O.J. Simpson's USC Football Record Helped Jumpstart His Career
Once upon a time, O.J. Simpson was best known for being a football player — and an amazing one at that. The NFL and College Football Hall of Fame-r first made a name for himself as a star running back playing for the University of Southern California Trojans. Even years later, O.J. Simpson's football record at USC is still impressive and will be revisited in ESPN's O.J. Simpson: Made in America. While Simpson was acquitted in the criminal murder trial, as reported by the New York Times, in 1997 Simpson was found liable in civil court for the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman and ordered to pay $33.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages to their families. So, I'm not saying that his accomplishments on the field should overshadow anything else in his life. But, for the sake of this post, I'm going to focus on the years when Simpson was primarily known as USC's starting running back who led the nation in rushing, according to the College Football Hall of Fame.
According to the USC Athletics Department, Simpson set a record for total yards rushed in the NCAA with 1,709, and he beat more than 19 Trojan, NCAA, and conference records during his two years there. For those who don't know football, USC is football powerhouse, so playing for the Trojans is a big deal — and Simpson knew that. "The school of my choice was the University of Southern California, and I can't imagine any school educating a guy and preparing him for the world more than USC did me," he said in his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech in 1985. "They allowed me to play on some great teams there. We won a national championship, broke a world record in track."
And, that's not all Simpson accomplished on the gridiron. Check out the rest of his USC accomplishments below.
Transfer To USC
Simpson began his college football career at the City College of San Francisco, located in his hometown. He broke junior college football records at the school and led in rushing, which got the attention of many top college football teams, but Simpson accepted an athletic scholarship at USC — his dream school — he said in his Pro Football Hall of Fame speech.
"I must admit it was the most fun I had ever had in football," he said. "There was no pressure. The coaches had tenure, you know, so they didn't have to worry about their jobs. All they cared about was that we would qualify to go on to a four-year school and preferably to schools of our choice. It is no wonder that in that environment we won two championships."
The Best Play Ever?
Simpson only played for USC in 1967 and 1968, but he made a mark on the field. Before his death, Trojans coach John McKay told ESPN, "Simpson was not only the greatest player I ever had — he was the greatest player anyone ever had." Simpson led the nation in rushing both years and made what many sources — including the NFL — call one of the best plays ever.
During the 1967 rivalry game between USC and UCLA, Simpson rushed for a 64-yard touchdown (see above), which won the game for the Trojans. It was a play which dethroned top seeded UCLA and helped propel USC to the national championship game, according to an ESPN report.
National Championship At The Rose Bowl
In Simpson's tenure at USC, the Trojans made it to the national championship game twice at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. USC won the 1968 national title over the University of Indiana and Simpson was named MVP of the game, according to ESPN.
The Trojans lost the 1969 championship to Ohio State University in the Rose Bowl.
The Heisman Trophy
It's rare for a college junior to be a major contender for the legendary Heisman Trophy, but that is something else Simpson accomplished at USC. He finally won the trophy in 1968 with the most one-sided margin in award history. Simpson has also won the Walter Camp Award and the Maxwell Award.
He Ran Track, Too
This shouldn't be too surprising, considering that there's a lot of running in football. According to the College Football Hall of Fame, Simpson had a "9.3-second 100-yard speed." At the 1967 NCAA track championships, Simpson helped break a world record as part of USC's 440-yard relay team, completing the event in 38.6 seconds, reported the Los Angeles Times.
College Football Hall Of Fame
In 1983, Simpson was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a USC Trojan and his jersey No.32 was retired by the university.
From USC, Simpson went onto have a successful career in the NFL, but off the field, as you know, it was a totally different story.