I was going to post this an hour or so ago, but I’ve been banging myself on the head with a clawhammer, trying to expunge a tune doing a continuous loop through my cranium.
Undoubtedly, you know it: “Tribute to Troy,” that awful dirge played ad nauseum by the Southern Cal marching band at football games. (A lot of people mistake it for “Conquest,” but I was advised years ago by the USC sports-information office after disparaging it that it’s Tribute to Troy.)
I happened by University of Washington football practice today. With Husky Stadium under renovation, they’re working out on their practice turf just east of the stadium.
If you didn’t know how to get there, you could just navigate by the strains of Tribute to Troy, sort of a tinny version coming out of a loudspeaker adjacent to the field. As coaches do — and I’ve never been convinced this makes a whit of difference in a football game — Washington is playing the dreadful march over and over to acclimate the Huskies for what awaits Saturday in the LA Coliseum. (I’d guess Matt Barkley’s passes are much more of a threat than the Trojan band.)
I never hear the tune that I don’t think of a fond, and quirky memory of it. In the fall of 1987, my wife and I were in the stands at Husky Stadium, watching USC and Washington. A scaled-down USC band was there, playing, of course, Tribute to Troy. But only about 57 times.
My younger son was about two weeks from birth, and my wife insists he was kicking at the sound of the band. (Even then, he had decided no way he was going to USC.)
That was also the day a certain Seattle Times writer — he will remain nameless, having already been shamed mercilessly over this — had a bad day. Seems the Huskies of that year were pretty pedestrian — scraped into the Independence Bowl, to give you an idea — and there was considerable grumbling about the offense being boring. At one juncture, after a handoff to a running back gained a few yards, some booing swelled up in the stands.
In that Sunday’s paper, the scribe wrote that it was indeed an alarming day in UW annals, when the crowd would boo the offense.
In fact, it was booing the USC band.
As I recall, the Times was besieged with letters the following week — 55 is the number that comes to mind — regarding the misinformation. And the chastened writer was left to pen another column, explaining his indiscretion.
Anyway, today I timed the playing of Tribute to Troy, and it came to just about exactly 60 seconds. I was at practice maybe 55 minutes, so I heard Tribute to Troy 55 times. Or about 200 times less than Washington will hear it Saturday.