USC marks 100th anniversary of Trojans nickname

LOS ANGELES — Trojans, one of the most iconic monikers in sports history, will mark its 100th anniversary this Friday as the nickname of USC’s athletic teams.

The USC athletic department will commemorate the anniversary with a year-long “100 Years As Trojans” celebration. A distinctive logo has been developed for use in various platforms and communications.

Two USC teams have home events this Feb. 24. The undefeated baseball team hosts Akron at 6 p.m. at Dedeaux Field, while the No. 1-ranked and 3-time defending NCAA champion men’s tennis team hosts San Diego State at 1 p.m. and San Diego at 6 p.m.

“What an incredible 100 years it has been since we adopted the Trojans name,” said Pat Haden, USC’s Charles Griffin Cale Director of Athletics Chair. “‘Fight On,’ Trojan Family, ‘Trojan for life,’ all those things resonate with me. Saying you are a Trojan is not just a moniker, it is a way of life.”

The unveiling of the Trojans nickname 100 years ago occurred without fanfare. On Feb. 24, 1912, Los Angeles Times sports editor Owen R. Bird referred to the USC track team as “Trojans” in the opening paragraph of a preview story about that week’s meet between USC and Occidental.

“The Oxy Tiger will be seen in action for the first time this season, in the clash with Dean Cromwell’ss U.S.C. Trojans on the Bovard cinder trail,” Bird wrote.

Previously, USC teams had been called by various names, including the Methodists and Wesleyans, nicknames that were not looked upon with favor by university officials. In fact, in the weeks leading up to Bird’s historic Feb. 24 article, stories in the Times referred to USC teams as the Cards, apparently in reference to one of USC’s school colors (cardinal).

Warren Bovard, director of athletics and son of university president Dr. George Bovard, asked Bird to select an appropriate nickname.

“At this time, the athletes and coaches of the university were under terrific handicaps,” Bird recalled in a 1950-era document he authored. “They were facing teams that were bigger and better-equipped, yet they had splendid fighting spirit. The name ‘Trojans’ fitted them.

“I came out with an article in which I called attention to the fighting spirit of USC athletes and named them ‘Trojans.’ From then on, we used the term ‘Trojan’ all the time, and it stuck.

“The term ‘Trojan’ as applied to USC means to me that no matter what the situation, what the odds or what the conditions, the competition must be carried on to the end, and those who strive must give all they have and never be weary in doing so.”

Since first adopting the Trojans nickname in 1912, USC teams have won 116 national championships. Trojan athletes have captured 363 individual NCAA titles and four Sullivan Awards. Some 394 Trojans have competed in the Olympic Games, winning 262 medals (123 golds, including at least one gold in every summer Olympics from 1912). Trojans have been named NCAA Post-Graduate Scholars 51 times and Academic All-American first teamers 29 times, and there have been four Trojan athletes who were Rhodes Scholars.