In the center of the USC campus stands one of the most famous collegiate landmarks in the country: Tommy Trojan. Since being unveiled in 1930 for USC's 50th jubilee, the statue of the bronzed Trojan warrior has served not only as a popular meeting place on campus, but as a symbol of the university's fighting spirit.
Sculpted by Roger Noble Burnham (the idea for the statue was conceived by Harry Lee Martin and Dr. James D. McCoy), Tommy Trojan cost $10,000 to build. A $1 surcharge then on season football tickets helped pay for it.
The statue is a composite of many USC football players from the late 20s, most notably 1930 Rose Bowl Player of the Game Russ Saunders and All-American Erny Pinckert. "Burnham made more than 100 oil paintings of various football players from our squad," said Saunders, "and from them he selected the paintings of Pinckert and me. We put in a lot of hours posing, and the result you see is my head, chest and shoulders. The rest is all Erny."
Inscribed on the statue's base is "THE TROJAN" and the university's seal, with the Latin motto "Palmam qui meruit ferat (Let him who deserves it bear away the palm)." Below the seal are inscribed the qualities of the ideal Trojan: "Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous and Ambitious."
The tradition of Tommy Trojan being painted blue and gold by UCLA pranksters was first recorded in October of 1941. Since then, Tommy has been "hit" often, but now USC maintenance crews cover him with plastic and canvas for protection during the week of the annual USC-UCLA football game.
And Tommy's sword has been stolen so often that now, instead of replacing it each time with an expensive brass one, he is given a wooden one.
By the way, where did he get the name Tommy? Of that, no one is sure!