The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday October 16th

Take a look at three of the greatest pranks played between UNC and Duke fans

UNC students rush Franklin Street after No. 8 UNC defeated No. 1 Duke 88-72 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.
Buy Photos UNC students rush Franklin Street after No. 8 UNC defeated No. 1 Duke 88-72 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.

The UNC-Duke rivalry is one of the most heated in sports, which predictably means that over the decades there have been some legendary pranks. Here are three of the greatest played between Tar Heels and Blue Devil fans.

Jersey swap

The retired jerseys in the Dean Dome hang high enough to where no one would attempt to steal them. Or do they?

On Feb. 2, 1998, four Duke fans decided they would take a stab at it. In the middle of the night, the fans snuck into the Smith Center and used belaying equipment to climb up to the rafters. 

Their target? Michael Jordan’s retired jersey.

After acquiring the jersey, the fans planned to tape over the number and name to change it to a Grant Hill jersey, then unveil it at Cameron Indoor Stadium. However, after holding the jersey for three weeks, their plan fell through when a Duke worker found it by pulling a fishing line that it was attached to outside of Cameron.

In response to the heist, a group of UNC fans stole Grant Hill’s jersey from Cameron Indoor Stadium, but Duke was able to replace it quickly.

This round goes to the Blue Devils.

Head on a pike

The last two pranks both happened during the same season. Prior to the first UNC-Duke matchup in 2013, the Blue Devil mascot head loomed over the Pit on top of a pike outside of the UNC Student Stores.

The store’s workers noticed the head when they were going into work around 7:30 a.m. Once a maintenance worker removed the head, Student Stores employees began taking pictures with the head and wondering how it got there.

Later in the day, it was confirmed that the real Blue Devil mascot head was missing from Durham. It was eventually returned.

No one knows who pulled off the prank to this day, but you’ve got to be sneaky and pretty clever to take a mascot head from Durham to Chapel Hill.

Swapping hymnals

Later that season, UNC fans’ attack on the Duke faithful continued. Ahead of the second matchup, North Carolina fans invaded the Duke University Chapel and switched the hymnals to the Tar Heels’ fight song.

This prank wasn’t as intense as the first, but it had to be appalling for the Duke churchgoers to find sheet music titled “I’m a Tar Heel Born” in their hymnal books. The Tar Heel fans’ pranks didn’t pay off for their team, however, as Duke went on to win both regular-season matchups in 2013.

There haven’t been any prominent pranks pulled between the two fan bases since 2014 when Duke fans spray-painted “DUKE” on the pillars of South Building.

Maybe that means it's time for the fanbases to get back into the pranking game. Some more practical jokes between the two would definitely liven up this year’s games, which aren’t expected to be close contests. 

@matt_chilson

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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