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Players care about the LSU-Arkansas Golden Boot Trophy, whether fans do or not

The Razorbacks and Tigers renew their rivalry Saturday.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Arkansas Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

No. 24 LSU hosts Arkansas on Saturday (noon ET, ESPN). The two teams will play for the Golden Boot Trophy, a massive rivalry grail that carries a quirky history.

Last year, the Tigers won the Golden Boot Trophy for the first time since 2013, and their players excitedly rushed to claim it on the field in Fayetteville:

The Boot is a 24-karat chunk of gold that’s shaped as Arkansas and Louisiana on the map. If you look only at Arkansas to the north and Louisiana to the south, the two states are, indeed, shaped like a boot. It’s a perfectly reasonable concept for a trophy.

"It kind of looks like a bad neck chain from the ‘80s," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said last year. "It's a little gaudy. It's a little big. But it's gold-plated."

Agreed on the gold-plated thing, the gaudy thing, and the big thing, but I’m not sure I see a neck chain. To each his own. When LSU won it in 2016, the Tigers specifically shined the part that looks like Louisiana, but not the Arkansas part:

LSU’s sports information office says the trophy weighs “nearly 200 pounds” and carries a $10,000 valuation, the highest of a college football rivalry trophy.

The trophy’s introduction to the series was in 1996. LSU’s taken the Boot 13 times to Arkansas’ eight since it became part of the rivalry.

The all-time series is 38-22-2 in LSU’s favor. That’s lopsided, but not that lopsided, and it’s gotten tighter recently. Arkansas had won three of six and five of nine, giving the series a heightened sense of parity it hasn’t always had.

Many LSU fans don’t much care about this trophy, though.

I asked Dan Davis, the editor of our LSU site, And The Valley Shook, to sum up his thoughts. He wrote back:

We HATE that trophy. Partially because it’s ugly. Partially because our fan base don’t consider Arkansas a “true rival.” It’s clear their fan base and team take that game much more seriously than ours do. I’d even say Bielema’s job would be on fire if not for back-to-back victories vs. LSU. Credit to them, they’ve taken it to us three years in a row now and come out on top twice. They don’t have as much talent as we do, but they want it more. That much is obvious.

On the other hand, Arkansas cares quite a bit about it.

In large part, that’s rooted in history.

From Ryan Higgins, formerly of Arkansas Fight:

They don’t hate us as much as we hate them. Since they are an older member of the conference, they have much more history playing teams like Ole Miss, Florida and Alabama. As I made a poke at Missouri in reason one, I have a feeling LSU’s annoyance with Arkansas mirrors what Hog fans have for Mizzou.

Arkansas joined the SEC for the 1992 season, and LSU’s been a good school for the Hogs to punch up at. This is a common rivalry dynamic, with a smaller/newer/less successful team wanting to beat up on some kind of big brother.

Anyway, the players care about it.

And therefore, it’s a good trophy.