Mascot Bracket: Albert and Alberta Gator versus Handsome Dan
Albert E. Gator and Alberta Gator are the official mascots of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Costumed in plush, Albert and Alberta areanthropomorphic representations of American alligators, which are commonly found throughout the state of Florida. The University of Florida fielded its first official intercollegiate sports team (football) in the fall of 1906. It adopted orange and blue as its official colors, combining the orange and black of the former Florida Agricultural College in Lake City with the blue and white of the former East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, the university’s two oldest predecessor institutions. The football team did not initially have an official nickname or mascot, and was often referred to as the “Orange and Blue” or “Pee Wee’s Boys,” after the team’s first head coach, Jack “Pee Wee” Forsythe. In 1908, local merchant Phillip Miller and his son Austin Miller, with no official sanction from the university or athletic association, selected the alligator as an emblem to represent the university on pennants offered for sale in Miller’s Gainesville store. With the state of Florida being home to millions of alligators, the ‘gator proved a popular choice among members of the student body, and the Florida football team began to refer to itself as the “Gators” during the 1911 fall season. A live alligator named Albert first appeared at football games during the 1957 season, and served as the mascot of the football team on the field before the costumed version of Albert became the mascot in 1970. He was joined by a female version, Alberta, in 1984. They often appear as a couple, but also appear alone. They both cheer on the football team, but Albert appears solo at Gators baseball and men’s basketball games, while Alberta cheers on the women’s basketball and gymnastics teams, among others. Watch the UF college video tour here!
Handsome Dan is a bulldog who serves as the mascot of Yale University’s sports teams. In addition to a person wearing a costume, the position is filled by an actual bulldog, the honor (and the title “Handsome Dan”) being transferred to another upon death or retirement. Handsome Dan is selected based on his ability to tolerate bands and children, negative reaction to the color crimson and to tigers (the symbols of rival schools Harvard and Princeton respectively), and cleanliness. Handsome Dan is the first live college mascot in America, and therefore he is also believed to be the first live mascot in the entire world. The tradition was established by a young gentleman from Victorian England, who attended Yale in the 1890’s. The line now numbers 17, and the original successors have been the intimates of deans, directors, and coaches. One was tended by a head cheerleader who went on to become the Secretary of State. Another was featured on the cover of a national magazine. Yale was the first university in the United States to adopt a mascot, and to this date, none is better known than Handsome Dan. Watch the Yale college video tour here!