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Original Issue

Pranks for the Memories

Drop that mascot and reach for the sky! A brief history of harmless mischief

THE COMMANDER in Chief's Trophy, which had gone missing from the Naval Academy, turned up last week in a campus storeroom, two days after it was stolen--presumably by Army. High jinks between the two rivals are, of course, nothing new. Not too long ago, Army thought it was snatching Navy's goat mascot (above); instead, they got an animal that had been rejected for mascot duty because of its bad temper and worse odor. Here now, some of the best attempts to get the other guy's goat.

2004: Posing as members of the "Harvard Pep Squad," Yalies hand out 1,800 colored squares of paper to Crimson fans at The Game, telling them that when held up, they will spell GO HARVARD. Instead, they spell WE SUCK (below).

1998: A month before the Cal-Stanford game, the Cardinal Tree mascot costume is stolen from the shack where it is stored. A week later a group calling itself the Phoenix Five delivers a letter claiming responsibility and a picture of the Tree--blindfolded, of course--to the Cal student newspaper. They return the costume before the game in exchange for amnesty; Stanford, saying the mascot has been "contaminated," puts the Tree outfit through a shredder at halftime.

1982: During the 1982 Harvard-Yale game, MIT punks two of its greatest rivals. After a Harvard score a ball pops out of the ground on the 40-yard line and inflates to six feet in diameter, proudly displaying the letters MIT. (Several students had buried a weather balloon and rigged a vacuum cleaner motor to inflate it.)

1982: When the University of Virginia sets out to build an addition to its football stadium, Mark Lindsey, a Virginia Tech grad vying for a commission to design the project, notices the stadium has a V-shaped opening--and mischievously designs the adjacent locker room and dining room in the shape of a T. Virginia officials, unaware it is a tribute to their hated rival, pick Lindsey's plan, which is constructed in 1985. (UVA replaced the building in 1999.)

1965: Wabash student Jim Shanks launches Operation Frijoles, a plot to steal the Monon Bell (right), the prize in the Little Giants' football rivalry with DePauw. Impersonating a Mexican dignitary, Shanks arranges a lunch with DePauw president William H. Kerstetter. After discussing scholarships for Mexican students, Shanks persuades Kerstetter to let him see the famed 350-pound bell, which is kept under lock and key. After Shanks passes along the location, Wabash students steal it that night. The Little Giants then earn the bell fair and square with a win over DePauw, and Wabash students celebrate by storming the field wearing sombreros and ponchos.