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Monday Musings: Tussled Champions

Big Ten West Champions For Life

Illinois v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

This season has been an inner battle between what I know and what I love and Saturday was once again no different. I get so angry and I get so bored and I get so happy and I get so excited and I get so emotional and I get so angry and round and round I go for three straight hours. It’s probably why some of these games feel like they take months to finish. There’s not many things in life that put you on such an emotional rollercoaster and yet leave you begging to ride it again by the time the following Saturday rolls around.

It’s abusive and loving and sick and nurturing all at once. Hey, at least they make us feel something!

In my heart of hearts, I really thought this thing was going to start getting apathetic after that Minnesota *loss*. I thought it was over. I didn’t think Iowa had a chance in hell to get back to Indy. They just lost the Pig, they just pre-fired their OC in what was the weirdest/out of character week that Iowa Football has seen in 20-years (and there have been some weird/out-of-character weeks with this program). I thought Brian and Kirk were going to mope their way to the finish line, or at least retreat so far into themselves that they’d get tripped up by at least one of these remaining teams on the schedule. It’s not like Bert or Northwestern haven’t put Iowa out of their misery in the past.

But some how the ol’ ball coach does what he always does... he first got his team to buy in and through them, he got all of us to buy in and laugh our way to Indy. AGAIN.

This is one of the things I think about when people say “It’s Great to be a Hawkeye”.

We survive.

Laugh at us all you want. The proof is in the pudding. Is it a little bland? Of course it is, look at the cook. But you don’t have this type of longevity in the kitchen and you don’t pass Bo without having something special about the way you whip it up (sorry, I have Thanksgiving on the mind).

For everything this season was and was not, Iowa got to the place most of us hoped they would. They punched their ticket to Indy and now we all get to go drink the town out of beer again all the while convincing ourselves we have a punchers chance (I already think we can make JJ McCarthy’s life a living hell at minimum). We are Rocky Balboa.

And quite honestly, Iowa will probably go into that game a BLOWN call away from having one loss and making things much more interesting when it comes to the playoff picture (ESPN and the Big Ten must be bonusing out those officials as I write this for saving them from even the small chance of having to do the unthinkable...putting Iowa in the playoff).

And they did it all with a pretty lame OC (more on him in a few) and yes, substantial injuries.

I’m not one to use excuses in-season, but I do think it’s important to remember them when looking back. The Iowa offense even at full strength was never going to get Brian his per game total that he needed to hang on to his current role as OC. But after seeing how things have matured (especially since the bye-week) I do think it’s fair to say that it would’ve been enough to compete in Indy had Cade McNamara and Erick All and Luke Lachey and hell, even Cooper DeJean (as a wrinkle) were able to stay on the field.

For everything this offense is not, they have at least kept pushing to find ways to move the ball when it’s absolutely necessary. Complimentary football baby. Can’t stop it. To think what that may have looked like with the guys we’ve does make you wonder.

I know, I know, it probably would still look the same as it has for the better part of three years now. BUT! It’s hard not to believe we wouldn’t be encouraged, especially after watching this unit come together at the most important junctures in two of the last three games.

The future beyond Indy and the Bowl Game does look promising.

If you allow me to look at the forest through the trees for a brief minute, the offensive line looks like one cohesive unit and should return all but one starter next year. The running game is working and working well with the three headed monster of Kaleb Johnson, Jaziun Patterson and Leshon Williams. Kaleb Brown is an actual weapon and Addison Ostrenga is next in line to make a splash for #TEU. Even in the pit of despair, Iowa has found pieces to get the job done; especially when the defense and special teams needed them to.

And now all of these guys that probably wouldn’t have had much to do this season all know how to win. That’s valuable experience that no Iowa fan should snort at.

For all that it was and wasn’t, Iowa will be better for this next year.

And I know... it’s so Iowa to already be selling myself on next year.

Look, I know that the real reason these games make us all feel bored and anger and frustration is because of ONLY the offense. But that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t also been a tremendous amount of adversity that they, as a unit, have ultimately fought through and prevailed. Is some of that adversity the fault of those at the tippy top? Sure is! And that’s why The Bloodline is about to break up.

But despite all of it, everyone that’s left and able are all coming together to figure it out. Brian included.

And that’s why I tweeted that I was happy for Brian on Saturday after the improbable Kaleb Johnson scamper to take the lead.

Adversity generally shows you the true colors of a person... in this case it’s dressed in all black with no logos. While the majority of us in the stands and watching at home cannot take it anymore and are excited to see what Kirk does with that coordinator position next, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t get a little emotional watching the former Iowa captain and player and pretty damn good tight end and offensive line coach get swarmed by his players and coaches alike. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t happy that THAT was his send off at Kinnick Stadium.

The guy just poorly coordinated my favorite football team... he didn’t kick my dog. I have a soul. And that moment was effing fantastic and it perfectly displayed the realness of football. So often we get lost in the “hows” and “whys” of it all and we neglect the personal and the real. That celebration between a team and a coach, a coach and a coach, a son and a dad, was FUN.

And much can be said for this season at large. THIS WAS AGONIZING. BUT IT WAS ALSO FUN.

I’ll die on that hill. And I’ll be wearing my commemorative shirt while I do it.

So here we are, the FINAL Big Ten West Champions of the World...tussled hair and all.

That was the goal and the boys figured out a way to get it done. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of this team. I’m proud of being a Hawkeye. I’m proud of Kirk Ferentz and Phil Parker and LeVar Woods. I’m proud of these kids that didn’t let any of us get in their ears and quit when all hope was lost.

You think it sucked watching that offense for us? It had to of sucked for those kids at times too. But they just kept playing and winning.

That’s something that just doesn’t happen these days.

There are a few more games to go and a few more opportunities for this team to shock us all, but everything is exactly where it’s supposed to be this season and everything that should change is going to change for next year. And barring some radical decision by the Ol’ Ball Coach himself, we should be right back here next year, healthy, with a better offense (in theory) and positioned well to make these voters and the rest of the college football nation choke on Iowa Football some more.

And while that happens, I’ll still be here, standing in the corner screaming...

Ladies and Gentleman, my name is JERRY SCHERWIN and I am the advocate for the reigning, defending, forever undisputed Big Ten West CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLDDDDDD…THE IOWAAAAAAA HAWKEYESSSSSS.

Play the damn polka one more time!