Immortalizing football rivalries
Published: Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.
The large wooden carving of a Seminole Indian and an alligator stood tall and imposing near the coaches' offices in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Whow wants to know?
- * Name: Ken Kellner
- * Age: Age: 62
- * Occupation: Professor in the UF Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
- * Residence: Gainesville
Ken Kellner, who spotted the trophy on a recent tour of the stadium, wrote to Since You Asked to find out more about it.
"The trophy was quite impressive," Kellner said. "We never knew this even existed and didn't have an opportunity to get more information. Can you?"
According to the legend of the Makala Trophy, the carving was found years ago in Big Cypress Swamp near Jerome, and aimed to depict a Seminole chief fighting off a vicious alligator to protect his people.
Robert Melby, Makala chairman for the St. Petersburg Exchange Club, acknowledges that the legend was dreamed up by the club member who spearheaded the idea for the trophy, which is presented to the winner of the University of Florida versus Florida State University football game each year.
The St. Petersburg-based civic group has presented the trophy to the winner of the game since the series started in 1958, said Norm Carlson, sports historian for the University of Florida.
Melby said the club wanted to replicate the Little Brown Jug passed between the winner of the Michigan versus Minnesota game, the Old Oaken Bucket passed between the winner of the Indiana versus Purdue game, or the Paul Bunyan trophy, presented to the winner of the Michigan versus Michigan State game.
"We were trying to establish something to represent the rivalry between Florida and Florida State," Melby said.
"I'm originally from Minnesota, and I know the Little Brown Jug is really very important in that neck of the woods. That was the idea behind this, to have a little symbol going back and forth between the two teams."
The trophy is presented at a banquet held in St. Petersburg in April each year. Carlson, the former UF athletic director, said he's made many trips to St. Pete to collect the Gators' winnings.
Melby said the tradition of the trophy has caught on, but he's a little disappointed neither team has paid the trophy the ultimate compliment - stealing it from its rightful winners.
When UF is in possession of the trophy, it lives near the coaches' offices in the stadium. But stadium renovations have temporarily forced it out of its usual spot, Carlson said.
To prevent the kind of theft Melby spoke of, Carlson said the trophy is locked in storage until stadium renovations give it a new home.
Amy Reinink can be reached at 352-374-5088 or email@example.com.
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