Big Ten schools go head to head for time-honored rivalry trophies

By Rusty Miller

Imagine you’re a college football player and your coach tells you that you have to win a big game on Saturday so that you can take home a pig.

Would that fire you up?

It sure works at Minnesota and Iowa.

“We’re not playing for the postseason, but we’re playing for pride and for the pig, so I think that’s enough motivation to go out and play hard,” Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber said this week.

The winner of the Minnesota-Iowa game gets to keep “Floyd of Rosedale,” a 15 1/2-by-21-inch bronze pig statue commissioned by Minnesota Gov. Floyd Olson in 1935. It all stemmed from a wager made between Olson and Iowa Gov. Clyde Herring to calm some hard feelings between the schools and their fans heading into the game that season.

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Olson put up a “prize hog.” It was an actual pig, donated by Allen Loomis, the owner of Rosedale Farms near Fort Dodge, Iowa, and named after the Minnesota governor.

Olson’s diplomacy worked, quelling the tensions, with Minnesota winning 13-6 to retain possession of the pig, which eventually ended up at the farm of breeder J.B. Gjerdrum, near Mabel, Minn.

Alas, Floyd left the rivalry far too soon.

“We had him about a year,” Gjerdrum said. “There was hog cholera around. One day he just leaned up against a straw pile and died.”

But his spirit lives on in the statue created by Charles Brioschi, a St. Paul artist.

“Last (year) they earned him, we lost him, and now we’ve got to try to get it back,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of Floyd.

Those are fighting words.

“We’d like very much to keep that pig right here in the Twin Cities,” Golden Gophers coach Tim Brewster said.

Hart: Why not Long?

University of Michigan’s Mike Hart figures a high ankle sprain knocked him out of the running for the most coveted trophy in college football.

“Obviously, if you miss two games it’s going to be hard to win a Heisman,” said Hart, fifth in Heisman Trophy voting last year.

Hart puts his support behind one of his linemen.

“Who would I vote for? Jake Long,” he said.

Hart was leading the nation in rushing when he hobbled off the field against Purdue with an injured right ankle and was sidelined for 21/2 games.

He’s averaging 148.5 yards rushing – third in the country.

Unless Hart turns the ball over Saturday at Wisconsin, he will pass a milestone.

Hart lost a fumble in the 2004 Big Ten opener, and hasn’t done that again in 990 straight attempts.

Tough calls

Several calls in Saturday’s loss to Penn State left Purdue coach Joe Tiller scratching his head.

WR Selwyn Lymon appeared to catch a TD pass from Curtis Painter, but it was ruled incomplete. Purdue ended up settling for a field goal.

“We thought Lymon clearly caught the ball and was in the end zone,” Tiller said.

“We send in our usual (complaints), but there were more than usual in this particular game,” Tiller said. “I’ve talked with the Big Ten office, and they agreed with us in numerous instances. I’m convinced they’ll take the proper action.

Tiller struggled to hold his tongue at his weekly news conference.

“I find myself mentally correcting myself and trying to make sure I don’t say anything inappropriate,” he said.

Quick hitters

Saturday’s conference games include No. 13 Michigan at Wisconsin, Indiana at Northwestern, Minnesota at Iowa, Michigan State at Purdue and Illinois at No. 1 Ohio State. … Big Ten players of the week: Michigan QB Chad Henne on offense, Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis and Penn State LB Sean Lee on defense, Reda on special teams. … Regardless of what Ohio State and Michigan do this week, they’ll still decide the Big Ten title in their annual matchup next week. … Only one of the conference’s 11 teams has a losing record (Minnesota at 1-9). … If Michigan wins at Wisconsin, coach Lloyd Carr will pass Ohio State’s Woody Hayes for the fifth-best winning percentage among Big Ten coaches.

AP writers Larry Lage, Genaro Armas, Cliff Brunt, David Mercer and Luke Meredith contributed to this report