Enjoy this week's installment of my series on the trophies found in college football. If you need an explanation of the series you can read the introduction.
The Blue Ribbon Trophy of the Week
Cy-Hawk Trophy- Iowa State Cyclones vs. University of Iowa Hawkeyes- 9/8/2012
The theme of this week's edition is that not every trophy up from grabs on the gridiron is a treasured piece of Americana. Despite what that woman with the stairway to heaven thinks, not everything that glitters is gold. In some way or another the prizes at stake this week seem a cut below the rest, with the possible exception of this week's spotlight piece, the Cy-Hawk Trophy!
|Above: A picture of Cy-Hawk Trophy Classic from TheGazette.com|
No, not that one.
|Above: A photo from Schwinn Gunnamiss of . . . words just can't describe it.|
No, that's not it anymore either (thank heavens).
|Above: The proposal for Cy-Hawk Trophy III designed by Rickabaugh Graphics|
That's the one, or at least the design for it. The actual trophy hasn't been made available for photographs at the time of this writing.
The Cyclones and Hawkeyes will be playing for the third variation on the Cy-Hawk trophy in as many years for reasons that no one in the state of Iowa (let alone this blogger) can seem to fully understand. The original Cy-Hawk Trophy, seen at the top, dates back to 1977. Bob Uetz a school teacher from Ames, IA, helped create a sturdy and respectable trophy that served as corporeal bragging rights for decades. Then the sponsors got involved, and as usual, nothing good came of that. The classic hardware was retired to the Iowa Hall of Pride. The well-intentioned folks from the Iowa Corn Growers Association offered to design a new trophy. That seemed like a natural fit given the list of things outsiders associate with Iowa:
2. The Iowa Caucus (in Presidential Election years)
5. Grant Wood
12. College Football
Except, it seems as though no one vetted the ICGA on their history designing things.
|Above: A photo by Edmund Jenks of the Iowa Corn version of a super-hero|
The hardware that the Iowa Corn Growers thought best represented a fierce football rivalry that pits neighbors against each other was a metalic shrine showing a family kneeling around the alter of freshly harvested corn. The ensuing blowback of public criticism made the responsible parties quickly withdraw the 4-H inspired monstrosity and promise to allow the public a vote in the next trophy. The new Cy-Hawk Trophy became the old trophy fast that last year, the game's organizers had to use a substitute to award to the winning team. That knickknack didn't even last until the end of the post-game celebration. Now we have a new chance for trophy redemption. Hopefully the item revealed on Saturday will inspire pride in Iowans of all persuasions and have a nice long shelf-life (at least until the sponsor changes).
Spoils of the Game- Week 2
This is where we take a look at all the prizes at stake in this week's games.
|Above: A pic, via trophyawards.com, of the less than sacred Paddlewheel Trophy|
Paddlewheel Trophy- Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Pittsburgh Panthers- 9/6/2012
I tried to warn you at the offset that the keepsakes featured this week weren't exactly keepers. In the case of the Paddlewheel Trophy it seems as though nobody from Cincinnati or Pitt will be sad to see it go. When Cincy joined the Big East conference in 2005, they colluded with Pitt to juice up a rivalry between them. They called in "The River City Rivalry" which is good, because, as Matt Opper of Down the Drive put it Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are "two cities that share a river a little else". Unfortunately the prize offered to the victors failed to inspire much devotion. Now with Pitt leaving the Big East at the end of this season, the trophy may be mothballed for a long time after Thursday night. That's kind of shame because after seven straight Panther victories the two schools have played four very competitive games in the last 4 years and were just starting to build a real hatred for each other. In the end fans of UC and Pitt both dismiss the Paddlewheel. Matt Opper described it as "kind of an abomination". Anson Whaley, from Cardiac Hill, adds that it is "ridiculously large", because at about 4 feet tall and 95 pounds it's the size of most punters. So if the Paddlewheel Trophy goes into storage after Thursday, I guess you'll want a large and opaque box.
|Above:A picture from PurdueSports.com of the mounted wooden club called the Shillelagh Trophy|
Shillelagh Trophy- Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Purdue Boilermakers- 9/8/2012
For other football programs the Shillelagh Trophy might be a big deal, but among Notre Dame's many trophy games and all the high-profile prizes at stake in the B1G Ten it sort of gets lost. The trophy originated in 1957 because a merchant seaman who was a big Irish football fan (Is there any other kind of merchant seaman?) donated an authentic historic shillelagh from Ireland. That's the sort of folksy lore about a trophy I really enjoy. On the other hand, if I were a Boilermaker, I would be insulted that this prize didn't even represent Notre Dame's most prestigious shillelagh themed trophy. That position is filled by the Jeweled Shillelagh Notre Dame shares with the University of Southern California. At least it's the best trophy Notre Dame shares with another team from Indiana, so that's not nothing.
For Those Who Do Not Bowl
Each week I will use this space to highlight one trophy contested between teams from the less covered divisions and subdivisions of college football.
|Above: The Traveling Trainer's Kit from Minnesota's greatest Division II rivalry as pictured on MSUMavericks.com|
The Trainer's Kit- Minnesota State- Mankato Mavericks vs. St. Cloud State Huskies- 9/15/2012
In the hearts and minds of college football fans any item can become a treasure. That's the only way you could transform an empty tackle box into a coveted prize, by baptizing it with school pride. Back in 1978 Minnesota State- Mankato (School slogan- "It's not that cold") and St. Cloud State (Effectively named for the patron saint of -I kid you not- nail makers) had not played a football game in 5 years. To celebrate the renewal of the rivalry, the athletic trainers from each school used a symbolic "trainer's kit" as the spoils of the game. Since then the Trainer's Kit has grown capital letters and become a cherished item. In a 2004 piece from ESPN.com, Jeff Merron quotes a Husky player, "We plan on bringing the Trainer's Kit home with us," he said. "We may have to put a new coat of varnish on her. She's looking a little rough." That's more care and attention than some football players show their mothers.
As an added bonus, I love that this is a trophy that has a practical application. Based on what I've read the Trainer's Kit has no contents, but I think it would be awesome if it carried a functional set of equipment for an athletic trainer. What's more, I think the fully stocked Trainer's Kit should be the only equipment allowed on the sidelines at the game. It would be even better if the previous year's winner was the only team allowed to access the kit for their trainer's supplies during the game. Actually, come to think of it, the NCAA may take issue with that last idea. Besides, even if the players' health depended on winning that kit, I don't think they could care about it anymore than they do now.
Please return to this space each week during this college football season for more information and lore about college football's many trophies.