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Porpoise Extinction

Guest Commentary by Kris Mulholland

This will go down as the saddest day in Gainesville’s history. Believe me, I know. I grew up in Gainesville. Gainesville has seen its share of miserable days. Emmitt Smith skipping his senior season. Steve Spurrier resigning. Sister Hazel releasing a second album. Dwayne Schintzius deciding to grow a mullet. Dwayne Schintzius deciding to play basketball. The whole Dwayne Schintzius era. All memories that most of Gainesville and Gator fans would just as soon forget or pretend never happened.

This is worse. Worse than Steve Spurrier resigning. Worse than Billy Donovan resigning (no….Billy Donovan has not left Gainesville for the NBA….yet!). Worse than Ed Zaunbrecher calling plays for the Florida football team.

The Purple Porpoise is closing.

The purple neon sign that shines so brightly onto University Avenue will be no more. On this day, Thursday, December 6th 2002, the walls of the Purple Porpoise will fall. It will be replaced, by something to be named the Ugly Gator. The Ugly freakin’ Gator? The only ugly anything I’ve seen on this campus now works for ABC Sports and was once the head coach of a certain SEC West school located in Auburn, Alabama. There is nothing “ugly” about the Purple Porpoise. Oh sure, the toilets are older than both you and I combined. Alright, let’s be honest, the toilet paper is probably older than you and I combined. The floor is old. The bar is old. The roof is old. It smells during the day and even worse at last call. The Purple Porpoise is not ugly. The Purple Porpoise is a legend.

It is the Wrigley Field at the University of Florida. The Soldier Field for the Gators. The Fenway Park for the students. The Sistine Chapel for Florida alumni. The Purple Porpoise is where students kneel to the beer gods, some willing and some by the law of gravity, and ask for one last passing grade.

Ask your older brother or sister. Ask your Aunt or your Uncle. They know. They all know the Porpoise. The Legend has grown over the years but will be no more as of 2am Friday morning.

Gator Ugly. Please. This obvious spoof on that great Hollywood classic movie Coyote Ugly will be replacing a legend. It will be the Babe Dahlgren to Lou Gehrig. The Ryan Minor to Cal Ripken, Jr. The (insert current/any future Florida football coach here) to (insert the head coach of your beloved 5-7 Washington Redskins here). The Damon Huard to Dan Marino. The Shemp to Curly. The Sammy Hagar to David Lee Roth. Alright, that’s a little overboard. But you get the picture. This is what Coyote…errr….Gator Ugly will become. The replacement. Grrrrr!!!

You might say that there have been athletes and coaches that have replaced legends and gone on to have successful careers. Look at Steve Young. Jimmy Johnson did alright for himself after taking over for Tom Landry. Gene Stallings won a national championship at Alabama after replacing Paul “Bear” Bryant. Well, he didn’t exactly replace Bryant. The Crimson Tide of course had to go through Ray Perkins, Bill Curry and a lot of Tide boxes with toilet paper rolling on top before they found Stallings. But we’re talking about the Porpoise here. The wait staff is right out of a swimsuit calendar. The wings are bigger than a Julius Peppers forearm (and with less steroids). One minute you’re in “football” heaven. The next you’re across the street at the Porpoise–in heaven.

There a couple of things that recent (1982 to now) Florida graduates consider a “must-do” while they’re in Gainesville. One is grab a Burrito at Burrito Bros. The 2nd is to grab a beer at the Porpoise. There is nothing better than walking out of the Porpoise with a beer in one hand, a ticket to the game in the other hand and looking up to see Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. What a beautiful sight. It just won’t be the same walking out of the stadium after a 63-0 pounding of Northern Illinois and seeing Gator Ugly.

The Purple Porpoise is the diamond in the rough. The gem among gems. The pick of the litter. Ask anybody. Former UF students. Current UF students. Future UF students. Many, many F’s have resulted from too many late Thursday nights (and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, etc.) at the Porpoise.

Flashback two years ago. Florida 48, Central Florida 14. Halftime.

You glimpse over to the east side of the stands, i.e. the student section. That’s all you see. Stands. It’s halftime against a team that had no chance in the first place. They came to get in and out as quickly as possible and leave with their six-figure paycheck in hand. Where is everybody you ask yourself. Silly question. The Porpoise. It was a rite of passage for UF students. Sure, you got an A on your Chemistry 101 final. But you didn’t truly graduate until you left Florida Field at halftime for an adult beverage of choice across the street at the Porpoise. Some students came back to the game. Some didn’t. Some couldn’t.

For one last glorious night, the bright purple neon light will illuminate University Avenue. Go out and enjoy it for one last time. Be careful. Be responsible. Be forgiving, for the Big, Bad Gator Ugly is moving in. Maybe Gator Ugly might not be such a bad spot after all. Remember, Babe Dahlgren was a career .261 hitter.

R.I.P.~ Purple Porpoise ~ April 2nd, 1982 – December 6th, 2002