USCHerd, a USC fan site celebrating the USC Fan.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Ultimate HERDER

Herder of the Game - Mojack
by Gugs SC

Every home game I look forward to seeing Mojack standing in the HERD and talking SC football with him and it has been something I have done for the past ten seasons. I enjoy being able to discuss play calling choices, what we will think will happen with the team, the HERD and where SC football is going so it will be extremely disappointing to go to the game today knowing Mojack won't be there because of unavoidable work responsibilities that will limit his participation in person at games this season. Mojack is definitely the Ultimate HERDER and he has played a huge part in the growth of the HERD in its heyday so there is no better person to be the first HERDER OF THE GAME then Mojack as we all try to bring the HERD back to where it once was!

I asked Brooks if he would like to say something about Mojack so here is what Brooks had to say:
"When the Herd sat as a group for the first time against San Jose State, Charles Morris, Jr., better known as Mojack sat right behind me along with his family.  They have been there for every game since!  We have become friends, not just on the Thundering Herd message board and the games but in life. I can’t really say that I enjoyed this picture because he made me stand on the floor while he stood on the seat so as to be taller than me. 

Mojack has become a stalwart member of the most enthusiastic and vocal group of Trojans in recent times. He is a USC graduate and is a gifted and creative writer.  His humor and creativity have made the Herd board a success. His optimism has been infectious and being by nature a pessimist, I have leaned on him to get through the pre-game week. His philosophy has always been, “You can’t control the outcome of the game but you can control how you feel all week before the game – if you lose, it doesn’t change whether or not you enjoyed the week before!  Mojack is more than just a fan.  He knows football.  He has keen insight into the skills, strengths and weakness of the players and the game plan and execution.  His optimism has never effected his critique of the game. 

His employment at this time threatens to keep him from attending the games but his presence on the board during the week mitigates how much he will be missed at the game.  I am sure that all will be hoping for his return to his seats in section 11."

How did you became a USC fan?

I was lucky enough to be born a USC fan. My father, TrojanChuck, grew up in Rialto and badly wanted to attend USC, and though he didn’t get to live the USC experience as a student, he’s been a Trojan all his life. He tells stories of listening to USC games on the radio in the 40s and attending a Rose Bowl game in the early 50s. So I grew up in a Trojan household.

I remember watching the USC-Notre Dame game in 1974, and being beyond disappointed when USC was losing 24-0. Then Anthony Davis single-handedly (or so it seemed) led USC back to that tremendous comeback. That game, that day, was the day I wanted to go to USC, to be a Trojan for life. I lived those dreams by attending USC and graduating with my degree in Film Production. My father didn’t get to live his USC aspirations as a student, but through me, he became even closer to the University that he had loved all his life, and that connection has remained for both of us since my graduation. 

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

My parents and I went to USC games sparingly throughout my youth. When I attended USC I also went to games, though I never sat in the student section. It was a different era of USC football; Tollner and Larry Smith, it seemed like the glory years were behind USC, so attending games didn’t seem like the “event” it has been the last 12 years. Though I vividly remember a friend and I sitting in a UCLA section during the 1987 game when UCLA was beating USC. The Rodney Peete measles game. The Bruin fans were relentlessly taunting my Trojan friend and I; obscenely, crudely, aggressively. Then Rodney Peete threw that interception right before halftime. The game seemed lost. But Peete chased down that Bruin and saved a touchdown. And USC came back and won that game. My friend and I gave back that taunting to all the Bruins in our section. I did get to meet Rodney Peete on campus later that year.

That was my favorite home game experience until my parents and family started buying season tickets in the early 90s. We sat in Section 17. High up. I remember the horrible losses; the 21 point come-from-ahead loss to Cal, the infamous block in the back by Larry Parker,…those JR2 years and Hackett years,…when the glory seemed so far away. But, we attended every game. Faithful even in our mediocrity.

I've never asked you where you grew up. If you've been a local California kid all your life, did you have personal experience with other local kids going to USC to play football?

I grew up in Ontario. Went to Chaffey High School a few years after Anthony Munoz graduated from there. One afternoon when I was a freshman in high school, and Anthony was already at USC, he was back on campus visiting our trainer. I was walking in the locker room when Anthony was approaching me down a corridor. He was massive, a monster, he seemed to be bigger-than-life.

I also grew up with Bruce Parks, who was a big recruit for USC in the 80s. He played offensive line for Tollner and Larry Smith.

Can you briefly summarize 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?

I don’t remember how I found TFO, but I did, and quickly formed a bond with some of the posters on that board; Brooks, Shorty, Yucca, Red, and countless others. It was during the long winter of Hackett’s tenure, and the support at the Coliseum was tepid at best. So when we started talking about forming our own support group and moving our season tickets into a section together to be the “best Trojan fans all sitting together” it was something that got me excited, got my adrenaline going, and then I mentioned it to my father, and he said “sure, let’s do it.” So we bought in 100% and we’re all proud to be Original Herders, Founding members

You've always been one of the biggest supporters of the Herd. What has the Herd experience been like for you? And what were your first impressions of the Herd during the San Jose State game and the whole season after that?

The Herd experience has transformed my “fan” experience at all sporting events. Why just sit there and watch? Be interactive. Be a part of the game, be a part of the team, let the coaches know you have their back. The San Jose game was the start of something big. We didn’t realize our power until the Arizona game and “We Believe.” With a record of 1-5, The Herd stood on the wall of that tunnel, and as the Players came out, Trojan Russ started us on that cheer, “We Believe, We Believe, We Believe..,!!” And USC Football has not been mediocre since that moment.

