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Gophers, Huskers show Big Ten how to create a real trophy game in 21st century

Trophy games are what the Big Ten is all about, it makes games others wouldn’t care about mean something. Conference teams fight over a wooden turtle, a few Paul Bunyan related items, an Old Oaken Bucket, a Brass Spittoon, a pig, and of course the Little Brown Jug.

All of those trophies and rivalries date back to great stories and organic happenings. Trophy games and the Big Ten West go hand in hand. Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin are all involved in trophy games against each other — and all have history and great stories behind them.

However, ever since the conference expanded from 10 to 11 teams the offices in Chicago have seemed fit to shoehorn in rivalries where they don’t exist. Case in point, the “Heroes Game” between Iowa and Nebraska and the ever so amazing Land-Grant trophy battle between Michigan State and Penn State.

Both of those games seemed forced, as organically there isn’t much in the way of hatred or intense games to make it work just yet.

So, the good news comes in the form of the 21st century’s first organic rivalry trophy. It also happens to involve one of the teams with the most trophy games, Minnesota, and the newest of the West division teams, Nebraska.

Of course, this being the age of technology, a friendly Twitter war is what started it all.

Oh, the hilarity, right? While most of us assumed this was a joke, it turned out to be very real on the part of the Gophers. After getting some advice via Reddit (yes, another reason why this rocks), Goldy unveiled a real trophy:

Yes, that’s right, a fake Twitter account about the Nebraska head coach and the Minnesota mascot just took to Twitter to make something happen between the two teams.

It also helped, that following Saturday’s contest, the Gophers now own a two-game winning streak over the Huskers. ‘Cause we all know that rivalries can’t just be made up out of no where (at least if the Big Ten offices aren’t putting pressure on it). Two teams trading wins and meaningful moments mean a lot.

We got our clue that Minnesota thought this a real trophy idea by building it, but they even paraded the thing around the field after the win on Saturday.

Memo to the Big Ten offices, rather than shoehorning a Heroes Trophy or a Freedom Trophy on us, why don’t you let the fans and the teams organically get these games going. While the trophy may have started as a joke on Twitter, it seems to have gained legs and become a thing.

Wisconsin’s new “Freedom Trophy” rivalry should get this treatment and a re-do of the trophy to accompany the real rivalry that exists on and off the field should be in order. Some have suggested a “Golden Mug” with the tradition of beer making (taking off in Nebraska and long-standing in Wisconsin) taking a prominent role.

No matter what happens with that trophy, any future games that get a trophy (and we sure hope that it stops at some point soon) take this more organic and fun route to being a real deal. Thanks to Twitter, Reddit and the Minnesota mascot we were all reminded of how real trophy games are supposed to come about.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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