August 23, 2011
The original Cy-Hawk Trophy, passed back and forth between the winners of every Iowa-Iowa State match since the rivalry returned from a decades-long hiatus in 1977, lasted 24 years without drawing much attention or scorn. Its successor lasted a little less than four days:
JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — The new trophy designed for the winner of the annual Iowa-Iowa State gridiron showdown was scrapped Tuesday as organizers acknowledged it had too much to do with corn and not nearly enough to do with football.
Craig Floss, the CEO of the [Iowa Corn Growers Association], said the response showed the passion Iowa fans have for football.
"The overwhelming feedback has been negative," he said. "Because we've listened ... people want something different than what was proposed last week. And we as Iowa corn growers and the farmers we represent, we want people to be happy."
A temporary trophy will be designed for this year's game on Sept. 10. Fans will be able to suggest a design for the more permanent replacement.
"The new Cy-Hawk trophy, we trust, will truly be something fans will embrace," Floss said.
Within 48 hours of the new trophy's unveiling on Friday, its visage of a kneeling farmer handing over an ear of corn to a young boy while his mother looked on, second child in arm, had come in for such a sound mocking both nationally and within Iowa that even the governor himself felt compelled to tell the Associated Press, "I think they can do better." On the milder end, critics suggested the makeover was "a little weird," and a thinly veiled advertisement for its sponsor, Iowa Corn. At the other end, some Hawkeye fans stopped being polite and started swearing a lot.
Thus the Cy-Hawk Trophy becomes the second Midwestern tradition this offseason to botch its makeover to the point of no return, following Purdue's attempt to update its mascot, Purdue Pete, which was hastily recalled just a few days after the new Pete debuted at the spring game. As always, it is very, very easy to hate the new.
Now comes the hard part: With 18 days to go until the Hawkeyes and Cyclones kick off, what are they going to do for an "interim" trophy that keeps the haters at bay without resorting to something so generic it barely elicits a shrug? Fans will accept (or at least tolerate) hokey tokens that have earned their place over decades of drama and hate — see the countless buckets, jugs, turtles, axes, eggs and pigs that are literally meaningless outside of the context of cross-border feuds — and even acknowledge them as hallowed relics that help give college football its distinct, organic character. You know, after a while.
But you actually expect them to embrace some new brand of corporately backed hokum, without generations of tradition to fall back on? Get that junk out of here.