Spirits are high here at USC while the school is gearing up for the big football game this Saturday against UCLA. Students have been seen guarding both Tommy the Trojan and Hecuba out in the plaza. Here is Jennifer Brown on the story.
With the 91st meeting between UCLA and USC’s football teams approaching this Saturday at 1pm, students are getting back into the rivalry spirit. Leading the charge are USC’s Trojan Knights, the oldest all-male and spirit organization at the school. Soham Saxena is a current members of the Knights, the official host of the university and guardians of spirit and tradition at USC.
Soham Saxena: It is our duty and our goal to keep the many amazing traditions of USC alive, preserve the history of it by remembering and learning all the different fun facts. One of our most outward facing traditions is what we’re doing today, Tommy watch, camping out 24/7 In front of Tommy Trojan the week leading up to the UCLA game.
Emilee LeVeque is a member of the Knight’s sister organization, the Helenes (ha-leens). Both organizations guard the statues in Hahn plaza because UCLA students have had a history of trying to deface them
Emilee LeVeque: Throughout the whole week, we just camp out to make sure that we are honoring both Tommy the Trojan and as well as Hecuba as she is the queen of Troy and so that she does not get defamed by the Bruins.
The rivalry between USC and UCLA was taken to another level over eighty years ago. And it was all due to a bell stolen by former members of Saxena’s organization.
Soham Saxena: The history of the victory bell does involve Trojan knights and without getting into too many specifics because I’m not sure what is public knowledge.
The Victory Bell was originally a gift from the UCLA Alumni Association and was rung at their football games after each score.
But in 1941, six members of a USC fraternity snuck into the UCLA student section and helped the Bruins unload the Victory Bell onto a truck. But instead of heading to Westwood, the Trojans stole the keys and drove the Victory Bell back to their fraternity house instead.
Tensions remained heated for more than a year. The bell was hidden. Threats were made. And games nearly got cancelled. Until November 12th, 1942, when both schools signed an agreement to present the Victory Bell to the winning team after each game.
Saxena also shared some of the past pranks the Trojan Knights did to UCLA.
Sexena: My personal favorite prank Trojan knights ever played, like 30 years ago was they went to the UCLA campus and they changed the newspaper s they had to a fake copy, which was filled with quotes from their football coach about how bad their football team was and how they were going get destroyed by USC that year.
Saxena and LeVeque will both go to certain measures in order to protect both Tommy and Hecuba.
Saxena: But we’re here to make sure that Tommy does not get damaged. We’re here to protect the statues and that’s what we’ll continue to do.
LeVeque: I will throw hands!
The USC football team isn’t alone in preparing to stop those Bruins from winning this week.
For Annenberg Media, I’m Jennifer Brown.