With the 2009 season complete, BHGP looks back at the ten most sublimely absurd moments of the past decade for this sublimely absurd team, counting them down over the next two weeks.
For those of our loyal readers who are not from here, a decent chunk of the typical Iowan's summer is spent at town squares and fairgrounds watching inane events and drinking cheap beer while small children spend money on carnival rides and sugary snacks. These fairs are essentially the source of both the poverty and obesity epidemics among midwestern youth.
One of the finest festivals Eastern Iowa has to offer occurs each July in Solon, Iowa, a 15-minute car ride from Iowa City. The wonderfully-monikered Solon Beef Days has all the hallmarks of a great fair: Country bands you've never heard of, an arm wrestling tournament, the world's most ironic 5k run, etc. But there is one event in particular that draws the big crowds. I'm talking, of course, about the hay bale toss.
The hay bale toss is essentially the high jump for farmers. A bar is set up in the middle of main street, and contestants take turns throwing a hay bale over it until a winner is declared. The Beef Days hay bale toss title has long been the exclusive property of Iowa football; former defensive tackle Matt Kroul won back-to-back championships in 2008 and 2009. But to understand its real impact on Iowa football, we have to go back to Drew Tate.
Drew Tate is on the short list of contenders for Iowa player of the decade, a three-year starter at quarterback, third all-time in overall wins and conference wins, immediately enshrined in Iowa folklore as the first part of "Tate to Holloway" (well, at least if you're not in Lakewood, Colorado). Tate had his fair share of surreal moments in his time at Iowa; for instance, in the summer before his senior year, he had to decline a $25,000 prize after firing a hole-in-one during an I-Club golf tournament.
Tate entered his senior season widely regarded as one of the conference's best players and the nation's best quarterbacks, but rumors of a nagging oblique injury swirled through August camp. After a lackluster performance in the season opener against Montana, Tate (who had started in 25 consecutive games) was a last-second scratch from Iowa's game at Syracuse. What looked on paper to be a blowout fell into the hands of Jason Manson, and hilarity ensued (WARNING: Language NSFW, in that it mentions Adam Shada). What was the source of this lingering, incurable injury that was relegating one of the conference's best players to the bench and nearly derailing Iowa's season before it even began?
I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.