USCHerd, a USC fan site celebrating the USC Fan.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Herder of the Week - February 11th, 2007

Aesop - The Missing Linker
by Mojack

The story's like this, when Alexander Graham Bell invented a device that would transmit speech electronically he shouted over the telephone, "Watson, get your ass in here," or something to that effect. (photo right: Aesop and PC) Of course all the school kids write their science papers about the great inventor Alexander Graham Bell, and no one remembers Thomas Watson, a young electrician whose services Bell had enlisted, and who was instrumental in helping Bell design and implement the telephone, a device some of us have three, four or five of now.

Aesop is our Thomas Watson. Another out of state Herder, Aesop currently resides in Virginia, but he has always been a man behind the scenes of the Trojan message boards, particularly where the Herd met and got started, since the beginning. Some of us only knew Aesop from the daily links he provided to all Trojan news articles. And then Aesop took that service off the message boards, and sent daily email blasts to a database of Trojan fans, who were starving for Trojan news in all formats and forms. But others have gotten to know Aesop from the Penn State game, and the Virginia Tech game in which he hosted a bunch of Herders, plus the few games that Aesop has attended in Los Angeles at the Coliseum.

As Shorty says about Aesop, "
If there is a technical problem, 'Sop can fix it. He was the technical support guy, the one instrumental in finding troubleshooters to keep our old boards trouble free. And his daily recaps of news articles about all things USC and the pending opponents was incredibly time consuming for him but terrific for us Trojan fans. Plus, he also was the one responsible for getting Stone Beer as the official beer of the Herd tailgates."

Aesop isn't a daily contributor to the Herd board nor does he attend all the home games, but as he eloquently states himself, he loves being a Trojan, is a big fan of USC foo
tball and a huge supporter of the University of Southern California. Though Aesop is 3000 miles away, he has always been behind the scenes, and always been with the Herd in spirit, plus he has put much of his time a
nd effort into keeping Trojans connected to USC and USC football. For all these reasons, Aesop is our Herder of the Week for February 11th, 2007.
'Sop, tell us how you became a USC fan, and how living back East has affected your support of USC?

I grew up in the South Bay which is full of Trojans. I found them annoying and full of themselves, so my natural inclination was to hate 'SC ands buy into the stereo-types and the jokes. No one in my family had ever gone to USC and so the dislike for the school came easy. When I was in high school I went for career guidance at UCLA's extension. It was a big deal, normally meant for mid-career adults. I had to talk with a psychiatrist about the things I liked and disliked, figure out what things in life I would need to be happy, find out what skills and aptitudes I had or lacked. I probably spent 50 hours in all down there over the course of the summer of 1980. When the results came back they suggested I should study Computer Science at USC. I was somewhat shocked, but decided I'd go. When I got there, I didn't really fit well with engineering as a major (they forgot to ask if I liked to go to class every single day or if I was good at waking up early for class...) After one year (and only one football game), I took a year off and came back. When I came back I changed my major to International Relations and joined the enemy: a fraternity. (photo left: Aesop and family at a Chicago Trojan rally) My life has never been the same. I went to every football game and, since a buddy of mine had family in the ticket office, sat in the student section at the 40. These were the Tollner years and it didn't seem like the program was headed South. We had plenty of big victories, but losing to UCLA and Notre Dame most of the time sucked. Since school, the miles have left me hungrier for all things 'SC.

Tell us how you used to support USC, watch games, etc., before the inter
net, before the message boards, and before the Herd.

Well, before the internet when I lived in the Bay Area and DC, my mom would send me the Sunday sports sections from the LA Times and the Daily Breeze each week, which I would get by Wednesday. That would usually hold me over until the next weekend. These were the Smith and Robinson II years, so with the exception of the '93 and '94 seasons, the news wasn't always that good.
I think it was about 1997 when I got internet access. I spent some effort trying to figure out what papers were on-line in order to get news and trying to figure out who else might be on-line for comaraderie. The LA Times had a site, but had not started publishing. Growing up in the South Bay, I had never heard of the LA Daily news, but I think they were on-line as was the Daily Breeze. Using the internet meant that my mom could stop sending the paper to me and it meant that I could find out news directly from the local papers in Northern California, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona about all of our competitors. When I found a board I liked, I didn't know any of the people on-line personally, so I started posting the news. In 1998, as I got more involved with the boards, I was told by "Gary in DC" to "go to Ramparts in Alexandria" to watch the game. Ramparts sucked. They were an Alabama alum bar. Our game always seemed to start just after a Bama game and they're annoying when they're drunk (of course, so are we, but that's different.) Ramparts didn't care about us (the dozen or so intrepid Trojans that did show up). Since 'SC wasn't a national power, we had late starts. In 1999, Ramparts did one thing right. During the triple over-time game Oregon (in which Carson Palmer broke his clavicle) the bar had to close. I had to go home as it was 1:00 AM. The Ramparts staff pushed the TV to the windows so that three Trojans (including MAR and G.Friday - I think) could watch the end of the game in the snow. Nice gesture.

