Ladies and gentleman, we have a mystery on our hands.

No, I’m not talking about who Florida’s next head coach will be. No, I’m not talking about if UF will play in a bowl game this year. No, I’m not talking about what the Gators will do with their nine players currently suspended for alleged credit card fraud next season.

Nope, I’m not talking about any of that. This is something much, much bigger.

I’m referring to Emojigate, the craziest storyline to engulf Florida’s football team so far this fall.

In case you missed it, dozens upon dozens of UF’s players began sending out the exact same cryptic message on Twitter starting at 7:56 p.m. on Sunday.

What was the tweet? A simple — but yet eyebrow-raising — thinking face emoji. Junior offensive lineman Fred Johnson and sophomore wide receiver Josh Hammond were the first two Gators to post the emoticon, and it continued to snowball from there.

One hour and 12 minutes after Johnson and Hammond’s initial posts, 29 of their teammates had followed in their footsteps, sending the Twitterverse into a blaze of bewilderment and discombobulation. Here’s a complete timeline to give you the full picture:

Emojigate Timeline

7:56 p.m. – OL Fred Johnson (Thinking Face Emoji, Eyeballs Emoji)

7:56 p.m. – WR Josh Hammond (Thinking Face Emoji)

7:57 p.m. – WR Dre Massey (Thinking Face Emoji)

7:57 p.m. – LB David Reese (Thinking Face Emoji)

7:59 p.m. – QB Luke Del Rio (Thinking Face Emoji)

7:59 p.m. – OL T.J. Moore (Thinking Face Emoji)

7:59 p.m. – TE Kalif Jackson (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:00 p.m. – WR Kadarius Toney (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:00 p.m. – LB Vosean Joseph (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:00 p.m. – QB Jake Allen (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:02 p.m. – DB Jeawon Taylor (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:02 p.m. – DB Chauncey Gardner Jr. (Eyeballs Emoji, Eyeballs Emoji)

8:05 p.m. – WR Freddie Swain (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:08 p.m. – LB Kylan Johnson (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:09 p.m. – DB Chauncey Gardner Jr. (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:10 p.m. – OL Jawaan Taylor (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:12 p.m. – DL Kyree Campbell (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:13 p.m. – DL Jachai Polite (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:13 p.m. – OL Marcus Givens (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:15 p.m. – OL Nick Villano (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:16 p.m. – LB R.J. Raymond (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:17 p.m. – DL Zachary Carter (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:23 p.m. – TE Harry Gornto V (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:29 p.m. – OL Stone Forsythe (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:30 p.m. – TE C’yontai Lewis (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:39 p.m. – OL Kavaris Harkless (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:39 p.m. – LB Nick Smith (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:53 p.m. – K Daniel Justino (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:57 p.m. – DB Eddie Giles (Thinking Face Emoji)

8:57 p.m. – WR Glenn Jarriel (Thinking Face Emoji)

9:02 p.m. – Nick Buchanan (Thinking Face Emoji)

9:08 p.m. – LB Cristian Garcia (Thinking Face Emoji)

When questioned about it on Monday by members of the media, Hammond, Massey and Reese claimed the tweets were in response to the recent rumors surrounding Florida’s head coaching vacancy.

“We was just scrolling on our phones and we saw it pop up,” Hammond said. “So we were just like, ‘Let’s tweet it and see what happens.”

Interesting. Very interesting.

Are Florida’s players telling the truth? Probably, yes. But who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?

There are lots of potential explanations for UF’s mysterious social media activity. Hammond’s answer could just be a cover up.

So let’s delve further, shall we?

Here are my top three hypotheses on the true meaning behind the now notorious and infamous Emojigate:

1. Someone farted during a team meeting

Let’s face it. This is most likely what actually happened here.

Anytime someone cuts the cheese in a room full of people, there are going to be a lot of questions on everyone’s mind. Who the f--- just did that? Is that turkey bacon I smell? Wait, was it me who did it?

Yep, that sounds pretty spot on.

All that needed to occur in this particular scenario was one ferociously potent fart from freshman defensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton, and I guarantee you Florida’s players logged onto Twitter faster than you can count to three.

That’s what I would do, after all, if I wanted to express my confusion over the pungent smell of Slaton’s flatulence suffocating my nostrils.

2. The Gators are obsessed with “Stranger Things”

Season 2 of the popular Netflix show was released less than a month ago, and boy is it causing a stir.

How many other test subjects are out there besides Eleven? What new creatures are going to emerge from the upside down? Is Dr. Brenner actually dead?

Clearly, Florida’s football players are begging to know the answers to these questions. Maybe that’s why they’ve performed so poorly on the field this year.

Too much time spent watching eighth graders fight demagorgons and not enough time spent studying their playbooks and game tape.

3. They found out Jim McElwain might be hired by UCLA

Hammond could have been telling the truth after all. Maybe he and his teammates’ tweets were about coaching rumors, just not in regards to Florida.

According to NFL draft analyst Benjamin Albright, Jim McElwain is on the short list of candidates being considered as UCLA's next head coach.

Why? Who the hell knows? I sure don’t.

And after doing such a putrid job leading the Gators this season before eventually getting fired, it’s hard to imagine anyone in UF’s locker room thinking McElwain should be granted another opportunity this soon, or even ever.

I’d say the 31 thinking face emojis speak for themselves in this situation. Listen to the Gators players, UCLA. They’re trying to send you a message.

Dylan Dixon is the Alligator’s assistant sports editor. Contact him at ddixon@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon.

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