Monon Bell

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Monon Bell
First meetingNovember 22, 1890
DePauw 34, Wabash 5
Latest meetingNovember 13, 2021
Wabash 42, DePauw 35
Next meeting2022
TrophyMonon Bell
Meetings total127
All-time seriesWabash leads, 63–55–9
Trophy seriesWabash leads, 44–39–6
Largest victoryWabash, 62–0 (1912)
Longest win streakWabash, 7 (1921–1927, 2009–2015)
Current win streakWabash, 1 (2021–present)
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 2021 season, the two teams have played against each other 127 times. Wabash leads the all-time series, 63-55-9, and also has the advantage since the Bell was introduced as the victor's trophy in 1932, 44-39-6. The 127th game in the rivalry was held on Nov. 13, 2021 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 six 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. The 2020 game was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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 127 total games played between the two teams, resulting in a lead for Wabash at 63-55-9.[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 reviewed by Wabash students upon his return. The Wabash students decided they would have two groups attempt to retrieve The Bell. The first group that arrived on campus was quickly discovered before attempting the heist and were ordered to either "leave campus or find dates." The Wabash students chose the latter. The second group of students arrived on campus undetected, entered the building, and took the Bell back to Crawfordsville. Depauw's security, upon realizing The Bell was gone, found the first group of Wabash students still on campus. Security questioned the students about the heist but their dates vouched that they had been together the entire night. 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. Shortly after the heist, the temperature dropped well below freezing and there was concern The Bell would inaccessible for the game. Luckily, the ground thawed and The Bell was unearthed on game day. 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 along with transferring The Bell midway through the 4th quarter to a neutral location if the result of the game is still in doubt.

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, because the crime occurred in Montgomery County, where nearly all the judges are Wabash alumni, 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] Out of concern for the students' future employment prospects, the police, the schools, and the students agreed the students only punishment would be cleaning Blackstock Stadium after the game. Many Wabash alumni and other students assisted the clean-up following the game to lighten the burden on the apprehended students.

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]

