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12 Unusual College Football Trophies

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As the college football season kicks off, teams are ready to vie for the two national championship trophies. But that's not the only hardware that will change hands this season, since many intercollegiate rivalries have their own special trophies. Some are pretty standard silver cups or plaques, while others are a bit more esoteric. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Illibuck—Illinois vs. Ohio State

When Illinois and Ohio State met during the 1925 season, they had a new prize in their sights: a live turtle named Illy Illibuck. Why a turtle? Turtles have long life expectancies, and the students wanted to honor the long life of the rivalry. Unfortunately, this particular turtle didn't live so long; it died in 1927. At that point, a wooden turtle took its place, and it's been exchanged ever since.

2. Case Western Reserve vs. College of Wooster—The Baird Brothers Trophy

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It's not just big football powerhouses that exchange weird trophies; little schools can get in on the act, too. Take, for instance, the Baird Brothers Trophy. In 1984 Case Western Reserve econ professor Bob Baird worked with his brother Bob, an econ prof at the College of Wooster, to come up with prize for the winner of their two schools' meetings. They came up with a truly original idea: the Baird Brothers trophy is a golden fish stringer. The winner of each game gets to keep the stringer for a year and add a brass fish that symbolizes how the game was played. According to Case Western's website, aggressive fish such as pike represent blowout wins, while smaller swimmers like bluegill represent tightly contested wins. Case has won the stringer 13 times to Wooster's six. [Image courtesy of Case Western Reserve.]

3. Colorado State vs. Wyoming—The Bronze Boot

Colorado State and Wyoming have a particularly fierce rivalry where players give it their all in an effort to win a boot. Yes, a boot. In 1968 the ROTC detachments at the two schools started sponsoring a trophy for the two rivals; they chose a bronzed combat boot. Colorado State grad Captain Jeff Romero originally wore the boot in Vietnam. The two teams have both won the Bronze Boot twenty times. The ROTC detachments of these schools didn't just come up with the trophy, though; they plan an integral role in each game of the rivalry. Every year the two groups join together in a relay to run the game ball from the visiting school's campus to the home stadium.

4. UC Davis vs. Sacramento State—The Causeway Carriage

Another small-school rivalry has a huge trophy. The Causeway Classic is the annual clash between UC Davis and Cal State, Sacramento, so named because the Yolo Causeway connects the two schools. In 1960, Sacramento State alum Jeri Striezik donated a Victorian carriage for use as a trophy in the series. If a team lost, it had to pay the freight to get the coach to the winner's campus, where it would be used for events like homecoming parades. The carriage missed a few years of the rivalry, but it made a triumphant return for the 2003 Causeway Classic.

5. Notre Dame vs. USC—Jeweled Shillelagh

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Notre Dame-USC is one of college football's classic rivalries, and the Jeweled Shillelagh goes to the winner of the annual tilt. The name is pretty apt; the trophy is a classic cudgel made of Irish wood that's been covered with the jeweled logo of the winning team each year. The Notre Dame Alumni Club of Los Angeles introduced the shillelagh in 1952, but that club ran out of room for more logos in 1989. It's now retired and sits on display at Notre Dame while a larger replacement shillelagh changes hands each year. Since the medallions date back to the beginning of the rivalry in 1926, emerald shamrocks outnumber ruby Trojan heads 42 to 32.

6. Wisconsin vs. Minnesota—Paul Bunyan's Axe

Wisconsin-Minnesota is the oldest rivalry in the NCAA's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision; it stretches all the way back to 1890. The two teams have met 117 times, and since 1948 have duked it out for Paul Bunyan's Axe, which is a pretty neat trophy. However, the giant axe is no match for the more bizarre trophy it replaced, the Slab of Bacon. The Slab of Bacon was just a piece of walnut wood topped with a football that featured carvings of the games' scores. From 1930 to 1942, the Slab of Bacon traveled to the winner's campus, but after the Gophers won in 1943, coach George Hauser refused the trophy. (This sort of killjoy behavior would be tolerable from, say, Knute Rockne, but Hauser's career record was only 15-11-1.) The Slab of Bacon was misplaced, and the schools thought it had been lost forever. In 1994, though, Wisconsin's athletic department found it in a closet during a renovation, and now it's proudly on display in their offices.

