College football provides an endless supply of entertainment, and I?m not just talking about the games. No, I?m referring to some of the bizarre trophies attached to games played in the regular season.
The University of Minnesota may have the best stories associated with its three, now four, trophy games. I only know this because I have a cousin who is a retired archivist from the U of M.
The Little Brown Jug started with a game in the early 1900s when Michigan came west for the game. Because they didn?t trust the water supply at the field, Michigan coach Fielding Jost sent his equipment manager to a local hardware store to buy a five-gallon jug and fill it with water for the team.
Minnesota won an upset victory, and in the confusion or humiliation, the Wolver?ines hustled off the field, leaving the jug behind. When the Minnesota equipment manager found it the next day, he asked his coach what he should do with it. The reply was a classic Scandinavian-tinged reply: ?If Yost wants his yug back, he?ll have to win it.?
Up until the World War II era, Minnesota and Wisconsin played for something called the Slab of Bacon. Minne?sota dominated the series to the point that when Wisconsin finally won a game and took possession of the trophy, the next year they failed to produce it when Minnesota won and wanted it back, claiming it had been lost or stolen.
It was replaced by Paul Bunyan?s axe, which the winning team now traditionally uses to pretend to chop down the loser?s goal post at the end of the game. Needless to say, Wisconsin?s goal posts have not needed security guards for many years now.
Floyd of Rosedale, the bronze pig that goes to the Minnesota-Iowa winner, dates back to the 1930s. There was some bad blood between the two schools/states, owing to an allegation that Minnesota players had targeted Iowa?s star, African-American running back Ozzie Simmons. Heated verbal threats suggested the possibility of a lynch mob at the next year?s game in Iowa City.
Eventually, Minnesota Gov. Floyd Olson proposed to his Iowa counterpart that they wager a prize-winning hog on the outcome. The Gophers won, and received a hog from Rosedale Farms. A year or two later they created a bronze pig named Floyd of Rosedale.
This leads to an amusing story of how Minnesota and Nebraska came to play for the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy. You can?t make this stuff up. Give an assist to the Internet for making it happen.
Minnesota mascot Goldy Gopher wanted to make a wager with Nebraska, and as a Twitter user, went to Nebraska?s most prominent Twitter figure @FauxPelini. Goldy tweeted ?how about a friendly wager for this weekend?s game? Team that gets the most points get a conference win? Seem fair??
The fake Bo Pelini tweeted back ?OK how about if we win you give me $5, if you win I get to smash a wooden chair over your back.?
To which Goldy replied, ?Just as long as we can turn that $5 or bits of broken chair into a trophy for next year?s game.?
The exchange continued until someone put together something appearing to have invested the $5 on a can of gold spray paint and a tube of super glue. Thus the Bits of Broken Chair Trophy was born. You have to see it to believe it.
Almost immediately, the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy had two things that none of the other new Big Ten Trophies had?a story beyond ?a regional business gave us money to come up with a trophy,? and acceptance, particularly from Nebraska fans. A poll on the Daily Gopher found that 94 percent of fans wanted the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy. Even fans from other teams showed support.
It was probably important that Minnesota?the only team with a semi-official representing the trophy idea and the school actually built the trophy?won, as Nebraska might have ignored it. So, the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy Game is now a thing, and as the late Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story.