosso where he never forgave the ACC for what they did to him and it caused him a lifetime of depression and many troubles trusting people and having relationships. Only recently, all these years later, has he recovered and gotten his life together.

Bobby Cremins was interviewed on the radio and said that everyone at Carolina loved Grosso. Whenever the Gamecocks played UNC or Duke, McGuire would remind the team that, "These are the guys that got rid of Mike". Cremins said, "It fired everyone up and he felt like killing them." Cremins felt this and John Roche becoming a star is what started the ACC hate against USC.

Eddie Cameron did visit with McGuire shortly before he got sick and died and some believe he apologized to him for the past, although McGuire was pleased by the visit, but did not divulge their conversation.

Another lesser known situation came about when football's Paul Dietzel found out that UNC had been allowing two football players in each class that did not meet the ACC standards and had been doing do for years. He asked for permission to do the same at USC. He refused. When he complained about UNC doing it, they agreed to stop the practice, but were never punished for violating ACC law.

USC had been trying to convince the ACC that football was the cash cow, not basketball and they needed to lower the SAT levels a little to compete with the SEC, Big Ten, other conferences and Independents stealing the best talent from their area. Dietzel recruited the best class he had in ages, including the top seven players in the state, including Freddie Solomon, who many feel is the best HS player in the history of SC football. When the ACC refused to budge he lost all of them, although their SAT met the NCAA requirements. That was the last straw for Dietzel.

Getting back to basketball, it was well known that USC had been the doormat in that and most sports. When McGuire was hired and started beating out the ACC schools for recruits and on the floor with regularity, it did not sit well and the animosity got out of hand, the worst I have ever seen.

Various points of interest in this area. McGuire hated, by UNC, did not like them (administrators) for "he knew how they operated". McGuire got in trouble at UNC in recruiting Billy Cunningham. Turns out that McGuire knew the Cunningham family for many years as they lived next door to McGuire's sister in Brooklyn. Billy's father told his son where he was going to school. The NCAA said that the recruiting/entertainment bills were not properly accounted for, which McGuire and UNC denied as wrong doing, but misinterpretation of the accounting guidelines. That eventually led to McGuire leaving Chapel Hill.

At the height of the ill feeling, I would day think of the hate between USC-Clempson (I believe the second most intense rivalry behind only Alabama-Auburn) and if you multiplied it by three or four, you would reach what we felt toward the ACC and them to us.

John Roche won the ACC Player of the Year in his Sophomore and Junior years. UNC claimed he won it one year instead of Charlie Scott due to racism. He should have won it his Senior year, too, but the hatred toward him and USC was so great, that a number of ACC media people around the ACC refused to vote for him at all, making it impossible to win. This came on the heals of a very unflattering Sports Illustrated article on Roche and his teammates published in January of 1971. The writer just happened to be a UNC graduate. Coincidence? Riiight.

The famous fight with Maryland? I was at that game as I was for every home game during the Roche-McGuire era and a few years beyond. It had it roots from the Maryland players throwing elbows all game long and the refs or the Maryland coaches doing nothing to stop it. With five minutes left in the contest, we were near 100 points and leading by 25 points. Our fine Forward, Rick Aydlett, caught a long lead pass and had a good path for a layup (no dunking back then). There was a Maryland player that came from an angle toward him as he was in the air, about to score. The Maryland player did not attempt a normal foul to contest the shot, instead threw a wicked elbow, catching Adylett in the side of the head, knocking him down. That was it, and our guys had enough and went after them for payback. In the melee, our big Forward, John Ribock, 6'8" 240 lbs. felt someone tug him from behind and twirled and struck out in one motion. He caught Maryland's coach, Lefty Driesell under the eye. He and the Terps got what the deserved for dirty basketball and not stopping it when they had the chance. There was no reason for us to fight them otherwise. The game was a blowout and it was almost over, yet as always, the ACC decided we were the villains. McGuire's UNC squads often got into altercations and fights, but that is conveniently forgotten.

I do recall two incidents from a game against UNC in Columbia which blew out of proportion the ACC view in this regard. Chasing after a long rebound, John Ribock got to the ball first. He was holding the ball out in front of his chest, arms out from the body. Charlie Scott got their a tad late and got up behind Ribock, reaching around him, grabbing the ball, too, both trying to pull the ball away from the other. There was no whistle, so this lasted fro several seconds. With Scott still partially grabbing the ball with the USC player, Ribock made one more last, strong pull of the ball, twisting his body as he did. Scott did not let go of the ball and the result of the last pulling twist by his opponent, sailed past him, over his shoulder, like a rag doll and landed a few feet away. Ribock did nothing wrong, but the UNC bench exploded.

