Bruins and Trojans alike have stolen prized possessions, damaged school property and hacked into school publications. However, in recent years, the pranksters seem to have died down, but each school still prepares itself every year for the possibility of being conned.
One of the oldest pranks occurred more than 60 years ago, at the beginning of football season. According to UCLA's Web site, in 1941, during UCLA's first football game of the season, six members of USC's Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity snuck into the UCLA rooting section.
Posing as Bruins, they helped students load what is now known as the Victory Bell onto a waiting truck bound for Westwood. While the bell was being loaded, an 'SC student quietly removed the key to the truck and while the Bruins went to get a replacement key, the Trojans drove off with the bell in tow.
The bell was originally given to UCLA in 1939 as a gift from the Alumni Association, but after the Trojans stole it and hid it for almost a year, it has gone back and forth between the two schools. Now, the bell has become the highly coveted prize for the winner of the annual cross-town football match-up.
Another popular way the schools chose to prank each other involves defacing school property. In 1942, the year after the Victory Bell was stolen, UCLA students kidnapped the security guard in charge of protecting the beloved Tommy Trojan statue and splashed Tommy with blue and gold paint (UCLA's colors). Sixteen years later, the Bruins attacked the statue again, this time dumping 500 pounds of manure (first by truck and then by helicopter) over the mascot.
Not to be outdone, USC students burned their school letters into lawns all over the UCLA campus. In 1989, a group of Trojans decided to disrupt Bruins' study habits by releasing thousands of cardinal and gold painted crickets into Powell Library on the UCLA campus during finals week. Signs were pasted on the wall that read, “Hope you enjoy studying today, Bruins. USC beat UCLA. Signed, the Trojan boys.”
Over the years, the Trojans have managed to hack into the Daily Bruin (UCLA's campus newspaper) and print phony issues.
In 1958, USC students ran an article in the Bruin that quoted one football player as saying, “I'd feel a lot better about our chances against those terrific Trojans if we had a couple players who understood the game.”
About 30 years later, the Daily Bruin (with the help of some crafty USC students) printed the headline “Presidential Candidates Dukakis, Paul agree: UCLA is for losers.”
As more and more football games were played and competition between the cross-town schools intensified, the stakes of the rivalry were raised. Recently, school officials from both campuses have stepped in to dissuade students from pranking each other and encourage them to focus on pumping up their own school's spirit.
Although the pranks have died down, you never know which school will strike next.