Tag Archives: rivalry week

UCLA Rivalry Week Monument Protection


“UCLA is rivals with USC, and 1-2 weeks before playing USC in football all the important statues or any kind of monumental thing at UCLA got boarded up so that no one could come and mess with it. This included Bruin Bear and the 42 from Jackie Robinson which would be put in a box. People wrote on the box with chalk or markers and say things like ‘F*** SC’ or ‘Go Home’.” 


MM is a 24-year-old American Missionary from a town in the middle of California. She attended UCLA for college and I asked her if there were any specific UCLA traditions that she remembered during Rivalry Week (when USC would play UCLA in football).


As someone who attends USC, I know a little bit about this tradition, except at USC we don’t put our monuments in boxes, instead we cover them with duct tape to protect them from UCLA students. Clearly there must’ve been a history of the schools vandalizing each other’s monuments that caused them to start protecting them during Rivalry Week. The writing of “Go Home” on the box tells me that they are expecting USC students to come to campus to attempt some sort of vandalism or prank. It tells us how important football is at both of these schools and how the rivalry itself has traditions behind it that don’t really match up with football or anything about the school – the traditions have evolved into something separate from the schools themselves and amplify the hatred between the two schools.  which amplifies the hatred between the two schools.

Trojan Knights: Rivalry Week and Tommy Watch

Context: The week of the football game between LA rivals USC and UCLA is known as “Rivalry Week” or “Conquest,” and during it the students of both schools spend the whole week getting excited for the big game. Rivalry Week has a history between the schools of serious pranks being committed, many of which are detailed in other archive posts. Informant MF, a member and prior Archivist of the Trojan Knights, instead describes the traditional measures that the Knights take to prevent pranks.

Main Piece: During Rivalry Week, the Trojan Knights practice the tradition of Tommy Watch. Informant MF says that it probably started during the 40s, since that was the height of the prank war between USC and UCLA. Even after the prank war ended, there’s still a lot of tensions around Rivalry Week because “if someone’s gonna do something stupid, they’ll do it then.” During Tommy Watch, the Knights will set up a tent around the Tommy Trojan statue on Trousdale Parkway and cover him (as well as other prominent statues on USC’s campus) with duct tape to prevent anyone from painting or messing with him. They also build a dog house for the George Tirebiter statue to protect him since he’s on the edge of campus. 

The Knights will then guard Tommy Trojan and Traveler for the entire week. Knights take shifts so they can stay 24 hours a day for the whole week, and as a community students and faculty will bring the Knights on Tommy Watch food. To MF’s knowledge, Tommy Watch has always successfully stopped prank attempts during Rivalry Week, and so the tradition continues to prevent future pranks that might cost the school thousands in damages. 

Thoughts: I think that Tommy Watch itself is a good representation of the good that can come from heated school rivalries. While pranks are flashy, they’re also damaging and can easily go too far. Tommy Watch allows the USC community to work together with the Knights to protect the icons that USC maintains, thus furthering the feelings of school spirit between students.