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2019 Annual Festivus Airing of Grievances

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We got a lot a problems wit you people, and now your gonna hear about it!

We’ve got a lot of problems with you people...
Image from @KingsCowboyHat

Today is a national holiday. December 23rd is, of course, Festivus. If you aren’t familiar, you’ve made some life choices that we need to talk about. There is no excuse for not having seen every episode of Seinfeld in this day and age. Whether you were old enough to watch it in real time or are young enough to have missed it entirely, you can now watch a replay of every episode on virtually any streaming service on demand or simply turn on TBS any day other than Christmas Eve and it is on 24 hours a day.

BUT, if you’ve somehow missed out, here’s a quick recap. According to Wikipedia:

Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season. Originally created by author Daniel O’Keefe, Festivus entered popular culture after it was made the focus of the 1997 Seinfeld episode ”The Strike”,[1][2] which O’Keefe’s son, Dan O’Keefe, co-wrote.

The non-commercial holiday’s celebration, as depicted on Seinfeld, occurs on December 23 and includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole, practices such as the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength”, and the labeling of easily explainable events as “Festivus miracles”.[3] The episode refers to it as “a Festivus for the rest of us”.

Not entirely sure how it works yet? We’ve got you covered.

Got it? Good.

We begin with the annual airing of grievances. We got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re gonna hear about it!

JP: Somehow, some way, I’ve become the resident optimist. I don’t know how it happened. When I started writing here more than three years ago, I pitched the idea of Overreaction Monday because I was known to completely lose my mind with the coaching staff on Monday morning at the water cooler thinking about the ridiculous decisions they had made. Now I more often act as the voice of reason, pointing to the upside while the rest of you are upset with performance.

NOT ANY MORE!

This is Festivus. This is an airing of grievances. And I been holding it all in!

Let’s start with Brian Ferentz. Buddy, the object of the game is to score more points than your opponent. I know I’ve been trying to steady the ship on this restless waters, but you gotta help a brother out. Is it so much to ask for a touchdown just once when the defense gets you the ball inside opponent’s territory? I mean come on!

And fullbacks. We love fullbacks. Fullbacks are old school football. But why do they exist in this offense? I mean sure, go ahead and have 1-2 on roster and use them 5-10 times a game, but for the love of God don’t EVER give one the ball. EVER.

Audibles. Oh audibles. Why are we the only team on earth that doesn’t check into pass plays? And if we aren’t going to, can you at least coach up a QB to make it look like we COULD check into a pass by talking to receivers instead of just the line and back? It ain’t rocket science!

Now Fran, don’t think you’re getting off without some scorn. Buddy, we been asking for small ball, shorter rotations and quick guards for ten years. You finally got forced into it the first 13 of this year and look at the results.

Take the results and turn them into your process. Quit focusing your recruiting efforts on 4 and 5 star kids, or kids that blow up into that. Get yourself athletic guys over long guys and lock them up early. You can teach them to shoot when they get on campus but you can’t teach guys to be quicker and apparently you can’t teach them to play defense.

Stop the hockey substitutions and play your 8-9 best players. Period. It creates cohesion and you’ll find out who has the hear to fight for minutes and who is going to walk away.

And stick with the small ball. Your teams are at their best when they get after people on defense. That means guarding opposing guards. This team has been a joy to watch because there are lots of guys getting after it and lots of guys who can handle the ball. We all love Luka Garza and he makes this team work, but college hoops is a guard’s game and you have to run 3-4 of them at a time.

Holy sh*t, where’s the Tylenol?

DC: I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it! Listen, I love you all very much. Despite another year without a Big Ten Championship Game appearance, this year has been so much fun to experience with all of you. That being said, it’s time we have a little chat. Hate Week is fun, I look forward to it every year, but after the game, it’s time to move on. We don’t have to bring ourselves down to the level of our little brothers out in Ames. They’re going to try to bait us into fights with ridiculous stats. Leave them be! They have to do those things to make them feel good about themselves because they can’t win where it matters most. This also goes towards our neighbors to the West. When their blogs publish clear trolling posts, don’t engage! We’re better than that! The Hawkeyes beat these teams seemingly year in and year out and that’s all we need to fall back on when our rivals try to goat us into childish arguments. STOP ENGAGING! Finally, stop fighting amongst each other on what we want for the program moving forward. It’s ok to celebrate and trust everything Kirk Ferentz does and it’s equally ok to experience those highs and demand higher performance more consistently. Iowa has shown the ability to hang with the upper echelon in College Football and it’s ok to want that consistently. Those games, those wins, and hell even those close losses are what make college football fun and it’s ok to expect more of it.

Jerry Scherwin: I have been writing/podcasting here for many, many years at this point and I feel like I write about the same problem I have each and every year end… the Iowa Athletic Department and the boring, corporate office environment they’ve established and continued to protect year over year over year at Carver Hawkeye Arena. I was an original member of the Hawks Nest. There are meeting notes somewhere from multiple group sessions with Paula Jantz and Gary Barta (among others) where we told them that in order to make Carver “Mad Again” they need to give the students the opportunity to change the environment while McCaffery changed the product in front of us. A simple trial run behind the benches is all we asked for. If they built it, we would get the students to come. We would set the tone for the entire building. The camera would show how passionate we were and even more people would want to make the long treck from the dorms and apartments to be apart of that environment. IF YOU BUILD IT WE WILL COME.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Can’t happen. Donors. Money. Your seats in the corner. Make that work. Maybe we’ll let you have a fat heads. Do you think that will get students to come?

