USC 'Traveler' Mascot Controversy Could Impact 2017 Heisman Race

Brent Musburger will not vote for Sam Darnold if USC changes mascot's name

August 28, 2017

An acclaimed sports broadcaster said Sunday on Barstool Sports' podcast "Pardon My Take" that he would not vote for University of Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold to receive the Heisman Trophy if the university were to change its mascot's name.

The comments from Vegas Stats and Information Network's Brent Musburger follow recent criticism from a university official over the name of the horse mascot, Traveler IX.

Saphia Jackson, USC's Black Student Assembly co-president, accused Traveler IX last week of being a symbol of white supremacy, and said it should be removed from campus, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

"I push administration, faculty, and staff to have serious engagements and not dismiss our issues because we are here for serious change," Jackson said during a rally in response to the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va. "We can no longer afford to stay silent."

Jackson said the mascot is a symbol of white supremacy because he has a name similar to Confederate General Robert E. Lee's horse, whose name was Traveller with two l's.

Musburger, a former broadcaster at ESPN and ABC, was comparing the University of Oklahoma and USC's football programs Sunday when he brought up the fact that he was "very upset" with USC.

"I'm very upset," Musburger said. "There's a move afoot to change the name of the horse from Traveler because Robert E. Lee's horse was named Traveller. You can't have that."

One of the hosts later asked Musburger who he liked in the Heisman race, referencing how "a lot of people are talking about Darnold."

"Darnold," Musburger said. "If they mess around with my horse, I'm off him."

"I've got a vote. I will not vote for Darnold if they change the name of that horse," Musburger added.

One of the hosts then clarified whether he had a vote, to which Musburger replied incredulously, "Yeah. What do you think?"

As a member of the media, Musburger is entitled to one of the 870 votes that make up the Heisman Trophy voting pool.