Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that today is "Back to the Future" Day -- you can hardly shake a stick on the internet without running into some sort of "Back to the Future"-inspired post or article. So naturally we wanted in on that action. (If you're wondering why October 21, 2015 is "Back to the Future" Day it's because that's the day that Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels to in "Back to the Future Part II," so really this should probably be called "Back to the Future Part II" Day if we wanted to be super-pedantic...)
So let's apply "Back to the Future" -- and in particular, time travel -- to Iowa sports. There are really four main scenarios that you can do with time travel in this situation.
1) Travel back in time to right a wrong.
There are no shortage of "what if" scenarios when it comes to Iowa sports. We've enjoyed some terrific highs over the years, but there have been plenty of agonizing losses, too. If you had the power to go back in time and change the result of those losses... would you? And if so, where (or when) would you go? Would you save Ricky Stanzi -- and Iowa's undefeated 2009 season -- from THE WOOTENOCALYPSE against Northwestern? ("Hey Ken, don't run a bootleg with Stanzi in the end zone, OK?") Would you prevent Brad Banks from getting injured against Iowa State in 2002 and thus preventing the second half nightmare that unspooled? Would you go back to 1985 and somehow prevent Iowa from losing to Ohio State and killing their dreams of winning a national championship? Would you prevent Matt Sherman from hurting his hand against Michigan in 1997, costing Iowa that game (and others down the stretch)? Or would you go even further back in time to correct some wrongs from the distant past? Maybe you would tell Iowa administrators that hiring Frank Lauterbur was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea?
The peril to this scenario, of course, is what effect your change has on the present. Maybe Iowa's decision to not hire Lauterbur eventually leads to Iowa also not hiring Hayden Fry, which sets Iowa's 1980s on a very different path. Who knows what craziness might ensure when you change the past.
2) Travel back in time to re-live an awesome past experience.
This is basically time-travel-as-theme-park-ride. What's better than nostalgic memories of an awesome game or watching a replay of the game on TV? Actually going back to watch the game unfold live, of course. I'm sure everyone who was at the 2008 Iowa-Penn State game would love to slip those shoes on again and re-live Daniel Murray booting Iowa to glory. I was at the 2009 Iowa-Michigan State game and watching "7 Got 6" again would be an incredible thrill. And I'm sure the, ah, more seasoned members among us wouldn't mind watching Chuck Long scurry around the edge to score on a naked bootleg or see Chuck Hartlieb throw that game-winning 28-yard touchdown pass to Marv Cook to beat Ohio State in 1987.
One possible downside to this scenario? If you know what's coming, the thrill factor is going to be reduced. There's nothing like the thrill of the unknown and watching something unfold without knowing how it will play out. My heart beats a little bit faster every time I watch Murray's kick, but deep down I know he's going to make it every time -- and it's nothing like the way my heart was racing when I watched it the very first time, not knowing what would happen next.
3) Travel back in time to see something you never got to see originally.
This is sort of a corollary to the second option, but without the clear nostalgia factor. Iowa football's been around for a long, long time and it's produced remarkable players, thrilling wins, and memorable seasons for longer than any of us have been alive (unless we do have readers who are over 126 years old, which would be pretty amazing). So why not travel back in time to see some of those great moments, especially since I could see them in person ("nature's HD!") rather than in blurry highlight videos or black and white photos. I was too young to truly appreciate Houghtlin's kick or Chuck Long bombing away at Big Ten defenses. My dad was in short pants when Evy's teams were ruling the roost. And who wouldn't want to see Nile Kinnick himself play football?
4) Travel forward in time to get a glimpse of the future (and/or to steal information/technology from the future and use it make yourself rich when you return to the present).
On the flipside, maybe you're done with the past -- it's already happened! It's yesterday's news! You've seen the highlights and read about what happened. You want the thrill of the new! You want to see something that no one has ever seen before! To the future it is!
The downside of traveling to the future is that you have no idea what you might find. Maybe you travel to 2045 and discover that the Ferentz Dynasty has established an ironclad grip on the Big 32 under the leadership of Zaphod Ferentz, winning seven straight conference championships and winning the College Football Champions Cup four of the last five years (losing only to Robo-Saban's Alabama on a hail mary, a cruel piece of irony given the history between the Ferenz clan and Saban). But maybe you travel to 2045 and discover that Iowa football has had ten straight losing seasons after foolishly hiring a man named Biff to run the program. Worse, Iowa State Agricultural Academy has become the dominant in-state program and the mammoth University of Minnekobraska has won back-to-back championships. The future is a fickle beast and you're rolling the dice by going there to see what it holds for Iowa.
So, in the spirit of "Back to the Future," if you had a time machine and could only use it in the context of Iowa sports, what would you do? (Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be strictly football-related, either. Maybe you'd travel back to 2006 and somehow prevent Northwestern State from making -- or even taking -- that fateful shot against Iowa...)