I love rivalry trophies. Call me a sentimental fool, or a naive fan - I don’t care, because I love the damn things. I have always been put off that Notre Dame would almost always keep their trophies on some type of super secret double probation with the public, but with the arrival of Brian Kelly, they have found an extra emphasis and thus, they have helped deepen the meaning of the games in which they are played for by the Irish and their rivals.
We’re all talking about the Jeweled Shillelagh this week as the 11-0 Notre Dame Fighting Irish get set to head out to California to take on their long and bitter rivals, the USC Trojans. Here is a refresher about the trophy itself. (* This is an edited version of a previous entry *)
The Jeweled Shillelagh is the hardware given to the winner of the annual contest between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the USC Trojans. Legend states that Howard Hughes’ pilot brought this Gaelic Warclub made of blackthorn oak, back from a trip in Ireland in 1952. It was the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Los Angeles that created the award.
The winner of the contest is awarded the trophy with a new medallion to mark the victor. Notre Dame 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 on the Shillelagh. There have been 5 ties, and those games are represented with a combo medallion of a shamrock and a Trojan head.
The original shillelagh was retired after the 1995 season. There was simply no more room on the trophy for anymore shamrocks or heads after 43 seasons (69 seasons with the back-dating). The original Jeweled Shillelagh now resides with Notre Dame because the Fighting Irish won more games up to that point.
There is a new trophy that is a little longer than the original. It was purchased by Jim Gillis, a former baseball player for both Notre Dame and USC. It is made of the same kind of oak, and hails from the County Leitrim in Ireland. It was introduced in 1996 after the retirement of the original. Notre Dame leads the all-time series THE ALL TIME SERIES 47-37-5. I could give a rat’s ass about vacated wins by either team - that’s the REAL record and what is represented on the Jeweled Shillalgh.
Notre Dame is just 8-14 since 1996.