Legend—Definition: A traditional historical tale (or collection of related tales) popularly regarded as true but usually containing a mixture of fact and fiction.
This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
—Maxwell Scott, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
These are the facts about USC.
They are a very good football team with a very good coach.
The SC program has acquired a lot of awards over the years.
The Trojans have had a long line of honored athletes.
They are the favorite sons of a hometown that buys a lot of papers.
They are a media school, so they understand marketing.
All of this can be proven and documented. What can’t be proven but is documented are subjective opinion headlines—the ones that are constantly used every year to refer to a USC team or player.
Greatest of all time is used almost every year when referring to an USC team or player. The term is applied to either a very good team or player.
The litmus test is the NFL, and very seldom does the title stick. The SC players of the NFL, although very good, are seldom the best. O.J. was one who proved it on the fields of the NFL. Jack Del Rio did not as a player.
This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. Never were words so aptly applied as to USC.
Each year one reporter or commentator refers to the current SC team as the greatest of all time. It, of course, is only used in conjunction with the SC teams that are good. The team, except for a couple of times, always falls short of this lofty laurel. That has never stopped the usage of the term.
The fact of the matter is stories of USC always have fact and fiction mixed together. So the most appropriate title for USC is “USC the Legend”—in other words, “USC the Myth.”