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Throwback Thursday: Revisiting Hawkeye Football History With The Director, 2010-2012

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Things took a hard left turn following the 2009 Orange Bowl season.

Old State Capitol of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa’s history is long and great. And it’s certainly entertaining.
Photo by: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It’s been nearly a decade since BHGP commenter The Director took to the FanPost to educate us all on some Hawkeye history - the good, the bad and the ugly. Over the next few weeks as we prepare for football season, we’ll be revisiting these history lessons as they truly are great reading. The following was originally posted on December 20th, 2015. You can read the original here: A History of Iowa Football, Part IX: Sometimes Your Per Turns Brown.

All parts of this series can be found here:

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight


Iowa had just upset Missouri to take the 2010 Insight Bowl, but the underachieving 2010 season still rankled. On January 20, 2011, to start the new year with renewed commitment and vigor to the program, the Hawks ground through a grueling workout of squats and sled pushing.

You know, College Football is a difficult endeavor even under the most ideal of circumstances, and one is often subject to the whims of fate. Sometimes the bounce goes your way, other times it doesn’t. Sometimes you get the calls, sometimes you get robbed. Sometimes players quit, sometimes they get injured. But the somewhat downward trajectory of the Iowa football team after that Insight Bowl win in 2010 wasn’t defined by those possibilities. It seemed to be defined by this one:

Sometimes, your pee turns brown.

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A little background. I won’t flatter myself and say that anyone was anxiously awaiting another installment of my “Biased and Imprecise History of Iowa Football”. (1) In fact, I won’t even flatter myself and say that anyone even REMEMBERS the “Biased and Imprecise History of Iowa Football” series of FanPosts I wrote back in 2010.

You know what? Even I wasn’t waiting for another one. But with the season we are having, and the fact it’s been quite a few years, I thought.... well what the hell......why not....

...so if you DO remember those posts, and if you care to read more in that vein, you might remember when we last saw our heroes in Black and Gold. It was near the end of that fateful 2010 season, the season where we were going to be a top five team with all those returning seniors and go to the Rose Bowl to get redemption for the missed Rose Bowl of 2002 2003 and solidify a great incoming class of recruits and go on a five year run as THE force in the Big 10 11 12 1314, and so on. (2)

We’d just beaten MSU two years in a row; once shitting-your-pants close and once laughing-until-a-little-pee-comes-out not-so-close, so hell it looks like MSU isn’t going anywhere, right? We’ve got THEIR number! And Wisconsin, we’d beaten them in ‘08 and ‘09 so we’ve got THEIR number too! I mean, it’s 2010 and we’re ahead in this game, we’ve just held them on 3rd down, now all we have to do is cleanly field this punt and.... (3)

Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret Sparky: that ain’t what happened. In fact, some of what we saw on the field after the end of 2010 was pretty bad. As in:

I PRESENT TO YOU THE 2012 IOWA FOOTBALL OFFENSE:

But at least we Iowa fans may have a happy ending--for now (happy endings sure as crap ain’t guaranteed in college football, I don’t care who you are: JoePa, Spurrier, Woody Hayes, Tressel, Coker. The list of unhappy-ending National Champ coaches goes on and on and on). (4)

But now it’s 2015 and we got ourselves a Miracle 12-Win Season, with a real-live Rose Bowl against a Pac-12 Champion just ahead. Wowza! Who’da thunk it? With that in mind, let’s set the “Way-Back Machine” and see exactly how we got here. (5)

It was November 2010, and DJK was crying and hugging his parents on Senior Day in Kinnick Stadium. It was a moving moment for a senior playing his last home game, who also happened to be our all-time leader in receiving. That year had its ups (Sash to Hyde pick six!) and downs (It’s a fake punt!) and its way-downs (Terrell Pryor gets the first down! This is gonna be a win for the Buckeyes!).

