Mar 29, 2007

Shillelaghs, Megaphones, And Bragging Rights

I'm sure by now most of you have realized that Notre Dame has a few rivalries. In fact, they may have more than most teams. And some of you may have even figured out that there are trophies that go along with some of these games. Seriously, they do. Why don't we know them more? With a school steeped in tradition as much as Notre Dame, it seems to get lost in all the other hoopla surrounding these games. Subway Domer is here to educate you in these fine pieces of hardware.

There are truly 5 games that are considered Rivalry Trophy games. Southern California, Purdue, Michigan State, Boston College, and Standford. One of these games has 2 trophies on the line each game... but I'll get to that further down the post.


The Jeweled Shillelagh is the hardware given to the winner of the annual contest of the Trojans and The Fighting Irish. Legend states that Howard Hughes' pilot brought this Gaelic Warclub, made of blackthorn oak, over from Ireland in 1952. The Notre Dame Alumni Club of Los Angeles created the award. The winner of the contest is awarded the trophy with a new medallion to mark the victor. ND has emerald shamrocks while USC has ruby encrusted Trojan heads. Although the trophy was created in 1952, the entire series is recorded back to 1926. There have been 5 ties and those games are represented with a combo medallion. The original shillelagh was retired after the 1995 season. There was simply no more room for anymore shamrocks or heads. It now resides at Notre Dame because the Irish won more games up to that point. (We still do even after losses for 5 straight seasons with a 42-31-5 mark). There is a new trophy that is a little longer than the original. It was purchased by Jim Gillis, a former baseball player for ND and USC. It is the same kind of oak and hails from the County Leitrim in Ireland. It was introduced in 1996.


In continuing with the shillelagh theme we next look at the Purdue game. It is simply called The Shillelagh Trophy. It was donated by a merchant seaman and Fighting Irish fan, Joe McLaughlin. He purchased the blackthorn oak club while in Ireland. The winner of the game has received this trophy since the 1957 game. The winner has its initials put on a football medallion, along with the score, and that is placed on the oak stand the Shillelagh sit upon.

Michigan State

Known only as The Megaphone Trophy, this trophy may now be the most famous of the ND trophies...or should I say infamous. Introduced in 1949, it is a joint sponsorship by the Alumni Clubs of ND and MSU in Detroit. Half of the megaphone is painted blue with an ND monogram and the other side is white with a green MSU. The score from each year is painted on it. The current trophy is the third one in use since it has run out of room for scores twice before. This award became nationally known after the 2005 and 2006 games. The Spartans were outraged when ND did not present them with the trophy after they were victorious at ND in 2005. ND stated that it has been the custom all along to give the trophy to the opposing team after a defeat away from the field. This might have been the starting point for Johnelle to become crazy as a bat. Most of the ND players and Coach Weis himself, admitted to not even knowing the trophy existed. This is probably true since the picture you see is from the video game NCAA 2007 by EA sports. I could not find a pic of it anywhere else.

Boston College

This is the only rivalry game in existence, that I have heard of, that contains two trophies to the winner. The one depicted to the right is called The Ireland Trophy. It was created by the Notre Dame Student Government as a sign of goodwill and sportsmanship. The second is called The Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl. This second trophy gives this game its unoffical name- The Leahy Bowl. This is after legendary ND and BC coach Frank Leahy. Frank coached BC during the 1939 and 1940 seasons leading the Jesuits to a 20-2 record. He than left for his Alma mater, ND. BC fans will say he was stolen away, but remember... they are idiots and are insanely jealous of ND.


This might be the most obsolete trophy. It is not even published by a video game. It was presented for the first time in 1989 by the Notre Dame Club of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Legends Trophy, is a combination of Irish Crystal and California Redwood. Whatever the hell that means.

There seems to be a continuing theme amongst all the trophies. Notre Dame Alumni ,or in one case a fan, were the originators of the hardware. So why the secrecy? Why are there no presentations? Why don't the players get to hoist these bad boys up after a victory and yell "Take that Stanford! You stupid trees. Check out this sweet crystal wood thingy"? Maybe ND has too much tradition to be able to squeeze another ounce of tangible lore. ND is an Independent. All or nothing, and that is the way we like it. But wouldn't be nice to have a little more to celebrate. Or a more emotional rallying call such as " Let's kill those Trojans and take the Shillelagh back!" Maybe you're thinking I'm insane or a little to preoccupied with hardware. But what about all the Heisman talk? That is an individual award (or so it is supposed to be). These rivalry trophies represent the TEAM and in doing so should take precedence over all others, excluding bowl games. I leave you with this thought. Remember the Minnesota-Wisconsin game when the kicker made the game winner and ran straight over to grab the ax? That was a great moment. Can't we as the GREATEST University in the land have something as similar? No jumbo trons, just Pride and exuberance.

1 comment:

pablo said...

good post - why the hell don't we celebrate, or at least acknowledge the existence of, these things a bit more.

several of them are on display at the eck center at ND. most people don't get too jacked up about ND-Stanford (usually for good reason) but that one is actually pretty cool. and really, there's no reason the jeweled shillelagh shouldn't be well-known throughout the country ... or at least known to the respective universities' fanbases.