‘You Couldn’t Write a Better Script…’

Bush push celebration

In this week’s ARTCAST, Dr. Bartner recalls two historic events in USC and Trojan Marching Band history. The Bush Push, and the Spirit of Troy’s support for women’s athletics.

It was 2005, and No. 1-ranked USC took a 27-game winning streak (and just think about that!) into Notre Dame to face the Fighting Irish on a field where the grass had been left long to slow down Reggie Bush and the Trojan offense.

The game came down to a final drive, with USC trailing 31-28 and facing a fourth and nine situation, with 1:32 on the clock and no time outs. What happened next is the stuff of Trojan lore, and the TMB and Dr. Bartner had the best seats in the house.

Matt Leinart completes a long pass to Duane Jarrett who streaks toward the end zone and Dr. Bartner.

“I’m on my ladder, about six feet from out of bounds. Jarrett is literally running right at me and I’m going, ‘Run faster! Run faster! Get into the end zone!’ And you know what happened next.”

Jarrett was tackled short of the end zone, setting the stage for the climactic Bush Push.

Leinart runs around left end, trying to score and fumbles just short of the goal line.

“Matt Leinart, he’s trying to be a hero and win the game, and he gets smacked. Smacked! Right in front of the band,” Dr. Bartner recalls. “If he hangs onto the ball, the game is over because he’s short of the goal line. But he fumbles the ball out of bounds. I see that. The band sees that. But Notre Dame thinks the game is over.

“The band is looking up and going, ‘He fumbled the ball out of bounds. We’ve got another play!”

Seven seconds remained on the clock, just enough time for Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart to team up for one of the greatest scores in Trojan football history and push USC winning streak to 28 games.  

“The celebration afterwards was just wonderful.” Bartner recalls. “The whole team is coming over to the band,  and you’ve got Pete Carroll right in the middle, hugging every player in his reach. It’s one of the great moments in Trojan football history. You couldn’t write a better script.”

The TMB also made and witnessed history off the football field, becoming one of the first collegiate bands to perform at women’s sporting events. At the request of Associate Athletic Director Barbara Hedges, a small cadre of TMB members began playing at women’s basketball games.  

“She felt women’s athletics couldn’t become a traditional sport if the band wasn’t there,” Bartner said.

That began a tradition that saw the band playing at women’s basketball games during the glory years when the Women of Troy, led by Cheryl Miller, Pam and Paula McGee and Cynthia Cooper, went on to win two national championships.

“The band created an atmosphere that hadn’t been seen at women’s basketball games,” he said.

Today, the TMB’s role has expanded to include several women’s sports, including volleyball and soccer. “It just doesn’t happen at most schools in this country,” he says. “It makes us a unique place.”

See it all on this week’s ARTCAST on Trojan Marching Band’s YouTube channel.

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