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Rivalry tale of the tape: USC covers up statues to prevent UCLA vandals

11/21/2014
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Front Rowe: Saving The Statues

Holly Rowe of espnW reports on the UCLA versus USC rivalry game and the lengths the schools go to protect their statues from vandalism.

UCLA and USC are separated by 13 miles and plenty of disdain -- and that rivalry hatred generally manifests itself in public fashion the week of the annual Bruins-Trojans football game. As the Los Angeles Times put it recently:

UCLA and USC students have been pulling pranks on each other for what seems like forever. UCLA dumped manure from a helicopter on the USC campus more than a half-century ago, and USC fans set 20,000 crickets free in a UCLA library. But for the last 30 years, the primary targets of the rivalry-week high jinks have been the two symbolic statues at the center of each campus: the Bruin Bear and Tommy Trojan.

Well, this year it started early, and it caught UCLA officials off guard. Normally the school constructs a plywood box around its Bruin Bear statue during game week, but this time vandals got there early, sneaking on to campus in the middle of the night and spray-painting "SC Runs LA" on the statue last week.

UCLA was none too pleased and the box was erected shortly thereafter. According to the Times, the school's John Wooden statue also was boxed up after the bear was vandalized, and the campus fountains were switched off. (The water, after all, has been known to turn red in the past.)

Poor #BruinBear...

A photo posted by Arthur Wang (@wangarthurrr) on

The University of Southern California doesn't mess around when it comes to keeping guard. In 1941, UCLA students covered the Tommy Trojan statue in blue and gold paint, but for several decades now the campus has faithfully protected its iconic statue. Not only does a group called the "Trojan Knights" stand guard 24/7 as the rivalry game approaches, but USC also completely duct tapes Tommy, along with several other statues around campus.