Michigan Jug October 31 1903

On today, the 110th Anniversary of the Little Brown Jug Game #0, a repost:

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One headline in the November 1, 1903 Sunday edition of the Minneapolis Tribune declared, “VICTORY, THOUGH THE SCORE IS TIED.”  Further down toward the fold it blared, “YOST AND MICHIGAN PRACTICALLY BEATEN.”

It was that fierce battle, played Saturday October 31, 1903, that spawned the greatest of the college football rivalry trophies.  At the direction of coach Fielding Yost, Michigan’s student manager Tommy Roberts purchased a five gallon jug that was left behind in the aftermath of this epic clash that served as first, a Gopher souvenir, and later as the trophy that’s been presented to the winner since 1909.

The Tribune described Yost’s Michigan team, winners of 29 straight heading into that game, this way:

Her lineman were giants on the attack, and were adamant on defense.  Her backs were great battering rams, with the speed of the wind, guided by an intelligence in play almost superhuman.

Her team work was near perfection, and the eleven representatives of the maize and blue were like some powerful machine, continuously in motion.

That line is a nod to Yost’s revolutionary tendency to speed up the pace of play, earning him the famous tag ‘Hurry Up’.

Now, we know the game ended in a 6-6 tie when the teams exchanged touchdowns, then worth 5 points each, in the second half.  Michigan took the lead when the great Wolverine back Willie Heston found the end zone first midway through the half.  The Gophers tied the score in the final minutes of the game and added the extra point to secure the tie.  Depending on who you read, the game was either called with “a few seconds” remaining on the clock (Tribune), or two minutes left to go (Detroit Free Press).  Afterwards thousands of Gopher fans stormed the field to celebrate the game-tying tally.

Naturally the Tribune saved a few good lines for the hometown victors tie-ers:

When [All-American tackle Fred] Schacht made his two gains of four yards each, the of the maize and blue went to pieces.  They could not stand it.

Michigan was fighting against eleven madmen, and the madmen won.

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You’ve got to love this—the Tribune even included a diagrammed play chart from the 1903 game on the front page.  Click to supersize it, it’s pretty cool after you figure out the key:

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What happened next is of course the stuff of Little Brown Jug Lore, and you can get your fill here:

Chapter 1: What Really Happened in the 1930s
Chapter 2: Spinning Myths
Chapter 3: Getting it Right
Chapter 4: 2013: A Space Quandary
Chapter 5: Red Wing Roots
Chapter 6: Is the Greatest Trophy in College Sports a Fake?
Chapter 7: Open Questions
Chapter 8: Doc Cooke and the Real Origins of the Rivalry
Chapter 9: Gophers Here, Gophers There – When Michigan played Minnesota Twice
Chapter 10: How It Started: Minnesota Madmen 6, Michigan Machine 6
Chapter 11: A Righteous Sip, and Why Michigan Bought the Jug
Chapter 12: Making It Official—Jil Gordon & Painting the Little Brown Jug

 

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A lot of business to take care of but first, here’s a rundown of the original criteria for awarding the footballs via Dr. Sap:

Bo Schembechler criteria announced on September 23, 1969 for determining how Wolverines would earn a helmet award sticker, according to a report the next day in the Ann Arbor News:

ON OFFENSE:

1) An outstanding block, catch or run
2) TD pass or run over 25 yards
3) Outstanding second effort
4) Four crossfield blocks in one game
5) TD-saving tackle on punt return
6) Scoring TD with first down between the eight and 10-yard lines (all offensive players get one)
7) Making first down starting from inside our two-yard line
8 ) Scout player doing best job against defense

ON DEFENSE:
1) Pass interception
2) Blocked kick
3) Key tackle inside 20-yard line
4) Causing fumble or interception
5) Recovering a fumble
6) Stopping opposing team inside the 10-yard line (all)
7) When defense scores a touchdown (all)
8 ) Outstanding second effort or great hit
9) Making following number of tackles, including assists — ends, tackles and backs, 9; middle guard and rover back, 12; and linebackers, 16
10) Scout player doing best job against offense

We don’t use all those metrics of course (at least until they let us in practice).  So here are Sap’s awards for the great 58-0 performance on Saturday:

