I walked away at the top.
Millions of views. My t-shirts everywhere at the Coliseum. High fives from strangers on campus. People grabbing you to share a shot of bourbon and an instagram. Winning awards, hosting pep rallies. This whole thing got out of control.
I walked away at the top, but it was more like walking away from an explosion in a movie. Say, this one, where a billionaire genius womanizer built a robot death machine in his Malibu cliff mansion and painted it like a Trojan football uniform:
I knew Arrogant Nation did it’s job.
I knew we beat the NCAA. It was never about me getting credit, don’t twist it. You all gave me plenty of that. It was ridiculous it got like it got. I live north of the wall in Portland, Oregon and still get stopped in supermarkets on gameday when I have my FTFO gear on.
Let’s talk about what we did though beyond get literally thousands of t-shirts and stickers and signs out into the college football ethos. We made the point to the point that people took our side. The press now blames the NCAA. Any supposed transgressions USC made, they aren’t taken seriously. The NCAA is getting punked hard left and right and their only hope frankly is that the NFL screws up harder. It’s a race to the dumpster fire covered in high proof whiskey. Bombs away.
I mean honestly. Let’s take a peek.
Paul Dee died of guilt. USC, once the pariah of NCAA sanctions isn’t even in the discussion. Between the Miami cocaine cruise abortion funding by the on-field booster that made an article better than the twelve year old girls that write Ballers could dream up and the systematic rape cover-up at Penn State – what was it we were even accused of again?
Oh right, a bunch of Ponzi BS the NCAA is still trying to duck even with court docs being unsealed. And a slew of articles that five years ago, the Bearfighter was the only one with the balls to write. That the NCAA was literally out to get us. That they had no case and made one anyway. That they couldn’t do a damn thing right. Botching investigations and oddly punishing everyone from Miami to Penn State to Oregon to North Carolina.
We took them down.
Dude. There’s a playoff now. The media actually roots for us (sometimes). They heard us.
What have I been up to?
Well, I’ve been living in Portland, Oregon wrapping my body in charcuterie every night and taking my morning vitamin D pills with barrel proof bourbon. I’ve been living amongst Ducks and Beavers and Huskies OH MY.
I’ve been hell with a pen at work. I’ve been rocking a Pete Carroll signed helmet on my desk since I got here. Same as it ever was.
I’ve been running like an Oregonian and finding peace in praising Prefontaine. I’ve found love for our enemies without losing my desire to eat duck a l’orange every chance I get. Really, it’s been Sun Tzu. Love your enemy. I’m better. I’m lean. I’m a soccer fan now.
I’ve found no truer expression of fundamentalist fandom than in Timber’s Army, covered in rain, whiskey with green flares casting smoke thicker than in a cigar room.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what was next for me. For my USC experience. I was a student. I was an unknown writer. I started a movement. And I moved on.
I watch the Dodgers on television every night. I travel the country for work. I study everything. I work with brands that work with football. I spend my time wondering what is next. I admit to feeling a bit of loneliness without the true cloud of sanctions. I miss them almost. We achieved our goal. We’re just a football team with a top recruiting class and a lot to prove and a lot expected.
Hard not to miss the us-vs-the world feeling.
We got through sanctions without a losing season. We’re heading into a football season with a pre-season Heisman favorite at quarterback and a lot of folks predicting we’ll win the conference.
So… Nothing happened. Wasn’t that the point of Arrogant Nation? Making it seem like we got punched in the face and all that broke was their fist?
Let’s just be clear since I’ve been “away” – let’s be pointed about what I think Arrogant Nation did.
There’s a very real feeling up here at a bar when the Ducks lose. It’s this sigh. It’s this feeling of inevitable air being let out. You can tell a lot about a team by how the fan base reacts to a loss. Here, they expected it. Even when they don’t. They knew. A losing bowl record will do that. It’s the groan when DeAnthony Thomas says they are over Rose Bowls despite not really winning many of them.
You see shirts here celebrating participation in bowl games. James Harrison took away his kids participation trophies.
