We knew this with coming a while ago but Nebraska and Wisconsin have finally announced details about the trophy the Cornhuskers and Badgers will be playing for this Saturday. (Because apparently the glory of the game itself is insufficient motivation.)
Aesthetically speaking, this trophy is an improvement over the Lombardi Trophy We Got at a Thrift Shop that we share with Iowa. The Freedom Trophy has models of both stadiums underneath a pointy American flag on a significant wooden base. No indication whether the bronze and wood bases separate to improve stadium portability. Maybe they'll provide a Red Ryder wagon with it.
Anyways, presumably scores will be added to the wood base.
One thing: we can't honestly expect trophies like the Little Brown Jug or Floyd of Rosendale for Nebraska. Those trophies were accidental traditions born back when it was okay for schools to fight publically.
The Freedom trophy and Heroes trophy are corporate-era feel-good honor markers designed by athletic departments flush with cash. Everything is built for TV audiences and to make corporate sponsors feel good. (Which is why its shocking that the Freedom Trophy doesn't have a corporate sponsor. I'm sure that's coming.)
In case you were curious, Wisconsin inadvertently (giggle - it's Barry Alvarez) declared this game a rivalry.
"Trophy games are part of the tradition of college football, and I’m thrilled that we’re going to be introducing one into our rivalry with Nebraska," Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. "The Freedom Trophy brings recognition to two historic football venues and it honors our nation’s veterans. It is something I know the coaches, student-athletes and fans of both programs will embrace for years to come."
Nothing says rivalry like an eight game series, right?
The real problem with these corporate-bland trophies is that it's hard for fans to find a way to get excited about winning them. As with the Heroes trophy, the need to honor veterans will serve as a wet blanket on the very real animosity that will, in time, form between these programs (or at least their fan bases).
Why make the rivalry seem contrived? Why ruin it before it even has a chance?
Yes, we should honor our veterans. But we don't need to be pretentious about it. We don't need to contrive a rivalry game (that would've happened naturally anyways) to make a point.
I'm sorry. But in my personal opinion, I think this trophy misses the mark. It reeks of corporate blandness. We couldn't find something unique to Nebraska/Wisconsin? We couldn't just leave it alone? Why do we even need a trophy? Isn't the Big Ten West trophy enough?
One last point: considering this trophy is meant to honor Veterans, does this mean Nebraska will always play Wisconsin around Veterans Day? That would seem to negate those hopes of ending the season on Black Friday with the Badgers.
Anyways, sound off below about what you of Nebraska's new trophy. Will Nebraska bring it home Saturday?