USCHerd, a USC fan site celebrating the USC Fan.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Herder of the Week - February 26th, 2007

What about Bob?
HOTW - TroBob
by Mojack

If you remember the television show "Cheers," then you remember the theme song, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." It went a little something like this (sing along if you know it), "Sometimes you want to go. Where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows...your name." And as the theme song ended, usually George Wendt waddled into the bar, and everybody yelled out, "NORM...!!"
Now TroBob is the last person you'd find waddling into a bar, but when he does arrive at a Herd tailgate, everyone yells, "Bob!" because Bob is our big teddy bear like Norm on Cheers, one of the most genuine, purest, nicest people you'll ever meet. Most of the old guard of the Herd has had the luxury to know Bob for years before the Herd's inception from the message boards, and we've also been lucky that Bob has brought in the whole Springer clan into the Herd and into our lives. What would the Herd be without the Springers? (photo right: TroBob with daughter Abby) A question we don't want to ever have to answer. Shorty has said about Bob, "He's a very loyal Trojan who travels down from Paso Robles with his brothers for all home games. The only games he's missed are when his brother was married and when he was in China to adopt his daughter Abby." Bob is also a walking Encyclopedia about Trojan football. He remembers games from the '60s as if they happened yesterday, telling you who laid the big block to free the 3rd string running back to score with 2:33 left in the 4th quarter to beat Stanford or Cal or Notre Dame. As Brooks adds, "Bob has a remarkable memory for football details. I stood beside him for the first Michigan RB game. We argued the last 6 minutes of the game about whether or not the Trojans should start running to use clock or keep passing to make another score. As I recall, he ended up being right." TroBob has developed the "TroBob System" and he entertains us on the message boards with his preseason college football picks and prognostications. He brings that wealth of knowledge and love of the game to the Herd message board, and to the Herd tailgates, and if you add his Trojan football savvy to the facts that he is one of the most respected Herdmembers and also the patriarch of the Springer clan, we have a valued Trojan fan which the Herd can not do without. These are some of the many reasons why TroBob is the Herder of the Week:

How did you became a USC fan?

I became a USC fan in 1964 when I was watching the USC-UCLA game on television. Before that day, I had never heard of USC, but had always kind of rooted for UCLA because on a black and white television, their pale blue unis were always a light color and their helmets were silver, so there was a shine to them. In those days I really just rooted for the guys wearing the white uniforms, kind of like rooting for the guy in the white hat in Westerns. Well, I was watching the game and my Mom came into the living room and asked me who I was rooting for. I told her UCLA and she said, "why are you rooting for them? They are closer to home and besides your Dad, Grandpa and uncles are at the game rooting for USC. That was all I needed. SC ran wild over the Bruins, the Trojans then won in the famous Fertig to Sherman comeback game the next week. The O.J. 64 yard run in 1967 made SC football the one thing I never wanted to miss on TV. That 1967 game is still the single greatest game I have ever seen. When OJ made that run, I felt married to SC football from then on.

Tell us how you used to support USC, watch games, etc., before you discovered the Herd.

The first game I ever attended was in 1979. Dave got tickets through his then girlfriend and he, his girlfriend, Bryan (6 years old at the time) and I went to see SC play Arizona and Charles White on his run to the Heisman. Charles didn't disappoint that day. He had 157 yards rushing, but Paul McDonald blew away the school passing record that day with 380 yards passing. Marcus Allen had a pretty good day catching the ball from the fullback position. I didn't go to another game again until 1984's Cal game where I learned the difference between the College game and the pro game. I went to a Raider-Bronco game the next day that went to overtime and the number of drunken fights that day made me realize that that atmosphere was not for me. My friend and I drove home to Paso Robles that night commenting over and over about the difference in atmosphere of those games.

