JOHNSTON, Iowa — 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.
The Cy-Hawk Trophy was redesigned this year after complaints that the old one — a simple bronze statue of a football and a player — was a bit dated.
With the Iowa Corn Growers Association as the new sponsor of the series between Iowa State’s Cyclones and Iowa’s Hawkeyes, the new trophy was drawn up as a farm family huddled around a bushel of corn. The design was a nod to the state’s deep agricultural roots and, of course, corn is a primary staple around here.
It was unveiled Friday at the state fair. And everyone pretty much hated it, likening it to a garage sale leftover or something from the Precious Moments catalog. Newspaper chats, Twitter and Facebook lit up with critics, and even former Iowa coach Hayden Fry and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad weighed in against the new design.
Craig Floss, the CEO of the corn growers group, 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.
In downtown Iowa City, where stores are already selling “Beat State” t-shirts in advance of the showdown, fans and University of Iowa students cheered the news.
“Nobody liked it. I think the best comment I heard was, ‘That’s going to the losers, right’?” said Liz Ulin, a 23-year-old senior studying health science. She said she grew up in a tiny farming community south of Iowa City and knows many farm families, but the depiction on the trophy had nothing to do with football.
“I don’t think people understood it,” she said. “I don’t think they made the connection between the farming and the football game … And not everyone in Iowa is a farmer. They need something that incorporates both schools.”
The process for choosing a new design would be announced later, Floss said.
The uproar over the trophy shouldn’t be surprising, not when it comes to football rivalry games. Paul Bunyan’s ax goes to the winner of the Wisconsin-Minnesota football game; Floyd of Rosedale — a hog trophy — goes to the winner of the Iowa-Minnesota game; Iowa State and Missouri play for the Telephone Trophy; the Little Brown Jug goes to the winner of Michigan-Minnesota; and the Keg o f Nails goes to the winner of the Louisville-Cincinnati game.
Officials from both Iowa and Iowa State said the process of coming up with a new trophy for the local rivalry was a collaborative effort between the schools and the corn growers group.
Rick Klatt, associate athletic director at Iowa, said everyone hopes the new trophy would represent what makes Iowa special and what it means to live and work in Iowa.
“What we’ve learned is our fans want a football trophy,” Klatt said. “So we will ask our fans to help build us a football trophy.”
He said when he saw it for the first time, he was pleased with it.
“We aimed high and we missed,” Klatt said.
University officials dismissed the suggestion that the trophy was the result of giving the corn growers association too much say in the design.
Steve Malchow, senior associate athletic director at Iowa State, said the group did not “lead the charge” in developing the trophy.
“Nobody dominated it, we all talked about a number of issues and brought ideas forward and vetted them together,” he said.
He also downplayed the idea that a football trophy has to be related to football.
“If you look around college football, most aren’t football related,” Malchow said.
NOTEBOOK: Wyoming coach Dave Christensen has named freshman Brett Smith as his starting quarterback. The announcement Tuesday isn’t a surprise because Smith, of Salem, Ore., had been getting all the snaps with the No. 1 offensive unit in Wyoming’s scrimmages during training camp. Christensen says Smith was ahead of the other quarterbacks in development and had done a great job throughout training camp with being consistent, managing the offense, making decisions and protecting the football. Walk-on sophomore Colby Kirkegaard beat out freshman Adam Pittser for the primary backup job behind Smith. The quarterback position had belonged to Austyn Carta-Samuels. However, Carta-Samuels surprised everyone by leaving the team during the winter after his sophomore season. The Cowboys open their season Sept. 3 at home versus Weber State.