Apr 12, 2024 - News

🏈 The time O.J. almost became a Ute

A man wearing No. 32 running the football in a red and yellow uniform

O.J. Simpson playing running back at USC. Imagine him in a Utes' uniform. Photo: Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

O.J. Simpson died yesterday from cancer. He doesn't have much to do with Utah.

  • But he almost did!

Flashback: Before Simpson accepted a scholarship at the University of Southern California, where he won the Heisman in 1968, he made a verbal commitment to the University of Utah, the Deseret News wrote in 2007.

Zoom in: Utah's coach in 1967 was Mike Giddings, a former USC assistant who knew Simpson.

  • Simpson was set to transfer from City College of San Francisco when he made a verbal commitment to Utah, according to one of Giddings' former assistants.

Friction point: Utah wasn't USC in 1967 — even though the Utes keep beating the Trojans these days. Back then, Utah games were rarely on national TV.

The bottom line: Simpson, who went on to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, was a phenomenal talent who might have put the U.'s football program on the map.

  • Yes, but: Utah also would have had ties to a man who was found civilly liable in connection with the deaths of his wife and her friend following his acquittal in a murder trial that captivated America in the '90s.

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