Monon Bell

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Monon Bell in 1967
Monon Bell is located in Indiana
Locations in Indiana

The Monon Bell (pronounced MOE-non) is the trophy awarded to the victor of the annual college football matchup between the Wabash College Little Giants (in Crawfordsville, Indiana) and the DePauw University Tigers (in Greencastle, Indiana) in the United States. The Bell is a 300-pound locomotive bell from the Monon Railroad. As of the end of the 2017 season, the two teams have played against each other 125 times. Wabash leads the all-time series, 62-54-9, and also has the advantage since the Bell was introduced as the victor's trophy in 1932, 43-38-6. The 125th game in the rivalry was held November 10, 2018 at Wabash College.[1][2]

Series history[edit]

The rivalry game between Wabash and DePauw began in 1890 and is among the oldest college football rivalries. The hit 1904 play The College Widow, and its subsequent film adaptations, were loosely based on the rivalry.[3]

The Monon Bell was introduced as a traveling trophy in 1932 at the suggestion of a DePauw alumnus, Orien Fifer (Class of 1925), in a letter to the editor of The Indianapolis News. Since the schools are only 27 miles apart, the adversaries in the game are often brothers, cousins, high school classmates or good friends, adding to the rivalry’s intensity. Before the introduction of overtime to college football, nine ties were logged in the series. By rule, in the event of a tie, the Bell was awarded to the previous owner. In the 1960 matchup, DePauw held the Bell and scored a last-minute touchdown to cut Wabash's lead to 13-12. DePauw coach Tommy Mont turned to the stands and spread out his hands. The DePauw fans shouted "Go!" DePauw scored on the conversion and won 14-13. This rule also held significance for the 99th Monon Bell Classic in 1992 in which from the 8 yard line Wabash opted for a field goal to tie the game at 17-17 (the kick hit the right upright, but still went through) and retained ownership of the Bell. This tie set up the 100th game as an evenly split 45-45-9 series, in which Wabash won, 40-26.

The teams failed to play each other only five years in the entire history. From 1897 to 1899, the schools did not schedule each other for an unknown reason. In 1910, the teams didn't play due to the death of Wabash's star halfback, Ralph Lee Wilson, who died from a concussion in a game earlier in the season. The schools have played each other every year since 1911.

Monon Bell Classic[edit]

College Comparison
Category Wabash DePauw
Location Crawfordsville Greencastle
Team Name Little Giants Tigers
Students 950 2,350
School Colors Scarlet Black & Old Gold
Mascot Wally Wabash Tyler T. Tiger
Conference NCAC NCAC
Home Field   Hollett Little Giant Stadium[4]   Blackstock Stadium
Student Body All-Male Co-Ed

The Monon Bell Classic is an American college football rivalry game played by Wabash College and DePauw University. Named for the Monon Bell, the trophy awarded to the winner, it is the sixth most-played Division III rivalry and equals the 12th-most played in college football.[5] To date, there have been 125 total games played between the two teams, resulting in a lead for Wabash at 62-54-9.[6]

Since the Bell was introduced as the rivalry's prize in 1932, Wabash holds a slimmer 43-38-6 advantage.

The game has received national media coverage including articles in Sports Illustrated in 1973 and 1993, a feature on Charles Kuralt's 1979 "CBS Sunday Morning" show, articles in USA Today in 1987 and the Wall Street Journal in 1999 and a feature on Fox Sports Net's show The Slant in 1999.

The game is regularly televised and past battles have been seen on ABC, ESPN2, AXS TV, and Fox Sports.

Annually, alumni parties are held in more than 50 cities across America where loyal fans from both schools gather to watch the game. Professionally replicated DVDs have been produced of 22 complete contests—the 2000 through 2017 games, as well as the 1977, 1984, 1993 and 1994 Monon Bell Classics.

In 2008, Ken Owen '82, executive director of media relations at DePauw, completed the task of compiling a "Monon Memory" for each and every game in the rivalry series. The clips utilize video/film from the DePauw and Wabash archives, as well as vintage photographs, and are available online and on Monon Bell DVDs. The "Memories" project was the subject of coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Indiana Business, and other media outlets. Owen has since re-cut several of the segments after locating additional archival materials.

Listed below are the all-time Monon Bell Classic results, with Wabash victories shaded in scarlet and DePauw victories are shaded in old gold.[6]

Bell heists[edit]

The Bell has been stolen at least nine times (1941, 1959, 1965, 1966, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1988, 1998). The most famous theft is known as "Operation Frijoles," which was ranked by Sports Illustrated as one of the five greatest all-time rivalry pranks.[7] "Operation Frijoles" is still the favorite story shared by Wabash fans regarding the "reappropriation" of the 300-pound trophy claimed each November by either Wabash College or DePauw University in the annual football meeting.

