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Grenny Lansdell

December 09, 1999

had just about seen and covered them all up to that point in USC's

football lifetime.

Another mark of Jones' Thundering Herds was that he always had three

or four top "quarterbacks" every season and frequently rotated them so

each got a piece of the action.

After the 1939 Trojans routed Stanford, 33-0, losing coach Tiny

Thornhill said, "USC has the best football team in the country. In fact,


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.

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