Feeling blue and orange

Dear Ace: Ever notice that the school colors for the University of Florida are strikingly similar to the school colors for the University of Virginia?—Allie Gater

Allie: Yep, Ace noticed. Next question.

Oh, calm down. Ace is just pulling your leg. Though, he would like to point out that that isn’t actually a question he can investigate. You’re lucky Ace can read between the lines.
To tell you the truth, he hadn’t noticed that. But then again, why would he? Your beloved investigative reporter is intensely loyal to his home state, so it’s no wonder this fact might have escaped his attention. Nevertheless, the obvious connection grabs and scratches him, and while some things are merely coincidental, Ace was hoping this was a little more black and white. …Er, blue and orange.

As it turns out, the two schools are linked. After a bit of digging, Ace unearthed a fascinating story. It all started in 1907, when a Gainesville native named Austin Miller came to UVA for law school. During a visit from his father, Phillip, the two took a trip to the Michie Company to see about ordering some pendants and banners. You see, Allie, Phillip owned a combination stationery/drug store in Gainesville and thought it might be nice to get some trinkets for the University of Florida, whose football team was at that time only a year old. But there was a glitch in the plan—while looking at emblems for Yale and Princeton, Phillip realized the Gainesville university had yet to pick a mascot!

So, in a pretty badass move, and without any authority, Phillip decides UF’s mascot will be the alligator, since it’s native to Florida. But there was another glitch. The manager at the Michie Company had never seen an alligator, and didn’t think he could design one. So Austin set off in search of an alligator image, which he found…in the UVA library.

When Phillip returned to Gainesville, among the pendants and banners he had ordered was something extra: a larger blue banner with an orange alligator head in the middle. (For those at home not connecting the dots, the banner was in UVA’s colors.)

Today, Albert and Alberta (the school’s mascots) can be found on the field at every game. And that’s the end of this alligator “tail."

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 19 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to ace@c-ville.com.

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