How was your offseason? Mine was terrific. I’ve spent considerable time playing in the stock market (literally going to the NYSE and starting flash mob style pick up basketball games during prime trading hours), discussing with Kyle Negrete that all his punts will be referred to as “predator drones” this season and that I plan to have a punting section in each post, promoting skin cancer awareness by roaming the boat culture in the south of France by voluntarily ensuring models were covered in high SPF sunblock at all times (try the champagne there, apparently the French are great at it!), and of course putting myself through 300-style training to make sure this season I was in peak condition.
I am. I am lean, mean and so fucking angry at the NCAA, our opponents, science and bears. I have a cabinet stocked with ink for my quill and bourbon for my gullet. It’s time for the Arrogant Nation Mission Statement in which I set forth our goal as a program and community. I urge you to share this with your friends, your family, your enemies (you know what the Bearfighter does with hate mail) and with new incoming USC student who have no idea how lucky they are that the 8th Wonder of the World is actually a alumnus blogger who is undefeated in arrogance.
Strap on your pads, getcho popcorn ready. Time to give them something new to try and sanction.
It is the beginning of our third act.
When I was a rocket-propelled bourbon barrel attending USC film school in the screenwriting program they taught me about structure and the protagonists journeys intertwining. They taught me how in the best stories, two different people come together to stick a sword in the bear’s dirty heart in the end, each needing each other to get it done. Some have called me a cult hero, most call me The Bearfighter.
If you’re new here, there’s only one thing I claim to be: I’m hell with a pen.
Let’s start at the beginning for new Trojans first discovering this by way of some handsome and sexually attractive upperclassman, athlete or alum. This blog used to be about me drinking bourbon and running around Los Angeles trying to figure out how it’s possible I was this handsome and also so fucking hell with a pen. Every Saturday, as I did when I was a student, I would go to the Coliseum and celebrate the fact that win or lose (and we usually just won), we are the single worst team for the opponent to play for so many reasons.
We have no flaws in our armor. On the off chance we lost, we still went to USC. Our women are beautiful, our degrees expensive and more valuable in the world every year. We’ve got a monster endowment. You heard me, we’re well-endowed. It’s 72 degrees and we don’t give a fuck. Yes, I’ll do a keg stand. No, I don’t know what time it is.
When the sanctions hit, chapter one of this trilogy began. I started Arrogant Nation with a blog post that still resides atop the page you are reading right now where I said that it didn’t matter what the NCAA says, we were going to party in their face, steal their girlfriend and publicly dump her on prom night after her father covered cost of the limo. Then we hook up with her friend and teach her brother how to skateboard. I have seen this all as if it were a dream and as I coined phrases you all see on shirts in your dorms, houses and at the stadium, Arrogant Nation became a real thing. It always was.
ESPN showed up to GameDay reluctantly despite hiding our scores and dissing our legendary coach, The Visor. That’s because we’re always the story, even when we’re sanctioned. USC not playing football is more interesting than 98% of teams playing. That’s a fact and anyone reading this that felt like arguing it, know that the feeling you are experiencing is just being angry that I am right. Don’t feel bad, we’re the main football event in the second biggest DMA and there’s no NFL team. We make winning look good. We make getting sanctioned look good. (refer to our current “sanctioned” recruiting class that any other unsanctioned program would trade us for). Frankly, we just look good, even when we look bad. We look good when we win and we look good when we lose.
Want proof? People loved picking on our Song Girl Natalie Nelson for celebrating by mistake after Texas scored in the Rose Bowl.
Guess what, we lost and she looked good. She’s a Song Girl. She won that day because everyone in the stadium wanted to date her. She married a former Trojan in hte NFL and now can afford to swim in only 1992 vintage rose champagne. We win even when we lose. Arrogant. Of course I want lobster in my mashed potatoes.
When GameDay got sucked into coming to USC because we’re always the story, in the background you’d see my quotes “You Can’t Sanction The Endzone” and “Bowls Are For Salads” and “Lane Fucking Kiffin, Bro” which in fact was my answer to everyone who said “Lane Kiffin? That’s your hire?”
