My name is Luis Garcia, and I hold the position of First Knight. As First Knight, it is my privilege to uphold and instill the values and traditions of USC and the Trojan Knights into the future of our organization – our class of New Member Candidates.
Founded in 1921 as the University’s official hosts, the Trojan Knights have served USC and the surrounding community with faith and energy, becoming a symbol for school spirit. Over the course of almost 90 years, the Knights have planned and executed some of the most important events in the history of USC, including Swim with Mike, card stunts, and escorting U.S. presidents. Today, the Trojan Knights are known for being the guardians of the Victory Bell, the protectors of the Tommy Trojan statue during Troy Week, and the rambunctious crowd of body painters in the front row of every home football game.
We consider it an immense honor to attend the University of Southern California and pride ourselves in knowing a great deal about USC history. We ask that all Knights, New Member Candidates and graduating seniors alike, fully embrace USC and all that it stands for.
We treasure USC’s past with our dedicated study of key facts and figures of the university and its storied campus. We value USC’s present with our continuous efforts to build spirit within the USC community and serve the surrounding community. Lastly, we strive to build a great USC future through upholding some of the university’s greatest traditions.
As First Knight, I look forward to meeting all those interested in joining this brotherhood and furthering our mission of promoting school spirit and community outreach.
The Victory Bell
Since our establishment in 1921, the Trojan Knights have
primarily served as the Guardians of Traditions at the University.
We take great pride in upholding these traditions inspired by our
founders and work today to maintain these traditions, as well as
creating a new legacy for our future Knights. One such honored
tradition has been the appearance of the Victory Bell at USC
Football games. In 1939, UCLA was given a 295-pound bell from
the UCLA Alumni Association. The bell, which originally clanged
from atop a Southern Pacific freight locomotive, became a
common sight at UCLA football games, as the Bruin
cheerleaders began to ring it after each Bruin point.
At the beginning of the 1941 football season, 6 Trojan
Knights infiltrated the UCLA cheering section and helped the
Bruin students load the bell onto a truck bound for Westwood.
While the Bruins went to get the key to the truck, they found that
the Trojan Knights had removed the key and had driven off with
the bell. The bell then remained hidden for more than a year,
where its location moved from a fraternity basement to a house
in Hollywood Hills. At some point, it was even hidden under a
After photos of the Bell began to appear in a local USC
magazine, UCLA fans retaliated by painting Tommy Trojan – an
incident that spurred a prank war between the two schools.
Shortly after, USC’s President at the time, Dr. Rufus B. von
KleinSmid, threatened to cancel the USC-UCLA game if any
other incidents happened. This ultimately led to the Victory Bell
agreement of 1942.
On November 12, 1942, the student body presidents of
both schools, USC’s Bill McKay and UCLA’s Bill Farrer, signed
an agreement stating that the annual winner of the rivalry football
game would keep possession of the bell for the following year.
Since the bell became a rivalry trophy, its carriage has been
painted both cardinal and blue several times over the years.
However, it has been cardinal almost twice as many times as it
has been blue.
The Victory Bell can be seen every game day in the
possession of the Trojan Knights. Before the game, the Trojan
Knights ring the Victory Bell down Trousdale Boulevard for all to
see. During games, we ring the bell after we score for the first 3
quarters until the bell then goes into hiding, where only a select
few know of its location.
After our establishment in 1921, the Trojan Knights quickly
became involved in the foundation and inception of several of USC’ s
most prized traditions. Two such traditions include the official mascot
of the 1940s, (George Tirebiter,) and the current mascot of the
University, the white horse Traveler.
In the 1940s, a few Trojan
Knights found a little stray dog wandering on Trousdale Parkway. The
dog became known as George Tirebiter after he was repeatedly seen
biting at the tires of cars driving down the street. George soon became a
fan favorite from both the student body and the administration. He even
began leading out the Trojan marching band onto the field at football
games, where he could be seen wearing little sweaters and hats. During
one of the USC-UCLA games in the 1940s, George showed his true
loyalty to the university when he bit UCLA’ s mascot Joe Bruin on the
nose. Today, George Tirebiter is forever remembered at the South end
of Trousdale, looking towards the Coliseum. If you are ever walking to
the Coliseum on Gameday, be sure to rub George on the nose.
The Trojan Knights were also involved with the introduction of
Traveler. In 1954, before Traveler was introduced as the official
mascot, Arthur J. Gontier III, a Trojan Knight, rode a white horse at a
Trojan football game. Seven years later, in 1961, Traveler became the
official mascot of USC. The Trojan Knights have even had one of their
own members as a rider of Traveler, when Rick Oas took over the
reigns in 1989. Traveler VII can still be seen riding around the
Coliseum after the Trojans score a touchdown.
As the Official Hosts of the University, the Trojan Knights
have an immense knowledge of the history of the campus and its
sacred buildings. Whether it be detailing the life of the beloved
George Tirebiter and his solid 3.2 GPA or reciting the attributes
of the ideal Trojan, as stated on the Tommy Trojan statue, the
Trojan Knights always hold a deep appreciation for their campus
and the immense work that the Administration does in
During Troy Week, or the annual week before the USC-
UCLA football game, the Trojan Knights stay on guard at Tommy
Trojan for every hour of every day before the game. At any point
in the week, there will always be at least one Trojan Knight on
lookout for any mischievous Bruin fans. In past years, we’ve had
encounters with Bruins with paintball guns, fraternity brothers
with cans of paint, and even an overhead helicopter one year.
