Everyone loves a good cup, right? Sure, the National Championship Trophy is a nice thing and all, but why should the National Champion just raise some equipment at the end of the game or the end of the season?
Fortunately with it being college football, quiet heads reigned and sports fans were awarded a plethora of trophies in rivalry games, old and new, but many of them are as creative and meaningful as any other trophy to grab.
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And even schools without competing prizes (ahem, UCF and UConn) have tried to get them and create their own cups, even if they don’t always pick them up.
A lot of competition cups are fairly basic and feature many of the same decorations and aesthetics – either they look like a trophy, have a soccer ball, a cup or jug of some sort or just kind of simple.
But every now and then comes a cup that either has a great history behind it, is eye-catching or has some other rule-breaking characteristics.
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One of them – the Golden Egg – will be ready on Thursday when the 9th seed Ole Miss travels to Starkville to face Missisippi State in the annual Egg Bowl. The Rebels won the match last year and has a 63-46-6 all-time title in the series.
And while this week is competition week in college football, not all of the top competitors have a trophy (The Game, The Iron Bowl), nor are the top prizes handed out during competition week.
With that said, here’s an introduction to some of the sport’s best trophies, in no particular order, and how they came to be.
1. Iron pan – SMU vs TCU
- First to get: 1946
- Latest winner: September 28, 2021 – SMU 42, TCU 31
- Series date: Lead TCU 51-42-7
This is a rivalry between two Texas schools that have been around since 1915 and have held 100 encounters, but the awarding of the trophy – an iron skillet – dates back to 1946. Like many of the awards on this list, the original story differs.
One account said it was started “to prevent school property from being defaced” by noisy fans and that the frying pan served as a substitute for vandalism. Another legacy version states that an SMU fan was frying frog legs before the game as a joke and one TCU fan thought the outcome of the game should elicit the reaction of whoever got the fryer and frog legs.
This year’s fight wasn’t without controversy, with then-TCU head coach Gary Patterson making several accusations against SMU, but he quit after just a month. SMU coach Sonny Dykes is rumored to be the frontrunner to replace Patterson.
2. Floyd Rosedale – Iowa vs Minnesota
- First to get: 1935
- Latest winner: November 13, 2021- Iowa 27, MN 22
- Series date: Minnesota leads 62-51-2
The 1934 rivalry between the Golden Gophers and the Hawkeyes intensified when Iowa holding back Ozzy Simmons, one of the few black players in the country at the time, felt he had late injuries and had to leave the game three times due to injuries.
The following year when the two schools faced off, the governor of Iowa got engaged and said if Minnesota players or officials were treating Simmons the same way they had in the past, the crowd wouldn’t support her.
To ease tensions, the governor of Minnesota sent a telegram betting that the Gopher’s team would win the match and the governor of Iowa accepted. The name for the cup comes from Floyd Olson, then-governor of Minnesota and Rossdale farmer, where Olson got his pig.
3. Golden Egg – Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss
- First to get: 1927
- Latest winner: November 28, 2020- Ole Miss 31, Mississippi 24
- Series date: Offers Ole Miss 63-46-6
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Another case of trying to curb vandalism, the rivalry wasn’t actually called “The Egg Bowl” until 1979 when Mississippi sports writer Tom Patterson called it so. Before that, it was the Battle for the Golden Egg, which got its name from the trophy that was awarded.
In 1926, the Ole Miss shattered a 13-game losing streak in the competition, defeating Mississippi State 7-6 in Starkville. As a result, Ole Miss fans stormed the field, attempted to tear down the goalposts and fights broke out, creating the Golden Egg as a way to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Although the egg is not actually golden, it is a copper ball-shaped piece that looks more like the balls used at the time than the ones used today, which is why it looks more like an egg than a soccer ball.
4. Bejeweled Shellagh – Notre Dame v USC
- First to get: 1952
- Latest winner: October 23, 2021 – Notre Dame 31, USC 16
- Series date: Notre Dame leads. 48-36-5
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The rivalry between these two schools actually began in 1926, but in 1952 the Notre Dame Alumni Club in Los Angeles decided to memorialize the series up to that point and commissioned the introduction of the bejeweled shillelagh, an old Gaelic war club.
At the time, it was said that shilagh was supposed to “symbolize in part the high tradition, fierce rivalry and above all the sincere respect which these two great universities have for each other”. The shilllag features sapphire-encrusted Trojan heads for USC victories and emerald-embellished botanicals for Notre Dame wins.
The original Shellagh ran out in 1989 and is on display in South Bend. The current machine is a foot tall and commemorates victories in the series dating back to 1990.