That was a decade ago now and nothing’s changed. I hate to beat this dead horse, but my god are Iowa games boring to watch. And it shouldn’t be! We have an All-American center, a great blend of talent that are playing well above the expectations set upon them and a fun style of offense running up and down the court. Throw in one of the most animated head coaches in all of college basketball and the Iowa faithful and this place shouldn’t be worse than a library. Obviously, the Athletic Department isn’t going to do anything about this. So I wont bother with them. Instead, my issue this year will be directed at the donors that fill in those seats. GIVE EM UP YOU COWARDS! I know you all whine and complain about the environment. But when I see you all yawning on TV and sitting on your hands, I can’t help but BLAME YOU! Until you all band together and demand that Barta moves you to the other side of the court in favor of a better all around college basketball environment, nothing will ever change.

Doug: I honestly don’t have a lot of grievances when it comes to Hawkeye sports. I’m at an age now where a win is fun and a loss is no longer something that gets me too worked up. I still love that I get pumped up for big games but the letdown of a loss isn’t as great as it may have been 20 years ago. I would like to see more media coverage and easier access (television) for some sports besides football and men’s basketball. Seeing all Iowa wrestling meets should be mandatory television and it would be nice to be able to see more baseball, women’s basketball, and other Iowa events on the Big Ten network more often. A final issue would be that the media would be more willing to ask and then have their questions answered in a non-condescending, truthful manner. I think some beat writers won’t ask the tough questions, especially around the football program, because they feel that they will be shunned in the future if they do. Everyone wanted to know why Oliver Martin didn’t see the field much this season after working so hard to make him eligible after his transfer from Michigan. The question was asked a couple times and Brian Ferentz never gave an answer that was halfway satisfying. If the answer was he didn’t work hard enough or wasn’t a strong enough blocker yet, so be it. Answer the questions honestly and accurately and there will be more credibility down the line.There you have it, my not having much to complain about turned into a long run-on paragraph. Happy Festivus to the rest of us!

Adam Hensley: After covering Iowa baseball for the past few years, arguably my biggest grievance is the amount of coverage the program receives. I get it, baseball isn’t football or basketball or wrestling… but, my goodness (also, shoutout the Daily Iowan for non-revenue sporting coverage).

I don’t agree with everything Gary Barta has done (and no one should, for that matter), but Hawkeye baseball head coach Rick Heller has been his best hire, hands down. Yeah, yeah, I get that Barta hired Fran McCaffery. But Heller has single-handedly taken the baseball program to incredible heights. Iowa hadn’t won a Big Ten title until Heller led the Hawkeyes to the ‘ship in 2017. He took Iowa to the NCAAs in two out of three years, which says a lot considering the program had just three appearances in total before Heller’s arrival.

I’m probably biased because of the amount of time I spent at Duane Banks covering the team (I was in the press box till almost 2 a.m. one night but that’s another story). That being said, Heller is one of the most genuine coaches in Iowa athletics. Always took plenty of time out of his day to talk with us, and that stuff doesn’t go unnoticed.

Heller ended one of the final availabilities last season by thanking everyone for their coverage of the baseball program. This team deserves more of it.

BoilerHawk: Somehow I don’t have any grievances. I’m a little disappointed the season ended up only 9-3 and certainly the games were incredibly frustrating in the moment and I DO want things to get better but I don’t feel particularly aggrieved by it! I love this basketball team … so far … so if I have any grievances there it’s a proactive one where fans think this team is falling off because their schedule went to 11 and they have a rare lack of depth.

Ah, there it is:

Fuck this.

MattReisener: Iowa athletics aren't giving me many reasons for pessimism these days. But if there's one grievance worth airing on this most bitter of holy days, it has to do with the choice to award the 2019 Lou Groza award to Georgia's Rodrigo Blankenship over Iowa's Keith Duncan.

The 5-10, 180 lb. kicker may not be anyone's first choice to participate in the feats of stregnth, but he did more than enough to earn the Groza. Duncan made more field goals than Blankenship (a Big Ten record 29 to Blankenship's 25) while also kicking at a higher percentage (85.3% vs 80.6%). Furthermore, while Blankenship missed two crucial field goals in Georgia's loss to LSU during the SEC Championship, Duncan hit the game winning kick to beat Nebraska in Lincoln, only to mercilessly taunt the stunned Husker fans afterwards.

In the immortal words of Frank Costanza, “you dont need glasses Rodrigo, you’re just weak.”

Iowa also doesn't beat Illinois, Purdue, or Iowa State had Duncan not rained blows upon them by making four field goals in each of those games, so there's that to consider.

On-field exploits aside, Duncan deserved the award for the context in which his miraculous season occured. After making the game winner against #3 Michigan as a freshman, Duncan finally earned back his starting job after two seasons sitting behind Miguel Recinos only to instantly be called upon to be the savior of an offense that was seemingly incapable of converting redzone trips to touchdowns. That is a LOT to put on a walk-on. Furthermore, since Duncan wasn't on scholarship, his family incurred over $170,00 in debt over the course of his college career as they helped pay the way for him to pursue his dream. All this for some inane voter to (allegedly) tell Duncan that Blankenship was more deserving of the award because it's harder to kick field goals in the SEC because of the humidity (see this interview with Miguel Recinos for context: https://anchor.fm/washed-up-walkons/episodes/73--Miguel-Recinos--WUW-073-e9hnpg)

So to the voters who were too distracted by all the tinsel on their christmas trees to look at the stats before casting their ballots, I hear your little Groza Award stinks! You couldn’t smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a babe...ahh, I lost my train of thought.


And now for the feats of strength. Come on and fight your father! Festivus isn’t over until you pin me!

You guys wouldn’t happen to have any grievances to air, would you?