Team Captains & U-M Equipment Manager Big Jon Falk: 1 decal each for bringing back the numbers on the sides of the helmets (and +1, editor’s choice for Falk for protecting the Jug yet another year).
Brady Hoke +1 editor’s choice for confirming that “jug security is always at a premium”
Al Borges: 1 decal for the Inverted Wishbone series with Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner in the backfield at the same time – Finally we all get to see what it would look like and what the possibilities are – thank you!
Vincent Smith: 4 decals: 3-yard 1st Quarter TD run; 17-yard 2nd Quarter pass to Drew Dileo; 28-yard 3rd Quarter TD reception; 4th Quarter Fumble Recovery.
Denard Robinson: 3 decals – 9-yard 1st Quarter TD run; 28-yard 2nd Quarter TD pass to Vincent Smith; 18-yard 2nd Quarter TD pass to Kevin Koger.
Stephen Hopkins: 3 decals – kick-out block on Toussaint 1st Quarter 37-yard run; 27-yard 1st Quarter reception; seal block for Toussaint run in 3rd Quarter
Brendan Gibbons: 3 decals – 2nd Quarter 25-yard FG; 3rd Quarter 32-yard FG; 4th Quarter 38-yard FG — a Football Field Goal Hat Trick.
Carvin Johnson: 3 decals – 2nd Quarter Fumble Recovery; 3rd Quarter PBU; 4th Quarter message-delivered-don’t-come-back-here-knockdown tackle – SWEET!!
Blake Countess: 3 decals – 2nd Quarter Pass Break-Up; 2nd Quarter Forced Fumble; 4th Quarter PBU
Ryan Van Bergen: 2 decals – 1st Quarter sack; tearing up the number "3" on his jersey once again
Michael Schofield: 2 decals – key block on Denard 1st Quarter TD run; seal block on 2nd Quarter Toussaint run
Mark Huyge: 2 decals – seal block on 2nd Quarter Toussaint run; seal block on 3rd Quarter Toussaint run
Kevin Koger: 2 decals – 2nd Quarter 18-yard TD reception; 3rd Quarter stiff arm.
Nathan Brink: 2 decals – 3rd Quarter TFL; another decal for making the TFL WITHOUT a helmet.
Courtney Avery: 2 decals – one for the fumble recovery and one more for rambling 83 yards for the TD!!
Taylor Lewan: 1 decal – seal block on 1st Quarter Vincent Smith TD run
Thomas Gordon: 1 decal – 1st Quarter TFL
Jeremy Gallon: 1 decal – blow up block on Michael Shaw 1st Quarter run
Kenny Demens: 1 decal – helmet-less tackle in 1st Quarter – TOUGH!!
Jordan Kovacs: 1 decal – 1st Quarter TFL
Drew Dileo: 1 decal – 2nd Quarter 17-yard TD reception from Vincent Smith (Incidentally, that was the SAME endzone that produced another RB to WR TD connection. In 1975 RB Gordon Bell Bell threw a TD pass to WR Jim Smith against OSU.)
U-M Kick Team: 1 decal for each member of unit for coverage on 2nd QTR kickoff forcing Minnesota to start possession inside 10-yard line
Craig Roh: 1 decal – 2nd Quarter TFL
Jake Ryan: 1 decal – 2nd Quarter Sack
Fitzgerald Toussaint: 1 decal – 3rd Quarter 1-yard TD run
Jibreel Black: 1 decal – 2nd Quarter Sack
Josh Furman: 1 decal – bone-jarring kick coverage hit in 2nd Quarter – OUCH!!
David Molk: 1 decal – cut-back block on 3rd Quarter Devin Gardner run
Michael Shaw and Devin Gardner: Honorary Russ Hawkins Award for Coolest Helmet Design on team (joining Jordan Kovacs, Vincent Smith and J.T. Floyd)
The ENTIRE TEAM for sharing the Jug Celebration with the fans – not sure that I have ever seen that done at Michigan Stadium – nice touch!!

27. May 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , ,

If you read these pages you know I likes me some 1930s Michigan football.   And you probably know I dig the Little Brown Jug.  

So you know I’m feeling this, recently up for auction on eBay (HT: Dan O.):

1934 Little Brown Jug Pin 

Fresh!    Have a great weekend.  

Related?  Little Brown Jug Lore:

Part I: What Really Happened in the 1930s
Part II: Spinning Myths
Part III: Getting it Right
Part IV: 2013: A Space Quandary
Part V: Red Wing Roots
Part VI: Is the Greatest Trophy in College Sports a Fake?
Part VII: Open Questions
Part VIII: Doc Cooke and the Real Origins of the Rivalry

29. April 2011 · Comments Off · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , ,

Ahh yes, the recent flurry of jug discussion here has prompted yet another reader to send along his Little Brown Jug: Home Edition, and this one’s a beauty as well. 

Thanks to reader Dennis who passed along these photos.  This was a gift he gave to his dad. 

Not only is it a marvelous replica, it’s signed by a bevy of Michigan coaches (Bump, Mo, Lloyd, Bo, Rich Rod) each of whom have walked off the gridiron with the coveted crock during their tenure:

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Dennis is looking to have Coach Hoke sign it as well.  My suggestion: wait until he earns it!

So go ahead and update the list of things that will survive the Apocalypse:  cockroaches, Lions fans, airplane black boxes, Little Brown Jug replicas.

Elsewhere:
* It’s not as slick as any of the three replicas I’ve featured on these pages, but you can get a 1950s-version painted Little Brown Jug on eBay right now. 
* Better yet, how about a lineup card from the 1909 Minnesota-Michigan game: the first battle for the jug?  I’m guessing the seller, who’s asking $300, knew he had something there.

On collegehoops.net, writer Jon Teitel developed a series called his “Coaching Greats”.   One piece featured Minnesota’s hoops coach and athletic director Louis “Doc” Cooke.   In an interview with writer Minnesota hoops historian Marc Hugunin, Teitel asked this:

JT: In 1903 Michigan left a five-gallon water jug behind after a football game, and when the Michigan coach asked for it back AD Cooke allegedly told him, “If you want it, you’ll have to win it”. Was Cooke really responsible for the creation of the “Little Brown Jug” rivalry, and how important is the trophy to both schools a century later?

MH: I do not know the details, but the jug is extremely important in Minnesota, and probably less so in Michigan…unless they lose it a couple of times!

I’ll take that one.

The short answer is, yes, Cooke is really the man responsible for the Little Brown Jug rivalry.  Michigan’s Tommy Roberts bought the jug and was probably responsible for leaving it behind in Minnesota in 1903.  Gopher custodian Oscar Munson found the jug sometime after the game, and brought it to Cooke (and they applied its first paint job).  So without Munson and Roberts, of course, the trophy doesn’t exist but it is primarily Cooke (not Yost) who is responsible for the teams playing for the jug each year since 1909.  Some of this has been published elsewhere (GoBlueWolverine, Ann Ann Observer, etc.) but it hasn’t made it here yet.

The first thing to understand is how wild and varied the documented stories of the origin of the Jug rivalry were in the first couple decades.  I covered this in this LBJ Lore post.  You’ve got Minnesota coach Doc Williams right after the 1909 game saying that Michigan in 1903 carried the jug with them all year (false), painted scores upon it (false) and that Minnesota “willfully stole the jug” (false) that season.   In 1919 the Minnesota Tribune wrote that the Gophers originally stole it from a gym in Ann Arbor (false) prompting Michigan to write for its return (false).  In 1920 the Michigan Daily suggested the jug was a good luck charm for Michigan during 1903 (false).  It was the Williams quote, since it was offered up right after the 1909 game, that really got me wondering if the whole “Yost wrote Minnesota demanding his jug back” had any teeth.   I dug further.

In 2004, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune published a piece called “Minnesota Myths” that took a fresh look as some of the fabled traditions in the state. In it writer Joel Rippel brought to light an alternate explanation of the birth of this rivalry documented by Doc Cooke himself. A paper written in 1929 by the former athletic director offered a less sexy version of how the rivalry actually started.   I contacted the Minnesota library and obtained a copy of what appears to be an early draft of Cooke’s memoir containing several handwritten edits.

In A brief history of the Little Brown Jug, there is no mention of a letter, wire or request of any kind from Michigan or Yost. Cooke reveals that he and Gopher captain John McGovern simply met prior to the 1909 game and decided that the jug “might be material to build up a fine tradition.” Cooke writes that McGovern brought the proposal to Yost and Michigan’s captain who “immediately approved the idea, and so the tradition was inaugurated.”

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In A brief history.. Cooke wrote that “a rope loop was tied to the handle of the jug and the jug was suspended from a hook above my desk, where it remained unmolested for six years…”

I found this awesome photo at the Minnesota Library of Cooke’s office inside the Minnesota Armory dated to 1905, showing the would-be trophy suspended from the ceiling, validating at least part of Cooke’s story:

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This is backed up by a piece in the February 14, 1904 Detroit Free Press describing the placement of Cooke’s souvenir:

Minnesota Jug Trophy

Demonstrating the willingness of writers to embellish the jug story, consider that Cooke’s own 1929 paper was spiced up a bit when reprinted in the 1941 Minnesota game program. What was a polite proposal in the ‘29 draft (It was suggested that the jug might be material to build up a fine tradition between the two institutions, and John was appointed a committee of one to present the matter to Mr. Yost…) evolved into a fiery instruction from Cooke to McGovern in the ’41 program (“You tell that Michigan captain that they can have their jug back if they beat us tomorrow.”) Now we’re talking!

But don’t just take Cooke’s version.   In 1953, around the time of the 50th anniversary of the famous 1903 game, Munson himself wrote a version of the origins. Shortly after finding the jug he asked Cooke if the jug should be returned to Yost to which Cooke barked back, “Heck no, make him win it back.”  When the Wolverines returned six years later, Munson recalled this scene in Cooke’s office:

We didn’t play Michigan until 1909. The day before the game, Coach Yost came into Doc’s office for a visit as usual. The first thing he saw was that old water jug hanging in the ceiling. “What’s that?” he asked Doc. He told him it was the water jug Michigan had left behind six years ago. ‘That’s the first time I heard about that,’ laughed Yost. Doc suggested Michigan should try to win it back and it was all right with Yost.”

Munson basically retold the same version in a 1960 interview (he died not too long after).  “When Yost came to see Cooke [in 1909] he saw the jug.  They decided to let it go back and forth with the winner of the game.”

There’s much to believe about Munson’s words. It’s not surprising, given that the jug was purchased right before the 1903 game, that Yost didn’t remember or that he hadn’t even heard about the souvenir Minnesota confiscated six years earlier.  I mean, why would he really care?  There many reasons why Yost wouldn’t bother to write or wire Minnesota about a missing 5 gallon jug his manager purchased right before the game even if he knew he left it behind.  Given that the crock cost around 30 cents and game tickets went for around $2-$3 that season, it was hardly an item of value.

To put the value in context consider this:  According to the November 3, 1903 edition of the Minnesota Daily, the gross proceeds from the game were in excess nearly $31,000, to be split between the teams:

1903 Minnesota Game Receipts

After expenses per the November 4, 1903 Detroit Free Press, Michigan netted $13,000.   At thirty cents a pop, Yost could use that money to buy over 40,000 Red Wing jugs!

Let’s say Yost did care about leaving the jug for whatever reason.  Maybe he was cheap.  Really cheap in this case.  Was Yost expecting Minnesota to drop it in the mail or put it on a train back to Ann Arbor (“be extra careful with it Doc–it’s fragile!”)?  How much would that shipment cost?

So let’s say Munson and Cooke in their writings conspired to tilt the origins of the rivalry to a Minnesota-created tradition.  Fine.  But check out the account of Tommy Roberts, the man who bought the jug in 1903 who published his version of the origins of the rivalry sometime around that 50th anniversary as well.  Not only did he confirm that the crock was bought in Minneapolis (which wasn’t widely known until then), Roberts recalled that it was Minnesota who “wrote” to Michigan before the 1909 game, saying, “we have your Little Brown Jug, come and win it.”

Assuming Roberts was at least partially responsible for leaving the jug behind, certainly he would have been aware if Yost wanted it back.  Heck, he probably would have gotten a earful.  Yet Roberts mentions no desire from Michigan or Yost to have the jug returned. Instead, as he writes, it was a one-way challenge from the Gophers in the days leading up to the 1909 game.

I found other writings that support Cooke’s version. Dr. Willie Kerr Foster, a gym coach at Minnesota from 1905-1929, included an account of Cooke’s role in the jug rivalry in his paper The Doctor Cooke that I KnewKerr says Doc was merely looking for some material for a speech prior to the 1909 Michigan-Minnesota rematch, and this sparked the idea of playing for the jug. Kerr portrays Cooke as a humble man who never “wished any credit for the part he played in establishing this marvelous college tradition,” perhaps explaining why Cooke may have offered captain McGovern a joint role in his 1929 memoir.   The Minnesota Daily archives reveal that Cooke indeed flashed the jug at a pep rally-like event just before the 1909 game.

