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B1G 2012 // Keeping the Enemy Close: BHGP on Minnesota, Iowa, and the Origins of Hate


In 1934, Iowa and Minnesota met for their annual football contest. Minnesota had dominated the series to that point (the two teams started playing in 1891), and the Gophers were clearly a superior team in that year (they would go on to win the national championship). Regardless of their talent, Minnesota has always been good at one thing: Being jerkoffs, and 1934 was no exception. The Gophers spent the game attacking Iowa halfback Ozzie Simmons for having the audacity to be black. They gouged at his eyes. They spiked his shins. They kneed him in the ribs. They jumped on the pile like their defense was eleven guys named Laurinaitis. Minnesota won, and as happens every time Minnesota wins, humanity lost.

The next year, both teams were having great seasons. Minnesota was 5-0, Iowa 4-0-1. The game was to be played in Iowa City, and the Iowa fans were none too happy about stories of the 1934 shenanigans. The Governor of Iowa -- THE GOVERNOR OF IOWA -- threatened an on-field riot if Minnesota took cheap shots at Simmons. The attorney general of Minnesota responded by calling the governor a coward. In an attempt to lighten the mood, the Governor of Minnesota made an offer to Iowa's Governor: Winner gets a pig. Minnesota won 13-6, and Iowa's governor designated a pig named Floyd (named after the Minnesota governor, of course) from Rosedale farms to go to St. Paul. Minnesota's Governor came south, picked up his pig, put it on a leash, and walked it into the Iowa state house.

Editor's note: Please, please, please go read this article about Ozzie from a 1930's edition of The Afro-American newspaper. This is such an intriguing piece of historical writing, I can't even begin to describe it. It's on the left side and entitled, "Should Ozzie Quit?"

That's how you hate, people. It's not manufactured by Jim Delany (OUR MOST HATED RIVAL PURDUE) or a grocery store chain (Nebraska). Iowa-Minnesota is a pure, unadulterated hate built on decades of conflict and animosity. The entire thing centers around a pig statue that became the traveling trophy because Minnesotans are horrible people who defended a bunch of racist football players. It's continued for nearly 80 years since then; the teams have played 108 times, 77 of those for Floyd of Rosedale, and the hate remains.

Minnesota is horrible. They spent three years with a coach whose bumbling incompetence set the program back a decade, a coach who was hired because the fan base ran off the program's most successful coach since World War II. When they finally let Brewster go (a sad moment for us all), their only requirement for his replacement was that he actually look like a gopher. In the meantime, the coach who was run out of town is on the conference's flagship network snickering at his former employer.

Nevertheless, Minnesota has won the last two games with Iowa, and I'm not going to stand here and talk about Kinnick North and goalposts because I have no basis for it. This is Minnesota's time to gloat. I'm just happy that this rivalry, unlike Iowa's rivalry with Wisconsin and pseudo-rivalry with Illinois, is safe from expansion. We might have Nebraska in the league, and we might be generating false hatred for Purdue, and we might not get to play the Badgers every season, but some things never change. Iowa will still play Minnesota every season, Floyd will continue to change hands (I'm taking him back personally this October), and Minnesotans will continue to be horrible, horrible people.