Hawks shrug off Cy-Hawk trophy controversy


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When Iowa Corn unveiled the new Cy-Hawk Trophy at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 19, public reaction was swift and negative.

Twitter and Facebook quickly lit up with complaints from fans that the trophy — which depicted a farmer kneeling over a basket of corn with his family — had little to do with football. Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad denounced the new design. Yahoo Sports called it “the unwieldiest trophy in sports,” and ESPN.com said it “looks more like something your grandmother would buy off a home shopping channel.”

Hawkeye players, however, were apparently oblivious to all the controversy.

“They changed the trophy?” wide receiver Marvin McNutt said Tuesday.

The Iowa players’ reaction — or lack thereof — to the trophy controversy was perhaps best summed up by head coach Kirk Ferentz.

“The idea is to win it, regardless of what it looks like or what it is,” he said. “I think [the players] are like I am on that.”

James Vandenberg echoed Ferentz’s sentiment but not before claiming he hadn’t seen the new trophy design.

“I didn’t even realize there was so much controversy over it,” the junior quarterback said. “Whatever it is, each team is going to look forward to being able to go grab it. With a trophy, a big part of it is just being able to grab it after the game.”

But the trophy’s appearance mattered to fans, who voiced their opinion so unanimously that Iowa Corn and both universities recalled the new trophy. Officials said they monitored social media websites and called the negative reaction “overwhelming.”

They listened. An interim trophy is set to appear on the sidelines for Saturday’s game in Ames, and Iowa Corn is seeking fan input on the permanent replacement.

Hawkeye players say while the trophy itself doesn’t interest them, the intensity of the in-state rivalry does. Iowa has dominated the series of late, winning three straight and six of eight. But they said they know there are few environments more hostile than when 55,000 Cyclone fans fill Jack Trice Stadium during the Iowa/Iowa State game.

“[Road] fans don’t like you, obviously,” defensive back Micah Hyde said. “When you go to Iowa State, it takes it to another level. You hear stuff you’ve never even thought of before.”

It will be Vandenberg’s first road start since Iowa’s game at Ohio State on Nov. 14, 2009. That game was played in Ohio Stadium — which seats more than 102,000 — with a Big Ten title on the line.

Vandenberg said Ames may be an even tougher place to play.

“From a hostility standpoint, the tension in the air — yeah, I think it is,” he said. “Ohio State is huge and extremely loud, but you don’t have that total rivalry factor that you have here.”

So the hostility of the Cy-Hawk rivalry will be present this year, even if the old — or new — trophy isn’t. And Hawkeye players aren’t worried about what an interim trophy could look like.

“I’m sure there’ll be something over there,” McNutt said. “It’s still a trophy game.”

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