You’re damn right he was and I said right away he was the man for the job. A modern man who wears white after Labor Day and doesn’t wait to be promoted, he takes it. The man went out and got the hottest wife on the block, fucked around in the NFL, killed Al Davis with arrogance (no proof, still convinced) went to the SEC and talked shit about EVERYONE and then literally peaced out to come to USC.
Why? He said it was the perfect school, the perfect job. And since then… Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The man named his kid Knox after Knoxville and when he has his Championship Drew Brees holding his kid moment, all the South will think General Sherman came back as a coked-up zombie it will be such a slow, terrifying death. And you, Arrogant Nation will be drunk chopping down trees, killing bears and eating duck. We may bag a tiger or an elephant if we’re lucky.
An unproven coach. An unproven blogger. An unproven team. Despite mixed results our first year, the blog reached cult status, the coach was landing recruits and losing close, close games by doing crazy shit like going for two every time and our team was way under the radar. We carried the school on our back that year. We stood by the players when the country wanted to scapegoat us not knowing that somewhere Cam Newton was asking for 200K to play at his third college, that Nevin Shapiro was throwing the world’s greatest ocean-bound cocaine party for a decade’s worth of Miami Hurricanes, that Ohio State players were selling their gear for profit or that little kids were getting molested in the showers at Penn State because a cover up kept the game going on the field. Oh yeah, and Oregon was paying for “recruiting guides” for Texas players including LaMichael James even though Willie Lyles couldn’t produce any actual documents (which is code for paying for influence).
When we were made to be the root of all evil, we put on our sanctions shirts, packed the student section and shared the blog posts regardless of audience. We fought the fuck on and ignored everyone like the arrogant geniuses with perfect bodies we are. Of course, I’ll have a bourbon. Sure, Bulleit works. No, I’m not wearing pants.
You want to make us the bad guy? Good. Like I always say, Darth Vader sold the most lunchboxes.
Chapter two of the trilogy saw gained momentum. The blog ballooned to 1 million plus visitors a year and The Bearfighter became a staple on campus. Kiffin supported by prediction of being a two-loss team by only losing two times. Upperclassmen shared the posts with underclassmen. I spoke on campus, I hosted the Fall Sports Rally at Galen. I bowled a perfect game and survived cancer.
By the end of the season we were a train. A train on meth that didn’t know it was a train anymore and just started robbing convenience stores. We beat Oregon with one arm behind our back due to travelling a small sanctioned squad and still pulled out the W on the road ending a home winning streak that probably meant more to them than Christmas. It was such an excruciating loss for them that they made faces like this and spent weeks flooding the blog trying to explain how they didn’t lose and how if the game was longer they’d have won or if their kicker hit a field goal it would have gone to OT… Whatever. Scoreboard. If we traveled a full team we’d have continued winning at the clip we were when it was 38-14. Even kicking someone’s ass takes energy.
Oh yeah. I promised sad Oregon people.
Wait, one more.
And Chip Kelly wore out his visor to pretend he was thin enough to pull off that look got treated to a massive curveball by the man KNOWN as the Visor. Homeboy showed up in a beanie. Arrogant. It’s like at Sundance all the LA people wearing crazy black winter coats just because we don’t get to in LA. Beanie had one chance to get some play. Kiff put it in the game and WON THE DAY (you heard me Chip).
In last year’s Arrogant Nation Mission Statement, I set out the goal of us winning the Pac-12 South and making Larry Scott look like a dick for getting an awful matchup that everyone knew was bogus. Through a loss or blow out, it was our job to create havoc and point out an epic fail. We had to be the punk on a skateboard messing with the nerds who still think the NCAA is a real entity or that this is about football or that any Pac 12 Championship in which we were not allowed to compete in could be considered real. Our goal was to make a mockery of this system based on strange rules and back alley deals by winning enough to undermine them.
CHECK PLUS, ARROGANT NATION. You guys are so attractive, let’s all get married and cheat on each other WITH each other.