7. Minnesota vs. Michigan—The Little Brown Jug

Something about Minnesota just invites odd trophies. The Little Brown Jug, which goes to the winner of the Minnesota-Michigan game, dates all the way back to 1903. When Michigan coach Fielding Yost took his squad to Minnesota that year, he was worried that the Minnesota fans might resort to any sort of chicanery they needed to pull out a win, including tampering with the Wolverines' drinking water. The coaching staff dispatched student manager Thomas B. Roberts to buy a vessel for clean water, and Roberts returned with a five-gallon jug he'd purchased for 30 cents. When Gopher fans stormed the field at the end of the tie game (the first game Michigan hadn't won during Yost's entire tenure as coach), the Wolverines left the jug behind. When a janitor brought the jug to the to the Gophers' coaching staff, they wrote the score of the game on the side. Although Yost asked the Gophers to return his jug, they quipped that he'd have to win it back, and a traveling trophy was born.

8. Minnesota vs. Iowa—Floyd of Rosedale

Floyd-of-Rosedale.jpgIn 1935, Minnesota Governor Floyd B. Olson made a little wager with Iowa Governor Clyde Herring. The previous year's contest between the Hawkeyes and Gophers had been a bit contentious as Minnesota players gunned for Iowa's African-American running back Ozzie Simmons. So the two governors thought a bet might alleviate the simmering tensions. Olson sent Herring a telegram proposing that the winning team's governor would get a prize hog from the loser's state. Herring happily accepted, and the two men started making jokes about their bet to lighten the mood. (Not everyone saw the fun, though; activists in Iowa tried to get Herring in trouble for breaking gambling laws. For his part, Herring gamely retorted that it wasn't gambling if Minnesota had no chance of winning.)

Minnesota won the game 13-7, and the following week, Herring showed up at the Minnesota Capitol building with a live hog in tow. The pig was named Floyd of Rosedale after Minnesota's governor and the Iowa town where it was born. Sculptor Charles Brioscho made a trophy in Floyd's likeness, and it's still passed between the two teams.

9. Iowa State vs. Missouri—The Telephone Trophy

telephone-trophy.jpgThis trophy, which is a half-red, half-yellow rotary phone on a wooden base, commemorates an incident that occurred before the 1959 game between Iowa State and Missouri. Somehow the wires of the telephones that connected the coaches' boxes to the field became crossed. As a result, each set of coaches knew exactly what the other staff was saying during preparations for the grudge match. Although technicians fixed the problem before the game started, the two coaching staffs were still flummoxed by the situation and remained very suspicious that their plans were leaking out. To commemorate the episode, the Northwestern Bell Telephone Company of Ames, Iowa, created the trophy, which has become a key part of the Big 12 rivalry.

10. Purdue vs. Illinois—The Purdue Cannon

In 1905, a group of Purdue students took a cannon with them to Champaign for a game against Illinois. Their plan was to fire the cannon after the Boilermakers won. (Say what you will about today's college students being out of control, but their hijinks rarely involve artillery.) Purdue won the game, but Illinois fans intercepted the cannon at its hiding place and confiscated it. In 1943 the cannon started being passed back and forth as a traveling trophy for the Big Ten rivalry.

11. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute vs. Union College—Dutchman's Shoes

When Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College square off, they're not just angling for supremacy among small New York schools; they're also gunning for a pair of clogs. Since 1950, the RPI's Engineers and Union's Dutchmen have competed for the Dutchman's Shoes, a pair of clogs mounted on a wooden base. Each school has its color and initial painted on one of the two shoes.

12. Texas vs. Oklahoma—The Golden Hat

The Red River Shootout, the meeting between Texas and Oklahoma, is always a highlight of the year's slate of college games. The two teams vie for the Golden Hat, a gold replica of a ten-gallon cowboy hat that the Texas State Fair donated—a token of gratitude for the two teams agreeing play in Dallas during the fair each year starting in 1929. The trophy was originally known as the Bronze Hat but received a refurbishing in the 1970s that made it look golden.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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