ARTICLE

Was Iowa the Cornhuskers before it was the Hawkeyes?

The Iowa Cornhuskers
The Iowa Cornhuskers
/

I wasn't around before 1900. If I had been, I'd have tried to make friends with Henry Ford so I could get a good deal on a new car.

But apparently, the University of Iowa's athletic teams were known as the Cornhuskers before they became the Hawkeyes. Or so says Huskers.com:

Before 1900, Nebraska football teams were known by such names as the Old Gold Knights, Antelopes, Rattlesnake Boys and the Bugeaters. In its first two seasons (1890-91), Nebraska competed as the Old Gold Knights, but beginning in 1892, Nebraska adopted Scarlet and Cream as its colors and accepted the Bugeaters as its most popular nickname until the turn of the century. Named after the insect-devouring bull bats that hovered over the plains, the Bugeaters also found their prey in the Midwest, enjoying winning campaigns in every year of the 1890s until a disappointing season in 1899.

After its first losing season in a decade, it must have seemed only fitting that Nebraska move in a new direction, and Lincoln sportswriter Charles S. (Cy) Sherman, who was to gain national renown as the sports editor of the Lincoln Star and help originate The Associated Press Poll, provided the nickname that has gained fame for a century. Sherman tired of referring to the Nebraska teams with such an unglamorous term as Bugeaters. Iowa had, from time to time, been called the Cornhuskers, and the name appealed to Sherman.

Iowa partisans seemed to prefer Hawkeyes, so Sherman started referring to the Nebraska team as Cornhuskers, and the 1900 team was first to bear that label.

I have found nothing to verify Iowa's team was ever called the Cornhuskers, though I also have no reason to doubt it. I mean, the state had corn back then, so what would you call them? The Mountaineers? The Gators? The Banana Slugs?

There are still rude people who call the Cornhuskers "the Bugeaters." This is frowned upon by Nebraskans. But the university has registered the name "Bugeaters."

By the way, the 1900 Nebraska football team was coached by Walter C. "Bummy" Booth and played home games at Antelope Field. Those were the days, my friend.

There was an Iowa Cornhuskers entity of some fame, however, but it had nothing to do with college sports. That would be the old swing band that toured Iowa and the Midwest.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Iowa Cornhuskers!