After that, we went to one or two games a year until Bryan and I bought season tickets in 1988. We enjoyed that season, and thought we had hit the jackpot when SC went into that final game against Notre Dame in what we thought would be a classic SC-ND battle for No. 1 just like the old days. It was a classic letdown. We didn't renew our season tickets and didn't go to another game until 1992, mostly because I was having to work a lot of Saturdays. After 1992, we started going to a couple of games a year. I would meet Bryan and Bill at the Coliseum or go pick them up in Riverside for an early season game and then in 1994, I started going to the final home game with a group of friends from the Central Coast and meet my brothers for a parking lot tailgate before the game. I'll never forget the 1994 ND tie game where the temperature must have dropped 30 degrees and the wind picked up about 20 mph as soon as the sun went down in the west. It was soooo cold and the toilets all backed up in the upper concourse areas. We were there for the streak breakers against ND in 1996 and UCLA in 1999. Those were great nights although I would have to say the ND game was more memorable in the way we came back to win that one. The 1999 UCLA game was a typical Hackett mistake filled game that we should have won by a larger margin. One of my favorite games during those years was the 1994 Arizona game where Rob Johnson broke that Paul McDonald passing yardage record that we saw in 1979 and watched Tony Boselli manhandleTedy Bruschi who had been lipping off all week prior to the game.

You grew up in Riverside, and there is something about being an Inland Empire Trojan fan that only those of us from the Inland Empire (I.E.) can understand. There is a lot of pride about those from the I.E. who go onto glory at USC. How did that experience growing up an hour from USC put you in close and personal contact with the USC Football program?

Growing up in Riverside, we always had news of USC football in the newspaper. When I was a kid, I remember getting up early on Sunday morning to make sure I got hold of the newspaper before my mom got up. Otherwise, I would have to wait until she read the paper. I used to agonize over that. Later, when I got my car, I would go to the grocery store and get both the Herald Examiner and the LA Times on Sundays to get their sports sections on Sundays during the Dodgers season and SCs season. Riverside was pretty much an SC football town and a UCLA basketball town when I was growing up. It was just the way we grew up. My friend Doug Wible and I would stay up and watch replays of UCLA basketball and SC football in my elementary and junior high school years. We used to practice the touchdown dive over the top even before Sam Cunningham did it. I remember OJ and Clarence Davis doing it all the time. Doug and I would rake up a big pile of leaves in his backyard and practice being the QB handing the ball to the TB and diving over the pile of leaves for touchdowns. We also played a lot of one on one basketball. I beat him the first time I ever played against him and never beat him again.

The players I most remember being from the Inland Empire during my earlier years were Marvin Cobb and Shelton Diggs. Marvin was probably the best athlete in Riverside since Bobby Bonds and of course, I remember Shelton Diggs and his performances in the Rose Bowls of 1975 and 1977. (photo left: Bryan far left, Dave on the right) Another athlete that I remember was a kid I watched from Perris High School. My Grandpa used to run the timeclock for Perris for 20 years in the 1960s and 1970s. He used to drive to Riverside and take me back to Perris for the weekend. The first high school player I remember actually watching that went to SC was Calvin Sweeney. he was the fastest player I had ever seen up to that point and I was thrilled when he ended up at SC after going to Riverside City College for two years. he had a pretty good two year career at SC. Ronnie Lott is the next guy that came from the inland Empire along with Tony Olivarria (sp?) from Colton. Lott is simply the greatest defensive player I have ever seen at SC along with Junior Seau. I remember that 1984 Cal game where Ryan Knight ran for over 100 yards in a game that I thought would signal the beginning of the career of the next great tailback. He graduated from Rubidoux High School, my wife's alma mater. Sammy Knight was an all-time favorite of mine as is Chris Claiborne from North High School.

You and your brother Bryan both wrote very interesting pieces on your history of following recruiting before the internet, through magazines and on the radio, and then the Springers discovered the football message boards. Can you briefly summarize again your experience finding the USC message boards, and to follow that up, how did you feel when the topics on TFO turned to the lack of fan support in the Coliseum, and grew into the formation of the Herd?

Bryan and I had been following recruiting for a number of years as closely as we could. I got the USC Report and Bryan would get info from down south that I was unable to up in Paso Robles. He moved to Michigan in 1995 and bought a computer where he talked about the Internet and these great websites called Trojan Football Online and USC He would print out posts and send them to me in the mail and send me letters where we would talk about SC football, Dodger baseball and whatever else was going on at the moment. I didn't have a computer and had no access other than what Bryan would send me or tell me about. In 1995, I went back to school to get out of the automobile dealership industry and to get a degree in History. I attended Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo two to three nights a week and in 1997 they began getting Internet access on their computers. I would get off of work, grab something to eat real quickly and then head to the library and spend an hour before class reading the posts on TFO and USC and anything else I could find out about SC football on the net.

