The University of Iowa's Hawkeyes may seem like the bane of every Gopher Football fan's existence, but have you ever stopped mid-chant to ask yourself, "Wait, why do I hate Iowa again?" Why not Wisconsin? Michigan? Even at Homecoming 2015 versus the Ohio Bobcats, you could still distinctly hear from the top tier of the student section, "Who hates Iowa?!" - (short pause) - "We hate Iowa!" in a typical call and response fashion. It is a rivalry so deep and a team so hated that it spreads across the whole reach of the Twin Cities Campus and to all students, freshmen and seniors alike. The only thing is, most of us really haven't done our homework. We go on with chants blindly, and as a result, we are blindly loyal to our school's rivalries. However, being the devout Gopher fan that I am, I took it upon myself to do my homework and come back to enlighten you all. To share with the masses my findings, the infamous Minnesota-Iowa rivalry, the reason we all "hate" Iowa so damn much.
1934 - The Calm Before the Hate
It all began in 1934. It was the time of Bonnie and Clyde, Joe DiMaggio, and Duke Ellington. A time when Prohibition was ending but pre-World War II tensions were just beginning. NCAA Football had already been integrated by 1934, but this hardly meant that black players in the NCAA were treated as equals. On October 28 of the same year, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers stepped onto the field at Iowa City, Iowa with a series record of 19-8 against the Hawkeyes. Minnesota's head coach Bernie Bierman and his players lead the U of M to a 48-12 victory that day. This was the game many considered to be the conception of the rivalry; the last game before the "Floyd of Rosedale" Era began.
Ozzie Simmons was Iowa's star halfback from 1934-1935. Known for his distinctive speed and inventive plays, it is not a surprise that he was often targeted by opposing teams looking to capitalize on physical play. It also did not help that Ozzie Simmons was one of the first black All-American football players of the 1930's.
After Minnesota's victory, a bruised and battered Simmons watched from the sidelines as the players in maroon and gold celebrated. He had just been the victim of numerous blatantly illegal hits put on by the Gopher's defense. Hits the reffing officials did not call. Iowa's head coach Ossie Solem was not only irate at this type of unnecessarily physical play, but he also felt cheated. The Hawkeyes had lost yet another game to Minnesota, and upset Iowa fans were convinced that, had officiating been carried out in a just fashion, the outcome of that October game may have been very different.
1935 - The Bet Behind the Rivalry
By the time the 1935 season rolled around, the Gophers and Hawkeyes had already set a date for their next meeting. November 9, again in Iowa City, the two teams would take to the same field with tensions greater than ever before. The conflict, amusingly, was so talked about in Iowa that their Governor, Clyde L. Herring, made a statement to the press a day before the game: "If the Officials stand for any rough tactics like Minnesota used last year, I'm sure the crowd won't."
As word reached Minnesota, Coach Bierman and the Minnesota Attorney General, Harry H. Peterson, took Herring's statement and twisted it. By the end of the day, Minnesota, its team, its fans, and really the whole state was up in arms over the Governor's "threat." Bierman even went as far as trying to break off athletic relations with the University of Iowa, but failed. The Governor of Iowa was tagged by the Minnesota Attorney General as being "unsportsmanlike" and "cowardly" for attempting to encourage the crowd's participation in a riot-like scenario if a repeat of last season's game were to play out.
Enter Mr. Floyd Olson, Governor of Minnesota. His lighthearted response to the ordeal concerning the two border-battling teams was to bet the Iowa Governor... a hog. I know what you're thinking, a hog? But no, this is not just any ordinary hog, Olson bet a Minnesota-raised prized hog for an Iowa-raised prized hog. Basically, the victor came out with bragging rights and a new team mascot- or dinner, whichever you prefer. Needless to say, Governor Herring accepted the bet and the game took place. Minnesota played hard as Olson had promised and Ozzie Simmons remained injury free throughout the whole game. The Hawkeyes were defeated 13-6 and Minnesota left Iowa, once again, with another victory in their back pockets- well, that and a hog named Floyd.
That year, Minnesota went on to win their second straight national championship.
Cast in Bronze
For the last eighty years, the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa have played for the trophy of Floyd of Rosedale. This ninety-eight pound brass bust of Iowa's prized pig was made shortly after the Gopher's victory in 1935 (since the two teams could not continue to wager a live animal) and is given to the annual victor of the Gopher-Hawkeye match ups. Currently, Floyd resides in Minnesota after the U's 51-14 victory last fall at TCF Bank Stadium. Just like Paul Bunyan's Axe or the Little Brown Jug, Floyd forever immortalizes the historic rivalry taking place in the Big Ten Conference against two neighboring states.
"Who Hates Iowa?!"
Obviously, things have changed quite a bit since 1935. Today, our officiating is not allowed to weasel away from a game they purposely miscall due to the color of one's skin. And in a media environment like that of 2015, two Governors feuding over a prized hog would surely make the Midwest the laughing stock of the nation. But one thing that has not changed is the passion and undying loyalty of Golden Gopher Football fans. In our beautiful stadium we pack the bleachers and seats, painting "M's" on our faces and adorning ourselves with any maroon and gold garb we can get our hands on. We chant "We hate Iowa!" because so many others before us have and that is such an amazing feeling. Carrying on the traditions of others before us is something collegiate sports lives for. So when you go to a football game next and the team you're proclaiming to hate is not the team on the field, don't worry about it; our history has got you covered.
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Lead Image Credit: CBSi Advanced Media