I have this very annoying habit when I wake up each morning of anticipating things to come — a tendency to glance at a calendar, eager for some distant event to occur. My initial idea behind this was pure: I wanted the good news to come faster.
Fortunately, I’m not unique in this regard.
At some point in the coming weeks or months, the NCAA will render a decision in regards to USC’s appeal of June’s sanctions.
Granted, nobody knows the day or the hour, but for those of us invested in this ordeal, it’s a moment of great anticipation and even greater uncertainty. The final year of a two-year bowl ban might be lifted and scholarship limitations could potentially be sliced in half.
It could happen, really. Next season, if all goes according to plan — my plan — USC should be celebrating New Year’s in Pasadena, a reprise of the latter years of the Pete Carroll era.
But is this necessarily the proper response? From a fan’s perspective, should probation even matter?
“It’s about us and not about the NCAA,” said Zack Jerome, who runs the popular USC-centric blog, Lost Angeles. “It’s about enjoying the process: going down Trousdale and hearing the band with a full beer in your hand. Seeing Traveler. Nobody can take that experience away from you.”
Jerome, 28, founded what he calls “Arrogant Nation,” a collection of diehard Trojan football fans encouraged to pay no heed to NCAA rulings — a sort of self-reliance.
Provided USC suits up on Saturdays, he poses the question: What prevents fans from still grabbing a cardinal and gold T-shirt and alcoholic beverage of choice before heading over to a soldout Coliseum?
In a word, nothing.
Lost Angeles opens with a simple, 885-word post titled, “The Most Arrogant Shit Ever,” which encourages fans to drop the Kleenex boxes and enjoy post-sanctions life instead. “Let’s go win, pardon my French, every f–king game,” Jerome remembers thinking on the eve of the 2010 season.
And that’s the heart of his message: Ignore sanctions, ignore the NCAA and ignore the perceptions.
What’s important, at least in Jerome’s mind, is the college experience: that priceless four-year span that became the focal point of the popular blog last season, a sort of rallying cry for fans.
“After the sanctions hit, I saw so many of my underclassman friends talking about how bummed out about the season they were,” he recalled. “And I said, ‘They’re going to let us play.’ We don’t have a playoff so if we go and win every game, we’re still the champs. I didn’t want people to get down on the fact that we couldn’t win a fake national championship.”
Instead of licking his wounds in response to the Committee on Infractions’s mid-June report, Jerome sought to use his platform as a remedy for distraught fans, while also branding that arrogance — that swagger — that is distinctly USC.
“Football is a lifestyle at USC,” he said. “We’re a certain kind of fan and you might not get it if you’re from Auburn and that’s the only thing you have in your life. At USC, we love our football as much as them, but we have it in perspective.”
Much to his surprise, people bought into that notion in the form of T-shirts, snatching up Trojan apparel with slogans such as “Bowls are for salads,” “Lane f–king Kiffin bro” and “You can’t sanction the endzone” blazoned across the chest.
“It definitely grew faster than I thought,” Jerome said. “I thought that people would like it, but I never thought it would be as much as a rallying cry as it was.”
Unsurprisingly, the blog’s traffic has skyrocketed in recent months. Jerome, a 2005 USC graduate, has been asked to speak on radio shows as well as at events, including the Greek League, Order of Omega and Relay for Life, playing off the site’s popularity.
And though Jerome’s Trojans were barred from partaking in one of 35 bowl games in 2010, he contends many things have remained the same.
Beginning with the team’s Sept. 11 home opener against Virginia, players customarily entered the Coliseum through the southwest stadium tunnel with “Tribute to Troy” blaring. Through 13 games, the offense amassed 403 points, winning eight times. And following a December win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl, Tusk was still put on repeat on the way down the 110.
“It was always about us. The point is that we could still go out every Saturday and go beat the hell out of every team in the Pac-10.”
“The 19th Hole” runs Mondays. To comment on this article email Joey at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit dailytrojan.com.