In this episode of Trojan Tales, we examine the legacy of George Tirebiter, who was USC’s original mascot and has all but been forgotten by the tides of university history. Trevor Keyfauver has more on the story.
Traveller the Horse has been the USC mascot for over 50 years.
Archival: And here comes USC, out of the tunnel! Traveller Two, moving around the track here in the Colisseum.
He’s become synonymous with the school’s image. His long, flowing white mane is like a beacon of light. But it’s easy to forget there was another mascot before Traveller.
TREVOR KEYFAUVER: Do you know who George Tirebiter was?
ACTUALITY 1: No, I don’t.
ACTUALITY 2: Uhh, who’s that? Is he supposed to be someone famous or something?
ACTUALITY 3: Uh, no, I don’t.
You won’t find much evidence of George Tirebiter on campus today. He’s mentioned on some plaques and there’s a small statue of him, next to the iconic flagpoles fans kick to bring good luck to the team. Claude Zachary of the USC archives has kept Tirebiter’s legacy preserved for generations. He helped me piece together the story of George Tirebiter.
MUSIC: “Moonglow” by Benny Goodman
The year is 1940. World War 2 had just begun and the students of USC were looking for something to pick their spirits up. That’s when they made a new friend.
CLAUDE ZACHARY: Well, he was a, as you know, a mutt that just lived in the neighborhood of USC, you know, back in the ‘40s, early 1940s
Tirebiter was a shaggy mutt. He became beloved on campus for running down Trousdale Parkway, chasing the cars and biting at their tires.
ZACHARY: And he was, you know, just a lovable Airedale dog.
Tirebiter remained at his post for seven years. He was voted in as USC’s first official mascot by the student body on October 22nd, 1947.
ZACHARY: And just became a very, very popular fit, you know, sort of symbol of campus and of campus life.
Tirebiter was a one of a kind mascot.
ZACHARY: The original TireBiter as I recall, served in the in, you know, in that role for about seven years, to work till about 47 when he became old and cranky. And then he was adopted by, you know, kind of farmed out, and eventually ended up down in El Centro, down in San Diego County.
George’s retirement was short lived. He was run over by a car while doing what he loved most - chasing those tires.
ZACHARY: His replacement was, was a lot smaller, cuter dog, Tirebiter 2, you know, sort of, which is, which is really is the model for the statue.
The subsequent Tirebiter was adorable in his own right, yet he didn’t have the fighting Trojan spirit that the original Tirebiter had.
ZACHARY: The subsequent dogs really didn’t have the longevity of the original Tirebiter, and, you know, they were constantly having to retire one, and then find another one.
The University eventually decided to go with a horse as its mascot, in deeping with the Trojan theme. But the legend of George Tirebiter lives on.