The Rivalry – A History Behind the Bucket

For us Boilermakers, we never like to refer to ourselves as ‘Hoosiers’, even though we are all from Indiana and we all love the movie ‘Hoosiers’. That’s beside the point, but it’s a good way to begin how the hatred runs deep between Purdue and Indiana.

Indiana doesn’t like Purdue, and Purdue doesn’t like Indiana. Hoosier fans hate the Boiler Up chant. They’ve gone as far as starting a ‘Banner Up’ chant (which of course, refers to their 5 men’s basketball national championships that were won before most students could breathe on this beautiful Earth). Purdue has gone so far as adding in a loving phrase after a popular Purdue All-American Marching Band piece. Hail Fire, as it is correctly titled, is now the ‘IU SUCKS CHANT’. It can be viewed here from Mackey Arena two years ago.

Indiana tells Purdue to go back to working on their tractors; Purdue tells Indiana to go away, we’re too busy landing planes in the Hudson and winning Nobel Prizes. Hoosiers politely remind their Boilermaker cohorts that they have 5 National Championships in men’s college basketball, Boilermakers tell their Hoosier friends that there are more P’s on the Old Oaken Bucket than I’s.

And that should be the only thing that matters in this argument since we have come to the Old Oaken Bucket week.

The Rivalry that is Purdue and Indiana originated in 1891 on the football field, where Purdue dominated Indiana 60 to 0. Indiana would lose the next 5 before finally defeating the Boilermakers. But the Rivalry didn’t include a little bucket for a trophy until 1925 when IU alumnus Dr. Clarence Jones and Purdue alumnus Russel Gray were appointed to propose a suitable trophy for the annual match-up between the Boilermakers and Hoosiers. They settled on an ‘old oaken bucket’, which as they referred to, is ‘the most typical Hoosier form of trophy’. If they were politically correct, they would have said: ‘the most typical state of Indiana form of trophy that isn’t associated with Hoosiers at all.’

Purdue alumnus Fritz Earnst and Indiana alumnus Wiley J. Huddle were appointed to begin the search for an oak bucket in the state. They found such a bucket at the the Bruner family farm between Kent and Hanover in Southern Indiana. That in itself should be another argument for Hoosier fans that the trophy came from their end of the state.

**FUN FACT!! Although the Bucket might have been used at an open well on the Bruner family farm that had been settled during the 1840s, the family lore indicates that the Bucket may have been used under General John Hunt Morgan’s command during the Civil War and may have arrived at the farm after one of the Bruner men returned from their military service.

The Chicago alumni organization, which originally devised the plan for making a trophy for the Rivalry, also made the addition of the I and P links for the Bucket to indicate victories for either team in the game. (Little known fact: the first Rivalry game played for the Old Oaken Bucket in 1925 was a tie, 0-0. There have been 2 other ties, but the original duel I-P link sits at the handle of the Bucket.)

And thus, the Old Oaken Bucket Rivalry began between Indiana and Purdue. It is one of the oldest rivalry trophies in college football history, next to the Little Brown Jug between Michigan and Minnesota (and that’s not even a rivalry. Minnesota has won the Jug once in the past 21 years).

As most Hoosier fans know, there are twice as many P links as there are I links in the Bucket (56-27), Purdue has held the Bucket for the longest duration of time (1948-1961), they have more wins in the overall series, the largest margin of victory…but not the Bucket as of now. That’s where the Hoosiers rest their hat on right now, as the Old Oaken Bucket currently resides in Bloomington.

A 1-win Hoosier team (that one victory is against a Division 1-AA opponent, pathetic) has nothing else to play for than to spoil Purdue’s dreams of going back to the postseason and bringing the Bucket back to West Lafayette. As almost everyone says in rivalry games: throw the records out the window. They mean nothing when you get to a game where two teams hate each other with every ounce of fluid that runs through their veins.

It is a Rivalry that I became a part of when I decided to attend Purdue University in 2006. I despise Indiana more than Kielbasa, and I really hate Kielbasa (it’s a Polish sausage if you didn’t know). Enjoy the festivities, cheer on your teams, and please…don’t keep it clean. This is the one week where you can say whatever you want about your most-hated rival, and it’s known that it’s just a part of one of the great Rivalries in sports.


About Robby Donoho

I'm a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, majoring in Mass Communication. I currently reside in the beautiful Columbus, Mississippi as a sports anchor and reporter for WCBI-TV covering the SEC and all its glory. My sports allegiance lies with the: Colts, Cubs, Pacers, Boilermakers, Blackhawks, anyone that plays IU or Notre Dame, and USA (anything). I love watching The Office and enjoying a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with a nice, leather-bound book.
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2 Responses to The Rivalry – A History Behind the Bucket

  1. Blair Miley says:

    Great historical piece about the bucket. Alot I didn’t know honestly, making me feel bad for calling myself a hardcore Purdue fan. I think it’s funny, and i’m not surprised at all, how much IU fans seem on top of the world for having the bucket this year. Honestly I can’t blame them. Beating Purdue is their biggest potential win of the year. Sad, really.

  2. Pingback: Silver Bullet Points Has One Shot Left | Buckeye Battle Cry

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