Floyd a dashing target for Hawkeyes and Gophers

The story behind the trophy sprint

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IOWA CITY — Floyd of Rosedale will appear on Iowa’s sideline late in the second half on Saturday. Which portion of the sideline depends on the game’s outcome.

Both the Minnesota and Iowa football programs recently have won and lost the 98.3-pound bronze pig, the series’ symbol of victory since 1936. In 2010, the two-win Gophers upset the seven-win Hawkeyes. They held serve in 2011. Last year, Iowa reclaimed the prize porker.

When the teams appeared to have lost the trophy, team managers placed it near the 20-yard line, far from the majority of players and coaches. Then comes the trophy dash.

“Everybody in America does it the same way. If you’re winning, you stay at the 50-yard line. If you’re losing or it looks like you’re going to lose it, you place it at a point where there’s as less traffic between the two teams as possible,” said Iowa equipment manager Greg Morris Morris, also the father of Iowa middle linebacker James Morris.

Despite the emotions attached to the game, Floyd usually leaves the field with little interaction between the teams.

“You hate when somebody comes over and steals it from you,” Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff said. “It’s horrible. They’re taking it from you. That means they outplayed you.

“You’ve got to walk off the field. There should be no fighting.”

But the trophy dash or retention comes on Saturday. Floyd’s final week before the Iowa-Minnesota game largely was the same as the other 51 proceeding it. Unlike other years where Iowa managers brought the statue to practice, Floyd spent the week in the same trophy case outside the coaches’ office at the Hayden Fry Complex. Thursday’s plans were to load him into the equipment truck and haul him to Minneapolis. It’s undetermined whether he’ll stay in the truck overnight or move him inside the team hotel before the game.

There’s not a chance he’ll get forgotten, unlike another traveling trophy.

“There was a time when I was an assistant, we forgot the Cy-Hawk Trophy,” Morris said. “It was during that time when we won so many years in a row. It got left in Iowa City, and we played over there.”

In that era of 15 straight Iowa wins, the Cy-Hawk Trophy was a footnote. Floyd matters every year.

“It’s one of those games where you put it on your list,” Morris said.

Minnesota buzzed this week in anticipation. The equipment office issued workout T-shirts players reading “The Fight For Floyd.” Gophers students have sold out their 10,000-seat section at TCF Bank Stadium, and the Twitter hashtag #BringFloydHome has generated thousands of tweets.

“First of all it’s a great rivalry,” Minnesota offensive lineman Zac Epping said. “We look forward to it every year. When we won it for the first time (2010), I’ve never seen my team so happy. The year I actually played and we won it (2011), I was just proud for my teammates and coaches. Losing it, it hurts. It’s one of the games that you look back on the season and say, ‘Man, I wish I would have won it.’ We wish we still had Floyd. You’ve just got to work hard and get it back.”

Both coaches review the series’ importance with their players. Some do it subtlety like Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, who was low key in front of media Tuesday then talked to his players about Floyd later that day. Football coaches are accustomed to moving past games faster than fans, but Minnesota Coach Jerry Kill was surprised with how quickly the reverse happened last Saturday.

That’s what happens in rivalry weeks.

“I congratulated the team for five minutes Saturday and then the next thing I said, ‘We’ve got to get ready for Iowa,’” Kill said. “I think our president was down — I’ve got a lot of stuff on my mind after a game — and I think he said, ‘Good win and I’d sure like to have that pig back.’ I didn’t get a lot of chances between winning one game and going to the next one. I already knew who we were playing.

“You ask all those questions about if it’s important or not, I think that pretty much sums it up. It’s important.”

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