Pac-12: Lofa Tatupu

We're saying goodbye to the BCS today, even though the BCS isn't going away until 2014. Oh, well.

So what are the Pac-12/10's best and worst BCS moments?

Best

The Pac-12 has won one BCS national title (though just about everyone believes USC to be the "true" 2003 national champion). So that has to be conference's best BCS moment: USC's undisputed 2004 championship.

The 2004 Trojans were dominant with quarterback Matt Leinart; running backs Reggie Bush and LenDale White; receivers Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett; and a defense led by defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson and linebacker Lofa Tatupu. They outscored foes 496 to 169.

In the BCS national title game in Miami, they stomped Oklahoma 55-19 and made USC a repeat national champ under Pete Carroll.

Honorable mentions
  • In 2000, Washington beat Purdue in the Rose Bowl and Oregon State whipped Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. The Pac-12 has produced two BCS bowl teams four times, but this is the only year it won both games.
  • While Utah was not a member of the Pac-12 in 2004 and 2008, it's worth noting the Utes capped undefeated seasons both years with wins in the Fiesta Bowl over Pittsburgh and the Sugar Bowl over Alabama.


Worst

Not to make this all about USC, but the worst BCS moment was USC's exclusion in 2003, despite being ranked No. 1 in both major polls.

Those who had eyes knew that the Trojans were the nation's best team. But the computer chips liked LSU and Oklahoma better, even though the Sooners were fresh off a 35-7 loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game.

The AP poll would go on to crown USC the national champion, as did the Football Writers Association of America, after it whipped Michigan in the Rose Bowl. As for the coaches poll, it was contractually obligated to vote LSU No. 1 after its ugly win over Oklahoma. Three coaches, nonetheless, showed courage, rebelled and voted USC No. 1.

Honorable mentions
  • In 2001, Nebraska was picked over Oregon to play Miami for the national title, even though the Cornhuskers were stomped 62-36 by Colorado in their final regular-season game. The Ducks went on to whip Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, while Nebraska got bludgeoned by the Hurricanes 37-14.
  • In 2004, Texas coach Mack Brown lobbied hard for his Longhorns to eclipse California in the national polls. It worked, as the 10-1 Longhorns climbed past the 10-1 Bears and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the standings for no justifiable reason and thereby finagled their way into the Rose Bowl, where Cal hadn't been since 1959.

Lunch links: LSU-Oregon ticket-gate

June, 10, 2011
6/10/11
2:30
PM ET
Happy Friday.

USC great Tatupu dies

February, 24, 2010
2/24/10
3:52
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Mosi Tatupu, a fullback on USC’s 1974 national championship football team who played 14 years in the NFL, died on Tuesday in Attleboro, Mass.

He was 54. The cause of his death has yet to be determined.

Tatupu's son, Lofa, was a standout linebacker for the Trojans on two national title teams -- 2003 and 2004 -- and now plays for the Seattle Seahawks.

The elder Tatupu, a native of American Samoa, lettered four years (1974-77) at USC. He rushed for 1,277 yards on 223 carries in his career at Troy and was USC’s Offensive Player of the Year and Most Inspirational Player in 1977. USC went 37-10-1 in his career and won four bowl games, including two Rose Bowls.

He played in the NFL with the New England Patriots (1978-90) and Los Angeles Rams (1991). He was known for his rugged running style, tough blocking and stellar special-teams play, making him a fan favorite. He played in the 1986 Super Bowl and made the Pro Bowl that year. He rushed for 2,415 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in his 13-year Patriots career. He set an NFL record for most games played by a running back (199).

From 1997 through 2006, the Mosi Tatupu Award was given annually to the college football special teams player of the year.

After his playing career, Tatupu was the head football coach at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass., where he coached his son, Lofa. From 2002 to 2007, he was an assistant coach at Curry College in Milton, Mass.

Galippo the new man in the middle of USC's defense

February, 27, 2009
2/27/09
3:38
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Chris Galippo confesses that he might not consistently blow up opposing ball carriers with the single-minded zeal of Rey Maualuga, the beast of a linebacker he's expected to replace in the middle of the USC defense this spring, but he's quick to point out that the Trojans aren't exactly replacing prime rib with chopped liver.

"I think we both have a good knack for finding the football," he said. "We both can make a play anywhere on the field, whether it's dropping back into our Tampa-2 look in the middle third, or whether it's making plays in the backfield. We're both sideline-to-sideline players." 

Galippo, who ran a 4.72 40-yard dash this week at 240 pounds, seems completely at ease ascending to the spot that has produced NFL All-Pro Lofa Tatupu and Maualuga, a certain first-round draft pick this spring, over the past five seasons.

His pedigree is certainly the equal of Maualuga. Both were USA Today and Parade Magazine prep All-Americans. Both were generally considered the premier inside linebacker in their recruiting classes.

Galippo, some might remember, made 11 tackles in the 2006 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio and became the first defensive player to earn game MVP honors as the West held the East to just 57 yards.

He recorded 381 career tackles at Servite High in Anaheim, Calif., where he also blocked 10 kicks.

Want some more numbers? Against one team, he recorded 15 tackles, four sacks and blocked two field goal attempts while producing 143 all-purpose yards as a receiver, running back and tight end. 

So, no, chopped liver Galippo is not.

Of course, there is that pesky back.

Galippo immediately saw action as a true freshman in 2007, but his season ended with a herniated disk, which required surgery. Fortunately for him, he was allowed to reclaim a redshirt because he'd only played in the first three games.

But back injuries are tricky. His was still bothering Galippo well into the 2008 season, though he did end up with 12 tackles -- two for a loss -- and an interception.

Here's an early guess on what might become the affable Galippo's least favorite subject.

"I don't think it's an issue," he said. "I guess it is for the media. It's kind of the only thing that's hovering over my head right now. I know with the coaches that's their main concern -- can I stay healthy? I know that's a lot of people's concern. But I've never been healthier."

Galippo won't be the only new guy in the Trojans front seven when spring practices kick off on March 28. In fact, the only returning starter is nose tackle Christian Tupou.

Toss in Rocky Seto ascending to defensive coordinator after Nick Holt bolted for Washington, and this appears to be a spring of transition for the Trojans (though, notably, head coach Pete Carroll will continue to call the defensive plays).

On Galippo's linebacker flanks, juniors Michael Morgan and Malcolm Smith will try to step in for All-American Brian Cushing and Rose Bowl MVP Kaluka Maiava.

"We've got a bunch of guys who are hungry and want to make a name for themselves," Galippo said. "It hasn't been like that at USC for a while. We've had a lot of superstars here over the last four or five years."

Then he adds, "I really don't see there being much of a drop off."

Really? Galippo is talking about replacing six players who all will be drafted, with Maualuga, Cushing, end Clay Matthews and tackle Fili Moala likely to go on the first day.

Lest you think, however, that Galippo is counting his sacks before they're made, know that he is completely aware of the USC system, which features constant competition for playing time.

Galippo's pedigree and potential don't matter any more. Now it's all about production.

"All it takes is a mistackle here or a missed assignment there, and someone else is getting subbed in," he said. "The coaches do a really good job of keeping the competition level high. We joke around sometimes that when you play ball at 'SC, you never really think you're a good football player until after the season. The coaches are so intense and are so good at holding such a high standard that you never really feel like you are producing enough until you look back after the season."

The good news for USC fans is Galippo seems perfectly comfortable that the standard he faces is Tatupu and Maualuga.

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