USC football needs to embrace their rich history and bring back canine mascot George Tirebiter.
At the south end of Trousdale Parkway, facing the route to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, sits the iron bust of one George Tirebiter. His copper nose has grown silver from the touch of many a Trojan pat. This statue and Tirebiter’s paw imprints in cement, which can be found in the graduate study lounge of the student center, are all that remains of USC’s former mascot.
In 1940, a stray and somewhat wild mutt wandered onto campus. No one knew where he came from or if he even had a previous owner. The only thing people knew was that this animal was a menace. Tirebiter got his name because he chased cars up and down University Avenue, a street that would become the walkway known as Trousdale Parkway.
By 1947, everyone on campus knew who Tirebiter was, and the student body moved to have him become the official mascot. As a joke, Tirebiter received his first name George because it was thought he looked like a student of the same name. Thus, George Tirebiter became the official mascot of USC making him a celebrity over night.
Sep 5, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans white horse mascot Traveler with rider Hector Aguilar during the game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Thanks to multiple appearances throughout town and becoming a quasi celebrity, UCLA took notice and decided to kidnap and torture George. The students cut UCLA into his fur and poured honey on him, before parading him into the LA Times office in hopes of some cheap publicity.
Upon his return to campus, Tirebiter was never the same. He went from chasing tires to biting just about anything that came near him. After four years of service, Tirebiter was retired to a farm near the Mexican border and was run over in a failed attempt to capture one last tire.
The student body and university attempted to replace George on three separate occasions, but for various reasons none of the replacement dogs stuck. After Tirebiter IV was retired, the University needed a new mascot. In 1961, a white horse named Traveler was introduced and the rest is history.
In 2006, the statue of George was introduced at the south end of campus, and not surprisingly it reintroduced Tirebiter to the vernacular of Trojan lore. Unfortunately, many still wonder about the statue, whether they are affiliated with USC or not.
A huge misconception is that Tommy Trojan is the mascot, when in fact that’s just the statue at the center of campus. Traveler has been the official mascot of USC for almost 55 years. Though diehard fans and historians mention Tirebiter on occasion, he’s become for the most part a forgotten relic.
That needs to change.
If Los Angeles is anything it’s a dog-loving society that treats its animals with the same love and affection they would a loved one. Given that Tirebiter was adopted, now more than ever would be a perfect time for USC to adopt another stray and set an example for the rest of the Trojan Family.
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Not to take anything away from the majestic Traveler, but man’s best friend isn’t a horse. Dogs are found in people’s homes, their yards, and their streets. Is abundance or access something that makes a dog mascot any less shiny or important? Many would argue that that’s what sets USC apart, not having a dog as a mascot. No one should argue taking Traveler away, but why can’t Traveler and Tirebiter exist in the same realm?
What was once a story of acceptance and now forgotten, could be retold at a time where division is so prominent. Tirebiter can be the symbol of acceptance and most importantly of love around the University.
Bite On to Fight On!
Then again, perhaps this argument is like a dog chasing cars. Perhaps someone reading this might be crazy enough to go get it.