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The Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961 – Fifty years later

Cal-Tech's Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961Fifty years ago, a group of pesky Cal-Tech students hijacked the University of Washington’s halftime “flip-card” stunt in a Rose Bowl prank for the ages.

The Los Angeles Times tells the story of Lyn Hardy, the ringleader behind one of the greatest college football stunts of all time. UW fans on one side of the stadium were given flip cards that were supposed to spell out “WASHINGTON” but instead read “CALTECH.” It’s a marvelous tale, and you can read the full story here.

Hardy, now 69, says he learned how the stunt worked from UW cheerleaders. Upon learning the Husky Marching Band and Cheer Squad were staying at Long Beach State dormitories, Hardy—a Cal-Tech junior at the time—posed as a reporter for the Dorsey High student newspaper and walked right in. When everyone left for dinner, Hardy and another of Cal-Tech’s legendary “Fiendish 14” swiped a card-stunt instruction book and headed back to Pasadena, where they made some 2,400 copies.

Jack Briggs
, Washington’s 1961 student body president, said at the time that the prank was “not in the best of taste.” Fifty years later, though, it’s still a classic.

Of course, Washington beat top-ranked Minnesota that day 17-7.

Enjoy this week’s Dawg Treats:

  • UW alum Nick Handy is departing his post as Washington’s state elections director after leading widely praised reform efforts that have boosted voter turnout.
  • A study by UW researcher Daryl Haggard explores the future of the Milky Way’s central black hole.
  • UW students win $40,000 to help make water safe to drink.
  • Former UW President Mark Emmert, now the head of the NCAA, is profiled in this piece by the New York Times. The story focuses on overseeing integrity and the threat of income in college sports.
  • Here’s a stunning roundup from the Wall Street Journal on the nation’s decline of higher education funding. Clearly, this is not just a Washington state issue.
  • UW Professor of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics William A. Banks was the lead author of an investigation that discovered a blocking hormone that may help people live longer and reverse signs of aging.
  • Sophomore guard and Tacoma native Abdul Gaddy will miss the remainder of the men’s basketball season after tearing his ACL in practice.
  • UW researchers are using Kinect, Microsoft’s motion sensor technology for Xbox, to assist remote surgery systems. Watch the video on
  • UW alum Patricia McKeown has been named president of Bellingham Technical College.
  • E. Gene Smith, an American scholar of Buddhism and UW alum who is credited with saving much of Tibet’s literature from the destruction of China’s Cultural Revolution, died Dec. 30 at the age of 74.
  • UW students Erik Hedberg and Zack Bennet developed a Bluetooth device that converts any text into Braille.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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