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The Quick 10: 10 Weird College Football Trophies

Iowa is a state divided this weekend. Our two biggest schools – Iowa State and the University of Iowa – face off at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames tomorrow (that’s ISU turf). The winner not only gets bragging rights, but also the coveted Cy-Hawk Trophy. Ain’t she a beaut, Clark?

CY-HAWK TROPHY

OK, maybe it’s not the most original trophy out there. These 10 are a bit more creative.

platypus1. The Platypus Trophy is awarded to the victor of the Civil War – no, not that Civil War, but the one between Oregon State and the University of Oregon. Why a platypus? Because the platypus has qualities from the mascot of each school: a duck bill for the Oregon Ducks and a beaver tail for the Oregon State Beavers. This one is fairly recent – after being traded for a few games in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, the trophy went missing. It was rediscovered in 2005 and started being traded between the schools again in 2007.

2. The Dutchman’s Shoes trophy goes to the winner of an annual game between Rensselaer Polytechnic University in Troy, New York, and the Union College Dutchmen of Schenectady, NY.

3. Paul Bunyan’s Axe is the mythical object at stake when the Minnesota Golden Gophers face off against the University of Wisconsin Badgers. Prior to the Axe, the two schools traded the Slab of Bacon trophy.

BUCKET4. The Old Oaken Bucket is one of the oldest trophies in the history of college football. It’s traded between Purdue and Indiana. The trophy has literary origins – it was named in an 1817 poem by Samuel Woodworth that waxed nostalgic about a childhood homestead, which people from Indiana apparently felt was similar to their feelings about the state.
5. The Wagon Wheel trophy that the University of Akron and Kent State vie for has a nice little story, although I’m not sure how true it is. Allegedly when John R. Buchtel, the founder of what would become the University of Akron, was trolling for a spot to put his school in 1870, his wagon became stuck in the mud. The wheel was so stuck that the only solution was to leave it there and get a new wagon. In 1902, the wheel was discovered near Kent State and ended up in their hands. In 1945, it was suggested that the wheel be used for a football trophy between the two schools, both located in Akron, and it has been traded back and forth ever since.

6. The Little Brown Jug was lost by Michigan coach Fielding Yost during a 1903 game against Minnesota. The game ended in a tie, but Minnesota found the jug and kept it as sort of a victory trophy, writing the score on the side and making sure that Minnesota’s name was much bigger. When Yost asked that the jug be returned, the head of the Minnesota athletic department told him he would have to win it back. It has been the trophy between the two schools ever since, even though Michigan seems to have it most of the time – they lead Minnesota in wins, 66 games to 22.

Floyd7. Minnesota sure likes their trophies. Floyd of Rosedale is a giant bronze pig that Iowa and Minnesota play for. But he represents the real thing. Back in the ‘30s, Iowa Governor Clyde Herring and Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson bet a prize hog on the matchup. Minnesota won, so Herring coughed up – he obtained a hog from Rosedale Farms in Fort Dodge and forked up. He was named after the Minnesota Governor, obviously. The pig died a few years later, but the tradition was kept by commemorating the old pig in bronze. He’s quite the specimen.

8. The Jeweled Shillelagh between Notre Dame and USC is really quite the prize – the Irish club is studded with rubies and emeralds. Every Irish win is another emerald shamrock for the shillelagh and every Trojan win is another ruby Trojan head. The original became so gem-adorned in 1989 that it had to be retired; it now resides at Notre Dame. The new one was thrown into rotation in 1997 and is currently in Los Angeles.

9. Although the Illibuck sounds like a mythical creature along the lines of unicorns and pegasuses (pegasi?), the Illibuck is actually just a little wooden turtle that sometimes lives in Illinois and sometimes lives in Ohio. The Illinois Fighting Illini and the Ohio Buckeyes duke it out for the honor of taking Illy Illibuck home every year. Like Floyd of Rosedale, the “trophy” was an actual turtle from 1925-1927, then was replaced with a wooden likeness once the original turtle passed on. The turtle’s shell holds the year and the scores, but since there’s only room for so much writing on the back of a turtle, the current Illy is the ninth incarnation (10th if you count the living turtle).

nails10. The Keg of Nails is the bizarre award of choice between the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Louisville Cardinals. They’ve been exchanging it since 1929 and it’s believed that it originated between fraternities, with the thought that the game champions were as tough as nails. The original was lost, so today’s version is just a replica.

Does your college or alma mater trade a weird trophy? Share in the comments! And Go Cyclones!!


1 Comments


  1. gators

    I don’t usually post on blogs but I found yours interesting. Keep up the good work. I’ve enjoyed reading here.


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