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Saturday July 21, 2018
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Trophy CSI



K.D. Smith, the attendant on duty, scooped up the crock. Painted on its side was a tally of football scores between the U-M and the University of Minnesota dating back to 1903. For weeks, the Michigan athletic department had been conducting a very public hunt for the Little Brown Jug, a trophy the teams had fought over since 1909. Now, it seemed, it had been found.

But while the Daily reported that university officials "practically proved the authenticity" of the jug, the Ann Arbor Daily News dismissed it as an "imitation." When Michigan defeated the Golden Gophers, 6-0, a few days later to retain the trophy, the News wrote that the Wolverines had been "spared the embarrassment" of having to surrender the "bogus" replica.

When the Wolverines played in Minneapolis the following year, the Minnesota Daily reported that "talk of the genuineness or phoneyness of the jug waxed hot in barber shops and fraternity houses." The chief skeptic was Minnesota equipment manager Oscar Munson. "They've been shoving a spurious water container off on us for years," claimed Munson, the man who helped start the tradition by finding the drinking jug the Wolverines left behind after a tie game in 1903.

Yet according to the Minnesota paper, Michigan athletic director Fielding Yost "didn't even wink" when he assured reporters that it was authentic. "Why sure, it's the real jug," insisted Yost, who coached that 1903 game. "Take a look at it. Does it look like a phoney?" Michigan won the 1932 game, 3-0, and took the suspect prize back to Ann Arbor.

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