DePauw victoriesWabash victoriesTie games
1 November 22, 1890 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 34–5
2 November 21, 1891 Greencastle, IN DePauw 1–0
3 November 5, 1892 Greencastle, IN DePauw 42–4
4 November 11, 1893 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 48–34
5 October 20, 1894 Greencastle, IN Wabash 16–4
6 October 19, 1895 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 6–0
7 October 31, 1896 Greencastle, IN DePauw 20–0
8 October 6, 1900 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 6–0
9 November 12, 1900 Greencastle, IN DePauw 26–11
10 November 11, 1901 Greencastle, IN DePauw 31–2
11 November 18, 1901 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 35–5
12 November 21, 1903 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 10–0
13 November 25, 1905 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 52–0
14 November 17, 1906 Greencastle, IN Wabash 7–0
15 November 4, 1907 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 11–4
16 November 20, 1908 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 12–0
17 October 9, 1909 Greencastle, IN Tie0–0
18 October 13, 1911 Crawfordsville, IN Tie0–0
19 October 12, 1912 Greencastle, IN Wabash 62–0
20 October 20, 1913 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 7–0
21 November 16, 1914 Greencastle, IN DePauw 3–0
22 November 20, 1915 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 34–0
23 November 11, 1916 Indianapolis, IN Wabash 26–13
24 November 10, 1917 Indianapolis, IN DePauw 7–0
25 November 23, 1918 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 28–6
26 November 8, 1919 Indianapolis, IN Tie0–0
27 November 20, 1920 Indianapolis, IN DePauw 3–0
28 November 19, 1921 Indianapolis, IN Wabash 22–0
29 November 25, 1922 Indianapolis, IN Wabash 30–0
30 November 24, 1923 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 17–0
31 November 22, 1924 Greencastle, IN Wabash 21–0
32 November 21, 1925 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 22–0
33 November 20, 1926 Greencastle, IN Wabash 6–0
34 November 19, 1927 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 13–7
35 November 24, 1928 Greencastle, IN DePauw 20–12
36 November 23, 1929 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 8–7
37 November 22, 1930 Greencastle, IN DePauw 7–6
38 November 21, 1931 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 13–7
39 November 19, 1932 Greencastle, IN Tie0–0
40 November 18, 1933 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 14–0
41 November 17, 1934 Greencastle, IN Wabash 7–6
42 November 16, 1935 Crawfordsville, IN Tie0–0
43 November 14, 1936 Greencastle, IN Wabash 19–0
44 November 13, 1937 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 32–0
45 November 12, 1938 Greencastle, IN DePauw 7–0
46 November 18, 1939 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 7–0
47 November 16, 1940 Greencastle, IN Wabash 17–13
48 November 15, 1941 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 27–19
49 November 14, 1942 Greencastle, IN DePauw 6–3
50 October 16, 1943 Greencastle, IN DePauw 33–0
51 October 21, 1944 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 14–7
52 September 22, 1945 Greencastle, IN DePauw 13–7
53 November 16, 1946 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 26–0
54 November 15, 1947 Greencastle, IN Wabash 27–7
55 November 13, 1948 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 8–0
56 November 12, 1949 Greencastle, IN Wabash 25–21
57 November 18, 1950 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 34–20
58 November 17, 1951 Greencastle, IN Wabash 41–12
59 November 15, 1952 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 47–0
60 November 14, 1953 Greencastle, IN Wabash 41–0
61 November 13, 1954 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 28–0
62 November 12, 1955 Greencastle, IN DePauw 23–20
63 November 17, 1956 Crawfordsville, IN Tie7–7
64 November 16, 1957 Greencastle, IN DePauw 37–6
65 November 15, 1958 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 24–8
66 November 14, 1959 Greencastle, IN Tie6–6
67 November 12, 1960 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 14–13
68 November 18, 1961 Greencastle, IN DePauw 20–7
69 November 17, 1962 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 13–10
70 November 16, 1963 Greencastle, IN DePauw 17–0
71 November 14, 1964 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 22–21
72 November 13, 1965 Greencastle, IN Wabash 16–6
73 November 12, 1966 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 9–7
74 November 11, 1967 Greencastle, IN Wabash 7–0
75 November 16, 1968 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 18–7
76 November 15, 1969 Greencastle, IN DePauw 17–7
77 November 7, 1970 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 14–13
78 November 13, 1971 Greencastle, IN Wabash 16–7
79 November 11, 1972 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 20–14
80 November 10, 1973 Greencastle, IN DePauw 28–21
81 November 16, 1974 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 15–12
82 November 15, 1975 Greencastle, IN DePauw 14–8
83 November 13, 1976 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 14–7
84 November 12, 1977 Greencastle, IN Wabash 30–6
85 November 11, 1978 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 11–3
86 November 10, 1979 Greencastle, IN Wabash 16–13
87 November 8, 1980 Crawfordsville, IN Tie22–22
88 November 14, 1981 Greencastle, IN DePauw 21–14
89 November 13, 1982 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 31–6
90 November 12, 1983 Greencastle, IN DePauw 16–10
91 November 10, 1984 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 41–26
92 November 9, 1985 Greencastle, IN Wabash 28–8
93 November 8, 1986 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 24–23
94 November 14, 1987 Greencastle, IN DePauw 33–11
95 November 12, 1988 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 24–14
96 November 11, 1989 Greencastle, IN DePauw 41–14
97 November 10, 1990 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 20–13
98 November 16, 1991 Greencastle, IN Wabash 23–18
99 November 14, 1992 Crawfordsville, IN Tie17–17
100 November 13, 1993 Greencastle, IN Wabash 40–26
101 November 12, 1994 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 28–24
102 November 11, 1995 Greencastle, IN Wabash 7–2
103 November 16, 1996 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 31–13
104 November 15, 1997 Greencastle, IN DePauw 14–7
105 November 14, 1998 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 42–7
106 November 13, 1999 Greencastle, IN DePauw 21–7
107 November 11, 2000 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 27–17
108 November 10, 2001 Greencastle, IN Wabash 27–21
109 November 16, 2002 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 35–7
110 November 15, 2003 Greencastle, IN Wabash 37–20
111 November 13, 2004 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 14–7
112 November 12, 2005 Greencastle, IN Wabash 17–14
113 November 11, 2006 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 23–20
114 November 10, 2007 Greencastle, IN DePauw 24–21
115 November 15, 2008 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 36–14
116 November 14, 2009 Greencastle, IN Wabash 32–19
117 November 13, 2010 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 47–0
118 November 12, 2011 Greencastle, IN Wabash 45–7
119 November 10, 2012 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 23–0
120 November 16, 2013 Greencastle, IN Wabash 38–21
121 November 15, 2014 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 27–3
122 November 14, 2015 Greencastle, IN Wabash 45–17
123 November 12, 2016 Crawfordsville, IN DePauw 37–34
124 November 11, 2017 Greencastle, IN Wabash 22–21
125 November 10, 2018 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 24–17
126 November 16, 2019 Greencastle, IN DePauw 17–13
127 November 13, 2021 Crawfordsville, IN Wabash 42–35
Series: Wabash leads 63–55–9


  1. ^ The 128th Monon Bell Classic will be played at DePauw University. 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. ^ "Facilities".
  5. ^ Monon Bell Classic, "Monon Bell and Rivalry Facts" Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine, DePauw University, retrieved October 14, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Monon Bell Classic, "All-Time Football Results" Archived 2011-06-10 at the Wayback Machine, 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

External links[edit]