Forty-nine years later, Nave remained a Trojans hero
College football has the knack of propelling the out-of-nowhere story. The tale of the near impossible, the astonishing underdog and the stars that burn the brightest for a moment and never return. Our writers dove headfirst into the players, teams and even seasons that captured the nation and disappeared just as fast in this “one-hit wonder” greatest-hits list.
Ivan Maisel: In 1988, I attended a luncheon at USC celebrating the Trojans’ football centennial. The emcee introduced a short, slight, white-haired man named Doyle Nave, who carefully stood and gave an embarrassed wave. In the fourth quarter of the 1939 Rose Bowl, USC trailed Duke 3-0, and the score wasn’t as close as it sounded. The Blue Devils hadn’t allowed a point all season. Trojans assistant Joe Wilensky grabbed the sideline phone and pretended to receive a call from the press box. Wilensky saw the Duke secondary tiring and knew that Nave, the fourth-string quarterback, could throw. Wilensky told head coach Howard Jones that the coach upstairs wanted Nave in the game. Jones acquiesced. Nave completed four consecutive passes to Al Krueger, the last for a touchdown. Forty-nine years later, Nave remained a Trojans hero.
Bill Connelly: I nominate the 1990 season. The whole thing.
Here’s a list of the teams that have won or shared college football’s national title in the past three decades: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Colorado, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, USC, Washington.