Jay Meehan: The Trojans once again invade Main Street
“What it was, was football.”
~ Andy Griffith
Well, sports fans, it’s time once again for the rivalry-inclined among us to fine-tune our trash talk and be true to our school. Being an actual alumnus, of course, is never a pre-requisite. If that were the case, only the formally-educated could dribble beer foam down their chin while spewing venom at the opposing team and what fun would that be?
Specifically, that biennial weekend wherein the University of Southern California Trojan football team and marching band descend upon the stomping grounds of their Pac-12 South rival, the University of Utah Utes, is approaching at the speed of a blitzing peanut vendor.
There is a quantum shift this year in how the proceedings will unfold vis à vis Park City’s historical involvement, however. More on that when I drop the other cleat later in the column.
This year, as it has played out upon the gridiron, to the victor will go the spoils of sitting atop the division, with a berth in the conference title game firmly in its crosshairs. Maybe a mention that the Pac-12 South is, once again, nothing to be written home about, would add to the reader’s perspective.
Now, in order to properly set the particular microcosmic stage that I and many of my fellow LA expatriate Trojan fans rode in on, let us revisit the allegiance maze through which your humble scribe was called to navigate.
Growing up in the Idaho panhandle with its somewhat complex geographic subtleties, the University of Idaho Vandals and the University of Montana Grizzlies, as far as the local school landscape went, performed an ongoing tug-of-war for my adolescent loyalties.
First and foremost in those days, however, I carried a torch for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. That is until the family enacted a change of venue by relocating to the quaint seaside village of Los Angeles. It would be during this time, while I finished high school, that my loyalties would undergo a moderate metamorphosis.
Actually, use of the adjective “moderate” might be downplaying the seismic aftermath of the family switching colors, almost en masse, from those of the Fighting Irish to those of the hated Trojans. My mother, totally aghast (in her playful way) said prayers for the lot of us and remained a Notre Dame fan throughout her life.
The rest of us, though, had jumped ship and there was no turning back. Our saints would no longer be Knute Rockne or the Four Horsemen but the more-latter-day Frank Gifford and Jon Arnett. No longer would we “wake up the echoes” cheering for old Notre Dame. From then on, it was “Fight on for ol’ SC.”
When our ski-bum tribe began arriving in Park City during the ‘60s and ‘70s, those of the Trojan persuasion would maintain their allegiance. The social impact, of course, would remain minimal until the Utes saw fit to join the Pac-12 conference and throw down the gauntlet to the West Coast schools.
Now, that the rivalry has matured, once a week each year, fans of the opposing teams glare at the other, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. This year, Kyle Whittingham’s boys will be shocked if their vaunted defense and often-erupting offense don’t collectively dismantle the Trojans by halftime. It’s one of those “Black Out” games, I believe.
If that indeed be the case, as it has often been in the past, we northern Utah Trojan fans will suck it up and “eat our crow” and harbor a fair amount of pride for the flat-out terror that the Utes have become. Not that we won’t be rooting for their demise at the hands of our lads throughout the match-in-question.
So, here’s the dropping of the “other cleat:” This year, there will be no Trojan Marching Band parade down Historic Main Street with a slew of us USC fans in its wake. Ute fans slugging down brews outside the No Name Saloon will have to find some other bunch at whom to sling their verbal arrows. Ah, say it ain’t so!
It seems the annual accord between City Hall and the Pep Rally organizers hit a snag to the extent that the Friday, Oct. 19 rally will take place at the bottom of Main Street in the general vicinity of the Town Lift Plaza replete with a ticketed reception from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at Butcher’s and a USC Marching Band concert. Go Troy! Go Utes! Go Barkeeps!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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“It was just the heads of the animal characters of the zodiac brought to life. It was dizzying to look up and see them all and to meander between the animals.”