There's a nice article in today's Detroit News about the woman who paints the scores on the Little Brown Jug, Jil Gordon. The article references Greg Dooley's MVictors.com, with a nod to its "Little Brown Jug Lore" section (check it out here http://mvictors.com/?page_id=4885 : - it's chock full of Little Brown Jug history). Per Dooley:
The most common story about how the challenge for the Little Brown Jug came do be is inaccurate. Most retellings say that former Michigan coach Fielding Yost sent a letter to Minnesota athletic director Louis Cooke and asked that the Jug, left behind after the 1903 game, be returned. Cooke was said to reply: "If you want it, you'll have to come up and win it."
"The story that Yost wrote or wired or mailed some request after the '03 game — that didn't happen," said Dooley, who said there is no evidence of that communication. "There is evidence to suggest it was hatched before the 1909 game. There was some kind of challenge. Michigan bought the jug in Minnesota, left it there, probably because they didn't care about a 30-cent jug. Minnesota found it — they didn't steal it — and probably thought, 'This is cool' and painted the score on it and the athletic director hung it in his office."
The more you know! Here's to hoping Michigan is able to keep that jug in Ann Arbor.