To get my readers up to speed, a writer at the Daily Trojan named Joey Kaufman has posted an article essentially saying the purpose of this blog, Arrogant Nation, has run its course. Best you READ IT first because fairness is important here. You should have the full story before I respond. Those expecting a typical thrashing will be disappointed. While I’ve received hundreds of attacks since taking up this arrogant cause, this is different because it is from a student, it’s from the school I went to and frankly from a writer I do admire.
(Frankly, I should just stop as the comments on the article kind of make the point I plan to, but what’s the point in being hell with a pen if you don’t use it.)
In advance, if the Daily Trojan could tell me by the end of the day the record for most comments they’ve gotten on a story, I’d love to know. Next step would be to check out the sentiment of said comments. Then, we’ll have an idea of how the day went. Also, if this was printed in a hard copy, please save me one, I would love to frame it and place it next to my other achievements including, but not limited to being voted “best sense of humor” in my fifth grade class, my 3rd place runner up soccer trophy from elementary school, my LA Weekly Award (not the one I am currently nominated for “Best Sports Blog”) and a drawing I did on a vision quest.
Or, my readers should just take arrogant poses around campus while reading it. I’ll post all of them.
Some context. Joey interviewed me one day after work a couple years ago. I sat in my car outside my apartment in Beverly Hills, giving a student reporter an hour of my time. More than anything, I was impressed with his rigor and ultimately his skills. We’ve been cohorts on Twitter for a long time and even right now, I appreciate his balls to write an article like this, without warning me, without so much as letting me comment. Arrogant, almost… Perhaps he’s followed more of my blog mission statement than he’d like to admit.
Joey is someone I respect and I gather my readers will want to let him know how he feels. May I politely ask that when you respond, do so to the piece and not the writer. I fully expect Joey to write for ESPN one day and cover teams we love. I am a Trojan first and would never sabotage a career. Even while I think writing this article and not offering me the chance to answer the question of “do you think you have worn out your welcome” sprints past the kind of journalism he was looking to achieve, I hope Joey makes it and look forward to reading his future work or debating sports on Twitter with him.
I’m just looking out for him. In the end, I am not a journalist. I have a blog. He’s looking to do this professionally. I have a profession that has more to do with getting attention than how I go about doing it. That profession is not my blog.
My analytic mind knows this possibly was just about getting comments or using my platform to gain notoriety. That said, it’s a “Trojan Family”. If you want help, you ask. You don’t need to write an article harshly critiquing the work of an alum on a day most of us are thinking about September 11th. I spent the morning getting ready for work and watching the Today Show replay their 9/11 broadcast reflecting on that day, which happened just a few weeks into my freshman year at USC. I thought about our “arrogance” of all going to class even though we were scared. I learned a lot about our school and the words they carved into Tommy Trojan that day. I feel like this article kind of ignores them.
That said, this was one man’s opinion. This is mine.
While it’s hard to take seriously considering the article starts out saying that he never saw the point in the blog to begin with and only later warmed up to it, the general thesis is that when the NCAA was beating on us, the rally cry of this blog made sense. Now that we’re “on top” again, I am perpetuating a bad stereotype that no longer exists. Magically, we aren’t the University of Spoiled Children. We’re 3/5 into sanctions and now that we’re 2-0, we’re perfect, loved and our history of being a school others love to hate is gone.
Joey, I disagree with your thesis.
Joey, I came to USC around the time that it was gaining that extra academic prestige our current students are so proud of. Frankly, my high school resume and acceptance was one tiny cog in what a decade of Trojans did for this fine school. With President Sample changing our DNA, but building off of what our proud alumni created, we became a top 25 school. We were always the coolest place to go. We always had a proud network of alumni to help each other. That said, we were finally getting new kinds of recognition. This was happening when you were in middle school, for context.
What attracted me to the school was it’s cheeky arrogance. It had nothing to do with the fact we were a 6-6 team at the time or that my buddy’s father used to call it a “gentleman’s C” school. I fell in love with USC, the Trojan Family and the attitude that we were proud of our culture. Our pride has always come off as arrogance. It’s just tongue-in-cheek. Like this blog.
