Some rivalries in sports are built over time, due to history or one team’s dominance over the other, but in Division II football, some are made through creative and friendly means between the two teams.
“It’s a friendly rivalry, that’s all it is,” SRU Athletic Director Paul Lueken said. “Clarion and Slippery Rock have had a lot of good games over the years and I think it’s just a way to signify that we have a good, friendly rivalry.”
Clarion University football and Slippery Rock University football have met a grand total of 81 times dating all the way back to 1910. The Rock holds a distinct edge over the Golden Eagles in the all-time series with a record of 54-24-3 in that time frame, including 19 of the past 22 meetings which have gone the Green and White’s way.
According to Lueken, the “Milk Jug Trophy” was introduced in 2010 after former Clarion Athletic Director Dave Katis was approached by a Clarion alumni with an idea.
“[Katis] called me up one day and said, ‘hey Paul we got this alum and booster donor that would like to bring some significance to our game with Slippery Rock,'” Lueken said.
The idea of a milk jug came from the fact that there is a considerable amount of dairy farms in the area between SRU and Clarion. Clarion geographically is the closest team The Rock plays each season out of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West.
One may assume the idea of the Milk Jug may have been inspired by the rivalry trophy between California University (Pa.) and Indiana University (Pa.) called the “Coal Miners Pail Trophy” which was introduced to the rivalry the year before the jug in 2009 due to the coal industry in that area.
“I think it just adds a little bit of neat stuff for the teams playing,” Lueken said. “It’s bragging rights, that’s what it is. And you know it’s always nice to be on the winning side of those things.”
The rivalry trophy between SRU and Clarion has been a one-sided affair since its introduction in 2010. The Rock currently holds an 8-1 advantage after their most recent battle last week when the Green and White defeated the Golden Eagles 28-13 at Clarion.
Looking at the history books, a more recognizable Slippery Rock rivalry might be the one The Rock has with IUP. The Green and White was able to upset No. 14 IUP in week six this season, defeating the Crimson Hawks 30-27 at their house. According to SRU football head coach Shawn Lutz, the history with IUP goes back to a time well before he made his spot on the coaching staff.
“People don’t realize why it’s a rivalry,” Lutz said. “Its a rivalry because Coach Mihalik, when he was a coach and first got hired, he could never beat IUP.”
That would change shortly after coach Lutz arrived to the coaching staff in 1996 when The Rock went on to beat IUP four straight times early in his SRU coaching career. However, like any great football coach, he addressed the bigger goal he wants his team to focus on each season.
“The way I’ve taken over, every game we just want to win,” Lutz said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take away the rivalry, I just don’t want every single year the only thing that matters to us is did we beat IUP, it’s gotta be about everybody on the schedule.”
The Rock currently sits in first place in the PSAC West standings with a 7-1 overall record and a perfect 5-0 record in Western Conference action. A win this Saturday at CalU, another so-called rival of The Rock, would indefinitely secure The Rock the top spot in the PSAC West and be the host for the league title game on Nov. 10.