If there’s one thing Wabash men love to do, it’s hate on DePauw. We call them Dannies, DePauL, FePauw (IYKYK), the School Down South, D***** and a barrage of names less fit for print. We at The Bachelor are no exception. Check out this week’s Hi-Five section: we take shot after shot at them — done partially in jest, but shots nonetheless. Why? Mostly because that’s the way it’s always been done. Who knows what Wabash students did to pass the time before our rivalry officially began in 1890, but since then, it’s fair to say Little Giants and Tigers alike devote lots of energy to inventing creative ways to hate on the other school. Out of all of Wabash’s traditions, perhaps none define the culture of Wabash more than the rivalry with DePauw, represented by an annual clash of titans: the Monon Bell Classic.
Over the years, the hatred has fluctuated with the times and with the level of competition between the two schools. In the early 2000s, Wabash won the Bell Game every year for seven years straight. Before then, DePauw held the longest streak at five years from 1960 to 1964.
The rivalry hasn’t always been pretty, either. From snowballs being thrown to fistfights over an alumni’s pot, or even a Wabash fan streaking the field and ending up bruised and bloody in the DePauw stands, the Wabash-DePauw rivalry has had its fair share of heated moments. These are the parts of the rivalry that no one enjoys. When good-natured competition turns sour, both schools lose sight of the benefits that a strong rivalry fosters.
As much as we jest at them and they at us, Wabash needs DePauw. No one on either campus wants to admit it, but a lot of what Coach Don Morel would call “Wabash magic” comes from our competition with the School Down South. Without them, Wabash wouldn’t have the risk and reward of winning — not just the Bell Game, but pride and honor for the school, the student body and its alumni.
The two schools are intimately linked at a level far deeper than mere sports rivalry. Despite notable differences in campus culture, at their hearts, Wabash and DePauw aren’t terribly different. Both are small, liberal arts schools located in west-central Indiana. Both schools draw from many of the same high schools. Most Wabash men have friends, family, even significant others that attend DePauw. Both institutions care deeply about their school pride and value the unique campus traditions built on them over centuries. Both schools rank highly in many of the academic and extracurricular categories that ranking institutions care about when it comes to rating colleges in the Midwest. Though it may be painful to hear, Wabash and DePauw are both excellent schools to attend.
The rivalry wouldn’t be nearly as effective if the two schools weren’t actively competitive. If we weren’t nearly evenly-matched in a number of different fields, then the jokes at either school’s expense wouldn’t be worth making. Of course we want to win the Bell every year, but where’s the fun in that? It’s the pursuit that makes it worthwhile. The knowledge that sometimes they’re good enough to beat us— and sometimes we’re human enough to lose — is what drives us, spurs us to continue on, to compete and to strive for greatness.
The cultural event that is the Monon Bell Classic has been a defining feature of Wabash campus life for over a century. In the week leading up to the Saturday matchup, the campus comes together to guard the Bell, get wacky haircuts, attend events solely for Bell Week and debate how much we will win by. Without this rivalry, we would be bereft of this rare week of total campus unity.
And as divisive as a rivalry is by nature, Bell Week has historically had the ironic ability to bridge the gap between schools. Monons of years past have featured joint Glee Club concerts, jovial roast battles and competitive blood drives — all with the intention of giving Wabash and DePauw supporters the chance to one-up one another, while doing something beneficial for the community. We’re able to engage in this banter only because it’s based on a level of mutual respect.
Don’t get us wrong, we don’t expect the jokes and jabs to end any time soon. In fact, quite the opposite. When game day comes, we’ll be chirping loud and proud in the student section, with the expectation — nay, the hope — that DePauw will answer our call with gusto. We at Wabash love the rivalry. We can only hope that DePauw continues to share in our enthusiasm. Only together can we preserve the spirit of the Monon Bell Classic.