So, yeah. We all expected to be in the conversation with Auburn and Oregon at this point in the season. A few special teams and defensive miscues later, we're talking about a fourth Outback Bowl in seven years and wondering what might have been. Some complain about the predictable playcalling. Others complain that we just lack the killer instinct. Others just talk Sartre and complain that "well, we're Iowa, we'll never win anything. Why care anymore?" Here's why.
“Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Here’s a history lesson: between 1961 and 1980, the Hawkeyes never had a winning season. Between 1922 and 1956, we failed to win a Big Ten title. We haven’t won a Rose Bowl since 1958. We haven’t even had a Heisman winner since 1939.
What’s the point of all this? Success is fleeting, people. Even for the Alabamas, the Miamis and the Nebraskas of the world, constant high-level success is difficult to maintain. Look at the Tide this year: they’re coming off of a national title and all they’ll get is some mediocre January bowl game. Some fans aren’t happy about this. Many of them call into Paul Finebaum’s show and are rightly mocked for their arrogance on EDSBS. Are we these kind of fans? I certainly hope not. I’d much rather appreciate success when it comes, and not complain because what comes isn’t what we all wanted.
Sure, the playcalling is predictable. I can usually call pass or run based on formation, and we very rarely go out of our base zone defense. You know what, though? Since 2001, the Hawks have had one losing season. Let me repeat that: ONE LOSING SEASON SINCE 2001. Only Hayden has managed that kind of sustained success here – not even the legendary Forest Evashevski pulled it off.
And maybe predictability is bad – after all, if you know what’s coming at you, you can stop it more effectively. But that weakness is also a strength. What do you think happens when, defensively, you know exactly what the opposing offense is going to run, and you can’t stop them? What happens when you know exactly what to do to beat the opposing defense, and you simply can’t do it? It’s psychological warfare, just like the pink locker rooms. You make the other team think it’ll be easy, and then punch them in the face with your ability to execute your predictable gameplan over and over again. It’s easy, and it’s taken us to the mountaintop, right in sight of the Promised Land. And in time, it’ll get us down into the valley too.
3. The four-letter word.
About a year ago, I wrote a little ditty that I’d like to quote here:
“For every person who makes a corn joke, there's a farmer saying "Fuck you, we're Iowa" with every sweep of his combine and every shipment of corn he sends out to the jokesters. For every Jesse Palmer who says the Boises and TCUs should be rated ahead of us, there's a Clayborn saying "Fuck you, we're Iowa" with every bone-jarring hit they lay on a quarterback or a Sash saying "Fuck you, we're Iowa" with every bitchmaking pick. For every "expert" who says we have offensive problems, there's a Stanzi saying "Fuck you, we're Iowa" with every game-winning drive. And for every brilliant superstar that the other teams have, there's a team at Kinnick saying "Fuck you, we're Iowa" with every sixty minutes or six seconds they play.”
And you know what? That’s still true today. Even in spite the way the Hawks have underperformed this year. Even in spite of the way we’re currently playing against the LOLphers. Because when I see the Tigerhawk on the field and on those helmets, I think of the state where I was born and where I plan on dying, and it reminds me how proud I am to be an Iowan, win or lose. And I think of the players who may not win every game, but make me proud to be a Hawkeye fan through their behavior on and off the field. When you get right down to it, that’s what it’s about – that other four letter word. “Iowa.” And if you can’t care about that, then I can’t help you much.
In conclusion, then, I offer the following five words, win or lose, in success or failure:
“Fuck you. We’re STILL Iowa.”
That is all.
*POSTGAME EDIT* Say what you want about this team. It's probably mostly true, regrettably. But: regardless, I'm still proud to be a Hawkeye. Go Hawks regardless.