Illinois and Northwestern Seeking New Rivalry Trophy

By Paul M. Banks

EVANSTON, Ill. — The University of Illinois and Northwestern University are collaborating to establish a new trophy for the winner of the football game between the two institutions. The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk Trophy, which went to the winner of the Illinois-Northwestern football game from 1945-2008, was retired following the 2008 contest and both schools have agreed to play for a new trophy beginning in 2009.

“Out of tremendous respect for the Native American community, the two universities decided in November that we would institute a new rivalry trophy in 2009,” said Jim Phillips, Northwestern’s director of athletics and recreation. “To be certain, Illinois and Northwestern have a rich history and we want to identify a rivalry trophy that will last for generations. Because of the rivalry and what it means to so many people in the state, we wanted to let our fans have a say in helping us choose the next rivalry trophy.”

Both institutions are asking their fans for feedback on the new trophy by participating in an online poll on each of the school’s athletics web sites. Four possible ideas, along with the opportunity to offer an alternative, will be provided until April 15. The schools expect to announce the new trophy around each of their spring football games on April 25.

Four possible suggestions for the new series trophy include the following:

• The Land of Lincoln Trophy –
A replica of Lincoln’s stove pipe hat mounted on a piece of White Oak (Illinois’ state tree)

Basic and solid, like Dr. Chester Frazier, although not very inspiring or original
• President’s Trophy – Recognizing the four presidents associated with the state of Illinois: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Obama.

What I’m likely going to vote for, even though the NHL already has dibs on the name.

• The Popcorn Bowl –– Named after the Illinois state snack.

LAME!!! Although at least the game would finally get its long overdue nickname, but it would be better if the game’s nickname were more dramatic and exciting, like BYU-Utah (the Holy War) Oregon-Oregon St. (The Civil War) or Oklahoma-Texas (Red River Shootout). Something like the Prairie State Punishing, only a lot better would work.

• Graham-Grange Fire Bell (original series trophy started in 1941 was a fire bell)
— Named after two of the greatest players at each school — Otto Graham of Northwestern and Red Grange of Illinois.

This isn’t bad, I think this one will actually win.

Fans can vote for one of these four choices, or add their own name, by visiting here