It’s December 23rd and here at the Pants, we’re really in the holiday spirit. But to be honest, we aren’t really into all that commercial BS. So we are celebrating the holiday for the rest of us: Festivus. If you aren’t exactly familiar (what is our world coming to?), here’s your crash-course in the origins:
It’s been quite the year in Hawkeye sports world. There was the first Rose Bowl appearance since 1991. There was an NCAA tournament appearance for the third straight year and a tourney win for the second consecutive season. Yes, there is a lot to be happy about in Iowa athletics. But that’s not what Festivus is all about. Instead of recapping all the great moments of the year, in the spirit of the holiday, we’d like to take a minute (or twenty) to participate in the age-old Festivus tradition of the airing of grievances.
We asked everyone here at The Pants to think through their Hawkeye fandom and air their biggest grievance. We’re Iowa fans so, keeping it to one grievance was, uhh, not possible.
Let the Festivus festivities begin:
Where to begin, where to begin? As a guy who puts too much stock in recruiting (if you disagree, air your grievance and meet me at the feats of strength), I suppose I’ll start there. In my best Lewis Black voice. What the hell is the matter with you people? Develop players, I get it. That’s awesome. Do that. Get guys that fit the program. Sure. Look for diamonds in the rough. Sometimes. But at what cost? YOU WERE GIFTED A KID THAT WAS TOURING THE COUNTRY AS ONE OF THE TOP-5 CANDIDATES FOR HIGH SCHOOL PLAYER OF THE YEAR FOR THE ARMY ALL-AMERICA GAME! He fit your bill of needs, otherwise you wouldn’t have offered him. You wouldn’t have accepted his commitment. Would you? If you would, let me know and I’ll air some grievances there. If you get to the point of accepting a commitment and you aren’t sure if the kid fits your character and personality tests, that’s on you. Oh, and that kid? HE REELED IN MORE TALENT IN THE STATE OF TEXAS FOR IOWA THAN ANYONE ELSE ON THE STAFF HAS SINCE HAYDEN FRY! The WRs that bailed due to the handling of this? They are racking up offers left and right from a who’s who of college football programs. The 4-star CB he helped you get? Playing in the Under Armour All-America game.
You wanna have your policy on no visits? Fine. COMMUNICATE THE HELL OUT OF IT. Don’t tell kids they can even consider committing the spring before their senior year. You make damn sure those kids have seen, in writing, the policy and are given an opportunity to visit another school before they commit. Are you going to lose some kids that would’ve committed? Yep. But they aren’t going to de-commit. If you continue to let them verbal to Iowa in April and then tell them not to answer the phone when all the other cool kids start calling and they sure as hell can’t go see them, they’re going to keep bailing. And you best get to work now on fixing that relationship with Texas. Peyton Mansell and Matt Hankins better be your golden boys selling this place to anyone who will listen. If they have a bad experience, you might as well go back to the way things were and pretend Texas doesn’t exist.
AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SACRED STOP RECRUITING KIDS THAT ARE ALREADY COMMITTED ELSEWHERE. I get it, you don’t think it makes you look like a hypocrite. There are lots of fans that feel the same way. You know what? Nobody gives a shit. The people who think you’re being hypocritical are the kids you’re trying to recruit and the people advising them on where to go.
Whatever. You do you. But at least quit whining about just being Iowa if you’re going to play it that way. You had a shot at being sexy. You didn’t want it. So you better be damn good at finding those diamonds in the rough. The diamonds in your hand just walked away. And get to developing, the kids you’re getting need it more than the kids you pissed off.
While we are airing grievances, how about not putting effing linebackers in man coverage on stud athletes like Christian McCaffery in space?
Fran, land a God-damned point guard who can break down a defense.
Jim Harbaugh, grow the hell up. You’re creeping me out.
Rutgers, just, just, ugh.
Nebraska fans, don’t say a word until next year.
Ditto ISU fans.