5. Wheelbarrow – Akron vs. Kent State
- First to get: 1946
- Latest winner: November 20, 2021 – Kent State 38, Akron 0
- Series date: Akron leads 35-27-2
Although not necessarily a rivalry between two enduring football powers, this trophy is closely associated with both schools.
The trophy came when John Bushtel, a former industrialist in Akron, set out to set up a college where Kent State is now located in the 1870s. On the way, his chariot got stuck in the mud and when the horses finally brought it out, but not before losing a wheel in his chariot.
The wheel was discovered in 1902 and in 1945 a trophy was determined to award the winner in the battle between the two MAC schools.
6. Ax Paul Bunyan – Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
- First to get: 1948
- Latest winner: Dec 19, 2020 – 20 Wisconsin, MN 17
- Series date: Wisconsin leads 62-60-8
Created in 1948 to replace the lost “Slab of Bacon” trophy by the Wisconsin winners, this trophy is one of the most famous trophies, and certainly among the largest in college football.
At more than six feet long, the scores of each match are recorded in a knob rivalry, with one side painted red and white for Badger and the other chestnut and gold for the Golden Gopher. A new one was made in 2000 and the original axe was donated to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
Usually the winner of each game takes the ax and runs around the field with it and “cuts” the opponents’ goal points.
7. Little Brown Jug – Michigan vs. Minnesota
- First to get: 1903
- Latest winner: Oct 24, 2020- Michigan 49th, Minnesota 24
- Series date: Michigan leads 76-25-3
The oldest competing trophy in college football, the Little Brown Jug, traveled Michigan to Minnesota and brought home his own five-gallon jug because then-Wolverine coach Fielding Yost didn’t trust his team’s water supply wouldn’t be tampered with.
The pitcher was awarded for the first time after the two schools tied 6-6. In the clamor of Minnesota fans celebrating the comeback and storming the field, Yost left the pitcher in Minneapolis amid all the confusion.
Due to the power of that game, Wolverines and Gophers didn’t play each other again until 1909, with the pitcher going to the winner in every game since.
8. The Golden Hat – Oklahoma vs. Texas
- First to get: 1941
- Latest Winner : October 9, 2021 – Oklahoma 55, Texas 48
- Series date: Texas leads 62-50-5
Red River has delivered some of the best Big 12 and college football over the past several years, including this game, where Texans edged out a 21-point lead and Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley seated Heisman’s favorite Spencer Rattler.
The winner of this historic competition gets a gold (formerly bronze) ten-gallon cap to keep all year long. It was originally donated by the Texas State Fair in 1941 and presented by the winning university president.
Embed from Getty Images
9. Golden Boot – LSU vs Arkansas
- First to get: 1996
- Latest winner: Nov. 13, 2021 – Arkansas 16, LSU 13 (overtime)
- Series date: LSU leads 42-23-2
One of the newest awards on this list, it’s also one of the most glamorous.
Introduced in 1996 and created by a former Razorback player, it is made of solid 24 karat gold, is 4 feet tall, 200 pounds and has a value of around $10,000. The cup gets its name from the Arkansas and Louisiana stripe, which are adjacent to each other and resemble a shoe.
LSU has been leading the series and series all the time since installing the Golden Boot, although Sam Pittman’s squad continued their unlikely rise as they entered Death Valley and beat the Tigers 16-13 in overtime this year.
10. Old Brass Spittoon – Michigan State vs. Indiana
- First to get: 1950
- Latest winner: Oct 16, 2021- Michigan State 20, Indiana 15
- Series date: Michigan State leads 49-17-2
Inspired by another trophy on this list, the Old Brass Spittoon was acquired by Michigan State’s student body president at an antiques store in East Lansing.
It was originally purchased for $25 and there was no guarantee that the Hoosiers would accept this rivalry and trophy, but eventually Indiana sent a telegram and accepted the challenge. Then, the trophy was presented to each team before the match as a reminder of what they would be playing for.
The Spartans notched 1-1 in battles for the famous trophy under coach Mel Tucker’s tenure and pulled off an audacious victory and closed out 20-15 in Bloomington earlier this year.
There are plenty of prizes out there that have great stories, are aesthetically pleasing, or both or have something completely different from each,
Here are the five current prizes that the cutbacks have missed:
1 – Platypus (Oregon vs. Oregon)
2. The Saddle (TCU vs. Texas Tech)
3. The Bronze Stalk (NIU vs. Ball State)
4. Chancellor Tottenham (Texas vs. Texas Tech)
5. Lincoln Land (Illinois vs. Northwestern)