USC has the best THREE football teams in the country."
Although Lansdell shared his job with such players as Schindler,
Mickey Anderson, Ollie Day and Doyle Nave during his three varsity
seasons, he was USC's leading ground gainer during the 1938 and 1939 Rose
Bowl seasons and was the team's leading passer all three years in
1937-38-39. He topped 1,000 yards in total offense in '39 (1,221), not
done again for another 10 years until Jim Powers.
It was such a different game in that era that statistics are
relatively meaningless in comparing them with today's numbers. They
didn't even keep punt return, kickoff return or interception stats until
1950, and punting records weren't kept until 1941.
But Lansdell, a Pasadena native out of Pasadena JC, would have been
No. 1 in those categories, too. He had an 83-yard punt return for a
touchdown in 1938 against Ohio State that was the key to Troy's 14-7
victory. His 70-yard TD punt return was USC's only score in a 7-6 loss to
Washington on a rainy day in Seattle that same year. He went 56 yards for
a touchdown with an interception against Oregon State in a 19-7 win over
the contending Beavers in 1939.
Another of his specialites was the coffin corner punt, and he had one
go out on the Duke 1-yard line in the 1939 Rose Bowl.
It was "fourth-stringer" Nave who completed the dramatic late passes
to Al Krueger for the storybook 7-3 triumph over the previously
undefeated, untied and unscored upon Blue Devils that day, but it was
Grenny who hit Bob Peoples with a clutch pass for a first down on the
Duke 34 with two minutes to go that set it all up.
With no specialists and the athletes going both ways, it was tougher
to pick All-American teams in the '30s. There were no wide receivers and
no flankers, just right and left ends. And just 11 "two-way" complete
players to the first team.
Bill Stern's 1939 All-American backfield featured Michigan's Tom
Harmon, UCLA's Kenny Washington and USC's Grenny Lansdell.
Grenny was picked No. 1 by the New York Giants in the 1940 NFL draft,
but got in only one pro season before the war. He soon became Capt.
Lansdell flying for the Army Air Corps, mostly piloting the big
transports moving troops to crucial battle fronts in the Pacific Theater.
After the war, settling down in Newport Beach in 1947 with new bride
Mary, a former Texas beauty queen he first met when she was a flight
attendant on his TWA crew, still Capt. Lansdell, he flew for the airline
until the first signs of his illness in 1978.