Iowa City – There are few aspects of sports that elicit greater emotional reactions than rivalries in college football. Fans, players, and the like do strange things when a rival team comes to play. Even stranger things happen on the field. Rivalry games bring out the best and worst in both teams.
Add history to that as well. Iowa and Minnesota have met 110 times since the first meeting in 1891. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the rivalry acquired a tangible prize that would travel between the two border-state institutions. At first, a prize-winning live pig was the award given to the victorious school. It later simplified and became a trophy depicting a pig. An image of a pig that Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday looks happy the way it is.
Why would he be talking about how the fake pig looks? The answer to that stems from some defensive team members mentioning a return to a live pig trophy.
“I was saying I’d rather have a real pig,” senior linebacker Bo Bower said. “Every year we’d have a real pig in the weight room in a cage so we could see it.”
Bower went into further detail. What isn’t known is how long he’d been dreaming up this idea.
“It could be a pet pig,” he said. “Our sideline would be too small though, we’d have to keep him up the press box.”
Live animals aren’t all that uncommon in college football. Georgia’s famous bulldog ‘Uga’ and the Colorado buffalo mascot come to mind. Boise State has a black lab that fetches their kickoff tees. A living, breathing pig on the sideline when Minnesota and Iowa play would certainly add some novelty to an already exciting rivalry.
Other Hawkeyes weren’t surprised by Bower’s suggestion and didn’t object to the idea.
“The thought of people carrying around a live pig above their head after a win is pretty interesting,” defensive lineman Parker Hesse said. The defensive line’s camper, the Rat Trap, would be a fitting home for the prized pig.
Kirk Ferentz wasn’t as keen to the idea as his players. He seems to like Floyd just the way he is.
“I’m not sure what we would do. We’d find a really nice home for him, I know that,” Ferentz said. “You’ve got to worry about someone like the Paulsons trying to kidnap it, and who knows what they might do. So probably not a good idea.”
Since the coaches say usually tends to be final, it doesn’t seem likely that a live pig will join the Hawkeyes on the sideline anytime soon. In all seriousness, the thought of keeping the trophy in Iowa City is important. It is so important that strength coach Chris Doyle set the trophy on display at the start of the week in the weight room. For focus purposes, it was removed a few days later.
“You can see the trophy there physically, so you know what you are playing for,” defensive back Manny Rugamba said Tuesday.
“Wednesday we take the trophy away because we understand that it is never yours. You have to earn it every day in practice and it gives us a little moral throughout practice.”
Keeping the trophy in the building is top priority.
“Whenever there is a trophy on the line, we want to get the trophy in the building,” defensive back Amani Hooker said. Everyone Tuesday echoed the same idea. It’s a trophy game and we want to win.
At this point, three losses recorded, winning trophy games takes the driver’s seat from winning the west division. With one trophy collected, there are three still up for grabs. Every other game has a trophy attached to it.
Floyd of Rosedale certainly carries some weight and meaning.
“It’s a competitive series,” linebacker Ben Niemann said. “You know bordering states, it’s a rivalry game. Both teams are going to be amped up and ready to go.”
Iowa is favored in seniors final match-up against the bitter rivals from the north. The Hawkeyes have won four of the last five meetings, including a night game two years ago in Kinnick.
The annual battle for Floyd kicks off on Saturday night at 5:30 pm CT and will be televised on FS1.