While reading through the wonderful (and fabulously green) celebration thread after Iowa's NIT Semi-Finals victory over Maryland, one comment in particular struck me. The commenter, whose name I have forgotten (apologies to him/her), wrote something to the effect of: Can we just fast-forward through the summer and fall and have it be time for Iowa Basketball again?
I don't need to tell you, fellow BHGPers, that, for Iowa, this is a very strange sentiment; nor would I be telling you anything new if I said that, strangely enough, many of us are beginning to share this feeling (or at least find ourselves being tempted to do so). Of course, it wasn't so long ago that we could hardly abide the long summer nights that seemed to drag on and prolong the black and gold football drought; that we would gladly have traded three seasons of Iowa basketball (and thrown in Lick just for good measure) for just one more fall afternoon in the friendly confines of Kinnick Stadium...
But as the respective fortunes of Iowa football and basketball seem headed in opposite (and, while not uncharted, certainly unfamiliar) directions, many of us have no doubt found ourselves somewhat less excited about the coming football season (I perhaps more than others).
But last night, I dreamt of Iowa football. In the dream, I was at an away game...it could have been in Lincoln, though this stadium was much larger and was a dome, I think. But it was without a doubt the first game of the 2013-14 season, and I had the distinct feeling of no expectations...no hope, really, that Iowa would have much success. And then the defense picked off a pass, then another, and then I saw The Canadian Missile torching the opposing kickoff coverage in a magnificent near-housing of a KO, and suddenly Jake Ruddock was sitting next to me in the stands, and I was asking him how he thought the team was playing. Then it was halftime, and Iowa was, amazingly, in the lead! We had come back from something like two touchdowns, and there was a feeling in the stadium -- especially in the Iowa section, to which I sort of floated from my seat in the upper deck with Jake Ruddock -- that Iowa just might pull it out. And I had the more general feeling that maybe, just maybe, this Iowa team might end up being something special. In any case, from talking to Ruddock and from seeing Tevaun just rocket down the field, I felt a real love for the team and sensed that Iowa fans were going to rally around this team and not have their hearts broken.
There were other parts of the dream...Django was involved somehow, as was the Berlin Wall, though these last two elements probably have more to do with the fact that my wife and I had watched Django that night and, earlier in the day, I had finished writing a lecture on the fall of the Berlin Wall...but I awoke feeling hopeful about Iowa football, something I had not felt ever since KOK left and my initial excitement about GD was revealed to have been misplaced.
I'm not sure whether the commenter from the NIT celebration thread -- or any of us, for that matter -- would have been able to hold true to that wish to fast-forward to Iowa basketball once the sights, sounds, and smells of an afternoon at Kinnick filled the fall air, but this dream of mine reminded me of the irresistible nature of Iowa football and of my inability to even feign disinterest in the team. In some ways, I feel ashamed that I ever gave up on the team during the off-season...that I didn't look at more than one spring practice photo gallery, that I didn't watch any of Kirk's press conferences, or that I was thinking about maybe driving to one or two fewer home games this year.
We love Iowa football (as we do basketball and wrestling), and we will always get excited for the games. We will continue to stay until the team runs through the tunnel at the end (win or lose). We will continue to get emotional when watching highlight videos from seasons past on youtube. We will continue to fail to sleep on nights before Iowa football out of sheer excitement. And we will continue to dream about a return to greatness (and about Django leading Tevaun and Ruddock through the Berlin Wall on their way to dynamite Herbie Husker and Goldie Gopher).