Even before anybody had a chance to hoist it, the new Cy-Hawk Trophy is now the old Cy-Hawk Trophy.
Ridiculed on social media sites and criticized by everyone from former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry to Gov. Terry Branstad since its unveiling Friday, the likeness of an Iowa farm family gathered around a bushel of corn was to be presented to the winner of next month’s Iowa-Iowa State football game.
Instead, it is being scrapped.
Representatives of both institutions joined Craig Floss, the CEO of Cy-Hawk Series sponsor Iowa Corn, in announcing the decision to replace the trophy Tuesday afternoon at Iowa Corn headquarters in Johnston, Iowa.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t listen to the fans,” Floss said. “If this is the people’s game, it should be the people’s trophy. We will let the people decide what that trophy should be.”
An interim Cy-Hawk Trophy will be presented to the winner of this year’s game, and Floss said Iowa Corn and the universities will solicit ideas for a new permanent prize in upcoming weeks.
Through an online balloting process of finalists, fans will then have a chance to select what will ultimately become the Cy-Hawk Trophy.
“If there was ever a doubt about the passion Iowans have for the Cy-Hawk Series and the rivalry that exists, we have clearly put it to bed,” Floss said.
Over the weekend, fans flooded phone lines and email accounts of officials with Iowa Corn, the umbrella organization of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, with thoughts about the new trophy.
Floss expected feedback, but was somewhat overwhelmed by the amount and tenor of the negative reaction.
“This is a family press conference, so I won’t repeat many of the things that were said and sent in,” Floss said. “I will say there was a lot of passion behind people’s remarks.”
Many offered suggestions for replacements, and some of the comments struck a nerve.
“We heard from a lot of folks who said, ‘I’m not somebody who normally comments on this type of thing, but could you please create something different?’ Those comments carried a lot of weight,” Floss said.
The idea of replacing the original Cy-Hawk Trophy, which has been presented to the Iowa-Iowa State winner since the schools resumed their football rivalry in 1977, originated from the universities earlier this summer.
Rick Klatt, associate athletics director for external affairs at Iowa, and Steve Malchow, senior associate athletics director at Iowa State, said staff members at both institutions participated in the development of the trophy.
Both said Iowa Corn has been unfairly singled out for criticism by irritated fans.
“It is important to note that Iowa Corn did not ask to change the trophy when they signed on as the new partner for the Cy-Hawk Series,” Malchow said. “Over time, there has been some talk about the old trophy and the need for something different. This seemed to be the right time to look at a change.”
Officials at both schools approved proofs of the trophy, which was unveiled last week.
“We knew the reality of the process, that we wouldn’t please everyone with one trophy,” Klatt said. “You commit to executing the idea and then watch the reaction. We aspired to do something above a football trophy. We missed the mark.”
The trophy, unveiled Friday at the Iowa State Fair, was funded jointly by the universities. It included wording that saluted the honest, hard-working family values of Iowans.
“The initial thought was to create something which celebrated Iowa and Iowans instead of just a football trophy,” Floss said. “We didn’t get it right the first time. While we know we will never please every single person, we are committed to a new Cy-Hawk football trophy that will be something that people can embrace.”
Floss is unsure what will happen to the spurned trophy.
“It will not be on the sidelines in Ames on September the 10th. That is one thing I can assure,” Floss said.