Saturday Tailgate: USC Trojans

Even now, in his fourth year in the USC football program, Hayes Pullard still gets chills every time he walks through the sea of cardinal and gold fans dishing out high-fives and flashing “V” finger salutes on his way into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on game day.

“It’s just an exciting feeling when you see the fans right there, and it’s just a special bond and experience that you’ll never have again after you leave here,” said Pullard, a redshirt-junior linebacker. “You just consistently see all of the same fans there every time you do the Trojan Walk, and it’s inspiring. It provides motivation to go out and do it all for them.”

A newer game day ritual that was created by former USC head coach Pete Carroll in 2001, Trojan Walk as it’s come to be known, is just one of a slew of traditions that make USC football -- now in its 125th year of existence -- something truly unique, for the players as well as the fans.

There’s the Spirit of Troy, the Trojans marching band, directed by the venerable Dr. Arthur C. Bartner that can be heard blasting out “Fight On” time, and time again throughout the course of every contest. There’s the world famous USC Song Girls, and Traveler -- the regal white horse ridden by Tommy Trojan.

And you can’t forget the Coliseum itself, affectionately known as the Grey Lady. The Trojans’ home since its doors opened in 1923, it’s one of the most historic sports venues in America, having also served as the host-site for two Olympic games, two Super Bowls and one World Series.

Throw in what USC has accomplished on the field, highlighted by 11 national championships, six Heisman Trophy winners and countless All-Americans, and there simply isn’t another program on the West Coast that can match the pageantry, tradition and success associated with USC football.

“It’s something that’s beautiful to me,” said Marcus Martin, a junior center who, like Pullard, is a team captain on this year’s team. “I love coming out and going down the Trojan Walk. I love hearing the band … I love all of that stuff. It motivates me to know that I’m a part of something that’s really special.”

It’s safe to say that Martin’s sentiment is shared universally by each and every player who puts on a Trojans uniform, and that includes Pullard, who, prior to the team’s matchup with Utah State this Saturday, will make that trek through the lineup of USC faithful for the 22nd time in his career.

“There is most definitely something special about being a Trojan, especially on game day,” Pullard said. “I cherish being a Trojan every day.”