It’s that most special time of year again! The air is crisp and fresh, the kids have a pep in their step and the aluminum pole is displayed with pride in the family room window. That’s right, it’s Festivus!
If you’re unfamiliar, let’s start by saying it’s not your fault - you’ve led a sheltered life without the proper forms of entertainment present. But it’s not too late! The greatest sitcom ever created about nothing is available for your viewing pleasure on Netflix, so hop on over after we’re done with the feats of strength and get educated in the 1997 episode titled “The Strike.” In the meantime, here’s your crash course.
According to Wikipedia:
Festivus (/ˈfɛstɪvəs/) is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season. 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.”
With that, let the Festivus for the rest of us commence with the airing of grievances!
When I was younger I used to scoff at the older generation - what were they always so mad about? I mean, the “old man yells at cloud” meme seemed all too perfect. But now I find myself getting older and I get it. The joys of life seem to be getting sucked away as one simple truth remains: we cannot have nice things.
Knock off a couple top-10 teams? They actually stunk. Climb into the top-5 nationally? Enjoy that two-game skid against unranked teams! Hey, you back-doored into the Big Ten Championship? Eat a 40-burger! Enjoying the greatest player in program history? LMAO you aren’t sniffing the Sweet Sixteen.
Over and over and over the rug gets pulled out from under our feet. Lucy yanks the football back. But we keep coming back for more. Is it so much to ask that we just get some of the things that every other program in America gets when they put the pieces together? For ONCE, can we just have that undefeated season end in a Big Ten Title and respectable bowl showing, can we get that true superstar hooper to lead Iowa back to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond, or at the very least can we get the solid recruiting momentum to actually sustain to the point where high profile players from outside the state start choosing Iowa?
Aw forget it - we’re getting none of, but we get to sit here and listen to everyone who didn’t hope, but expected those things to happen complain about firing coaches and benching players for eternity.
Look - Carver isn’t perfect. It never was. It ended up being built too early, as it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of, well, any arena built or remodeled after about 1990. It probably needs suites to get the older crowd that yells at people for standing too much out of the way so they can crochet in solitude, though with how the arena is configured that probably doesn’t work plus you’re likely displacing several teams for at least one season. The configuration generally is a problem to get fans close to the action. They definitely need to upgrade the food options outside of the excellent soft serve.
But some issues have been resolved (like better scoreboards; at one point in time we were told a hanging, central scoreboard was impossible...until it wasn’t), it’s still an arena that has excellent sight lines, and the logistics of the arena don’t seem to bother fans of other teams that occupy the space like women’s hoops or wrestling. “Oh no, there are too many stairs to climb to the concourse.” Really? That’s a you problem. Also, I assume anyone that isn’t a few rows above or below a gate entrance in Kinnick has the same complaint, right? They have to haul their asses up a lot of stairs to get somewhere. No? Not a complaint there, but it’s a problem with Carver? GTFO. Step up. The product is fun, they score a ton of points, yet somehow they’re drawing less than a sell out for Illinois, a team we had a total blood feud with not that long ago and is a hot rivalry again.
I didn’t mean for this to turn into a paragraph ripping the fans, but here we are, and also I sort of did mean for it to turn into that. Iowa basketball fans - cut the shit and figure it out. Carver isn’t the problem.
For the most part I feel like I’m a pretty content, rational Hawkeye fan. I bleed black and gold and love my Hawks. Lately, however, I am starting to let my Brian Ferentz frustrations boil over. Iowa lost a lot of experience on the offensive line from last year, including both tackles. That is not a recipe for success against quality opponents. We jumped out to a fast start against weak teams (this is you, Iowa State), but we were exposed by Purdue and Wisconsin. The Michigan beatdown was atrocious. The Hawkeyes are not blessed with a star quarterback. Heck, we’re not blessed with a middle-of-the-road B1G quarterback. That said, Brian Ferentz is in charge of our offense. Our offense has been hot garbage for much of this year. There are many who say that Kirk Ferentz is the one who puts the brakes on our offense and they may be right. If Kirk wants Brian to be a hirable offensive coordinator/head coach, he needs to take the training wheels off. If Kirk isn’t the reason we are the way we are, then Brian needs to “get promoted” somewhere other than Iowa. Kirk has enough friends in the business to facilitate this. How it is worded does not matter. The Hawks have had a very good season. With this defense and our special teams, who knows what could have been accomplished with a competent offense. Bah humbug (but still Go Hawks!).
I’ve aired plenty of grievances on The Pants Party, which is currently on holiday hiatus. They’ve largely been about the way Iowa football went about this season as an offense-optional outfit. But Bartt has that pretty well-covered and SirNicholas (welcome, by the way!) has a great Carver take which would make you-know-who blush.
My grievances are NINE MONTHS IN THE MAKING from Iowa’s short-lived NCAA Tournament run despite being tied as the highest seed in program history. So let me just ask, HOW THE HECK DID IOWA GO FROM PLAYING ONE OF THE LATEST GAMES ON SATURDAY NIGHT TO PLAYING THE FIRST GAME ON MONDAY? AND AGAINST THE ONE TEAM OUT OF THE 32 SECOND ROUND WINNERS WHO DIDN’T HAVE TO STEP FOOT ON THE HARDWOOD?
I mean, that’s some bad luck combined with some unfortunate logistics and yeah, Iowa probably still loses to Oregon (a Power 5 regular season champion stuck as a 7 seed) if they play a game on the evening side of noon after Oregon hypothetically beats VCU in a super late start. But still, I’m gonna think about that one for awhile.
After popping in to write this, I was reminded of the art attached to the top of this piece. I realized we’ve been using that photoshop rip for five years running. And it’s still relevant. There’s no reason to change it. It’s perfect.
Which brings me to the ultimate old man take: people are a little... old, around Iowa sports. I’m exposed to the youth filling up coaching spots across the country, and it leaves me wanting for more. The football coach is near 70. The basketball coach, who I am an ardent fan of overall, still has some tread on the tires at 62.
Still, I’m convinced we’re gonna be having the same conversations about Fran in a few years as we are Kirk now. Obviously I’m not calling for a complete overhaul of either staff.
Well I am, but that’s not realistic in either case and only advisable in one.
All I’m saying—I’d like a little more youth inserted here and there. When I look on the Iowa sideline, I see a head coach, defensive coordinator, and quarterbacks coach with a combined 195 years on this rock. There’s also some teenager sporting a bad haircut with them, but that’s kinda the point. He’s all alone. He has no peers, no one to chum it up with and boss around. So now, all the old guys make him chew Red Man.
When I look on the Iowa bench, I see Fran sandwiched between his trusted generals, another guy named Kirk and the dapper Sherman Dillard, who have 193 combined years between them. This trio of sexagenarians (that’s a real word, look it up) could end leading Iowa to something truly special—but that window isn’t guaranteed to be open forever.
It’s not a problem yet. But it’s nice to have this problem now, when you have the opportunity to address it on your own terms... and not someone else’s.
Now that we’ve gotten ours out of the way, you’re up Georgie boy! Let’s here those grievances so we can move on to the feats of strength!