The reasons Iowa stopped playing Missouri in football after 1910

This was going in style to the last Iowa-Missouri football game
This was going in style to the last Iowa-Missouri football game

It's amazing. The University of Missouri and the University of Iowa are just 192 miles apart, and both play what is commonly called major-college football.

Yet, their rivalry is the absolute worst of any two major-college football programs that close together. Bar none.

For one thing, they haven't met since 1910. That's a hundred years ago for the math-impaired. There was no ESPN then. Lou Holtz wasn't even alive, incredible as that may seem.

Heaven knows how the Hawkeyes traveled to Columbia for that game. A mule train?

And when they did play, the games generally were lousy. The last meeting was a 5-0 win for Mizzou. In the dozen meetings between 1892 and 1910, Iowa was shut out four times and Missouri twice.

That 1910 season was a dilly. Iowa went 5-2. But besides losing to Mizzou, Iowa also fell to ... who else, Northwestern. That score was 10-5. Safeties clearly were more in vogue back then.

I do have some info about that 1910 Iowa-Missouri game, thanks to "75 Years with the Fighting Hawkeyes," by Bert McGrane and Dick Lamb and this page from

Coach Jess Hawley's Hawkeyes took just 19 varsity players to Columbia. Missouri announced it would not allow Iowa tackle Archie Alexander, a black man, to play that day. 


From The contest ended 5-0 in “perhaps the most exasperating game of the season. Handicapped by the excessive heat and by the continuous yelling of the Missouri rooters, the Hawkeyes lost a fiercely fought game,” reported the yearbook. Following the loss to the Tigers, Coach Hawley declared he would never again field a team against Missouri.

The ban on Alexander on top of what Iowa termed unsportsmanlike treatment given his team prompted Hawley to say what he said.

Maybe the series should have been stopped a year sooner. Mizzou beat Iowa 13-12 in Iowa City. Here was part of the Daily Iowan's account of the game:

"Missouri's kick for goal after the first touchdown landed on the 'Merry Widow' of a startled female spectator at the north end of the field."

Being naive, I researched the matter and learned that a merry widow is a women's foundation garment which is intended to smooth the waist and stomach area while also pushing up the bust.

This kind of thing can't happen at Sun Devil Stadium on Dec. 28 when Iowa and Missouri finally meet again. Or so I'm told.



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