It was the subject of a 1909 contest held by the Minnesota Daily and the Minneapolis Tribune to write a suitable song for Minnesota football games, to replace the hymnlike "Hail! Minnesota". The song was written by Floyd Hutsell, then the choir director of First Methodist Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. He originally included a verse, but only the refrain is sung today. Hutsell is best known outside Minnesota as "Robert LaMar," a prominent vaudeville and operetta actor and producer. The song was originally titled, "The U. of M. Rouser," but eventually became known as simply the "Minnesota Rouser."
Sheet music to the winning song was published November 21, 1909, as a Supplement to The Minneapolis Sunday Tribune. Written in the key of G major, it was titled "The U. of M. Rouser" and was dedicated to B. A. Rose, Band Master, U. of M. The verse was included in this publication. The Judges for the fighting song, listed on the back, were: A.O. Eberhart, Governor of Minnesota; Cyrus W. Northrop, President of the University of Minnesota; Carlyle M. Scott, Professor of Music, University of Minnesota; J.A. Sende, Chief Musician, University of Minnesota Band; and Arthur Allen, President of the University of Minnesota Glee and Mandolin Club.
Ironically, another song written for the contest by William T. Purdy was "Minnesota, Minnesota." He withdrew it from the contest at the urging of his lyricist, Carl Beck, who wanted to offer the song to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where it became "On Wisconsin".
Minnesota, hats off to thee!
To thy colors true we shall ever be,
Firm and strong, united are we.
Rah, rah, rah, for Ski-U-Mah,
Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah!
Rah for the U of M.
Yay, Gophers! RAH!
(The phrase 'Ski-U-Mah' was part of an early cheer for the U of M.)
Gopher fans traditionally thrust their fists in the air during the spell-out, and make a circular motion with their fist during the yell.
Original Lyrics (As published in the Minneapolis Tribune, November 21, 1909)
Honor to our college Minnesota U.
Loyal to thy standards We'll never be untrue.
Underneath thy pennant Pulses beat with pride
And victory e'er shall be our aim O'er the nation wide, (Yell)
Minnesota, hats off to thee,
To your colors true we shall ever be...
Firm and strong, united are we.
Rah, rah, rah, for Ski-U-Ma,
Rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah, rah,
Rah, for the U of M. Ah........ (repeat refrain)
The Boston-based rock orchestra, The Wings of Fire Orchestra, uses a variation of the U. of Minnesota Rouser on the song Connorfool (from Bullfighter Ballet, 2006).
On Rocky and Bullwinkle, the lyrics are changed to "Wassamatta, Hats Off to U" ("Hail, Wassamatta, hail/Better we should land in jail.")
- University of Minnesota Band Alumni Society (1992). Minnesota, Hats Off To Thee. Taylor Publishing Company. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-9629747-0-6.
- "The Minnesota Rouser". Regents of the University of Minnesota. 2005-05-05. http://www.music.umn.edu/marchingband/history/rouser.html. Retrieved 2006-09-09.
- "Ski-U-Mah". Regents of the University of Minnesota. 2005-05-05. http://www.music.umn.edu/marchingband/history/rouser.html. Retrieved 2006-09-09.