I asked and you all delivered. Constantly. Thank you all for your participation this past year. Without you, this nonsensical mailbag would be dead and I’d be bugging my editors with more outlandish ideas for blogs. So on behalf of myself, my editors and all of us at The Pants, thank you for your loyalty and constant engagement with the site.
We wish you all the best holiday with family and friends.
Now, for the last time in 2017... The #HelloJerry Best Of Mailbag:
What's your favorite Hawkeye moment of 2017? Mine is either winning the B1G in baseball or Nathan Stanley throwing a touchdown pass with a guy wrapped around his leg against Ohio State.— NFC NORTH CHAMPS (@abrandenburg10) December 7, 2017
Hello Jerry: I’ve been sitting on this one for a few weeks. I’ve thought a TON about it. I’ve shuffled through replays of Nate Stanley (particularly the play you mentioned), Akrum Wadley (the Iowa State takeover) and basically every single Josey Jewell highlight I could get my paws on.
They were fun. They were jaw dropping. But none of those moments live up to this:
I tweeted it at the time and I’ll write it out here: Kirk’s tears are all of our tears. I’m proud to be a Hawkeye.
The Wave has captured America’s heart and we all know the back story of how it started and where it’s gone since. But this Tom Rinaldi feature from College Gameday was the feather in the cap for me. Not only does it tell the story of something that is near and dear to all of our hearts (I know I’m not the only one that waves at his TV) but it also gave us the rare glimpse inside of Kirk and Mary Ferentz.
As someone that attended many I-Club meetings (miss you Hawks Nest) while I was in school, I knew that there was more to the man that snorts his way through interviews during football season. He’s quite charismatic and charming when he wants to be. But as I ventured further and further away from Iowa City, the less and less I got of “that” Kirk.
I missed it.
For all of the groaning and bitching that I personally do about his coaching style, I love the man. I really do. Deep down I love being a fan of a program who’s leader has as much sustained success of “doing it right” as KF does. A man with principles. Everything about Kirk’s program represents the Midwestern values that I was born and raised with. Is it sometimes a curse? Hell yeah it is (I’ve come to realize that this make up doesn’t always get you ahead in the corporate world), but I don’t think I’d want it any other way.
Even when all of these SEC folks are bragging about their superiority around me about their speed and their national titles, I don’t relent. It just makes me puff out my steak-and-potatoes built chest further and yell about how great Iowa is.
Double that after watching that earth rattling piece.
As I watched on with my wife, tears protruding from our eyes, I remember thinking to myself (forgive me for going all Terrell Owens on you), “THAT’S MY COACH”!
While I wish we could get more glimpses into Iowa City’s First Family, I know that we probably wont. So I’ll hold on to this. I’ll hold onto Kirk and Mary and Brian and all of the rest of that lot for as long as I can. What they represent to that little city in the middle of a state that many people couldn’t find on a map is more than just football.
And sometimes that’s better than the end result on the field.
Q: Give us the 5 best Iowa sports moments of the year.
Hello Jerry: You didn’t think I would just skip out on these did you?
1. Woodshed, IA 52242: Looking back on it, this 55-24 blow out meant way more than any of us envisioned in the moment. Not only did Iowa beat tOSU for the first time in like 87 years, but as it turned out, they kept Urban Meyer and Co. out of the College Football Playoff. That alone is enough to make it my number one choice, but when you throw in Josh Jackson taking the leap from solid corner that could be a potential third round NFL Draft pick to a pin-up on every GM’s Big Board that has a pick in the back half of the first round, Brian Ferentz New England-ish offensive gameplan that featured the hell out of our talented group of Tight Ends and Iowa City under the lights and well, my friend, outside of The Wave, that’s the best moment of the year.