AND CAN WE PAINT THE DAMNED WATER TOWER ALREADY?!?!?!
I need some egg nog.
There is something I really want to get off my chest about Iowa football, and I’m not exactly sure how I want to encapsulate it into a brief write-up … but here we go.
Iowa football, I’d like for you to answer these questions: 1. Why put up with Greg Davis any longer? The offense has regressed each season during his tenure and this season, the offense currently sits near the bottom of college football in many statistical categories. 2. Why not embrace an electrifying playmaker like Akrum Wadley in the backfield? I know that tradition has always favored seniority — we saw it with Canzeri and now Daniels — but why not embrace your best player? From day one, Wadley was unquestionably the more talented back, but this season he has carried the ball over 15 times just once while Daniels has carried the ball over 15 times on five separate occasions; put the ball in your best player’s hands and good things will happen. 3. You’ll not hear me complain about an 8-4 — potentially 9-4 — season, especially considering how things started. With that said, we saw last year what this program is capable of being — a premier college football team — and it’s much more than an almost-top-25 kind of program year in and year out. So my question is, why turn away and alienate verbal and potential commits with such an unrealistic recruiting policy? Especially when you’re so close to bringing in a once-in-a-decade type recruiting class and so close to building something sustainably special on the field. Why put that in jeopardy?
All of this drives home an underlying theme. A theme which lacks a sense of freshness, innovation, adaption and one that feels complacent with the day-to-day operation of the program. It’s quite possible that I’m simply a self-delusioned homer, living in a fantasy where a college football program from the state of Iowa has an actual shot at becoming an established resident amongst college football’s finest. However, before I die, I’d love nothing more than to know for sure.
GD Greg Davis. I know you won a National Championship. But you had Vince freakin’ Young! And sure, maybe you could have with Colt McCoy, but you can’t blame a loss on an injury to one player. Surely by the end of Colt’s senior season, you had been grooming another player to take over for him next year, right? Nope. And now at Iowa, your horizontal passing game is leaving many waxing nostalgic for Ken O’Keefe. And now we know you’re not going anywhere. We’re stuck with you. You’re infuriating, not because you’re bad, but because we know you’re going to remain a fixture for at least another year. I get it, you’re set in your ways and won’t be changing. But can we have just one more crossing route called per game? Just one?
F@$%ing Rutgers has a better football recruiting class than Iowa right now. RUTGERS. R-U-T-G-E-R-S. You know, the team that won two games last year. You know, the team that CHEATED AND STILL LOST. You know, the team that got outscored 450-188 in its games last year. Yeah, the team conveniently located in the worst city in America can recruit but Iowa can’t.
Kirk can recruit a player that has committed elsewhere, but if a guy wants to take a free trip to Tempe—Disney World for 17 year-olds—HE GONE.
Fran, I love you, but what’s with these late-season collapses my man? With all the reverse-Izzoing going on around here you’d think you made a deal with the Devil to swap places in March. Seriously, how can you peak in January, only to lose to Northwestern and Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament and go in to the Tourney ass-first? You had a three seed locked up last year and fumbled that away.
And finally, Kirk, how can you not see what fans have known for MONTHS. In 2014, we all knew C.J. Beathard was the best quarterback on the roster. That’s not hindsight. We saw it in the spring game, we saw it when he replaced Jake Rudock when Rudock got injured. And still, on the bench he rode.
Furthermore, offenses play better when they are spread out. This is fact. This is the way college football is evolving. How can you and Greg Davis muster up a gameplan that plays right in to the hands of teams like NDSU, Northwestern and Rutgers, and then cook up some wizardry for Michigan? All the fans saw how much better the offense was in its two-minute drill against NDSU. Is it a switch you just turn on and off? How can you laud Chris Doyle and all the innovations he makes in the weight room, but completely ignore all the innovating other teams around the world do with their offenses?
Writing this was therapeutic.
Does it seem fair to set the over/under for Fran tantrums at 1.5 for the remainder of the year?
We’ve seen ‘Because I said so’ and ‘None of your business’ put McCaffery and the Hawkeye hoops program in the headlines for the wrong reasons over the past few years – this week, a refusal to shake hands with freakin’ North Dakota, of all teams, did the same. It’s a handshake, it’s pretty meaningless, it’s just something you do. It’ll take 35 seconds, nothing will come of it, and you’ll avoid looking like an ass. Even if you did just text UND coach Brian Jones an apology, say you called him. It sounds better.
How long will it take Fran to learn stuff like this doesn’t reflect well on his program? Great, he protects his guys, but my god, find another way to do so. Settle, have a quick beer for Christ’s sake. Your players are grown-ass men, or close to it – they can handle a question about a poked eye or a late-game call or avoid an on-court altercation. Lashing out over a harmless question or storming off the court does you no favors in the public eye – which you understand is important to a program’s health. By most accounts, you’re not a bad dude, stop making yourself look like one.
Gary Barta and company, knock it off with the wholesome, Holier-Than-Thou shtick that’s not fooling anyone and let me buy an overpriced beer in Kinnick or Carver. More people will show up, and things will go swimmingly if the Whelan folks do their job.
Finally, Kirk, stop neutering everyone’s personality. CJ was a lightning rod when we first saw him a few years back. He ate up the Sunshine thing, gave an honest opinion about Derrick Willies transferring and poof! the next time he talked to the media over six months later he was a cliché machine. We love these guys, we want to hear what they’re about – there’s a reason people flock to Ron Coluzzi and Akrum Wadley outside of their on-field play. They talk and they’re entertaining. Unless your program is truly filled with dull personalities, which it’s not, let the boys have some fun.
Why don’t people go to basketball games?! WHY DON’T STUDENTS EVER SHOW UP? Okay, okay. I know that I’m a really recent graduate of the University of Iowa, so I don’t have a whole ton of room to say anything, but it’s so infuriating to look over at the student section now that I’ve graduated and see how empty it is. The Hawks Nest is just so awful and I get that things haven’t been the same since Lickliter crushed the spirit of Iowa fans, but after a few solid tourney years with Fran, you’d think that they’d come out to games! There’s just no passion at Iowa basketball games, and it all starts with the students, as they’re supposed to be the backbone of the crowd. It’s embarrassing, honestly, and to top it off, even when students are at the game, the chants are no good and the atmosphere is that of a morgue in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Maybe it’s not entirely the fault of the students (surely the athletic department could do SOMETHING to make the game day experience more fun, right?) but damn. It’s no fun when there’s no passion.
Can we please stop using “Back in Black” for EVERY SPORT? Nothing about it gets me pumped for Hawkeye sports outside of football. I’m over it. It sucks when it’s used at field hockey games and it sucks when it’s used at basketball games. I get that it’s about “branding,” but the brand is bad and you should feel bad.
Other schools/people I’m tired of: Nebraska fans, Michigan fans, Penn State fans, the University of Illinois, football players who are awful human beings to others, the state of Texas, and Rutgers being in the Big Ten. None of these things need any elaboration.
Don’t care about Kirk Ferentz’s contract. Don’t care about Fran McCaffery’s temper. Don’t care about the whole recruiting thing anymore. Everyone is partially right and these are conversations that should be left in 2016. It is what it is and it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters in the grand scheme of things.
(Wow, that got dark for a second. I’m just going to quit while I’m ahead)
Whew. Doesn’t that feel better? It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it feels good to just get it out there, right? Hit us with your Hawkeye athletics (or academics?) grievances in the comments.
And now for the feats of strength. Until you pin one of the Brands brothers, Festivus is not over!
Huge shouts to @KingsCowboyHat for the edits. Your hard work is greatly appreciated. As a show of our gratitude, we have made a donation to a charitable organization in your name.