USC Takes College GameDay by Storm


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If there wasn’t enough anticipation about the College Football Weekend at USC last week with the then-No. 2 Oregon Ducks coming to the Coliseum for arguably the PAC-10’s most hyped game this season, ESPN took care of that.

Last week, the national sports media giant sent its renowned College GameDay team — Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and Erin Andrews — to Southern California to preview this week’s slate of games. If you’ve been living under a rock since 1987, the commentators debate and analyze the various matchups for the weekend, with special emphasis on the game being played where the show is hosted. The show culminates in Corso’s selection of the winner of the featured game, a choice that is either lauded or loathed by the home team’s fans.

Photo Courtesy of Neon Tommy

But for all the significance of the show as a preface to the day’s slate of games, the event has metamorphosed into a raucous and fun experience for those who turn out to attend the event. ESPN puts together a corral behind the stage where fans crowd like cattle to yell and scream as the commentators talk about the team.

This year, I had my first opportunity to go to College GameDay, and I went all out. A couple of friends and I marched down to the Coliseum at 4 AM in the pouring rain, having fashioned makeshift ponchos out of spare trash bags along the way, to get in line for the show. To our surprise, there were already a number of people there huddling under a tent to avoid the rain, sipping beer to keep warm in the wet weather.

Photo Courtesy of Neon Tommy

As the time passed, more and more fans started to trickle in, and even before they started letting people line up behind the stage, USC was there in force. There was, of course, a smattering of Ducks fans interspersed throughout, but the Cardinal dominated the scene. My friends and I managed to secure spots in the front and center of the standing area, just behind the stage, where we observed the creativity of the signs other fans had created for the event.

“Bowls are for salads,” one read. “Oregon Rain, Trojan Reign,” said another.

Of course, there was a fair number of inappropriate signs that were seized by the GameDay staff, a fair percentage of which involved some interesting comments about Erin Andrews.

Photo Courtesy of Neon Tommy

But the Trojan fans displayed an energy at GameDay that was unexpected for a team that can’t look forward to a bowl game as a result of NCAA sanctions. Every anti-USC comment was met with a chorus of boos, and anything even slightly supporting the Trojans led to a roar that nearly deafened me. Oregon’s mascot, the Duck, bore the brunt of the negativity from Trojan fans, as he paraded and silently taunted the crowd. When he took out his shake weight, let’s just say there were some allusions to phallic references.

Trojan fans were treated to a number of giveaways from ESPN, the USC Spirit Leaders and Song Girls, a live interview with Lane Kiffin, and lastly, Will Ferrell, who have his take on the games for the day. In the show’s final pick, Ferrell was obviously quick to select USC before Corso ignited the crowd by putting on that Duck mask. Not to be outdone, Ferrell bashed the Duck with the fake Corso head before ultimately submitting.

Photo Courtesy of Neon Tommy

Ultimately, it was a great experience that I don’t regret attending even slightly. I might have barely been able to walk or talk after standing and screaming for four hours, and I might have passed out the moment I hit the pillow when I got home, but it was a show of energy from USC fans that I’ve never seen before, and how welcome a sight it was. To see the USC fan base come out in force for a big game like Oregon was truly inspiring. It shows the resilience of the USC fans who continue to take interest without the possibility of the bowl game. The NCAA might be able to kill USC’s championship chances for a time, but it can’t kill the promise of future success.

USC might have lost the game Saturday night, but College GameDay was a victory on its own.