Bryan moved back to California and then to Paso Robles when I found him a job at the same car dealership I worked at. He brought his computer with him and I got a password on the websites under the name TROBOB. I would get on the computer as soon as he was finished and started posting away. I would sit on the floor next to him while Garry P. was holding his chats and as I mentioned before, Bryan came up with the website name for Kim bought me my own computer when I graduated from Cuesta in 2000 and I have been a regular on the boards ever since then.

I remember when the discussions came up for the HERD in 2000 and the lack of fan support. I felt the same way as most of the people that were concerned with the crowd support or lack thereof. I thought it was a great idea, but never thought that I would actually be able to buy season tickets since I was working so many Saturdays. I thought the concept was a great idea and thought that the Coliseum needed a shot in the arm on gamedays, especially when we were playing someone other than our rivals. I just figured that I would go to the tailgates whenever I could get a chance to go to the games. I went to the first game and watched the guys from Section 8 with some tickets I bought from El Trojan. The atmosphere was interesting as I am watching these fanatics down in Section 11 and yet in my section I'm watching people talking on their cellphones and women talking about their daughters' weddings and not paying one bit of attention to the game. I was thinking, "why do they even come to the game?" The UCLA game convinced me that I needed to get season tickets with the HERD somehow and Bryan was all over that when I told him I was ready. I had really caught on to the HERD fever that had infected TFO. When Bryan told me about "We Believe!" I knew I was missing out. We decided to buy two tickets for the season and we joined in with the group that was going to go out to the Sun Deck led by Trojan Russ. We were going to be a part of the group that would bring the spirit of the HERD to the other side of the stadium and make both endzones a tough place for the opposition. Well, we didn't get enough people to sign up and the ticket office gave us our current seat assignments in Section 10 Row 2 behind TRuss and his family.

What was your first Herd game, and what were your first impressions of the Herd?

My first actual game with the HERD was the Auburn game of 2002. It was a hot day and we tailgated with the Auburn fans. It was a great time and we had a ton of fun with everybody around us. (photo right: TroBob in the middle with the Molinas) the weather cooled down around kickoff to a comfortable level and Red came down and joined us for the third quarter. We knew then that he was our Dutch brother. We all wore our Polamalu wigs that day and I thought that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life as long as I am able to. That was such a great weekend. I don't remember if that was the game that we started doing air pushups, but it was shortly thereafter. It was one of those moments that I believe helped change the atmosphere of the Coliseum. Later on that season, we are watching people all over the East end of the Coliseum doing pushups. It was a sight that nearly brought tears to my eyes.

You and your brother Bryan have a special relationship, since in a sense you have USC Football as a very bonding experience to share together. You've both also brought Dave into the mix, and he's a regular at all Trojan games and a Herdmember in his own right. TroBill came along for a few games, plus you've had nephews and nieces, etc., and the Trojan games have just become a Springer gathering point? What has the Trojan experience and the Herd experience meant to the Springer family?

As I said before, Bryan and I bought season tickets in 1988. He is the one who is most like me. A stat geek and a sports freak who watches more sports than anybody I have ever known. Not as much of a stat geek as I am, but he knows way more about most of the sports than I do. The guy needs to go back to school, because he is the smartest of all of us. We were the ones who had the closest allegiance to SC. We all grew up as Dodger and SC fans, but Bryan and I were more rabid about SC than the others. I was not able to go to the Oregon State game in 2002, so Dave got my ticket that day. Bill bought a seat in the student section and they met for the tailgate. Dave was hooked from that day on. Dave and Bryan started driving down to Paso Robles from Sacramento on Friday nights before SC home games and then we would drive down early on Saturday morning for the home games, most of the time getting up about 3:00 for an early afternoon game. Dave got season tickets the next year and we were able to get Seat No. 1 in Section 10 Row 1 right in front of us and next to the Gecks. Bill would buy tickets and squeeze in the front row somewhere with the Gecks and Dave. Bill went to a lot of the games in 2003, but his last one was the 2004 Rose Bowl. He met a girl and he hasn't been back. Hopefully, he will rejoin us when the honeymoon stabilizes. Since then, Dave has purchased tickets for his son Jason and now my uncle Ken Goedhart joins us for all of the festivities. It has been great to get together with him for the games as he provides a link to my childhood, especially since my Mom and Uncle Otto are no longer with us. I think it helps him too, especially since his brother and our Uncle Hill, another big SC fan, is in poor health with some of the same things my mother went through. Dad used to come to a few games with us, but his love is baseball and he finds ita bit difficult to get up and down the stairs with some of his back difficulties. He hasn't been to a game since 1998 Notre Dame game. The main thing is that I think this HERD experience has really tightened our relationship as brothers and I don't know that I would do this without them. I think that it has also given them a greater appreciation for Kim and I know Kim appreciates them more. Although there is no female companionship when we go up to Sacramento, Kim really enjoys the time we spend there and she and Dave have a common love for cooking. Dave is pretty good! Abby has won their hearts too! I always knew Bryan was a softie, but Abby has really shown that Dave has a soft heart too.

