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Trophy Week: The Old Brass Spittoon

Old brassy...dumb trophy for a non-existent rivalry?

The old brass spittoon in all its glory.

Buffkomodo: Welcome one and all to a very special rivalry week! Rivalry? Well maybe not that, but this week there is a trophy game! Not just any trophy mind you, but possibly one of the dumbest trophy games in college football: The Old Brass Spittoon. Over the course of the week, you’ll be seeing a few articles pop up here and there helping to set the stage for what looks to be a decent game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Michigan State Spartans.

Of course I didn’t want to frame this completely from an Indiana perspective, and to be honest, I’ve been too busy to watch more than a couple of frames of Sparty football this year. For that reason, I’ve asked Green Akers to join the fun as we celebrate this trophy game with me and give you Hoosier fans a little Sparty perspective on this game.

Green Akers: There’s two thoughts that come up around this game, and while they’re not exactly at war with each other, there’s definitely tension. On the one hand, true Indiana Football fans are a rare and distressed species, and as such deserve protection in the form of vague low-level support from the rest of the college football world, and Purdue fans excepted, I think you have that. Lots of non-Hoosiers got a kick out of you finally beating both Penn State AND Michigan last year, and a good portion of those fun vibes weren’t even related to dislike of the teams you beat.

On the other hand, there aren’t many conference series where MSU has a longstanding historical dominance to chirp about, so this whole Indiana Being Good thing is fun in the big picture, but that’s probably enough for now, and if you want to go back to being a free win, no objections here.

Buffkomdo: Well, enough with the intros, onto the hard hitting facts of this rivalry.

Sooooo….why is it a brass spittoon?

Buffkomodo: If it seems random that these two schools would fight over a brass spittoon, you’re absolutely correct. It is. While Indiana and Michigan State played their first game in 1922, they did not begin playing for the spittoon until 1950. After beating Notre Dame, the Michigan State junior class president Gene McDermott wanted to help the school football team from falling into a trap game vs Indiana.

Stealing inspiration from the Little Brown Jug, McDermott decided a trophy game might help pump up the Spartans. McDermott and his class secretary Virginia O’Brien walked into a local antique shop and discovered the spittoon. The two purchased the spittoon and cleaned it up, and sent a challenge telegram to the Indiana student body. The Indiana student body accepted the challenge, and thus a trophy game was born.

Green Akers: What absolute buffoonery we engaged in back in those days. Can you imagine a college football trophy game conceived of not in a corporate branding session intended to shove as much corn syrup as possible into the bloated American corpus public, but instead just popping up because some students thought it would be fun to dare their opponent to come take this thing they bought in a five-and-dime?

Buffkomodo: It soon might be the Old Brass Spittoon game with the Indiana Hoosiers against the “Michigan State Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage.” Corporate branding is coming for sure.

It’s a trophy game, but is it a rivalry?

Buffkomodo: I don’t actually think Indiana and Michigan State have a rivalry. There’s just no connection to the schools. Even in basketball, Michigan State and Indiana passed each other as programs on the way up and on the way down respectively, so there wasn’t any real power struggle. As far as football, Michigan State has dominated this game historically as Indiana has been just the awful.

Do I want to beat Michigan State in everything? Yeah I do. But I don’t have a burning hate in my heart for them like I do, say Purdue Football or Kentucky anything else. Possibly even Illinois or Notre Dame when it gets down to it.

Green Akers: Yeah, I have to acknowledge that despite a long history, there’s not much vinegar in this game. I’ve always thought of rivalries this way: there are teams on the schedule where a loss hurts more than a win soothes. In recent memory, only bad MSU teams lose to Indiana (get mad if you want, but this century, 2006, 2016 and 2020 MSU are probably the three worst teams out of the last twenty), so if Brassy isn’t in the trophy case, we probably have a lot of other things to gripe about besides losing to Indiana.


Well, there you have it! What are your thoughts on this game? Is this the dumbest trophy game in NCAA football, or are there better examples? Do you think that Pumpkin Spice is basic? Let us know in the comment section below! There is every intent to do a mailbag/20 questions sort of piece on Wednesday, with the weekly Indiana Hoosier Pregame piece coming at us on Friday. So pepper in some questions you’d like myself or GA to comment on and we will see you later this week!