Having just returned from a trip to the West coast to visit our son who is at Southern Cal, the best part of our brief vacation was getting to see him play with the world famous Trojan Marching Band. The other highlight was getting in 18 holes of golf while the rest of my Midwestern pals suffered from the first real blast of winter cold.
Since I didn’t watch much TV (other than football) or see any movies, here is a breakdown of our daylong trek to the campus and the stadium for the USC- Notre Dame game. We were staying with relatives in Pasadena. The tailgating that I regularly see when covering Northwestern games pales in comparison to what I witnessed Saturday.
11:20 – Leave for the USC Campus as the traffic snaked through downtown LA
12:00 noon – Arrived at the campus. Some of the entrances were blocked or only accessible from one side of the street, which happened not to be the one we were on. After some creative maneuvering, we found an open entrance and parked in a parking structure for $20 that normally would charge $8.
1:00 – Commandeered my son’s laptop and finished the upload of the “Weekend Sports Report” podcast. Also posted it’s availability on the Facebook fan page. I skipped the show that morning, not wanted to get up at 5 AM West coast time, so I have yet to hear it. Then I left for the band parent’s tailgate over at the Coliseum.
1:30 – 2:00 Loaded up on BBQ beef and other goodies. There was plenty to eat and drink, and met some nice folks from one of the LA suburbs, whose son was a trumpet player.
2:30 – Band rally in front of Heritage Hall, which houses USC Athletic Department offices, along with displays of the Heisman trophies won by USC, including OJ Simpson’s, but not the returned one of Reggie Bush.
3:30 – Back to the car for our blankets and extra layers, as the mild temperatures that had been in the low sixties were giving way to the low fifties or possibly even upper forties.
4:00 to 5:00 – Returned to the stadium. My family went in to watch all the pregame. I had to get rid of two extra tickets. It was not an easy feat, and I did get to watch the “professional” scalpers in action. They set up in various locations around the stadium selling what they have and buying off extras for a fraction of face value. Then they seem to gather near the main entrance around game time for the late arrivals. On more than one occasion, two guys who might have been competing for sales earlier would work in unison to come up with the right number or section if a buyer needed more than two tickets. It was fascinating. If it’s not a high demand event, I would never buy again in advance, if you want a shot a nice bargain. Just make sure if you need two that they are in adjacent seats. I didn’t see anyone get ripped off, and some folks didn’t care if they were next to each other.
5:00 – I finally sell my tickets, and all I’ll say is that someone got a super nice deal, and I didn’t have to eat the tickets. One of the scalpers had offered me $20, not for each, but for the pair. I politely declined. Not a moment too late, as the game was about to start.
5:10 – I literally get to my section just as the game begins with the opening kickoff.
6:30 – Halftime with Notre Dame leading 13-3. On several key third down during ND drives, the crowd tried to urge on the defense. The noise was deafening. At most games, I usually sit in the press box, which usually have closed windows and the crowd sounds are muffled.
The band plays “Jump” by Van Halen, “F—You” by Cee Lo Green, which has been dubbed “Forget You” for the family crowd, “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones, and the finale was “Can’t Stop” performed with Latin rap – pop – rock act Ozomatli.
7:00 – Halftime over – we couldn’t see my son, who was on the far end of the field. Time for some food. Chick-fil-a was out of “chickin” so we settled for two burgers and an order of fries: $21. Yikes, stadium prices.
7:30 – the rain begins to fall. Somehow, we missed the memo, and had no rain gear, just our blankets and hats. All around us the other band parents were donning parkas. We had even bought a USC umbrella, which was sitting on the dresser back at my sister-in-law’s.
8:30 – Notre Dame interception at the one-yard line which ends USC hopes for a comeback, and ends their winless streak to the Trojans at eight.
8:45 – the band plays one last time in the stadium for the student section. We are soaked and have already heard them three times, plus Friday’s rehearsal, so we leave, along with a lot of unhappy, wet Trojan fans, and some jubilant Irish fans.
9:00 – The band plays one last time in front of the campus bookstore. It’s a shortened routine, that already includes some “Beat UCLA” cheers.
9:30 – Since the campus coffee house is still closed for the holiday weekend it’s decided that we will make a quick trip to Carl’s Jr. for our son who hasn’t eaten since lunch, and Starbucks for the rest of us to get some warm beverages.
10:15 – Hugs and goodbyes all around, as our son reminds us that we’ll see him in three weeks time, when he returns for the winter break.
11:00 – We return back to Pasadena, tired, and still a bit wet, nearly twelve hours after setting out for our tailgate and game adventure. Of course we passed through more traffic in downtown LA, even on a Saturday night.
Here is video of the show as found on (where else?) Youtube.