In 1925 Junior Honor Societies from Illinois and Ohio State were looking to create a trophy to celebrate the anticipated long series between these Big Ten foes. So the groups chose a turtle due to its long life; they went with a live one. Naturally, the turtle died two years later, and both schools decided to replace it with a turtle of the wooden variety. Now, the winning school writes the latest score on the turtle’s shell, and every 10 years or so years – when no room remains for another score – a new trophy is created. Second only to the Little Brown Jug in age, the Illibuck is another great Big Ten rivalry tradition.
Our Illibuck is 17 inches in length, is 10 inches wide and stands 9.75 inches
Information gathered from The Ohio State Libraries series, “From Woody’s Couch.”
The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Illinois Fighting Illini first met on the playing field in 1902. However in 1925 junior honor societies from Illinois and Ohio State were looking to create a trophy to celebrate the anticipated long series between these Big Ten foes.
“The turtle was chosen because of its longevity but, in an ironic twist, the first Illibuck, a snapping turtle purchased in a Columbus pet store, suffered from the stress of being passed back and forth between Columbus and Champaign and passed away after only two years. Before his death, he spent his two years living in various fraternity houses and campus buildings at the University of Illinois, even briefly sharing space with an alligator in the Natural History building. He was much celebrated and beloved around campus” (Illibuck Stops Here).
So they decided to go with a wooden one. The winning school (Ohio State holds a 66-30-4 advantage) writes the latest score on the turtle’s shell, and every 10 or so years-when no room remains for another score-a new trophy is created. And unlike most college football rivalry trophies, no Illibuck is exactly the same:
Of course, times change. And this is true with Illy. The rivalry used to involve a ceremonial peace pipe shared at halftime. According to a 1966 article in The Daily Illini, the ceremony occurred as follows: “Two groups of students one from each school, will meet in the center of the gridiron, shake hands, smoke a peace pipe and drink from a wooden bucket. Then the Illini will give the OSU group a turtle named ‘Illibuck.'” (Illibuck Stops Here).
For further information on the Illibuck please check out pages from bucket & dipper at The Ohio State University (http://bucketanddipper.org.ohio-state.edu/history.html) and Atius-Sachem at The University of Illinois (https://atiussachem.wordpress.com/about/)
Rivalry Trophy is proud to be a part of yet another great Big Ten football tradition.