Nothing fazes the Knights, as our commitment to the University
always serves as motivation to last throughout the early hours of
If you’re ever on campus and have some free time, the
Trojan Knights always assemble on a large bench near the
Bovard Administrative Building and Founders Park. Come by
and talk football with us! Or if you have any interest in learning
more about the organization, feel free to stop by and meet some
of the most devoted Trojans on campus.
The Trojan Knights have always had an active role with the
Athletics at USC. Besides the previously mentioned Tommy Guard and
Victory Bell traditions, the Trojan Knights have also helped establish
several other traditions and customs for the football season that we
continue to uphold today. One such notable and recognizable tradition
is the Gatecall setup at home Trojan football games. Prior to every
home game, the Trojan Knights, along with our sister-organization, the
USC Helenes, help distribute pom-poms and other promotional items in
the student section. More recently, we have continued this tradition
with the basketball program at the new Galen Center. For our hard
work and commitment to the football program, we are awarded the
front row seats at home games. This privilege has gained us much
recognition throughout the country, as our body painting regularly
features us on TV during the games.
In addition to gatecall, the Trojan Knights also were involved in
creation of the first card stunt in any college football stadium. On
October 21st, 1922, one of the original Yell Leaders and founders of the
Trojan Knights, Lindley Bothwell (a.k.a. the Yell King), introduced the
first card stunt. The stunt, which initially served as half-time
entertainment for the crowd, involved 3,828 people in the student
section. Card stunts are often attempted throughout the country, a
practice the Trojan Knights are proud to have established.
In 1921, three men desired to create an organization that would
uphold the traditions of the University of Southern California - an
organization that would dedicate itself to the University and it’s future.
These men, Harry Pryor, Harry Kennedy and Lindley Bothwell, would
soon become the founders of the Trojan Knights. Since its foundation,
each member has striven to embody the five attributes of the ideal
Trojan: Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous and Ambitious.
The Trojan Knights have planned and established some of the
most important events in the history of USC. These events have
encompassed Trojan athletics, University traditions, and philanthropic
events in the community. While we may be known for many of our
athletic and University traditions, the Trojan Knights have also always
been devoted to making our community a better place.
Each year, we participate in numerous community service
projects and charitable events to help those less fortunate in the USC
Community. The Trojan Knights helped found the annual Swim with
Mike charity event, which helps create scholarships for physically
disabled athletes. We also have been involved with creating the
Homeless Awareness Week, which helped raise thousands of dollars
for the underprivileged in the USC community. This fall, we plan to
continue two of our philanthropic events, pumpkin carving and the
Tirebiter Run. Every Halloween, we visit a local elementary school and
help carve pumpkins for the children. It’ s a fun-filled event for both the
children and the Knights and is one that we cherish. We also will be
holding the second-annual Tirebiter Run, in which we put on a race
around campus that benefits A Better LA.
As Trojan Knights, we are committed to fulfilling our
philanthropic endeavors. We understand that it is not our choice, but
rather our responsibility as the Official Hosts of the University to help
make our community a better place. The Trojan Knights have been an
integral part of the University of Southern California since 1921 and
will continue to represent the ideal Trojan for many years to come.
The USC–Notre Dame rivalry is one of the most historic and
celebrated rivalries in all of college sports. Since their first game was
played in 1926, after the wives of Notre Dame head coach Knute
Rockne and USC athletic director Gwynn Wilson convinced their
husbands to establish the annual game, the two football programs have
both won 11 national championships and both produced 7 Heisman
Trophy Winners each.
To commemorate this historic rivalry, the Notre Dame Alumni
Club of Los Angeles presented the Shillelagh war club in 1952 as a
trophy for the winner of the annual match-up. After its initial
presentation, the Club stated, “ This shillelagh will serve to symbolize in
part the high tradition, the keen rivalry, and above all the sincere
respect which these two great universities have for each other.” The
foot-long shillelagh, which is a Gaelic war club made of oak and
blackthorn samplings from Ireland, is adorned with ruby-encrusted
Trojan Heads with the year and game score representing USC victories,
while the emerald-studded shamrocks denote Notre Dame victories.
While in USC’ s possession, the shillelagh is housed in the historic
Heritage Hall, along with the many other trophies from USC athletics.
The original shillelagh was retired after the 1989 game, when the
war club could no longer hold any more medallions. A new shillelagh
was then created and commissioned by Jim Gillis, a former baseball
player at both USC and Notre Dame. This version, which was modified
in 1997 in County Leitrum, Ireland, contains the medallions dating
back to the 1990 game and can be seen in Heritage Hall today. Since
the rivalry began, there have been 42 shamrocks, 33 Trojan heads, and
5 combined medallions (to denote a tie) on the two shillelaghs. This
fall, we hope that the Men of Troy can add another Trojan head to the