USCHerd, a USC fan site celebrating the USC Fan.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Herder of the Week - March 4th, 2007

The Life of Bryan
by Mojack

There is an old cliche in the Herd “where there’s one Springer there’s a bunch of Springers” and at every tailgate at the Coliseum that cliche is borne out, because if there’s one there’s five or six or seven, and on the rare occasions where the Springers don’t show, the Herd is a lonelier place. Since USC football and the Herd is a family affair for the Springer clan, it’s apropos that since TroBob, the patriarch of the Trojan Football Springers, was HOTW last week that his little brother Bryan (Mr. SC) would follow in his footsteps, and is this week’s Herder of the Week.

If I were lazy, I could copy all the accolades that others gave TroBob last week and paste them here for little brother Bryan this week, but that would be a disservice to Mr. SC. That is a nickname that says a lot about Bryan right there, he is “Mr. SC.” When I was new to the message boards, and I saw that moniker I said to myself, “That guy must love USC and all things USC” and my initial impression was proved to be right. (photo right: Mr. SC #11, brother TroDave, nephew Jason and Mesk) There are not many of us, alums or diehard fans, who love USC football and USC athletics and USC the university more than the Springers and more than Mr. SC. And the football program and the University can not have a better representative. If TroBob is analogous to the Pope than Bryan is one of his cardinals. Though Mr. SC has a little bit more “edge” than his older brother, and though he’ll blush and be embarrassed that I wrote that and TroBob will read it, Bryan is still one of the nicest, most sincere and genuine people I’ve ever met. His brother and his family can not be anything but proud of the way this young man has turned out, and the Herd can only boast that these fine gentlemen are members of our group. On a side note, when Mr. SC and TroBob were informed about the Herd blog, one of them suggested that we start having a feature called "Herder of the Week." To paraphrase, Mr. SC wrote to me, "It'd be great to know more about all the people we cheer with and tailgate with." That has turned out to be a great suggestion.

I consider myself lucky to be included in the group that Mr. SC calls his “friends and extended family” and because the Herd is fortunate to have these great individuals and great Trojan fans cheering alongside us on the tunnel, Mr. SC is this week’s Herder of the Week:

How did you
became a USC fan?

First of all, I just want to say thanks for selecting me this week and my brother last week. I can't tell you how much you all mean to our family.

Anyway, back to the question. I wish I had some grand story like Bob gave, but I really don't. I was just born into the family that already had love for USC and I just grew into it. I am so thankful they supported USC and not that other place across town. While I was born into an SC family, I truly loved USC and I was one of those kids that followed everything and knew all about the players and such. I am still that way today. I will say this, Bob and Dave took me to my first game when I was 6 in 1979 and it was the most awesome thing ever to see what I already loved first hand. There was never a doubt after that!!

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

Mostly we watched on TV growing up, except one year (1988), Bob and I got season tickets. It was a great year for USC football that had a heartbreaking ending. With Bob living up in Paso and me still pretty young, it was just a one year thing. We talked about getting them again a few times, but Bob really didn't have the blessing from Kim to come watch games six weekends a year. We started getting tickets to a couple games a year after that, until I moved to the Midwest. I watched games on TV back then and discovered TFO on the internet. I eventually moved back and went to a couple more games a year.

The funny thing is, the year that the Herd was started, I moved back to the Midwest briefly, so I didn't get season seats when everyone else did. I moved back before to California before the 2001 season started and was in The Herd thanks to someone the first game versus San Jose State. I only missed two games that year and they were the only two we lost. I have never lost a game in the Herd and I hope we never do. Being in the Herd is just such a great experience, that there was/is no way I will not get season tickets again. We all feel that way!!

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 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? And conversely, now that you live in Sacramento how does it feel to be in CAL, Stanford country and so far away from the program?

You know, when you are a kid LA seemed so far away from Riverside, but it really isn't. So, in that instance it was difficult to get to games when I was young. I had a lot of friends that liked USC growing up, but none the way me and family did. The one thing is following the guys that came from the area. I remember Ryan Knight was gonna be the next great thing. Another one was David Dotson and both of those guys didn't pan out in the great tradition of SC tailbacks. The IE has had a couple guys in recent years do amazing things at SC like Chris Claiborne and Sammy Knight to name a couple. It makes you feel so proud when guys like that came from your area. I hope we have many more and it looks like we will as SC is recruiting the IE a little more now.

Living in Sacramento as a USC fan is actually pretty easy. College football isn't really that big in this area, so I don't take much grief for being an SC fan. Not that we would take any right now Sacramento is the only city I have ever seen where they don't have college games on the radio on Saturday's and instead have Kings or NBA talk. It is pretty ridiculous really, but they just don't have the major football programs in the area. While I see a lot of Cal fans around, I don't see that much Stanford stuff at all. I see far more USC and ucla stickers on cars then the Farm.

You and your brother Bob both wrote very interesting pieces on your history of following recruiting before the internet, through magazines and on the radio, and then the Springer's 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?

Well, as I said I was living in Michigan at the time and really jonesing for information on SC. I had a satellite dish, so I could watch the games, but it wasn't enough. Bob would go to at the school library and send me stuff printed up like the spring prospectus and such. I would get the USC Report, but it just wasn't enough. The first day I got the internet, which was in 1998, I went looking for USC websites and I found TFO and, which Ryan had just started and was very raw. I jumped into TFO and everyone seemed so warm and friendly and made me feel at home. After that, I was hooked and over the next couple years, I got Bob and Bill to start posting.

The discussions on TFO were numerous, but the lack of fan support at the games was a hot topic always. The few games that I had been to over the few years prior to that were not the same as they were 20 years back. I went to a lot of the big games and even the Notre Dame game wasn't that enthusiastic. We always had to sit in all areas of the stadium and if you tried to show support and get people up for the game, you almost felt like someone was watching you and you felt stupid. When there was talk of a group buying tickets together, I thought it was a great idea, but I had no idea it would be as big as the Herd is today. I know that was the plan, but it still has passed my expectations.

I went to a couple of the TFO events before the Herd was created and everyone was so nice and friendly, that I thought sitting together with these people would be great fun at the least. Boy, has it ever turned into much more than I imagined. I am so thankful to those that thought of this, because it has enriched my life so much and allowed me to make a lot more friends. Not only that, and to not be so sentimental, but I get to spend more time with Bob and Kim then I would get to otherwise. And now that Abby is around, it makes it even better!!

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

The first game in the Herd was just that, the first Herd game, San Jose State. Someone had an extra ticket and I stood near the top of the Herd. I already knew quite a few guys, so I had an impression already, which was these guys are nuts and I am okay with that. I remember getting our forks for Chow Time outside the stadium and then all marching in together with someone wearing the old leather helmet, which we put in the Giles Pellerin seat. Whatever happened to that anyway? I remember getting to the wall and the police not wanting anyone up against the tunnel wall. I remember a few people being really angry we were gonna be standing all day and the police hoopla. I also remember some guy a couple rows above me being removed from the stadium, whom I later learned was a guy named Mojack. Despite all this stuff, the Herd was great. Even the first game, when we were the ONLY ones making noise. The team noticed it right away and so did Pete. It has only gotten better since then!!

You and your brother Bob have a special relationship, since you have USC Football as a very bonding experience to share together. You've also brought Dave into the mix, and he's a regular at all Trojan games and a Herd member 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?

Well, it means A LOT! As I stated before, I get to see them more than I would get to if it wasn't for Trojan football, since we are pretty much spread around now. (photo left: Mr. SC #11 with TFan, Marc, nephew Jason) I live with Dave, so I get to see him everyday, but I get to see Bob and (my nephew) Jason a lot more now that we all go to the games. Not only that, because Dave and I pick up Bob along the way from Sacramento, we get to see Kim and Abby as well. There are times we stay in Riverside for the weekend and we get to spend time with Dad as well and that in turn allows us to see Bill and our sister Jolene more on occasion. So yeah, it means a lot!!

Not only do I get to see them, I get to share the game day experience with Bob, Dave, Jason and now my Uncle Kenny, who I have rarely seen the last few years. We have brought a couple more family members over the years and have picked up a few honorary family members now as well, like TFan, SCRed and Cardinal Blood, whom we always enter the stadium with. That is just one of the many traditions we now have on game day that we all get to share together. The best part of game day is obviously why we are all there, THE GAME. I get to stand next to my family and friends 6 times a year and we have a blast. There hasn't been too many bad moments in the Herd, so I can't tell you what its like to experience that part of it, but when something great happens there is nothing like it. The high fiving, hugging and fist pumping you get to share with you family is second to none. I love the Herd, but I love my family much much more and I am thankful to the Herd I get experience this with them. I just wish Bill would start going to the games again. Maybe in time he will.

Following up that family question, what has the Herd meant to you as far as new friendships? TFan, has become an honorary Springer. SCRed claims he's in the Springer clan. When I've been up North, I've stayed with you. What has the extended family of the Herd meant to you?

It is just great. We get to the campus pretty early on game days and the first people we see are Blood and Dr. Z. That just starts the parade of friends we see all day. It is something we never experienced when we went to games before TFO/Herd. We used to just go to campus and walk around and watch the band (I still do that), but now we get to hang with the friends we get to stand with inside. I walk around campus now and I see people I have met maybe once, but they always seem to know who you are and have nice words. As someone who didn't go to USC, that NEVER happened before. The most important thing is, the Herd really does feel like a family. We may have brought honorary members into the Springer family, but we are all apart of the Herd family. The friends I have made in the Herd that went to USC has never made me or my family feel like we are less because we never went to the school. That tells me all I need to know about this group. I love you all guys. Thanks!!

And speaking of being "up north" you and Dave live in Sacramento, yet you make the road trip down to every Coliseum game, and of course hit the Stanford and CAL games up there every year. What's entailed in that big road trip? What are your preparations? Any interesting traveling stories?

Well, I will just run down an average trip the last few years. We don't really have any special preparations other then we never know exactly when we are leaving on Friday to head down. The only preparation to make is to make sure we have the tickets, chairs, clothing and to make sure Bob or Kim will be home when we arrive in Paso Robles. (photo right: Mr. SC, a Molina and TroDave) We always head down there, which is about 4 hours and stay the night and pick up Bob. We now get to play with Abby a little bit and that is special.

In the morning, depending on game time we leave. Sometimes very early and sometimes at a reasonable hour. We then head down and pick up Gaither (TFan) at UC Santa Barbara and then head down to the campus. Usually takes us around another 4 hours. After the game, we repeat the same thing, only reverse sometimes getting home at 3-4 in the morning on Sunday. Then Dave and I get a good nights sleep and head back up to Sacto, usually on Sunday afternoon.

The most interesting traveling stories are obviously the times we leave and arrive at games sometimes. Dave and I have sat at the Rose Bowl and Coliseum in our car at like 2am a couple times after driving straight down from Sacto late at night. One thing that is always fun is because Dave smokes, he opens the window to smoke and in the winter it gets pretty cold and I hate it. Bob hates it even more, but because of the smoke part of it. It causes a little friction sometimes. The most memorable parts of our trips though is the arguing between brothers. That is always fun, but Gaither (TFan) has jumped right in that and he knows how to needle Bob to get the reaction he wants. That is so funny sometimes and something I will miss when we no longer pick Gaither up. We have had some good times on the road and many more to come I am sure.

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?

Obviously the “We Believe” game was pretty special and all those things. Just seeing Pete come up the steps of that game was something I will never forget. I think there are so many great moments, I would do them injustice to just name one more. I think the most important thing to me and makes me feel like I am part of it the most is the way the team responds to the Herd. They really look to us to get things going and I relish those moments. I love being loud and I love the challenge they give us sometimes to get louder. I also love that the Coliseum is a lot louder then it was 6 years ago. The most important thing to me and I know it will end sometime, but I am also proud of the fact I have never experienced a loss while standing in the Herd. That is something that is memorable!

You've always had a very good football head. Play head coach or recruiting coordinator for a moment. What are some of your favorite moves in the Pete Carroll era; including recruiting and or game decisions, and what are some of your criticisms during the last 6 years of PC? And what would you do or what kind of players would you go after to secure USC's continued dominance over the next decade?

Wow, I think you give me too much Well, I can't criticize Pete too much, but I think the one thing I wish for is that he could have made things work with Norm Chow, if they could have. I have heard their was an ego problem, but they worked so well with Pete on D and Norm on O. Maybe Sark will make us forget Norm and I hope he does. The only other thing I can think of is I think Pete gets too conservative at times when he has the athletes to beat any team. He needs to let his guys loose more often on D especially.

Now I got the negative out of the way, I would just say that Pete has made so many great moves it is so hard to pick just one. In fact, none are even coming to my mind right now that stand out. I will tell you one move I still liked that didn't work and it was a heartbreaker. I still think the fake punt call in South Bend in 2001 was good one and was gonna work if MacGillivray didn't trip. If the play worked, we go on to win and if it doesn't, the momentum changes and we could lose. We know how it turned out, but he showed some guts in hostile territory and I love those types of moves. I really don't have much to say about recruiting as Pete has brought in such great classes over the last few years. My wish for this year is to get 5 OL at least and 4 stud DL as I believe the games are won in the trenches. We have a lot of great skill players, but without blocking they aren't nearly as good as they can be. I am not saying we don't have good lineman, I just think you can never have too many of them. I also hope that we offer a few more guys early this year that deserve offers and it seems as though we are doing this so far. I think Brennan Carroll has a different strategy then Kiff and so far I like it. Make sure we can get the elite at home and take your chances with the elite OOS. That is a great philosophy that has worked and I am sure it will continue to. I do think we will take less OOS prospects this year, as California has a strong base this year.

All in all, Pete is doing a great job and I hope he never leaves. After all, he came in the same time the Herd did and he embraced us. What a great coach he is and we are truly blessed to have him running things!!

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

Well, I hope the experiences continue for a long time with many many more wins. I do think we need to start recruiting more people and make sure that the people that are in our area are respectful of the other Herd members and people around. (photo left: Mr. SC #11) I have seen a few people in the section the last couple years that I don't know and wouldn't really want them representing us. It also means if you are gonna sell your seats, do it to someone you would want to go to the game with yourself. I think we need to get back to recruiting graduating seniors more aggressively to make sure the Herd grows and stays strong.

As far as game day goes, I still think we need to get more coordinated with the band, spirit leaders and student section. Maybe one of us could go in their meetings that they have and coordinate things better. We have better ideas and more knowledge then they ever will and it could make the Coliseum even a tougher place to play. I would love to be able to do something like that, but being in Sacramento, there is no way. We have done a great job over the last few years in getting people involved, but we can't give up. We need to bring it every week. We expect the team to, so we have to as well. We can do it even better then we have before to steal words from Pete.

Last thing I want to say is that this is the greatest group in all of college football. I get to experience everything with my friends and family 6 Saturdays a year and I couldn't be any more proud to call myself a Herder. Thanks for everything in the past and in the future and lets win the National Championship on Jan 8, 2008!! FIGHT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!

No comments: