Sure, this is Rivalry (HATE) Week in the Big Ten. Yes, we want to win the games just a little bit more this week because of the opponent that we face. But despite this hatred, we in The Big Ten have never forgotten that lesson that our Mommies taught us in the sandbox decades ago.
As a result, we have crafted exquisite tokens to remind us of our most heated gridiron battles. Making it even better, we pass the trophies back and forth between our schools. Only in the educational institutions of the upper midwest could so many hands be wrung over the fate of a pig, a turtle, a bucket, and a spittoon. These figures have grown to mean more than the objects. They're now symbols of fandom superiority.
There are currently twelve traveling trophies awarded to the winner of Big Ten football games. There are two other trophies that have been discontinued. Let's step back from the HATE to recognize each of them.
1. The Slab of Bacon (1930-1943)
Teams: Minnesota and Wisconsin
Record: Minnesota led 11-3
Current Home: The Wisconsin Football Office
This is a fun one. For fourteen seasons, Wisconsin and Minnesota played for a piece of black walnut wood adorned with an "M" or a "W" depending upon which way the wood was held. After Minnesota's 1943 victory enabled the Gophers to reclaim the trophy, it was lost, not to be found until 1994 when is showed up in the bowels of Camp Randall Stadium. The odd part is that the scores from all of the games through 1970 were written on the slab. Then Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez decided that Wisconsin would keep the bacon. The replacement trophy, we'll get to that in a bit, had already been in place since 1948.
2. The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk
Teams: Illinois and Northwestern
Record: Illinois led 33-29-2
Current Home: Northwestern's campus
I wrote about this sad death last week. I won't dwell on it anymore.
The rotating Big Ten schedules have meant an end to the annual nature of several of these games. In the 2009 and 2010 seasons, these trophies won't be on the line.
3. The Little Brown Jug
Teams: Michigan and Minnesota
Record: Michigan leads 66-22-3
Current Home: Ann Arbor, Michigan
More than 100 years old, this trophy used to be a part of a competitive series. Michigan's dominance over the last 40 years has ended that. The jug has resided in Minnesota only three years of the last 40. Minnesota missed their chance to have the jug for an additional three years by failing to beat the worst Michigan team of the last 40 years in 2008. Michigan kept the jug with a 29-6 victory.
4. The Old Brass Spittoon
Teams: Michigan State and Indiana
Record: Michigan State leads 40-12-1
Current Home: East Lansing, MI
In 1950, three years before the Spartans were admitted into the Big Ten, Michigan State proposed this an award for the schools' annual game. Indiana quickly agreed, and this traveling trophy was born. Michigan State's victory last year ensures that the spittoon will remain in Michigan until at least 2011.
5. The Purdue Cannon
Teams: Purdue and Illinois
Record: Purdue leads 30-26-2
Current Home: West Lafayette, IN
Last month, Purdue's 24-14 victory over the Illini ensured that this weapon will stay in Indiana for the next twelve months. In 1905, some Purdue students brought it to Champaign, with designs of firing the cannon after the Purdue victory. Purdue did win the game, but Illinois administrators found the hidden cannon and confiscated it. During World War II, Illinois suggested that the cannon be used as a traveling trophy. It has been ever since.
6. Heartland Trophy
Teams: Wisconsin and Iowa
Record: Iowa leads 4-2
Current Home: Iowa City, IA
Last month's come-from-behind victory by the Hawkeyes ensured that the Bull would remain in Iowa City for the fourth year of its six year existence. The rivalry is played every year, and here are the details as to how the Bull came to symbolize the annual meeting.
7. Paul Bunyon Trophy
Teams: Michigan and Michigan State
Record: Michigan leads 34-21-2
Current Home: East Lansing, MI
You wouldn't have guessed it at the time, but Michigan State's overtime win over the Wolverines may have determined which of the two teams got to go to a bowl game. It also allowed the image of the greatest folk-hero lumberjack to remain in East Lansing for a second consecutive year. That's something that hasn't happened since 1966 and 1967.
8. Land of Lincoln Trophy
Teams: Northwestern and Illinois
Record: Northwestern leads 1-0
Current Home: Evanston, IL
I already discussed this. It's the LoL Trophy for two LoL football programs playing in a LoL rivalry.
9. The Illibuck
Teams: Ohio State and Illinois
Record: Ohio State leads 58-23-2
Current Home: Columbus, OH
I like this trophy a lot. It's got a couple of cool quirks about it. First, the original trophy was a live turtle. Seriously, how awesome is that? Unfortunately, much like the virginity of so many Naperville girls, the turtle met its end in the bathroom of a frat house in Champaign. After that, a wooden turtle was carved, and the scores of previous games were etched onto the turtle's back. We've now reached the ninth turtle in the series. Also, the turtle is passed from one school to another in a ceremony during the following year's game. It's much more dignified than a football team bum rushing the other sideline. Ohio State's 30-0 this year ensures that the turtle will remain in Columbus.
