Newell (Jeff) Cravath, a hard-nosed defensive center for the Trojans, had a 54-28-8 record as head coach at USC during 1942-50.
Cravath was coaching at the University of San Francisco in 1941 and had coached at Denver and in the junior college ranks. He introduced the "T" formation to the Trojans.
USC football flourished during the World War II years because Cravath was able to recruit experienced players from Navy and Marine training programs set up at USC. Freshmen were also allowed to play.
USC played UCLA and California twice during each of the 1943, 44 and 45 seasons; Stanford dropping football during the war years. Cravath had an outstanding 23-6-2 record during that period and made three straight appearances in the Rose Bowl. In 1943, USC played Washington at Pasadena in the only matchup of West Coast teams in Rose Bowl history.
With quarterback Jim Hardy leading the way, the Trojans defeated Tennessee, 25-0, in the 1945 Rose Bowl. Alabama, led by quarterback Harry Gilmer, ended USC's string of eight Rose Bowl victories by winning, 34-14, the next year.
Cravath worked his teams inordinately hard in 1946 and 1947 with tough, exhausting drills and scrimmages into the night. USC was only 6-4 in 1946, but were 6-0-1 in 1947 before being destroyed by Notre Dame. Led by Johnny Lujack, Leon Hart, Emil Sitko and George Connor, the Irish won, 38-7, before 104, 953.
According to USC players, Cravath scrimmaged the team until 9 p.m. the night before the Notre Dame game.
The Trojans were humiliated again as Michigan dealt USC its worst defeat in school history, 49-0, in the 1948 Rose Bowl. USC had respectable records of 6-3-1 in 1948, including a 14-14 tie with unbeaten Notre Dame, and 5-3-1 in 1949. The Trojans were 2-5-2 in 1950, Cravath's only losing season.