If you're from Southern California, you know Orange County. Land of beautiful beaches and beautiful girls, great surf, Disneyland and Richard Nixon. If you're a Trojan fan you also know that Orange County is a quarterback factory for the University of Southern California breeding tall, handsome, incredibly talented O.C. kids with big arms and big hearts who bleed Cardinal and Gold. Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Craig Fertig, Rob Johnson, Matt Leinart, Todd Marinovich, Mark Sanchez, and Shane Foley, all prepped in Orange County and all have gone on to USC to play QB as will the incoming freshman Aaron Corp.
All the above-named QBs came to USC with huge pedigrees, starring bigtime in O.C. high schools, and landing on the 'SC campus with high expectations of success. They say that USC is now "Quarterback U." because of the recent Heisman trophies presented to Carson and Matt, and the continued expectations for Booty and Sanchez to continue that tradition, but the high level of USC quarterback play, started long ago. There was Pat Haden and Vince Evans, among others, and in the late '80s to early '90s, there was an unbroken string of Rodney Peete, Todd Marinovich and Rob Johnson who starred at USC and then went on to be drafted high in the NFL.
In the midst of this deluge of NFL quality QBs at USC, Shane Foley was coming out of Newport Harbor High School as the record holder in Orange County career passing yards. He had the credentials; 1986 CIF Player of the Year, and Shane was primed to step into the USC rotation of stellar QBs and take his spot behind center, ready to lead USC to Rose Bowls and victories. But, just like a recent USC QB, Matt Cassell, various factors conspired to prevent Shane from reaching the same high pinnacle of success he had enjoyed at Newport Harbor High. Some Orange County fans are still incensed about that today. Though Shane did enjoy some playing time, and had some very good outings as a USC QB, he never got the chance to start a full season at USC, and possibly show what he could've done in his career. When I googled "Shane Foley" I found an active Orange County sports message board which included a recent post that stated, "Shane Foley, the legend that USC screwed over. Foley was better than Marinovich."
Though some O.C. fans are still bitter about Shane's USC career, and though I tried to imagine Shane's disappointment that he wasn't given the opportunity he deserved, Shane is the exact opposite, beaming with pride about being a Trojan and excited that he played with the great players he was teammates with. He is a Trojan gentleman with the utmost character who only sees the positive in his experiences at USC. His answers to my questions left me full of respect for his Trojan spirit, and on that note, we present the Shane Foley interview below:
You were a legend at Newport Harbor High School. You threw for over 5000 yards? What was your recruiting like? What sold you on USC?
When I graduated from Newport Harbor High, I had thrown for over 5,300 yards in 2 seasons (3100+ as a senior), then the Orange County career record. However, records are meant to be broken and it has been many times over. I was recruited by many Divison 1 schools and several in the Pac-10 and Big-10. I was interested in USC, UCLA, Stanford, and Arizona. There were a lot of very good quarterbacks coming out of high school that year and I narrowed my focus to USC, Stanford, and Arizona. My Dad and my Uncle had graduated from USC and my other Uncle went to Stanford and was a 2 year starter as a defensive back (I was at the Coliseum the year that Stanford came back and tied and the Trojans 21-21 and cost us the National Championship - it is "us" now but I was pulling for my Uncle at the time!). Ted Tollner recruited me and I chose USC over Stanford and Arizona.
Can you do a brief recap of your career for us?
Orange County Career Passing Leader upon graduation
All County and All CIF 2 years
CIF Player of the Year -1986
ABC Player of the Game vs. Arizona State 1990
Player of the Game vs. Oregon State 1990
USC Offensive Champion 1990 - given to Senior for Leadership, Team Commitment, and Dedication
John Wayne Memorial Post Graduate Scholarship for Senior with highest G.P.A.
Who were some of your favorite teammates? Do you still keep in touch?
You played for two different coaches, the not so revered Ted Tollner, and the equally not-so- revered Larry Smith. Can you explain what you liked and disliked about each coaching style? And what was it like playing for Larry Smith as his teams and his tenure started off well, but seemingly didn't live up to expectations?
A lot of Trojan fans and Herdmembers enjoy the open practices of the Pete Carroll tenure. Pete encourages fan interaction with the players and coaches, and Pete has especially embraced the Herd. What was the difference in Tollner's practices and Smith's practices, and how did each coach interact with Trojan fans in general?
As stated above, you were one of THE premier QB's out of high school and you took your place in line behind Rodney Peete and Pat O'Hara...What was it like to back-up Rodney Peete, a Trojan legend in his own right, a runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting his senior year? And then Peete graduated and Pat blew his knee out, and you should have stepped in as the starter. However, Coach Smith put Todd Marinovich in front of you. I've been told that this was a move the players did not think was fair or right. As a top athlete and competitor, how did that effect you?
