Just because it’s a down year for the USC and UCLA football programs doesn’t mean the teams’ fan bases are any less passionate about the rivalry game coming up Saturday.
Just ask the Bruin Bear.
The well-known statue, located in UCLA’s Bruin Plaza, was found covered in red and yellow spray paint — likely the closest some overly enthusiastic USC fans could come to their Trojans’ cardinal and gold — around 10 a.m. on Thursday, according to the Daily Bruin.
The vandalism took place even though the statue had been protected by chalkboard walls, one of which was found removed at the same time the vandalism was discovered, the Daily Bruin reported.
“The only thing we have determined is that someone pried the wooden box open that the bear hibernates in this time of year,” UCLA police Lt. Kevin Kilgore told ESPN.
According to the Daily Bruin, the chalkboard walls have been used to protect the statue during rivalry week since 2010, the year after similar vandalism toward the Bruin Bear resulted in repairs that cost UCLA more than $20,000.
At USC, the Tommy Trojan and Hecuba statues are wrapped in duct tape during rivalry week for protection against vandals.
In other rivalry week news, the universities announced in a joint statement Thursday that considering the wildfires raging throughout the state, they would skip the traditional bonfires at their respective rallies “out of respect for the tragedies so many California families have experienced over the last few weeks.”