The Victory Bell is the rivalry trophy in the USC-UCLA crosstown rivalry. The winner of the annual football contest keeps the bell for the next year, and paints it the school’s color: cardinal red for USC, baby blue for UCLA.
The 295-pound bell was taken from the top of a Southern Pacific locomotive. The bell was given to the UCLA student body in 1939 as a gift from the school’s alumni association. Initially, the UCLA cheerleaders rang the bell after each Bruin point. However, during the opening game of UCLA’s 1941 season (at the time, both schools used the LA Coliseum for home games), six members of USC’s SigEp fraternity (who were also members of the Trojan Knights) infiltrated the Bruin rooting section, assisted in loading the bell aboard a truck headed back to Westwood, took the key to the truck, and escaped with the bell while UCLA’s actual rooters went to find a replacement key.
The bell remained hidden from UCLA students for more than a year, first in SigEp’s basement, then in the Hollywood Hills, Santa Ana and other locations. At one point, it was even concealed beneath a haystack. Bruin students tried to locate the bell, but to no avail. Tension between UCLA and USC students rose as each started to play even more elaborate and disruptive pranks on the other. When the conflict caused the USC President to threaten to cancel the rivalry, a compromise was met: on November 12, 1942, the student body presidents of both schools, in front of Tommy Trojan, signed the agreement that before home games, when the bell is in USC’s possession, it sits along Trousdale Parkway for fans to ring as they participate in the “Trojan Walk” to the L.A. Coliseum. During home games, and whenever USC faces UCLA at the Rose Bowl, the Victory Bell is displayed at the edge of the field for the first three quarters of the game. Members of the Trojan Knights and USC Helenes ring the bell every time the Trojans score.
The Victory Bell has been won by USC for the past seven football seasons and USC has an overall record of 41-27-7 in the Cross-town Series.
The origin of USC’s nickname, Trojan, dates back to 1912. Originally, the teams of the University of Southern California were referred to as Methodists or Wesleyans, names not favored by university officials. The director of athletics, Warren Bovard, son of university president Dr. George Bovard, asked Owen Bird, a sportswriter for the LA Times, to give the university a new nickname. Although we now are proud of a winning tradition, the USC family was not always successful during the early years. In fact, we were named “Trojans” because we were great losers. Bird dubbed the USC team “Trojans” instead of “Methodists” because he compared our players in 1912 to noble Trojan warriors. His reasons for using the term were that “At this time, the athletes and coaches of the university were under terrific handicaps. They were facing teams that were bigger and better-equipped, yet they had splendid fighting spirit. The name ‘Trojans’ fitted them. … I came out with an article prior to a showdown between USC and Stanford in which I called attention the fighting spirit of USC athletes and named them ‘Trojan’ all the time, and it stuck. … The term ‘Trojan’ as applied to USC means to me that no matter what the situation, what the odds or what the conditions, the completion must be carried on to the end and those who strive must give all the have and never be weary in doing so.” One of the most symbolic landmarks on campus is undoubtedly Tommy Trojan. His historical background dates back to USC’s 50th anniversary
Fight on for ol’ SC
Our men fight on to victory
Our Alma Mater dear,
looks up to you
Fight on and win For ol’ SC
Fight on to victory
USC’s Fight Song, Fight On! was composed in 1922 by Milo Sweet, a USC dental student, as his entry to a Trojan spirit contest. Later during World War II, USC President Von Kleinsmid was said to have written in 1944, that Fight On! was used to inspire combat-bound troops in the Aleutian Campaign. Over thirteen motion pictures have used the fight song.
Found on USC Trojan Pride
Click “Fight on!” to listen