Every sport at every level has its cherished rivalries, and often those rivalries turn into major events. In baseball, for example, you have the Yankees-Red Sox and the Cubs-Cardinals. In the NFL you have the Cowboys-Redskins and the Giants-Eagles. In soccer you have Real Madrid-Barcelona and Lazio-Roma. And in college basketball you have Duke-North Carolina and Syracuse-Georgetown.
And that’s just to name a few off the top of my head.
However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say no sport does rivalries like college football. Why do I say this? Because in college football practically every single rivalry—no matter how small and insignificant the schools involved—has its own trophy. And I’m not talking bowls or plates or jugs made of gold or silver or crystal. That would be boring. I’m talking bizarre artifacts and relics from a bygone era, like spittoons and axes and howitzers. (Yes, howitzers.) And I don’t know about you, but I think this is awesome.
So today, as we wrap up the week, we’re going to get you pumped for another great Saturday of gridiron action with this list of 25 unusual college football trophies. And you won’t find them ranked by the significance of the rivalry. Instead, they’re judged strictly on the weirdness of the actual trophy.
So let’s get started, shall we?
Teams: Nevada Wolf Pack vs. UNLV Rebels
Year Introduced: 1970
"Oh, what's that? You're schools play for a crystal bowl? That's cute. We play for a working cannon."
Yes, theoretically, this is a working replica of a 19th century Howitzer. The team in possession of the trophy used to fire it each time they scored during the rivalry game. However, both schools agreed not to fire it anymore after 2000, because it was getting pretty costly to maintain.
25. The Fremont Cannon
Teams: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Year Introduced: 2009
"Hey, I was the 16th President of the United States, I ended slavery, and I won the Civil War, keeping this great Union together. But, yeah, that's cool, honor me with a trophy featuring a bronze replica of my f--king hat." -Ghost of Abraham Lincoln
24. Land of Lincoln Trophy
Teams: Akron Zips vs. Kent State Golden Flashes
Year Introduced: 1946
You would think a wagon wheel trophy would date back to the 1800s or something. You know, when people used wagons. But no.
23. Wagon Wheel Trophy
Teams: Michigan Wolverines vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Year Introduced: 1903
Was there some sort of jug shortage in 1903 that would have made an earthenware jug a special prize? In any case, this is actually the oldest rivalry trophy in college football.
22. The Little Brown Jug
Teams: Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Louisville Cardinals
Year Introduced: 1929
Legend has it that the exchange of this trophy was initiated by the schools' fraternities, the idea being that whoever won the football game was "tough as nails."
Leave it to frat boys to fight over a keg.
21. The Keg of Nails
Teams: Troy Trojans vs. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Year Introduced: 2003
To understand this one, you have to know your ancient Greek mythology. You see, the Palladium was wooden statue that supposedly fell from the heavens and was kept in the Temple of Athena in the city of Troy. According to legend, during the Trojan war, soothsayers foretold that as long as the statue remained within the city of Troy, the city would not fall. But, wouldn't you know it, the wily Odysseus, "raider" of cities, stole the statue. And, yeah, Troy fell.
So now you get it: the Troy Trojans versus the Middle Tennessee Raiders? I guess some prof in the classics department came up with this one.
20. Palladium Trophy
Teams: Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats
Year Introduced: 2005
This trophy commemorates the olden days when the best way to get from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati was on a paddlewheel boat traveling on the mighty Ohio River. Of course, it only dates back to 2005, when Cincinnati joined the Big East. Before that, the two schools had only ever played each other five times.
19. Paddlewheel Trophy
Teams: Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
Year Introduced: 1949
Though Notre Dame's rivalry with Michigan is probably more famous, it ain't got no trophy.
18. The Megaphone Trophy
Teams: Missouri Tigers vs. Iowa State Cyclones
Year Introduced: 1959
This trophy was created in 1959 to commemorate a mix-up involving the telephone lines that ran from the field to the coaches boxes at Iowa State's stadium. (Apparently the lines were crossed.) Of course, this rivalry has gone the way of the Dodo now that Mizzou has moved to the SEC. So I guess Missouri gets to keep the trophy forever.
