MADISON, WISC. -- October 17, 2009. With cries of "No Fair!" and "Meanies!" echoing throughout the Wisconsin Badger clubhouse, and ill-considered reporters, bloggers and cardboard sign-bearing homeless men asserting phony Vietnam War injuries expressing unanimous disapproval, Iowa slowly asphyxiated, prior to pummeling mercilessly, their latest opponent today, 20-10. The football world, collectively, is up in arms.
First, our soundtrack:
Now, the backstory:
Lacking glossy media hero-material, such as Tate "Baby Jesus (P.S. My Hands Are Really Cold)" Forcier,
Jimmah "Speedo" Clausen,
protests rose to a crescendo pitch with SadBadger offensive tackle Gabe Carimi disclosing that he was going straight home to complain to his mother. "These guys don't play fair," said Carimi. "Everybody could see we were way better than them, in that first quarter, and it was OUR yard and we were using OUR balls and they just acted like they didn't EVEN CARE. By the end of the game, they hardly let us do anything and were running around like they OWNED THE PLACE.*
"They have basically one look," Carimi added. "It's the same thing. They play hard-nosed football, and you need to capitalize off people like that.** But did we? Nah. I want a cookie. MOM!"***
Iowa, which has never won the first 8 games of any football season, and now owns an 11-game winning streak, while yielding only 3 redzone touchdowns all season, fumbled yesterday, its first fumble since September 12, and its first lost fumble since September 5, in the cliffhanger against fellow midwestern bullies Northern Iowa. But it was not enough for local and nationally accredited official credentialed sports pundits, who increasingly demand that 7-0 Iowa be as much fun to watch on television as 5-2 Michigan, which reached deep into its scout team Saturday to pull out a 63-6 squeaker against FCS, 3700-student Delaware State. [Delaware State is a so-called Historically Black College, which means they have NO MONEY WHATSOEVER, are a vestige of the Jim Crow Era; therefore, this is why it makes perfect sense for the most successful, wealthiest football program in the ENTIRE COUNTRY and FOR ALL TIME JUST ASK THEM to schedule them. (Go Blue.)] Iowa is generally regarded to have the most difficult conference road schedule in the country.
"Ridiculous," said Gannett legend Pat Harty, renowned for burning shoe leather and the midnight oil in the service of sport and insight, and going to any length -- including driving ALL THE WAY across Iowa City the afternoon of a nationally televised football game, which everyone knows he could have watched from the sofa at home, and probably understood better, because, you know, you get to listen to the announcers at home, before writing about it -- to get his story. "These guys just don't play well with other people, and they don't do any of the things everyone knows you have to do to get on SportsCenter and attract nice comments from Lou Holtz. Say, are you going to finish that croissant?"****
"Nonsense," said [name redacted], a certain Michigan man known for, mmmm, going blogging (when not genuflecting), from time to time. "These guys confuse charity -- everyone's just giving them these games, it's not like they're actually beating anyone -- with talent. No way should a team as selfish and outright colorless as Iowa get any expectations they're making it to the big stage. I have it on good authority that Iowa's gonna have to go multiple on defense, recruit a self-centered 4-star hype machine, and run the Wildcat before any of us consider them media-worthy."
Meanwhile, Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema, pulling on his OVER-THE-CALF socks, denied reports that Wisconsin was petitioning the league to invalidate the results of this soul-crushing lost, punctuated by irate Wisconsin students heckling Bielema as he exited the field.
"Sure, would I like to?" said Bielema. "Sure I would. I see no reason why our performance in the first quarter was insufficient (you know, res ipsa loquitur or something like that, you know, like, duh, thing speaks for itself, which is fortunate because if you read my interviews you'll want to sit down immediately with a glass of medicine, it's a concept in tort liability that some guy is using to explain why I didn't lose to Iowa, I let Iowa win, see, we embarrassed ourselves, we didn't, like, duh, shit, uh, you know, actually lose) to nail these guys. Somehow they got the idea these games are played for 60 minutes, and they have the right to outcoach, outplay, and outhustle us for more than a quarter on our own field. What kind of crap is that? I just know I'm gonna go home and kick the shit out of my dog and the TiVo, there it'll be, Griese making fun of Iowa, just like always. Is he wrong, Griese? The game should have been over at that point. Enough's enough. We killed them in the first quarter."
Gene Collier, commenting from Pittsburg and his perch at the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, "... there is not one impressive team in the Big Ten, even when considering all 11. That's clear, right? ... Had Penn State beaten Iowa three weeks ago instead of blowing a 10-point lead with three interceptions and a blocked punt, the Lions would be the league's prime suspect on the allegation of being verifiable decent, but the Lions don't beat Iowa as a matter of policy."*****
Collier went on to say (no he didn't), "You see, with Iowa, it's all a big "what-if"? "What-if" every single good team Iowa plays, home and away, didn't embarrass themselves and just hand Iowa the ball, collapse their own quarterbacks, fail to show up, etc. It's not like Iowa wins these games; if they were actually winning them, they'd be on SportsCenter and Holtz would show some respect. I had hopes for Michigan, but, there you go, Michigan just gives the game away. Like they all do. Somebody should make Iowa win one of these games. It's embarrassing. It's like watching somebody's kid in the school play, you can't get away from it fast enough."