2. The Bubble Run: This is going to surprise some people I think, but the four game winning streak that the Iowa hoops team put together at the end of February was one of my favorite 2.5 week stretches of the year. It all started at home against Indiana with a 96-90 overtime victory behind Peter Jok’s (35 points!) free throw touch. Then Fran McCaffery and company marched into Maryland and threw a coming out party for Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook (45 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block combined). Then we had the JoBo game AT Wisconsin (still the swaggiest of shots I’ve seen from an Iowa player). And to wrap it all up was Peter Jok’s send off on senior night against Penn State where he saved one of his best performances for the second half (he scored 20 or his 21 points after halftime). It put a meddling Iowa team on the Bubble for March Madness and gave us a glimpse at what the future had in store without Jok. While many of us are questioning things with the hoops team right now, you can’t deny how much fun we had going into March.
Jordan Bohannon's game winner against Wisconsin last season pic.twitter.com/Vgr748wFda— Devin Keller (@DevinMKeller) July 28, 2017
3. Just One More Inch: It may have been a loss, but the Penn State game was electric. Kinnick was bumping. The players were jacked. And the Iowa defense Evil Knieveled their way through the entire 60-minutes. The sheer fact that The Outlaw and company gave up 29-first downs and 579-yards of total offense on nearly 40-minutes of possession time and only gave up 21-points is INSANE. It was the definition of a bend but don’t break performance that kept Iowa in a game most people thought would be a blow out (much like it was the season before). It was one of those games where fans even had to take a minute to catch their breath every few minutes. If only Amani Hooker was an inch taller.
THEY DID IT! THEY DID IT! pic.twitter.com/hrlL538id3— Onward State (@OnwardState) September 24, 2017
4. Put ‘em in a Cyclone: Iowa should’ve lost that game at Iowa State and if they didn’t have Akrum Wadley, they would have. BUT Wadley is a super human and like super humans are want to do, he put the Hawkeyes on his back and gave us one more lasting performance to remember him by.
5. The Native Son’s Revenge: You know how we don’t really have a cool nickname for Noah Fant? Well, after his performance against Nebraska (you know, the Big Ten school that resides in his home state), I think we should call him the Undertaker. In the 56-14 execution, Fant had three receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns. You know what they say, death lie in every man, but in no deadman.
Q: Two part-er:
1. What’s the best/your favorite present you’ve ever received for your preferred holiday?
2. What’s the one thing you always wanted, but never got?
Hello Jerry: This was much easier than I thought it would be:
THE PORTABLE PIZZA THROWER? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That was one of the most ultimate toys you could get as a child of the 90’s. Plus, my good parents gave me the batteries with it so I didn’t have to wait to play with it. Did I bombard my bad guys with pizzas? You’re damn right. Did I terrorize my little sister who always wanted to be April O’Neil when we played real life Ninja Turtles? Hell yeah.
If you didn’t have the pizza thrower you couldn’t sit with me.
Now, for the one thing I always wanted but never got?
The Ghostbuster Firehouse was a FIRE toy. I wanted it so badly. I remember two of my cousins getting it for their birthdays and we played with it for hours at a time. Missions of grandeur and risk with characters from all over the cartoon universe. I can still remember asking my mom for it for my birthday. I remember asking Santa for it for Christmas. I remember writing a letter and dropping it off at Macys even.
It never came.
Granted, I didn’t really need a dollhouse for boys. I did already have the Ninja Turtle pizza shooter. But did you see how DOPE that fire pole was? What about that goop gate? Just legendary technology for your action figures (or “guys” as my cousins, friends and I called them).
Q: For the money he or she is being paid, who is the best Iowa coach of the last five years?
Hello Jerry: I’ve talked about both Chris Doyle and Phil Paker in my last two solicitation posts/mailbags and I think the answer would have to be one of them. What Phil Parker has done during his tenure as the defensive coordinator has been nothing short of outstanding. The fact that Iowa’s defense never missed a beat after Norm Parker retired is everything you need to know about how well he’s done coordinating that side of the football.
