At some point, it was going to happen. When a team goes from unranked and unheralded to begin the season -- with expectations so low and fan discontent so high that their head coach is in a featured spot on every "hot seat" listing around -- to 11-0 and top 3 in the national polls, well, that's one hell of a good story. It just so happens that story this year is about your Iowa Hawkeyes. And so Iowa football, fresh off a 40-20 win over Purdue that locked up the Big Ten West and sitting on one of the only undefeated records left in college football, is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.
(Or at least a cover -- technically, Iowa's on a regional cover, so if you're outside the midwest, you likely won't see that cover, but the Cam Newton national cover instead.)
Making the cover of Sports Illustrated doesn't carry the cachet that it did in the past, back when it was a publication that could help guide the national sports discourse. The decline of print media and the fragmentation of sports coverage has ended those days. But... there's still a little thrill to seeing Iowa on the cover of SI, at least for those of us who grew up in a time when that still mattered.
(And, yes, of course there's the matter of the SI cover jinx, the popular theory that teams and players play badly and lose immediately after making the cover of the magazine. Iowa fans are probably acutely aware of this phenomenon, considering that the last time Iowa made the cover of SI -- 2009, when Iowa started the season 9-0 -- the very next week was the WOOTENOCALYPSE and a loss to Northwestern. But several athletes and teams make the cover of SI and play just fine in the games immediately following that; jinxes and curses are just superstitious bullshit. Increased attention and publicity is the price you pay for being good and having a special season.)
This is the fourth time that Iowa football has made the cover of Sports Illustrated.
November 9, 2009
December 2, 1985
September 27, 1954