Monday, Sep. 08, 2008

The Great Rose Bowl Hoax

Spectators at the 1961 Rose Bowl game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Washington Huskies received instructions: at halftime, those on the Washington side should take colored flip-cards off their seats and hold them above their heads, producing fifteen gigantic images one after another for the millions of fans watching on TV. One was meant to spell "Huskies," another to reveal a picture of said dog. But when the crowd got in position for the fourteenth image, the thousands of placards spelled out a surprise: "Caltech." The stunt left the television announcers speechless, and the band, taken aback, stopped playing. Weeks later, the students responsible — known as the "Fiendish Fourteen" — revealed their method: One of them had posed as a reporter, asking the head Washington cheerleader to detail the flip-card system. Then the students infiltrated the Washington cheerleaders' hotel rooms and switched instruction sheets. (More recently, at the Harvard-Yale game in 2004, Yale students posing as the "Harvard Pep Squad" handed out placards so that at halftime, their rivals spelled out the message: "We Suck.")