USC Gamecocks Football

‘Sunshine’ back at the beach: Character in ‘Remember the Titans’ based on prep career

Ron Bass
Ron Bass

Ron Bass started at South Carolina in 1976 and 1977, after backing up Jeff Grantz for two years and redshirting because of an injury in 1975. He lives in Little River, where he’s the national sales manager for WMBF TV in Myrtle Beach. His son Ron Jr. is the starting quarterback at North Myrtle Beach High.

Q: Your role in “Remember the Titans” was memorable, but how much of it was true?

A: “Well, I think the best way to answer that is most of the big stuff that they couldn’t change is true. The friction in school with desegregation is accurate, and the problems that came along with that. The record of the team, you can’t change that. It was the little things they changed to make it more entertaining.”

Q: What did they change?

A: “The dancing on the field in warm-ups, we never did that. There wasn’t as much goofing off in the locker room.”

Q: Were you called “Sunshine?”

A: “Yes. I got that nickname early on. I did show up in the summer before the season started, not like the movie portrays, where it was in the middle of camp. I had just moved from California and because I knew I was moving, I spent the last month on the beach. And I was sunburned.”

Q: Did you take over as starting QB at T.C. Williams midseason like in the movie?

A: “No, I actually won it at camp. Coach (Herman) Boone named the starters toward the end of camp.”

Q: How did you get interested in USC?

A: “I visited North Carolina and East Carolina and schools like that. I guess the reason South Carolina came up was because the second year at T.C., we didn’t go to the full team camp at Gettysburg. The offensive backfield went to Wake Forest’s veer camp, which was run by Oval Jaynes. He was recruiting me at Wake, then he got hired by coach (Paul) Dietzel to put in the veer offense at USC. So then he was recruiting me to South Carolina.”

Q: Was it tough sitting your first two years?

A: “I got to play just a couple of times, when Grantz was nicked up, but I didn’t think of leaving. That’s kind of a new development these days, people transferring. We committed and stayed with it. I hurt my knee and had surgery on it, so I took a redshirt in 1975.”

Q: And you were named starter in 1976?

A: “Well, I guess starting the spring, that was true on the depth chart. I don’t know if I was the automatic starter. I’d been around longer than anyone else.”

Q: USC was 6-5, then 5-7. What kept USC from winning more?

A: “We won a lot at home and lost a lot on the road. Because of the surgery, I had to change the way I played a little bit. I probably lost a step or two from the knee surgery.”

Q: You signed under Dietzel but Jim Carlen was hired in 1975. What did he change?

A: “We still ran a whole lot more than we threw. Those last two years, we probably did a little more throwing, although we certainly weren’t a drop-back team. Everything came off the option. Plus, my senior year, we had George Rogers as a freshman. There was a lot more of ‘Turn around and pitch it to George.’”

Q: Did you have any nibbles from pro ball?

A: “I went straight to work. I kind of knew I just wasn’t big enough. I was finishing school and had taken some classes in broadcasting, so I did the sports report in the morning for the old WIS radio. Then I figured out sales was the place to be, so I bugged them until they put me in sales. I stayed with it.”

Q: Did you stay in South Carolina?

A: “I had two years in Atlanta, but moved back to Columbia, and then to Greenville. We were in Greenville 27 years, where my daughters grew up, and Ronnie was transitioning from middle to high school. I said it’d be a great time to move to the beach, so that’s what we did.”