Playing behind Rodney Peete was fun as a fan but a long wait as a quarterback wanting an opportunity. He was a great quarterback and a great Trojan. Certainly one of the best quarterbacks of all time at the collegiate level. My senior year in high school, Rodney had blown his achilles out in the Aloha Bowl and the coaches said they were not sure how he would come back from that injury. Well, he came back just fine and went on to have a great Trojan career and a long NFL career as well.
As for my opportunities to play, I did not really have much opportunity to play at quaterback until my junior year when Rodney had graduated. I had volunteered to play on the kickoff and punt teams as a redshirt freshman so I could contribute and travel with the team. I had played DB in high school and the hitting was fine with me.
Todd Marinovich encountered a few public problems along the way and was suspended for the Arizona game. You started that game and you had a great outing. But, the next week Todd was the starter again. How did you deal with that? Emotionally? Mentally? What was your relationship like with Todd, and how did you keep preparing yourself to be ready week in and week out in case Marinovich got hurt?
My senior year, I was very involved with the offense and was working out with the 1st and 2nd team offense along with Todd. The week of the ASU game, there was a lot going on but that was the game that Smith handed me the reigns. We went into Tempe and grinded out a win 13-6. But we completely controlled the clock and the yardage.
The next week was Cal at home and I actually started that game and we went down 80 yards and scored and went up 7-0 but I was taken out of the game and we went on to a tie at home against the Bears. Not too sure why I was benched after a win and a touchdown and was never given a very good answer by Coach Smith. My best complete game was against Oregon State - went 9 for 9 and threw 2 TD's and ran one.
In the John Hancock Bowl against Michigan State, Coach Smith pulled Marinovich in the 4th quarter. You came in and led USC to a couple scores to get us back in the game, but time ran out and USC lost 17-16. There was a well-publicized shouting match on TV on the sideline with Coach Smith and Marinovich. What were your feelings about that game, and almost being the hero? And I've also heard that there were some fireworks in the locker room after that game. Do you feel free to comment on that?
You've seen the Trojans go on major streaks against their rivals the last few years, the 2006 UCLA game doesn't need to be included in this conversation. What was it like to play against UCLA and Notre Dame?
What did you do after you graduated from USC? What are you doing now? Did you have any thoughts of a career in football? Playing? Coaching?
After college, I worked out for the Rams and thought about going to Canada to keep playing. I went to the World League, down in Orlando, which at the time was in the U.S and Europe. I was one of 2 QB's in camp and I thought I had a good shot at starting. However, this league was owned by the NFL so two weeks into camp, there were 2 more QB's from NFL rosters that were sent to the team I was on and that finished things up for me that season. Life went a different direction and I got into the working world.
I have been in the Real Estate field for the last 10 years. I have been a licensed broker since 2000 and I work in real estate finance and investments, both commercial and residential. I have my own company, Access Capital, located in Orange County. I look forward to coaching again but that will probably be when I have some kids!
Trolling the world of google for info on your USC past, I came across a message board posting that said, "Shane Foley..the legend that USC screwed over...Foley was better than Todd Marinovich " Apparently some fans are still bitter about your treatment at USC, and the lack of chances you got to get playing time and show what you could do. Did you (or do you) have any bitter feelings about that chance gone by?
As for my USC career, I have no regrets. Sure, I would have loved the opportunity to have a full season to be the starter and to see where I could have taken us. Everybody that is recruited by a major program has hopes of starting and playing a part in their respective program. However, I can feel good that when I played we scored points and we won games.
My favorite moment at USC was coming in against Ohio State early in my junior season. That was the first time I really noticed the fans when I was playing. When I ran out to the huddle, I heard the crowd roar (which you never hear when you are playing) and for split second realized that it was for me, which was kind of surreal. At home, down 3-0 I led the team downfield to a touchdown. The play was 3rd and goal on a play action pass to Scotty Galbraith that I could have run or passed in. It's moments like these that made all of the struggle, hard work, and commitment worth it.
I think it is awesome what Pete and his staff have done at USC- to bring the program back to National prominence, year in and year out, competing for the BCS game and not being satisfied unless we win it - that is what being a Trojan is about. I love his philosophy of playing anyone, anywhere, anytime and the attitude that the team encompasses - a toughness and no quit - that each of his teams possess in their own way, that is a mark of greatness It is great to see the Coliseum with a lot more life than I remember after I graduated in the 90's - there is a lot more to cheer about these days!!! The Trojan family continues to grow and I see examples of it frequently in the working world and I will continue to reach out and do what I can to serve.