There’s nothing like USC on game day.
The first time you stare out into the sea of cardinal and gold, you might get a little nervous. Thousands upon thousands of ardent fans revel in the excitement of being members of the Trojan Family. The music is loud, the food is hot, the drinks are cool and the band can inspire even the most pessimistic Debbie Downer — and this isn’t even the game.
Tailgating has become one of USC’s greatest traditions. There’s nothing like opening up your dorm window to the smell of grilled hamburgers and the sound of reggaeton music blasting from the quad.
Those who have never experienced a USC tailgate will probably think it’s an exaggeration to say that it’s one of the most massive and exciting events someone could ever attend. If you’ve never gone, just wait until the first game this Saturday.
It might seem impossible, but USC’s tailgates do have a bit of a downside. Because game day festivities are so extraordinary, there is a lot of planning required, especially if you want to get the full USC football experience.
If you decide to throw your own tailgate party, location is key. People typically get to campus at 8 a.m. to secure a spot. The ideal spot is underneath the Traveler statue; that way, you can see all the way down Trousdale Parkway, which is great for people watching, while also being close enough to beat the rush of football hooligans squirming to get to the Coliseum.
Another good spot is next to Tommy Trojan. People tend to get lost walking around in the crowds, so when you say, “I’m over by Tommy Trojan,” your rendezvous becomes a lot easier.
The marching band also performs going down Trousdale — definitely a sight to see. Don’t miss this spectacle; set up close by.
Lastly, stay away from McCarthy Quad. It’s mostly for alumni and older folks, and students tend to stick closer to Trousdale.
Though it goes without saying, don’t wear our opponent’s colors — or anything that slightly resembles them — even if your parents, grandparents or cousins went to the opposing school. You will most assuredly get heckled.
Keep it USC-friendly with cardinal, gold and black. Face paint, cardinal and gold Mardi Gras beads and other ’SC-themed accessories are encouraged. If you look in the mirror and think you look like an explosion of cardinal and gold, you’re wearing the right thing, and if you ever feel embarrassed, remember the Trojan Knights are in the front row with their entire bodies painted.
Though decking yourself out in cardinal and gold is imperative, don’t forget to kick the flag posts on Trousdale on your way to the Coliseum. Doing so, of course, is a time-honored tradition.
Though it could be classified as a natural disaster, heading to the bookstore on game day is always fun and something everyone tries at least once. There, you can pick up some last-minute necessities while trying not to be suffocated by the herds of people.
Try to get a good seat in the Trojan Nation section for at least one game. Trust me, it’s a different experience watching the game from behind the goal post than from the top of the bleachers. Sure, you have to get there a little early, but it’s worth it.
Before the game, try to learn as many of our songs and chants as you can. Game day staples include the “Fight On” symbol and the words to our Alma Mater
The point of tailgating is to have fun, but you don’t want to have so much fun that you can’t enjoy — or remember — the game. You don’t want to be the attendee that gets too drunk to go to the Coliseum, or worse, the attendee that makes it there but is a disgraceful, sloppy mess.
Gather a bunch of friends to walk over together. It’s a great way to make new friends when you’re a freshman, a transfer student or someone who just wants to meet new people.
Tailgating only happens in the fall, so enjoy it while you can. Before you know it, it will be spring and Saturdays just become Saturdays. Wear all of the cardinal and gold that you can and participate in our “UCLA sucks” chants. USC football games are truly unique experiences, so don’t forget to soak them up while they last.