We all have that friend who misses everything, that guy always manages to be gone at precisely the wrong time, unavailable for that one thing you talk about for years to come. Maybe he goes home early on the night of that epic run at the roulette wheel, or he missed the weekend at the lake where that thing happened because he was going to a wedding. That guy always misses the "Where were you?" moments in your circle of friends. But ask yourself this: Did that guy miss the biggest "Where were you?" moment in the history of Iowa football?
Iowa's 2004 season had been surreal. Before we had ever heard of AIRBHG, we'd seen his work: By October, Iowa had lost a handful of halfbacks to injury, leaving walk-on Sam Brownlee as the starter. Without an effective running game, Kirk Ferentz resorted to his defense -- arguably the best in the history of the program -- and the arm of sophomore Drew Tate. Twelve games later, Iowa had its second Big Ten co-championship in three seasons, ten wins, and a game against the defending national champions. I was sitting in a friend's apartment near downtown Iowa City on New Year's Day 2005 watching that bowl game, joined by a half-dozen friends, including That Guy. Let's just call him Donny.
You know the setup by heart: After holding a lead for the first 59 minutes of the 2005 Capital One Bowl, Iowa gave up a late touchdown to fall behind LSU 25-24. Drew Tate took over at the Iowa 30 with 39 seconds to go, two timeouts to use, and at least 40 yards needed to get Kyle Schlicher into field goal range. Tate hit Ed Hinkel over the middle for 12, temporarily stopping the clock long enough to set a second play. He completed the second pass, again over the middle, to Warren Holloway. The tackle was made short of the first down, though, and Iowa inexplicably failed to call timeout. The clock kept running, and Iowa's next snap, an attempted spike, was met with false start flags. With 12 seconds left, Iowa was at its own 44. The wheels were coming off.
It was at this point that Donny gave up and went to use the bathroom.
Iowa doubled down on its clock idiocy by not calling timeout after the penalty, so when Drew Tate took the next snap, only eight seconds remained. Iowa ran three wide receivers down the right side, an LSU defensive back inexplicably dropped into the flat, and the middle of the three receivers -- Warren Holloway -- streaked wide open toward the end zone. Tate overthrew the pass slightly, but Holloway made the adjustment and the catch, shed a tackle attempt by the outside corner, and took the ball to the end zone for his first touchdown as an Iowa Hawkeye on the last play of his senior year. Touchdown Iowa. Touchdown Iowa. God's Team wins 30-25. The apartment goes wild, and Donny emerges from the bathroom to find everyone else in a dog pile on the floor.
"Very funny, you guys," says Donny.
There is continued screaming and chest bumping.
"You're hilarious," Donny says.
The euphoria of the moment doesn't even allow us the chance to realize he missed the play. Someone hugs him. He pushes the hug off. "Knock it off, seriously," he says, and opens the sliding door to step onto the porch to find that Iowa City is one collective roar. Car horns were honking on Burlington and Gilbert. Kids were running in circles around the adjacent apartment buildings. Cell phone service was interrupted as everyone in town called everyone else. And it was only then that Donny realized that he had missed the greatest play in the history of Iowa football because he had to pee.
It's the greatest highlight we've ever seen, and likely will ever see. That much is clear from Gary Dolphin's call. But it's my favorite highlight for so many reasons: For Carl Jackson making that "Hey, shouldn't we call timeout?" look right before the snap. For Holloway barreling into the end zone, then jumping at thoroughly moderate elevation. For Tate taking off his helmet and running for the end zone like a mad man. For that victory lap where nothing was left but 85 Hawkeyes and 30,000 Hawkeye fans.
And I love it because Donny was in the bathroom and missed it. He's moved away now, and he has a wife and a baby, and he'll miss things the next few years for far better reasons, and we'll tell that story in his absence as we have 200 times before: The day that Donny, Donny who missed everything, missed the greatest play we ever saw.