The last second ticked off the clock and in less than a second the madness began. A Coliseum full of 92,000 people stormed past the jokingly understaffed LAPD officers and took over the field. Took over our field.
I stayed in my 92nd row seat to take everything in from above. When Andre Heidari made the kick, the oh-so-improbable kick, I screamed. I paced. I wished I had a benzo on me. When the game clock ran out, I screamed again. And then I cried. I cried tears of happiness, of incredulousness. I cried tears of pain, of what we had all been through. But, most of all, I cried tears of pride. So much Cardinal and Gold pride it could have filled the Coliseum (and at least three Rose Bowls).
Almost immediately, the ridicule began. The pundits took us to task, calling us classless, unsportsmanlike and ridiculous for celebrating what, to them, meant nothing. What nobody but a Trojan understands is how that win meant everything. No, we weren’t going to the National Championship. We weren’t even going to the Pac-12 Championship. But that win meant so, so much more.
What the last second win against the Farm symbolized was a show of survival. Everyone, including many Trojans, thought the sanctions were just a euphemism for the Death Penalty. We were USC, the school everyone love(d)(s) to hate. They couldn’t make the death swift, they wanted to torture us slowly. They wanted us to feel every slice of the knife. The win proved to us, proved to everyone, that we can be broken, we can be bleeding, but we will never die.
When the sanctions came down, the true fans stuck by our team. I have watched every second of every game. I have cried at more games than I care to admit. I almost broke my hand punching a wall during one of the more frustrating losses. But I have never, for one second, stopped being proud to be a Trojan.
We lost our way for a while. People blamed the sanctions and, yes, they were a good part of it. But it was also certain “leaders” who tried to destroy our heart and soul. The second Coach O stepped out on the field, I saw us again. I saw ‘SC. I knew we were alive and we would never again let them make us doubt that.
I’ve tried to explain to non-USC friends what the win against the Farm meant. It’s impossible for them to understand. Unless you have been through what the true Trojans have been through, you can’t know what it feels like to breathe as one again. To show the haters and the doubters and the villains that “WE ARE ‘SC!”
We will not lie down, we will not die and we will be back at the top.
The possibilities are endless for the newest incarnation of the USC Trojans.
We have a new leader in Steve Sarkisian, who will be bringing an up-tempo to the offense that will give us a much needed edge. We have an almost entirely fresh staff of assistants, who are reported to have more autonomy than has been given to our coaches in the recent past.
We have a now veteran quarterback who saw us through the worst and will set out to prove he can play as the best.
And we have an entirely new playoff system that has turned college football on its head. There is nothing left to hold us back.
We run LA. And we’ll storm any field it takes to prove it.