The Coliseum was rapidly filling with red and yellow-gold clad fans. We joked as we parked next to “USC Surplus” that the surplus was for the millions of different USC shirts we saw fans wearing as they streamed along the sidewalk. In the stadium the diversity was greater: little girls and coeds were wearing song girl uniforms; men and boys were wearing football jerseys; t-shirts with messages abounded, including my favorite, Keep Calm and Fight On!
Campus was packed fountain to fountain with tailgaters, students and alumni–more crowded than I had ever seen, even at graduation. We were all a bit overwhelmed and found a quieter place at the food court near the bookstore to rest for a moment and enjoy conversation before the game.
We joined the throngs headed for the stadium about 4:20. It is normally only a 10-minute walk to Exposition Park, but on this day the crowds slowed to a shuffle and the new light rail metro on Exposition Boulevard added an additional complication.
The official start time was 5 p.m. as the game against nationally ranked Stanford was televised. About then, we sat in the seats we bought through Stub Hub and watched the USC Marching Band perform a pre-game show. I was tickled since I enjoy the band as much (or more) than the football. The clock on the scoreboard indicated that there was about 14 minutes to kickoff. The color guard presented and the band played America the Beautiful and the national anthem.
USC won the coin toss and chose to receive. The clock was reset to 15:00 and we were off on the rollicking ride of Trojan football. It is more active than a Catholic church service, without the kneeling. Stand up, sit down, make some noise, make a lot more noise, stand up again. There were many exciting plays and the jumbo-tron made watching the game easier with replays but sometimes I got caught up watching the screen instead of the field.
The song girls looked great. Our majestic mascot Traveler makes an appearance whenever a touchdown is scored, so he galloped out twice in the first half.
The real excitement for me was at halftime. The rivalry between the Leland Stanford Jr. University “Marching” Band and the USC Marching Band is long standing. The Stanford band is like one big inside joke. Their show was true to non-form. Then our band took the field and put on a show, including the impressive Leland Stanford Junior Countermarch. (link to YouTube video of 2011 performance)
Ultimately, in spite of losing the last 4 games to Stanford, losing our coach mid-season (for the better), cast as the underdogs against the nationally ranked team, the Trojans triumphed with a last minute 47-yard field goal. Pandemonium ensued. The fans deserve some credit for the win as their enthusiasm never flagged.
I am a proud Trojan alumna of the University of Southern California living in Northern California. I have only been to a handful of football games since I graduated and mostly at Cal Berkeley or Stanford. After my 25 year reunion, I decided that if I had the opportunity, I would take my children to watch a game in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Mission accomplished.