Let’s face it, with all apologies to its creators, the Cy-Hawk trophy looked like something that was put together in wood shop.
There was nothing particularly remarkable about a generic golden football player and a generic golden football sitting on an unremarkable base.
That fact it will be retired this fall and a new trophy will take its place shouldn’t make hardly anyone sad.
Redesigning a rivalry trophy doesn’t happen often, but it has happened. Minnesota and Wisconsin used to fight over a slab of bacon before changing to Paul Bunyan’s Axe in 1948.
Still, there is a real chance the two schools could make a huge mistake in crafting a new trophy. It has to be memorable, look good, and be durable enough to survive having 60 football players dive for it at the end of a game.
So what makes a good rivalry trophy?
1. History. The older the trophy, the more cherished it is. If it hasn’t been around since before the Korean War, it’s just a Johnny-come-lately.
Well, since whatever they come up with is going to debut this fall, and the Iowa-ISU series only resumed in 1977 anyway, there’s not much to do about that.
2. Significance. The award should mean something. There should be a story behind it. That’s why Floyd has it over the Bull every day of the week and twice on Saturday.
The Bull may be a fine trophy, but it doesn’t really mean anything, except recognition that both Iowa and Wisconsin have cows. Floyd has the governer’s betting on a prized pig.
3. Photogenic. The trophy should come to signify the game. We should be able to turn on the Big Ten Network or open the newspaper and know immediately who won, and over who, by the team holding up the rivalry trophy.
The old Cy-Hawk kind of achieved that status, but you could argue whoever was holding it might have just as well won a punt, pass and kick competition.
With those criteria in mind, I thought I’d take a few shots at what the new Iowa and Iowa State rivalry trophy should be.
» Dan Gable’s letterman jacket. Get an old letterman jacket from each school and sew them together.
Pros: Gable has left a lasting legacy at both schools, winning three NCAA titles with the Cyclones as a student, and leading Iowa to 15 NCAA titles as a coach. He is one of the few famous Iowans to have ties to both institutions.
Cons: The sport is football, dummy. Plus, having a letter jacket sized to fit Gable, it would only be a matter of time before a lineman decided to do a “fat guy in a little coat” dance and rip the thing to shreds.
» The Corn Belt. Already proposed by a Facebook group for the winner of the Iowa vs. Nebraska game, the Corn Belt would be an actual wrestling/boxing style belt given out to the winner.
Pros: At the moment, mimicking belting on something is all the rage. Aaron Rodgers did it in the Super Bowl. It’d be a unique trophy and also a clever play on words (see what we did here?).
There’d also be a chance one of the coaches might wear it to their weekly news conference before the big game and do a TV interview Mean Gene style. (Paul Rhodes: “We’re going to kidnap Herky, fry him up in 11 herbs and spices and have some goooooood eatin! Ooooooh yeeeaaaaah!”)
Cons: It’s a football game, not the heavyweight title bout.
» The Harvester or The Harvest. For the first, get one of those huge toy combines (corn not soybean) and paint it half and half with the school colors. The second, you could get a big metal grain silo on a wood base with the logos of the two teams on either side.
Pros: Able to showcase the state’s farm history without resorting to a goofy ear of corn. Give the silo a detachable lid and it could double a vessel to hold candy, beer, etc., much like the most famous trophy of all, the Stanley Cup. Ferentz could keep his bubble gum in there.
Cons: If the miniature combine actually works, it will only be a matter of time before some Cyclone linebacker breaks it while playing with his G.I. Joe action figures.
Also, no one at ESPN probably has ever seen a combine or a grain silo and will be confused and dismissive.
» Two Rivers Trophy. A base in the shape of Iowa, sometimes known as the land between two rivers, with Herky and Cy fighting it out on top.
Pros: It would be real easy to tell which teams are fighting for it.
Cons: At the rate Iowa State changes uniforms and logos, who knows if Cy will look the same five years from now.
The mascots probably play a big enough role as it is.
» Iowa Corn Trophy. Let’s face it, this is almost certain to be what it is. A sponsored trophy with two ears of corn on the top — one with yellow and black kernels, the other with cardinal and gold kernels.
Pros: Iowa is the top producing state for corn. Makes sense.
Cons: To have the trophy be sponsored by anyone would just be the latest sellout. Make sure to put a Hormel tag on Floyd and a Dasani logo on the Old Oaken Bucket next fall.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football