Rivalry: From the fan's perspective

More news about: DePauw | Wabash
Any time DePauw and Wabash face off, you can expect emotions to be running high.

By Ryan Tipps
Wabash '00

November in Indiana is usually cold – especially at night. Layers of clothing are necessary, and your breath turns into thick hovering clouds around you. But for the six nights before the Monon Bell Game, fraternity pledges and independent freshmen each take turns “guarding” the Wabash campus throughout the night in case any DePauw students are up to no good.

The freshmen gather at the entrances to campus, huddled for warmth around small fires burning in barrels. They don’t expect to sleep, and a Pepsi or something a little stronger is often used to help get them through the night. Also helping, too, that week is talk of the upcoming game, a rivalry that dates back to 1890. It’s not uncommon to hear the boisterous rally cry on the Little Giant campus: “DePauw to hell, we want the bell!”

And so it goes with the rivalry. The all-time series stands at 55-53-9, with Wabash having the edge. But since the Monon Bell trophy was introduced in 1932, DePauw leads 37-36-6. The rivalry has spawned a tribute song, “The Ballad of the Monon Bell,” which was recorded in the 1980s by a DePauw alumnus and member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, as well as a book, “Battle for the Bell: The DePauw-Wabash Rivalry.” And for years, student newspapers, The DePauw and The Bachelor, had taken the lead on the public chiding between the two institutions. DePauw long put out the parody paper The Bachelorette, while Wabash printed The DeBauch. In both, the humor was as crude as the rivalry was intense.

Of course, the Monon Bell atmosphere comes down to the game itself. And while there have been some pretty long stretches in which one team has dominated, the fact that the overall rivalry is so close fuels the excitement and the “anything can happen” perception. Over the past 15 seasons that I’ve attended the game, two moments stand out:

The first was Wabash’s 2001 victory, which snapped a DePauw five-game Monon Bell winning streak. With the game in Greencastle tied and just 2.7 seconds left on the clock, quarterback Jake Knott lofted a pass from his own 48 toward the end zone. It fell 5 yards shy, where wideout Ryan Short tipped the ball back over the heads of a row of defenders and into the waiting hands of Wabash’s Kurt Casper for the touchdown. A stream of red-clad fans poured out of the stands and onto the field to celebrate with the players.

The other standout moment came in 2007, again with a tie score and just a couple of seconds on the clock. DePauw sophomore Jordan Havercamp had never made a collegiate field goal but was being called upon for a 47-yard attempt. Almost everyone in that stadium was sure the game would be pushed into overtime, but Havercamp made sure that didn’t happen. His kick sailed through the uprights, and dejection on the Wabash side was mirrored by the eruptions of cheers from the home stands filled with black and old gold.

For several years, Wabash had that 2001 game to lean on as one of the rivalry history’s great wins. It was good that DePauw had its game-winning kick in 2007. It gave the Tigers a spark of their own in the rivalry. Each team needs these kinds of moments to maintain the momentum of rivalries. The lore of greatness on the field is just as important as the final score.

It’s the energy of the game, the addition of thousands of fans and the unity the Monon Bell inspires that brings me back each year. Being an alumnus of Wabash, there is no prouder time to be a part of the school than in the week surrounding the Monon Bell matchup. The game is such a singular focus that for most onlookers, there’s nothing that they want at that moment more than a win. And everyone around you wants exactly the same thing as passionately as you do.

Finally, it would be unfair not to add one other interesting element of this rivalry: the heists. Over the years, there have been several attempts by students to steal the bell trophy from their opponent prior to the game, and a few instances have been successful. The most memorable accounts are highly detailed and play on the naivete of the institution that had won the trophy last.

Adam Turer

Adam Turer graduated in 2006 from Washington and Lee University, where he was a two-year starter at free safety. He lives in Cincinnati and covers area high school sports in addition to his full-time job as an attorney. Adam has contributed to D3football.com since 2007 and is in his second season writing Around the Nation after spending four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.

2014-2015 columnist: Ryan Tipps.
2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

Previous Columns

December 22, 2017
2017 Year in Review
This was a bittersweet year, Adam Turer writes. Despite players who didn't finish the season, to an...
November 16, 2017
Playoff picks, surprises and disappointments
Who are the teams that will surprise in this year's playoffs? Who will be the disappointments? And...
November 12, 2017
Playing up to expectations
Our projections and predictions were impressive. Let's take a look back at the teams we thought...
November 9, 2017
End of a long road
Barry Streeter ends his 39-year head-coaching career with his final game on Saturday, and Regis...
November 5, 2017
Going out on a high note
Dozens of seniors played their final college football game yesterday. Many had to balance the sting...
November 2, 2017
Cru's success is infectious
Mary Hardin-Baylor's 2016 national title may well have lit a fire under the rest of the Crusaders'...
October 29, 2017
Built for the stretch run
Some programs had backloaded schedules this year. These final few weeks are their time to prove...
October 26, 2017
Surviving the quick change
There were quite a few late-season coaching changes, and it meant an end to one program as well as a...
October 22, 2017
Let's have a breakdown together
Three games on Saturday provided clarity in the playoff picture. There is still much to be decided...
October 19, 2017
No longer beasts, East trying to break back through
No East Region team has finished the season in Salem since 1999, and it has been 10 years since an...
October 15, 2017
Occidental not giving up yet
The Tigers cancelled yet another home game, this time on homecoming weekend. Emotions are running...
October 12, 2017
Bruins' long road to respect
Seven-plus years of planning, four-plus years of practice and three-plus years of competition have...
October 8, 2017
Picks and polls
Interceptions won some games and clinched others across Division III this weekend. Adam Turer looks...
October 5, 2017
Re-ranking the conferences in 2017
When conference memberships shift as much as they have this year, ranking the conferences becomes an...
October 1, 2017
Through the eyes of the quarterback
What is it like to pass for over 500 yards in a game, or over 1,400 yards through four games? Few...
September 28, 2017
Hot starts create unlikely unbeatens
As we head into the final weekend of the season’s first month, 39 teams sit at either 3-0 or...
September 24, 2017
An emotional week
Loss, scandal, history, and catharsis. This week had everything. From Wooster honoring their...
September 21, 2017
Rivalry showdown takes center field
Don't let the unique location or record-breaking attendance numbers distract you. The Tommie-Johnnie...
September 17, 2017
Feeding the beasts
Several teams remained undefeated by following a familiar formula: get the ball in your best...
September 14, 2017
Back from hiatus
Three former All-Region players spent 2016 on the sidelines. One was actually on the sidelines after...
September 10, 2017
How to pull off an upset
It takes aggression. Fourth downs, fake punts, and two-point conversions all factored into the...
September 7, 2017
Digging in for Duke
Muhlenberg head coach Mike Donnelly has been forced to the sidelines this year as he fights acute...
September 3, 2017
Remembering how to win again
Week One did not disappoint. Snap Judgments returns, getting you caught up on the Top 25 upsets,...
August 31, 2017
This season signifies one last shot at Salem
If you've never been to Salem for the Stagg Bowl, 2017 will be your last chance, at least for a...
December 20, 2016
Year in review: The year everything changed
We had a brand-new Division III national champion for the first time since 2007. Mount Union lost a...
November 17, 2016
Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments
Around the Nation has assembled a team of prognosticators for an annual look at who might surprise...
November 13, 2016
Snap Judgments: Hellos and goodbyes
Today is going to be bittersweet for many. We take a look at the teams that announced their arrival...
November 10, 2016
Out of the darkness, light
Sometimes, things don’t go your way. Sometimes, your highest expectations are crushed by...
 • More Division III football news releases

Other Columnists