Tommy Trojan was modeled after different USC football players (Russ Saunders, Ernie Pinckert, Henry Becker, Larry Stevens and John Ward) as visual references for the statue. On the bronze statue’s granite pedestal are inscribed the qualities of the ideal Trojan: “FAITHFUL, SCHOLARLY, SKILLFUL, COURAGEOUS, AMBITIOUS.” It was unveiled during the University’s 50th Jubilee in 1930. It cost $10,000 to build, after which a $1 surcharge was added onto the season football tickets in order to help offset this cost.
Norman Corwin (revered and honored teacher at USC from 1979 – 2011, wrote the following as part of a larger speech and on September 26, 1986, it was presented at Bovard Auditorium during the Campaign for USC):
“There is on this campus, not far from where you are sitting, a sculpture of a young man. He stands with an outthrust sword in his right hand and a raised shield in his left, and he obviously means business.
“For more than half a century he has been the inseparable symbol of this university. But this morning, when we meet to consider ourselves, and what we do, and how well we do it, it is perhaps not idle to ask just what that Trojan symbolizes. He’s a warrior, but this is not a military academy. He has a noble mien; he is beautiful; he is confidently poised to attack or defend – but exactly who is the adversary, and from what quarter does he come? If we look for clues on the pedestal of the sculpture, we find two lines of poetry in the Latin of Virgil, which translate
Here are provided seats of meditative joy
Where shall arise again the destined reign of Troy.
“I think the answer to the question is that our militant young man, as well as his implied foe, stand for whatever we want to read into them. I’m sure I’m not alone in perceiving Tommy Trojan’s symbolic enemies to be not Greeks bearing gifts or Huns bearing arms, but the far more menacing, because far more subtle and invidious, enemies of ignorance, indifference, greed, mediocrity, prejudice, complacency, boredom, eroded values, low expectations, and ravenous hungering for sensation.”
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