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
By October 13, the date of the
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