An Ugly Incident That Led To A Cherished Trophy

While it doesn’t have the national cachet of the Little Brown Jug, the Floyd of Rosedale trophy awarded to the annual winner of the Minnesota-Iowa game has a background that was a case study in how to defuse an incident that nearly caused a breakup between two Big Ten schools.

In 1934, during another one of Minnesota’s many unbeaten years under coach Bernie Bierman, the Hawkeyes featured one of the few African American stars of that decade, halfback/safety Ozzie Simmons. During the course of the Golden Gophers’ 48-12 rout, a series of repeated cheap shots against Simmons caused him to leave the game after being knocked unconscious three times, which inflamed passions of the Iowa fans to a white heat.

Vowing revenge on the eve of the rematch in Iowa City the following year, Governor Clyde Herring of Iowa stated, “If the officials stand for any rough tactics like Minnesota used last year, I’m sure the crowd won’t.”

Bierman responded by moving the Gophers’ practices from Davenport to Rock Island, and requested police protection when his team returned to Iowa City for the game. Since both teams were undefeated going into the 1935 contest, the pre-game tension was palpable.

At this point, Governor Floyd Olsen of Minnesota decided it was time to cool things down. Sending a telegram to Governor Herring, Olsen proposed to put up a prize Minnesota pig against a counterpart hog from Iowa, as booty to be awarded to the winner of the game. When the Gophers won a narrow victory, the Iowa pig from the Rosedale Farm near Fort Dodge was named “Floyd of Rosedale” after the Minnesota governor and the farm from which he came. Poor Floyd was then placed unceremoniously in a swine barn on the Minnesota agricultural campus, where he was later sold to a local farmer for $50 and died shortly thereafter. After the idea of transporting live pigs caused controversy among some of the local civic groups and a few politicians, Governor Olsen commissioned a St. Paul sculptor to design a special trophy to be awarded to the winner of the annual contest, a trophy that still gets passed back and forth in the 21st century.

This 1936 program cover commemorates the first game in which this permanent trophy was awarded, but the game was strictly for the Gophers, as the eventual National Champions breezed to an easy 52-0 win before their hometown fans. But with the tally now standing only six games apart since the advent of the Floyd of Rosedale trophy, it remains one of college football’s best rivalries.

Click here to buy a poster of this program cover.

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