USC Football board game
This circa 1930s board game from Howard Jones is one of thousands of unique historical pieces housed in the USC Libraries' Special Collections. PHOTO COURTESY OF USC LIBRARIES, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Howard H. Jones wasn’t just a master of the gridiron—he knew his way around a game board.

A legend of collegiate football, Jones coached the USC Trojans from 1925 to 1940. He presided over USC’s “Thundering Herd,” leading the Trojan football teams to four national championships and seven conference titles. His teams went undefeated in five Rose Bowls.

Jones parlayed his football knowledge into the “Howard H. Jones Collegiate Football Game,” a circa-1930s board game produced by Los Angeles-based Municipal Service Corp. Ltd. (of which Jones served as president). In the game, a mechanical device launches a ball for kickoffs, field goals and punts. On offense, the player chooses one of eight possible plays to call and then spins an arrow, which stops on letters. The player on defense then spins the arrow and gets another letter in response. The result of these two spins determines what happens to the ball and what happens in the game.

The color-coded board pictured here, which measures about four square feet, is now ensconced in the USC Libraries’ University Archives, part of Special Collections, which include archives, manuscripts, historic photographs and rare books. The department contains more than 200,000 volumes, more than 1,000 archival collections and more than 2 million photographs.

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