In these head-spinning sports days, we could use a good, old-fashioned prank | David Whitley

David Whitley
Gator Sports
View Comments

It seems all we’ve gotten lately from college sports is jolting changes, like NIL, the transfer portal and Kentucky going to bowl games. So it was kind of refreshing when someone poured paint on Albert and Alberta last week.

It was actually on the statues of Florida’s mascots, which stand proudly in front of Emerson Alumni Hall. The paint was red and black, so all fingers point to Georgia.

To be clear, I’m not endorsing pouring paint on alligators of any kind. And I hope the assailant is caught and part of the sentence is watching 1,000 hours of American Cornhole League.

But amid all the sports upheaval, it was nice to hear about a good, old-fashioned prank between traditional rivals. It reminded me of when Steve Spurrier spiked the punch bowl at Georgia’s Alumni Ball and convinced them to hire Ray Goff.

David Whitley:Need fitness inspiration? Meet Gainesville's Bob Tolmach; he's 100 and still working out

More Whitley:Who's the best athlete on Florida's campus? Track & field star Anna Hall

Listen in:GatorSports Podcast: Gators in the NFL Draft and more Florida sports

Greatest prank in SEC happened in Gainesville

The paint escapade didn’t have a lot of creativity, which was true to SEC form. Fact is, the league has traditionally been pretty lame when it comes to pranks.

There hasn’t been a good mascot kidnapping since the 1950s, when some Tulane students nabbed LSU’s Mike the Tiger. If Gator operatives ever considered nabbing UGA the Bulldog, it’s never gotten past the planning stage.

But give UF credit for perhaps the greatest prank in SEC history. When South Carolina’s football team ran onto Florida Field for warmups in 1964, it wasn’t South Carolina’s football team.

It was a bunch of guys from UF’s Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, aka the “Fijis.” They’d borrowed the red, white and black uniforms from Gainesville’s Lincoln High.

According to Norm Carlson, Florida’s legendary sports information director, South Carolina fans cheered the arrival. UF fans chanted “Gator Bait!”

Everybody got a little confused when pregame drills began. Lineman started playing patty-cake. A punt returned let a ball bounce off his head.

A running back jumped on a lineman’s back and was piggybacked down the field. A receiver missed a catch and ran headlong into a hedge. The punter whiffed on a kick and fell on his rear end. Three players collided on a Statue of Liberty play and pretended to be knocked out.

The confused crowd thought it was hilarious. After 10 minutes, they went into a formation that spelled “FIJI,” took a bow, and ran off the field.

Now that was a prank.

It’s hard to imagine anyone pulling off such a stunt today, but I’d love to see them try. It would sure be more fun than reading about the latest bidding war for a 16-year-old quarterback. 

Arkansas baseball fan grabs raccoon at game

Stud of the Week:Arkansas baseball fan Grant Harmon. He captured a large raccoon that had snuck into the Razorbacks’ Friday game against Vandy without paying. Harmon became a social media sensation, but needed a rabies shot after the critter bit him.

Stud II: Ric Flair, who reportedly is making a ring comeback — at age 73. No disrespect to septuagenarians, but something tells me this pro rasslin’ stuff might not be completely real.

Stud III: The Cincinnati Reds, for no-hitting the Pirates on Sunday.

Dud of the Week: The Cincinnati Reds, for giving up zero hits Sunday but still losing 1-0 to the Pirates.

Dud II: Lyon defender Marcelo, L’Equipe reported he was kicked off the team for “farting and laughing” in the dressing room. Apparently, he’d just heard about Ric Flair’s comeback. ... 

Dan Mullen coaching at Georgia high school? 

Dan Mullen has a house in the Greensboro, Ga., area, and was reportedly set to become offensive coordinator at a local high school. That’s what a reporter for DawgSports.com tweeted Saturday.

Lake Oconee Academy released a statement Sunday saying Mullen would not be on the coaching staff but would be a “contributing resource.” My guess is Mullen insisted on bringing in Todd Grantham as defensive coordinator. ... 

Just for grins, Albert Pujols pitched the ninth inning in the Cardinals’ 15-6 win over San Francisco on Sunday. The 42-year-old slugger became the oldest player to make his pitching debut since 1929.

Pujols said he plans to retire after the season, take 30 years off and then return to headline WrestleMania 69 against Tom Brady. ... 

Wrestling trivia: Which two presidents are in wrestling halls of fame?

Prank Redux: Perhaps the greatest attempt came in 1958, when UCLA students rented a helicopter to dump 500 pounds of manure on USC’s Tommy Trojan statue. The plan went horribly awry when the load got sucked back into the chopper blades, splattering manure over the would-be pranksters. ...

Speaking of which, UF police are still searching for a “person of interest” in connection with the Albert/Alberta case. I’m just spit-balling here, but can Mike White prove he was home in bed last Wednesday at 3 a.m.? ...

Trivia answer: Pending further impeachment attempts, Donald Trump is in the WWE Hall of Fame’s Celebrity Wing. Abraham Lincoln is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Legend has it he only lost once in 300 or so matches, including a cage match win over Ric Flair. ...

Breaking NIL News: After hearing UGA got a $200,000-a-year contract from Georgia’s collective, Mike the Tiger says he’ll enter the transfer portal unless LSU gets him a lifetime all-you-can-eat deal from Omaha Steaks. ...

That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. Until next time, please remember you're never too old to follow your dreams, pull a prank or join the WWE.

David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley

View Comments