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Saturday, January 6, 2007

We Believe, the Turning Point

We Believe, the Turning Point
by Brooks

October 13, 2001, was the turning point for Trojan football under Pete Carroll and the day that The Thundering Herd was accepted as part of the tradition of USC football.

2001 was Pete Carroll’s first year. He was hired under protest by the average fan, including many who became the Herd. The 1990’s were bleak years for Trojan Football and for Athletic Director, Mike Garrett. Paul Hackett had been fired and Garrett was not having a lot of success recruiting a new coach. Several high profile coaches and a few promising coaches had been offered the job and had refused. Erickson, Belloti and Mike Riley had been in the mix. Fans were unhappy when Garrett announced the hiring of Pete Carroll, an unemployed ex-NFL coach. The announcement was almost in tandem with Carroll’s announcement that Norm Chow would be his Offensive Coordinator.

Carroll’s Trojans started out with a somewhat unimpressive win against San Jose State. This game marked the advent of The Thundering Herd who had trouble of our own. The San Jose State win was followed by losses to Kansas State, Oregon, Stanford and Washington by a total of 14 points. No one was happy, but as I recall, there was a sense of hope, spurred by Pete Carroll’s candor and ebullience. The scores were close, the team, while losing, was playing better.

By October 13, the date of the Arizona State game, the Herd had three home games under their belt. We were running into a lot of resistance from people who resented us standing for the games and little or no support from the athletic department. The coliseum people had killed two rows of seats behind us so the direct complaints of our standing had stopped but there was still general resentment by many who thought it was rude and undignified to stand and make noise at a football game. The Coliseum had, for a long time, been referred to as the mausoleum due to the emptiness and quiet. The LAPD had been harassing us as directed by the Captain in charge of the division wherein the Coliseum was located. They had given up on making us sit down and had directed their efforts toward keeping us off the railing to “keep the aisles clear.” Several letters were exchanged with the Police Chief. The policeman in charge of the stadium crew was an experienced and practical cop and frankly saw no problem since the ones at the railing were the fans whose access was impeded. An unspoken compromise ensued where we were allowed to stand at the rail as long as there was room for passage.

I don’t recall the score at half time of the ASU game but I believe we were either losing or tied. The players looked dejected as they left through the tunnel at half time. Russ Geck (TRuss on the boards) had suggested earlier that we show our support by chanting “WE BELIEVE” as the team reentered. The Herd started chanting "We Believe" and we got an immediate reaction from the players who began rocking back and forth and clapping their hands.

The team simply flattened the Sun Devils in the second half. The final score was 48-17. As I was looking over the rail watching the player’s triumphant march through the tunnel, I sensed a stir in our group and turned just in time to catch a high five from Pete Carroll who had ventured into the 17th row celebrating with us.

The rest is history as the old cliché goes. That was the start of an incredible run that, with a few glitches, has given us five PAC 10 championships, two national championships, a number 2 finish, a number 4 finish and this year at least a number three finish. Along with a probable number 1 pre-season ranking for next year.

With that game, the Herd became accepted, appreciated, honored and it continues to grow, restrained only by the seating limitations of seating capacity of the Coliseum

Fight on!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We must acknowledge the original contributors of the Herd, for their inspiration and dedication to the USC Trojans. The Herd is not a place in the Coliseum, it is a un swerving belief and uncomprimising support of the rebirth and excellence of the Football TEAM.
We Believe, became
I'm In, which became
Leave No Doubt, which became
We Ready for Y'all, which became........

The story goes on, and on, and on
Thanks Pete,
Thanks Herd
Fight On!
Altadena Trojan