Following up that family question, what has the Herd meant to you and your brothers as far as new frie
ndships? Last week's HOTW, TFan, has become an honorary Springer. SCRed claims he's in the Springer clan. When I've been up north, I've stayed with Bryan and Dave. What has the extended family of the Herd meant to you?

We love coming down to the tailgates for the HERD. We feel like a part of the family and are thankful that everybody lets us hang out with the HERD. I really enjoyed the time we had at Menlo and 39th because it put us right in the middle of the action. Aqua Trojan had his tailgate and the Chuis had theirs as well. We have met a number of characters and a lot of people that I will never forget. I do think that we have probably gotten a pass as far as our activity in setting up the tailgates. We are usually pretty wiped after the trip and everybody has been gracious to let us just kind of hang out. Grover, Brooks, Erroll, Shorty, Jason and others have put in a lot of work on those tailgates and I kind of feel guilty that we aren't more help. We have made quite a few friends at the tailgates. We have a regular routine with Cardinal Blood where we all walk into the stadium together and have done that since the Auburn game in 2002. I think CB and Bryan walked in together at the UCLA game in 2001 to start the tradition. Yucca and MVT also give us the love of the Dodgers in common. Douger and SCNut are also people that we always have to say hi too. I remember that Douger was the first person we saw at the airport in our only trip to South Bend in 2001. This was just shortly after 9-11 and we felt pretty safe with Douger in the airport. Mojack introduced us to his parents and he is a favorite of mine because of the day that he sat and cried on the steps of the Coliseum during "you-know-who's" coaching reign. MPRON and Dr. Z are others that we never miss when we go. I miss seeing Newport Trojan now that we have moved to campus, although I really like that location next to Doheny Library. The relationship we have had with TFan has grown as we have gotten to know him more and more. As I said last week, I have seen a lot of maturity in him over the past few years. He also challenges me, because he is a very bright person with a lot of questions that I have few answers for. Darned kid knows it too! Pookela is a special case too. Kim and I will never forget what he did for us in Hawaii. That was very special trip. And Red is a Springer although he probably has more of the Goedhart side of the family in him. We have Dutch Reformed pastors in the family too. His dad probably knew the Bierlings.

We also have a lot of fun with the guys that are down at the bottom of the HERD. TRuss is the leader and we have gotten to where we just absolutely love being down there with him and the family. Those kids are on TV at least three times a game. We have also developed a special relationship with the family that stands right next to us in Row 2. Ross, Tim and Jenna have been great HERD mates and you have to hand it to a guy and his wife who fly out from Murfreesboro, Tennessee for every game. Ross lives in LA, while Tim lives in Murfreesboro and works for Southwest Airlines. They are diehards and Bryan usually has to calm Tim's nerves prior to gametime.

There are a few seminal Herd moments; from "We Believe" to Thomas Williams jumping into the stands right by the Springers. Are there any special moments that you remember and feel a strong part of?

