North Carolina Sports: Time for North Carolina/NC State Rivalry Trophy?

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 25: Brandon Fritts
RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 25: Brandon Fritts /

The rivalry between the Tar Heels and Wolfpack brings out the best and worst of the schools. Is it time to introduce some hardware for the yearly victor?

Outside of bowl season, rivalry week is the time of year most cherished in college football. Every November, the thirteenth week of the college football season ends with heated rivals clashing whether it’s two Power Five schools in the same state or intraconference foes duking it out.

Some of these rivalries invoke the use of trophies as a means of tangible bragging rights. Examples of such include the Iron Bowl trophy awarded to the Alabama/Auburn winner, the Stanford Axe for the Stanford/California winner, and the Platypus Trophy given to the winner of the Civil War game between Oregon and Oregon State.

However, one of the biggest states to feature a large share of college rivalries is North Carolina. Famous for the biannual Battle of the Blues college basketball games, North Carolina hosts several collegiate rivalry matchups. Though Duke and North Carolina battle for the Victory Bell every season, the matchup between the Tar Heels and the NC State Wolfpack has yet to have a trophy to battle for.

Current Rivalry Trophies

The Heels only battle for the Victory Bell against the Blue Devils. However, the Wolfpack fight for a trophy once a year and another, less known “trophy” every three years.

Most fans in the Triangle are familiar the NC State’s yearly tussle with Clemson in what’s known as the Textile Bowl. With Dabo Swinney’s success with the Tigers, the Wolfpack’s game with Clemson always draws a lot of attention every year. Less people know about the Pack’s rivalry matchup against East Carolina where the team’s fight for the Victory Barrel. According to a WRAL article from 2013, those interviewed from State weren’t even privy to the Barrel’s existence. For a visual aid, here’s the following:

This begs the question: how does one of the biggest North Carolina rivalries not have a trophy? The Heels/Pack rivalry doesn’t negate the impact of the other heated battles within the state. However, the tension between UNC and NC State continues to boil over every year they meet.

North Carolina vs. NC State

More from Old North Banter

The Tar Heels lead the overall series, 66-35-6. In recent years, though, fortune favors the Wolfpack. Including last Saturday’s game, NC State has 11 wins in the last 18 matchups following a seven-year UNC win streak.

The Heels’ head coach Larry Fedora currently sports a 3-3 record against the Pack since taking over the program. Dave Doeren, State’s head coach, has a 3-2 record against the Heels since leaving Northern Illinois.

One of the more memorable games came in 2012 when North Carolina running back Giovanni Bernard scored a game-winning punt return touchdown. In a preview of 2017’s UNC/NC State matchup, I joined Inside Pack Sports‘ James Henderson and Rob McLamb for the Nov. 24 episode of IPS Live and discussed, among other aspects, favorite moments within the history of the rivalry.

Ideas for a Trophy

There are obviously financial aspects to getting a trophy arranged for a rivalry game, but that won’t stop me from pitching my idea for the yearly award.

First, the game itself needs a name. Despite my ties to this site alluding to the inspiration for this name, the annual NC State/North Carolina matchup needs to be rebranded as “The Old North Game,” “The Old North Bowl,” or even “The Battle for the Old North State.”

The trophy itself should be symbolic of what the rivalry represents: a battle for state supremacy. Therefore, the proposed trophy should have the state of North Carolina at the top of it. The color palette should contain Carolina Blue (PMS 542) and Wolfpack Red (PMS 186 C).

Finally, the sides of the trophy needs plates of each year’s winners. This practice is common among other rivalry trophies, and this is something this trophy needs as well.

Next: NC State Wolfpack: Doeren To Remain In Raleigh

All traditions start somewhere. Whether they begin long ago or as recent as 2007 like the Victory Barrel, it’s never too late to start them. This rivalry has a long, storied history, and these schools deserve something to hoist for pride and bragging rights.