I remember two kids on campus joking when I came to see my first game, the day I fell in love with USC. They were saying, “My father didn’t spend 40K a year for me to have to walk this far to the Coliseum”. My father, an Ivy League graduate, was with me and we both started laughing. The kid didn’t mean it. It was just hilarious. There’s something about us. I embrace who we are. Your article felt like you are ashamed of it.
It’s not like at the office my Bruin coworkers are covered in paint and made fun of. I conduct myself the way Trojans are supposed to. Like boiling down someone’s blog to “pedophile” jokes in the school paper. Wasn’t that carved on Tommy Trojan as well?
Jokes aside, I get it. You think it’s time for me to hang up my cleats and float on a river of bourbon to the sea.
When Obama won the election, did that mean Colbert should have shut it down because pretending to be right wing no longer was entertaining to his admittedly left-leaning demographic? I think the answer was no. The answer was that people still wanted to watch. My traffic ebbs and flows like any site, but the main reason for doing this is because thousands of people read it every day. Just because we stayed positive and now are enjoying better times doesn’t mean people don’t enjoy reading my words. I would think a writer would assume, or at least hope that wasn’t the case. If you end up the beat writer for the Dodgers, I hope people find you relevant during Laker season or it will make for a lonely winter.
Having traveled all over the country to attend sporting events, let me clear up one inaccuracy. People have always stereotyped us this way. Our rising academic standards, our return from sanctions, our new buildings on campus… These things didn’t change the perception. It’s still there. Go to any thread about USC anywhere that isn’t on a USC-themed site. That’s where you will find the stereotype is alive. Alive and well. I’m not the problem. Our greatness is.
In advertising, my vocation I was wonderfully prepared for by my education at USC, sometimes the solution to a stereotype is to embrace it. And that’s what I did and that’s what my readers love. If they say we’re assholes, I say “we’re the most glorious assholes in the world”.
Let me pause for a second for a brief USC history lesson. It was our great Trojan Marching Band that owned the “fight the fuck on” phrase. I think as far back as the 70s, which I hear were awesome. The band are some of my favorite readers and the t-shirt is a homage to their “arrogance”. Just a tip from one alum to a student. You won’t get far if you don’t understand that our band is our 12th Man. That’s the heart and soul of this school. That’s why when we have a big win, our star player leads the band in Conquest. My general arrogance test is if the band would do it, I should too. They embody our spirit. If they FTFO, I FTFO.
The point of my satire and parody that anchors it to reality is the fact that we shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks. We picked USC and we stand by it. Every week, I am just here to have fun, pump up our fans and call out the other team. Frankly, with the exception of a few Oregon Duck fans, I get a lot of love from our opponents who get a good laugh at us making fun of ourselves while also being totally right.
Like in this case. I don’t care that you have this opinion of my usefulness, but I do care that the people who buy shirts here or have fun a couple hours a week reading the posts know that I am having a blast poking fun at our traditions and ideals and celebrating what others try to hate us for.
“Fight the fuck on” to me was when I had 50 stitches in my back and under my armpit after having a sentinel node biopsy and wide local excision post malignant melanoma, going outside and sucking it up to write my weekly post so I wouldn’t let my readers or the players on the team who read my blog down by not posting. It was sharing that experience so I could use my forum for something other than entertainment and motivation for our Trojan Family. It was still writing in the period you deemed me “relevant” even though I had things like “pathology reports” and “when I could go back to work” and “shower without help from my wife” on my mind.
My readers had my back during that time. Matt Barkley himself reached out to me, a reader who spoke up around the time I needed Trojan support. I shared it publicly and I think showed the same wonderful side of our Trojan Family you think I am somehow missing. The same Trojan Family that support Fight On Jackson and his family. I ask politely, writer to writer, what have you done to expose our good side that you are so worried about me tarnishing?
You mention the school trotting me out at events like the Pep Rally and that is somehow a bad thing.
