Tim Tessalone and Art Bartner are not alike. They also have a lot in common – Annenberg Media

Tim Tessalone and Art Bartner are not alike.

About 15 minutes before a USC football game kicks off, Tessalone, longtime USC sports news director until his retirement on New Years Day 2022, is locked up. A pen is tucked between her right ear and her temple; a folded note card is hidden in its back pocket. Tessalone is either walking down the hall, doing some media housekeeping task or another, or he’s already seated, taking pre-game notes or whatever. the case. The press gallery – where he resides, in a sense – is silent except for a few scattered whispers and the snapping of reporters’ fingers on laptop keyboards.

In the field, Bartner, the director of the Trojan Marching Band until his retirement on New Years Day exactly one year before Tessalone, is also locked up, but in a completely different way. At the top of the ladder from which he leads his group through the pre-game spectacle, Bartner seems, as he once said, possessed. It whistles decibels that seem almost impossible to achieve with such an instrument; shout at volumes that could rival the roar of the crowd after a touchdown; piercing the air with frantically waving arms in a way that attracts the immediate and unwavering attention of everyone in the stadium.

Each image is the polar opposite of the other: expressionless concentration against boundless energy, collection and seriousness against exuberance and liberation. Anyone who’s spent time in the press gallery or in the group knows what category they should fall into, and anyone can safely imagine. Bring the group’s demeanor to the press gallery and Tessalone will rightly attack you. Bring the leadership of the press box to the group, and Bartner will rightly do the same.

The two assume directly opposing personalities in their respective workplaces, and it also shows in their day-to-day behavior.

Tim Tessalone and Art Bartner are not alike.

Or, perhaps, the similarities transcend what is readily apparent.


There is a certain irony in these juxtaposed images.

“We were really the opposite,” Bartner said. “You know my character and my flamboyance. Tim was always reserved, but still had a smile on his face. I have always had a very warm welcome.

It’s a greeting that has become regular between the two over the years, with Tessalone working in USC’s sports department since 1979 and Bartner leading the group since 1970. The two often crossed paths and stopped. to catch up after their respective practices each day – group training for Bartner, coordinating interviews during a soccer practice for Tessalone.

Not before a few screams, however – from one of them. Lots of screaming.

“That’s what I always remember, was going out to train every day – and then coming back, because they were always going, they trained longer than our team did.” trained – and just to hear [Bartner] at the top of his lungs and wondering how he still had a voice, ”Tessalone said. “It wasn’t quiet stuff.”

Tessalone said it was this passion that defined Bartner’s tenure as the top boss of the Trojan Marching Band. The sports department is often referred to as the university’s ‘front porch’, but the long-standing SID said that descriptor applied equally to the biggest marching band in universe history (ever). With frequent appearances at weddings, graduation ceremonies, retirements and even funerals; invite celebrities to lead the group (Will Ferrell disguised as Tommy Trojan is an image that stands out); and using their dynamism to align with the culture of Los Angeles, as Tessalone has said, the group takes on its namesake “Hollywood’s Band”.

“I think all of us, myself included, have learned from that,” Tessalone said. “I certainly did. The importance of that connectivity, if you will, to the athletics and the Trojan family, to the group and the Trojan family, the passion he had to lead that group – it has rubbed off on all of us.

But Tessalone’s admiration for Bartner is far from mutual. Because while the latter has certainly done his part in pissing off the fanbase, if there’s anyone out there who knows how to promote USC athletics – whether it’s football or whatever – from the point of view. press view, it’s Tim Tessalone.

“Anything else” is an intentionally broad phrase that surely includes the group. Bartner would go to the sports information office over the years to talk to Tessalone or his team (“He’s always very busy,” Bartner said) or ask them to promote an upcoming group event, and the requests were always cordially received.

Tessalone would check in with Bartner when their paths crossed and ask him how he and the group were doing. But when told about his favorite Tessalone stories, Bartner found himself searching, “because he really behaved” – a characteristic that is necessary for someone in their forward-looking position. outside, especially at USC.

“He has always represented the University and, in particular, the sports department, with the utmost respect and reverence, if you will,” Bartner said of Tessalone. “And I respected that. And I think everyone did. You talk to anyone on campus, I think everyone has.


Bartner walks into a home appliance store on Sepulveda Boulevard in Torrance, Los Angeles County. It’s 1970. Bartner has just moved from Michigan to LA and his new apartment is lacking some essentials. Among them: a television.

Bartner walks around the store, browsing through the various candidates, and greets the store owner. Looking for a deal (he later said he didn’t have a lot of money at the time), Bartner thinks it might work in his favor to tell the owner who he is: “the new one.” – brand new – director of the USC group.

Turns out the owner is a USC fan himself, so he and Bartner start chatting about college. The owner talks to the new brand group manager about his son, also a Trojan fan, who hopes to attend USC in the near future.

The name of the son?


Before Bartner’s departure, Mike Tessalone, described as a handsome articulate man with a “good shpiel”, sells him a new television.

“I mean, it’s a crazy story,” Bartner mused of his first meeting with the Tessalone family. “Obviously, Tim got a lot of his features from him. “


No one plans to do anything for 50 years, Bartner says. “I think it’s crazy.” But half a century later, the more the change, and the son of the owner of the home appliance store, as well as the new director of the brand new group who bought a new TV for his new apartment, have become well known in their fields. respective, on convergent deadlines, in the same university.

“He’s always been a larger-than-life kind of presence to me. Always is, ”Tessalone said. “Art is kind of a one-word guy, a one-name guy, like Magic or Kobe or that sort of thing. When you say ‘Dr. Bartner, “everyone knows who you’re talking about. You don’t have to explain that… He’s an icon not only in his field but I think of USC and Los Angeles and varsity track and field. There is only one Art Bartner. There will never be another. Trust me. “

“The USC group is very popular in this country,” Bartner conceded, “but I think Tim has the same respect from others in public relations and sports information across the country. I know he has it in the Pac-12. And he’s got it in the Big Ten for the Rose Bowl and the other bowl games, and of course back in Notre Dame. Maybe in the same way that I and the band are held in high regard, I think Tim is also considered one of the best guys, sports news guys in the country… I have immense respect for what he has accomplished over the years.

But despite these undeniable similarities, it is still somewhat fun to contextualize them within the personalities of the characters. Bartner is the epitome of unfettered animation; Tessalone displays pragmatic coolness. It fits perfectly with the roles they each have held for so many decades, but it nonetheless makes the parallels – and the friendship – even more remarkable.

“We both really care about the University and have done our best to always keep the University in the best possible light,” Tessalone said, insisting that the similarities end there and that he “doesn’t hold a candle” to what Bartner means to USC. (He’s not the type to take a lot of credit for himself.) “Our goals and objectives were always aligned and the same … He got it.”

“I just think opposites attract, maybe. You know? ”Bartner offered.“ Because we have a very different personality, but I think the results are the same. And I think our goals are the same… We just have different ways of promoting it.

They do indeed have very different ways of promoting it, but the common thread is their passion for USC. So, although they had occupied different fields at the University, perhaps no one could understand Tessalone’s position better than Bartner – and vice versa.

“When our paths crossed, whether it was before a game, after a game, you know how you can feel that there is this mutual respect? Bartner said. “You don’t have to say it. But it was right there.

So when Tessalone calls it a career on New Years Day, it won’t just mark the end of a historic tenure as a figurehead of USC Athletics for the past four decades. It will also be the second departure from a central institution to USC in as many years.

Maybe Tim Tessalone and Art Bartner have a lot in common then.

About Oscar L. Smith

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