Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


Email Patrick.

Big Ten shows no respect for Little Brown Jug

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: April 29, 2013 - 12:39 PM

Minnesota and Michigan first played football in 1892. They did so again in 1893 and 1895, then didn't hook up until 1903.

Fielding Yost had Michigan on a 28-game winning streak when it came to Minneapolis for the game at Northrop Field. The trust level among college competitors wasn't very high, apparently.

Yost had a student manager buy a water jug rather than accept a supply given to him by the Minnesota side. The coach feared that rabid Minnesota fans might contaminate the water supply if Michigan wasn't able to monitor it properly.

Minnesota scored late for a 6-6 tie, sending 20,000 fans into a frenzy. In the chaos, the Michigan water jug was left behind. L.J. Cooke, the head of athletics at Minnesota, had the jug painted and the 6-6 score added to it.

Michigan and Minnesota didn't play until 1909. The message from the Minnesota side was that if Michigan wanted back its water jug, Michigan had to win it back. Thus, the Little Brown Jug was introduced, and became the oldest traveling trophy in college football.

Minnesota and Michigan played every autumn from 1919 through 1998 -- 80 seasons in a row. For the first 50 of those seasons, Michigan was the No. 1 rival on Minnesota's schedule ... not Iowa, not Wisconsin, Michigan.

The arrival of Penn State gave the Big Ten an odd number of teams and shook up the schedules. The Gophers-Michigan series was interrupted in 1999 and 2000, and again in 2009 and 2010. Then Nebraska came along to make it 12 teams, Michigan and Minnesota wound up in the same division, and it appeared the Little Brown Jug rivalry was secure.

Iowa was also in the same division, so that took care of the second important rivalry game for the Gophers. And the protected game with the other division was Wisconsin, so all the ancient rivalries for the Gophers were preserved.

Until Sunday.

On Sunday, the Big Ten made official the alignment necessary to take in Rutgers and Maryland. Rather than Legends and Leaders, it will be East and West:

Rutgers, Maryland, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana in the East; Purdue, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska in the West.

How Indiana, with its tradition as the worst football program in the Big Ten, was convinced to sign up for a place in the East was one question?

The other question was: Will there be designated, cross-division rivalry games, as was the case with Legends and Leaders?

My guess was, "There have to be, because Indiana and Purdue are required to play for the Old Oaken Bucket.'' And if they were going to protect the Bucket, surely the Big Ten was going to protect the Jug ... an even more historic rophy in college football.

I guess not.

Minnesota and Michigan have played 99 times. They will play No. 100 on Oct. 5 in Ann Arbor. After that, who knows?

The Big Ten announcement informed us that, starting in 2014, the only protected game between the divisions will be Purdue vs. Indiana. The rest of the games between divisions will be played in some form of rotation.

I'm sure this came as a great disappointment to Woody Teague, Minnesota's athletic director, and Jerry Kill, the football coach.

I'm sure at every meeting, Woody was pounding on the table, shouting, "If Indiana gets to keep playing Purdue, our Gophers deserve to keep playing Michigan.''

And then I can see Woody turning even redder in the face -- red to the crown of his head -- and shouting even louder: "Have you never heard of the LITTLE BROWN JUG!''

Meantime, back in the head coach's office, all Country Jer could do was shake his head in dismay and say, "This is terrible. No Michigan every year. Dang it. As I've always said, 'If you want to be the best, you have to play the best.' ''

Tough break for the Gophers, not to play Michigan annually, but they will have to live with it.

 

 

 

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 6:00 PM
Cleveland
Phoenix 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Dallas 6:30 PM
Detroit
Utah 6:30 PM
Miami
Orlando 6:30 PM
Boston
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Toronto
Memphis 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Portland
Houston 9:30 PM
Denver
Indiana 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Boston 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Dallas 9:00 PM
Vancouver
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 3:00 PM
St Francis-NY
James Madison 6:00 PM
Ball State
SIU Edwardsville 6:00 PM
Campbell
St Francis-PA 6:00 PM
Duquesne
North Florida 6:00 PM
Florida State
Catawba 6:00 PM
George Mason
Ferrum 6:00 PM
High Point
Hampton 6:00 PM
Illinois
Gardner-Webb 6:00 PM
Jacksonville
Longwood 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Arkansas State 6:00 PM
Miss State
Tennessee 6:00 PM
NC State
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Ohio State
Manhattan 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Robert Morris 6:00 PM
Toledo
Char Southern 6:00 PM
Wofford
Kennesaw St 6:00 PM
Youngstown St
Barber-Scotia 6:00 PM
NC Central
Detroit 6:30 PM
UCF
Liberty 6:30 PM
UNC-Wilmington
TX A&M-CC 7:00 PM
Denver
Ark-Pine Bluff 7:00 PM
Houston
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Illinois State
Milligan 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
USC Upstate 7:00 PM
Memphis
Alcorn State 7:00 PM
Murray State
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northwestern
Georgia State 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
TX-Pan American 7:00 PM
Saint Louis
Ill-Chicago 7:00 PM
SMU
Texas State 7:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
SC State 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Chicago State 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Morehead State 7:00 PM
Green Bay
Northern Colorado 7:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Winthrop 8:00 PM
Auburn
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
Baylor
San Diego St 8:00 PM
Cincinnati
Eastern Mich 8:00 PM
Michigan State
Loyola Marymount 8:00 PM
Stanford
Incarnate Word 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Northeastern 9:00 PM
Cal Poly
Central Arkansas 9:00 PM
New Mexico
Howard 9:00 PM
Pepperdine
Portland 9:30 PM
UNLV
CS-Northridge 10:00 PM
Oregon
Grambling St 10:00 PM
Washington
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 19 1st Half 9:32
Campbell 14
Akron 3:30 PM
UCF
Richmond 3:30 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Montana 4:00 PM
Seattle
(7) Stanford 5:00 PM
Chattanooga
Florida A&M 5:30 PM
Southern U
Oklahoma 5:30 PM
(13) Duke
Savannah State 5:30 PM
Auburn
Northern Colorado 6:00 PM
South Florida
Youngstown St 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
Siena 6:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Vermont 6:00 PM
St Francis-NY
(1) South Carolina 6:00 PM
Hampton
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Texas Southern 6:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Northwestern 6:00 PM
UNLV
NC A&T 6:00 PM
Appalachian St
NC Central 6:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Drexel 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Cincinnati 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Alabama State 6:00 PM
Georgia Tech
Morehead St 6:00 PM
USC Upstate
Arkansas State 6:00 PM
Kent State
American Univ 6:00 PM
Manhattan
UNC Greensboro 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Arkansas-Monticello 6:30 PM
Northwestern St
Prairie View 6:30 PM
Sam Houston St
McNeese State 7:00 PM
(3) Texas
Yale 7:00 PM
Wagner
Oakland 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Eastern Kentucky 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
SIU-Edwardsville 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
McMurry 7:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Portland 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
North Texas 9:00 PM
San Francisco

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT