By Greg Lennon
One of the centerpieces of any USC student’s college experience is that surreal part of the Fall semester that is football season. New students quickly learn to respect and worship the history and tradition surrounding the illustrious Trojan football program. For over a century, the school has built a pigskin culture based on excellence, tradition, and the glory that is game day.
For many, the pregame tailgates are almost as important as the game itself. Whether you’re a hardcore alum who arrives on campus at 5:00am to set up the perfect tailgate, or just a casual fan, the pregame is a vital component to the Trojan game day experience. Walking onto campus on any game day, no matter the opponent, you will find almost every inch of SC decked out in Cardinal and Gold. When the time comes, the Trojan faithful head south to the Coliseum, pouring out of campus, and making sure to kick the trusty game day flag poles for good luck.
On the way, vendors sell essentials like bottled water, bootleg merchandise, and victory dogs (bacon wrapped hot dogs), the fuel of any tailgater. Passing religious orators and ticket scalpers, the crowd makes its way into the coliseum, bottlenecked into the student section. For most games, the student section feels like a pressure cooker; stacked like sardines into cramped seats, all the while the sun beating down. And yet watching football from the student section can be one of the most surreal experiences; the entirety of the crowd moving and reacting as one while the two teams wage war on the field below. Between chanting the SoCal spell-out, fighting on in unison with the song girls, or dancing to any number of the traditional cheers, the student section keeps things rowdy all game long.
For many so-called fans, halftime is a chance to escape the heat of the coliseum and return home to watch the remainder of the game from the comfort of air conditioning. For the more faithful fans, the second half is a time to watch the team inflict its finishing blows to the visitor (or vice versa), as well as hope to catch a 4th quarter t-shirt launched into the crowd. For the Trojan Faithful, game day is a borderline religious experience, and no matter the score, we never lose a tailgate.
Greg is a junior majoring in International Relations, with an emphasis in International Politics in Security Studies. As a member of USC’s NROTC program, he will graduate as an officer in the US Navy, where he will serve for several years. Born and raised in Northern California, Greg enjoys running, hiking, and swimming on the weekends.