The Iron Skillet: Not your ordinary piece of cookware

When SMU faces rival TCU on Saturday, they’ll be battling it out for a trophy shaped like an iron skillet. But why an iron skillet?

When SMU faces rival TCU on Saturday, Sept. 16, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth,  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 Oct. 1, the agenda included: “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. 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.”

The Trophy

The SMU-TCU Iron Skillet

The Iron Skillet is the hard-fought-for prize in each year's football match-up between SMU and TCU.


Read more about this year's game.

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