The Florida Gator

Gators1907Gator bait. Gator bait. Gator bait. Make no doubt about it, when you’re talking Gators and college football, you’re talking about the University of Florida. Here’s a quick look at how the gator moniker became associated with the school.

Florida opened in 1905 and began playing football in 1906. It was around that time that the alligator became the symbol and nickname of the school.  Gainesville native Austin Miller enrolled at the University of Virginia law school in 1908.  Austin’s father, Phillip, visited him in Charlottesville and decided to order some pennants and banners for sale in his Gainesville store.  The two visited a company that manufactured pennants.  When the company representative asked the Millers what the symbol for the University of Florida was, they realized the school had none.  Austin told the company rep that he believed the symbol was the alligator.  Austin quickly thought of the alligator because it was native to the state and as far as he knew, no other school had an alligator as its symbol.  The company rep designed an alligator for the pennants and banners based on a picture Austin provided from the University of Virginia library.

Phillip brought the pennants and banners back to his Gainesville store. The pennants and banners portrayed an alligator in different poses.  Some only portrayed an alligator head.

One banner was blue with an orange alligator in the middle.  This banner became the first official symbol of the school and the gator name took its home in Gainesville.

Albert, the first live alligator, appeared on campus in 1957.  Several Alberts have served since.  A costumed gator, also called Albert, began roaming the Gator sidelines in 1970.  Albert’s friend, Alberta, joined him in 1986.

You may be thinking that a better story surely exists for the origin of the Gator nickname–like maybe a gator eating a horse  or something on the very site of Florida Field years before the first football game–but you would be mistaken.  At any rate…Go Gators!

 

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