Cyclones hoping to use the Telephone for another year

Paul Kix

In 1959, as the Missouri football coaches checked the phone lines before their game against Iowa State, it was discovered that they were able to hear every whisper that the ISU coaches offered into their respective phone lines.

But before any schemes could be concocted to eavesdrop, it was realized the ISU coaches could do likewise.

The telephone company in Ames was called into action.

After 45 minutes of waiting, two-way phone lines were reduced to the more customary one-way. The cause of the crossing lines was never discovered.

After the game, Harry Burrell, sports information director at Iowa State at the time, suggested to set up a trophy in memory of the day’s rather bizarre event.

So goes the history of the Telephone Trophy, the hardware given to the yearly winner of the Iowa State-Missouri game.

Unlike other awards, plaques, or medals, the Telephone Trophy is self-explanatory, and what you hear is what you get.

Polished wood dons the edges of the award. Sitting in the center is the gold plate which shows the winner of each season’s game over the last 41 years.

Atop the wood is the phone receiver, which supports the weight of the telephone that droops over either side of it.

One side of the phone is decked out in cardinal-and-gold. The other side, complete with black-and-gold.

Missouri won the initial contest in ’59. And since then the Tigers have reigned supreme 23 times.

Iowa State has won the last two meetings. And before that, the trophy made a home in Ames 14 times.

Even though the Telephone Trophy may pale in comparison to finding a home for the FedEx Orange Bowl Trophy [the National Championship award], the decorated telephone is “very important” to ISU Head Coach Dan McCarney.

“Every trophy that we play for is very important to us,” McCarney said.

As a way to prove this glorified phone is important business, the trophy sat among the weights this week while the players lifted, and it made a daily trek to the practice field to remind the players what is at stake Saturday.

Mike Banks, ISU’s junior tight end, believes the trophy attracts recruits because it “represents winning.”

Aside from wanting to keep the trophy in Ames, Banks and the rest of the squad want to rebound from last week’s Homecoming disappointments.

“We have to respond,” Banks said. “We all feel we let the fans down.”

Senior wide receiver Chris Anthony is a part of the group of Cyclones that have grown accustomed to seeing the trophy in the Jacobson building for the past two years.

And “hopefully,” Anthony remarked, “it stays here.”