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.
GREAT ROSE BOWL HOAX
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.
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