On May 28, 2016, a three-year old child climbed into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Harambe, an adult male gorilla, grabbed the young boy and dragged him around the pen. The zookeepers then made the difficult decision of shooting and killing Harambe to save the kid’s life.
Of course, you’re on the internet, so you’re probably aware of what happened next.
People were outraged. Should the gorilla have been shot? Do the parents of the child have some responsibility in the gorilla’s death? Is a hot dog a sandwich?
Regardless of how the public answered those questions, people were sad that a gorilla held in captivity was killed.
And then the internet happened.
Harambe became a meme.
One of the non-provocative adaptations was created by the college football Reddit community: the Harambelt
You see, college football belts are these weird concept where somebody initially gives one team the belt. Then, when that teams loses to another team, the victor gets the belt.
For the “College Football Belt,” the award was gifted to Nebraska for winning the 1971 Orange Bowl to become national champions. From there, each time a team beats the current holder they “take” the belt.
So when Nebraska lost its first game of the 1972 season to UCLA, the Bruins gained control of the belt. UCLA lost to Michigan two weeks later, and the belt was handed off again. And so on and so on. The College Football Belt is currently held by Pitt.
There are a bunch of belts like this. There’s the Loser’s Belt and the Champions of Life Belt. Because it’s an imaginary and ultimately meaningless belt
like life itself, anyone can create one for any particular starting point.
So that’s what a Reddit user did. The user created the “Harambelt” and had the belt start with the University of Cincinnati (the school in the city in which Harambe died) to start the 2016 football season.
But like all the other belts, it can be lost.
The Descent of the Harambelt
The 2016 Cincinnati Bearcats football team was umm … not great. They finished the season at 4-8, with the best win being a seven point victory over 6-6 Miami of Ohio. Luckily, two of those wins came in the first two weeks, which meant that Cincinnati got to keep the belt until week three, when they faced off against a Houston team that was ranked 6th at the time.
But although Houston was ranked sixth for much of the start of the year, the Cougars weren’t actually that good. It’s not so much that the team was bad, but rather inconsistent. They beat teams like #3 Oklahoma and #3 Louisville, but lost to teams like SMU, San Diego State, and (their first loss of the season) Navy.
Navy held on to the belt for two weeks after their triumph over Houston. That’s where South Florida acquired the belt.
Skip Holtz’s number one fan club held on to the belt for exactly one calendar year, gaining the belt on October 28, 2016 and losing it on October 28, 2017 to a team that already had a bit of familiarity with it: Houston.
Houston, who apparently does not like holding on to the belt for extended periods of time, lost to a Tulane team that ended 5-7 a couple weeks later.
It had now been a year and a half since the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo. The Harambe meme was all but dead, but that doesn’t mean the belt was. In fact, a Tulane blog wrote a piece about the belt as soon as they gained it. So don’t judge me about writing about a 2016 meme, okay?
Maybe it was from the pressure imposed by the belt, but Tulane only held trophy for one week before falling to SMU in the final game of the 2017 season.
You know, the same SMU that lost by 41 points to Tech in the next game the Mustangs played.
So that means…
Louisiana Tech now holds the Harambelt.
So while Tech has been winning bowl trophies year in and year out, it’s still important to recognize another of the Bulldogs’ long list of achievements: the Harambelt.