The time has come once again, to continue a tradition as old as time. The air is crisp and cold, the kids home from school and the aluminum pole is displayed with pride in the family room window. That’s right, it’s a Festivus for the rest of us!
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 about nothing ever created 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 annual airing of grievances!
Ho! Oh ho ho! Boy do I have problems! WHERE do I EVEN start?!?!
Oh, I know, how about with a loss to freaking EASTERN ILLINOIS! There’s a line of excuses as long as there are complaints about Iowa’s offense in football, but if you add them all up you still get a 20+ point win for the Hawkeyes. Correction, make that 30+. It’s like Vegas didn’t account for all those issues when they slapped a 31.5 point line on the game. And yet a complete lack of effort, intensity or give a damn from everyone not named Filip Rebraca means Iowa is now a fun stat you can impress your old high school buddies with at the bar when you’re home for the holidays this year.
Before Wednesday, teams favored by 30 or more points were 558-0 over the last 30 years. Which is to say, Iowa’s loss to EASTERN F*CKING ILLINOIS was the WORST loss in the modern college basketball era. THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE OUR SOLACE FROM A HOT TRASH FOOTBALL SEASON!!
And speaking of football, WHAT THE ACTUAL F*CK! The coaching staff did absolutely nothing to supplement the offensive line last offseason (ok, so they got in on a couple transfers but with no NIL in place maybe spread a wider net??) and then doubled down by doing absolutely nothing schematically to help one of the worst position groups we’ve seen on the field in Kinnick in a LONG time. No chips from RBs, no keeping the TE in, no rolling the QB out or sliding the pocket or even quick passes to slow guys down. NOTHING.
Granted, Spencer Petras is not exactly a mobile guy so rolling him out wasn’t a great option but then again, HOW WAS THERE NOBODY ON THE ROSTER CAPABLE OF COMPLETING 50% OF PASSES AND EVADING SOME PRESSURE?!? Now you want to sell us on the idea that Joey Labas can do that? LOL yeah if that works I’ll help light the torches and hand out pitchforks because that should have been the plan four months ago. If not, why did you have to waste one of the best defenses in two decades to realize the transfer portal was a necessity at QB???
I mean, you’re paid handsomely to figure this stuff out. So...
My grievance this year is a longstanding one: Iowa sports’ dogged unwillingness to let its fans have nice things and enjoy moments of success for even a few minutes. Just when things were starting to look up with the transfers of Cade McNamara and Erick All and two big wins by Iowa basketball over their in-state rivals, Hawkeye fans have been bombarded with one bit of bad news after another. If not for Caitlin Clark balling out and setting scoring records like a boss, Hawkeye fans would be absolutely despondent heading into the holiday season. My editor giving me an outlet to air my many grievances in the midst of this tsunami of suck is truly a Festivus miracle. Let’s look at the last week alone:
-Iowa football’s most decorated recruit in modern history flips his commitment to Alabama at the last possible minute, leaving the Hawkeyes scrambling to fill a major position of need. Meanwhile, linebacker Ernest Hausmann, the player rated as college football’s #1 transfer portal prospect, picks a Big Ten rival over Iowa and erases much chance of the Hawkeyes reloading at linebacker after losing Jack Campbell, Seth Benson, and Jestin Jacobs.
-Iowa basketball sleepwalks through one of the program’s worst losses in decades and ends up on the wrong side of college basketball’s biggest point spread upset of the modern era. Kris Murray is still out, and Connor McCaffery, playing maybe the best basketball of his career, is apparently dealing with yet another injury, this time to his wrist. Both players are forced to sit by helplessly as their teammates jog listlessly down the court and play flat-footed defense while one of the worst offenses in college basketball torches the Hawkeyes for 90+ points.
-All-American safety Kaevon Merriweather announces his intention to opt out of the Music City Bowl, depriving the Hawkeyes of one of their best players at a time when the program could really use a win to generate momentum heading into next season.
What a fitting way to wrap up 2022, a year that saw Iowa basketball follow up a Big Ten Tournament Championship with a Round of 64 exit in the NCAA Tournament and Iowa football follow up an inspired victory over Minnesota by choking away the Big Ten West title against a god-awful Nebraska team. I have no clue what 2023 has in store for Iowa athletics, but given how fleeting its successes tend to be, I’ll make sure to enjoy it while I can before life decides to rain blows of bad luck upon them once again.
I haven’t read what the others have written before this publishes yet because I have INTEGRITY, but I assume their grievances are similar to mine: the COASTAL ELITE New York Mag named 2022 the year of the Nepo Baby (short for nepotism, I’m gonna vomit), and well you could say the same thing about Iowa sports.
Ferentzes. McCaffery’s. They gotta go. And so does the guy who gave let them push their weight around and gaslight us into thinking mediocrity was greatness.
I’m sick of seeing fathers and their failsons on my television screen. I’ve been giving Fran some slack, but after watching him give certain players too much slack the past few years, I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t!
For the past two years, I’ve tuned in on Saturday’s to watch a football team operate without a quarterback. Then, during that same timespan, (longer really) I’ve tuned in to a basketball team operate without a point guard. Those are offenses that would get a coach fired many places, and at least on the hot seat everywhere else. Instead, we’re fed soundbites and feel good stories and promises of messianic change that next year will be better.
No more! I’m done! I’ve had it with these million-dollar white-haired men and their un-athletic and tacky sons.
Will I allow myself the warm bosom of embrace if and when these programs reach something I can be proud of? Perhaps.
But until them, I’m going to become an insufferable wine, coffee, and film snob on TikTok.
My grievance? A lack of winning in the major sports. I’m tired of not winning trophies or deep tournament runs, so I’m going to whine about it here. I’ve never seen Iowa win the regular season Big Ten title in men’s basketball. I will become a man next October, when I turn 40, and the streak outdates that by 4 1⁄2 years. Iowa hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 since 1999. I was 15. I might go 25 years between appearances? They couldn’t stumble into two wins in three days in March once in that timeframe? Seriously?
We’re closing in on 20 years between Big Ten titles in football. That will get much harder with USC and UCLA joining the league soon.
Our birthright - winning in wrestling - has been spotty at best and unless Penn State has multiple guys get hurt between now and March, Iowa’s somehow going to get just a single team title with Spencer Lee in the team.
Women’s basketball at least wins things, but even then, they get stuck in a rock fight last March and lose in the second round, at home.
I’m going to go take a shot now.
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! Festivus isn’t over until you pin me!