Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Big Ten's finest traditions

Winning is pretty great.  




It is a happy-go-lucky feeling that can stick with you for hours, even days, but, honestly, once the emotional high has worn off, a victory can be a fairly vacuous experience. That is, unless one has a trophy to remember it by.  




Suddenly the glory of victory, which in itself is a rather intangible occurrence, can be reminisced not only in the memory, but also in the much more palpable form of a trophy.  




Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox

While the bundle of rec and YMCA trophies that now sit in a box in the basement of my parents' house were a great self-esteem builder during my formative years, the decorations that I am more intrigued by these days are the ones handed out between key Big Ten rivalries. 




Everyone knows about Paul Bunyan's axe, which is given to the winner of the Wisconsin-Minnesota match-up, but a perusal of the Big Ten team media guides show that there is a lot more going on than just an axe. The following is a look at all the other trophies, from pigs to jugs to buckets, that are handed out when Big Ten teams play each other. 




The Purdue football media guide describes this award as \one of the oldest and most prestigious football trophies in the nation."" As far as I am concerned, it is just a bucket, you know, for gathering up water from the well.  




The Shhh-ill-la-la-le-la-ghhhh. Yeah, the name says it all. 




This might be the best award ever. And I do mean EVER. The Illibuck was a real live turtle'well, it was a real live turtle until 1927, when it became a real dead turtle. With the death of the hardy marine reptile, a wooden replica was created and has since been the claim of the winner in the Ohio State-Illinois game. Adding to the overall greatness of this trophy is the fact that the passing of the Illibuck used to include the smoking of a peace pipe. You cannot beat a tradition like this. 




It's an axe, it's an Indian axe, it's an Indian axe with a good-natured demeanor, thus the name the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk. Who gets this axe you ask? Why, the winner of the Illinois-Northwestern contest. 




Ah, yes, the cannon. The big black thing that shoots out, well, big black balls. Despite the fact that there used to be an actual full-size cannon involved, the modern-day version of this trophy consists of a Tonka-truck sized cannon on a slab of wood. 




Everyone knows what's going here, but did you know that this prestigious prize was once actually called the Slab of Bacon trophy? After being discontinued in the 1940s, the axe replaced it, despite demands for it to be renamed the Slab of Bacon and Eggs trophy. 




If the name does not inspire a team on to victory the look of this rectangular monstrosity surely will not. Each year since 1993 the victor between Penn State and Michigan State have the honor, or perhaps the obligation, of housing this aberrance until the next season.  




Sometimes a win itself is actually enough of a prize, but I suppose the trophy is better than exchanging some frat guy's sock each year. 




Yeah, so it is a bell and the winner of the Penn State-Minnesota game gets it. How exciting. 




Despite the confusing name this prize is actually a little piggy. The tradition started in 1935 when Minnesota governor Floyd Olson said, ""I will bet you a Minnesota prize hog against an Iowa prize hog that Minnesota wins."" The two schools were apparently going to bet something other than farm produce; unfortunately, to this day nothing else of any value has been found in either state. 




The jug was apparently neither little nor brown when the tradition first started. Which, of course raises the question of why it is called the little brown jug.  




Anyway, the victor of the Minnesota-Michigan battle has the honor of filling the jug with a beverage of their choosing.  




Wouldn't you know that a trophy glorifying chewing tobacco would be associated with Michigan State University. The spittoon, which is supposedly over 150 years old, goes to the winner of the MSU-Indiana contest. The functional utility of the spittoon for all Spartans may be why Michigan State has held it for 34 of the 45 years it has been awarded. 




Nothing like a trophy symbolizing the play on the field, or at least the cheerleading going on around it. The megaphone goes to the winner of the Michigan State-Notre Dame game.  




Leave it to the state of Michigan to rip off a Wisconsin-Minnesota tradition. A mitten would be a much more fitting prize for the winner of the Michigan-Michigan State (otherwise known as the two schools I dislike the most in the Big Ten) battle. Cheaters. 




Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal