Until recently, you could hardly call Iowa and Northern Illinois rivals. But with a close game played at Soldier Field last year, another game on the slate this fall, and more games possibly forthcoming, it looks more and more like the Hawkeyes and the Huskies will be regular foes for a long time. And any longstanding football rivalry needs one thing: a trophy.
That was the reasoning cited by administrators at the two universities for commissioning a new sculptural trophy for the contest. The trophy features a unique slice of history connecting the two cities of Iowa City and DeKalb.
"We thought that the best trophies are rooted in history," said Iowa athletic director Gary Barta, "so we sent our researchers out to find some kind of historical connection between our two fair cities. And we found it, in the gruesome tale of Ed Malloy and Gene Svoboda."
Malloy, according to records, lived in Iowa City and owned a carpet cleaning service. Svoboda lived in DeKalb and also ran a carpet cleaning business. The two happened, by chance, to fall in love with the same woman (name unknown) while stopping at a Love's gas station and truck stop outside Moline, Illinois. "The story goes that this mystery woman was working as a waitress in the restaurant at the truck stop, and both men fell head over heels for her," said Barta. "And that's when the knives came out."
Malloy and Svoboda are reported to have battled long into the night, heir weapons: Bowie knives, purchased at Love's gift shop, their lighting: only the headlights of a dozen 18-wheelers. The pair sliced and parried for eight long hours until dawn finally came and Malloy staggered away victorious. The victory proved to be a Pyrrhic one, however, as he himself collapsed from exhaustion moments later and spent the next three months desperately ill. "We thought it was a good metaphor for the 2012 game, actually," said Barta.
The trophy itself is a sculpture of the two men battling at knife point with the mystery woman and her daughter (who it is presumed was there due to some babysitting snafu) looking on. Some of the fabled dialog between the two men is reproduced beneath the tableau.
Our researchers were unable to confirm the existence of the two men or the mythic battle that took place, but Barta was unsurprised. "This is one of those tales of yore that we can never really confirm, and wouldn't want to. Like the Iliad." When asked when, exactly, the encounter is supposed to have taken place, Barta responded: "1972."
In addition to telling a bit of history, the trophy will also reintroduce an old friend to Iowa fans. "Yeah, as far as the sculpture goes, I'll have to be honest: we felt a little bad about how the whole Cy-Hawk thing went down, so we called up the sculptor and gave him this new project," said Barta. "He was thrilled, and I'll tell you, it was amazing how quickly he got it back to us." Barta did have a warning for players and coaches who handle the trophy, however: "Those blades are razor sharp, so careful where you hoist that thing."
The new trophy is sponsored by Love's truck stops in partnership with the DeKalb Oasis. It will make its debut August 31st when Iowa faces off against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium.