College football history is littered with stories of enduring traditions, rituals and in particular, pranks. Students from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) went to extreme lengths, involving eight separate night time visits, sneaking into Harvard Stadium to construct a balloon with MIT written all over it, that would inflate during the 1982 Harvard-Yale game.
Yale students famously tricked Harvard students in their own stadium, pretending to be a pep rally squad, resulting in a section of the home fans holding up cards that made a giant "We Suck" sign. The Army-Navy rivalry has seen both mascots, the Navy's goat and Army's mule kidnapped on various occasions and Tommy Trojan, USC's famous mascot and landmark is regularly targeted by UCLA students attempting to paint him in their blue and gold colours. In 1958, a group of UCLA fans rented a helicopter with the intention of dropping 500 pounds of manure on to the statue. This plan backfired spectacularly when the airflow generated by the moving blades sucked most of the manure back into the helicopter and on to the perpetrators. Tommy is now wrapped in duct tape in the build up to the USC-UCLA games and watched by a "Save Tommy" group.
Pranks have gone to the extreme. Bevo, the legendary Texas Longhorns mascot was branded with a "13-0" message by a group of Texas A&M students in 1916, cebrating the Aggies' win over Texas the previous year.
Legend has it that when Texas A&M played Baylor in 1926, a brawl broke our after the game between to two student bodies. It led to a Texas A&M student dying, so in response cadets raided the armoury on campus (this was a military college at the time) and loaded cannons on a train to Waco with the intention of trying to shell Baylor. Thankfully, they were stopped by the Texas Rangers halfway en route. The two teams would not play each other for another five years.
One of the most ingenious, and arguably the greatest of all college football pranks took place the night before the 7th November game between Georgia Tech and Auburn in 1896.
A number of Auburn students, in the dead of night, allegedly wearing pyjamas, snuck out. They headed to the train station where they greased over 400 yards of railroad tracks coming into Auburn with pig grease, lard and soap. As a result, the train carrying the Georgia Tech team in the early hours of the morning, slid past the Auburn station and traveled almost five miles towards Loachapoka. The weary Georgia Tech players had to gather all their equipment and lug it five miles back to Auburn. They were promptly thrashed 45-0 and refused to play Auburn the next year.
Auburn commemorated this event with the Wreck Tech Pajama Parade prior to playing Georgia Tech, featuring a pep rally march to the Train Depot with revellers clad in pyjamas.
John Heisman, then Auburn coach, and whom the famous Heisman trophy is named after, would go on to coach Georgia Tech, twenty years later, to a 222-0 thrashing of Cumberland College, still college football's most one-sided victory.