In the same game, Roche was away from the basket and was called for a very rare Charge. Nothing wrong with that, but the UNC player lay on the floor, spread eagle, for about four or five seconds, with no signs of getting up. He was not hurt, but was milking it. Roche got a little peeved at this and kicked the bottom of the shoe on one of the UNC player's tennis show. Not hard, not soft, but a firm type like, "Get up, your trying to show me up, you jerk." It was stupid, but not a vicious thing. Of course he was given a technical foul, but once more, the UNC bench jumped up, enraged, acting if they were about to rush the floor. One again, a big deal made of a minor thing.

When our team and fans went on road ACC games, they were routinely and heavily cursed with profanity and threats were made, Roche was hung in effigy, trash and water and heated coins were thrown at them, as was gum in their hair. Roche had an avalanche of hate mail sent to him. Some of it even by a UNC Guard, George Karl.

When our team went to Clempson, twice McGuire had to be restrained from going into the crowd after cruel taunts were made about his son, Frankie, Jr. Frankie was born with a severe case of Cerebral Palsy, having the mental capacity of perhaps a two year old, but remained with a sweet, childlike loving nature who was loved by the team and fans, alike. After each post game radio interview, McGuire would end by saying over the air to Frankie, to go to sleep and that Daddy loved him and would be home soon.

One year, McGuire and Cameron got into a heated argument about preferential treatment for the ACC members except USC and was critical of the league to allow it. Cameron was a longtime head f the ACC basketball committee did not like it and it was ruled Duke did not have to play USC that year and it was optional if other ACC did not want to. Only Duke refused to play.

Soon after the Maryland fight, Lefty refused to promise the safety for USC when they played there and after the season ended said they would no longer play the school as long as McGuire was the coach. One or two other ACC school muttered possible similar threats.

When USC beat UNC in the 1971 Tourney 52-51 on a last second goal by Tom Owens when 6'3" Kevin Joyce won a jump ball over UNC's 6'10" Lee Dedmon. Dedmon claimed he won the tip, but there was a defensive alignment error causing the ball to go to Owens. If you look at the clip and freeze frame it, it is clear Joyce won the tip, but such were things then. In fact, there were Co-MVPs announced after the game. There was only one trophy there, but instead of giving it to Roche, off the winning team, it was given to Dedmond. Roche was interviewed decades later and asked about it. He said he never got his trophy, but it was OK because he never displayed anything from his career. About 10 seconds after Owens hit the winning shot, the TV plug was pulled so the Carolina fans at home could not see the celebration or award ceremony. Odd that that is the only time that has happened at an ACC Tourney final. You can bet your butt if UNC had won that game you would have seen everything and every interview right down to the guy who locked the building up at night.

One last John Roche tidbit. He had a photographic memory about all his games, starting in basketball and practices. He kept detailed notes on every shot he took, the results, and the circumstances of the shot, the score, the team he played against. He did the same at USC and when talking about his early career, he still can relate details. Of his Senior year, filled with hate directed at him and his teammates? A total blank.

It was impossible to stay in the ACC and become dangerous for our people.
In addition, it had gotten to the point that whenever USC sponsored a proposal for the conference, they were voted down by all seven other members, time after time after time. A suspicious person might think that goes against pure happenstance. We were tired of being treated like the proverbial redheaded stepchild.

When USC was having its great surge in basketball, many Clempson fans began to pull for us as their own teams were still poor and they did not much like the ACC either right then.

USC finally came to the conclusion they had to get out of the conference as the Tobacco Road schools had an iron grip on the power and the schools outside that state were afraid to stand up for themselves, especially seeing how USC's dissents were being treated. Then USC made a bad, tactical error. They trusted their ancient arch rival. Clempson was informed of our intention to leave the ACC on the following day and wanted to see if Clempson wanted out, too. They agreed. USC wanted a joint press conference, but Clempson told USC to hold one in the morning and they would follow in the afternoon. Word got out to the ACC, which sent officials to Columbia to meet at the Presidents house for discussions and dinner. The atmosphere was so icy, they stayed less than 30 minutes and left without eating. Students booed them off campus. Other ACC officials went to Clempson. They were told to stay in the ACC or the NCAA would be informed of the latest round of recruiting violations in football. Clempson not only bowed out, they did not have the decency to inform USC they were backing out, so they stabbed them in the back as a going away present.

