This list is based upon my time-tested method of maximizing the fan experience of attending football games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, dating back to when John McKay roamed the sidelines.
Preparation is everything as any coach worth his salt is willing to tell you. To properly prepare for attending a game, you need to throw down a quality BBQ the night before. Dinner for Friday is nice and all, but the main reason to do this is for the tailgate lunch.
Not many places are BBQ friendly around the Coliseum. Even if you do find such a spot, do you really want to deal with working the Q and the cleanup; or would you rather roll up and start with the eating, drinking, & being merry right away? That’s what I thought you’d say.
Menu is flexible, though I like the connected leg & thigh chicken. Grills up better than breast and much easier to munch holding the end of the leg. Ribs are fine, but messier and steak or chops aren’t quite as nice served cold compared to a bird. Chips and salads make for best side dishes, especially with disposable containers.
Beverages? If you need me to tell you with what you like to drink, you’ve got bigger issues than what can be solved by reading any column. Just bring a couple extra since you never know whom you might meet.
Get up. Remind everybody in the house it’s GAMEDAY and if they expect something from you not related to football, best get set for disappointment.
Watch pregame show over light breakfast. Ask how an idiot such as (fill in the blank) got hired as an analyst in the first place. Scrub your hide, then you are ready to suit up. Select jersey to wear. Do you go old school with the Marcus Allen? How about one of the recent Heisman winners like Matt Leinart? Or do you bust out the new Cushing (and no you big dummy, that’s NOT a Booty jersey).
Break out your lucky hat, t-shirt, and/or underwear and dress for victory. Pack up the tailgate—don’t forget the paper towels—grab your tix and binocs and hit the road, figuring for arrival four hours before game time.
Approach to Campus:
Decide if traffic seems light enough for on-campus parking. If not, pull into one of the preferred off campus snake spots (I could tell ya, but then I’d have to kill ya), remembering each new year some disappear and others take their place.
Fall out onto a grassy patch on the outer rim of campus. Bust out the feast and partake. Observe a bit of the human parade; the hotties and the notties, the tall and the small, from 3 to 93 and everything in between.
After properly disposing of your trash in a nearby receptacle, make the rounds (sequence changes due to starting location.) Dedeaux Field (baseball) and Cromwell Stadium (track) to Heritage Hall to view the holy relics—known as trophies to the heathens—then observe the statue of the Wild Bunch. Also on the rounds are the newer McCarthy Quad, the classic Alumni Park, and of course a stop at the Trojan Bookstore to see what new gear is available.
Now make your way over to the statue of Tommy Trojan and find a good spot to watch the last on-campus set by the Spirit of Troy. Sing along and chant the chants then walk along Trousdale Parkway with the band (remember, feeding the band beers is now frowned upon. Bastards!) Stop briefly to kick the flagpoles for good luck, then cross over Exposition Blvd and make your way through the gardens of Exposition Park and on to the Coliseum.
Into the Coliseum:
Walking in with the band means there isn’t many folks yet at the entry gates. After passing through the gates, emptying your bladder is a usually a good idea. If you wish, cruise over to the peristyle and check out the plaques honoring significant events and people from the new one for Vin Scully all the way back to the 1930’s. Grab a program and tasty beverage and make your way through the tunnels to your seats.
As you emerge into the seating area, take a moment to appreciate the sight: the beautiful grass field, the massive scale of the mostly empty seating, the majesty of the peristyle with the Olympic torch above, banners honoring the Heisman winners and National Championships. It is a beautiful thing.
Make your way to your seat, settle in and perform a binoc check, adjusting for clarity. The few players warming up in t-shirts are good targets for the check—song girls are better. Leaf though the program, assessing once again the opposing team, players that must be contained and weakness to be exploited.
Applaud the different position squads of Trojans as they come onto the field while seated. Get up and cheer for the band and they enter, proudly showing the V for Victory sign. Rise again to cheer the full team as they leave the field. The band now will take the field and commence with their pregame show, including the first appearance of Traveler.
Bath in the energy of the crowd as the Coliseum has filled up. Stand and cheer when the Trojans gather at the mouth of the tunnel, then explode as they take the field. All things are possible and you feel like the master of your domain. It truly is a beautiful thing. Jeer the opposing team as they enter to meet their doom. Just like the Christians all those centuries ago in a similarly named arena.
Now revel in about 3 hours of running and blocking, passing and catching, tackling and scoring. After the conclusion, sit back satisfied and secure in the knowledge you have experienced the most fun one can hope to have with their clothes on.
Make your way over to where the band has spilled onto the field and enjoy the post game concert. All the hits, a few golden oldies, song girls and flag twirlers—beats the hell out of trying to get out in the teeth of traffic created by over 90,000.
After the show, retrace your steps through the gardens and onto campus, kicking the flagpoles again then make your way back to Tommy Trojan for one final salute. You’re almost floating on the way to your car with your heart lifted and a song on your lips because you are one with the Trojan Family.
If you consider yourself a fan of the Bruins, Irish or that day’s opposition; following these instructions may result in confusion, nausea and convulsions. Proceed at your own risk.