ANN ARBOR -- At the Wolverines weekly press conference on Monday afternoon, head coach Lloyd Carr went out with a bang. Repeatedly asked about the history of the Little Brown Jug, Carr dove into the history of the countries oldest college football trophy head first.
"You remember Tommy Roberts and Fielding Yost. Tommy Roberts was the manager, 1903. Coach Yost, when they got up there, with good cause, he did not trust that Minnesota would provide good, clean drinking water. So he sent Tommy Roberts out, I think it was a buck and a half or so, to buy a jug. Tommy went down, brought that jug back, and the Michigan team drank water from that jug. Now, whether they had cups or not, I do not know," Carr joked.
"So after the game, and it was unfair that the Minnesota fans rushed the field before the game was over or we all know Michigan would have won that game. Instead it ended in a 6-6 tie. In the rush to leave, get back on the train -- the train -- they left the jug there. When they got back to Ann Arbor, Coach Yost, who was a very frugal man, realized that the jug was not there -- they hadn't brought it back. So he wrote a letter. He didn't call. He didn't text message. He wrote them a letter and asked them to return the jug. Of course, they said, if you want it, come and get it, come and play for it.
"That's today now 104 years later we're still playing for that coveted jug, the oldest trophy in college football. It has a great tradition, a great meaning here. So, you know, when you lose it, it's a miserable experience. When you win it, you get to keep that jug where it belongs. I mean, we bought that jug (laughter)."
Two years ago, the Maize and Blue took part in that miserable experience. With a win streak dating back until 1987 on the line, Minnesota shocked the Wolverines 23-20 in Ann Arbor during the 2005 campaign. Senior linebacker Chris Graham, a sophomore at the time, hasn't forgotten the Gophers shocking upset.
"They will fight for the jug," Graham said on Monday. "We all saw them run to our sideline and take it last time they were here.
"We've just held on to it for a lot of years. It's going to be a big game for us. Big Johnny (Falk) will come around with it and he'll say 'hey friends' and he'll tell us the history of it. The guys who don't really understand will understand once the game starts."
With the Gophers entering the game at just 1-7, the Wolverines face a new challenge this week. After a pair of wins against teams expected to challenge the Wolverines, the Maize and Blue must maintain focus as the Gophers try and salvage their season with just a single victory.
"The rivalry really doesn't change because (of their season). I watched Minnesota and they come out and hit hard and if you don't play with that same intensity anything can happen at this time in the season," Graham continued. "You want to be on top of your game and just go out there and treat them like any other type of team because they're going to come out with the brown jug and we don't want that to be taken away again so we're just going to keep on fighting."
Kick-off against Minnesota is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ESPN Classic will provide national coverage while WXYZ Detroit has recently obtained right for local television coverage.