Dear LSU Tiger Football Nation,
As a transplanted Iowan and converted Hawkeye fan, I’m here to inform you that you should not succumb to the overt stereotypical picture being painted by your local journalists of your upcoming Outback Bowl opponent, fans, or the state from which they come. You know what I mean. The boring, slow, pale, uneducated, hick, less-than-sexy but better-than -Michigan-and-Nebraska-combined Iowa Hawkeyes and their faithful fans? If you read your local media you are left to believe that Iowans haven’t seen the sun since January 1, 2005 (oops, sorry if I struck a nerve already) and that the football team we follow pilots the Flyover State Airline. But, hey, I’ll play along for this introductory post and hope that I can spell everything correctly while I’m readying the horse and buggy for a night out on the town.
So, you don’t want to play Iowa in a bowl game? Well, I have news for you: we’d rather have gotten the opportunity to play Johnny Football and played something or someone of recent notoriety, too. But that’s not happening, either. Sorry to tease. I know and respect the fact that you were recently the college football National Champions. So, I guess we need to agree to settle our wants and desires and go play the game. I mean, after all, we’ve already beat you once when you didn’t want to play us. Since no one likes a bully, we find ourselves in an awkward no-win situation. I know, I know. The real reason you don’t want to play us is that it’s never fun to lose to a team you think you should beat 10 out of 10 times and if you play Michigan or Nebraska and lose, well that is probably an easier pill to swallow with all the notoriety and tradition and brand name and such.
Since I brought up January 1, 2005, I should probably elaborate a bit more on that. That day, of course, was the day Iowa beat LSU on that “lucky Hail Mary” pass in the Capital One Bowl. I’ve read that a lot the last few days – “lucky Hail Mary”. Well, I was at that game and many of you were, too. If you’re realistic, you will remember that Iowa dominated LSU for much of the game until Jamarcus Russell came in and provided a spark that was nearly fatal to the Hawkeyes in the 4th quarter. I remember perfectly well the feeling I had when LSU went ahead with less than 2 minutes to play in the game. I remember being disappointed, but not crushingly so. I remember thinking it was a great game, a great atmosphere, and we played well enough to beat the defending National Champions. But, in the back of my mind I just had this feeling that we still had a chance to win, because I knew what that Iowa team was made of. A team decimated with injuries, especially at running back, and a team that fully embodied the “next man in” mantra as well as any other to date. Then it happened – the lucky Hail Mary. The incredibly intense transfer of fan based emotionally-charged rapture of sound from one side of the stadium to the other when the LSU defense blew their coverage and enabled an under-utilized and under-appreciated Warren Holloway to catch that perfectly timed pass from Drew Tate. Hail, yes. Mary, no. Saban, gone. Touchdown, game, set, match, euphoriowa. That was the only bowl game I have ever witnessed in person, and I’ve told myself I am not going to any more unless it’s the Rose Bowl or a National Championship game because that experience and that victory the way it happened simply can not be topped.
So, I don’t know. Maybe that little narrative got you a little hungrier for the game. Maybe revenge can be sweet. Maybe, not. Maybe no matter what, you just aren’t excited about playing the Hawkeyes. But, over the next few days, leading up to the rematch of January 1, 2005 between Iowa and LSU I’m going to try to give you the Hawkeye perspective and, if nothing else, work hard to dispell the myths and stereotypes that continuously lingers over the Hawkeye State and give you a peak into why we say, “It’s Great to be a Hawkeye!” I am going to strive to be complimentary of my team and yours, because I do live by the Golden Rule to treat others the way I’d want to be treated. At the same time, for you to get more excited about this game, I offer up some things that should humble you and to see that, really, you’re no different than we are.
To start, you need to realize that since the year 2000, the Hawkeyes have enjoyed similar success to that of your beloved team. Granted, we haven’t won or played in 2 National Championship games in that span, but we have played in 2 BCS Orange Bowl games losing to USC and dominating the “much faster” Ramblin Wreck from Georgia Tech. I guarantee you that GT Head Coach Paul Johnson knows he witnessed a faster team on the opposing sideline that night than his own and still has nightmares of watching Hawkeye DE Adrian Clayborn creating havoc all over the field. (Quick note: I am also a KC Chiefs fan, and I would much rather have Clayborn on my defensive line than your heralded, but underperforming Glenn Dorsey and current Chief Tyson Jackson. Also, please don’t get me started on Dwayne Bowe). Digressing aside, also in that span, the Hawkeyes have played and beaten current SEC teams Florida once (lost another meeting), South Carolina once, and Missouri once. In fact, Iowa’s bowl record against that speedy, superior, warm-weathered SEC conference is 4-1. Am I starting to get to the real reason you don’t want to play us? Let’s continue. Nebraska seems to be a team you’ve stated you’d rather play because it’s got that brand name and image behind it. Yeah, that same team is 1-4 against the SEC since 2000, beating only Tennessee in 2000. In fact, since 2000, Nebraska’s bowl record is 6-6 and is riding a 3 game losing streak. Dang it! I hate it when I feel like I’m on to something. Maybe the real reason you’d rather play Nebraska is because you have played them 3 times in bowls since 1970 and have never won. Let’s look at the other team from the B1G you’d rather play, the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan has played in 12 bowl games since 2000 and has an overall bowl record of 5-7. But, I know the real reason you want to play them and not us is because Michigan and LSU have never met in a bowl game, and that helmet they wear is really, really spiffy.
But, alas, here we are still. You’re stuck playing that team of bumblebee clad, overall-wearing bunch of haybalers. And, us, playing another team from the SEC that we’ve already beaten located in that mecca of modern civilization of heavenly Louisiana best known currently by the likes of a, um, well… a very Iowa-like, duck-calling reality-TV superhero family. We look forward to pitting our unassuming team of slow, fat, 2-star-stretching Pop Warner plowboys against your lightning quick team of chiseled, shiny buff 4-5 star recruits that just must have an uncanny inability to float to the top of the college football world where they are written to belong.
In all honesty and sincerity, Hawk fans across the country, (yes across the country) are thrilled to match up against your LSU Tigers once again. It will be even more fun if you are thrilled, too. We can attest that any bowl is better than no bowl. Join me over the next few weeks as I give you a periodic, and likely random photo-journalistic view of your upcoming drab, dreary, boring, Outback Bowl opponent, the 2013 Iowa Hawkeyes.