But for DJK, it was even more of a downer as in: he went down. Waaaay down. No bowl game. No awards. No draft. No nuthin’. Hell, he went so down that on the post-season highlight video he was scrubbed out, like Trotsky under the old Soviet regime. DJK was DJ-GONE. Poof!! (6)

Somehow we upset 10-2 Mizzou 27-24 in the Insight Bowl, with Marcus Coker rushing for 219 yards and Micah Hyde returning, in zig-zag-like fashion, a pick 72 yards for six. But did anybody feel really good after that game? Did you feel like 2010 was a bump in the road, or a harbinger of things to come?

Harbinger. Definitely harbinger.

THIS DISTURBED RICK STANZI GREATLY, FOR REASONS THAT SHOULD BE OBVIOUS

Alright, on to 2011. What do I remember about the actual 2011 Iowa Football Season? Nada. Nuttin’. ZIPPO.

It was the season of “Even-Steven”. We went 4-4 in the BIG, and 7-6 overall with a loss to OU and coaching savior ex-Hawkeye defensive back Bob Stoops. But look at the games and scores of that year! What the hell? I’ve had season tickets for decades, and I swear to Flying Spaghetti Monster that I can hardly recall a single moment. (7)

What? We beat Tenn Tech to start the year? I KNOW I was there, but c’mon I can’t remember a thing about it! Then we lost to ISU in Ames in a 3 OT thriller 44-41 yet I can’t tell you a single play from that game, except for a vague recollection of an Iowa LB chasing a fleeter-of-foot ISU WR while “Yakety Sax” played in the background.

OK, I guess I do remember the Pitt game, JVB’s greatest triumph, and KMM’s as well (we seem to be a team with a lot of initials, ever notice that?) Big comeback at the end, lots of clutch passes to KMM, and we eke out a victory 31-27. But go down the rest of the slate, and I really have to take more shrooms think hard to recall those wins and losses: a win against NW, a loss to Minny, a win against Michigan (I only recall a bunch of UM fans whining about a non-PI call at the end of that one), a nondescript loss to NU in Lincoln. (8)

And then that defeat against OU in (and couldn’t you just see this comin’?) yet another Insight Bowl we were invited to, and to Bobby Stoops of all people, with the most damage done to us by a running QB (the BELLDOZER!), our players staring at him as he ran by, like they were seeing a naked lady for the first time and were paralyzed by fear.

The only thing remotely lively about that contest was this:

You know a bowl game is bad when the only excitement comes from an inanimate object trying to kill one of your players. This is awful, boring stuff, folks! I know I’m getting old, but when an entire YEAR of football goes by and you remember maybe four plays from the whole thing, something is a little....off.

Oh, something else I remember about the bowl game is this: does the Insight Bowl ALWAYS have to get done at about 1 am Iowa time? And does it HAVE to be in the middle of the week? I mean, my job requires at least a modicum of concentration and alertness, but this is what I look like at work the morning after watching a late-night Iowa Insight Bowl, which I was forced to do two years running:

OK, so maybe the zombie part is only one of my issues the morning after an Insight Bowl, but you get the basic idea. (9) Let me tell you, this is No Country For Old Men to have to stay up to 1 am to watch a camera fall and almost kill a player when that’s actually the best part of the game.

So let’s move on to 2012, shall we?

No, let’s not. That’s the year KF changed things up a bit and hired Gerg Greg Davis to “run” the “offense” with lots of lateral “pass plays” “designed” to be “effective” and “matriculate” the ball “up the field” and so on, the result being that--and no quotes are now required because this was the reality of it--we sucked doing all that. JVB, a once-promising QB, fit this offense like (insert Jerry Sandusky reference that cannot be used due to the prevailing PC climate), and the result was: BAD.

Like train-wreck BAD (see above, in case you’ve forgotten what a train-wreck looks like). Like have you seen the musical THE APPLE? Like it was so bad it makes THE APPLE look like THE MAGIC FLUTE kind of bad. It makes THE ROOM look like LA PASSION de JEANNE d’ARC kind of bad. It makes....well, you get it, I’m sure. (10)

Alright, so without looking, can you name the important things that happened that season? What was our biggest win? Was there a trend at some point in the year? What was the score of the ISU game? What is the capital of Nova Scotia? Do clouds make the wind blow? Is the Flying Spaghetti Monster better if you put a little salt in the water first?

Answers:

We lost to ISU in Kinnick 9-6. If you want a visual representation of that immortal contest, it’s the exact opposite of this:

This game made the Iowa-PSU 6-4 contest look like a Big 12 shoot-out. Five field goals! Not a TD in sight. And we lost! AT HOME. To an ISU team that would go 6-7, and 3-6 in the Big 12. They didn’t even have the courtesy to give us a “Fuck you safety”!

Our biggest win? We beat lowly MAC-y NIU in Soldier Field 18-17 and then all NIU did was run the table before losing to FSU in the Orange Bowl. Now, NIU was a quality team, but it says something when you’re biggest win is a) against a MAC team, and b) in your first game of the season. Hey, THAT’S what ISU does! Boy did it suck to be like ISU in 2012.

Trend? I’d forgotten this, but even though our offense stunk we started out 4-2 before getting red-hot and dropping our next SIX games in a row. SIX. Maybe intense hypnosis could bring out some memories of all those losses, but repression is a powerful tool and in 2011 and 2012 my psyche used it well to dull the pain.

Among those losses was the “DISASTER IN THE DARK” against PSU which crippled our O-line almost on successive plays, then the “MAY THE FITZ BE WIN OVER YOU” loss to NW, then a little contest known as “WE LOST TO INDIANA WE FUCKING JUST LOST TO INDIANA”, followed by the famous “PURDUE ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME PURDUE TOO?” defeat on the ole’ gridiron, then “BIG HOUSE MORE LIKE WE GOT BIG HOSED BUT NOT BY BAD OFFICIATING BUT BY BAD PLAYING BY OUR TEAM”, ending the season with the famed “Heroes Trophy” rivalry match against NU, forever to be known as “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST END THIS NOW JUST END THIS SEASON NOW BEFORE I FUCKING STROKE-OUT”. (11)

It was an unsuccessful year.

And yet, if you look at attendance, we still consistently drew over 70,000 at home per game. Think about that! Two of the least memorable Iowa seasons in a row, and the fans still showed. More on that when we get to 2014-2015.

Nevertheless, those 2011-2012 teams were never 1973 Iowa Football bad. (12) If you look at the players on those teams, there was some talent: Reilly Reiff, CJ Fed, Carl Davis, Micah Hyde, Jordan Canzeri, JVB (who I maintain was never really as bad as he was), Marcus Coker, AJ Derby, James Morris, Anthony Hitchens, Jonny Mullings. And we had coaches who had been proven more than competent in the past: Reese Morgan, Phil Parker, Chris Doyle, Rick Kaczenski. But college football isn’t just a game of inches, it’s a game of tenths of inches, and Iowa never could put it all together: one year we had a strength here, but a glaring weakness there; another year we had injuries; another year we had some difficulties with coaching and player attrition (cough-Kaczenski-cough); and another year everyone’s pee looked like this:

Yeah, so we slightly overworked our players in January 2011, the result being that 13 of them were hospitalized for treatment of Rhabdomyolysis, including a few who might have turned out to be pretty darned good at Iowa if only their pee hadn’t turned brown.

Yes, THIS was the harbinger we were all afraid of, not some goofy book by Jonathan Cahn!

I won’t get into the ins-and-outs (or maybe it should be ups-and-downs, given that overdoing squats was part of the blame) of Rhabdo, but suffice it to say that it was a brown pee black eye for all involved. And rumor was that some rival coaches (cough-Dantonio-cough) were using it against us in recruiting, which did not further endear ol’ Marky Dan to K Fair (though I’m sure Ferentz could not help but notice that Dantonio protects his defense from getting Rhabdo by having them take unannounced rest periods near the end of games).

A show-of-support coaching award was given to conditioning coach Chris Doyle, who I’m sure was devastated by this episode, and I’m sure it bothered Kirk Ferentz tremendously, too, since he is a truly decent man whose own children play/played for Iowa (three at last count, noting that James was on the team that got Rhabdo, so it literally hit home for them).

