Best Rivalry Pranks in College Football History
Rivalries are a huge part of college football, and provide plenty of entertainment on the field throughout the course of the season.
This list is about the shenanigans performed by rivals off the field.
The top ten best pranks ever pulled by a rival can be found here, along with a short list of pranks gone wrong.
While it appears the days of such happenings are gone, due to liabilities and administration fear of harmful repercussions, the incidents of days gone by can still be reviewed and enjoyed repeatedly.
From military schools stealing live mascots to incredible stealth from MIT, this list includes the best pranks between rival schools.
SC Manure Drop Fail - Talk about a prank fail, in 1958, UCLA students tried to drop 500 pounds of manure on USC's Tommy Trojan and the students protecting him. That backfired, as the helicopter in which they were riding sucked much of the manure into the rotor blades and onto the unfortunate perpetrators.
Toomer's Poisoned - This was reprehensible, disgusting, and a "prank" gone way to far. Besides the significance of Toomer's Oaks, they were ancient trees, landmarks that should have remained forever.
Plainfield Teachers College - In 1941, a stockbroker and radio announcer created an imaginary college, complete with an imaginary star running back, a coach named Hop-Along, and a 6-0 record. The two men called newspapers in New York and Philadelphia, singing the praises of Plainfield. It was only when a reporter from Philadelphia went in search of the school that it was discovered to be a hoax. Perhaps Manti Te'o has less reason to feel like an idiot.
10. The 'Cannon War' Fail
This is an interesting story that seems to be overlooked, maybe because it took place almost 140 years ago.
There is a cannon, encased in concrete in the middle of "Cannon Green" at Princeton.
The piece itself has quite a history, as it is reported that it was used by Hessian forces around Trenton, N.J., and then in the defense of New Brunswick during the Revolutionary War.
Eventually, it wound up muzzle-down in the green at Princeton. In 1875, a band of Rutgers students spent hours trying to steal the cannon from their rival school, then transporting it triumphantly home to Rutgers.
Unfortunately for them, it was the wrong cannon.
Again in 1946, Rutgers attempted to steal the cannon from Princeton, this time with the ingenious idea of tying a chain to the back of a pickup and trying to pull it out of the ground.
This resulted in pieces of truck flying everywhere, and no cannon for Rutgers.
The concrete serves as a major deterrent from any other attempts at theft.
9. MIT the Real Winner
In today's society of violence and fear, the response to this would include evacuation, prosecution and probably a suspension or two.
Back in 1982, MIT pulled off one of the best hacks of any game in history.
The only reason it's not higher on this list is because MIT doesn't even have a football team.
At the annual Harvard-Yale game in '82, a balloon with MIT written on the sides emerged from the field and began floating over the gridiron.
Score one for MIT.
This hack of their rival schools' game was incredible, conceived after a different prank failed in 1978, and carried out by a different set of Delta Kappa Epsilon (Deke) fraternity brothers than the ones who actually invented the plan.
It included late-night raids of the stadium, lookouts in the stadium towers, and wiring the device to the irrigation circuit board.
The result, a prank that will go down in history as one of the best ever, will never be repeated with the same effect.
8. Tommy Trojan Stabbed
Tommy Trojan (The Trojan Shrine) has long been the target of ire for UCLA fans looking for a way to strike out at their USC counterparts.
Tommy has been painted blue and gold, had dung dropped on him and other various forms of vandalism.
His sword was stolen by UCLA students so many times that he now carries a wooden sword to offset the cost.
One of the best pranks by UCLA involved the removal of his sword-wielding arm, which was then welded back on to appear as if he was stabbing himself in the back.
The desecration of this shrine has been so routine, that Tommy is now under video-surveillance, guarded by a security force, and wrapped in duct tape in the weeks prior to the USC/UCLA rivalry game.
7. Mule Goes Missing, Goat Lost and Found
The Army vs. Navy rivalry is one of the most overlooked in the country.
The two military schools have faced each other 113 times since 1890, with Navy leading the series, 57-49-7.
The two mascots, a goat for Navy and a mule for Army, have a history of being kidnapped, usually in the week or two leading up to the annual contest.
Back in 1991, Navy staged a huge raid to steal Army's mules, a raid which turned out to be successful, as the midshipmen got away with all four of the creatures.
The raid was planned, as midshipmen visited the clinic where the mules were kept, posing as tourists. The midshipmen took pictures and drew up plans for their raid.