Was it bad for Delta Gamma to invite me to talk leadership and ethics where I gave career advice? Do any of the people I’ve helped get internships or given career advice to find me to be portraying a bad stereotype of a Trojan? When I spoke at Relay for Life and shared my cancer story with other survivors, was I painting a bad stereotype for cancer survivors? When I spoke to the Greek Community following the public sex scandal about responsibility, was that portraying a bad stereotype?
Joey, for a dude I talk to a lot, for a dude that has been waiting “years” to write an article about how I am not needed, you sure haven’t spent much time seeing how I am being utilized. Acting like a tongue-in-cheek bearfighter for shits and giggles is the tip of my iceberg and you seem to be commenting on just the tip (just to see how it feels).
You mention the arrogance needle not moving because we middled around the top 25, or whatever you said. We finished ranked sixth in the nation and winning the Pac-12 South forcing our inferior rival to play Oregon and eventually be the worst team (record-wise) to ever play in a bowl. I said our goal should be to blow up the system because the system was unfair, not just to USC, but to everyone. We did that. Arrogant Nation (and a lot of our players that I speak to) felt a tremendous amount of pride. We have plenty of sports journalists saying “point” and “counter-point” on the system. I’m not that guy, Joey.
It’s not always about arrogance. I’d like you to read my letter asking Matt Barkley to stay and asking our fans to support him if he left. I’d like you to tell me if that article was about your “Trojan Family” or about “my arrogance”. I know Matt appreciated it regardless of how it factored in, but the article was about what he meant to us. That he would go down as the way we like to think of our pride. Turning down millions to crush some unfinished business? Arrogant in our book.
Again, Joey, I love you dude. You are a Trojan and I don’t want to start a holy war because as a real Trojan I WANT YOU TO SUCCEED. I would caution you to remember what a Trojan is.
I can check all those boxes and frankly, you checked a few of them for me. That’s how I honor my school.
Look. Let’s wrap this up. I talk about killing bears and a punter with a cyborg leg. If the other team has a creepy mascot, I’ll point it out. Frankly, when the Stanford Tree kills someone, I will have done my best to warn everyone. Your article is giving me flashbacks to the time Los Angeles Magazine sent me a cease and desist letter because they though my masthead was confusing their magazine readers.
The school need not invite me to speak on their behalf. That is out of my control, but like any Trojan, I am honored when they do. If people don’t want to read it, by all means, I’m not projecting it on their eyelids.
In the end, I am guessing your article will receive the most comments and reads of any you have written in your time at Daily Trojan, where you have done some great work and that is my honest opinion. If that was your goal, congratulations on your success. Next time, I would have rather had the chance to offer you a comment for the article. Instead, I’m posting it on my blog.
Mine is a personal blog that frankly covers reality television in the offseason to entertain my wife and attractive women everywhere. That’s why I am having some fun talking about football and reminding our fans to embrace the hatred because if you have ever been to New Orleans, you know an LSU fan will not change their mind. You know, like politics, the debate never ends. It doesn’t have to do with anything.
I’m not using the school newspaper to bash the project of a fellow Trojan. Like I said, if it’s not your cup of tea, don’t drink it. This is one of hundreds of opinions that this blog should stop, but for now, the yeas outweigh the nays.
And for the record, we’re in year 3 of sanctions, with 2 more to go. Maybe it’s an “instant gratification” of youth thing, but I don’t stop pumping my legs until we’re in the endzone. That’s served me well in life, career, love and even this “brainchild” of a side project that I do week in, week out just so my readers have some fun and hopefully have ammo to defend their school in a comedic way because despite your feeling that if I stop talking, we will not longer be thought of as the University of Spoiled Children, you are frankly just dead wrong.
But hey, at least you got a lot of reads today and when my university’s paper decides to say you “aren’t relevant” anymore, it’s at least done with a picture of me in a suit hosting a pep rally at Galen that happened two weeks ago.
If you want to grab a drink, I’m buying. You may not enjoy my work, but I still enjoy yours and hope your career goes well and you represent the school in the way you see fit. If it’s cool with you, I’m gonna keep being me. Typos included.
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