Operation Frijoles[edit]

Poster produced after "Operation Frijoles"

Prior to the 1965 meeting between the two teams, Wabash student Jim Shanks '67 scheduled a meeting with DePauw University President William H. Kerstetter, claiming to be representative from the US Information Service in Mexico City. During the meeting with Kerstetter, Shanks was able to convince the president to offer two full scholarships for Mexican students. To "seal the deal" Shanks asked to take photos of various points of interest on campus to show the "prospective" Mexican students more about DePauw University.

One item Shanks asked to photograph was the Monon Bell, in the Tigers' possession after a 22-21 victory in 1964. The dean of the college was the only person on campus who knew the location of the Bell, but was reluctant to tell Shanks of its location. "I don't know whether I should show this to you or not," he said with a laugh. "The last time I showed it to someone, they stole it."

Taken to the second floor of a Quonset hut near the football field, Shanks took careful notes that were provided to a group of Wabash students who entered the building and took the Bell back to Crawfordsville. The Bell was eventually "found" by the Wabash administration and returned to DePauw the day before the 1965 game.

Saturday afternoon the Little Giant football team made certain it was a short visit. Wabash defeated DePauw 16-6. After every Wabash touchdown, the Wabash fans cheered "Ole!" At the conclusion of the game Wabash fans stormed the field, many wearing sombreros and ponchos, throwing tortillas onto the field and wielding posters congratulating President Kerstetter for the loss of the Bell and the two scholarship offers.

Other heists[edit]

Another famous heist saw DePauw students stealing the bell from themselves. In 1967, concerned about the safety of the Bell from Wabash kidnappers, a group of DePauw students stole the bell from its resting place and buried it in the north end zone of DePauw's Blackstock Stadium. Very few students knew of its location, and many mistakenly believed it had been kidnapped by Wabash students. The Bell was unearthed on game day and Wabash wound up leaving with the trophy after a 7-0 victory on the muddy turf.

The Bell was last stolen in 1998 by Wabash students on Halloween.

In 1998, after DePauw had secured the Bell, a fracas broke out on the field of Wabash's Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium and DePauw students pulled down one of the Little Giants' goal posts. The Little Giant student body retaliated by charging the field. The melee was broken up by the local police, which used pepper spray to restrain the visiting crowd. As a result, following Monon Bell Classics have been played with added security and segregated fan sections.

Failed heists[edit]

One other failed heist occurred by DePauw students. They had succeeded in stealing the bell and had the bell loaded into their car when their car wouldn't start. They were caught red-handed with the bell. They assumed that they would only get a slap on the wrist for the attempted heist. However, the students from DePauw got 1000 hours of community service.

In 2012, DePauw students nearly snatched the bell when several members of the Wabash fraternity Sigma Chi fell asleep guarding it, however they woke up when the bell accidentally rang. In the resulting melee, the handle to the bell was broken, but Wabash was able to retain it.

In October 2017, three Wabash students wearing masks of Barack Obama and Donald Trump attempted to steal the bell from its display case at DePauw's Lilly Center in what is now known as the Failed Bipartisanship Heist. The students were intercepted on their way to a getaway truck after a DePauw police officer noticed the vehicle with its engine running during fall break; the would-be bandits also triggered a hidden pressure sensor, which alerted the DePauw and Greencastle City Police. [8]

The Ballad of the Monon Bell[edit]

The Ballad of the Monon Bell was introduced the week of the 1985 game at DePauw. The music is by Nancy Ford Charles (DePauw 1957), and the lyrics are by Darel Lindquist (DePauw 1968). The concept of the ballad originated with Patrick Aikman (DePauw 1957). The ballad has been recorded by Jim Ibbotson (of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) (DePauw 1969). A video, originally created in 1985, was recut in 2007 after tape was found containing a stereo version of the song, and another new version was created in August 2012. A 1985 demo of the song was also found in 2009. (See external links below for an MP3 and MOV of the song.)

Long before the cannonball traveled through her towns
The state of Indiana owned the jewel of the crown
The train, they called the Monon, the stories they still tell
The Giants and the Tigers playing for her bell

It rode like a masthead on engine ninety-nine
Crawfordsville to Greencastle, then further down the line
The Giants came from Wabash, the Tigers from DePauw
Since eighteen-ninety they have played the last game ev’ry fall

Many years they played for pride, oh the stories they could tell
Then in thirty-two the Monon train gave up her precious bell
They said, "Here take this symbol of smoke and fire and grit
And give it to the winner, a symbol not to quit."

Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw
Ring the bell for victory in the last game ev’ry fall
Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw
Ring the bell for victory in the last game ev’ry fall

Suddenly the boys of autumn had fire in their eyes
Blood and spit, but never quit, fighting for the prize
The medal to the victor, the symbol to the school
Wabash and DePauw became a yearly duel

Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw
Ring the bell for victory in the last game ev’ry fall
Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw
Ring the bell for victory in the last game ev’ry fall

Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw
Ring the bell for victory in the last game ev’ry fall
Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw
Ring the bell for victory in the last game ev’ry fall

Now history has recorded the players and their games
And to this day they still play for the Bell in Monon’s name
Those who’ve gone before return each November day
Swapping stories and legends for those who did not play

Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw
Ring the bell for victory in the last game ev’ry fall
Ring the Bell for Wabash, ring for old DePauw
Ring the bell for victory in the last game ev’ry fall

©DePauw University, 1985

Game results[edit]

Wabash leads the all-time series win-loss record 62–54–9.

DePauw victories are colored ██ gold. Wabash victories are colored ██ scarlet. Ties are white.

Date Winner Score Site
11/22/1890 DePauw 34-5[9] Crawfordsville
11/21/1891 DePauw 1-0(Forfeit) Greencastle
11/5/1892 DePauw 42-4 Greencastle
11/11/1893 DePauw 48-34 Crawfordsville
10/20/1894 Wabash 16-4 Greencastle
10/19/1895 Wabash 6-0 Crawfordsville
10/31/1896 DePauw 20-0 Greencastle
10/6/1900 Wabash 6-0 Crawfordsville
11/12/1900 DePauw 26-11 Greencastle
11/11/1901 DePauw 31-2 Greencastle
11/18/1901 DePauw 35-5 Crawfordsville
11/21/1903 Wabash 10-0 Crawfordsville
11/25/1905 Wabash 52-0 Crawfordsville
11/17/1906 Wabash 7-0 Greencastle
11/4/1907 Wabash 11-4 Crawfordsville
11/20/1908 Wabash 12-0 Crawfordsville
10/9/1909 Tie 0-0 Greencastle
10/13/1911 Tie 0-0 Crawfordsville
10/12/1912 Wabash 62-0 Greencastle
10/20/1913 DePauw 7-0 Crawfordsville
11/16/1914 DePauw 3-0 Greencastle
11/20/1915 Wabash 34-0 Crawfordsville
11/11/1916 Wabash 26-13 Indianapolis
11/10/1917 DePauw 7-0 Indianapolis
11/23/1918 DePauw 28-6 Crawfordsville
11/8/1919 Tie 0-0 Indianapolis
11/20/1920 DePauw 3-0 Indianapolis
11/19/1921 Wabash 22-0 Indianapolis
11/25/1922 Wabash 30-0 Indianapolis
11/24/1923 Wabash 17-0 Crawfordsville
11/22/1924 Wabash 21-0 Greencastle
11/21/1925 Wabash 22-0 Crawfordsville
11/20/1926 Wabash 6-0 Greencastle
11/19/1927 Wabash 13-7 Crawfordsville
11/24/1928 DePauw 20-12 Greencastle
11/23/1929 Wabash 8-7 Crawfordsville
11/22/1930 DePauw 7-6 Greencastle
11/21/1931 DePauw 13-7 Crawfordsville
11/19/1932 Tie 0-0 Greencastle
11/18/1933 DePauw 14-0 Crawfordsville
11/17/1934 Wabash 7-6 Greencastle
11/16/1935 Tie 0-0 Crawfordsville
11/14/1936 Wabash 19-0 Greencastle
11/13/1937 DePauw 32-0 Crawfordsville
11/12/1938 DePauw 7-0 Greencastle
11/18/1939 DePauw 7-0 Crawfordsville
11/16/1940 Wabash 17-13 Greencastle
11/15/1941 Wabash 27-19 Crawfordsville
11/14/1942 DePauw 6-3 Greencastle
10/16/1943 DePauw 33-0 Greencastle
10/21/1944 Wabash 14-7 Crawfordsville
9/22/1945 DePauw 13-7 Greencastle
11/16/1946 Wabash 26-0 Crawfordsville
11/15/1947 Wabash 27-7 Greencastle
11/13/1948 DePauw 8-0 Crawfordsville
11/12/1949 Wabash 25-21 Greencastle
11/18/1950 Wabash 34-20 Crawfordsville
11/17/1951 Wabash 41-12 Greencastle
11/15/1952 Wabash 47-0 Crawfordsville
11/14/1953 Wabash 41-0 Greencastle
11/13/1954 Wabash 28-0 Crawfordsville
11/12/1955 DePauw 23-20 Greencastle
11/17/1956 Tie 7-7 Crawfordsville
11/16/1957 DePauw 37-6 Greencastle
11/15/1958 DePauw 24-8 Crawfordsville
11/14/1959 Tie 6-6 Greencastle
11/12/1960 DePauw 14-13 Crawfordsville
11/18/1961 DePauw 20-7 Greencastle
11/17/1962 DePauw 13-10 Crawfordsville
11/16/1963 DePauw 17-0 Greencastle
11/14/1964 DePauw 22-21 Crawfordsville
11/13/1965 Wabash 16-6 Greencastle
11/12/1966 DePauw 9-7 Crawfordsville
11/11/1967 Wabash 7-0 Greencastle
11/16/1968 DePauw 18-7 Crawfordsville
11/15/1969 DePauw 17-7 Greencastle
11/7/1970 DePauw 14-13 Crawfordsville
11/13/1971 Wabash 16-7 Greencastle
11/11/1972 Wabash 20-14 Crawfordsville
11/10/1973 DePauw 28-21 Greencastle
11/16/1974 DePauw 15-12 Crawfordsville
11/15/1975 DePauw 14-8 Greencastle
11/13/1976 Wabash 14-7 Crawfordsville
11/12/1977 Wabash 30-6 Greencastle
11/11/1978 Wabash 11-3 Crawfordsville
11/10/1979 Wabash 16-13 Greencastle
11/8/1980 Tie 22-22 Crawfordsville
11/14/1981 DePauw 21-14 Greencastle
11/13/1982 Wabash 31-6 Crawfordsville
11/12/1983 DePauw 16-10 Greencastle
11/10/1984 Wabash 41-26 Crawfordsville
11/9/1985 Wabash 28-8 Greencastle
11/8/1986 Wabash 24-23 Crawfordsville
11/14/1987 DePauw 33-11 Greencastle
11/12/1988 DePauw 24-14 Crawfordsville
11/11/1989 DePauw 41-14 Greencastle
11/10/1990 DePauw 20-13 Crawfordsville
11/16/1991 Wabash 23-18 Greencastle
11/14/1992 Tie 17-17 Crawfordsville
11/13/1993 Wabash 40-26 Greencastle
11/12/1994 Wabash 28-24 Crawfordsville
11/11/1995 Wabash 7-2 Greencastle
11/16/1996 DePauw 31-13 Crawfordsville
11/15/1997 DePauw 14-7 Greencastle
11/14/1998 DePauw 42-7 Crawfordsville
11/13/1999 DePauw 21-7 Greencastle
11/11/2000 DePauw 27-17 Crawfordsville
11/10/2001 Wabash 27-21 Greencastle
11/16/2002 Wabash 35-7 Crawfordsville
11/15/2003 Wabash 37-20 Greencastle
11/13/2004 DePauw 14-7 Crawfordsville
11/12/2005 Wabash 17-14 Greencastle
11/11/2006 Wabash 23-20 Crawfordsville
11/10/2007 DePauw 24-21 Greencastle
11/15/2008 DePauw 36-14 Crawfordsville
11/14/2009 Wabash 32-19 Greencastle
11/13/2010 Wabash 47-0[10] Crawfordsville
11/12/2011 Wabash 45-7[11] Greencastle
11/10/2012 Wabash 23-0[12] Crawfordsville
11/16/2013 Wabash 38-21[13] Greencastle
11/15/2014 Wabash 27-3[14] Crawfordsville
11/14/2015 Wabash 45-17[15] Greencastle
11/12/2016 DePauw 37-34[16] Crawfordsville
11/11/2017 Wabash 22-21[17] Greencastle
11/10/2018 Wabash 24-17[18] Crawfordsville


