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Photo by John Moran, The Gainesville Sun

Two Bits or not Two Bits?

by Robin Wood and Susan Wernsing
Illustrations by Mike Colby

Someone shouts, "Two Bits! Two Bits!" and a mass of sweaty bodies turn to see the familiar white-haired fan in his yellow Oxford waving a sign. Spectators rise. Drinks spill. Happiness spreads throughout the swamp -- until this sad season.

Mr. Two Bits has retired.

Not like move-to-Miami Beach-and-get-a-boat retired, but Michael Jordan or George Forman retired. He'll still lead the Two-Bits cheer at the start of each home game, but he's deemed it time to take a seat among his Gator family.

Fifty years of running stadiums will do that to you, especially when you do it in wingtips.

George Edmundson Jr., Mr. Bits' alter ego, started his famous cheer in 1949 when he noticed Gator fans were booing their own team after every mistake. Instead of booing, Edmundson (pictured above) decided to cheer and got a few dozen people to follow. Then a few hundred. A few thousand. The rest is history.

He'll be the first to tell you, though, his successor to will be, well, nobody.

"When a legend's created, don't create another one," Edmundson says.

'Nuff said. Of course, Orange and Blue couldn't leave well enough alone. Here are our top four two-bit 1999 stand-ins:

1. Kibbles & Bits
Appearance: Tired of playing second fiddle to Georgia's ugly mutt, K&B is a blue-eyed pup draped with an orange Gator banner.

Talent: Rather than waving a sign like his mentor, the canine will wag his tail to hush Swamp-goers. Then the unofficial Gator mascot (Won't the University Athletic Association be excited?) will begin his trademark cheer, "Two barks, four barks, six barks, a collar…"

2. Gator Father
Appearance: Foggetaboutit. Only the finest Cuban cigars grace this Don's lips, while tailored Armanis are his suits of choice (An improvement over Bits' hitched-up pants and polyester tie, eh?).

Talent: Gator Father is the capo di tutti cupi, the boss of the bosses. He's been known to rough up the competition when his Two-Bits cheer isn't working. Also, if fans aren't pulling their share, he considers them empty suits, posers in the Family. Cheer, punks, or you'll count one less knuckle on your pinky!

3. DJ Magic 2 Bitz
Appearance: Looking to score with the younger fans, this hip-hop cheerleader with a bad-assitude, spins sans wife-beater -- the better to see his Bitz Life tattoo.

Talent: His cheer, "I love it when you call me Big Gator," is so cool, it makes white people think they can dance. At half-time Magic 2 Bitz busts out a break dance bonanza, always ending with a shout-out to old-school Mr. Two. Excuse us, we're with this deejay.

4. Ms. Too Real
Appearance: You'd never know it wasn't the original Mr. Bits by her manly looks.

Talent: Too Tough seamlessly co-opts Edmundson's schtick, leaving fans wondering, "Didn't he retire last year?" A huge hit, she is invited onto talk-shows, where she meets her idol Rosie O'Donnell. Only after a women's locker-room scandal, do Gators learn the truth about Ms. Real - she's got two things Mr. Two Bits never had.

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