By Jeremy Twitchell
Around the Coliseum on Saturday, Sept. 6, red tents and jerseys reached into surrounding neighborhoods, businesses and parking lots in every direction as Trojan faithful gathered by the thousands to tailgate before the BYU-USC game.
Every direction, that is, except the little park adjacent to the Coliseum, where the Cougar Club turned a park into a blue and white oasis for BYU fans looking for a pre-game party.
Former BYU quarterback Gifford Nielsen emceed the event, which featured appearances from BYU president Cecil O. Samuelson, athletic director Val Hale and representatives from the Fiesta Bowl.
The BYU cheer squad also attended.
Nielsen said it was a day of great importance for the football team and for BYU as a whole.
“This is a huge day for Brigham Young University to come to Southern California and play against a top-ranked team in the country,” he said. “It”s important, I think, right now, for BYU to really establish themselves once again as a football power by the way they play. This game will get unbelievable recognition from coast to coast.”
Nielsen said organizers expected about a thousand fans to show up to the rally, but he believed there were more than a thousand there.
Nielsen added he enjoyed the opportunity to come back and continue to participate in BYU athletics.
“It”s fun to come out here and be back with the people that really care about BYU athletics.”
A local Mexican restaurant catered the event. Most attendees purchased meal tickets ahead of time, but meals could also be purchased at the door.
Fans also participated in football throwing and trivia contests.
Those who made the trip from Provo said it was worth the long drive.
“It”s absolutely worth the trip, and [the game] hasn”t even started yet,” said Tim Boisvert, 24, a UVSC student.
“A lot of sober people are attempting to have fun and eat a little bit,” Boisvert said. “The band is pretty cheesy, but other than that, it appears to be a success.”
Paul McGwire, a self-employed BYU graduate from Provo, said the trip to Los Angeles was a chance to reunite with his family.
“We”re all from Southern California, so we”re back home,” he said. “… My brother lives here. He”s a USC ticket holder, so we”re sitting in his seats, amongst all the SC fans. His son came with an SC T-shirt on, but we converted him and we got him a BYU T-shirt. We”re still working on [my brother].
“We”re big SC fans, but our No. 1 team is BYU,” he added.