Saturday, November 04, 2006

USC Football Game Day: Stanford Seriously

One half-way decent thing about Stanford Jr. University is its band. You say, “What?” But I’m serious. I’m actually disappointed that those jerks have been banned from the field after kickoff. Their antics are entertaining for USC fans, as long as we don’t take the whole thing too seriously … and there’s no reason we should. After all, the Stanford Jr. band doesn’t take itself seriously.

It’s obvious why the Stanford Jr. band behaves the way it does, given the performance of its football team. If you notice, traditionally good football programs have bands and other pomp and circumstance that are built on tradition. This is particularly the case for historical powers including Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas, and of course, USC.

But if a school’s football program has no tradition, which is to say it has a history of losing, what’s the point of having a serious band? Fans of losing teams need more than a traditional band to entertain them, since the football team can’t fit the bill.

More importantly for Stanford Jr. fans, the crazy band helps to maintain their false sense of intellectual superiority. The band’s irreverence and mocking humor says, “Sure our football teams sucks, but it doesn’t matter because we’re smarter than you.”

As we’ve said, people can believe what they want to believe, but this rebellious band idea isn’t new. I found this out, when I took my family to see the Brown-Yale game at the used-to-be-famous Yale Bowl last year. (Typically, USC's 51-21 blowout versus Stanford didn't start until 10:00 pm eastern.)

Of course, the football was crappy, but half time was entertaining. Brown’s band, wearing brown individually decorated blazers, attempted to play some rock n’ roll tunes, while their P.A. guy made some smart-ass jokes about Yale. Sound familiar? Yale’s band, wearing navy blue blazers decorated with various buttons and patches, returned the favor.

Crappy football, irreverent bands. Apparently, Stanford Jr. is just an Ivy League wannabe.

Further evidence of this lack of creative originality is the school’s nickname. Stanford Jr. used to call itself the Indians until 1972, when the school’s Native American student group claimed racial insensitivity.

Stanford Jr. intellectually masturbated over the issue through the ’70s – suggestions included Robber Barons, Sequoias, Trees, Railroaders, Spikes, Huns, and Griffins. Meanwhile, Stanford Jr. answered to the name “Cardinals.”

Then, realizing that its football team was perpetually crappy and looking for a way to excuse itself from this crappiness by calling attention to its academic stature as the “Harvard of the West,” Stanford Jr. decided to follow Harvard’s lead and name itself after a color.

No doubt it’s a nice color, cardinal, but the move was a copycat idea nonetheless. You’d think they could come up with something better, but maybe that's just too much to expect. After all, they don’t take these things seriously. At 0-8 (soon to be 0-9), how could they?

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