What did you think was lacking from other USC fans or the general support of the USC football program that generated your interest in the formation of a fan group like the Herd?

I can't really address that since the last time I had season tickets, Larry Smith was coach. I went almost 20 years without se
eing a game in the Coliseum and when I did, I was sitting in The Herd.

Aesop's computer acumen has become legend; you were one of the first innovators of content on some of the USC message boards, your daily posts and emails with USC news articles started a trend, you've used your computer savvy to play detective and track down creeps from Kentucky, i,e,, who was posting crap about USC when we beat them in the Sweet 16. How have your talents on a computer enhanced your relationship with USC football and fans and the Herd?

First of all, I never created anything. I spent two years administering a board and currently have a USC news blog. I don't have any amazing computer skills, I'm just a little more resourceful than most.
As for The Herd and other fans, my relationship with these people I often barely know is amazing. I suppose I'm not known well by most people in The Herd, but I am widely known. (photo left: Aesop with the gang at the Penn State game) I get e-mails before the season, sometimes from people I've never met in person, asking which games I'll be attending. When I see people at a game, the amount of hospitality I get is stunning. When it comes to working the tailgate or pitching in for things, I just want to do my part to earn a even piece of the love I already get. I haven't held season tickets in years and I've only sat with The Herd twice. It's funny to think of me as a Herder, but if everyone else is game, I'm in. I would do just about anything in my power for the good of The Herd.

What was the first game where you participated with the Herd, and what were your first impressions?

My first Game with The Herd was the Hawai'i game in 2003. I got there an hour before t
he parking lot had opened, just as the Sun was rising. Shorty and the gang were already there. A lot of the tailgate and the game were a blur. Some of that was beer induced, but more of it was the sheer volume of people I got to see. I sat with TrojanWarMachine in the front row of Section 13 and had a fantastic time. When I was a student, we really got the crowd going, but sitting with The Herd is like surfing a really big wave: There's a lot of fun for what seems like very little effort. I lost my voice completely at some point in the second quarter.

You were a great tour guide for the Virginia Tech game in Washington D.C. Are you involved with any Trojan clu
bs or Alumni clubs in Washington D.C.? Do you have a group of Trojans to watch the games with? How do you incorporate being a Trojan in your life 3000 miles away from Los Angeles?

At the behest of MAR (Mike Ronzano) I joined the DC Alumni Club board. ( The intent was to push hard for organization around football games and ignore the rest. The thin
g about DC is that the "rest" is hard to ignore. Lots of Trojans are in Congress and in important positions in the White House and the private sector. There are about 4,000 alums between Richmond, Va and Baltimore, Md. USC's profile in DC was good at that time. Since Steve Sample has made it a priority, 'SC's profile in DC has become even bigger. In the end, nothing we could do with the alumni board mattered; what got 150 people gathered to watch 'SC football in DC was a winning team under Pete Carroll. We currently meet at Bailey's Pub in the Ballston Common area of Arlington. The fewest people we get is around 80. Sometimes I see G.Friday, TommyGirl, Darrin and others from cyberspace. Being a Trojan so far from home is easy because DC is a very Trojan city. For the last 30 years, USC has offered a Masters degree (variously in Safety, Systems Management, or Safety and Systems Management) on-base overseas through the military. ( Our schools of Public Administration and International Relations have fed the executive and legislative branches. ( USC is the tenth ranked university in terms of federally funded R&D, doing $300 million worth of research for the federal government each year. ( When I wear my 'SC baseball hat (which is every day) no one ever asks if it's from South Carolina (OK, once in a great while they do.)

Since you are on the East
Coast, how have you tried to get your son involved in USC football? Is that important for you to have USC and USC football be an integral part of his life?

Getting a kid to love SC is easy: bring them to campus, bring them to a game, introduce them to the Trojan Family, remind them about the industry leaders, actors, athletes, writers, musicians, and scientists that went to USC or teach there. Also, buy them a big wardrobe of 'SC gear. I do that. Also, my little sister who spent four years at 'SC getting her JD/MBA, has bought my son jackets, jerseys, and a backpack over the years. Even though the kid is a Trojan through-and-through, I've pre-paid his in-state tuition in Virginia. If he wants to go to USC, I'm all for it. I've told him to work on his pitching and his math in hopes of a scholarship. If he does attend Virginia or William & Mary, he'll need a good team to root for anyway...

What do you see for the Herd as it moves forward?

I'm not sure that's a fair question for someone so far away. As long as there's balanced and responsive leadership I think things will continue to be great. My only real concern is that The Herd could become a victim of its own success. I believe that location is the key to The Herd's success. (photo left: Aesop and TRuss) If anything ever happens to that circle around the tunnel, The Herd would be dealt a great setback.

Overall, final thoughts about your Herd experience.

My Herd experience is just like Heaven. I live vicariously through all you all (that's the Virginia plural of "you all.") When I do get to join you for a party or game here or
there, I get the royal treatment. After all this time and distance, I can say this: "I love the Herd".

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