Traditions


    Elmer C. "Gloomy Gus" Henerson

    A legend as a coach, Elmer C. "Gloomy Gus" Henderson has the best career winning percentage (45-7-0 record, .865) of any football coach in USC's history.

    Better than Howard Jones, John McKay or John Robinson.

    Henderson, in his six seasons at the school (1919-24), achieved a semblance of national recognition for USC and established a format for future success.

    Under Henderson, USC recorded historic firsts, including appearing in the Rose Bowl in 1923 and beating Penn State, 14-3. He also won 10 games in a season twice, along with an undefeated season in 1920. And, it was under Henderson that USC moved out of Bovard Field to play in the Memorial Coliseum.

    Henderson was the first USC coach to recruit aggressively and also was an innovator. His spread formations and other elements of his offense are used today by college and NFL teams.

    A graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, Henderson came to USC from Broadway High School in Seattle. He brought some of his players with him, including Leo Calland, an outstanding lineman at USC.

    "Gloomy Gus" was a well-known cartoon character of the era and Henderson, an outgoing person, was saddled with that nickname by Los Angeles Times sports writer, Paul Lowry, because of the way he poor-mouthed the Trojans' prospects before a game.

    USC had a 4-1 record in 1919 and went undefeated in 1920. The Trojans were 10-1 in 1921-22, two seasons in which USC outscored their opposition by 598-83. USC had a 6-2 record in 1923, which included a 23-7 win over Pomona in the first football game ever to be played in the Coliseum. Henderson had a 9-2 record in his last season at USC in 1924.