That’s the number of people who attended USC-Stanford. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – home of the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympiads, the first ever Super Bowl, 22 Pro Bowls, the former Los Angeles Rams, the former Los Angeles Raiders, the current (but long since vacated) Los Angeles Dodgers, and, of course, the eleven* time national champion Trojans – has a seating capacity of 92,516. This is the second home game in a row that the formerly #1/#2 team in the country could not sell out.
I did not see the game, but apparently there was audible booing – particularly on Chauncey Washington’s failed fourth down conversion on the goal line. Having been stuck in Clemson’s Death Valley nervously – nervously!** – wondering what the score was, I can’t say whether that booing was deserved or not (John David Booty: “Believe me on the inside I was booing too.”) I do know this: 85,125 is not 92,516. Our season tickets have been moved multiple times since the beginning of this whole success thing. For what? For a bunch of guys who aren’t going to show up to USC-Stanford? If anyone should be booed it’s the Coliseum crowd that so often can’t even figure out that it should be wearing red; or that standing up and yelling is the norm and not, in fact, sitting down and demanding everyone else to, too; or that can’t even fill up one of the great landmarks of college football in order to watch the premier program of the past half decade take the field to defend the former NCAA leading home winning streak.
It was pouring rain during the entire first quarter in Williams-Brice Stadium. Girls showed up wearing cocktail dresses and they stayed and screamed things like “Go Cocks!” and “Go! Fight! Win! Kick ass!” right on through the deluge. Bless them.
You know what? Good for Stanford, and Jim Harbaugh who is so eminently unlikable that I oscillated between applauding and driving murderously towards Palo Alto and, really, am I decided yet?, and good for Tavita Pritchard, who before yesterday’s game was – as far as everyone in the nation was concerned – an earnest young lesbian ceramics associate professor yearning to set the world of cutting edge pottery on fire. And I do not mean that Tavita Pritchard sounds like a lesbian who teaches ceramics; I mean that Tavita Pritchard is the kind of name you’d associate with someone who teaches the art of lesbian ceramics, probably at your local community college but there’s always that opening at Santa Cruz. Whether or not Pritchard was, before rocketing into national consciousness, an actual lesbian is the kind of question a classless rag would ask but, as far as this blog is concerned, it certainly lends credibility to the whole associate professor of lesbian ceramics thing. Not that I’m pigeonholing.
But, again, good for the Cardinal: yesterday was the Feast of St. Crispin. Yesterday was the kind of event that changes lives. As I was listing towards my car I passed a tailgate still eating and drinking and listening to game reports. I stopped by and listened, because I am a sucker for auto-flagellation. The USC score rolled through. I said that I felt like jumping off a bridge. The elderly gentleman in charge of the tailgate, or at least in charge of looking in charge of the tailgate, said, very seriously, “It’s just a game, son.”
Tell that to Stanford.
By the way, The Farm used to be a big empty place. Now it’s a smaller, not as empty place and, via a reduction of patheticness, perhaps it’s more intimidating. Maybe the 7,391 people who didn’t show up Saturday were simply trying to send a message to the USC administration: “Let’s make the Coliseum a more hostile place!”
Bless them for their efforts.***
* Yes, yes, the 1939 championship is ridiculous. When I first fell in love with USC football the numbers were easy to remember: 4 Heismans, 8 national championships. The addition of three Heismans in four years was an amazing, wonderful thing. The addition of three national championships in two years was an amazing, wonderful thing, except that the third championship was retroactively self-awarded with the possible mindset of, “Well, we’re winning a lot of these things at once. Maybe no one will notice?”
** I really was nervous about the game. Not nervous enough to believe USC would lose, but there are a number of bad things that can happen in a victory: injuries, loss of confidence, etc. (Matt Grootegoed, the patron saint of small white linebackers who get it done, was injured against the Cardinal after a cheap shot left him without the use of one leg. He’s still my favorite linebacker of all time, even one legged.) (He now has two legs again, but for half a season there he didn’t.) (Which means he’s my favorite two legged linebacker, as well.) Perhaps I wondered if Carroll would eclipse the 38.5 spread. This much is certain: the more you know about your team, the worse you expect. I wish I could have soldiered on in blind indifference once I found out the halftime score. I wish. But instead I became impossibly nervous about Stanford. That should say a lot about my state of being.
*** And by bless them, I mean fuck them.