Bite On!: USC’s Other Loyal Mascot

Before Tommy and Traveler, there was Tirebiter.

March 02, 2016

It’s been more than 70 years since a feisty dog named George Tirebiter was first spotted on campus, but his statue near Zumberge Hall still keeps a steady eye toward the Coliseum.

In 1940, George Tirebiter was a campus fixture often seen chasing cars down Trousdale Parkway (then called University Avenue and open to traffic). He eventually chased his way into the hearts of students and faculty, and on Oct. 23, 1947, the student body voted to make him the first official mascot of USC. Trojans marked the day with a parade, and the canine soon pressed his paw prints into fresh cement at the corner of University Avenue and Hoover Street.

He became an accidental celebrity when he was kidnapped by UCLA students and made headlines across the country when he was found with “UCLA” shaved on his back. George would get the last laugh: He later bit Joe Bruin during a USC-UCLA game.

While some of the Tirebiter tales seem larger than life, many are true, including chasing Oski—the University of California, Berkeley’s bear mascot—up a goalpost. He also rode alongside then-USC President Fred D. Fagg in a convertible at the Coliseum at a football game.

After a few years, Tirebiter’s celebrity status wore on him and his behavior began to deteriorate. His appetite for rubber became an appetite for anything and anyone within biting distance. George was retired to a farm near the Mexican border, where he would chase his last tire. After his passing, the Daily Trojan wrote, “Gone to Heaven where he will have cushion rides for breakfast, white sidewalls for lunch, and cold rubber recaps for dinner.”

As decades passed, the spirited dog’s memory could have faded, but his statue is a reminder that in the Trojan Family, loyalty is never forgotten.

Authors Dustin Jacobs ’13 and Ronald L. Olson Jr. ’12 are writing a screenplay about the life of George Tirebiter.