As the sun rises over Trousdale Parkway, one would expect the die-hard USC fans and alumni to slowly filter onto campus and enjoy the luxury of having a campus so close to the field.
That expectation would be true, except for one part: the die-hards are already there.
Entering campus as early as 10 p.m. the night before, USC alumni pack campus like sardines. Carrying tents, grills, and satellite dishes with 60-inch TVs (which are strangely commonplace here), USC fans know how to tailgate.
Most will welcome you to their party, as students and alumni, all part of the Trojan family, come together. Whether playing recreational games, singing various songs of the Cardinal and Gold, or rooting against Notre Dame as they lose (also commonplace) on television, they all relish the opportunity to take part in one of the greatest football programs in history.
One tip: do not bring up the BCS polls, unless you want an earful. Angry, semi-inebriated fans will give you an earful about how USC would have killed Florida last year, or the year before. And guess what—it’s true. No matter how well the Pac-10 does in the prior bowl season (5-0 last year), eventually USC falls to the incorrect perception that the Pac-10 is weak. When will they learn?
As game time creeps close, the Trojan Marching Band (TMB), self-named as “The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe,” begins its march down Trousdale Parkway, the busiest street on campus.
The band has played the Grammys. They have played the Oscars. They have recorded “Tusk” with Fleetwood Mac (which, by the way, is a fan favorite, as we work in the lyrics “UCLA SUCKS”). But if you ask any band member their favorite memories of working the band, they will unequivocally answer that the games are their only reason for playing. Trojan Marching Band spirit is unmatched, even by the other fans.
Most fans will follow the TMB down Trousdale, and as they reach the end of the street, each fan kicks the bottom of one of the three flagpoles at the end of the road. After the kick, USC’s good luck charm, they walk through the famous Rose Garden. The Trojan faithful then pass through the LA Science Museum, and approach the Coliseum.
Once in their seats, the fans are serenaded first by the Victory Bell, the USC-UCLA rivalry trophy, which seems to have taken a permanent residence at the Coliseum. Pete Carroll leads his championship caliber team down the grand steps of the former Olympic stadium, and the student crowd cheers wildly as they make their way to the locker room.
Enter the TMB. To this day, I have never seen a fan section actually cheer for the band itself except at Southern California. They are a huge attraction, and have the love and admiration of all true Trojans.
After the Star Spangled Banner, the players rush onto the field to the screams of rabid fans. And the kickoff soon follows.
Not too far away from that is another win to notch onto the home win streak. As the fans walk satisfied out of the stadium, they look above the exit, where Pete Carroll is quoted “Winning Never Gets Old.”
No, it never does. Fight On.