Today's Tidbit... Purdue and The Lafayette Cup ($)
College football plays trophy and rivalry games throughout the year, but many of the best of those games occur on Thanksgiving weekend. Teams that did little through the year can gain a measure of salvation by beating their instate or border rival for the Old Oaken Bucket or a similar reward. Yet, teams often battled for mythical state championships before today's one-on-one rivalries and conferences.
One of those state championship battles arrived in Indiana shortly after Butler formed the state's first football team in 1885. Butler's head start helped them dominate the early years of play, but other schools began catching up when they formed the Indiana Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1890.
Purdue had become competitive by 1892 when 159 good citizens of Lafayette donated $1 apiece to acquire The Lafayette Cup, a 14-inch Moorish-inspired sterling silver cup with a formation of eleven players engraved on the front. Made by Gorham and purchased from Tiffany, they intended the cup to be a traveling trophy awarded to each year's state champion. As part of the process, the winning team was to submit a $200 deposit upon taking possession to ensure the cup continued traveling if and when another team claimed the title.
The contending teams in the first year of play included Butler, DePauw, Indiana, Purdue, and Wabash.