Lights, camera, USC
Although USC athletics and academics are renowned around the country, there is much more to know about the university than the 11 football national titles it claims and its prestigious alumni.
The Trojans began playing football in 1888. In its 125 seasons, USC has posted a combined record of 789-321-54, the highest winning percentage in the conference, and entering the 2013 season, the eighth best in the country.
Tommy Trojan isn’t USC’s only mascot. His Andalusian horse, Traveler, is also considered an official mascot. George Tirebiter, on the other hand, is an unofficial mascot of USC. He was most famous for biting Cal’s mascot, and died in 1950 chasing a car. After the incident, the Daily Trojan wrote that “tires are safe now.”
The Trojans have since stopped bringing a dog to games, but a statue was built on campus in 2006 to honor the unofficial mascot.
Thursday’s game will be USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron’s first as the leader of the Trojans. Before former head coach Lane Kiffin was fired last week, Orgeron was the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at USC.
This is Orgeron’s second stint with Southern California — he was the defensive line coach under former USC and current Seattle Seahawk head coach Pete Carroll from 2001-2004. In that time, Orgeron helped lead the Trojans to two national titles.
Following the 2004 season, Orgeron became the head coach at Mississippi, but was fired after three unsuccessful seasons. Orgeron joined Kiffin at Tennessee as an assistant coach in 2009. The two left the Volunteers after one season to return to USC in 2010.
On paper, USC is one of the most talented teams in the country, but inconsistency at quarterback has prevented its highly touted offense from excelling in 2013.
Sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler has taken a majority of snaps this season and is anticipated to start Thursday, but will be on a short leash, as quarterback Max Wittek is waiting to regain his coach’s trust after a rough start to the season.
Marqise Lee, the 2012 All-American receiver, has not produced as he has in the past due to the struggling quarterback situation. Not only that, but Lee sustained a knee injury in the Trojans’ Sept. 28 game at Arizona State. As of Wednesday, his status for today’s game was uncertain, which should be a huge advantage for Arizona.
The Trojans’ offensive line has also been a concern in 2013. The big men up front have allowed 2.5 sacks per game. Only California has a higher average in the conference.
USC’s defense, though, has not lost a step. Led by redshirt junior linebacker Hayes Pullard, the Trojans’ defense ranks No. 14 in the country, holding opposing offenses to 306.8 yards per game.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, located just a block southwest of the USC campus, has been home to the university since 1923. Today’s home game against Arizona will be the 90th anniversary of the first game played at the Coliseum, on Oct. 6, 1923, when Pomona College and USC played in the inaugural game, with the Trojans winning 23-7.
Since 1923, the Coliseum has been home to a variety of teams, schools and events, most notably UCLA football (1933 to 1981), the Los Angeles Raiders (1982-1994), the Los Angeles Dodgers (1958-1961) and the summer Olympic games (1932 and 1984).
The Coliseum has a seating capacity of 93,607. Just this past summer, USC signed a 99-year lease to oversee management of the Coliseum. The university will pay $1 million per year in rent to the state of California and will need to put approximately $100 million into improvements over roughly the next 50 years. There is hope that modern renovations will entice a current NFL team to move to Los Angeles and call the Coliseum home.
Fan Base and Alum
As the San Diego Chargers are the nearest NFL team to Los Angeles, USC is treated as the alpha dog in the country’s second-largest city. It’s not uncommon to see celebrities such as actor Will Ferrell and rapper Snoop Lion standing along the sidelines of Trojan football games.
Ferrell is not just one of the Trojans’ most notable fans, he is also an alumnus. Though he is now an actor, the comedian didn’t graduate from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, which in 2008 became the oldest and largest film school in the country. Ferrell actually graduated with a degree in sports information.
Fellow alumni include astronaut Neil Armstrong, film directors Ron Howard and George Lucas and 135 Olympic gold medalists. In football, USC has had 480 players drafted into the NFL, more than any other school.
— Follow Luke Della @LukeDella