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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

After a two-week exhibition, the Gators' season is finally set to get underway Saturday against Tennessee, but we here at the alligatorSports Brand Picks Column still have some questions that need answering.

For example, as much as Tennesseans love their coonhound Smokey mascot, was it actually a copyca - err - copydog?

We did some research and found out Smokey the Bear - the precious national mascot who speaks out against forest fires - was actually found in a burning New Mexico forest fire in the spring of 1950. That?s three years before the Tennessee student body decided to make Smokey the bluetick coonhound its official mascot.

Yes, it?s a "bluetick" coonhound. The fact that UT?s student body chose a dog so known for being infested with ticks that it?s in the dog?s name should tell you a lot about the students? bodies. We?re not getting anywhere near that, and we don?t recommend you do this weekend if you encounter someone clad in light orange.

But to find out more on this matter we called up UF alum and Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests information specialist Mitch Cohen, who works in the public relations department for the Georgia-based parks.

So what is the better national symbol: Smokey the Bear or the Volunteers? Smokey?

"Absolutely, it's Smokey the Bear," Cohen said, reflecting both his bias as a UF alum and an employee of the park system. "Smokey is very important because of how well- known he is. There have been very many surveys over the years and they show that Smokey is more widely recognized than advertising programs around the world. So it's very important and very effective."

It hasn?t been decided which team will come out on top Saturday, but it?s now safe to say the Volunteers? mascot hasn?t won his battle as the ultimate Smokey - not that he knew he was in a battle to begin with.

What about Gators? Can they be found in any of Smokey the Bear?s parks?

Even though Cohen?s park is located in Gainesville, Ga., not all Gators make their way up there, as they?re usually too busy winning national championships and SEC Championship games in Atlanta.

"In Georgia we do not have alligators in the national forest, not to any great extent at least," Cohen said. "It's rare that alligators get this far north. When the alligator gets lost, that's when they show up."

Whether in Florida or Georgia, Smokey the Bear is known across the nation - and he?s proven he can actually survive a real fire, unlike the Tennessee mascot. The bear was found with his hind legs and paws burnt after the 1950 New Mexico fire. Now the real question is whether Smokey the coonhound and his Volunteers will be able to survive the fire of the UF offense on Saturday, something they haven?t done the past two meetings.

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Let?s just hope the Oregon Duck doesn?t show up to beat the bloodsucking ticks off the poor coonhound.With that said, now onto the picks!

Somehow in first place with a 16-4 record is Sports Editor Bryan BMy life sucks. Seriously, I have no free time. This Alligator consumes my …. Wait, somebody might have just dropped Brandon Manumaleuna in my fantasy football league, this requires a four-hour investigation.C Jones, who is expected to jump off the Alligator?s roof any time now.

In second place with a 14-6 standing is alligatorSports.org Editor Brian BIt?s only four months, 16 days, 3 hours and 33.8 seconds until American Idol is backC Steele, who falls asleep in editing lecture so often we doubt he?s really qualified to be our online editor. Unfortunately for him, he is actually going to have to suffer through football season before his precious reality shows debut.

Tied for third with a 12-8 mark is Mike BI?m a rebel against alligatorSports? practice dress code with my Nease High Ultimate Frisbee shirtC McCall, who has hidden hopes Tim Tebow will actually notice him with his Nease gear. We can only imagine the downward spiral McCall will take once he realizes David Garrard is worse than Joey Harrington.

Also tied for third with a 12-8 record is Nick BI want to cover the ?08 Olympics just so the ladies of Beijing might believe I?m over 13C Zaccardi, whose hopes of poking Kari Klinkenborg - only in a Facebook sense, of course - have been dashed after the former UF volleyball player left school.

To nobody?s surprise, in dead last with an 11-9 standing is Sports Assistant Editor Jenna BI like to interrupt sports conversations with talks about birthday cakes, worthless movies and My Little PonyC Marina, who doesn?t realize her fellow staff writers actually don?t care about what happened in minute 37 of Back to the Future Part II. Or what type of frosting she had on her cake.

BJ JM MM BS NZ MC
Ark-Bama Ark Ark Ark Ark Bama Bama
BC-GT GT BC BC GT GT GT
FSU-Colo FSU FSU FSU FSU FSU Colo
OSU-Wash Wash OSU OSU OSU Wash OSU
Miss-Vandy Miss Vandy Vandy Vandy Vandy Miss
ND-Mich ND Mich Mich Mich Mich Mich
Louis-UK Louis Louis Louis Louis Louis UK
USM-ECU USM ECU ECU USM ECU USM
USC-Neb USC USC USC USC USC USC

UF-Tenn BJ: UF 41-27; JM: UF 35-24; MM: UF 31-21; BS: UF 24-21; NZ: UF 38-28; MC: UF 13-7

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