los angeles has college football... and that's enough
By Connor McGlynn
There are three colors that belong to Los Angeles: cardinal, sky blue and gold.
After the 1994 NFL season, the city of angels was set free from the grasps of the professional entity and relinquished to enjoy all that sports are meant to stand for—the love and passion of the game, the desire to succeed for the name on the front of the jersey and the beauty that comes with Saturday afternoons.
Los Angeles is a college football town, a city built upon the ruins of legends like Charles White and O.J. Simpson, Jackie Robinson and Troy Aikman.
When “The League” abandoned this town over two decades ago, it abandoned not only a location, but also the people that grew up wearing Rams’ footie pajamas with an oversized Eric Dickerson and Jerome Bettis jersey.
The ones that tossed the pigskin through the yard dreaming to one day be like Jack Snow and Willie Anderson.
The Raiders followed suit in stripping a city of its beloved icons that it learned to adore over their college years in Marcus Allen and Todd Marinovich.
When these teams moved, they stripped a city of its Sunday rituals and the thrill of seeing the best players in the world on the gridiron battle it out in an eighth Super Bowl.
When these teams moved it was the best thing that’s happened to fandom in Los Angeles.
Sure, there were tears and sad stories that are still retold by grandpa on Thanksgiving about seeing Pat Haden drop back in the pocket for the last time, but this generation is gone.
With the Rams and Raiders gone, the path was paved for the Trojans and Bruins to claim the hearts of a city in mourning—an opportunity they haven’t neglected.
In the 21-year absence of professional play, USC and UCLA have combined to finish first in the conference 12 times while winning 15 bowl games in the process.
In the process, there have been only eight combined sub-.500 record seasons, seven of which are credited to the Bruins.
Angelenos have not experienced any decrease in the level of competition.
As far as Sunday traditions, as is written in the Book of Genesis, Sunday is meant to be a day of rest.
Now when people swarm the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to cheer on their hometown heroes, it’s on Saturdays—or Thursdays to much dismay—creating an environment unparalleled to an NFL setting.
Fans travel from all corners of the globe to watch the Trojans and Bruins snap the shinny brass clip into the plastic shoulder pads and slap the white chin straps across the traditional cardinal and gold helmets.
USC’s campus and the Rose Bowl parking lots become scenes out of Spring Break films with tens of thousands standing side-by-side with a spatula in one hand and chilled brew in the other, ready to support their squad.
From sun up to sun down, the fields are full with fans biting harder on their nails than the freshly grilled burger on their plate, waiting to celebrate the Trojans knocking down a Hail Mary heave or sulk at a misplayed ball that loses the game.
Buses shuttle the masses from Westwood to Pasadena to see the overlooking San Gabriel Mountains turn red as the day winds down in hopes that the Bruins can thwart an upset and not have an apparent 3rd and 6 stopped at the line turn into a 20-yard touchdown seal their fate.
For people that give LA fans the reputation of showing up late and leaving early, imagine sharing those fans across four teams not two.
Meanwhile in major cities like Philadelphia where college football is non-existent, fans sit at home on Saturdays watching their favorite squad, the closest legitimate contender in Penn State being three hours away, rub its metal spikes into the turf on TV.
Stuck in Los Angeles with an ultimate craving to attend an NFL game?
The furthest trip is an hour and a half trek down the PCH to Qualcomm Stadium for a Chargers game.
When the NFL vacated LA in 1994, it gave this city an identity, a purpose and a passion.
This is a city built for fun, for Hollywood’s lights to be shinning, for nobodys to become somebodys.
This is a city built for college football.