The Inaugural Pac 12 Title game was between an Oregon team the nation saw us beat less than a month before and UCLA, a team we beat 50-0 and ended up petitioning to be the worst team ever to play in a bowl. Here’s mud in your eye, Larry Scott. Just kidding, that’s not mud (horrified face).
Let that sink in. I mean, really. Extrapolate what happened.
We embarrassed Oregon who didn’t get the shot to prove they deserved the title (I’d be pissed if they were sanctioned and our title game was against some BS team). We embarrassed our rival by making them play in a game they had no business being in and even Larry Scott knew it when a very good Duck team beat them all over the field (although not 50-0). We embarrassed Larry Scott because that game was like watching an off Broadway one man show about the French underground cheese trade.
Scratch that. That sounds way cooler than that game ended up. The French take cheese way more seriously than UCLA took that game. Or like, getting dressed in the morning.
Oregon has looming clouds of the Lyles shady dealings. Andrew Luck is gone. The world is starting to make sense and it was us, Arrogant Nation, that avoided being fair-weather fans. We weren’t even fans. We were naked supermodels riding dinosaurs at the beach wearing oversized frat tank tops with big ass letters on them. We made sanctions look good. Of course I’ll do a keg stand. Sure I’ll chase it with bourbon.
So good in fact, that the most unjust sucker punch the NCAA ever threw resulted in us having the top recruiting class in the country, a preseason top 3 ranking, a coach who now is the toast of the CFB world, a program so desirable that after Penn State got sanctioned, their star running back just ups and comes west where the Arrogant Nation is beating drums and dancing to house music throwing glow sticks at nerd bears trying to get into our parties. I don’t care what the score is, all we do is win even when we don’t. In fact, I kind of want to just run around the locker room handing out hundreds just so we can do this all again. I had a blast, NCAA. How was it for you? (lights cigarette)
And Paul Dee, the asshole, hypocrite, everything-wrong-with-the-system-personified-in-one-fat-man who presided over our sanctions hearings despite being the AD at Miami in a time where they scored more coke than touchdowns (and they scored a lot of touchdowns), literally died. I don’t wish death on anyone but bears, but let’s be honest. Paul Dee carried more guilt than cholesterol in that enlarged, over-worked heart of his. What goes around comes around. I’ve had cancer twice. This season, I’m here to collect.
Our offense is so stacked we’ll need to pack our asses into the stadium by kickoff to not miss the first 21 points. We have 2 1,000 backs, 2 1,000 wide outs and a QB who threw for 3500+ yards and is the favorite to replace Reggie Bush’s vacated jersey in the Coliseum. Something I said would happen when I wrote to Matt to stay. Something we all want to happen.
After all, this is a man who deserves our love if not for any reason beyond the fact that when The Bearfighter called him drunk from a bar in New Jersey after the Oregon game explaining how past and present and future all were coming true, that we were all on a path of destiny, he actually returned the call. Even my wife knows not to call me back when I am in that kind of state. New Jersey, I mean.
This season, we have to put it on the line. Arrogant Nation, we’ve hit our goals each year. We didn’t let the NCAA knock us out. Then, we totally fucked up the Pac 12 Championship and returned to prominence. What now you ask?
Time to put my Dillon Panthers (or East Dillon Lions, you pick) hat on and give you some Coach Taylor Bearfighter. Here’s our mission statement and some Explosions in the Sky to set the mood.
I. Want. It. All.
This year, it’s about winning. It’s about hitting these guys in the mouth. We’ve spent far too long being told to be ashamed for loving our school which hasn’t been accused of covering up rape or handing out drugs or doing anything most of us would find reprehensible. We’ve been called cheaters and told our athletes just take ball room dancing when the admissions test to get into most of the SEC (earmuffs, Vanderbilt) is checking to see if we have a pulse.
In our absence this sport has become a showcase of hideous uniforms, bastardized traditions and a completely false belief that if it isn’t from the SEC, it isn’t football. I remember #1 Auburn getting shutout at home. I remember dealing McFadden’s SEC West Champion Razorbacks their worst loss of all time followed by their worst home loss of all time. We’re the only ones who can take the fight to them. We’re the only ones with a big enough chip on our shoulder. Oregon just has a big enough Chip.
