There will be a semblance of the USC-UCLA rivalry tonight when the Trojans meet Arizona State at Sun Devil Stadium.
--John Cooper, ASU’s new coach, was an assistant at UCLA under Tommy Prothro in 1965 and 1966.
--A young defensive tackle, Terry Donahue, was on the team at the time.
--Cooper said that Donahue, UCLA’s coach, helped him get the Arizona State job after turning it down himself.
--Cooper said that he stresses fundamentals that are identical to Prothro’s techniques.
--Jim Colletto, ASU’s offensive coordinator, played on UCLA’s 1966 Rose Bowl team and was later an assistant coach at the school.
Cooper, 48, a successful coach at Tulsa for eight years, took over here after Darryl Rogers left to become coach of the Detroit Lions. He said, though, that he probably wouldn’t be at Arizona State if it hadn’t been for Donahue’s input.
“Terry Donahue was as responsible as anybody for getting me the job here,” Cooper said. “I’ve remained close to Terry over the years. When I was on Pepper Rodgers’ staff at Kansas, we took Terry under our wing as a young coach.
“It’s no secret that Arizona State tried real hard to hire Terry. They also went after some other big-name coaches, like LaVell Edwards of BYU. When those coaches decided to stay at their schools, things dwindled down to John Cooper. I was excited when I got the job, and my feet haven’t touched the ground since I’ve been here.”
Cooper was secure as Tulsa’s coach. The Golden Hurricane won seven or more games in five of his eight seasons at the school.
So why leave Tulsa for the uncertainty of a job at Arizona State, where coaches are compared to Frank Kush, who was ASU’s coach for 22 seasons?
“We never went to a bowl game when I was at Tulsa,” Cooper said. “One year (1982) we were 10-1 and beat schools like Air Force, Oklahoma State and Kansas. Air Force was 7-4, but they went to a bowl game, and we stayed home.
“So, there were a lot of built-in disappointments at a place like Tulsa, although I enjoyed my eight years there. It was that quest for the so-called big time, the chance to coach in a major conference with the possibility of going to the Rose Bowl and, perhaps, winning a national championship some day.”
Rogers succeeded Kush in 1980, but Kush never really left. When ASU lost, switchboards at radio stations and newspapers lighted up as irate callers criticized Rogers, saying that Kush wouldn’t have done this or that.
Cooper doesn’t believe that the specter of Kush will ever vanish from the Arizona State football program.
“Frank Kush is a legend in this part of the country, and we’re trying to build on it with tough, hard-nosed football,” he said.
Arizona State has been labeled as sort of a mystery team in the Pacific 10, but Rogers didn’t leave the cupboard bare. Cooper inherited 17 returning starters from a 5-6 team in 1984.
He is satisfied with his players at the skill positions--quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst, who has passed for 200 or more yards in eight straight games going back to 1984, and wide receivers Aaron Cox and Paul Day.
Cooper said that he has a lot of good, solid running backs, but none of star quality, although halfback Darryl Clack is a two-time all-conference choice. Clack, who has an ankle injury, is expected to play against USC but won’t start.
The Sun Devils were basically a blitzing team under Rogers. Cooper said that he still has a blitz package but that he doesn’t rely on it as much as his predecessor.
But it wouldn’t really surprise anyone if Dave Fulcher, ASU’s All-American free safety, is turned loose to blitz USC quarterback Sean Salisbury.
USC and Arizona State, both 1-1, have something to prove. The Trojans were impressive in beating Illinois, 20-10, Sept. 7 but were upset by Baylor last Saturday night at the Coliseum, 20-13. ASU lost to Michigan State, 12-3, in its opening game before beating outmanned Pacific last Saturday night, 27-0.
USC is a two-point favorite in the Pac-10 opener for both teams that will begin at 7:30 p.m. PDT. . . . A capacity crowd of about 71,000 is anticipated. . . . USC tailback Ryan Knight missed a day of practice because of an ankle injury but is expected to play tonight, alternating with Fred Crutcher. USC has a depth problem at inside linebacker. Rex Moore’s hamstring injury has been slow to heal, and Sam Anno is questionable with a torn ligament in his thumb. Delmar Chesley, a freshman inside linebacker, was expected to redshirt, but he might have to play if Keith Davis and Mike Serpa get hurt. . . . Moore, outside linebacker Greg Coauette (sprained ankle) and offensive tackle Gaylord Kuamoo (strained Achilles) didn’t make the trip. Defensive tackle Brent Moore (sprained ankle and knee) probably will play. . . . Sean Salisbury is ranked fourth nationally in passing efficiency. He has completed 30 of 44 passes for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns. He needs only 22 more completions to become USC’s all-time passing leader, replacing Paul McDonald. Arizona State has some potential big-play performers in cornerback Anthony Parker and freshman wide receiver Chip Rish. Parker returned a punt 56 yards against Pacific and had a 61-yard return against Michigan State nullified by a clipping penalty. Rish, who returns kickoffs, is the two-time California high school 400-meter champion from Marina High in Huntington Beach.