I grew up in Waterloo. It's Iowa's armpit. Well, it's Iowa's right armpit (Sioux City is the left, and that makes you the anus, Council Bluffs. So congratulations, you can shit all over Nebraska). You can imagine that when I went to Iowa for college it was a bit of a culture shock. Iowa City has things that are unknown in Waterloo, like clean shopping malls, as well as things that are fixtures of the Waterloo landscape, such as public urination. Anyway, I fell in love with Iowa City instantly. Some of the charm wore off when, for the tenth straight weekend, inebriated undergraduates climbed the balcony at my Burlington Street apartment and proceeded to pound on the sliding glass door. Regardless, now that I live far, far away in St. Louis (which reminds me a lot of Waterloo), trips to Iowa City are few and far between. My wife, a local St. Louis girl, also fell in love with Iowa City, and is trying to convince my law firm to open an office there (never happen). Short version, we love Johnson County (aptly named; note that if you continue my anatomical breakdown of the state, Iowa City is a likely candidate for the genitalia).
I have it on good authority that this positive view of Iowa City is not universally shared within our academic and athletic conference, and in fact Iowa fans are among the most universally detested. I theorize that this is because there is nothing else going on in this state as far as sports, and so we live and die by the Hawkeyes. Yes, I know, Clones. You're there, too. But by no reasonable standard have the Cyclones been consistently cheer-worthy. I root for you to represent us well in that glorified midmajor known as the Big 12 North, but you rarely manage even that modest feat and I've learned to keep my expectations low. Well played against Minnesota, I guess. Next year maybe you can duke it out in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl (that's a real bowl, by the way) in a gripping matchup with Syracuse.
I digress. So we Hawkeye fans live up to the (likely apocryphal) etymology of the term "fan" ("fanatic") and our colleagues in states that have actual cities in them find our mania wearisome. So be it. We are, after all, the only school located in a state without a professional football franchise, a fact that nudges our fandom along the spectrum from the mild beige found in Minnesota to a loud shade of intense.
Actually, I take that back on the pro football franchise. I'm told Michigan is interested in getting a professional football team to play there. Ba doom ching. (Hang in there, Matt.)
We will soon bump elbows with our fellow cornshucking midwesterners in Nebraska, a team respected for, inter alia, the irrational and unyielding devotion of its fans. In addition to being able to piss across the Missouri at each other, Iowa and Nebraska share a unique love of state citizenship and flagship football. Does anybody from Minneapolis claim to be from Minnesota? Does anybody from Chicago claim to be from Illinois? No. Such people are from cities, not states, even if they live in suburbs 60 miles away from Chicago in another state (i.e., Milwaukee). But we Iowans are from Iowa, damnit, and we shall find like-minded souls to the west, showering the cow shit from their boots before they pile into their RVs to invade the Holy Land via Interstate 80. I was in Iowa City the last time Nebraska came to town. I was at that game, Ferentz's first I believe. Nebraska isn't screwing around on the field or off it. Their fans show up. Have nothing better to do. Will travel.
But this got me thinking. There's no school in the Big 10 whose fans I find unusually annoying. Every school has a colorful spectrum of fans, ranging from the mindless and distressingly ubiquitous uncritical fanbois offender, whose analytical and argumentative skills amount to repeating unsupported conclusions ad infinitum, to the beard-scratching unappreciated scholar in tweed jacket, inventing defensive schemes that might work in a hypothetical universe in which the football was sentient and could direct its flight.
All these people are contemptible to some degree, but is there any particular school for whose fans you reserve the full brunt of your wrath? I admit I have none. The only Big 10 fans I want to see upset each week are the fans of whichever team Iowa is playing. Beyond that, have at them, boys.
How about yourselves?