A lot was made of the Kraus-Simmons Trophy this week, annually given to the winner of the Syracuse Orange - Hobart Statesmen lacrosse game. The Orange retained possession for the sixth-straight season and have owned it in all but two years of its existence.
And yet, the fact that the trophy exists gives this yearly match-up a sense of rivalry that might not otherwise exist. Without it, I think quite a few people who cared about the outcome of the game might not have, even though none of them could pick the Kraus-Simmons Trophy out of a lineup (unless it was next to the Cy-Hawk Trophy).
It got me thinking about rivalry trophies and how they help in some small way to keep rivalries fresh.
In football, we have one only and for the foreseeable future it will remain in our trophy case in perpetuity. The Schwartzwalder Trophy was annually given to the winner of the Syracuse - West Virginia football game. Now that they're in the Big 12, we're going to the ACC and both of us have limited non-conference space to fill, it's unlikely the trophy will be up for grabs anytime soon.
Syracuse is going to need some help getting a lot of new rivalries going in the ACC. At the end of the day, nothing will fuel them quite like fantastic games, back-and-forth finishes and an unavoidable desire to beat the snot out of one another. However, there's no doubt that playing for a piece of shiny metal on a pedestal will help. At the very least, I'd love to see a trophy created for the Syracuse - Boston College game (The Diamond Ferri Trophy?).
But how about basketball? As far as I know, no one plays for rivalry trophies. And surely, we've gotten by just fine without them. But what if they did exist? The question isn't whether or not it would be awesome, but just how awesome it would be?
What basketball has that football doesn't is repetition. Syracuse (usually) plays Georgetown twice a year. Now, you and I know how heated that rivalry is. Imagine what it would mean if, at the end of the game, the entire winning team ran off the court to the place where the Boeheim-Thompson Trophy was being kept, hoisted it high and celebrated while the other team trod off into the locker room.
Now imagine if they had to play each other again two weeks later on the other team's home court?
What if Syracuse came into the season as the owners of the Boeheim-Thompson, then lost it to Georgetown in D.C. and then won it back in the Dome rematch a few weeks later?
If a rivalry is already a ten, this would take it to eleven.
Remember when Eric Devendorf jumped on the announcer's table at the end of regulation in the six overtime game against UConn after hitting what he thought was the game-winning shot? Now picture him standing on the table, preening, and hoisting The Two Jims Trophy above his head. There you go.
And if a rivalry isn't a ten, but maybe a five or a six, a rivalry trophy could be the kind of thing to help push it along. Players could pose for photos with the trophy and tweet them out. The trophy would be presented before and during each rivalry game. Longtime ownership of the trophies could become a fun recruiting tool and pride factor.
In terms of Syracuse and Georgetown, a rivalry trophy makes sense now more than ever. With the Orange leaving the Big East, they'll likely enter into a yearly game with the Hoyas. While it will continue to be a major rivalry, it might need a bit of a kickstart to maintain that level of hatred. Especially if the game is being played in, say, December or January.
As for that impending move to the ACC, we'd have an instant rooting point against schools that we don' currently have any emotional attachment to. Yeah maybe it won't make us want to destroy Georgia Tech, but the first time we lose the Orange-Peach Bowl to them, it's going to stick in our craw.
There's no reason to think this could happen or will happen. Just something to think about, especially as we start playing more and more teams we have no attachment to. Even yearly contests like the Colgate game or a match-up with Cornell. You'll be thinking to yourself, "it sure would be nice to have something to show for this." Then you'll picture The Upstate Trophy, a giant, golden New York State map atop a wooden base. And hell if you won't want it...