  1. ^ 2018 Monon Bell Classic
  2. ^ 2018 Wabash College Football Schedule
  3. ^ (24 January 2006). 'College Widow' to open Purdue's new Hansen Theatre, Purdue University News
  4. ^
  5. ^ Monon Bell Classic, "Monon Bell and Rivalry Facts", DePauw University, retrieved October 14, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Monon Bell Classic, "All-Time Football Results", DePauw University, retrieved October 14, 2008.
  7. ^ Sports Illustrated, December 12, 2005, p. 36
  8. ^ Wabash students wear masks during attempted Monon Bell heist Fox59, 2017/10/25
  9. ^ "Monon Bell – All-Time Scores".
  10. ^ "Wabash Dominates; Bell Stays Here". November 13, 2010.
  11. ^ "Little Giants Romp in Monon Bell Classic". November 12, 2011.
  12. ^ "Seniors Ring the Bell All Four Years". November 10, 2012.
  13. ^ "Wabash Claims Fifth Straight Monon Bell Win". November 16, 2013.
  14. ^ "Wabash Wins Sixth Straight Monon Bell Classic". November 15, 2014.
  15. ^ "Wabash Takes Bell, NCAC Title Into Playoffs". November 14, 2015.
  16. ^ "Late Wabash Rally Thwarted In Monon Bell Loss". November 12, 2016.
  17. ^ "Wabash College Wins MBC". November 11, 2017.
  18. ^ "Wabash Wins 125th Monon Bell Classic". November 10, 2018.

External links[edit]