Saturday, November 22, 2008


Floyd of Rosedale, forever immortalized in bronze

Now we wait for a bowl bid

I don't usually feel stranded here in Iowa, but we were supposed to go to Minnesota this weekend with my sister to shop at the consumer Mecca of the western world, the Mall of America and to cheer for the Hawkeyes against the Golden Gophers.  Well, our bi-annual trek to the north didn't quite work out, and because of events beyond all of our control we had to stay home.  We watched on t.v. though, and I'm glad we did because our Hawks rolled, 55-0 at the last college football game ever in the Metrodome (next year Minnesota gets their own stadium).  
The rivalry between Iowa and Minnesota is intense, but from my perspective at least it remains fun and for the most part light-hearted.  It better be, my husband is from Minnesota, but is a Hawkeye through and through.  This fun rivalry wasn't always so.  In 1934 Iowa had a star running back named  Ozzie Simmons.  Simmons was one of the first black players in the Big Ten.  He was extremely talented and for this and the color of his skin, he was singled out by opposing teams for cheap shots, blatantly late hits, punches and countless racial slurs.  He was knocked unconscious in several games and so abused that he played hurt for most of his college career.  During the Iowa-Minnesota game that year, which Iowa ended up losing, he was again knocked unconscious and singled out for physical and verbal abuse and the fans were incensed.  The next year before the two teams would meet again, the Iowa governor,  Clyde Herring, further fanned the flames by making the statement that "if the officials stand for any rough tactics like Minnesota used last year, I'm sure the fans won't".  The Minnesota governor, in an attempt to make amends and ease tensions between the two schools, came up with a unique trophy for the winner of the annual game.  Governor Olsen promised a prized Minnesota hog to the people of Iowa if the Hawkeyes should win and would accept a similar Iowa prize if the Gophers should win.  The Gophers won that year and because he was an honorable man, governor Herring acquired a prize Hampshire hog from Rosedale Farms in Iowa and personally marched the pig that he named Floyd (after the Minnesota governor, of course) into the governor's carpeted office.  More importantly , the silliness between the two governors caused cooler heads to prevail and the game was clean and Simmons was not singled out for abuse.  Thus began one of the longest running and most good-natured rivalries in college football, the battle for Floyd of Rosedale.  Floyd didn't live long.  In 1936 he died of hog cholera (I had no idea there was such a thing!), but his legacy and his image live on in a 98 pound trophy that resides either in Iowa City or in Minneapolis depending upon who wins the game each year.  Ah, if only all problems could be solved with a little good natured fun.
While we have a good time with the rivalry, it doesn't mean we are above a few Minnesota jokes, so I'll leave you with this one.  Did you hear that Tim Brewster, the Minnesota football coach only dressed 22 players for the game today?  The rest were able to dress themselves.

Read more about Ozzie Simmons and the breaking of the Big Ten color barrier here.

1 comment:

Anne E. Mitchell said...

I love this, this is JUST like on of my baseball explanations. How wonderful!!!!!