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Unpopular Opinion - Your Protected Trophy Games are Bad for the Big Ten Conference

As long as we protect the Purdue - Indiana game every year, the SEC wins.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

One of my favorite ploys in football discussions is the "Historical Gambit", where the person cites performance over decades to make a point. Using that as logic is like betting on heads in a coin flip because the last four flips were tails.

Go learn probability...they are un-fucking-related...

However, the Big Ten used the Historical Gambit in conference realignment to preserve rivalry games because they are old traditions. And the B1G has a lot of trophy games:

Year Started




Illinois - Purdue

Purdue Cannon


Minnesota - Wisconsin

Paul Bunyan's Axe


Indiana - Purdue

Old Oaken Bucket


Iowa - Minnesota

Floyd of Rosedale


Iowa - Nebraska

Heroes Trophy


Illinois - Northwestern

Land of Lincoln Trophy


Michigan - Minnesota

Little Brown Jug


Iowa - Wisconsin

Heartland Trophy


Michigan - Michigan State

Paul Bunyan Trophy


Minnesota - Nebraska

$5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy


Nebraska - Wisconsin

Freedom Trophy


Illinois - Ohio State



Michigan State - Penn State

Land Grant Trophy


Indiana Michigan State

Old Brass Spittoon


Minnesota - Penn State

Governer's Victory Bell

Data from Wikipedia

Some of these are stupid. The Illibuck? Is there an Illini fan alive that has actually seen that trophy displayed on the Illinois campus?

At some point, you have to say...this isn't really a rivalry game anymore. It's just a game we play that, if we win, we'll receive an artifact more appropriate to the set of Antiques Roadshow than in a trophy display case...but whatever.

Clearly I'm in the minority, which is why this is an unpopular opinion. Hell even the governing body of the B1G admits that these stupid games take priority over everything else. According to Jim Delaney (our beloved commish) in 2014,

Big Ten directors of athletics concluded four months of study and deliberation with unanimous approval of a future football structure that preserved rivalries and created divisions based on their primary principle of East/West geography.

The directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by BTN last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll.

What the fuck Jim? How could you let the fans help you decide what games to keep? You realize these are the same folks who can go to blows over the name of an antiquated single-dish meal, right? No wonder the SEC is winning.

In fact, we put so much weight on rivalry games that in 2014, it created the "Freedom Trophy" for Nebraska vs Wisconsin games.  And don't get me started on the stupid "Land Grant" trophy between Penn State and Sparty. It's the communist era USSR monolith of trophies.

Yeah, I get that the conference is old. And I get that these teams began playing one another in the 1800's. There are two trophies for rivalries that date back to 1890 - The Purdue Cannon (Illinois vs Purdue) and Paul Bunyan's Axe (Minnesota vs Wisconsin). And those are great...but do we need them every year?

No. No we don't.

And yet Purdue vs Indiana is a "protected" game between the two teams. Because, god forbid we don't see that game every year. Let that one sink in for a minute...Purdue vs. Indiana. Every. Single. Year. How could that be good for TV ratings? You have a collective 400 viewers outside of the state of Indiana...

Delaney went on to say that, after geography (which is a laugher to start with), preserving rivalries was key to the alignment. They set it up to preserve 10 of 13 fucking trophy games every year. All 13 games will be played every four years for sure.

So yeah, your stupid trophy games are hurting the Big Ten because we get stuck showing our collective asses every year when Indiana plays Purdue.

Your Friend,