Best Prank

Talented blogger and friend Miss Caitlin from Candyfloss and Persie recently left a comment on my site that included a link to a clever (ok and illegal) prank that Alabama fans played on supporters of LSU.

Last December, the LSU Fan Site's website was hacked, and for a few hours featured the crimson and white merchandise of their rival the University of Alabama.

Her insightful comment reminded me of my favorite college prank of all time.

It is known simply as the "Great Rose Bowl Hoax," and earned a group of fourteen students legendary status as pranksters.

Here is a shortened version of the story.



On January 2, 1961, 100,000 people were attending the annual Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena, CA.  Millions more viewed it on television.  The year's game featured the University of Minnesota versus the University of Washington.

At halftime of the contest, fans settled back to watch the marching bands from both universities perform.

Band members from the University of Washington had coordinated a flip card routine that involved the participation of more than a thousand fans seated in a section of the upper deck.

Fans in certain seats had been left color-coded flip-cards and instruction sheets.  Following these instructions and cues from the Washington performers, fans would then display the appropriate cards, and when the group's effort was viewed from a distance, pictures and words were revealed.

The show began.

Staring at the upper deck, fans roared in response to familiar images and text touting their school.

The routine was flawless.

That is until the twelfth movement.

As per the instructions, the card-holders depicted what appeared to be a beaver (noticeable bucktooth) instead of what was planned--the institution's "husky" mascot.

The next set of cards showed "SEIKSUH"--the backward spelling of "HUSKIES."

Confused and nervous, Washington cheerleaders wondered if they had accidentally mixed-up the complex card numbering system.

Not knowing what to think and likely eager just to finish, the performers continued.

The crowd cheered for the final card display.

And this is what millions of people watching Minnesota vs. Washington play saw that day:



What did the California Institute of Technology or Caltech, a local private university there in Pasadena, have to do with the Rose Bowl game?

Well, combine fourteen smart students (known as the "Fiendish Fourteen") with a little too much free time, months of planning and plotting, and you get a prank for the ages.

How did the Caltech students pull this one off?

To what extent did the University of Washington cheerleaders get duped?

How many thousands of instruction sheets had to be altered?


For the answer to these questions and background on what I agree is the "Greatest Sports Prank of All Time," you can click here at this link and read the complete story--the specifics are interesting, but too long for my blog.

It is also humorous to know that the prank's details were revealed by group member and student Lance Taylor in a 1962 magazine article.

Ironically, the article was from Caltech's own periodical called Engineering and Science.


What a wonderful example of practically applying educational concepts--definitely taking the classroom to the real world.


Note: The color card prank has been replicated to some extent a few other times at sporting events since the 1960s (like what Yale supporters did to Harvard fans several years ago), but the accomplishment of the Fiendish Fourteen remains unmatched. 


Thanks again to Miss Caitlin for the LSU prank link, and to all readers for their comments and visits.

I hope everyone has a good weekend.


oceangirl said...

Geniuses and engineers at work!

Blond Duck said...

Those poor cheerleaders!

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

that is freakin' AWESOME!
i love it!

Bob G. said...

Very well the hell out of fatal hazings...ANY day!

Stay safe out there.

Miranda Hardy said...

That's great. It's a well delivered prank and didn't hurt anyone.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Some of these people have minds that can see and plan things we normal people just cant imagine.

Lydia Kang said...

Wow, that is an impressive prank indeed!

Pat Hatt said...

Wow that really took some planning and effort. Doesn't sound like it was too hard duping the cheerleaders though haha

terri said...

That WAS a good prank, not to mention it was in clean taste and relatively harmless, which is not often the case with pranks today.

Nezzy said...

Now that one had to be excellently thought out. I actually do remember when this happened.

I just adore a great prank and this was the best!

God bless ya and have a beautiful weekend!!! :o)

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Well that's one for the record books! ;-)

SuziCate said...

Funny how people pull things like that off and it goes down in history!

messymimi said...

Good one! Reminds me of a prank Tulane pulled once, and i may blog about it.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

That's really funny.

Lisa said...

Well, I'd say that beats stealing the opposing team's mascot. Lesson learned: don't mess with geeks.

blackwatertown said...

Excellent and clever.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

"What a wonderful example of practically applying educational concepts--definitely taking the classroom to the real world."

Snort! Did someone get an A for that "assignment"?

Kell said...

Haha!! That is awesome

Pia said...

hi slamdunk. would like to say thank you for the messages, love and prayers. God bless you!

Maxi said...

What the…? This is hysterical; best play of the game and no injuries.

Blessings - Maxi

Brian Miller said...

haha that is awesome...i just hope they saw it as taking the classroom ot the real world you know...smiles..

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I work with an Alabama Alum. Her hubby was all over that!

Great story and I love when stuff like this is harmless, but fun!

Secret Agent Woman said...

That's great. I like pranks that don't hurt anyone and are just silly fun.

Beth Zimmerman said...

That's awesome!

Talli Roland said...

Pranks like that are funny, I have to admit!

Jax said...

Caitlin is pretty amazing, isn't she? lol

That's a great prank!! All that from cards? So funny!! I never knew people did that by just putting instructions on someone's chair. :)

Miss Caitlin S. said...

oh awesome! I'm glad you liked the comment. I thought the prank was hilarious myself (and yes... illegal I suppose). This is a funny prank too! I had never heard of it.

As long as no one gets hurt, I am a huge fan of pranks. I think we all have a little Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes that can at least appreciate a good one, even if we would be too appalled or disciplined to do it ourselves.

Holly Lefevre said...

Love this prank! That sounds like a prank my son would come up with - complex and well thought out. I will keep hi away form the computer and seeing this.