Posted by Adam Jacobi
On Friday, representatives from the Iowa and Nebraska athletic departments introduced the theme of the two football teams' annual rivalry game: "The Heroes Game," a celebration of local heroes on a yearly basis. If that sounds, well, unusual, that's understandable. Here's an excerpt from the official release explaining it:
[While] the goal is the same as other "trophy games" - win the struggle on the gridiron and claim the trophy -- the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers won't use their annual meeting to determine ownership of football bragging rights for the Corn Belt exclusively. Instead, they will use the national stage that will be Nebraska's Memorial Stadium or Iowa's historic Kinnick Stadium each autumn to honor citizens of their respective states who are, according to Webster's Dictionary, "admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities," and they intend to work with a partner to do a good deed of their own.
The institutions plan to honor one citizen of Iowa and one citizen of Nebraska prior to each Heroes Game for their extraordinary act. These heroes will be nominated by friends, neighbors or co-workers and will be guests of the two teams at the game where they will be honored on-field during game day. Each will also have their name and hometown etched on the to-be-created Heroes Game trophy.
This is definitely a creative concept, if one that's not entirely football-related; there aren't many other trophies -- especially in college football -- that are interactive at all, much less to the point of etching onto it the names of people who aren't even involved with either program every year. Further, it looks like they've avoided the obvious pairing of Nile Kinnick to a hero-related Iowa football trophy. Points for that.
As for what the final product will look like they didn't unveil the trophy on Friday, either -- just the philosophical concept behind it. Hey, they don't need the trophy itself until late November. Plenty of time there.
As for the concept, this is either cool or embarrassingly schlocky -- and judging by the conference division names, the Big Ten has no compunctions about courting accusations of schlock. And yet, this trophy at the very least honors actual heroes instead of suggesting a couple of football teams from the Midwest fit that bill better than anybody else (they're too busy being Legends anyway). It'll be very interesting to see how the selection plays out, and whether the designation of "hero" starts to consistently fit into the military theme alluded to when the press release mentioned "Nebraska's Memorial Stadium or Iowa's historic Kinnick Stadium," two stadiums named to honor casualties of war.
One request, though: No politicians. Not even once. Please. We're begging you.