Set to air during primetime today, the Battle for the Iron Skillet was highly anticipated, especially because it would have been the 100th meeting of the rivals.
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Jeremiah Donati tweeted last Friday that the game was postponed due to COVID-19 cases among the athletes and support staff, but that TCU and SMU would continue to “monitor dates throughout the season to potentially make up the game.”
The first football game between the two universities was held in 1915, and since then, there have been only six years when the schools didn’t play each other: 1919, 1920, 1925, 1987, 1988 and 2006.
Though the rivalry game has a long history, it wasn’t known as the Battle for the Iron Skillet until 1946.
One origin story involves an SMU fan who grilled frog legs on an iron skillet, causing TCU fans to feel disrespected. The victors would win not only the game but also the skillet.
Another possibility is that student leaders at the universities created an iron skillet trophy in response to $1,000 of damage from vandalism committed at both schools over a period of several years.
SMU won the 1946 trophy, but since then, it has mostly been kept at TCU, as the Horned Frogs’ record against the Dallas university is 51-41-7.
The canceling of today’s meeting — the 100th anniversary — sparked negative feelings among TCU fans.
Dallas resident and TCU junior Alex Durham was planning to go to the game but was ultimately “disappointed” to hear about the cancelation.
Durham’s connection to this rivalry is strong. Several of his family members are TCU alumni, and he has a sister who graduated from SMU. In addition, Durham’s Dallas home is within walking distance of the SMU campus, so the rivalry plays a huge part in his neighborhood and family discussions.
He said when SMU wins, its fans talk about the victory long after the game, since TCU is one of the best teams the university plays.
“It’s like a Super Bowl for them, and it’s just a normal game.” – Alex Durham
Both teams have a mutual interest in playing the game later this year, but there are some challenges to making that happen. Even if a date opened up on the teams’ schedules, players and staff at both schools would need to be healthy and virus-free.
Students have varying thoughts about whether the game will happen.
“I honestly don’t see how they will be able to make up the game,” said Jimmy Pavelich, a junior at TCU.
Although he isn’t confident in the rescheduling of the game, Pavelich still holds out hope.
“I would love to see TCU play SMU this year, especially since it is the 100th game, but also because my close family friend goes to SMU and I always enjoy waking up the next morning and texting her after TCU beats SMU.”