August 10, 2004
Every once in a while I like to walk around the beautiful U of M campus and just soak up the history. There are so many buildings on campus that I've worked here for 6 years and I don't think I've visited even 1/4 of them. So, every once in a while I like to walk around and visit some of them. Last Friday's walk around campus was spurred on by a unique event which prompted me to visit the Golden Gopher's football practice facilities. What was the event? I saw Glen Mason jogging across campus. In fact, I didn't just see him jogging, I practically ran right into him. A couple of weeks ago I had a meeting at Walter Library so after the meeting I decided to take the long way back to Wilson. In doing so I noticed a someone jogging towards me as I walked to Coffman Union. At first I didn't recognize him, but then it dawned on me, "Hey, that is Glen Mason! The Mase himself!" Quickly I tried to think of something to say, like "Go get 'em coach!" or "All the way to the Rose Bowl this year, coach!" But as he approached his overwhelming star power came over me and all I was able to get out was "uhhhhhh" as he jogged past. Curses! Why must I be plagued with this Norwegian shyness? I could have given him a high five or something, but now I am only left with the what ifs of our failed encounter.
Then it dawned on me. I thought to myself how strange that I have been all over the campus, but I have never been to the Gibson/Nagurski Football Practice Facility. Here is what I knew about the place. I had heard that it features a life size statue of Bronko Nagurski that rotates 360 degrees, and that it has a nice Gopher football hall of fame so that students can relive the glory years. So, I vowed to visit this place as soon as possible.
Well, I went last Friday and I was a little disappointed. It seems that during the summer they are doing some maintenance on the place so much of the hall of fame was out of order or in disarray. Most upsetting was that the statue of Bronko was gone. For repairs? Forever? I can only guess. But it looks like I just missed it. Bummer. And due to the construction and repairs the rest of the hall of fame was a little underwhelming, too. And a little despressing. Let me explain.The hall of fame features many of the trophies the Gopher football program has won over the years, including their five national championship trophies. That's right, five! More than Ohio State, more than Penn State, certainly more than Wisconsin. It also features the trophies for the four "Trophy Games" that Minnesota plays, or at least where the trophies should be sitting if they were actually in the possession of the Minnesota football team (click on the pictures for larger versions):
|The Victory Bell Trophy. Sorry for the glare. This trophy game started in 1993 and Penn State holds a slight edge over the Gophers in the series 4-3. It is, as you will see, the only trophy that is actually present in the hall of fame at this time.|
|Paul Bunyan's Axe. Given to the winner of the Minnesota-Wisconsin game and currently held by Minnesota. Although as you can see it is not in its case. That was also disappointing. Wisconsing leads the battle for the axe 28 - 24 games (see the comments for results from the overall series and why the axe is not in the case). This is due in large part to the dominance Wisconsin held over the Gophers in the 90s.|
|Floyd of Rosedale is given to the winner of the Minnesota-Iowa game every year. Minnesota holds a commanding lead in this series 38 - 28 although the trophy currently sits in Iowa City.|
|The Little Brown Jug, annually given to Michigan, er ... I mean the winner of the Minnesota-Michigan football game. Michigan currently holds a 61-21 edge in this epic rivalry. The last time the Gophers held the jug was in 1986. Glen Mason often jokes that he doesn't even know what the jug looks like. This trophy is the most depressing of all, especially given how close the Gophers were to holding it last year. The Gophers led Michigan 28-7 in the 4th quarter only to lose 38-35. I watched the game and I tell you I haven't felt so bad since the Vikings lost the 1998 NFC Championship game. It was brutal.|
So, as you can probably guess, I was a little depressed walking out of this place. There is so much history and tradition with Gophers football, but in recent times there has been a whole lot of pain and suffering. I tell you, this is the year to gain some hope back. The Gophers are ranked 24 in the coaches poll even before they play a game, and they've got a real shot at the Rose Bowl, I feel. The game I really want, though, is the Michigan game. I want that stupid Brown Jug more than anything. That alone would make the season all worth while.
Posted by snackeru at August 10, 2004 8:51 AM | Sports
Time for a couple corrections and clarifications about the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry. It was already a half-century old when the Badgers managed to lose the original trophy, the Slab of Bacon, in one of the rare years that they could get their hands on it. Minnesota had a 20-3 edge between 1926 and 1950. The Paul Bunyan's Axe emerged as the replacement trophy. Over the entire length of the rivalry, dating to 1892, Minnesota leads by 59-46, with eight ties. The Axe ran out of room for any more scores to be recorded and has gone to the college football hall of fame. Axe II should be in place some time soon, I think.
Posted by: Oldstuffer at August 12, 2004 3:10 PM
Thanks for the clarification! I have adjusted the main post accordingly. Wow, a 20-3 edge! I can see why they conveniently "lost" the slab of bacon.
Posted by: Shane at August 12, 2004 9:35 PM