The Monon Bell
Photograph courtesy DePauw University And Marilyn Culler. Marilyn Culler Photograph
The Monon Bell is the trophy awarded to the victor of the annual college football matchup between the DePauw University Tigers (in Greencastle, Indiana) and the Wabash College Little Giants (in Crawfordsville, Indiana) in the United States. The Bell is a 300-pound locomotive bell from the Monon Railroad. At of the end of the 2010 season, the two teams have played against each other 117 times. Wabash leads the all-time series, 55-54-9, but DePauw has the advantage in games played since the Bell was introduced as the victor's trophy in 1932, 37-35-6.
The rivalry between Wabash, an all-male school, and DePauw began in 1890 and is the oldest college football rivalry west of the Alleghenies where more than 100 games have been played. The Monon Bell was introduced as a traveling trophy in 1932 at the suggestion of a DePauw alumnus, Orien Fifer (Class of 1925), in a letter to the editor of The Indianapolis News. Since the schools are only 27 miles apart, the adversaries in the game are often brothers, cousins, high school classmates or good friends, adding to the rivalry’s intensity. Since the Bell entered the series, DePauw has won 36 games, Wabash 34, and there were 6 ties. Before the introduction of overtime to college football, nine ties were logged in the series. By rule, in the event of a tie, the Bell was awarded to the previous owner. In the 1960 matchup, DePauw held the Bell and scored a last-minute touchdown to cut Wabash's lead to 13-12. DePauw coach Tommy Mont turned to the stands and spread out his hands. The DePauw fans shouted "Go!" DePauw scored on the conversion and won 14-13. This rule last held significance for the 99th Monon Bell Classic in 1992 in which from the 8 yard line Wabash opted for a field goal to tie the game at 17-17 and retained ownership of the Bell. This tie set up the 100th game as an evenly split 45-45-9 series.
The teams failed to play each other only 5 years in the entire history. From 1897-1899, the schools failed to schedule each other for an unknown reason. In 1910, the teams didn't play due to the death of Wabash's star halfback, Ralph Lee Wilson, who died from a concussion in a game earlier in the season. The schools have played each other every year since 1911.
The bell, from Steam Engine #99 was donated by the Monon Railroad in 1932 to serve as a trophy to the winner of the annual football game. In 2007, the Monon Railroad Historical-Technical Society, Inc. donated a Monon baggage cart to move the heavy trophy.
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