The last time I was close to this excited for an Iowa Hawkeye football season, it was 2010. Coming off internships in spring and summer, I had money burning a hole in my pocket and the best extinguisher was football tickets.
While I didn’t make it to see Austen Arnaud finally score against the Hawkeyes, I had plans to drive from West Lafayette to Iowa City as much as possible plus every Big Ten road game. Things were looking up after they rebounded from the loss in Arizona as I was present for the Penn State and Michigan wins. The tailspin started when Bret Bielema faked a punt while I was faking as an Iowa student in the southwest corner of Kinnick. Ugh.
It was tough to justify going back for the Michigan State game but that result persuaded my family to come out for the IU game (RIP James Hardy). We decided against Evanston after that near loss. Over Thanksgiving, I went up to watch the DJK “I actually give a shit” game against Minnesota.
What a turd of a season.
Thankfully, I have no plans to make it back to Kinnick or any road game, as the wedding planning/saving/eventing kicks into high gear. But that hasn’t stopped my excitement. Frankly, this is when excitement should be peaking. Despite...
The noise on the police blotter presenting a weakness against an All-American.
The loss of three senior linebackers going against a top running back..
The possibility of going into a game against an FCS opponent with an 0-2 record.
An opponent with a recent history of beating Iowa scaring me.
Three games on the road in four weeks.
Two other opponents who beat Iowa at Kirk’s game.
Neighbors to the east and, especially, the west with their shiny new coach.
All that represents to me is opportunity.
Opportunity for someone to rise up and stake a claim to an otherwise guaranteed position.
Opportunity to assert dominance - again - within the state.
Opportunity to be the ones to beat in the division.
Opportunity to make any stadium feel like home.
Opportunity to avenge last year.
Opportunity to continue beating two border state opponents like a drum.
I’ve never felt more confident - with arguably less evidence - than I do right now about a football team. There is just something about this team, from Kirk Ferentz on down, which excites me in a way that I haven’t been excited about Iowa football in a long time.
So enjoy the rest of the offseason while you can. For it can only get worse.
Unless it gets better.