11/24/18 Indiana, P and I's

A Purdue player clutches the chain of “I” links attached to the Old Oaken Bucket trophy.

Born out of the rivalry between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Indiana Hoosiers and held by the hands of former Indiana and NFL quarterback Trent Green and Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees, the Old Oaken Bucket rivalry trophy has changed hands 36 times in its 100 plus years of existence.

Some say the Bucket came from a farm in Illinois or even Confederate Gen. John Hunt, however the general consensus is that the bucket was taken from a farm owned by the Bruner family over a century ago, according to collections.lib.purdue.edu, a joint archive between Purdue and IU about the rivalry. After being refurbished with a bronze plaque, it debuted on Nov. 21, 1925, in a game that ended in a scoreless tie between Indiana and Purdue according to purduesports.com. Thus, the iconic connected “IP” link was affixed atop the bucket and remains there to this day.

Purdue Athletics spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for more information about the history of the Bucket.

Over the next 96 years, Purdue added 60 “P” links to the chain, Indiana added 32 “I” links and two drawn games added the remaining “IP” links.

The trophey was named after a poem by Samuel Woodworth that describes nostalgic scenes from his childhood that the Old Oaken Bucket personifies. Thus, the symbol of childhood for many residents of Indiana became a symbol for the rivalry between the state’s two biggest schools.

Purdue and Indiana have both spurred traditions based on the bitter rivalry.

In 1938, Purdue set up a “gigantic bonfire laid for ‘Miss Indiana’s funeral,’” according to previous Exponent reporting. The article later said it was “more appropriately described as (a) burning at the stake.”

IU was arguably more sophisticated in burying “Ole Jawn Purdue,” a papier-mache man who, as reported by Indiana Daily Student, “flunked out of kindergarten at age 20.”

Purdue and IU have played for the Old Oaken Bucket every year since its arrival, except for last year due to two COVID-19 cancellations. Because of this, Indiana has been able to hold onto the Bucket for an extra year since it won the last game in 2019.

This bucket has lived through a multitude of historic changes after its creation: It lived through both IU and Purdue stadium changes, seven Purdue presidents, 11 IU presidents and 16 U.S presidents. It has remained intact and in the hands of celebratory football players throughout its history.

It will be fought over again Saturday as IU and Purdue kick off for the last game of IU’s season. The rivalry may be even more fueled by the fact these universities didn’t have a chance to face each other last year.

Recommended for you