PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- I made the drive out to Big Ten headquarters Wednesday to check out the piece of hardware all 12 conference squads will be gunning for this season.
The Stagg-Paterno Big Ten championship trophy.
My first thought: very, very shiny.
It's no surprise, as the 30-inch trophy has etched optic crystal pillars, accented with acrylic. The base is topped by a removable football that is silver-plated and hand-polished to a mirror finish. It takes 10 hours to polish the football, so it'll be hard to miss at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 3.
Some notes and observations on the trophy:
The removable football is a different touch. Commissioner Jim Delany wanted an object that could be raised and passed around, much like the crystal football awarded to the BCS national champion each year. Rather than present the entire trophy, Delany will hand over the 18-pound football to the Big Ten championship-winning coach and his players. It should be a pretty cool moment, as long as the commish doesn't fumble the ball.
Another interesting touch is that the winning team's colors will be reflected in the trophy when it's presented at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The base is pretty simple, and all eyes will be on the football as it's presented to the champion.
Overall, the league did a good job with the design. The football certainly reinforces what the trophy is for, and I like the idea of presenting a prize that can be passed around, like the World Cup or the Stanley Cup.
While there will be some critics, I don't think the Big Ten has to worry about another Cy Hawk-like backlash.
You can judge the championship trophy for yourself as it tours around the Big Ten this fall, making a stop at all 12 campuses.
Here's the schedule:
Sept. 10: Bloomington, Ind. (Virginia at Indiana)
Sept. 17: West Lafayette, Ind. (Southwest Missouri State at Purdue)
Sept. 24: Columbus, Ohio (Colorado at Ohio State)
Oct. 1: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Minnesota at Michigan)
Oct. 8: Lincoln, Neb. (Ohio State at Nebraska)
Oct. 15: Iowa City, Iowa (Northwestern at Iowa)
Oct. 22: Evanston, Ill. (Penn State at Northwestern)
Oct. 29: Minneapolis (Iowa at Minnesota)
Nov. 5: East Lansing, Mich. (Minnesota at Michigan State)
Nov. 12: State College, Pa. (Nebraska at Penn State)
Nov. 19: Champaign, Ill. (Wisconsin at Illinois)
Nov. 26: Madison, Wis. (Penn State at Wisconsin)