I can be all ego and say that The Herd was one of the main reasons that USC resurrected its legacy, because on that day against Arizona, in that moment, Pete and the Trojans knew that their fans still cared, that the Trojans still mattered in college football, that the USC legacy was not going to die, and…the team started to “believe” too…and it’s been a tremendous 11 years since that moment. Was it all because of The Herd? Of course not. We could see the team spirit and the Trojans play rising during that 1-5 start in 2001,…but maybe, just maybe, they needed that little boost of confidence to get over that hill…maybe, just maybe “We Believe” was an epiphanous moment and it brought USC Football back to where it belongs, on top of the college football world. 

Are there any special moments that you've shared with the Herd that you'll always remember? At the Coliseum, a tailgate, an away game?

There are too many to list, but I’ll give it a shot. The games are special, sure. As stated above, there was the “We Believe” game. And 2004 Cal, when the Herd and the Crowd in the Coliseum finally showed that we could impact the score of a game. No stadium has ever been louder than those last 4 downs that Cal had in the West endzone. That was exciting, exhilarating, so adrenalized, to know you were a part of that victory. The Rose Bowls, that Stanford game where USC was down big at halftime up in Palo Alto, the Virginia Tech game in Washington, and the Auburn experiences, home and away. I loved helping to organize and be a part of that combined tailgate for 400 when Auburn came to the Coliseum. I enjoyed going back to Auburn and experiencing football in the South when they threw that tailgate for us.
But the real “special” moments to me are the relationships and friendships that I’ve formed in the Herd. Being invited and attending Brooks’ 50th wedding anniversary. Finding that I shared another fellowship with Doc, and the conversations we shared on that subject. Becoming friends with Altadena Trojan and sharing that deep connection we have. Spending a few days with Red in Washington. Going out to dinner with Shorty, Minx and one-legged Inga and other Herders in Long Beach. It is the friendships and relationships because of the Herd that I’ll remember long after the fleeting moments of the games are distant memories.

You are one of the only Herders that make almost every Herd event whether it's a basketball game, a hockey game, a football event. What has the Trojan experience and the Herd experience meant to you? And to follow up on that, how have you enjoyed being a member of the extended Herd family?

I used to make every game, every event. My father and son enjoyed USC hockey and those events that were organized through the passion of Doc and mpron. Life has gotten in the way the last few years, and I’ve had to prioritize other things besides the Herd and USC. But, that is just a practical matter.

The Herd experience has changed the way I look at USC, the way I participate in watching the Trojans, and has altered my gameday experience forever. It’s not just going to a USC game anymore. It’s sharing the experience with great friends, family members, knowing that we were a part of Trojan football history (albeit a small one) but that we as a fan group got involved enough together to help bring about change to the Coliseum, to show the “wine and cheese” crowd that it was okay to yell and cheer and stand the whole game as they do in the Big-10, Big 12 and SEC. We had a role in changing the culture of the Coliseum for the better. The players and coaches were well aware of it too. How many comments and quotes from players and coaches have thanked the Herd for their support? We meant something. We mean something. But again, that’s on a practical side.

The Herd experience is more about sharing our shared passion, USC Football, with a diehard group of friends who I count as some of the best friends I have. We care about each other, personally, we talk to each other, email each other. It is a community. Yes, our bond is USC Football, but it’s grown beyond that, and there’s nothing better than going to a USC game surrounded by your true friends and family. We win together. We lose together. We’re the Herd together. Only Herdmembers can truly understand how special it has been and will continue to be.

I also get to share that bond with my father, and enjoy his love of USC. He passed that love onto me, and I’ve passed it onto my son Eden and daughter Sofia. With my sister Laura, her husband Kirk, and their kids, we’ve turned the USC games into another family tradition. And sharing that time together is  more important than the results of an individual football game.

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

The Herd misses guys like Trojan Russ, the lead cheerleader, holding that “We Believe” sign high, yelling at the top of his lungs, his pony-tail flopping with every syllable, “WE BELIEVE…!!” And Grover and Veronique and their tailgates. Shorty is in Idaho. The Springers tailgate on campus. Brooks would rather be watching the game at Cherp’s in Fontana. USC became great again. They won Heisman’s and National Championships. The bandwagon fans are back. The Coliseum will be full again this year.

USC will sell out the Coliseum in 2012 with or without us. Yeah, the Herd section will be the loudest in the stadium, but the stadium will be loud. I talked to Gary Klein, the LA Times beat writer recently, and he knows Mr. Bill and he knew about The Herd. I said “USC won’t need the Herd this year.” He said, “don’t be so sure about that. Maybe they’ll need you more than ever.” Yeah, USC needed us at one point. They needed Trojan Russ and Cardinal Blood on the wall. They needed Sean handing out The Herd megaphones. They needed all of us standing. Maybe we need to find that passion once again. That realization that we are important. That the players DO love us on that wall. That Coach Orgeron still loves to see us standing and cheering in that tunnel. Maybe we need to feel a part of the legacy once again. Not that we’re just standing and watching it, but that we’re with the team and the coaches, and they know we’re there, always there, never sitting…always supportive, always faithful…forever The Herd.




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