While there are subtle distinctions in the Munson and Roberts accounts, there’s much to believe about Cooke’s version. Applying a bit of Occam’s razor here, given a bevy of romantic explanations of how the rivalry began starting with coach Henry Williams’ quotes after the 1909 game, from the Minneapolis Tribune suggesting it was stolen from Ann Arbor, to the 1920 Michigan Daily version of the good luck charm, to today’s version of Yost pleading for the return of the precious jug, Cooke’s story is the simplest and the most reasonable.  Plus, almost every account, accepted or unaccepted, agrees that the challenge to play for the crock came from Cooke, so shouldn’t we consider Cooke’s own account the most believable?  Funny, the man who is conspicuously quiet about the whole thing is Yost, who didn’t seem to be a man of few words.   That said, would it shock anyone if decades later he spun a yarn to a nearby reporter, recalling how much it hurt when he realized he left that five gallon jug behind in 1903?

Related: Little Brown Jug Lore

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Reader Mark Foster recently ventured where only eagles dare: he set out to create a replica Little Brown Jug for his M-Mancave and inevitably to show off at tailgates and make women swoon, etc., etc.

He pinged me first with a questions about certain details and I shot him some of the photos I’ve collected from the jug research.  Next, I pointed him to Eric Mierzwiak who, if you recall, in 2009 went on a similar quest and created a beauty of jug and had some great pointers on how to prime and paint the crock.

Here’s a look at Mierzwiak’s masterpiece:

Foster was find enough to send me the chronological blow-by-blow of the project, enjoy:

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More »

25. September 2010 · Comments Off · Categories: Archive 2009 · Tags: , , , , , , ,

I think you know plenty about the Little Brown Jug, but if you need a refresher course head this way.   A few tidbits from recent days:

  • SMU and TCU battled for one of the college football traveling trophies last night, with Texas Christian taking home the hardware aluminum.  Check out the origins and inspiration of this tradition:

Ever wonder why SMU and TCU play for an iron skillet? The SMU sports information department has enlightened us:

According to a Nov. 30, 1946, article in The Dallas Morning News, the "Battle of the Iron Skillet" was started to prevent "mutilation of school property" by rowdy fans. The previous year, more than $1,000 in damage had been done to both campuses.

"The SMU student council proposed the skillet as a symbol of the rivalry and substitute for vandalism," says SMU Archivist Joan Gosnell.

Gosnell says minutes from fall 1946 student council meetings provide more clues. On Oct. 1, the agenda includes: "Further set up idea of Little Brown Jug Trophy," referring to the Michigan-Minnesota football rivalry. On November 12, the committee arranging an SMU-TCU banquet and trophy "was reminded of their job."

And on Nov. 19, a student reported that he had purchased the trophy — "an aluminum skillet." A motion was made that SMU and TCU would share the expense of the trophy.

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Do you have any truly unique pieces of Michigan football history or did you spot a cool item in an auction or elsewhere?  Let me know – I’d love to hear about it.

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This blogger rejoices over the news tonight.

So does this guy (below).  That’s Louis J. "Doc" Cooke, longtime Minnesota administrator who started Little Brown Jug rivalry by suggesting the teams play for the crock in 1909:

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If you’re not ready to rejoice, take in the entire Little Brown Jug lore series:

Part I: What Really Happened in the 1930s
Part II: Spinning Myths
Part III: Getting it Right
Part IV: 2013: A Space Quandary
Part V: Red Wing Roots
Part VI: Is the Greatest Trophy in College Sports a Fake?
Part VII: Open Questions

 

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indian_crying

Via ESPN and Adam Rittenberg’s Big Ten mailblog:

Red from Minneapolis writes: Love the blog, Adam. Help a die-hard Gopher out…with all this talk of expansion to a super-conference, (at least) one thing is really bothering me. In any theoretical where the Big 10 goes to divisions, protecting Minnesota’s (or Indiana’s or Purdue’s) interests will be at best secondary to making sure Michigan, OSU, PSU, Notre Dame/Texas/Nebraska et al are happy. I’m not seeing many plausible scenarios where we keep all of our rivals, especially considering OSU and Michigan would likely end up together in most realignment scenarios. So my question for you is, will I ever see the Little Brown Jug again? The quality of my week depends on your answer.

Red, I like you man. 

Having dedicated a few thousand words to the Jug I’m concerned about this as well.  One thing that struck me – the long term concern about remaining space for scores on the crock may be pushed out quite a bit but we’ll see.

Of course any way the conference realignment goes down, hopefully Red won’t be seeing the jug in Gopher hands anytime soon.  So Red, in the mean time here’s current look at the prestigious pot:

Related:
Little Brown Jug Lore