When Penn State joined the Big Ten in the early 90's, Michigan State head coach George Perles jumped on the chance to lock the Nittany Lions into a pseudo-rivalry game to be played at the end of the year. It makes no logical sense that Michigan State and Penn State should be rivals. Rivalries are 99% of the time driven by geographical proximity. There are a rare few exceptions, like USC and Notre Dame, but for the most part the best rivalries occur between schools that are close to one another. The other thing that makes rivalries great is history. Prior to 1993, Penn State and Michigan State had not met since 1966. There is no logical reason for these teams to share the hate necessary for a good rivalry.
But that didn't stop George Perles and his long time buddy, Joe Paterno, was more than willing to play along since Penn State kicked Pitt to the curb and was looking for a new rival anyway. And thus the Rivalry in Name Only was born. Since there was no logical reason for a rivalry to exist between the two schools, they had to make one up. The best they could come up with was the fact that Penn State and Michigan State were the original land grant universities. Then, to make it really official, they made up a trophy and gave it the original name, are you ready for this? The Land Grant Trophy.
The Land Grant Trophy is the dumbest trophy I have ever seen. There are so many cool trophies out there: The Little Brown Jug (Michigan-Minnesota), Paul Bunyan's Axe (Wisconsin-Minnesota), The Keg of Nails (Cincinnati-Louisville). The Land Grant trophy is completely uninspiring. It is not the kind of trophy that makes you want to play for four quarters on a broken ankle just so you can say you won. I can just see the design committee meeting going something like this:
MSU Idiot #1: Yeah. Let's have a trophy showing Sparty slaying a Lion.
PSU Idiot #2: FU! Let's show the Nittany Lion with his jaws around Sparty's jugular.
MSU Idiot #2: Why don't we put miniature versions of the Nittany Shrine and Sparty on there?
PSU Idiot #1: Great idea. But let's not make them too small. Remember bigger is better.
PSU Idiot #3: It needs something more. How about we put our signature buildings on there?
MSU Idiot #3: WTF are you talking about?
PSU Idiot #3: We'll put likenesses of Old Main and Beaumont Tower on it.
PSU Idiot #2: Like the original trophy? That piece of crap looked like a leftover special effects prop from the Lord of the Rings movie that we found on Ebay.
MSU Idiot #2: We did buy it on Ebay.
PSU Idiot #1: Why don't we give away a building?
MSU Idiot #1: We're not going down that road again. The buildings are out!
PSU Idiot #3: I want the buildings. We need Old Main on there. I used to play ultimate frisbee on the lawn. It brings back fond memories.
MSU Idiot #2: Maybe he has a point. I kissed my girlfriend in the shadow of Beaumont Tower.
MSU Idiot #3: You still with her?
MSU Idiot #2: Hell no. She got herpes from some Ohio State guy.
MSU Idiot #1: Holy Cripes. Alright. How about we paste a couple pictures of the buildings on the side?
PSU Idiot #3: Awesome!
PSU Idiot #1: How big will these pictures be?
MSU Idiot #3: I don't know. It's still missing a certain je ne sais quoi.
PSU Idiot #2: Hey, Paco. No speako Spanish here.
PSU Idiot #1: I have an idea.
All: STF up!
PSU Idiot #1: No seriously. I got this cool Pop Warner Trophy from the fifth grade. How about we nail this sucker right on top?
MSU Idiot #3: Now you're talkin'. That's the best friggin' idea you've had all day.
You think I'm making this up? Take a look at this piece of crap. You practically need a forklift to get it in and out of the stadium. I can buy that miniature Nittany Lion at the Student Book Store for $19.95. I suspect I can buy Sparty at the Michigan State bookstore for a similar price. What's with the pictures of the buildings? Are those post cards? And don't even get me started on the bowling trophy someone bought at Walmart and nailed to the top. This thing is pathetic and easily the WORST college football trophy if not the worst trophy in all of sports.
Uninspiring trophy of the "Rivalry in Name Only" since 1993