I say USC does that for the rest of the Pac again by not letting them participate in the big games.
That’s going to be hard because we’re not alone in our greatness anymore. We’re not back to full strength but we might be good enough that we can’t use that as an excuse.
Well. I’ve never had an excuse for USC. It was more fun to be a Kiffin’s Trojans fan than it was for UCLA fans in our recent string of HORRIBLE DEATHS AT THE HANDS OF BEARS.
This year, we have to make it right with UCLA. They know we need to do that too. They must feel weird living in that big house of expectations with no friends. We’ve put things right with Stanford and with Notre Dame. We’ve won a Holiday Bowl that I enjoyed like a Red Bull Push Cart race. We were so tired I enjoyed wondering if the wheels would stay on. They did.
Arrogant Nation, it occurs to me that we have run out of excuses because everyone will expect us to at least start playing for the Pac 12 title every year. We’re going to have ups and downs. We’re going to take a lot of sh*t again in a way we maybe forgot about. Even Duck fans are nice to me. They need some new reasons to hate us, starting with beating them in hand to hand football combat and pure tailgating prowess.
I can’t control the field and what happens on it, but from the moment I met Kessler at a pep rally, I liked the guy. Get on his back. This dude is doing it with old school Leinart swag. He just throws it up there and watches it explode. He’s Iron Man and they even dress alike.
Look, we can’t control what happens on the field. But I need us to control the crowd a little better. We’ve gotten a little too Snapchat and a lot less Snapcount. We need to be pointing at our banners and trophies, the ones we have and the ones we gave back (that they probably have to give back to us once the dust settles).
So I’m here to say how I plan to help, but really, just enjoy taking some reps going deep on opposing fan bases.
I’m not here to recreate the past. Doc Brown already did that and until I get my hoverboard you all can deal with it. I’m not here to say the AGP or AGR are back. They aren’t. We did that. It was pretty fun. It must have been love but it’s over now. It’s disco. It’s high school.
I’m not going to talk football this year. I’m going to talk fan bases.
No predictions. Just facts.
Every week this season, and only because I think some of our opponents fans have lost the fear, I’m going to drop a post called “The Bearfighter’s Field Manual to [Insert Opponent]“.
The BFM is a quick refresher to your opposing fans to put them in historical context. It’s about who they are as a school, a city, a program and a mindset. It’s going to be about facts. Facts like Oregon has a losing bowl record. Still. Including bowls that you get in for having a football team. Facts like Arkansas State is a team we actually play and they actually exist and their mascot is a red wolf which according to the following map, isn’t even indiginous to Arkansas as a state.
No result on the football field will change the fact that Jim Mora doesn’t know how to work Twitter.
You see what I’m getting at? I’m done with football. I’m writing historical documents this year to make you impossible (or at least drunk and frustrating) to argue with. I want you to stop getting in circular arguments with lesser fan bases. I am a strategy director by trade. My job is to make sure we’re well positioned to compete. I’m going to make sure you stop letting Bruins (or Ducks for me) engage you in an argument they even think they are winning. We’re going to discuss the ins and outs of hyper-factual trash talk. We’re going to concede some things, like maybe we’ve won so much it’s hard to think we’re coming back and if we did it’s gonna feel like Jurassic Park. Like, the dinosaurs can’t really come back, right?
Only they do. But what likely won’t happen is UCLA’s recent luck with us stretching into the decade and change run they need to go on to make this a competitive rivalry. If our opponent is a blind squirrel, I’m here to make sure you don’t let them find the nut. SAVVY?
I’m hell with a pen. I might as well give ’em hell. And I want you to as well. This is Arrogant Fandom 101, coming at you every Thursday (unless we have some dumb midweek Larry Scott Ponzi game and we’ll sort it).
If I’m out of the country or traveling for work, I might miss one. Whatever. Let’s have some fun.
It’s time Arrogant Nation has some fun again, just for the sake of it.
Spread the word, follow me at the links below, and let’s just have some fun again. No t-shirts to sell. Just some ink in their eyes.
FTFO from the mighty Pacific Northwest,