As USC’s Analyst, He’s a Left-Handed Complement

No one has a perfect life. But Paul McDonald comes pretty close.

The left-hander was close to perfection as USC’s quarterback in 1979, leading the Trojans to an 11-0-1 record. The only blemish was a 21-21 tie with Stanford.

McDonald was All-America and sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting that year. He also was named to the Academic All-America first team.

These days, McDonald is a successful real estate executive. And on fall weekends, he is radio station 1540’s USC football commentator, a position he has held since 1998.

And the Trojans are closer to perfection now than they were in 1979, having won 33 games in a row going into Saturday’s matchup against UCLA.


“I’d love doing this no matter what,” McDonald said of his commentating job. “That the team is doing so well is just frosting on the cake.”

Another perk is that the oldest of Paul and Allison McDonald’s four children, redshirt sophomore Michael, is USC’s third-string quarterback.

“Something I look forward to before each game is going down on the field and playing catch with Michael,” McDonald said. “It’s awesome. It makes me feel like I’m 20 again.”

McDonald played eight seasons in the NFL, six with the Cleveland Browns and two with the Dallas Cowboys.

After retiring from football in 1988, he worked a few games as a USC television commentator with Tom Kelly on Prime Ticket. When the radio job became available in 1998 with the departure of Larry Kahn and Mike Lamb, McDonald threw his name into the hat and got the job.

Lee Hamilton was named the play-by-play announcer.

“I’m pretty nervous going into my first game,” McDonald recalled. “As I sit down to get ready for our first broadcast together, Lee takes off a shoe and puts it on the counter. He tells me, ‘When you see the shoe on the counter, that means shut up.’ I’m thinking, ‘Are you going to let me talk?’ ”

McDonald said he actually learned a lot during the three seasons he worked with Hamilton.

Since 2001, when 1540 became the flagship station, McDonald has worked with play-by-play announcer Pete Arbogast.

In the broadcast booth during games, Arbogast calmly goes about his business while sitting on a stool. McDonald stands the whole time.

Next to McDonald sits Ann Beebe, who since 1998 has been USC’s director of broadcast operations.

It is her job to see that the broadcasts go smoothly and that all the commercials and promos make it on the air in a seamless manner.

On the other side of the booth, next to Arbogast, is spotter Burt Iwata, and in the middle is statistician Mark Hoppe. There are also various engineers and technicians.

Beebe said, “When I first got this job, I was thrilled. That the team is the best in America, well, that’s more gravy than anyone deserves.”

Irvin Suspended

Michael Irvin has been suspended by ESPN for a week for not telling the network that he was arrested last week in Dallas after police found a drug pipe hidden in his car. Irvin claims the pipe belonged to a friend.

ESPN learned of the arrest from reporters.

“I was just scared, hoping and praying that maybe it would go away,” Irvin told the Associated Press.