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A closer look: Tradition’s pranks see ebbing trend

By Jennifer Case

November 18, 2003 9:00 pm

From tar and feathers to manure falling from a helicopter,
Bruins and Trojans have thought of numerous pranks during their
75-year rivalry.

This year’s Beat ‘SC Week slogan is appropriately
titled “Bringin’ Back the Roar.”

Pranks between each school have died down in past years,
according to John Sandbrook, special assistant to the executive

“It is definitely nowhere near what it used to be,”
said Sandbrook, who attended UCLA in the late 1960s and early
1970s, which he said was when the rivalry was at its best.

One of the most famous pranks that Sandbrook remembered occurred
during the 1950s, when pranksters from UCLA rented a helicopter and
supposedly dropped 500 pounds of manure on USC’s Tommy Trojan

Those who participated in the event later wrote that the prank
backfired, as the winds created by the helicopter blew the manure
into their faces.

One of the most common pranks that each school used to play was
sabotaging the opposite school’s card stunts.

In 1957, USC successfully transformed the UCLA card show during
the rivalry football game to read “USC” for the entire
eight-minute presentation.

The pranks continued to escalate. In 1958, Trojans stole
editions of the Daily Bruin and filled newsstands with a phony
newspaper they had created.

“I can’t see any hope for our team,” the phony
paper reported then UCLA football coach George Dickerson as

The newspaper staffs at the rival schools continued to steal
each others’ newspapers and attempted to replace them with
phonies through the 1980s.

The Friday before 1988’s football bout, the UCLA-replaced
Daily Trojan ran the headline, “USC celebrates 100th year of
academik excellence.”

Admissions tour guides today continue to tell the stories of the
numerous pranks Bruins and Trojans have played over the years.

One of the last major pranks occurred in 1989 when USC students
dumped hundreds of crickets into Powell Library during finals

Signs posted on the wall read, “Hope you enjoy studying
today, Bruins. (May) USC beat UCLA. Signed, the Trojan

Many of the pranks have been retold in the Goal Post, a
football-program publication released annually since 1929.

According to 1953’s Goal Post, UCLA students sawed off
Tommy Trojan’s arm and used a blow torch to rearrange his
sword to make him appear to be stabbing himself in the back.

Using salt to burn emblems into fields, putting soap and dye
into campus fountains, and painting graffiti are other ways the
pranks have stayed alive in recent years.

Sandbrook, along with many UCLA students, wonders what has
become of the rivalry.

Pranks have died down and students do not feel that the rivalry
is as intense as it used to be.

“I think it’s cool ““ how intense it used to
be. I wish I could have been a part of it," said Solio Saechao, a
second-year economics student. "We need to get that same pride

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Jennifer Case
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