We live in sad, complicated, frustrating times.
On Saturday night at 8pm CT, the first college football game of the year kicked off. It was an FCS game featuring two teams most Hawkeye fans don’t care about and some have never even heard of, but it was college football and it was live. It wasn’t a replay of some great game or a video game simulation, real live college football was on our TV screens.
Like everything else, it was bittersweet. College football, we can all likely agree given this is a community of fans of Iowa sports, is good. We enjoy it. We like watching it and more, not less, of it is what we would prefer. So having it back on our televisions was a good thing.
I sat in my living room, kids in their beds, with a cold beverage and simply enjoyed watching what was an objectively not great football game. There were missed tackles. There were penalties. There were turnovers. There were digital whistles that came super late. There were a LOT of incomplete passes. It. Was. Sloppy.
Two botched snaps in one half of football— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 30, 2020
Check it off the 2020 Bingo cards❌
But there was also a tight end with a neck roll truck-sticking defensive backs. There was a turnover top hat and staff. There was a tight end with a neck roll truck-sticking the opponent’s equipment (I think it was a giant AC unit?) 8 yards out of bounds. There was three quarters of QB pooch punts, including some coffin corner dimes. There were some great catches and hard hits and big runs and everything we love about the game.
With all the bad came the good and we were reminded why we love watching college football so much. It was glorious.
Central Arkansas is the team that most likes playing football, and I think this is the Central Arkansas player who most likes playing football pic.twitter.com/oFidkIznvx— Jason Kirk, This American Life's cornhole expert (@thejasonkirk) August 30, 2020
But as much as I enjoyed watching, I couldn’t help but be reminded that our beloved Hawkeyes won’t be doing that next weekend. They won’t be doing it the weekend after either. As far as we know, the earliest they could be doing it is Thanksgiving and even that is a stretch at this point.
As miserable as it is to think about college football without Iowa playing, it is equally miserable to be watching a college football game and thinking to yourself, “not only is it frustrating and disappointing that we won’t get to watch Iowa do this, it’s impossible to even write about it without the bickering.”
I had a similar thought when the news broke last week that several Big Ten coaches were supposedly on the phone working on bumping the planned January start date up to Thanksgiving. I am a college football fan. I am an Iowa Hawkeye fan. The idea of getting to watch the Hawkeyes play football at any point during this God forsaken year is a breath of fresh air. But any insinuation that such joy may be felt is met instantly with pushback from a subset of the community.
“There isn’t going to be a season.”
“They shouldn’t be playing anyway.”
“We wouldn’t be in this situation if XYZ.”
The flip side is also true. Any mere mention of the fact we aren’t having a fall season, or that the changes that have occurred make it almost impossible for games to not look like what we saw on Saturday night or that a spring season, if it were to be played, will be stripped of loads of talent that will leave for the NFL and will have lasting impacts on players who will be left playing virtually a calendar year straight and you’re hit instantly with any number of reactions.
“These kids are more likely to die from alcohol than COVID.”
“It’s safe enough for them to be on campus but not on the field?”
“This will all go away come November.”
And on. And on. And on. On both sides. It’s deafening and it’s maddening on both ends. There is nothing that can be said or done in the current environment without it immediately devolving into politics. This is an Iowa Hawkeyes fan site. It is run by fans, for fans. This isn’t a political site or the local news channel’s website or your uncle’s Facebook page. We aren’t reporting on anything that inherently should be political and we certainly are doing our best to keep any of our staff’s own political views out of anything posted to the site. We ask that you do the same.
It’s a sad, frustrating and divided world out there. That holds true regardless of your personal political views, your experience with COVID-19 or your take on how schools, athletic departments and the like should be proceeding.
Beginning this week, college football begins its true return. Following Central Arkansas’s 24-17 win over Austin Peay in week 0, there are nearly a dozen games spread from Thursday to Monday this weekend. None will involve the Iowa Hawkeyes or any other Power 5 program. We will still be talking about college football.
We will also be starting our look back at some great games in Iowa history, watching them as if they are live each week and covering them through both the lens they were originally viewed and through our newfound context. We know the outcomes already, but we’re watching nonetheless.
We’re doing these things because we are a fan site for Iowa athletics. This is supposed to be a reprieve from the realities outside the sports world. As those outside realities continue to creep inside our sports bubble, it is difficult to separate the two, but when it comes to this site we must. There is a no politics policy for a reason. It’s a simple one: when comment devolve into politics nobody leaves happy. This community was built on the fun camaraderie of Iowa fans talking about Iowa sports and leaving everything else out of it. Let’s get back to that and enjoy what little escape we can create from that sad, complicated, frustrating world all around us.