Caught sharing a wry smile, hug and word with his son James, who is so deeply buried in the depth chart (as punishment for a couple of teenage run-ins with the law) that he doesn't even get to play the wedge on kickoff returns, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said,
"Eh. First off, I'd like to thank our fans ... oh, away game. Sorry. So, don't do pronouns, pronouns, kinda tough deal. Verbs -- not always. Never know. So, 60 minute game, least I think it is. Coaches, some of them with all of their toes. Effort. Stud at QB, 15-3, last I checked, better than Pryor, eh? QB, 168 rating for the game, 215 for the second half. Theirs: 84. That's about right for us. Paying attention? No swimsuit calendars on my team, doesn't work in our state.
"Time of possession: 9, 8, 5, 4. That's what we did to them. Sucked the life out of the room, burned all the oxygen up, watched them choke, waved bye-bye. Drowning men in red. Six yards, seven carries: Clay, second half. Great back, very solid back. Was gonna come to Iowa, wanted him. Wanted him, sure did, big time. Changed his mind. Frustrating. Not as frustrating as trying to post on Morehouse's blog, but still, Clay: got hit by Angry. Done. No fun getting hit by Angry. Destroyed his spirit. Like I said, could have come here, probably have started for us today. Didn't want to. Hit by Angry? Did I mention that? Yeah, he plays for them, Angry hit him.
"Our freshman RBs -- no lost fumbles since first game. I know this -- anyone else? Any, uh, whatever, pundits? Want the ball. Good spirit.
"So, now, blitzes. Blitzed once. Didn't need to. Got Clayborn and Klug. Binns. Ballard. Don't blitz. Blitz? Not so many interceptions. Got 22 takeaways, fumbles, picks, those deals. Big number. They don't throw over the middle now, well, we got guys outside the hash, they catch too. Same deal. That kinda deal, you know. We're gonna take the ball away.
"Leapin' Tongan: can't defend him, more pure talent than Clark. DJK: great bespoke peaked lapel Lara Piana double breasted action, Paul Stuart. Don't know what any of that is, but benches 400. Know what that is, our wideouts benching more than Clay.
"Lets see what else. Red zone TDs this year, what? Three, I think. I don't know. George Wine will know. Hi, George. We gave up three, four, something like that. Have to use my toes to count. Got to stay below 9. At nine, Norm has to do something I don't want to see, double check my counting. Don't care if Carimi's upset because he lost, if we got one look on D, that's simple right?, they know what we're going to do. They couldn't handle it, their QB's in tears, game over. Every QB is in tears this year. We coach for W's, not TV.
"Kinda like this," Ferentz said, gum popping. "Don't bother even showing up if you think you can't hit for sixty minutes. And lay off Stanzi, because everyone in this league who was supposed to be better -- Pryor, Juice, Kafka, Clark, Weber -- last I checked, they've got their butts shot off more than once, they're in the ditch. Got the best QB in the conference. He has a beard, terrible haircut. No swimsuit issue guy, Stanzi. In our state, that's how we're going to play it."
"Hey Norm, look at this," said Ferentz, waving a stat sheet, shouting over the din as Parker returned from the shower, everyone confused because they don't want to look at his feet exactly, what with the 8 toes and stumps and stuff, but jesus you can't look higher either, there's now a room full of dudes staring at the ceiling. "58, 31, 3, minus-5. Run totals by quarter. They sure gave us the game, they're embarrassed, why did we win, we sure lucked out, god we suck, are we flukes, why Alabama would kill us, right?"
"We won because we kicked the shit out of them," Parker said, scratching himself. "And because we got better coaches and athletes who listen. It makes for bad TV but oh well. And we're faster than anyone thinks. I'm just glad I don't play quarterback against this outfit. It would make my head hurt. We beat that guy from Alabama, he still have a job?"
No word on whether, for the good of the league, Iowa would shortly be required to go spread and blitz-heavy, and hire personal media representatives for Rick Stanzi, Pat Angerer, and the Leapin' Tongan. (DJK was granted a league media representative waiver, having demonstrated that he is with the program, and capable of full-on counter-questioning irony.)
*This quotation is fabricated -- it's totally made up!
**Carimi actually said this yesterday.
***Not really fair, but he could have said it.
****Well, made up too, but it stands to reason, right? Prove he didn't say it.
****True. That's what he actually got paid to write.