17. The Telephone Trophy
Teams: Boise State Broncos vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
Year Introduced: 2006
You can thank "Big Dairy" for this one. Seriously. Both football programs are sponsored by local dairy groups, and it was their idea to use a milk can as the trophy.
16. Milk Can Trophy
Teams: Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Year Introduced: 1935
This trophy was inspired by a 1935 wager made between the Governor of Minnesota, Floyd Olson, and the Governor of Iowa, Clyde Herring. The stakes? The loser would have to deliver a prize hog from his state to the winner's gubernatorial office in person. So when Minnesota won, Herring obtained a pig from Rosedale Farms in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and personally delivered it to Floyd Olson in Minnesota.
15. Floyd of Rosedale
Teams: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Year Introduced: 1925
The original trophy was a real life turtle, chosen to symbolize what they were hoping would be a long life for their rivalry. When the turtle kicked the bucket in 1927, they switch to wooden replicas. (There have been 10 so far. Wood isn't very durable.)
Teams: Houston Cougars vs. Rice Owls
Year Introduced: 1974
One of Houston's nicknames is the Bayou City, since it sits at the confluence of two bayous. And since both of these schools are located in Houston...you get the idea.
13. The Bayou Bucket
Teams: Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans
Year Introduced: 1953
They call this one the Sibling Rivalry, and they fight for a statue of mythical lumberjack Paul Bunyan. (The timber industry is big in Michigan.)
12. Paul Bunyan Trophy
Teams: Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
Year Introduced: 1948
Every state in the northern Midwest wants to be associated with Paul Bunyan apparently.
Interestingly, this wasn't the first trophy for this rivalry. At first they played for a slab of bacon, which was introduced in 1930. (No, really.) But that was replaced with the much more awesome giant axe in 1948.
11. The Paul Bunyan Axe
Teams: Wyoming Cowboys vs. Colorado State Rams
Year Introduced: 1968
They call this rivalry, cleverly enough, "The Border War." (At least the trophy is original.)
10. The Bonze Boot
Teams: Northwestern State Demons vs. Stephen F. Austin State Lumberjacks
Year Introduced: 1961
The Stephen F. Austin State Lumgerjacks? That can't be a real school.
9. Chief Caddo
Teams: Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Year Introduced: 1941
Who needs Missouri and Nebraska? As long at the Big 12 has Texas and Oklahoma and their awesome ten-gallon golden hat trophy, they'll be just fine.
And yes, that comes off the base and the winners do put it on.
8. The Golden Hat Trophy
Teams: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Purdue Boilermakers
Year Introduced: 1925
This trophy didn't even arise spontaneously. In 1925, the Chicago chapters of the alumni associations of IU and Purdue got together and came up with this trophy. Why? Because "an old oaken bucket [is] the most typical Hoosier form of trophy"...apparently.
7. The Old Oaken Bucket
Teams: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan State Spartans
Year Introduced: 1950
If you ask me, the teams that loses should be the ones who have to take the object that used to be used to collect chewing tobacco spit.
6. The Old Brass Spittoon
Teams: Maryland Terrapins vs. Navy Midshipmen
Year Introduced: 2010
In case you didn't realize it, in Maryland they are pretty crazy about their crabs.
5. The Crab Bowl
Teams: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
Year Introduced: 1996
Obviously these two programs didn't have much money in their budgets for a big fancy trophy, so they just made one out of some crap they had lying around.
4. The Golden Screwdriver
Teams: USC Trojans vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Year Introduced: 1952
Am I the only one who thinks this one looks like a...oh, nevermind.
3. The Jeweled Shillelagh
Teams: TCU Horned Frogs vs. SMU Mustangs
Year Introduced: 1950s
Legend has it this one came about when a TCU fan spotted a SMU fan frying frog legs outside the stadium before a game. The TCU fan made a bet: TCU wins, they get the pan and the frog legs; SMU wins, they keep them. Of course, TCU won, and the skillet has been passed back and forth ever since. (Well, not the skillet, but a skillet.)
2. The Iron Skillet
Teams: UAB Blazers vs. Memphis Tigers
Year Introduced: 2006
Leave it to two schools from Memphis and Birmingham to come up with a trophy more befitting a rib cook-off than a college football game.
1. The Bones
college football, rivalries, Trophies, weird,