I think the big moments that I have had in the HERD are the games themselves. The air-pushups were a big thing for me as well as having TRuss leading cheers with all of his signs. The 2002 Notre Dame game was fun. We had the rainbow event prior to the game as well as the rainstorm during the Bosko tailgate that sent me running for cover in the Sports Arena to watch the basketball team against Howard University with TroDan, another fellow Riversider and HERDER. The first time that I remember the HERD having an effect on the entire Coliseum was during the 2002 Cal game. (photo left: TroBob in the middle) I remember TRuss running up and down the starirs in Section 10 getting the crowd riled up late in the game. The crowd started getting loud early in the fourth quarter against Arizona State later in the year. The 2004 Cal game was a very special game for me too. I had not slept in nearly 60 hours as we had flown in from China the night before the game with Abby and she allowed me no sleep on the flight or at my Dad's when we got home. I was so tired at halftime that I almost could not get out of my seat to stand for the second half. I made it and the crowd noise in the second half told me that the Trojan crowd had arrived. This season was special because the SC crowd did not need the prompting of the HERD during that three game gauntlet with Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame. I have never been more proud to be a HERDER than that because I believe that we were on the ground floor of a very special run.

The Herd and the Herd Forum has always been special amid the message board crowds because we all tailgate together and have become friends and interested in each other's lives. You and your wife Kim have one of the more interesting personal stories that you've shared on the boards, regarding your daughter Abby. Would you care to share about that, and how you involved the Herd in that emotional roller coaster.

The HERD and the message boards have all been very special to me and to our family. I still have the posts that everybody sent to us when our brother Harold (an SC fan, although not a rabid fan like the rest of us) died of a heart attack in May 2001. It was such a shock and we will never forget the outpouring of love and concern that everybody showed to us that week. I feel like we have become brothers and sisters in a way. We have our spats. Heck! Bryan, Dave and I argue about something everytime we get into the car together. But we also support one another through some pretty rough times.

Kim and I have been married for 25 years and she is my life partner. I don't know what I would do without her. She doesn't care about sports at all, but she does care about me and with that, she has become wedded to the HERD in a way. I know that she enjoyed meeting everybody last November and I was really surprised when she started rocking out to the TMB during TUSK. She had a terrific time. Abby has been the light of our lives since we went to China to adopt her two and a half years ago. I didn't know how rewarding it would be to be a Dad, but she has pretty much wrapped me round her little finger. She knows how to get to me too. Every once in a while she will get this devilish little grin on her face and say "Beat the Trojans! Beat the Trojans!" in the last few days though, she has started to say, "Daddy, I'm a big Trojan!" Music to my ears! Kim and I are in the middle of another Chinese adoption that probably won't be realized until after the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Things are moving much slower this time, but we are thankful that we have Abby this time and for everybody's prayers and encouragement. We really have enjoyed the support of the HERD in all the waiting we have done with the adoption process over the past few years.

You are someone who graphs depth charts for years to come, and also one of the big prognosticators on The Herd Forum, plus you share those predictions on all the boards, without going into your TroBob Magic Formula and picking the winners of all the conferences next year, what do you personally see for USC Football in 2008 and in the upcoming years.

The TROBOB System is just a fun little thing that I do every year that desn't reflect my own views but that of the National magazines. It turns out to be somewhat accurate as far as standings are concerned. Not as much with seasonal records. It is prett basic and doesn't anticipate upsets. I see USC as the No. 1 football program for the foreseeable future. I would not at all be surprised if the Trojans surpass the 2002-2006 record in the next five years. As long as Pete Carroll hangs around, I think the 2007-2010 seasons might be the greatest four year stretch in College football history. i would not be surprised to see SC surpass the 35 game winning streak that was broken by Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl. I expect National Championships in 2007-2008. I really believe that the 2008 team has the potential to be the greatest College Football team of all time with the best balance between offense and defense that we have ever seen. I think it is highly possible that we will see another Heisman in Heritage Hall (Booty or Sanchez), a Thorpe Award (Taylor Mays), and a Lombardi Award (Everson Grifffen). Who knows what other awards we might see? Any number of guys could win a Butkus Award.

What do you see for the Herd as it moves forward? And what are your final thoughts about your Herd experience.

I think the test of the HERD will be when and if we experience any lean years in the program. How will we handle adversity in the football program? We will need to be there and hopefully some of the so-called bandwagon fans have become confirmed fans and will swell the HERD as we experience hard times and spawn a new generation of HERDERs who will carry the torch that the original HERD lit in the waning days of 2000 and early days of 2001. It will be interesting to see what happens, but I think that the early 21st century has put the HERD and the Trojans on solid footing.

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