Conference realignment has ripped apart nearly all of Iowa State's historical football rivalries. One of the few surviving schools is Kansas State, which Iowa State started playing in 1916, and this fall will mark the 100th consecutive edition of the game. Both schools are some of the very earliest agricultural institutions in the entire nation, established by the Morrill Act in 1862. They are also the sole remaining conference rival that was an opponent during Jack Trice's two years in Ames.
There still isn't a trophy marking the game that many have dubbed Farmageddon in recent years. Part of that probably has to do with the long and distinguished history of losing by both teams. With the Big 12 eroding by the minute, the schools should take some steps to solidify this rivalry and start playing for a Farmageddon trophy.
College football is best when upholding fun, goofy traditions and the best trophies follow some simple rules.
KITCHENWARE AND TOOLS AND THINGS
The best trophies are ones that can be used around the house in case of apocalypse. The first regular rivalry trophy was a simple clay water jug, which Michigan brought to their 1903 game against Minnesota, fearing that the Gophers would poison their water. After they tied, Minnesota kept the jug and the Little Brown Jug trophy was born. Elsewhere, SMU and TCU play for the Iron Skillet, while other schools use axes, bells, cannons, and even a rifle.
MYTHOLOGICAL FIGURES OR ANIMALS
The Big Ten has the market cornered on animal trophies and many started out as actual live animals, but all had the same pesky problem of mortality. Floyd of Rosedale, the Minnesota - Iowa trophy, was originally a live hog, then briefly a wooden pig before finally becoming the bronze sculpture. Illinois and Ohio State play for a turtle named Illibuck, while Minnesota and Wisconsin originally played for the Slab of Bacon, before turning to Paul Bunyan's Axe.
NO CORPORATE SPONSORS
Who can forget the pewter farm family? Fans howled when the new Cy-Hawk trophy was unveiled by new sponsor Iowa Corn after they collaborated with both schools and it was quickly shelved. The replacement with Cy and Herky was a safe yet dull choice, but it could've been worse. The new Battle Line Trophy between Missouri and Arkansas has an actual corporate logo on the freakin' trophy!
Trophies need to be easy to understand. Some of Nebraska's new contrived trophies look like they were designed by the Franklin Mint while other schools have just plain ugly trophies. The Land Grant Trophy, awarded to the winner of the Michigan State - Penn State game, looks as if a destitute creator glued the first few random items found at Goodwill onto a ridiculously large hunk of wood with no attempt made at preserving tradition or proportions or taste.
Some trophies introduced in recent years are lacking in actual history and desire. UConn and UCF recently played for the new Civil ConFLiCT trophy, or more accurately, UConn tried to foist the "tradition" upon an unwilling UCF team. After UCF won the game earlier this month, they left the trophy on UConn's sidelines, not even bothering to cross the field to grab it. As the stadium emptied out, the forlorn trophy was eventually covered with a towel, lest the corpse attract unwanted attention. Farmageddon doesn't have this problem.
With these simple rules established, let's take a brief trip back into Kagavi history.
As a child, Grandpa and Grandma's house stood a few hours away through farm fields with hay rolls and tractors, the nation's food stretched along I-80. While visiting, we would often go to auctions that my uncle held and I became fascinated with antique farm tools. Great big saws, yokes, varnished buckets, stoneware, the simple pioneering spirit of the midwest on display. There was something slightly frightening about all the sharp edges and rust and willing tetanus.
Vintage tractor seats were one of my favorite artifacts and they are still a popular collectable item due to the wide variety of shapes and lettering found. Serious collectors call them cast-iron implement seats and many have entered the realm of folk art. Some have animal shapes while others are heavy on letters. One of the most popularly reproduced seats is a John Deere.
But there are other seats that have more lettering:
Just these two examples give a wide range of possibilities. The Farmageddon trophy should be an oversized tractor seat with KSAC and IAC lettering part of the carving and possibly FARMAGEDDON running along the edge. Game results could be painted in school colors on the individual arms, or the seat side could simply remain plain cast-iron, while results are painted on the back side.
There's many ways to approach this to create an unique item indisputably tied to farming history. It's easy for me to imagine an alternate universe where Jack and his teammates lift up this trophy after winning at State Field in 1923.
Speaking of farm trophies, I've always loved the idea of a pitchfork trophy as a true Iowan version of the various axe trophies. While researching this story, I came across a potential replacement for the Cy-Hawk trophy. In 2011, Nathan Brixius proposed a pitchfork trophy inspired by Grant Wood's American Gothic painting, one of the most famous pieces of American art in the entire world. Wood taught at the University of Iowa and also painted several large murals at Iowa State.
A pitchfork trophy?
Along the handle should be painted bands of either black or red with the score and date in gold. The existing trophy can become the Cy-Hawk series trophy, given to the overall winner of all sports. These two trophies are a great way to imbue Iowa State with more tradition and heritage while being wholly believable and vintage at the same time. Let's do it.
CONCEPT HELMET OF THE WEEK
Iowa State honored the 1977 Peach Bowl team with their 2007 throwbacks and those popular helmets featured the block "I" with the vertical "ISU" letters within. There are two ways to approach this inspiration and this week I'll start with a straight reinterpretation of the look using modern font. Next week will be a much more modernized redesign.
JACK TRICE RESEARCH NOTE
When Jack played football at East Tech and Iowa State, the Ku Klux Klan was undergoing a national revival of interest that peaked just after his death. While the Klan sprouted after the Civil War, the distinctive white robes and hoods weren't a standard part of the domestic terrorist package, only widely appearing after a 1915 film. Read on to see "How the Klan Got Its Hood."
Do you have any original 1920s Iowa State artifacts? Drop me a line on Twitter or email joshua.t (AT) kagavi.com. Help reveal new insights into Jack Trice's life.
TEACH ME SOUNDS
I was born broken, better known by the complicated medical term "deaf," and need you to teach me basic sounds in written form. For this week:
Teach me the sound of various meats being cooked on a tailgate grill.
Give your best version (turn of phrase or onomatopoeia) in the comments.
Kagavi's Cyclone Soup will appear throughout the remainder of the 2016 football season. Follow him on Twitter here.