September 25, 2014
By Chris Dell
When SMU faces rival TCU on Saturday, Sept. 27, at Gerald J. Ford Stadium, they’ll be battling it out for a trophy shaped like an iron skillet. But why an iron skillet?
According to a Nov. 30, 1946, article in The Dallas Morning News, the “Battle of the Iron Skillet” was started to prevent “mutilation of school property” by rowdy fans. The previous year, more than $1,000 in damage had been done to both campuses.
“The SMU student council proposed the skillet as a symbol of the rivalry and substitute for vandalism,” says SMU Archivist Joan Gosnell.
Gosnell says minutes from fall 1946 student council meetings provide more clues. On October 1, the agenda includes: “Further set up idea of Little Brown Jug Trophy,” referring to the Michigan-Minnesota football rivalry. On November 12, the committee arranging an SMU-TCU banquet and trophy “was reminded of their job.”
And on November 19, a student reported that he had purchased the trophy – “an aluminum skillet.” A motion was made that SMU and TCU would share the expense of the trophy.
“The skillet was presented to the winner Saturday night after the game, when the two student councils had a joint banquet,” Gosnell says.
Darwin Payne, professor emeritus of communications at SMU, has written extensively about Dallas history, including a book on athletics at SMU, titled In Victory or Defeat. Payne says the SMU-TCU rivalry dates from 1915, when SMU’s first team traveled to Fort Worth for the season opener, losing 43-0.
“The rivalry over the years has been perhaps the greatest and most consistent rivalry of all for the two teams,” Payne says. “It took on even greater dimensions through the years because the game represented Dallas against Fort Worth when these two cities were often bitter rivals.”
This year marks the 79th anniversary of perhaps the most important clash in the teams’ history, Payne says. “SMU was ranked first in the nation, TCU sixth, and tickets that sold for a dollar were scalped for as much as $100,” he says. “SMU won in dramatic fashion, 20-14, and was headed for the Rose Bowl.”
See SMU Athletics' Game Day page for more information on Saturday's game.
# # #