Scene: Kinnick Stadium, but not. The press box is small, the grass is real, and the end zones still have the double-bar Hawkeye helmet logos. A white-haired man walks down an empty hallway in the press box, tentatively but with a sense of familiarity.
A young, impeccably dressed man steps out into the hall.
You had a great run, Mr. Zabel. 91 incredible years. A finer, better Hawkeye fan never graced that press box, and a better radio man never filled the airwaves of the Midwest. So we've been expecting you here for a long time.
A tear falls from Jim's eye as he happily accepts Nile's handshake.
Jim walks toward his old familiar booth and hesitates.
Jim opens the door to the booth. There sits Ed Podolak, grinning at his old friend.
Zabel turns back around toward the field and suddenly Kinnick is packed to every corner with 70,397 screaming Hawkeye fans. The offense is on the field, the tight ends are standing, and a familiar man in aviators and white pants stalks the sideline.
Mr. Zabel, we could fill dozens of these places with all the different people to whom you brought Iowa football. You were the voice of this team for generations of kids and their parents and everyone else. You meant more to this program than just about anybody that ever lived.
You know, I waited a long time for that play. A long time. You know how long it had been since Iowa won up there in Columbus? 28 years. Twenty eight years and I don't know how many coaches, just one lousy road trip after another. Usually wasn't even close, and we kept hanging around in this one and you just feel it's so close, even when it's fourth and a mile with the game almost over.
And now I'm here in the booth with you, and Father Bob's on the PA, and every seat in this stadium's packed, and millions of Hawkeye fans are out there hugging and kissing their radios, and I can watch Kenny Ploen and Randy Duncan and Chuck Long and Ronnie Harmon and Timmy Dwight and Sedrick Shaw forever?
Rest in peace, Mr. Zabel. You had fun, and you will be dearly, sorely missed.