EDIT: I'm locking the comments for this post because the comments have descended into pure idiocy, thanks entirely to a pair of trolls. We've had our fun at their expense; now let's please stop giving them any further attention because that's all they crave. Locking the comments for this post is not in any way, shape, or form a reflection on the original post or the commenter who wrote it. I think the post itself was a well-written and provocative take on an interesting aspect of Iowa fandom. Unfortunately, it's also a topic that turned out to be pure troll-bait. So it goes. -- Ross
I'm a Tavernhok... I guess. It's tough to say, really. I did not attend the University of Iowa. I grew up 40 minutes away. I applied there. I got accepted there. But when it came time to commit, I chose a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles. Sure, we had a football team, basketball team, and even baseball. But we were D3 and fandom was optional.
Hawkeye fandom, on the other hand, was never optional. I was born into it. My dad graduated from U of I back in '71. All of his friends went there. When I was an infant, they came over to watch Hawkeye basketball. During commercials they would put my feet on the floor, hold my hands above my head and "walk" me down the length of the couch. I learned to walk watching Lute Olsen and the '82-'83 hoops team (Sweet 16!). I've officially been a Hawkeye fan since I was 11 months old.
My actual baby photo. Not Sharpie.
After I graduated college in '04, I stayed in L.A. I've been living here for over a decade now. In five short years, I'll have spent as much time here as I did growing up in Iowa. But whenever anyone asks where I’m from, the answer is always "Iowa" (the state in general, of course, because no one seems to know any cities outside of California).
Courtesy of every native Californian I've met.
I understand feelings of propriety for the Hawks among U of I alumni. It must be annoying as hell when some jackass gets super drunk at a bar and makes a fool of himself all while wearing an IOWA shirt only to discover that the dipshit didn’t even attend the university. Full disclosure, I’ve been that guy. But honestly, who hasn’t been that guy—alums and non-alums alike? I’ve watched games so painful that the only prescription is a double-dose of beer city (many of those games happening last year) and I’ve watched games so awesome that I’ve run through the bar giving high-fives to all the Hawkeye fans (Barney’s Beanery in L.A., anyone?). Beer makes me do these things. Beer and love.
I understand that the Hawkeyes are a representative of the university, a thing/team/event that ties alumni to four (or six or eight) amazing years in Iowa City. But for me, the Hawks are a connection to home. They remind me that there’s a place where hard work yields results. Where weather comes in four seasons (five if you live in Cedar Rapids). And where tailgating happens in parking lots. I work at USC, where tailgating happens everywhere but the parking lot. I love that we take 3* recruits and build NFL players, rather than take 4 & 5* recruits and piss them away (USC, again). I love that we’re often underestimated. And I love that golden girls only sometimes have to catch the baton.
And really, given the choice, it’s better to have the Tavernhoks around. Even if the only time they care about the Hawkeyes is when they put on their shirts and hit up the bar. A university being beloved by people who didn’t attend it is a nice problem to have. Because the alternative? Well, folks could be cheering for the Cyclones. Babies would be getting tattoos of some horrific half-bird half-tornado thing. Everyone would be talking about that amazing season when the Birdclones went 6-6 and made a bowl. Then one day you wake up and Iowa is known as the Cyclone State. The thought makes me shudder.