Tickets, please. Need one ticket for Saturday’s game.
Asking for a long lost friend who wants to attend the Minnesota-Nebraska game but hasn’t got a way into Memorial Stadium.
You might remember our friend: the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy.
The Broken Chair is one of the great trophies in college football, if not all of sports. Its legend was born on the Internet, and the legend grew as the trophy disappeared mysteriously.
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A year ago, some fans at Nebraska and Minnesota — via Reddit — sought to bring back the trophy and contracted Luke Petersen, a carpenter and Husker fan from Lincoln, to build a new one.
“I built the new chair,” Petersen said this week.
“Well, I built a broken chair,” he said.
The story of the comeback, the way fans from two schools tied the trophy to local charities, and the campaign to get two universities to recognize the new trophy, is the stuff of legend.
This is how you create a college football tradition in 2018.
It started before the 2014 NU-Minnesota game, during playful Twitter banter between the Faux Pelini character and the official Goldy Gopher mascot account.
Hey, I went to J-school for this, folks.
A make-believe bet on the game — with Faux Pelini saying if he won, he would get to break a chair over Goldy’s back — turned into an idea for a trophy.
A group of Gopher and Husker fans who visit Reddit came up with the idea. Minnesota fans came up with an actual trophy of a chair — with a hole in it — turned on its side.
This is how the Ax, the Pig and the Bucket trophies started, right?
Then it was gone.
Conspiracy theories pointed to Nebraska’s grinch, Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst. Or Big Ten poobahs who thought the chair mocked the other sacred trophies. Like the brass spittoon.
“We like to think Shawn Eichorst was hiding it in his basement,” Petersen said.
Truth be told, Petersen doesn’t really want to know.
“We haven’t pressed it much,” he said. “I kind of like that it’s lost. Makes the story better.”
And the story gets even better.
“Last year a friend of mine, David Moore, asked me in church if I thought I could make another $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy,” Petersen said. “I said, well sure, I’ve always wanted it back.”
A trophy reborn in church is something Jim Delany, Minnesota and Husker administrative types should get behind.
It hasn’t been that easy. Petersen and Moore got other NU and Minnesota fans on Reddit together and planned the comeback. First step: get a meeting with athletic officials from both sides.
“We talked to several of the deputy athletic directors (at NU),” Petersen said. “They wanted to hear if we were profiting off it, which we aren’t. Wanted to make sure the logos on it were not university marketing and what our plans were for it. They were fairly receptive to it. They had other things to worry about.”
You bet they did.
“A few hours after we left that meeting, Shawn Eichorst was fired,” Petersen said. “We saw Hank Bounds and Ronnie Green walk into North Stadium as we were leaving.”
Don’t mess with the Broken Chair. That has to be the lesson here.
The Bill Moos administration has been more receptive to the trophy, Petersen said. It’s allowed the group to use the official NU logo. It’s agreed to help with online marketing.
Advocates of the trophy had an idea that has helped take the cause toward being officially recognized by the schools. They’re soliciting donations online — on behalf of the Broken Chair Trophy — that go toward the Team Jack Foundation in Nebraska and the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Last year, $7,500 was raised by NU and Minnesota fans.
“Both schools loved the idea,” Petersen said.
In fact, the children’s hospital in Minnesota has housed the trophy since the Gophers’ victory last season — in a special football room where children hang out.
Petersen isn’t sure where the trophy will be displayed if the Huskers win Saturday.
First things first: getting the trophy in the stadium and presented to players on the field. Neither school has approved that yet. For now, the trophy will be making appearances at several NU tailgates before and during the game.
“We do not have permission to bring it into the stadium yet,” Petersen said. “Back before we started talking to both universities, the plan was to smuggle it in somehow. But now that we have talked to them, and they’re receptive, we are holding off on that.
“We still hope to get it in for this year’s game, but we are getting a real positive response so we hope that next year it will be on the field.
“I think the old approach was ignore it and it will go away. Well, it’s not going away.”
The Broken Bits Trophy is here to stay. But Saturday, it needs an extra ticket.
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