One you can ride in, one you can drink from, one you can spit in, one you can't lift, and one you can hardly see. They're all among the top contenders for the most bizarre college football rivalry trophy.
10. The Illibuck Trophy
Goes to winner of: Ohio State vs. Illinois
Beginning in 1925, the winner of the game would get Illibuck -- which was, at the time, a real live turtle. The trophy is now an enormous wooden turtle; honorary societies representing each school pass the turtle to the previous year's winning team during the third quarter of the current contest. Each year's score is engraved on the turtle's back.
Why a turtle? Because they live long, as does the rivalry between the Fighting Illini and the Buckeyes.
9. Chief Caddo
Goes to winner of: Stephen F. Austin vs. Northwestern State University
Nothing PC about this one, but still. After the two schools decided to honor their rivalry with a permanent trophy, SFA, befitting their "Lumberjacks" nickname, took down an enormous black gum tree and lugged the 2,000-pound log over to the Northwestern State campus. There, the wood was transformed into a 7-foot-6-inch, 320 pound statue meant to honor the Caddo tribe of Indians. It is, as far as we know, the biggest football trophy in the U.S.
8. The Goat Trophy
Goes to winner of: Carleton College vs. St. Olaf
The wooden goat started going back and forth between the cross-town rivals in 1931. Why a goat? Because the winner can say, "We got your goat." Although that doesn't quite work if, for example, a team wins the trophy twice in a row, because then they're keeping their goat, which isn't at all catchy.
That may be why the annual classic is now the "Cereal Bowl," sponsored by nearby Malt-O-Meal. Which has made matters a bit worse by creating one of the worst sports giveaways of all time -- free cereal for everyone!
Useless trivia: The 1977 classic was called "The Liter Bowl" (we don't believe the moniker had anything to do with the low-flush toilet movement) and was played using the metric system. This was part of the incredibly successful effort in the 1970s to transform the U.S.to the metric system. The fact that the game was named after a method of liquid measurement serves, in retrospect, as a great marker of how far we had to go.
7. The Victory Carriage
Goes to winner of: UC-Davis vs. Sacramento State
The real horse-drawn carriage was donated in 1959 to honor the winner of the annual contest. But UC-Davis never got into it, and even gave it back to Sacramento State after winning it one year, because the school didn't want to have to deal with caring for the enormous anachronism. Sac State is trying to restore the vehicle (players actuually rode in it after victory) to display it on campus. The estimated cost of new wheels, tires, and sandblasting: $10K.
The teams now play the "Causeway Classic" for the horsehoe trophy.
6. The Shot Glass Trophy
Goes to winner of: RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) vs. Coast Guard
Our brief investigation into the origins of this prize revealed that the small college opponents had, going back to 1938 or earlier, a tradition of coming together at midfield for a postgame toast. The trophy, according to one account, is actually a tiny shot glass ripped off by an RPI grad at his 1944 class reunion. When Coast Guard Superintendent Admiral James Pim saw the glass -- apparently a conversation starter because of how small it was, even for a shot glass, he decided that the winner of the annual Div. III matchup should get possession.
5. The Bronze Turkey
Goes to winner of: Knox vs. Monmouth
Knox and Monmouth have been rivals since 1888, and the trophy came into existence in 1928. It consists of a big turkey, cast in bronze on an large square base. The turkey is a subtle symbol that the game takes place on Thanksgiving Day, and, of course, one of the rare instances when the bird plays the role as a symbol of honor.
After a series of thefts and re-thefts, the first turkey was stolen and missing for about a decade beginning in 1984. In its place, a "body double" was substituted; even after the original was returned in 1993, the backup continued to be used.
The original, oft-injured bird is now without its original base, has broken, soldered wings, and teeters forward in fatigue. It is in long-term intensive care in a secret location.
4. The Telephone Trophy
Goes to winner of: Iowa State vs. Missouri
Whenever my Web-based phone service goes kaflooey due to interference between my Bluetooth mouse, my Airport network, my cordless phones, and the radio receivers the CIA secretly implanted in my fillings, I long for the good old days of simple, reliable land lines.
But the Telephone Trophy serves as a terrific reminder that sometimes the Luddites are just plain wrong. It was aborne of the 1959 matchup, when the field phone wires got crossed, and the opposing teams could hear each other's very specific plans very clearly. Though the wires got properly patched before the game, Northwestern Bell decided the event was, for some reason, worthy of remembrance.
3. The Steel Tire
Goes to winner of: Akron vs. Youngstown
Youngstown makes steel (U.S. Steel). Akron makes rubber (Goodyear). In a Reese's-style "why hadn't I thought of that" moment, the two combined to make the steel-belted radial tires in 1971. The trophy commemorates that sublime meeting of function and function.
2. The Traveling Training Kit
Goes to winner of: MSU-Mankato vs. St. Cloud State
These two small Minnesota colleges have a gridiron rivalry dating back to 1923, but they didn't start playing for the Training Kit until 1978. The trophy, conceived, not surprisingly, by the trainers of the two schools, consists of an empty tackle box. The tackle box is female, St. Cloud Huskies guard Cory McLouden revealed before the 2002 contest. "We plan on bringing the Trainer's Kit home with us," he said. "We may have to put a new coat of varnish on her. She's looking a little rough."
1. Ye Olde Skull
Went to winner of: Ohio Wesleyan vs. Wittenberg
For 60 years these small school rivals battled for human remains -- in this case, an ancient skull of a Native American. In 1989, the schools decided it was time for the dead to be buried, and handed it over to a Native American organization, which reburied the remains.
Also receiving votes:
The Old Brass Spittoon (Indiana vs. Michigan State)
The Peace Pipe (Bowling Green vs. Toledo)
The Red River (note: the actual river, not a representation of) (Texas vs. Oklahoma)
Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa vs. Minnesota)
Gertie The Goose (Minn.-Duluth vs. Wis.-Superior)