Memphis and UAB first squared off in 1997, and the annual meeting became an official rivalry in 2006 with the introduction of the Battle of the Bones. The winner of the Tiger-Blazer contest each year takes home the 100-pound, bronze rack of ribs. You read that correctly — the Bones trophy commemorates the delicacy most associated with each city.
UAB is after its fifth consecutive Bones victory, and its sixth possession of the trophy since its inception.
The Battle for the Bones got this blogger thinking — rivalry/trophy games are great, and help define college football. Unusual trophies are especially fascinating, particularly the stories behind them. The possibility of more such games exists. Below are some suggestions for your consideration:
COLORADO vs. WASHINGTON
The Big Bong Smoke-Out
Colorado and Washington both legalized recreational marijuana use on Election Day. Less than two weeks later, two of each state’s college football programs square off. What better way to commemorate a landmark moment in each state’s history with a trophy symbolic of it?
Some bro taking a shop elective could totally construct a six-foot smoking apparatus — if you call it a bong, the cops can confiscate it, man! — in time for Saturday’s kickoff.
There’s a game for a Brass Spittoon, while Florida and Georgia have the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party; give these states the Smoke-Out, complete with pregame festivities. Phish, Wiz Khalifa or Barrington Levy could play a concert outside the stadium and generate guaranteed revenue.
The inherent risk run with establishing this trophy game is the game itself being cancelled and replaced with EA Sports’ NCAA Football. This season, that latter might be more competitive.
SYRACUSE vs. DUKE
Dick Vitale’s Microphone
Syracuse moves to the ACC next season, bringing with it an excellent basketball program and the potential of more marquee match-ups in what is already regarded as the premiere hoop league. Orange football has been less exciting in recent seasons. Despite a legacy that includes Jim Brown and Ernie Davis, Syracuse is known today as more of a basketball school.
Duke is the basketball school. Coach Mike Krzyzewski is a veritable deity in Durham, and even with the astounding success of David Cutcliffe, basketball remains the premiere show in town.
When these teams meet on the football field as ACC members, the athletic departments can generated added interest by injecting a basketball twist: each season’s winner earns a game-used, Dick Vitale microphone. Come March, the trophy can be exchanged to the NCAA for more favorable seeding in the basketball tournament.
It’s awesome, baby!
ALABAMA vs. OLE MISS
SEC West universities Alabama and Ole Miss meet every year, so why not have a trophy? Sometime in the mid-2000s, a hairstyle trend emanated from Alabama known simply as ‘Bama Bangs. ‘Bama Bangs gained national notoriety from Clay Travis’ book Dixieland Delight, and the MTV reality series Two-A-Days.
Alabama is right there in the name, and indeed, Crimson Tide quarterbacks John Parker Wilson and Brodie Croyle were known to rock the Bangs. But there’s speculation the look actually originated in Mississippi, and Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead was a staunch supporter of the look.
The only way to settle it is on the field, with the winner taking home a mannequin head sporting some freshly blow-dried bangs cascading down to the brow ridge. The Tide has little to worry of losing the distinction of kings of the Bangs — Alabama is 50-8-2 against Ole Miss all-time.
ILLINOIS vs. INDIANA
The Little Eric Gordon
Two more programs that have had far more success on the hardwood than the gridiron had a heated rivalry over basketball recruit Eric Gordon. Gordon originally committed to Illinois, but recanted just before the early signing period and landed at Indiana. He was on Kelvin Sampson’s last IU team before leaving for the NBA. Illini fans didn’t take the about-face well.
Give Illinois a shot at redemption with a statuette of Gordon awarded to the winner of this annual Leaders division clash.
Also considered: Jack Trudeau’s Head: A bust of former Illinois quarterback Jack Trudeau would have made a fitting prize for this contest, though in seasons the Hoosiers won, like this, the trophy might have come back severely dented by Kevin Wilson.
ANY BIG TEN GAME CURRENTLY WITHOUT A TROPHY
The Invisible Lightsaber
The Illi-Buck. The Old Oaken Bucket. Floyd of Rosedale. The Little Brown Jug. Paul Bunyan’s Ax. The Heroes Trophy.
It seems like every week, there’s some award on the line in a Big Ten Conference game. There are drink containers, animals, and even a weapon. Commissioning an actual trophy might prove too costly (even if Nebraska and Iowa opted to do so for…some reason). Plus, the tradition behind this trophy could be marketed as there *is* no trophy!
Despite Wisconsin and Minnesota playing for Paul Bunyan’s Ax, weapons are fairly rare as football awards. Therefore, the Big Ten universities bold enough to pursue this idea should latch onto that. A lightsaber makes sense, as it allows the players to compensate for the lack of a tangible award by swinging their hands in the air and making those sweet lightsaber noises with their lips.