Million Dollar Bet on WNBA Game

It was the 1961 Rose Bowl, Washington versus Minnesota.

“Look for a list of the greatest college pranks of all time and the infamous 1961 Rose Bowl prank will always be near the top of the list. A group from Lloyd house did what seemed to be impossible: have Caltech make an appearance at a Rose Bowl game. That year the Washington Husky cheerleaders had created a detailed system for cheers. When they called out a number, people in the stands held up certain cards, which then displayed a message or pattern. Caltech undergraduates replaced the instruction cards from the cheerleaders’ hotel room with “improved” copies. There were 15 card stunts on the instruction cards. Number 14 was the one that made the history books. Toward the end of the game, unsuspecting Washington fans held up their cards high to sky, displaying the name Caltech for the world to see.”

Trivia question: What university has played the most games at the Rose Bowl?

Answer: Caltech, as all of its home games were played in the Rose Bowl. The football program was discontinued in 1993. “Undefeated since 1993”



Thanks for the post. Proving, once again, that a college doesn’t need to spend millions, on student “fun”. From the Wiki article:

The twelfth design modified the design of a husky into that of a beaver (Caltech’s mascot) but was subtle enough that the audience did not notice.

The thirteenth design called for the word Washington in script to gradually appear from left to right (starting with the capital “W”), but it ran backwards (with the small letter “n” appearing first) Other sources say that the routine intended to spell out HUSKIES, but that it had been altered to spell out SEIKSUH. Regardless, it was dismissed as a simple mistake.

The fourteenth design, however, was an unmistakable prank. CALTECH was displayed in big block letters on a white background.


Although, it is worth pointing out that this “fun” was actually part of a large scale athletic event. You know - one of those rare opportunities for the entire institution (students, faculty, alumni) to come together for an afternoon, with all kinds of opportunities for interesting and entertaining things to happen? A fun time at the stadium? And one that stems from a rivalry - something that super-elite institutions can inherently have by virtue of being the top engineering schools in the country, but that most “ordinary” institutions are only able to have if they create it through things like athletics?


This being an economics board, you are almost certainly familiar with the concept of “sunk cost”. That Rose Bowl game nonsense, was entirely separate from the Caltech student’s low cost, harmless, and ingenious, “fun”. If there was no Rose Bowl hype and hysteria, the Caltech students would have turned their skills elsewhere.

It may have been in the same article about Caltech, where I read that, in the waning days of the spring semester, all the seniors leave campus for the day. The underclassmen then endeavor to break in to the senior’s dorm rooms, and sabotage something. The article described the ingenious ways the seniors tried to secure their rooms. Some were simple, like bolting a steel plate over the door. The underclassmen spent all day drilling through the steel plate. They finished just as the senior returned, and walked into his room, having perfectly estimated the time it would take to drill through the plate. One student, iirc from Texas, had rigged up a shotgun to fire at anyone who came in the door. Looking in through the transom, the underclassmen could not figure out a way to defeat the boobytrap. Curious how the senior would get into his room, the underclassmen were there when he returned. He sneered at the underclassmen, opened the door, there was a detonation, and the senior fell to the ground clutching his chest. Then he exploded in laughter. The shotgun was unloaded. He had rigged up a hidden firecracker that was detonated by the door opening. There was another one where the underclassmen could not figure out how to defeat the senior’s system, so they plastered over and painted the doorway, so it was invisible when the senior returned.

There are some extremely clever people in this country, but we don’t hear about them anymore. All we hear about are overgrown morons crashing into each-other. The perfect means to keep the proles diverted, as football is both dumb and violent.

Looking over the metro Detroit TV listings for today, I see 13 college football games, spread over 6 channels, and that is only over the air broadcast. There are probably more on cable and streaming.


Speaking of the old KCHS Band Follies, now that I am on my other computer, I can post the yearbook pic from when the big production number at the Band Follies was “Springtime For Hitler”. This sort of “fun” came to a screeching halt, with the move to the new building, because TPTB decided football was more important.

You don’t like football - which is fine. Many people don’t like football. Or basketball, which is the other big revenue-generating Div 1 sport.

But just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean that those athletic programs - or athletics in general - don’t serve useful purposes for the institutions. Things that can’t be replicated by students committing a bunch of B&E and petty vandalism in secret. It’s hard to get the alumni excited about the cleverness of underclassmen “pranks,” especially in any school other than elite technology schools like CalTech or MIT. Or even the other students, unless the prank is huge and visible - which often requires a huge and visible event (like the Rose Bowl) to provide the platform and audience for it to be well known. And those kinds of pranks can’t happen a lot - they can’t be a regular part of student life and entertainment and social bonding, the way a regular schedule of college spectator sports can be.

Some people like small isolated acts of cleverness. A lot of other people like dumb fun - putting on school merch and tailgating and yelling silly fight songs and hanging out with friends at a large gathering.

Well, lets give the trend another 20 years to play out, where high schools and universities become nothing but a front, for athletics programs, and see where that leaves the country.


Yeah, not too worried. Folks have been decrying the role of “Big Athletics” in colleges since at least the 1980’s (see book link below). But athletics has been a part of the American college experience starting back in the late 1800’s - and at the overwhelming majority of schools, is still a modest part of the university’s function. Something like 70% of the schools that are part of the NCAA are in Division II or III; another 10% don’t have a football team, and a good chunk of the remainder aren’t in the Football Bowl Championship division. Harvard’s managed to have a football team since 1873, and it hasn’t hollowed out the university quite yet (though we just lost The Game, so perhaps disaster is around the corner). I think they’ll hang on a bit longer.