It was a joyful Saturday morning for the Irish faithful. Colors were proudly flown and images of opposing ex-convicts were displayed with great aplomb. All signs pointed to a full day of exciting college football revelry. I had the lads up at daybreak to head into the belly of the beast. The plan was simple: tailgate early and tailgate often. The entire experience made all the more official by our standard-issue road gear. Trev had escaped sometime after the previous evening's happy hour, attempting to take the Gameday stage by force though the use of a clever sign.
After beginning the festivities with the traditional malt-based energy-drink (now in the more potent "black label"), we began discussing the various ways our Irish team would destroy the Trojans with religious zeal. Thoroughly emboldened by the thought of impending glory, one of the interns felt compelled to conquer a nearby tree. After a few beverages at the higher altitude, the location was prime for poking fun at passersby. I love it when a plan comes together.
At this time, with the sweet alcohol-tinted of victory clouding our view, we set out towards USC's fabled Heritage Hall. On the outside, the retro-70s digs could be mistaken for any general purpose space on any modern university campus. I half-expected a marquee welcoming the California Computer Educators conference or the local Kiwanis. The inside, however, did not disappoint. There, in all of their blood-boiling glory, were the retired jerseys, 7 Heismans, and various national championships trophies displayed center-atrium for all to see. Curiously, not a scrap of memorabilia from 2003, but I did manage to find a new target for our local ne'er do well.
Returning to the tailgate for several more hours of tailgating, the group stocked up for the long journey to the coliseum. While it is a good distance from campus, the trip seemed much shorter on the way to the game than it did afterwards. I'm pretty sure this had to do with our fluctuating BACs and the margin of victory. Nevertheless, the end of our tailgating was very similar to its start, a flag-flying, rabble-rousing, merry band of the phony tough and the crazy brave barrelling towards the stadium as loudly as their vocal chords could allow.
I only took the one picture of the LA Coliseum, and it was long before night fell, insanity along with it. Outcome of the game aside, never, I repeat, never bet against the Trojans at night. The ridiculous amount of bloodthirsty, ancient-themed pomp and circumstance is a lot for anyone to take in. Combine equal parts of a jilted Raider Nation and college-sized passion, throw it in the middle of South Central LA, shake that bitch up and pour flaming malt beverage over the remains. There are only a handful of teams that can overcome USC on paper. Throw in that damn horse, 10,000 LA coeds, THAT FREAKING SONG, and about a million people doing that "V" thing with their hands, and you've got yourself some spectacle.
Overall, better football types have said it better than me, but I am OK with the lesson this game taught me. Notre Dame is a good team. Southern Cal is a great team. Will it always be this way? One must only look at the series grand history to know otherwise. "This too shall pass." In the meantime, there is plenty of work to be done in South Bend. We headed back to the lots in one giant mob of punch-drunk football fans, either high on BCS hopes or overdosed on reality, only the vague direction of the crowd to guide us, and after all of the festivities, all of the pomp, and all of the grim face of football truth, the trip was still a resounding, and exhausting, success.