Trojan fans fall short in late-game loyalty


The Coliseum crowd was electric.

The fans had not created this kind of atmosphere for a USC home game in a long time. Maybe it was because No. 1 Oregon was in town, the first time a top-ranked team has visited the Coliseum since 1988.

Wide open · While crowds initially fill the Coliseum on Saturdays, USC has consistently dealt with dwindling attendance late in their games. - Brandon Hui | Daily Trojan

Excitement was in the air. The Trojans, especially the defense, were feeding off this crowd. Every defensive stop garnered a roar from the 88,726 fans in attendance. People were on their feet for every third down, seemingly willing to stand by the Trojans until the end.

That is, until the middle of the third quarter, when the USC crowd fell silent and watched as the Trojans submitted to Oregon’s nation-leading offense.

The crowd looked as fatigued as the Trojans did on the field. The Ducks were so exhausting, they drained the passion right out of the Trojan faithful.

By the fourth quarter, even with USC down only two scores, the stadium began to empty. Never was it more important for Trojan fans to stick by their team; instead, they threw in the towel and headed for the parking lots and the parties.

This doesn’t happen in the Southeastern Conference. It is unheard of for home fans to leave even a mildly close game before the final whistle.

But for some reason at USC, whether it’s a lopsided win or loss or even a close game, it does not matter. The USC stadium is half-empty by the end.

Other fan bases stand up on every play during a big game, not just on third down. I was at the Nebraska-Miami national championship game in 2002 and noticed the Nebraska fans sitting behind me were on their feet for every bit of the action.

I assumed that was because of the stakes of the game but the Nebraska fans assured me that this was normal. No matter who Nebraska was playing, they never sat down while the game was in action.

I couldn’t believe it. As a 13-year-old, I had already been to dozens of home USC games and never did I see that kind of passion. I was used to a stadium of 90,000-plus people, 60,000 of whom were there more to say they’d been there, and maybe only 30,000 total who really cared.

Then last Saturday, I thought I saw it. I had never seen anything like it at the Coliseum, the entire stadium weaving and chanting together, the taste of the upset within its grasp.

But just as soon as it had come, it was gone, as fast as you could say LaMichael James. The Trojans did not quit on the field, but USC fans definitely quit on the Trojans.

Of course, what happens on the field, not in the stands, decides who walks away the winner. The players must sway the momentum so the crowd can feed off it.

But a real home-field advantage occurs when the crowd can build that momentum for itself: when noise translates to support, when 90,000 people can motivate 11 young men by repeatedly reminding them that they believe.

This is not to say that the outcome of the game would have been any different if the crowd had stayed around. By all means, an Oregon victory was assured by the middle of the fourth quarter when sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley threw his second interception.

Most USC fans had decided it more prudent to beat traffic or start the partying by this point.

Maybe the Coliseum is too big a place to expect every person in attendance to be a never-say-die fanatic. Maybe Los Angeles is too much of a happening place to expect people to sit through an entire football game.

Whatever the cause, it is the reason there will never be a true home-field advantage at the Coliseum. The Trojans once won 35 consecutive home games, but that was never about the stadium or the fans. It was always about the Trojans on the field.

Now that sanctions will prevent the Trojans from being what they were last decade, whatever mystique the Coliseum had will evaporate because the crowds that attend USC home games are just not going to stick by a losing team.

No Trojan is going to blame the crowd for the team’s performance, but they must recognize the importance of fan support.

“It seems like [we had a rhythm] only the first quarter and the third quarter, where we were rocking and you could tell the stadium was in it,” sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley said. “Finishing I think is what we didn’t do.”

Neither did the USC crowd.

“Middle Ground” runs Tuesdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Josh at jjovanel@usc.edu.

  • Guy Jobes

    I am back. I have done research, and I have learned much. USC is jealous that they have to share a acronym with U. South Carolina. It is why you guys cheat to distinguish your team. I have also acquired the knowledge of Barkley. He stinks worse than the leaking sewer pipes in that ghetto you call home. I wouldn’t let my kid sisters pet rat visit USC for risk that it would get mugged, or worse yet hang out with you losers. Evidence you ask? Easy, you morons correct each other on spelling on blogs…IDOITS! Oregon fans are way more classy than you dirtbags! Your mascot does not compare. Jobs? My name is Jobes bitch, who said I need jobs. Oregon is the truth, our girls are even hotter. Your girls are alright, but they would be better of quitting school and working the corners on that ghetto you scumbags live in. Who knows maybe I’ll pimp a couple of ‘um. Feels good to be Guy Jobes, fan of the best team ever!

