With seven minutes and forty-five second remaining in the second quarter of The Game Saturday, a huge black weather balloon swelled out of the ground at the 45 yard line. As coaches, players and 40,000 fans watched in amazement, the balloon--bearing the letters M.I.T--inflated, rose and exploded in a pull of smoke.
"The Blob," as it has since been dubbed, was only the first in a series of MIT pranks, which added a comic sideshow to the traditional revelry of the Harvard Yale game.
At halftime, about 40 MIT students, disguised as Yale band members, rushed onto the field, lay down, and used their bodies to spell out the name of their school.
The third prank came about 10 minutes into the fourth quarter, when MIT students distributed red and white placards to Harvard fans. The unsuspecting fans were told the cards spelled "Beat Yale"; in reality, they formed the letters M.I.T.
A fourth prank, which prank, which reportedly involved rigging the sound system, never came off. One MIT student speculated that too many different groups had fiddled with the system.
No group claimed responsibility for the practical jokes, but several MIT students linked the interruptions to the school's Undergraduate Association, noting that an ad in last Tuesday's The Tech called for conspirators: "Secret Agents needed," the ad stated. "If you'd like to take part in a hack on an unnamed college up the road, please call the UA office and leave a message for Ken."
But Ken Seigel, president of the Undergraduate Association, denied any involvement in the pranks. "We've been running things like that in the paper all year," he said, noting that it is an MIT tradition to pull pranks at the Harvard-Yale game. "There are already people talking about 1986," he added.
Three MIT fraternities had claimed credit for pranks, Seigel said, adding that he suspected Delta Kappa Epsilon of being one of the organizations behind the plot.
Contacted yesterday the president of Delta Kappa Epsilon refused comment Spokesmen for every other MIT fraternity denied participation.
Players and coaches for both teams said yesterday they were annoyed by the pranks because of the potential danger and the disruption of the game. Reserve Offensive Lineman Joe Ippolito '84 finally got fed up with the delay and threw a stone at the balloon. For this, teammate Joe Azelby '84 dubbed him the hero of The Game."
"I didn't think that this was the appropriate place," said Harvard Coach Joe Restic. "It is not part of the game and could have altered the outcome."
Carmine Cozza, Yale's football coach, echoed Restic's sentiments. "I thought it was in very poor taste and showed very poor judgment," he said. And Yale Athletic Department Director Joe Ryan added that this "was not something which should be promoted. It wasn't supervised and there could have been a slip-up."
But University Police Chief Saul L. Chafin said yesterday he was unsure whether or not the Department of Athletics wants him to pursue the culprits. "The response in the press box was that they weren't uptight. They thought it was an ingenious prank."
At least one Harvard official did find the pranks amusing. President Bok called The Blob "a stunning practical joke," adding, "I give them full credit."