10. The Governor's Victory Bell
Teams: Minnesota and Penn State
Record: Penn State leads 7-4
Current Home: State College, PA
In 1993, when the Lions first joined the Big Ten, their opening game was against the Golden Gophers. To welcome them to the conference, Minnesota instituted a new traveling trophy - The Governor's Victory Bell. The bell stayed at Penn State after the first contest, and after the Lions' 20-0 victory this season, the bell currently resides in Pennsylvania.
11. Paul Bunyon's Axe
Teams: Wisconsin and Minnesota
Record: Wisconsin leads 35-24
Current Home: Madison, WI
So with the Slab of Bacon missing, the Gophers and Badgers decided that something needed to take its place. In 1948, the teams fashioned an axe as the appropriate award. The scores of the games were written upon the handle of Paul's trusty axe. The original was retired after Minnesota's 2003 win and a new axe was fashioned. Wisconsin has won all six contests for the new axe, it's third six game winning streak in the series. Neither team has ever won the axe seven years in a row.
This Saturday, IT'S ON
12. Old Oaken Bucket
Teams: Indiana and Purdue
Record: Purdue leads 55-26-3
Saturday's Home: The Purdue Sidelines
Based upon a poem by an unsuccessful poet who never lived west of New York, the Old Oaken Bucket has been the reward for the winner of each Boilermaker/Hoosier battle since 1925. Almost. There was no winner to that 1925 game, so it wasn't actually awarded to a winner until after the 1926 contest, when Purdue claimed it. Purdue's 62-10 victory last year meant two things: 1) that the bucket would return to West Lafayette and 2) that a "P" link would be added to the bucket's chain. The year before, when Indiana won, an "I" was added.
13. The Land Grant Trophy
Teams: Michigan State and Penn State
Record: Penn State leads 12-4
Saturday's Home: The Penn State Sidelines
Widely acknowledged as the ugliest of the traveling trophies, the Land Grant Trophy has way too much going on. Part bowling trophy, part admission viewbook, part gift shop tchotchke, the trophy was designed by the renowned artist George Perles. While Penn State has dominated the trophy's history, the eight trophy games played in East Lansing have been split 4-4.
14. Floyd of Rosedale
Teams: Iowa and Minnesota
Record: Minnesota leads 39-33-2
Saturday's Home: The Iowa Sidelines
Iowa holds the pig after a 55-0 knockout of the Gophers in their last game in the Metrodome. Good stuff. This is my favorite trophy, not just because of the fact that it's a pig, but also for the story behind the sculpture. Let's go to the wikipedia:
The 1934 football game between Iowa and Minnesota had been filled with controversy over the treatment of Iowa star halfback Ozzie Simmons. Simmons was also one of the few black football players of that era, and several rough hits by the Gophers on Simmons forced him to leave the game multiple times in Minnesota's 48-12 victory.
The day before the 1935 game, Iowa Governor Clyde Herring told reporters, "If the officials stand for any rough tactics like Minnesota used last year, I'm sure the crowd won't." Herring's message was clear. "What he was saying was, ‘If you treat Ozzie like you treated him last year, we're coming out of the stands,'" Ozzie said. The news quickly reached Minnesota. Coach Bierman threatened to break off athletic relations. Minnesota Attorney General Harry Peterson practically accused the Iowa governor of thuggery.
To lighten the mood, Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson sent a telegram to Governor Herring on game-day morning, which read, "Minnesota folks are excited about your statement about the Iowa crowd lynching the Minnesota football team. I have assured them that you are a law abiding gentleman only trying to get our goat...I will bet you a Minnesota prize hog against an Iowa prize hog that Minnesota wins." The Iowa governor accepted, and word of the bet reached Iowa City as the crowd gathered at the stadium. Things calmed down and the game was untroubled. Minnesota won 13-6, and Iowa star Ozzie Simmons played an injury-free game. Afterwards, the Minnesota players went out of their way to compliment Simmons, and Simmons praised the Gophers for their clean, hard-fought play. Minnesota went on to win their second straight national championship.
Governor Herring obtained an award-winning prize pig which had been donated by Allen Loomis, the owner of Rosedale Farms near Fort Dodge, Iowa. A few days later, Governor Herring collected "Floyd of Rosedale" and personally walked him into Governor Olson's carpeted office.
Since the two schools could not continue wagering a live pig, Governor Olson commissioned Saint Paul sculptor Charles Brioscho to capture Floyd's image. The result was a bronze pig trophy 53cm (21 inches) long and 38cm (15 inches) high. Iowa and Minnesota have played for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy every year since then. The winner of the annual Iowa-Minnesota football game is entitled to keep the trophy until the following year's contest. In 2008, Rivals.com named Floyd of Rosedale the top rivalry trophy in college football.
So here's to the icons and trophies that make us so proud. Here's to the sportsmanship and good will that the awards create. And here's to kicking the ever-livin' crap out of your rival until that jug, bull, cannon, or axe rests on your sideline.