Big Ten: Sweet Sioux Tomahawk

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk is four months into retirement, and athletic department officials from Illinois and Northwestern are brainstorming ideas for a new rivalry trophy, awarded to the winner of their annual football game. 

Now they need your help. 

Both schools are holding polls on their official Web sites where fans can vote for four trophy ideas or propose one of their own. The Web polls will be open until April 15, and the schools expect to reveal the new trophy by April 25, the date of both teams' spring games. 

Here are the four choices you can vote on:

  • The Land of Lincoln Trophy -- A replica of Lincoln's stove pipe hat mounted on a piece of White Oak (Illinois' state tree).
  • President's Trophy -- Recognizing the four presidents associated with the state of Illinois: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Obama.
  • The Popcorn Bowl, named after the Illinois state snack.
  • Graham-Grange Fire Bell (original series trophy started in 1941 was a fire bell), named after two of the greatest players at each school Otto Graham of Northwestern and Red Grange of Illinois.

I don't think enough college football fans will make the connection between Illinois and presidents or popcorn. I'm thinking the Popcorn Bowl trophy will look too much like the one from the MTV Movie Awards

The Lincoln Trophy could look pretty cool, but my favorite is the Fire Bell, which honors the game's original tradition and the two greatest players from each team. The Northwestern blog proposed it in November and has a great explanation of the history.

Then again, the best idea might come from one of you, so go vote here or here

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk trophy will make its final public appearance at Saturday's Illinois-Northwestern game.

The 61-year-old trophy will be retired as part of Illinois' effort to eliminate any Native American imagery from its athletic programs. Even if Illinois retains the trophy by winning Saturday, it will remain at Northwestern for good. The schools will begin brainstorming ideas for a new trophy next year.

The Sweet Sioux tradition began in 1945 when the schools played for an authentic full-size wooden Indian. But the trophy posed a transportation problem and was replaced by the tomahawk in 1947.

As a Chicago resident who remembers the Chief Illiniwek mess, I doubt this announcement will stir up emotion nearly as much as that did. The plan to retire the tomahawk has been in the works for several months as Illinois tries to distance itself from any potentially offensive Native American images. The NCAA would have prohibited Illinois from postseason tournaments if it didn't comply.

Any ideas for a new trophy? I'll include some suggestions in my next mailbag.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

It's rivalry week around most of the country, never more so than in the Big Ten. We kicked off our rivalry series today with a look at the Big Ten's four trophy games this weekend. Check back tomorrow for an item on The Game between Michigan and Ohio State. 

In case you need a refresher on the Big Ten trophies at stake Saturday, here goes:

  • Indiana at Purdue: Old Oaken Bucket
  • Illinois at Northwestern: Sweet Sioux Tomahawk
  • Michigan State at Penn State: Land-Grant Trophy
  • Iowa at Minnesota: Floyd of Rosedale
My vote is for the pig. A great trophy, and an interesting backstory as well.