College football will crown its national champion on January 8 in Miami, when Florida and Oklahoma meet in the BCS National Championship Game.
When the dust settles and a winner decided, Kentucky will be well-represented inside Dolphin Stadium that night.
That’s because the winner will take home one of the most prestigious trophies in all of sports. It’s called the Coaches’ Trophy . We’ve all seen it -- Waterford crystal crafted into the shape of a football, perched atop a pedestal of ebony.
That piece of beauty is assembled and housed here in the Bluegrass State.
I remember it first as the Sears Trophy.
Former University of Miami assistant coach Bill Proulx is the inspiration behind presenting the winning school with the crystal trophy. In a telephone conversation last year, Proulx told me the NCAA’s wooden trophy/plaque, given annually to the national champion, wasn’t enough. They are a bit understated, he surmised.
I think he got it right.
The coach had always thought NCAA champs should receive a trophy as big as the school’s accomplishment. So Proulx, a member of the American Football Coaches Association, turned to Charlie McClendon for help.
McClendon was Executive Director of the AFCA and embraced the idea in 1985. McClendon, you’ll recall, was a standout player at UK under Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Proulx was working for a construction company in Miami at the time. With the help of his wife, who sketched the design for the trophy, and with inspiration from his sons, Proulx took his idea to Tiffany, the first producers of the trophy.
Waterford Crystal replaced Tiffany and the trophy was first presented in 1986, to Penn State. The NCAA still hands out the wooden plaques, but the Coaches’ Trophy has become the centerpiece to any national title.
Proulx and his wife reside in Bedford, Ky. His Black Dog Sports assembles and houses the trophies, which are now given to men’s and women’s national basketball champions, as well.
The trophy is valued at $30,000 and Proulx declined to allow WKYT visit his shop and see how they’re assembled, citing security concerns.
In addition to the Coaches’ Trophy, Black Dog also sells replica trophies -- the collector’s edition, which is 24-inches tall, goes for $5,000, while the desktop version (14” high) goes for $1,500.
Several companies have sponsored the trophy -- ADT has sponsored the trophy since 2003.
Proulx says he’s been busy traveling the country in attempts to get schools to replace the old wooden trophies with new crystal. UK has won seven national basketball titles, but currently only displays one crystal Coaches’ Trophy. A second, is in storage.
I’m told the crystal footballs and basketballs are blown and crafted in Europe, before being sent to Proulx at his ol’ Kentucky home. There, he marries the top piece with the ebony pedestal, creating the magnificent trophy we see handed out during the postgame presentation.
In just a few weeks, another beautiful piece of art will be presented to college football's best team. Artwork from Kentucky.
Those are the highlights... stay tuned.