The episode hit national news, a study was written by a UIHC physician for a medical journal about it, and now of course there are the inevitable lawsuits by a couple of the players affected. If one was looking to set the tone for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, it would be hard to find something worse to do it. And it did seem to affect the team. How could it not? You’ve got coaches who feel responsible for the ill health of 13 players, you’ve got players who feel like crap and are scared as shit, you’ve got players’ parents who are pissed off, and you’ve got the national media breathing down your neck. Total nightmare. OF COURSE it affects the team. Ah, the fickle hands of fate.

Still, it’s always interesting to ponder the “what-ifs” of Iowa football, isn’t it? What if KF had started Ricky Stanzi to begin the 2008 season? What if Jermelle Lewis doesn’t blow out his knee? What if Jon Beutjer had not gotten cable? What if we’d stopped Bielema’s fake punt call in the 2010 Wisconsin game?

What if 13 players’ pee hadn’t turned brown just after the 2010 season? We’ll never know. (13)

But enough of 2011 and 2012, which, like brown pee, eventually has to be flushed and forgotten. The season of 2013 would turn out to be a little bit different, and a lot better, and a lot more fun.

COMING SOON: THE HISTORY OF IOWA FOOTBALL PART X: TWO KIRKS, ONE BOWL

Attention: Please buckle your safety harness, stow your belongings, and stay seated, because the Rollercoaster Ride is about to begin!

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FOOTNOTES:

(1) OK, so in 2010 I wrote an 8-part series on the history of Iowa Football which, perhaps, someone smarter than me can even link to, since it still exists in the server space of BHGP. If you want to get fully caught up, stop here and go back to 1890 when we played--and lost--to teams like Doane, Grinnell, and other heavyweights of their day. You’ll hear about how Iowa played a game in front of no spectators in the influenza epidemic (and threatened to bayonet those who might try and watch it), how we were kicked out of the Western Conference (the old Big 10), and how Evy never ever won a popularity contest in his life. But I digress.

(2) Someday, I fully expect the Big 10 to contain all 128 teams presently playing Division 1 football, which would simultaneously simplify and complicate things immensely.

(3) Yeah, I know: we got kind of bad, and Wisky and MSU got really, really good. “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an Men, gang aft a-gley” (or something Scottish like that).

All I know is this: I just wanna’ live off the fat of the land. Is that so wrong, George? Is it? Hey, George, why are you standing behind me. George? Geor--

(4) I never ceased to be amazed how fickle college FB can be. In 2010, is there anyone in the U.S. who thought that JoePa would not just be disgraced, but DIE disgraced after the 2011 season? You know, I could add other names to this list of National Champ-winning coaches who left the college game in bad graces or after highly unsuccessful seasons: Pete Carroll (USC), Howard Schnellenberger (when at OU), Barry Switzer (OU), Dennis Erickson (ASU), Phil Fulmer (U Tenn). This year, it was almost Les Miles. College FB coaching is a ruthless business.

(5) Anyone remember the “Way-back Machine”? It’s only from the greatest cartoon series of all-time, The Adventures of Rocky And Bullwinkle. A sharp person would bring this back, and hire a bunch of ex-Simpsons writers to script it. I know I would watch it.

(6) The DJK saga is worth a series of its own. He was a hero to fans, though often “not in good standing” with KF. Then he was one of the most reviled players in Iowa football history. Now he’s slowly creeping back into everyone’s good graces and with fond memories, especially if one subscribes to his Twitter feed (I don’t) which is (from what I’ve seen when people post his stuff) surprisingly entertaining and illuminating at times. DJK is, from all appearances, a clever, intelligent dude. Honestly, I’ll never understand why he did the things he did, and why it had to end the way it did. It was sad, and it made me sad. And then the Athletic Dept erased him from the video? I thought that was just plain weird.

