Minnesota faces Michigan at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, and the Little Brown Jug, college football’s oldest rivalry trophy, is back on the table.
As I’ve written before, the University of Michigan football team left the 30 cent jug behind after a hard fought 6-6 tie vs the University of Minnesota at Northrup Field in 1903. The iconic water jug has a mythology all its own, and that has only grown over the decades.
The jug was “captured”/collected by Oscar Munson after the game, and given to Minnesota Athletic Director Dr L.J. Cooke, where it was suspended from the ceiling in his office until 1909 when Michigan returned to Minneapolis.
Oscar Munson takes the story from there: “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 from 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.”
The 1903 game between Minnesota & Michigan grossed just shy of $31,000 (which would be approximately $860,000 today). No doubt both Cooke & Yost saw the benefit of promoting the rivalry.
Minnesota will host Michigan at TCF Bank Stadium on Halloween for the 102nd meeting of the two football programs.