Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is not one of college football's greatest. Despite being intrastate rivals, the two teams have met on the gridiron just 55 times, including a scant 36 games in the last 90 years. Still, the rivalry's been going strong with annual games since the late '70s, and despite rarely having national significance, it's a point of great pride and contention in the state of Iowa.
The one thing the rivalry didn't have was a cool trophy; here's a look at the previous iteration, called the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Not that great. Little artistic merit. It doesn't show, it tells. It looks like a reclamation project from a high school shop class.
So wisely, the trophy was shelved permanently during the offseason when the sponsor was ceded from grocery chain Hy-Vee to the Iowa Corn lobby. On Friday, the new trophy commissioned by Iowa Corn was unveiled, and via Hawkeye Nation, it's... oh no.
Yes, that's a guy with a basket of corn that he's showing to his wife and two kids. It's a corn farmer and his family. And their corn. That's the football trophy. This is a literal thing that is happening.
I would say that this is the inherent danger of letting a local agriculture lobby have free reign to brand a football game -- the whole "look at how wonderful and wholesome we are" schtick -- but that's hardly an industry-wide problem. Aside from Iowa and corn, the only other state with an identity so closely tied to a local farm product is Idaho and potatoes, and look at what unfettered genius the Idaho Potato Bowl brought to the proverbial table last month:
That is not only a baked potato football, it is a baked potato football decorated with sour cream and chives! And lest you think that kind of brilliance can't make its way to the confluence of corn and football, as one Iowa writer's wife pointed out, why not have the football peeled open at the top with a corn cob under it? That would be thousands of times better than holding up a trophy of a family and their basket of corn (which, frankly, is less than you can grow in a typical Iowan front yard). Footballs need to be made of food more often! This is a perfect opportunity and they just blew it! Argh argh argh argh argh
Between the Legends, Leaders, Heroes Game, and now the Iowa Corn Trophy, it seems an awful lot like the Big Ten is distancing itself from what football is all about -- namely football players, football teams, and the football itself. Let's see a little more of that and a lot less of this effort to turn the conference into a bad Norman Rockwell painting.