This weekend’s choice is an obvious one- the historic Division Three match up between two Indiana colleges for a prestigious trophy. No, not the “Old Oaken Bucket”- Purdue and Indiana only occasionally play like D3 schools.
A short trip on US 231 in Western Indiana connects the campuses of Wabash College and DePauw University, where this week the 116th meeting of the Monon Bell game, the oldest college football rivalry west of the Allegheny mountains. Since 1890, these two institutions have not played each other only five times. Over the past few years, the game has been televised nationally on Mark Cuban’s HDNet channel, and is enjoyed at alumni watch parties across the nation. I’m sure that Corso and friends would be at the game if they weren’t heading to Columbus- although, I’m not sure that Ms. Andrews would be safe at an all-men’s college.
Adding to the history and lore of this rivalry are the successful and attempted thefts of the bell by students and alumni from each school; the winning program gets to host the 300 pound trophy between games. The most recent heist was in October of 1998, although the most legendary attempt is identified as “Operation Frijoles”, and occurred in 1965. The (edited) version on the Wabash website-
The mastermind behind the rightful replacing of the Monon Bell was Jim Shanks; he would arrange a meeting with DePauw president Dr. William H. Kerstetter. Posing as a reporter from the Mexico City News and a representative of a made up program called the Mexican-American Cultural Institute, which tried to bring Mexicans to the United States to study. He was supposedly trying to write a brochure on DePauw student life.
On November 1, Shanks traveled to DePauw and met with the President of the college. The meal went excellently and the conversation went well; President Kerstetter even promised that the college would provide one scholarship to a Mexican student. Around 3 o’clock President Kerstetter rejoined Faber and Shanks; Shanks asked if he could take a photograph with the Bell. President Kerstetter didn’t know the location of the bell so he asked his secretary who said, “Last time I told a visitor where the bell was, Wabash stole it.” President Kerstetter then phoned Athletic Director James Loveless, who agreed to show the visitor the bell. Photos were taken and the two headed back to Crawfordsville with the necessary information.
Let’s meet the competitors. In Greencastle, we find the Tigers of DePauw University, who are currently 9-0 and have earned the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference‘s automatic playoff bid. Like Wabash, they are the only Indiana team represented in their conference. Founded in 1837 as Indiana Asbury College, their Methodist heritage honored by naming them after America’s first Methodist Bishop. Unlike their rivals, DePauw is co-educational, and can claim the first sorority in the United States. While Tigers can celebrate after wins, the University has been working to address the “campus ethos”, particularly the impact that alcohol has on the students. But how else will they be able to do the naked Boulder Run during the first snowfall? DePauw is proud of its’ alum, including a man who has changed all of our lives, an amazing author, and a guy who has had a challenge with spelling.
Wabash College is an all-men’s institution founded in 1832 in Crawfordsville Indiana. At only 900 students, the College boasts a faculty-student ratio of 10/1. Initially founded by Presbyterian ministers, Wabash has never been officially affiliated with any faith tradition or movement. The “Little Giants” (seriously) are 7-2 for the 2010 season, and are hoping for an at-large (or little, if you’re a giant) berth in the D3 tournament. They are one of two members of the NCAC from Indiana, and are cheered on by the all male “Sphinx Club” and their spiffy overalls. Famous alums include Buffalo Bill Pete Metzelaars, Tomas R. Marshall, and Max “Hey Willie!” Wright.