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Indiana Dream Ticket #3: 2 small schools, 1 big rivalry

Monon game defines season for DePauw, Wabash

Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 1:34 pm

This is the third in a series of 18 stories examining the best events an Indiana sports fan would want to see over a lifetime.

It takes only one word for those associated with DePauw University and Wabash College to cause a flurry – Monon.

For one week each November, two fanatic fan bases go into a frenzy that no other sporting event in Indiana can offer. The two schools' combined attendance is about 3,500, but they still have to build – yes, build – more stands at the stadiums every year to seat the 12,000 tickets that will be sold.

Every fan and player involved realizes that this is how the season will be defined. Players and coaches on both sides always say they only care about who wins the Monon Bell game (and they should know since at least one of the two teams has made the Division III playoffs five of the past six years). It's heated enough that coaches who took their teams to the playoffs have been fired over losing too many games to this specific opponent.

In fact, Wabash's athletic department keeps a running total of the records hanging in its office. Currently, that record reads Wabash 55-53-9. That total also indicates the game being the 12th-most-played college rivalry in the nation, so there's your historic importance on why to go.

If you want national importance beyond that, realize this game has a national television contract with HDNet, has been on ABC and ESPN2, and has been covered by Sports Illustrated. It was voted Indiana's top sports rivalry in 2005 by fans visiting ESPN's website, beating No. 2 Indiana-Purdue basketball by nearly 10 percent, as well as Colts-Patriots and Notre Dame-Purdue football.

And almost every year the game's lore keeps growing. There's the “kick” from 2007, when DePauw's backup field goal kicker Jordan Havercamp nailed a 47-yarder as time expired to win on his first kick attempt of the year.

There's the “Monon Miracle” in 2001, when a tipped pass as time expired led to a 52-yard score and win for Wabash.

The great games and finishes could go on forever, but really it comes down to one hope and reason to go. It's not the great tailgating or the intensity on the field – which is as high as any sporting event has to offer when the athletes aren't worried about scholarships or draft status – but it's simply grabbing that Monon Bell and ringing it with an entire fan base after a win.

Ding-ding-ding, it's the easy answer for Indiana's best sports ticket.