CHICAGO — Iowa’s football’s trophy chest is bare right now with the pig in Minnesota, the bull in Madison and the instate edition put out to pasture somewhere between Ames and Iowa City.
But that didn’t stop the Iowa brass from ushering in Big Ten newcomer Nebraska with a new traveling trophy or halting the potential for another trophy game against permanent cross-divisional opponent Purdue.
In a news conference Friday, officials for Iowa and Nebraska announced they will compete in “The Heroes Game” on Nov. 25 in Lincoln, Neb. A game trophy has not been created or even designed. But the concept was triggered last summer shortly after Nebraska agreed to join the Big Ten, said Rick Klatt, Iowa’s associate athletic director for external affairs.
Klatt and Nebraska Associate Athletic Director Michael Stephens met last January in Des Moines to discuss the trophy concept. In March they met again at Hy-Vee’s headquarters to develop the idea. The schools also will recognize two “American Heroes” from each state, representing ordinary Midwesterners performing extraordinary deeds.
Hy-Vee will sponsor the game with money going to both schools and the American Red Cross.
“I think it’s a good concept,” Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne said. “It’s not just the matter of a trophy; it does some other things that are good. We’re recognizing some people, some ordinary folks who are not wealthy people necessarily, they are not people who are politicians, which is probably a good thing.”
Iowa officials will bring the trophy to Lincoln for the game “in acknowledgment of the University of Iowa being one of the 11 institutions that invite Nebraska into the league,” Klatt said.
It’s undetermined if the annual game will develop into a top-notch rivalry, something Osborne said Nebraska enjoyed with Oklahoma. That’s determined by the outcomes and gameday environment, Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said.
“At the end of the day, a rivalry is going to be determined by how things go on the field, how the coaches interact, by how the fans interact,” Barta said. “Our goal is to set out and try to win that football game. I know already there’s going to be a lot surrounding our two states. We’re looking forward to a great but very healthy rivalry with our new partners in Nebraska.”
Iowa and Purdue officials discussed adding a trophy between their schools, but that was shelved for now, Klatt said. The schools will play each other annually and share color groupings.
“There was a discussion about a trophy for the Purdue game,” Klatt said. “That’s something we’ll discuss as the games develop over time.”
Since 1977 Iowa has played Iowa State annually for the Cy-Hawk Trophy, but the original trophy will head to a neutral site, probably Des Moines, Barta said. The teams will play for a upgraded model this year Sept. 10 in Ames.
“We decided it was time to update that trophy,” Barta said. “It’s not a trophy that’s been around for 200-years- type-of-thing. So we’re going to put it to rest, we’re going to put it on display for the citizens of the state and we’ll unveil the new one.”
Iowa will play Minnesota on Oct. 29 for Floyd of Rosedale, the 98.3-pound bronze pig the schools have played for since 1935. Minnesota won the trophy for the first time in four years with a 27-24 win against Iowa last year.
The Hawkeyes are not scheduled to play Wisconsin for the Heartland Trophy —which features a bull — until 2013, but the teams can play for the trophy if they both reach the Big Ten title game.
Klatt added that no other school has approached Iowa about playing for a trophy.
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