(7) Seriously, I had to look up just about every game from 2011 and 2012 to recall who beat who. A few individual games stuck out to me--like Pitt 2011, UM 2011, PSU 2012--but it amazed me how those two seasons just ran together into one big mess.

(8) I do recall an amazing catch by Marvin McNutt in 2011 against MSU where he--while running full speed--reached BEHIND him and one-handed pulled the ball BACK to his body hardly slowing one bit. This was the 2nd best catch in Iowa FB history.

The best? A Deven Harberts diving, twisting end-zone grab against Purdue in 1988. There’s footage of it on YouTube that I’m too stupid to figure out how to embed here, but it’s worth seeking out all the same.

(9) In my defense, I recall that it was ”Casual Friday” the morning after the Insight Bowl.

(10) If you have NETFLIX, do yourself a huge favor and watch the documentary about Cannon Films called ELECTRIC BOOGALOO. It...is...tremendous. Not only will those of a certain age repeatedly shout “Crap, I remember THAT movie!” that you once saw at 1 am on Cinemax, you will also see all of the best parts of all those 1 am movies you watched on Cinemax. And by that, I mean: Bo Derek naked.

(11) There’s this trend to nickname games with a single phrase, and I admit it’s getting annoying. “The Play”, “Kick Six,” “Memphis Miracle”, and so on. We even have our own: “Seven Got Six”, everyone knows what game that was. But I admit that I am tiring of it. Especially in games we lose, like “The Drive”. I’m sure that’s how MSU will forever remember it. (Bastards!) I dunno’, maybe I’m just a sore loser.......

(12) Much like 2015, we had an unblemished regular season record in 1973; however, it was unblemished by victories, not losses. Yes, we went 0-11 that season, and the games weren’t even all that competitive (our closest margin of loss was 8 points). That team gave up 50+ points three times, and 30+ points eight times, noting that the most Iowa scored in a game was 23. However, I loved their uniforms, which we need to wear in a sort of “reverse jinx” throwback game against a weak MAC team someday, so we can say that, at least, we won ONE game wearing them.

(13) Alright, here are the ins-and-outs of Rhabdo. Young highly competitive athletes are a set-up for it. They have a high muscle mass, they like to drink protein drinks, they like to drink alcohol, and they do (compared to normal schlubs like me, and probably you) unusually taxing, vigorous, and sometimes unique workouts as a part of their athletic training.

Put that all together, and you have people sometimes peeing brown. Honestly, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often, though I suspect it does but may go unreported or unnoticed by the afflicted. In 2013, six OSU women lacrosse players had to be treated for Rhabdo, so it’s not exclusive to male athletes. And if you can believe it, there have been documented Rhabdo episodes not just from vigorous workouts, but also conga drumming (!), mechanical bull riding, and walking extreme distances. So if you’re a conga drummer--pace yourself, alright?

I suppose you are thinking: well, I’m not a conga drummer competitive athlete, so I’m not going to get Rhabdo, am I? Unfortunately, there is a subgroup of likely BHGP readers who are in one of the classic Rhabdo situations. It goes like this (and I’ve seen it happen first-hand):

You are a college student, and you’ve just gotten done with your last Final. Paaaaaarty!!! You get hammered to the Bejesus-bells and go back to your apartment and crash. All night you’ve been drinking alcohol and peeing and drinking more alcohol and doing more peeing, so you’re already more than a little on the dry side. But man are you drunk as hell. Your roomie is nowhere to be found, so no one even knows you’ve drank this much and zonked out in your room.

Two days later, your concerned roomie--who just noticed that he hasn’t seen you since Finals--finally rouses you. Sonofabitch but your muscles hurt like hell! You go pee and hardly anything comes out, but what does come out is brown. You feel like shit.

Congratulations! You have Rhabdomyolysis. You probably won’t knock off your kidneys but you will spend a week in the hospital, though you might need dialysis to tide your wounded beans over for a while. Yes, this happens, more often than you might believe. So IF you’re in college, and IF you want to paaaaaaarty!!! after Finals......be careful, my friend. Be very careful.

To quote Forrest Gump: “And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”