It’s been an interesting week here in Los Angeles, out on the far edge of the ocean. The Dodgers are doing well, Kobe and Friends are having fun at Bill Simmons’ expense, we’ve got earthquakes weekly, and we’re watching a couple of folks try to purchase the right to be the governor of our state and it’s botched economy.
But, with all the news we’ve been hearing out of the University of Southern California, it’s been difficult to miss folks’ reactions and responses to all things Trojans.
I’m assuming that you’ve got “the Google”, so you can get the analysis from all the websites (be sure to check out SBN’s Conquest Chronicles, the LA Times, and the OC Register). Instead, I want to answer Ken’s question from the comments- “what is fan reaction to USC getting curb-stomped?“
With that in mind, I want to introduce you to the Five College Football Fans You Meet In Los Angeles.
Arrogant- Current USC AD Mike Garrett (emphasis on “current”- he shouldn’t get too comfortable) was quoted as saying the following
“As I read the decision by the NCAA, all I could get out of all of this was … I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy, and they wish they all were Trojans.”
Yeah, champ. That’s it.
Combined with Pete “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Carroll’s script read through, and you get a sense of the attitude that many Trojan supporters have, even today. A look though the message boards shows a group of deluded folks who still see this as the NCAA on a witch hunt, trying to punish a bunch of outstanding citizens who are only guilty of trying to help young adults out. There’s no way for me to adequately describe this vibe other than to make the following comparison- these folks remind me of either every interview I’ve ever seen with Barry Switzer or the continued hauter exhibited by the members of “Da U”, even now, years after their program has been highlighted as on of the worst things to happen to college football. I’m guessing these folks may not have the self awareness to realize that those aren’t good comparisons.
In Denial- There are a lot of people here in the Southland who are assuming that this didn’t happen, and that it will all go away with the appeal. “Ok, they sent the message… but we’ve got a new coach, and all that stuff should be put behind us”. Or, echoing Pete’s script from earlier “these sanctions are much too harsh for what happened; they’ll be changed.
I’m guessing these people missed this part of official report
The committee seriously considered the imposition of a television ban as a penalty in this case. After lengthy discussion, the committee ultimately decided that the imposition of other significant penalties, as set forth here, adequately responded to the nature of the violations found in this case and the level of institutional responsibility. Therefore, a television ban need not be imposed. The committee notes, however, that the television ban is a penalty designed in part to ameliorate extensive and positive media and public attention gained by a program through commission of violations. The committee also notes that the decision in this case not to impose the penalty was a very close call. All student-athletes, coaches, administrators, boosters and agents must understand that violations of NCAA rules have severe consequences.
In other words, it could have been worse. Fans in denial (or “irrationally optimistic”, if you will) should also be aware that the chances of the appeal being successful are pretty slim, if the LA Times is to be believed. They should also remember that the findings did not include any recent concerns; an appeal and review would be likely to take those things into account.
Overwhelmed- To be honest, these are most of the people that I know. I had one friend who, when I tried to call to see that she was OK, simply told me- “I’m just going to go into my office and cry”. It’s almost as if they know that it’s finally caught up with their team; the rumors of impropriety, all the celebrities and hangers on at practice and on the sidelines and in the locker room, the “competitive advantage” that their coach always preached… it’s finally time to pay the bill. To go with another analogy, it’s a lot like the Southern California housing market- no one asked why it was going up and up and up… but now that the bubble has popped, it’s beyond description.
On their behalf, many of these are the true fans; the ones who will still support their team, who didn’t like the latest coaching hire, and who will “fight on” through this.
Oblivious- If most of the people I know personally are shell shocked, much of the rest of the “fan base” are not impacted by this at all. This is because much of LA is made up of t-shirt alumni, people who pay attention to sports when everything is going well. They’re transplants from other places, they have more “important” things to do (Disneyland, the beach, sitting in traffic), and will be wearing UCLA gear in a couple of years. Speaking of which…
Gleeful- Those of us who are fans of other teams, particularly UCLA, have been loving every minute of this experience. We get to say “we told you so”, and use words like “comeuppance”. Bruins fans are also able to forget that their current guy was involved in a scandal of some sort at his last two institutions, and focus instead on the joy that comes from the pain of your enemy. And, given how one sided that rivalry has been recently and how obnoxious three of the four types mentioned above can be to live and work with, they’re getting a lot of mileage out of this moment.
To be candid; while not a fan of UCLA, I can certainly resonate with their perspective.