The day we left, there was citywide celebrations. It felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from our shoulders. Freedom!

Few remember that a year or two after leaving the conference and before Georgia Tech took our old spot, we approached the conference about returning, thinking enough time had passed and tempers may have cooled.
The SAT levels for the ACC had dropped a couple of months after we left, so that was a good start in the right direction.

The ACC agreed to let us back in, if we agreed to the following:

Readmission fee (fair enough)

Ineligible for any ACC title for at least three years (spite)

Pay the ACC what would have been their cut of gates, TV money, etc. from the moment we left the conference as if we had never gone and the ACC did nothing to earn the money. That probably would have added a couple million dollars to pay out which was big money back then (greed/extortion)

We had to hold a public apology to the ACC for leaving and admit we were wrong in doing so (humiliation)

Promise to never leave the ACC, again (removal of our last right of protest)

All of this was printed in either The State newspaper or Columbia Record. I remember reading it as if it were yesterday. That was proof nothing had changed and we were still going to be treated like garbage. Thank God our people had the sense to tell the ACC to stick it in their collective ears.

Our fight came at a severe price. Our basketball team has never come close to recovering, excepting for a good year or so between long gaps of struggle. We became an Independent and later a member of a modest Metro Conference. Those twenty years or so were like wandering in the desert and cost us untold amounts of money. The good thing is that we did the right thing and stood up for ourselves when we had no friends and through a huge stroke of good fortune, the SEC allowed us in to their conference where we continued to struggle for several years, in many sports and the competition was greatly increased. We had to rebuild our facilities, in large part, or be left far beyond. There is great satisfaction that if Clempson had the guts to leave with us all those years ago, the SEC probably would have taken them instead of us as their checkered football history was more successful. They will never admit it, but they would kill to be in our place as they consider themselves to be at a SEC level. Nice karma kickback there.

From day one, the SEC has treated us as full equals and with due friendship. That is a debt we can never repay them and we take great pride and loyalty to its members. Those were the simple things we always sought in the ACC, equality, a balanced field, and common decency. For those continual slights and the extreme costs put upon us, I for one, never want to play any of their teams, again, even Clempson, for they do not deserve any favor from us, however little. Some day, if the ACC admits their bitter acts and apologizes to us in public, bygones are possible, but we all know that isn't going to happen, ever.

The second best day in our sports history was the day we left the ACC. That had to happen for us to get into the SEC, which was our best.
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Old 01-18-2014, 02:27 PM   #20
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Default Re: What It Was Like Back Then

Tks, brat & everyone, for the trip down memory lane. My first yr at USC was Frank's second-when the Four Horsemen began their run into Carolina folklore.

The first time I ever saw poetry-in-motion we beat #3 Duke by 2 in the old Field House early in the 65-66 season. Duke was led by All-Americans Jack Marin & Bob Verga and ACC POY Steve Vacendak. Thompson showed V&V what a real point guard looked like, and Gregor, Standard & Harlicka put on a scoring show. Only time I sat down was at halftime occasionally holding my fingers in my ears to dim the noise.

Best players?? IMO, Roche, Silk, Owens, Gregor in no particular order. Order would depend on who had the hot hand, I guess.

Favorite player?? Jack Thompson. True story - After seeing Jack play as a frosh, Dean Smith went out and recruited the best defensive player in the country specifically to stop Jack Thompson whenever we played UNC. Kid named Dick Grubar. Sports Illustrated once did a short piece on Grubar. Guess whose picture was plastered on the inside of Dick's locker door? The battles between Grubar and Jack were titanic each trying to impose his will on the other.

At the end of his career Jack was asked 'Who's the best defensive player you ever faced?'
Jack thought for a few seconds and responded 'Dick Grubar. He's the only player who ever stole the ball from me when I was handling it.'
'Really, the only one? How many times?'
Flashing his impish grin Jack truthfully replied 'Once'.

MVP of the McGuire era?? Without doubt, the young man whose slender shoulders, strong back and boundless enthusiasm carried a program & a university in total disarray & shock from the Grosso affair across the chasm that separated it from the glory days of Roche&Owens and beyond.

Welcome back, Bobby. I'm sorry there were those who didn't understand what you had done for us.
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