I had my little, Herky-heart broken last Saturday in the loss to NDSU at Kinnick. Coming off an exciting 2015 season, the Hawks appeared to have their arrows all pointed in the right direction for the first time since 2009. With key players on both sides of the ball back, Iowa seemed to have genuine potential for another big January bowl or even, dare I say it, a spot in the College Football Playoffs. This was supposed to be a special year. It was not to be.
I find it difficult to argue with the talking heads around the nation that attributed the Hawks’ perfect 2015 regular season to their “soft schedule”. With their toughest matchups arguably being Wisconsin and Nebraska, it’s now easy to see what the above said pundits were referring to. Although Iowa did hang in against Michigan State until the last drive, in an amazing game that unfortunately didn’t go Iowa’s way, the Hawks went on to Pasadena to shit the bed against Stanford in a game I embarrassingly admit we had no business being in. But hindsight is 20/20.
A lot of Hawkeye fans seem to be living in the past. I was born in 1981 and can barely recall any of the glory days that a lot of Iowa fans seem to have holstered when referring to their Hawks and how amazing they were, are, or should be. For me, I got serious about sports in my teens, when Hayden Fry was in his home stretch. The reigns were passed over to Ferentz and for the last, almost two decades the Hawks have had only five double-digit win seasons. This is obviously good enough for the University of Iowa (referring to Ferentz’s multiple lengthy contract extensions), but I argue it would be a dark page in the history books to programs like Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, Oregon or even Nebraska. I like Ferentz and all, but I’m certainly not screaming his praises from the mountain top.
Maybe “they” are right. Maybe the B1G is down from the past. Maybe the SEC and the Big 12 are the superior football conferences. Maybe if Iowa played Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Penn State every year, they might be taken more seriously. Something needs to change. Of course, all Iowa can do is win the games on their schedule, which makes last week’s loss that much more devastating. Playing teams like Rutgers, Illinois and Purdue do nothing but hurt the cause because Iowa is supposed to win those games. I’d rather Iowa fill their schedules with teams like Alabama and Clemson, and lose, than have another decade of flirting with ten wins while playing mediocre teams like Indiana and Maryland.
All is not lost. There is a lot of season left to play and I’m confident that the Hawks will end the regular season with ten or more wins and an invite to a solid January bowl. But if all goes right, and the stars align, Iowa will win out while hanging some decisive W’s up, win the B1G West, then the B1G Championship game, then their first game in the CFP and be in the National Title game – which they will obviously win. All the Cyclone fans will have no other choice but to praise the Hawkeyes publicly on Twitter and all will be right in the world (I got a little boner just then). Yes.
Either way; if the Hawks win or lose, it’s all good. I’m not one to get all wound up. I’m just a happy Hawk fan and I’m looking forward to all the ups and downs along the way. Go Hawks!