CRAWLEY WEST SUSSEX - FEBRUARY 12: Reggie the Red Devil mascot of Crawley Town poses on the pitch during the Blue Square Bet Premier match between Crawley Town and Wrexham at Broadfield Stadium on February 12 2011 in Crawley West Sussex. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Yesterdays article discussed the Dangers of Forcing a Rivalry. Today we celebrate day 92 of our countdown with Nebraska's Trophy game that was played against Missouri. Unlike throwing a trophy together at the last minute, it took Missouri and Nebraska 35 years to build their bond.
In 18(92), a bunch of
thieves possessed by the devil kids broke into visited a church in Seward, Nebraska, and stole borrowed a bell. These vile criminals people ended up being from the Nebraska fraternities Worship the Devil Phi Delta Theta and Sacrifical Virgins Delta Tau Delta. They were never brought to justice revered as the heroes that they were. At least not in this world...
So they had this bell. Well, these two fraternal organizations started out living in the same house and, eventually, they realized that this was kinda gay so they went they got their own houses. However, they couldn't decide on who would keep the bell, so they competed for it. They would hold contests of strength and wit. In 1926, the Governor of Missouri decried "We would love to go to the Big Ten! Please, invite us!" Actually, with the power vested in him, he decided to take the bell and make it the traveling trophy between Nebraska and Missouri. Actually the bell was offered up to be the trophy between Nebraska and Missouri.
Nebraska really doesn't have a lot of traveling trophies. Growing up, I never even knew about this bell and only first read about it while doing research on the Big Ten's traveling trophies last summer. It was a competitive rivalry for a long time, but towards the end of the 70's Nebraska started to dominate. They held the bell for 24 years. That's an entire generation of fans/players/kids that grew up knowing very little of the bell because it never changed hands. Also, unlike your average traveling trophy, the two organizations that exchange the bell take care of it whereas a typical traveling trophy gets displayed in a schools trophy case.
This is a very old bell. To put things in perspective, it has been around longer that the Little Brown Jug that Minnesota and Michigan play for. To be fair, though, Nebraska and Missouri only started playing for the bell in 1927. It was the award between the two fraternities for 35 years before that, so it's been apart of Nebraska for 119 years. That's a long time. It's nice that Nebraska was able to bring the bell home in the last meeting of the two schools, and that a commemorative replica bell was made for the University of Missouri, but it feels wrong for it to just collect dust. Traveling trophies travel. That's what makes them special. Maybe Nebraska and Missouri need to get an annual series going with some of the other sports and/or academic organizations. Have a series were each event is worth a point or some points and at the end of the year, the school with the most points wins the bell. Or maybe the Devil Worshipers and Virgin Sacrificer's will want it back to compete with each other in scholarly events again.
As exciting as the move to the Big Ten is, there are some things that we will lose. The traditions and history with schools that we have known for over a hundred years will fade. Here's to the Victory Bell and the hopes that it will have the opportunity to change hands again in the future.
Note: I apologize for not having a picture of the bell, but I could not locate one that we had permission to publish.