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USC, UCLA statues protected early for rivalry week

November 14, 2011 |  4:14 pm

Bruin Bear
Tommy TrojanTommy Trojan is under wraps, the Bruin Bear is back in hibernation, and UCLA and USC aren’t even playing each other Saturday.

This is what it has come to in Los Angeles’ biggest college rivalry.

To be extra, extra sure that no surreptitious students pull a prank on either school’s iconic statue, protection has arrived early -– nearly two weeks before the big game Nov. 26.

University officials at their respective schools confirmed that USC’s Tommy Trojan is now wrapped in his traditional layer of protective duct tape, while the Bruin Bear is enclosed by an approximately $5,000 box engineered like a jigsaw puzzle. (And yes, that means one fewer photo opportunity for enthusiastic campus visitors.)

Though the measures may seem extreme, UCLA would rather be safe than sorry. Despite having a Bruin Bear Security Force charged solely with protecting the statue during Beat 'SC Week 2009, vandals managed to break through the box and douse the bear in red and yellow paint, causing an uproar on campus.

The damage cost the university about $20,000 in repairs, according to the Daily Bruin.

The prank was probably retaliation for a bath of blue paint delivered to Tommy Trojan the year before.

The back and forth was the latest development in a decades-long battle between the schools. UCLA once attempted to dump manure on Tommy Trojan from a helicopter, while USC students once released 20,000 red-and-gold-painted crickets in UCLA’s library.

Repeating such a prank could have detrimental consequences. UCLA’s finals week begins just a week after the big football game.


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-- Matt Stevens

Photo (top): A maintenance crew attempts to clean the red and gold paint off the Bruin Bear after it was vandalized in 2009. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Photo (right): Tommy Trojan is wrapped in duct tape. Credit: @uscpsycho via Twitter