Taking live mascots out from under the nose of the Army is a bold move, one that could only be pulled off by another group as skilled in subterfuge.
Navy pulled off a good one when they pulled one over on Army in broad daylight.
6. The Stanford Daily Spin
If watching "the play" doesn't whet your appetite for college football to return, you might be hopeless.
When Kevin Moen found his way into the end zone after an improbable kickoff return to win the contest for Cal, 25-20, the story didn't end.
The staff of Stanford's school paper, the Stanford Daily, pulled off one of the best pranks in history when they released a "special edition" of Cal's school newspaper, the Daily Californian.
The fake edition of the Cal paper bore such headlines as “Bears shocked, appalled” and “Decision stuns Joe Kapp” and detailed how the Bears actually lost the game 20-19, due to an NCAA ruling the Moen was down on his way to the end zone.
The papers were distributed on the Cal campus as the perpetrators watched, and wreaked havoc among students who read it.
5. Wreck Tech
Not that Auburn deserved to have the oaks at Toomer's Corner poisoned, but this prank was not exactly safe.
Back in 1896, prior to the arrival of Georgia Tech's squad by train, some Auburn students decided to try and cause some trouble for the Yellow Jackets by greasing the railroad tracks on which the Tech team was arriving.
The prank was successful, as the train slid down the tracks for five extra miles.
This led to a long hike for the Yellow Jackets, who then proceeded to get thumped 45-0 by Auburn.
That trek probably contributed to the lopsided nature of the loss, and the Yellow Jackets refused to play Auburn the next season.
Bevo, the Texas Longhorns' mascot, got off to a rocky start.
The first steer so named, back in 1916, was kept in a stockyard in Austin over the offseason.
Not a good call to leave him unprotected.
A group of Texas A&M students branded the steer with a "13-0", the score of the 1915 win by the Aggies over the Longhorns.
With this rivalry seeming to go by the wayside with A&M's move to the SEC, a look back on one of the greatest pranks of all time between rivals seems appropriate.
3. Cal's 'Phoenix Five'
Cal and Stanford find their way onto this list yet again.
Back in 1998, a group of five Cal students "liberated" the Stanford tree mascot from the Stanford campus.
Mr. Black, Mr. Green, Mr. Orange, Mr. White, and Mr. Yellow, the pseudonyms the five used in their correspondence following the event, set off an interesting chain of events following the initial theft.
Police and school administration treated the event as a major incident, and police treated the event as a felony.
The Tree was paraded in front of cameras blindfolded, much like a hostage might be, and letters where written by the five supposedly from the tree, talking about how wonderful the world outside the Stanford campus happened to be.
Eventually, after pressure from the administration of the two schools, and heat from law enforcement, the five decided to return the mascot to avoid any more serious repercussions.
After its return, the tree was shredded at halftime of the game between the two rivals, due to contamination.
A zany story with an interesting ending.
2. Harvard Sucks
Classic, just classic.
This prank was an oldie, but it was pulled off to perfection.
In 2004, during the rivalry game between Harvard and Yale, a group of Yale students posing as the fictitious Harvard pep squad, handed out cards and directions to fans under the guise of cheering for Harvard.
As it turns out, they were Yale students, bent on embarrassing their rival.
Their cover almost blown, the "pep squad" gave the signal to raise the cards, and the Harvard fans complied, resulting in a humiliating message of "we suck."
Well played. Bulldogs, well played.
1. Caltech Hacks Rose Bowl
Caltech no longer has a football team, but there was a time that the football team played at the Rose Bowl, the only college football team that did so during the regular season.
Back before the "Harvard sucks" prank in 2004, Caltech pulled off the most epic photobomb in history.
During the 1961 Rose Bowl between Washington and Minnesota, the Beavers brought attention to themselves by adjusting the Washington flip card show that was to take place at halftime of the "grandaddy of them all."
A group of Caltech students broke into the locker room where the Washington cheerleaders kept there equipment, changed the papers with directions for the flip cards, then sneaked back in and replaced them.
Hilarity ensued. On national television.
Eleven tricks into the card routine at halftime, all was well. The 12th set showed a beaver, the Caltech mascot, instead of the intended husky.
The 13th card trick was an illegible group of letters.
But the 14th trick was the crowning jewel. When the Washington fans flipped the cards over, they read "caltech."
The stadium was silent for a few moments as the Washington cheerleaders and fans who saw the cards tried to figure out what was going on.
Laughter ensued once folks began to realize that Caltech had pulled off the prank of all pranks.