Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Old Brass Spittoon.

The IU-MSU game, the game for the Old Brass Spittoon, may be the Big Ten's least-known "trophy game." I would much rather have a pig-on-a-pedestal, but there's nothing that can be done about that now. Frankly, as a "trophy game" it seems just as forced as the Land Grant Trophy "rivalry" concocted when Penn State joined the Big Ten. The IU and MSU campuses aren't close together, there is no real history of a rivalry, and the schools played only seven times before MSU joined the Big Ten in 1953.
The participants themselves sometimes have forgotten about the trophy . The only reference I could find to this incident is in an old MSU message board post, but it's fairly well-known in Hoosier circles. In 1991, MSU lost to IU 31-0 in Bloomington, IU's first win in the series since 1986. After the game, the Spartans failed to turn over the Spittoon because they had left it behind in East Lansing. After an incensed Bill Mallory threatened to have an assistant coach drive to MSU to claim the trophy, the Spartans promised to send it. Some time later, a MSU staffer mailed the the University of Iowa. IU has defeated MSU only three times since then: 1993 and 2006 in Bloomington, 2001 in East Lansing (MSU later forfeited the 1994 game, but the Spartans won on the field). Given the history, it's a good idea for IU to hold on to the Spittoon whenever possible. It would be a shame for it to end up buried in the back of MSU's trophy case again, or the victim of geographic confusion.


Anonymous said...

On the case of the missing spittoon ...

608 words
29 October 1993
The Plain Dealer Cleveland, OH
(Copyright (c) The Plain Dealer 1993)

Indiana could legitimize its 6-1 record and No. 23 national ranking with a victory tomorrow over No. 22 Michigan State, a team the Hoosiers grew to dislike while losing six of seven games to the Spartans from 1985-91.

"We don't like those guys and they don't like us," IU linebacker Charles Beauchamp said. "It's started to become a rivalry game."

Maybe for the Hoosiers, but not for Michigan State, which became so accustomed to dominating the series that coach George Perles failed to take the traveling trophy at stake each season - the Old Brass Spittoon - to Bloomington two years ago.

IU coach Bill Mallory takes his team's three trophy games very seriously, so when the Hoosiers grabbed a 31-0 victory that season, Mallory could wait no longer than one week before he called Perles to track down the Spittoon.

Perles dispatched an assistant coach to uncover the item and directed him to, "Send this to IU." Trouble was, the Michigan State assistant sent the Spittoon to Iowa, which had no idea what to do with it.

Indiana finally gained possession of the trophy in time to lose it back to the Spartans last season.

Asked if he told Perles to bring the Spittoon tomorrow, Mallory said: "Let's win it first. I can go track it down afterward."

John M said...

Good stuff and good memories. That game that the article previews probably was the football highlight of my college years. A freak October snowstorm dropped an unpredicted six inches of snow on Bloomington the night before the game, and IU beat the ranked Spartans 10-0.