A 98-pound pig watched over the Gophers’ practice this week, which can only mean one thing: It’s Iowa week.
Minnesota will hit the road this weekend to defend Floyd of Rosedale, a bronze pig given to the winner of the rivalry game between Minnesota and Iowa each year.
However, an unusual test of the mind awaits the Gophers in Iowa City, Iowa.
As the team prepares for the Hawkeyes, it will do so in a locker room that looks like it was designed by a 5-year-old girl.
“Everything in there is some shade of pink,” University of Iowa student Eric Young said. “I mean everything — the walls, the floor, the lockers.”
Young said even the urinals and soap that comes from the soap dispensers are pink.
The original emasculating design was initiated by Iowa’s former head coach Hayden Fry in 1978.
Fry was a psychology major and said the pink color had a calming effect on the opposing team. Others have reported that the walls were painted pink because it was the only color paint they could find.
Either way, in 2005, as part of an $89 million renovation to the stadium, Iowa increased the amount of pink in the visiting locker room. It was then that pink showers, pink sinks and pink carpet was added.
Young thinks of it as more of a distraction that can affect a young football team.
“If you walk into a locker room … you don’t expect everything to be pink,” he said. “If it distracts a young player that’s never been there, then it’s doing its job.”
Minnesota players said they aren’t too concerned with the pink they’ll face Saturday, but it’s something they’ve heard about.
“I’m not thinking too much about that right now … but I’m looking forward to getting there and seeing what it’s all about,” senior linebacker Mike Rallis said after practice Tuesday. “I don’t think it’ll affect me too much.”
Rallis hasn’t played at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa in his five-year career with the Gophers, but he said he’s excited to finally get the chance to play there.
While Rallis was hurt in 2009 when Minnesota traveled to Iowa City, senior defensive back Troy Stoudermire experienced what it feels like to warm up in the pink locker room.
He said it has no effect on the team.
“It doesn’t matter to us,” he said. “If anything, it boosts on our team to beat them even worse because they’re giving us a pink locker room.”
—Minnesota leads the all-time series with Iowa 61-42-2.
—The Gophers haven’t won in Iowa City since 1999.
—Kinnick Stadium, when filled, becomes the fifth-largest city in the state of Iowa on game days.
—The Gophers’ previous two meetings with the Hawkeyes have been decided by a total of four points. Minnesota won 22-21 in 2011 and 27-24 in 2010.
—John Rabe is the only player on the Gophers roster from Iowa. He said he has a lot of friends back home who will be at the game Saturday.
“I know most of them are going to be cheering for me,” Rabe said. “I got a lot of them converted to Gophers fans.”