It's funny how one tweet can make news. That's the story of Florida revealing its new costume for Albert E. Gator, one of the anthropomorphic alligators who serve as the mascots for Florida Gators teams of all kinds, via this Friday afternoon video of Albert being lifted and carried by Florida cheerleaders.
An eagle-eyed fan spotted the difference — Albert's eyes look different, and the block F his shirt used to sport has been replaced by the italicized, stylized F Florida is now using across its branding.
Adam Silverstein of Only Gators was able to get confirmation from Florida's marketing and promotions staff: Yes, that's a new uniform, and yes, Alberta, Albert's female counterpart, has one, too.
According to the University Athletic Association’s marketing and promotions staff, the primary adjustment made to the costumes is the material: they are "much more lightweight and customized for [the] hot Florida weather." Cosmetically, the biggest change fans will notice is the eyes of Albert and Alberta, which are opened more.
Albert and Alberta officially debuted Friday at UCA Cheer camp with the Gators’ cheerleaders. Alberta previously showed off her new threads during the mascot games in June.
Florida separately confirmed the new mascots to me, as well.
That new Alberta looks like this:
As anyone who's hugged either one knows, the Albert and Alberta costumes of old were heavy and relatively thick, and any Florida sporting event played outside between, oh, February and November had to feel like hell for the men and women who have played both mascots over the years. Hopefully, lighter material will make those jobs easier.
But as for the cosmetic changes? I'll reserve judgment until I see them in person, but I really liked old Albert's toothy grin, and how cute old Alberta was. And while I get the interest in consistent branding, Florida's mascots carrying the block F was always welcome, and the folks who grouse about tradition will have something new to nitpick with the stylized F taking its place.
It could be worse, though.
It could be way worse, in fact.