Cornfield Picture from flickr.com (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicholas_t/4719020153/)
When talk of a trophy between Iowa and Nebraska comes up, the corn stereotype is unavoidable. Right or wrong, it always seems that any award the two schools end up playing for HAS to deal with corn. Iowa grows corn. Lots of it. If you have ever driven through Iowa during the summer, you've seen it. It doesn't matter if you stick to the interstate or find some dirt road in the middle of nowhere, you'll be near a cornfield. Even if you accidentally crossed the border into Iowa at some random point and say "OH ****! What the hell am I doing in Iowa! Turn around! Quick!", you'll probably still catch a glimpse of some cornfield. To be fair, though, there are also a few soybean fields and the government has a land conservation program. But corn is king.
The top five producing corn states are (in order, units are in bushels):
Iowa 2.187 Billion
Illinois 1.971 Billion
Nebraska 1.477 Billion
Minnesota 1.260 Billion
Indiana .918 Billion
These are the estimates from the 2010-11 growing season. Nebraska is a bigger state area-wise than both Iowa and Illinois (Texas is #2. They win again!), but it trails both in corn-output. Well, eastern Nebraska is very similar to Iowa/Illinois. Good soil and enough moisture to grow corn. Once you get to central and western Nebraska, you get more of that "Great Plains" sensation instead of the "Midwestern" feeling. There is a lot of cattle and wheat in western Nebraska and in some places, there's a whole lotta nothing. But, when people outside of the Midwest think of Nebraska, they think of the Cornhuskers...and tornadoes. Sometimes they think of the College World Series, Warren Buffett or the Henry Doorly Zoo. Mostly, though, just the Cornhuskers. So we are stereotyped as a bunch of people with corn growing out of our ears or cobs on our head. This is completely unfair.
Ok so maybe it's not unfair. If we can't get away from it, let's embrace it. Corn may be king in Iowa, but the Cornhuskers are the kings of Nebraska. Onward to the corn-related trophy.
Anyone can make a statue, put it on a block of wood and call it a trophy. Look at the Heartland Trophy and the Land Grant Trophy. As fine as those two trophies are, having that large block of wood to keep track of the history of the rivalry (i.e. the scores of the game) kinda takes away some of the luster of the actual item that's suppose to be played for (a golden calf or a bunch of random stuff in no particular order). I want something that's unique for this game, not just a slab of corn on top of a sanded-down tree stump.
There's the Corn-Hawk Trophy, a Pitchfork (in case anyone from Texas shows their ugly face 'round these parts), The Corn Belt, and a host of others. Everyone else seems to have an idea about what to do with Nebraska-Iowa, so I'll share mine. We will create a "cornfield" in both school's trophy room (this will take up some space). Every year, two new life-sized cornstalks will be crafted. They will be presented at the annual meeting between the two schools and the winning team will get to decorate both. After they have been decked out, Iowa will take one back to Iowa City and Nebraska will take the other to Lincoln. Every year a new cornstalk will be made and added to both Iowa and Nebraska's "Cornfield". I envision the years that Iowa wins, both cornstalks would be black and gold while the years that Nebraska wins, the stalks would be scarlet and cream, but that's up to the winners. Team captains (or someone else assigned) who do the decorating could make each stalk unique by writing in the scores, dates and signatures.
Over time the cornfield at each school would grow. Each stalk would have its own story and be a source of pride for people of each state, as well as a way to treasure the teams' annual game. If the universities wanted to, they could even place a small plaque next to each corn stalk that would have a short story about the game. Visitors could walk through the field and be apart of it. We could even dig into the history books and craft cornstalks representing each of the games in the past. After all, Nebraska and Iowa did play on Thanksgiving for a few years back in the 1800's.
This idea ended up in the Omaha World Herald awhile back and there were some western Iowa fans that didn't take to it very well. One of them apparently thinks I'm a terrorist and that I hate veterans, too. Every since then, I've had to keep looking over my back to see if Ameri-Stanzi is after me.
Obviously there are people that don't want to force a rivalry trophy. But, if we are going to do something anyway, then let's do something cool and unique. So what are your ideas? Do you think there should be a trophy (if so what?) or should we just wait until something happens that would evolve into a prize? Should we stay away from the corn stereotype or embrace it? Or maybe you think that the only trophy the two teams should play for is the Western Division title?
Of course, with all the corn being grown, there will need to be a lot of fertilizer to go with it. Maybe we should play for a cow chip? I'm sure Wisconsin or Minnesota fans can provide one for us.