July 9, 2008

Golden Gopher Football Rivals - Part 1

one of two or more striving to reach or obtain something that only one can possess
b: one striving for competitive advantage

I want to take a look at the three teams Gopher fans view as our rivalry games. Bear in mind that I am defining these teams as rivals, not peers.

For decades the Gophers have competed in the Big Ten and sought to add 5 trophies to the trophy case each season.

1-Big Ten Championship Trophy
2-Rose Bowl Trophy
3-Paul Bunyan's Axe
3-Floyd of Rosedale
3-The Little Brown Jug

Since very few of you reading this (if any) can remember a B10 or Rose Bowl trophy making it's home in the Bierman Building, the next best thing has been our attempts to bring home one of our three traveling trophies. It is rivalry trophies such as these that are part of what makes college football great and keeps Gopher fans interested in throughout terrible seasons. We will get into much greater detail but these rivalries and the stories behind their trophies are fascinating.

It is a little known fact (thank you Cliff Claven) that the Gophers actually won the first game in all three of these trophy games (Michigan was actually a 6-6 tie, but since it ended their 28 game winning streak and we were heavy underdogs it is considered a victory).

There is often much debate as to which is the "biggest" of the rivalries.

Some say Michigan is the biggest and most important to win. This isn't a natural rival and to say we have been "rivals" is laughable for Michigan fans. But the point here is that if we want to be the best we have to beat the best. Beating Michigan is more of a statement and puts us in a better place to accomplish other goals than beating Wisconsin or Iowa will typically do for us. But there certainly is no bitterness or dislike for each other. Michigan fans want to beat Ohio State and Michigan State. Gopher fans have more passion for beating Iowa and Wisconsin. But the Little Brown Jug has been around for a long time and might be my favorite of the traveling trophies.

The further you live south of the Twin Cities, the more you will find Iowa to be our biggest rivals. I grew up in south central Minnesota and cared much more about brining home Floyd of Rosedale than I cared about the Axe or the Jug. Geographically this makes sense. This has also been our most successful rival as it is the only one of the three where we have a winning record. The story behind Floyd of Rosedale is interesting and amusing that an actual pig was sent from Iowa to the Governor's office to pay the debt.

My best guess would say that the majority of Gopher fans would say Wisconsin is our biggest rival. With the Twin Cities being so close to the border you usually have at least a couple Badger fans in your office, at church and/or living on your block. The close proximity of these Badger fans is also amplified on Sunday's when they turn into Packer fans so the rivalry carries over. From our calm and level headed perspective Badger fans seem to be more obnoxious than our other rivals. But then again that may just be that they are here in greater numbers and they are Packer fans.

Before I get too in depth with each rival, I encourage you to take let your voice be heard and vote as to which rivalry you think is biggest.

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