BUT, I don’t think any of it is possible without Doyle. He is an extension of Ferentz. He’s with these players all the time in the weight room. He’s the one that makes Iowa one of, if not THE best development/NFL pipeline programs in the country. He gets these players ready to play big boy football while pushing them to be better each and every day.
To me, there is no price too high for that type of daily insight for young college kids. Pay that man his money!
Q: What's the best thing you've ever eaten but then regretted eating?
Hello Jerry: Anything at Taco Bell.
Q: TOP FIVE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR JEROME?!
Hello Jerry: It was an interesting year for albums for me. It’s probably because for the first time in my life, I don’t think they matter anymore. In a world where the playlist is being used by actual artists (Drake), it’s getting hard to take the time to sit down and listen to an album from front to back for artists that aren’t in that Kendrick Lamar/Jay-Z/Taylor Swift hype-level. Why listen to an album that may or may not have two or three bangers when you can flip on Rap Caviar and sample the best of right now?
Now that doesn’t mean I don’t have a Top-5 from 2017, but rather a statement that I haven’t listened to “newly released albums” like I once did.
So don’t effing judge me!
- DAMN. - No other album of 2017 had the type of gravitational force that Kendrick’s did. It was an event — which is somewhat of a theme for my Top-5. The thing that is so special about DAMN. is that the beats don’t really matter. They don’t. Their just gravy on top of the lyrics. I honestly believe that you could take every verse on this album and lay it on top of any beat or let it go acapella and it will still make you bob your head furiously with a giant smile on your face. That’s how well this album is made and constructed.
- 4:44 - Speaking of events, Hov’s 13th studio album was exactly that. I can’t even begin to explain how excited I got when I saw the teaser for 4:44 or how happy the proceeding meme’s and conspiracy theories that came from it made me. What I can tell you though is that this album gave us a Jay-Z we’ve never heard from before. We got a glimpse into the life of a now 48-year old with kids who — even with the baddest chick in the game wearing his chain — still makes mistakes. 4:44 was a concise, quick and well versed album that was perfect for 2017. It even made me pay for Tidal. THAT’S HOW GOOD IT WAS!
- The Big Fish Theory - Can you all tell what type of music I prefer? The beats on this album were so cold that I couldn’t help but fall for Vince Staples who beautifully puts lyrics on top of them. It’s futuristic. It’s relevant. It’s fantastic.
- Culture - I know this list isn’t going to vibe with some of you. But you asked for it! I love Migos. I loved Culture. If you enjoy trap music at the gym or in your JEEP as you roll home on a Friday, this is the #1 album of 2017. Sorry not sorry. Skrrt skrrt.
- From A Room: Volume 1 & 2 - It’s not all rap in my Top-5! I dabble in country music too baby. I’m not sure there is anyone else in country music that I’m more in awe of than Chris Stapleton. From that moment he performed with Justin Timberlake, I’ve flipped him on at least once a week (usually when I’m on the road and travelling up to Ocala/Gaineville... it just feels right). From A Room gives you the raw version of Staples. You get the experience of hearing him live but on a studio album. If you love some down home grizzled outlaw country, save these two albums ASAP.
Q: What's the best holiday snack that was left in the break room / cafeteria at work and are you ashamed of the amount of it you ate?
Hello Jerry: Every year we get some sort of coffee cake and Nothing Bundt Cake mini cakes from the people that own the building. Because we have a small office (only 12 people), we still have some left. So, because it’s the holidays and I’m still used to putting on my winter 10 pounds (you know, to survive the wicked cold of Florida), I’ve started every morning out this week with a piece of warm coffeecake with my Wawa coffee (only a $1!) and at about 3:00 PM, I’ve flushed between two to three mini bundt cakes down my gullet for a nice sugar rush to get me through the end of the day.
Have I woke up at 5:00 AM and worked out before coming into work every day this week? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.
Merry, merry and happy happy to you all. Wishing you a fulfilling holiday season with friends and family.
Here’s to an even better 2018.