    Ducks are what it’s all about, your luck just ran out! (cheaters)

    • Rob

      So your research missed the University of Oklahoma?

  • Trojan for Life

    I agree that fans should stay through the last play of the game, and I am one of those fans. I am also one of the 40,000 who sat through every play of the Paul Hackett era.

    I understand what you are saying about Nebraska and their loyal fans, but it is easy to glorify them from afar. I went to the USC-Nebraska game in Lincoln, where the Trojans throttled the Huskers. The Nebraska fans exited the stadium early in the 4th quarter. The same thing happened with Oklahoma fans in our National Championship game in Miami. I doubt that 10% of the Sooners were there for the last play.

    It is always great when something exciting happens at the end of one of those game, such as the touchdown against UCLA last year. You never know what is going to happen, so stay to support the team. Fight On!

  • PacificPrideTrojan

    Guy Jobes,

    Sounds more like Blow Jobes. Anyways, I bet you Junior College guys at “O”U, I mean Zero U will never understand what being a champion is all about. Your Ducks can go undefeated this season but you will never be a champion in my book because you need to have class to be a champion and that you don’t have. By the way, you ever notice that Duck and Suck rhyme? Quote me…..the time will come when Oregon becomes Oregone!

    Aloha, Dude. Fight On!

  • Greg Katz

    Very well put, Trojan Faithful.
    Oregon fans are vulgar, rude, obnoxious, and live in an area in the country where it’s OK to interbreed among the folks in the community. Ya know what they say about folks who live in the Northwest? It’s where the men are men, the women are too, and the sheep are nervous!

    I frequently travel to the NW, and I must say, other than there are lot of trees and greenery, …. well, that’s bout it.
    Oh, I’ve been to Eugene. One of my very best friend’s father was a US Senator from there. I love my friend to death and would do anything for her, bu the average population’s IQ in that state is that of lackluster bRuin. You prents and grandparents smoke wayyyy too much pot, and dropped too many tabs of acid in their day…. they ruined the gene pool for you all. Go back to the commune, learn to live off the land, because there ren’t any jobs up their and your alumni association isn’t going to hire you either.

    One more thing… the more you trash talk about us, the better we feel about it, because, your arrogant attitudes just indicate to us that you’re jealous, wish you had what we have, and are hoping that the SC program doesn’t regroup over the next few years to take down all Pac-12 teams. Our time is gonna come, and it’s in sight. Enjoy your new-found winning streak, now, while you can. Like Christmas, and that’s how you’re acting, it’ll soon be over!

    Fight On brothers and sisters!
    Beat the Sun Devils.

    • thunderheart

      Hey Greg, if your going to represent a great institution like USC, maybe tomorrow you might pay more attention in your spelling class. The correct spelling for prents, (parents) and bout should be (about),or maybe just show up for class will probably do. But anyway,I’m a big fan of USC football I have great respect for the program and I hope they get things going in the right direction soon.I had a good time attending the game down there, and was treated with respect from the Trojan fans.One last thing, we don’t smoke pot or do acid anymore up here. We now are getting high on “Quack”……remember Greg you need to learn how to “Win The Day”, be nice. Have a nice day……………..

  • Stephen

    The Trojans played their best game of the year against the number one team in the nation. Even tho it was a losing effort, it doesn’t take away the merits of a truly great game. Since when do Trojans make excuses for a loss? The team shouldn’t need the crowd to perform, EVER! I am not a fair weather fan, screw the band wagon! USC forever! The Trojans have nothing to play for other than pride, thanks to the knuckleheads at the NCAA. Punishing people who had NOTHING to do with Reggie Bush’s misdeeds is unjust. USC will regain our greatness on the field again. Until then, GO USC! FIGHT ON!

    • thunderheart

      Hey Stephen,I totally agree that the present USC football program shouldn’t be punished for something that happened a while back. And I will betcha that these type of violations are still going on with other programs in the country,just they haven’t been caught yet. But that’s all you can do is fill the stands, and support your team, because it will get better in time.

