There are many traveling trophies in the world of Big Ten football, but one would be hard-pressed to find a more interesting story than that of the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy.
Minnesota and Iowa first met in 1891. The “trophy” made its first appearance in 1935, in the form of a live pig. It was an effort to reduce tensions in a rivalry that was becoming increasingly fierce.
Much of the controversy centered around Iowa running back Ozzie Simmons. When the two teams met the year before, Simmons was one of a small number of African-American players in the conference. Many felt that the Gophers were taking cheap shots at Simmons who had to leave the game on more than one occasion due to a number of questionable hits.
Minnesota steamrolled its way to a 48-12 win. Understandably, the tactics did not sit well with Hawkeyes fans, especially Iowa’s governor Clyde Herring, who told the media that the Iowa faithful would not tolerate that type of play.
Herring’s remarks did not sit well with Minnesota’s Attorney General, who accused him of attempting to incite a riot.
Minnesota governor, Floyd Olson, stepped in and attempted to address the situation by offering a friendly wager: a prize hog.
The wager was accepted and the game carried on without incident. When the dust settled, the Gophers, once again, emerged victorious, this time by a count of 13-6. Herring personally delivered the pig, who was dubbed “Floyd of Rosedale”, a name meant to poke fun at Olson while honoring the Rosedale Farm where the pig was raised.
Both sides agreed that they could not continue to wager a live animal, so Olson commissioned a local sculptor to permanently enshrine Floyd’s likeness with a trophy that would be awarded to the winner of the rivalry game.
The pig itself was later given away as part of an essay contest.
Moving ahead several decades, Iowa and Minnesota continue to meet regularly. The Gophers hold a 61-42-2 advantage in the all-time series.
Though Minnesota continues to be a program in turmoil, they were able to nip Iowa 22-21 in their most recent meeting in 2011.
With the exception of the games against one another, Iowa and Minnesota appear to be programs heading in opposite directions.
Iowa has produced four consecutive winning seasons and has made an appearance in a bowl game at the end of each one of them. The Hawkeyes have played in 10 bowls since the year 2000. From 2001-10 the Hawkeyes collected 50 conference wins, the second highest total of any team in that time frame.
Meanwhile, Minnesota has been searching for answers since head coach Glen Mason was fired in 2006. Mason was the first Gophers head man to record a winning career record at the school since Murray Warmath who has at the helm from 1954-71. The program is 30-49 since Mason’s departure with no bowl game victories.
The Gophers now turn to second-year head coach Jerry Kill to right the ship. Kill posted a 3-9 mark in his first year in Minnesota.
Both schools have had a knack for advancing players to the next level. The two programs have combined to produce 573 NFL draft picks, including six in 2012.
The venues on both campuses help bring the experience of this rivalry full circle.
Kinnick Stadium has been home to Hawkeyes football since 1929. The venue was originally named Iowa Stadium, but was renamed in honor of quarterback Nile Kinnick, the only Hesiman trophy winner in school history, in 1972.
The stadium has undergone several renovations; the most recent was in 2006. It currently seats 70,585, making it one of the 100 largest stadiums in the world.
One of the building’s trademarks is the visitors’ locker room which was painted pink. Legendary head coach Hayden Fry felt that it would help subdue the opposing team prior to kickoff.
The Golden Gophers moved into TCF Bank Stadium in 2009. The 80,000 seat masterpiece cost over $300 million to construct. Though the total attendance has been decreasing since the inaugural season, Minnesota continues to average well over 330,000 fans per season.
Between the history, the incredible venues, and the professional potential, this matchup is a must-see for any college sports fan.