White Doesn't Forget and Forgive Trojans : Cal: Running back says he still feels strongly about what was said during recruiting process.


No one at USC escaped unscathed from Cal running back Russell White Saturday.

Not the Trojan defense.

Or the coaches.

Or the band.

Or even Coach Larry Smith's wife .

Not even his record 229 yards rushing and three touchdowns in Saturday's 52-30 victory over the Trojans could soothe White's hurt feelings over his recruitment by USC while he was at Crespi High in Encino.

"I remember," White said, "that Smith's wife (Cheryl) and a player both told me that I would never beat SC if I went to Cal."

White declined to identify the player.

According to White, Cheryl Smith compared the USC-Cal rivalry to the Crespi-Loyola High confrontations.

"Loyola beat us my junior and senior seasons," White said of his high school days, "and she told me it was going to be like playing Loyola every year."

White was asked if he had anything to say to Cheryl Smith now.

"I think I said enough (today)," he said, smiling.

White had made much of his dislike of the Trojans before the game.

Afterward, he backed off. But not much.

"It was not a hatred," White said. "Hatred is not the word. I was just unfamiliar about their ways, about how they operate. It was not right.

"During the recruiting years, they told the press that 'Russell White was not good enough to come here.' They didn't want me."

Coming out of high school, White was academically ineligible for his freshman season under Proposition 48. USC does not sign such athletes.

White wasn't the only Golden Bear who had made his dislike of the Trojans known before the game. Quarterback Mike Pawlawski, who attended Troy High in Fullerton, felt the same way.

And, after throwing three touchdown passes Saturday, he wasn't about to back off, either.

According to Pawlawski, after the first offensive play of the game, an incomplete pass by the Cal quarterback, his offensive linemen came back into the huddle and said: "These guys (the Trojans) don't want to play."

Asked about pouring it on the Trojans in the second half, Pawlawski replied: "You mean we didn't?

"That's not a decision players make. If they put us in, we are going to try to score. That's a decision of the assistant coaches."

Both Pawlawski and White were quick to single out the people in front of them.

"The offensive line did a great job. Let's take care of the people that matter," Pawlawski said.

Time and again, White would take a handoff, hit the line of scrimmage and find only token resistance and few white jerseys in sight.


"I was very surprised," he said. "And very tired, man. I was thinking, what's going on? I'm not used to this. But I can get used to it."

A reporter wanted to know if his surprise came from the fact the Trojans, who had barely lost to Notre Dame the week before, didn't play their best Saturday.

"Maybe they played their best," he said. "Maybe we just outmuscled them."

White even criticized the USC band.

"They know people hate that fight song," he said, "but they play it anyway."

White, as did many of his teammates, seemed to be letting out frustration pent up over years of Trojan domination.

Cal wide receiver Brian Treggs, picking up the theme of the day, didn't miss his opportunity to take a shot at USC.

"I never thought we'd score 52 points against them," he said. "But they won't be getting as many good athletes in the future, because they are going to come here."

It has been a tough year for White. After sitting out his freshman season, he has struggled through one physical ailment after another. There has been a strained Achilles' tendon, a hip pointer, sprains to both thumbs and, finally, a case of walking pneumonia that left him drained.

But finally, last week, he seemed to put it all together, gaining 166 yards against San Jose State.

That proved to be merely a warm-up for Saturday.

"I didn't feel it was the same SC team I've seen over the years," he said. "I don't know if it was the coaching or the players. Usually, you see someone over there who can dominate."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World