For my alumni readers, you know you never know when the stars align and you have your chance. To my Class of 2012 readers who were with me from the start, you have never seen the stadium the way you will see it this year as we gain steam. My junior and senior year, we lost one game and it took triple overtime to beat us. The players fought and we pushed our players. I am the first to say this team is special. This team will be better than them regardless of record. This team wants to put us in the throne and behead the naysayers.
Not just special because they are talented, which they are, but so are the Tigers. So are the Tide. What this team has that no other team has is us. They have a fly in their ear turned into a deafening roar from the cheap seats. Never let up. The Tigers and the Tide are riding high and they expect to be there as we have so many times. I’ve seen Trojan teams fall complacent and slip to Beavers and Cardinal and Huskies for no reason.
This year our mission is to remind the players at every moment that this is so much more than a season. This is a shot at greatness. The kind of greatness we’ll see on a 30/30 one day. The team that played ten men down for no reason anyone could explain and showed that their 75 was always better than whatever 85 they lined up with. Bleeding lungs from cheering. Bruised palms from clapping. Faces numb across the Coliseum drunk off the opportunity to ride one great wave.
Anyone can win a title or a bowl game. Not anyone can win it coming from where we have. Not anyone can win it like us. Not anyone can say fuck you and thank you in the same breath like we can. We’re going to be in a drunken state of focus for every play and pre-game party and we’re going to make sure the team knows we’re there. If we had the faculties to push them into the endzone, we would. We’ll do it with our arrogance, win or lose, we’re not giving up even a little bit come Natty or come Rose Bowl. We’re back on the map and we’re plotting our location the way our band leader stabs the fifty yard line.
For all I know we’re starting another historic run at USC, but I promise if we do our job and our team does theirs, this will be the most special year of them all. It’s going to be that one great vintage. This is the one your kids will be pissed they didn’t see, games in the time of Barkley and Woods and Lee and MacDonald. A team of players that all could have left but knew better. They knew something about the name on the front of the jersey. Silas Redd came from another sanctioned school, proof that what USC “did” and what is truly sanction-worthy are so vastly different.
For our third year running we’ve been beating our chests and saying “just wait”. “Just wait until they open the gate and let us into the ring” and now finally we’re less than a month out.
In the words of our infamous marching band “fuck everyone but us”. Believe me, we’re the only ones rooting for us and what could be more arrogant than that. Let’s not be the Ducks wondering if and when we’ll be considered significant. Let’s not be the SEC assuming their money is always trading at twice the value of our currency.
Let’s be Arrogant Nation, let’s kill bears and drink bourbon and let’s shove this one into the endzone.
You with me?
Here’s what you can do. When GameDay shows up, you take a sharpee and a poster and you get as arrogant as you can. I’ll be here to help. You rock a shirt every chance you get. You take underclassmen and set them straight by sending them to this blog and making them follow it on Facebook and Twitter. You stay until the last play and never back down to anyone at any point. SHARE THE POSTS. SHARE THE SHIRTS. SHARE THE MESSAGE.
This is going to be one for the ages.
We’re going to go for broke this year so much so that if we get our ultimate win, I may just smash my laptop and walk away. I don’t know how I could go out any bigger, I don’t know what I’d have left to do. I am the Bearfighter and I’ve helped you carry the torch lit when sanctions hit and now it’s time to use it to burn down the city.
We’ve all got unfinished business and we’re going to have a lot of fun at the office.
Here’s what’s next. We’ll have a few posts before the season about the new format of the Arrogant Game Previews and Recaps. I’ll get a little more football related. The purpose of this was to lay it on the line. It’s time for us to complete our trilogy by slaying the bear.
Below is a link (OR CLICK HERE) to visit the new Arrogant Nation Store. Please CHECK THE DELIVERY SCHEDULE to know when your orders will arrive. This year, we’ve partnered with Kotis of USC Greek swag fame so remember, I am not doing the shipping so I won’t know where your order is. That said, I’ll be on my yacht drinking champagne and hoping sincerely your orders got filled. Each order comes with a sticker. I expect to see them everywhere.
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