quarterback Morgan Earl Craig, both members of Coach Jeff Brinkley's
high-rolling varsity which duels Irvine Friday night for the CIF Division
VI championship, are grandsons of USC legend Grenny Lansdell.
Grenville Archer Lansdell Jr., WWII hero and All-American tailback in
the old Howard Jones Thundering Herd power-plus single-wing offense in
1939. And today a member of the Daily Pilot's Sports Hall of Fame,
celebrating the millennium.
Lansdell died in 1983 of complications from Alzheimer's, but his name
lives on in Southern California. Mary Lansdell, his widow and grandmother
of the Craig brothers, as well as mother of their mother, Brett, still
resides in her and Grenny's longtime home just around the corner from
Newport Harbor High.
To say he was "one of the last of truly great all-around triple-threat
stars" is hardly an exaggeration as the triple-threaters vanished with
the dinosaur shortly after 1940 when Coach Clark Shaughnessy reintroduced
the T-Formation at Stanford and it swept all of football as Frankie
Albert led the Indians to a 21-13 victory over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl
New Year's Day 1941.
Although Lansdell was listed as a quarterback by Jones, he was clearly
a "tailback in the single-wing, taking every snap to run, pass or punt
(the classic triple-threat).
He was also the deep safety in the standard 6-2-2-1 defense of the day
and returned punts. Simply enough, football was another game prior to the
1940 revolution and the monumental interruption of WWII.
There were no free substitution, no facemasks, the helmets were
primitive pieces of thin leather and you could enter and exit only once
Lansdell was the master combination of power runner, passer, punter,
especially adept at the then popular and often employed "quick kick," and
he was a sure tackler and extremely dangerous in the open field returning
"Grenny Lansdell is the best all-around player the Trojans have had in
the history of the university," wrote Hall of Fame sportswriter Braven
Dyer for The Times in 1939, the ultimate bouquet from a journalist who