Tailgating at USC Football Games is Almost as Much Fun as the Game Itself
“Fight On and win for ol’ SC, Fight On to victory. Fight On!” – USC Official Fight Song
I recently took my two teenage kids and my fiancée, Amanda to a USC football game versus the University of Arizona. My eldest daughter, Ella, who is now 16 and driving, is a junior in high school and starting to look at colleges, so she did a campus tour at USC while we were there. I went to grad school at USC’s Marshall School of Business. It was one of the most special experiences in my life, and I will never forget it. I have my undergraduate in engineering and went to Georgia Tech for that. Although Tech, located in Atlanta, is a great school there is no comparison to attending the University of Southern California. My love for USC football started a couple of years before entering the MBA program. I had a workout buddy who attended USC for undergrad, and we would go to games together. I just love college football, and the fanfare and over-the-top nature of the tailgates at USC won me over completely.
Campus Tour for My Daughter
We made the two hour drive to LA late Friday morning so that Ella could do the campus tour. We got to eat at In-and-Out Burger on the drive up to LA, which is always something the whole family loves to do. We have FasTrak, which is required in parts of LA for using express lanes and car pool lanes. It was a huge help, as we got there right in time! While Ella did her campus tour, the rest of us bought our USC “gear” at the campus bookstore, which actually has books on the third floor! (The first two floors are filled with spirit wear.) Ella is still undecided about where she wants to go to school and what she wants to study, but she loved what she saw at USC. A college sophomore girl, who is also from San Diego, took Ella on the tour and also showed Ella the sorority house she lives in. I’m grateful that I was an alumni to help get the tour scheduled on short notice, but it is pretty easy to get things scheduled on the USC website if you plan ahead.
Enjoying LA on the Trip
It was a USC Saturday night game, so we went to Venice Beach on Saturday afternoon, which is always a trip. We are able to get a few “discount” sweatshirts and T-shirts at the shops on the strand. At least they were a major discount compared the prices at the USC bookstore for our game time gear! If you haven’t been, you have to go to Venice Beach and at least see Muscle Beach and some of the shops and street acts. I’ve traveled internationally quite a bit in my career, and met a lot of people from other countries. They always tell me that they think of the US as two places: New York City and Venice Beach. You should at least see both of them firsthand before doing a lot of international travel, so you’ll know why people think Americans are crazy, especially if they live in California!
Tailgating on the USC Campus
The tailgate parties at USC football games are always over the top. We were fortunate enough get invited to a tailgate with the Lloyd Greif Center for Entreprenerial Studies at USC since I’ve spoken with classes at the university. We got our “Beat Arizona” buttons and pom pons. The campus had turned to a sea of cardinal and gold, and it was a really amazing experience. Amanda went to a small college in Michigan, and my kids have never been to anything like this either. They all had a blast.
Internet coverage was spotty since there were so many people, but I sent some photos on Instagram and ended-up running into some people that I know. One of my fraternity brothers, who went to college with me at Georgia Tech was there! I had not seen him for at least 20 years. One of his kids had just graduated from USC and another is thinking about attending. How exciting!?!
One question I always get from friends that didn’t go to USC is “why does everyone flash each other the peace sign and say ‘Fight On’?” First of all, it isn’t a peace sign, it is the “victory” sign, like Winston Churchill used to flash during World War II. And you can see from the USC fight song above, it is about “Fight On to Victory!”
Game Time at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The LA Memorial Coliseum is a short walk from campus and a great place to watch USC football games. Everyone kicks the base of the flag pole exiting campus for good luck. I was able to score some really good seats on Stub Hub. They were fifth row from the field, on the 40 yard line. The LA Coliseum is modeled after the Coliseum in Rome, and entering through a tunnel is spectacular. As we were walking down to our seats, my kids’ eyes kept getting bigger and bigger. They didn’t realize we would be so close to the field. They were visitor-side seats, but it was almost all USC people on both sides. The seats on the visitor side are quite a bit less expensive than the home team side. We just didn’t get to sit behind the USC football team bench and see the cheerleaders as well. Oh well.
It was an awesome game filled with lots of big plays and excitement. USC ended up beating Arizona 38-30. It was a wonderful weekend experience for all of us! I actually like attending college football games live even more than NFL games. I love the energy and excitement! The LA Coliseum is actually a better venue that Qualcomm Stadium where the Chargers play, and it has a much better scoreboard and big screen that you can actually read and see! (Find out how I feel about Qualcomm Stadium here.)
Do you have a favorite college football team? Do you ever go to games? What’s been your experience? We’d love to year from you!