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Sports commentary: Football fun

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High schools and colleges have some great football traditions

By Mike Forster

 

E.C. Glass has a couple of neat football traditions.

Last weekend, the Hilltoppers played Heritage.  At stake was a trophy jug.

When the team plays Jefferson Forest, it is in the Black and Blue Bowl, with a beat up medical kit as the trophy.  Aside from being a nod to the physical nature of this particular game, the name also carries the two schools' principal colors:  black and blue.

Finally, when Glass plays Amherst, in the Banks of the James Bowl, the losing athletic director has to walk the trophy to the winner via a stroll over the John Lynch Bridge.

I like these sorts of things, both at the high school and the college levels.

I'm a grad of the University of Minnesota.  While the Golden Gophers have not been any kind of football powerhouse since the early 1960s, the school does have some great trophy traditions.

These traditions were established during the Gophers' heyday.  (Nowadays, the only tradition Minnesota seems to be forging is that of losing on a consistent basis to the stronger teams of the Big Ten.  Ouch!)

Whenever Minnesota plays Wisconsin, Paul Bunyan's Axe is at stake.  When the Gophers take on Michigan, it is for the Little Brown Jug.

And should the Minnesotans play Iowa, it is for the honor of bringing home Floyd, the Bronze Pig of Rosedale, by far my favorite trophy.  By the way, Floyd is a cast-bronze statue, not a pig which has been bronzed.

By the way, the wife (who has never stepped foot in Minnesota) tries her best to understand the enthusiasm over Floyd.  I'm afraid, however, that she just doesn't quite get it.

Minnesota also has a new "tradition" with Penn State, in which the teams vie for "The Governor's Victory Bell."  I think not.

There are, however, some wonderful, non-contrived prizes at the college level.  

Purdue, another Big Ten school, is involved in two of the more inspiring contests.  The game for the Old Oaken Bucket has the Boilermakers squaring off with Indiana.

Purdue also plays Illinois with rights to the Purdue Cannon on the line.  That's cannon, as in the thing that shoots cannon balls.

Imagine the fun you could have with both an old oaken bucket AND a functioning cannon.  I wonder why I didn't go to Purdue?

Maryland and Navy play for the Crab Bowl Trophy each year, though it's not clear whether the word "crab" here is used as a noun (as in blue shell crabs) or as an adjective (as in crabby people).

Missouri and Oklahoma play for the Tiger-Sooner Peace Pipe each year.  I suspect, however, with all of this nannyism about smoking going on they'll change that trophy to something more acceptable, such as the Tiger-Sooner Communal Bag o' Tofu.

Washington is the land of apples so it seems entirely appropriate that when Washington and Washington State square off, it's for rights to the Apple Cup.

Of local interest, both UVa and Virginia Tech are involved in such chases.

Virginia Tech and West Virginia play for bragging rights and to lay claim to the Black Diamond Trophy.

In the event you're thinking of absconding with that diamond-enriched trophy because of its great potential street value, you should know that a "black diamond" is a piece of coal that is encased in Lucite.

As an aside, if you're planning on proposing to your sweetie, such a black diamond will do little to impress her.

Tech plays UVa for the Commonwealth Cup.  While the two teams first met on the gridiron in 1895, the trophy for which they currently play is a fairly modern development, begun in 1996.  Tech has won the trophy 14 times (including the past nine season), while the Cavs have claimed it thrice.

Of course, these trophies merely give the teams a focus for their enthusiasm whenever they've topped their archrivals.

It's not the trophy that counts, so much as what it represents.

Now, if my Gophers could just get back Floyd, that beloved Pig of Rosedale.