  • TrojanMan

    During the end of the Paul Hackett era the stadium was empty from start to finish. There were only about 40,000 fans in the stands and of those 40,000 about 34,000 were Trojan fans. Then Pete Carroll turned things around and Trojan tickets became coveted again. How did the University repay those loyal fans that supported the Trojans through the toughest of times? They cut the number of season tickets they could renew, pushed them up in the stands and away from the 50 yard line to accommodate the “band wagon” fans with money who wanted those prized seats. Now that the decade of dominance is over, the band wagon fans will turn their backs on the Trojans and those loyal 35,000 will be needed again. If you treat this emotional game like a business your fans will be customers, not loyal fans who will support the team whatever the outcome is. The university needs to be loyal to those who are loyal to them. If the university continues to cater to the band wagon fans that only will pay top dollar to see a winner, this is the type of support our team will get. To quote the bible “you reap what you sow.”

  • DevilishTrojan21

    Ducks = Nouveau Riche. It’s always the newly rich who have the worst behavior. Hang around the old money folks for a bit and learn something. Here’s a Jeopardy quiz for you. Answer: 24.

    Question: How many Rose Bowls has USC won?

  • uscroger

    Why so many ducks around here. Don’t they have their own bl-O-g.?

  • Nebraska Trojan

    1957 grad of USC. NE season ticket holder since 1968. NE fans are the greatest . All fan bases could learn from them. I love my Trojans and living in this football rabid state is just a pleasure. The Pete Carroll era was so great and Trojans will rise again to the great heights. Pat Haden was a great hire. Remember we always have our Song Girls and a wonderful horse. FIGHT ON

  • Guy Jobes

    Dear Condom Enthusiast,

    Where there is smoke, there is fire. I am an Oregon alum. We won the Rose Bowl in 1917, so get your facts straight. Fight on? Why, where are you going? USC is a good school, but who would want to live in that hellhole of a neighborhood anyway. Anyway, I retract my negative statement regarding this blog. I do like this blog. It is fun to watch cheaters get what they deserve. Thanks for passing the torch, hopefully it has not been too damaged by the crimes that have occurred on your team.

    Go Ducks! USC Sucks!

    • Trojan Faithful

      Jobes,

      1917 it was the pac 8 you dumbass. Fight On is an expression you Oregonian hippie. Much more clever than “O” There you go again with that cheating crap, once your school gets anywhere near us in sports or academics historically come talk to us. How’s that Oregon degree treating you? no job? yeah didn’t think so. Explains why you’re on this site you have nothing better to do. Living in a hell hole? First off we live, on campus, therefore its not in a hell hole you dumbass. Secondly, we still are a better school than yours even with our location…shows how much Oregon has going for them… And crimes? again your an idiot its a crime… what last time I checked how was masoli doing you hypocritical duck…at least reggie was good enough to make it count masoli was just stupid to steal hahaha

      Fight On!

  • Guy Jobes

    Maybe if your team wasn’t a lying, cheating, scumhole for the last ten years, with a coach who was willing to jump off the ship before the boat sank. Admit it, you guys are the white collar criminals of college football, now you got caught, what’s there to be excited about when your fans only like to win while cheating.

    Everyone hates your team and this whiny, trashy blog.

    Go Ducks! USC sucks!

    • Trojan Faithful

      Guy Jobes,
      You lack so much sense its unbearable. First, off get your facts right. Our TEAM was not cheating, neither was our school. A PLAYER was so called, “cheating” nonetheless, the university had nothing to do with it. Reggie was driving an impala that was being paid off in payments, therefore, no one could have known from the naked eye. Check your facts idiot! Secondly, how are we white collard criminals? we have 1 player in our history caught of wrong doing and now we are everyone’s demise? please…get your facts straight again. If you want to criticize a program go criticize ohio st for maurice clarrett, or UNC for their 9 players, or how about Miami for their drug busts in the 1990’s. Now I know you probably went to a mid level or even public school college, or maybe you have yet to graduate from your Junior College, but don’t go bashing a top 25 ranked school academically and athletically for consistently running the PAC 10. You know that “O” Oregon prides on…well it means: 0 heismans, 0 national titles, and 0 rose bowls. Also you claim everyone hates this blog…my question is then why are you on here? Again, have fun at your Junior college and tell me how living off the streets go. Lastly, don’t hate us cuz you aint us…FIGHT ON

      • thunderheart

        Hey Trojan Faithful, you left out one more “O” meaning, it also stands for zero NCAAFB violations…….