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!
The Hawkeyes won ten games this year. We have Caitlin Clark selling out arenas across the country. Even the Rams are finding ways to win! So what could I possibly be mad about this time of year?
How about some freaking offense, huh? I know, I know, dead horses and all, but this is the airing of grievances and if Iowa’s offense isn’t offensive to you, you don’t have a pulse. And now that we’ve finally moved on from Brian (no thanks to Kirk), we get to watch Kirk go out and find another yes man from his own coaching tree to continue with the same garbage we’ve seen for the last decade or so.
IS IT SO MUCH TO ASK FOR A MOBILE QUARTERBACK LIKE THE ONES THAT TOOK YOU TO THE PROMISED LAND?!?!
And then there’s Fran. Thank goodness for basketball season so we can see some offense. But can we just have ONE team that chooses to play on both sides of the field/court?? You don’t have to be totally inept at defense to be an efficient offensive team and you don’t have to be miserable on offense to still have strong defensive principles. This group of Hawkeyes has actually shown an ability to crank up some pressure so to me, when they are playing lousy defense it’s just plain laziness. There’s no place for that in high major college athletics.
And finally, can Caitlin Clark get what she deserves? I’m not talking about national recognition - she’s got that in spades. I’m not even talking about a national title, though that would sure as hell be nice. But can she just get the mantle to herself?
Nothing against Angel Reese, but - wait, no. Yes, it is something against Angel Reese. She’s half the player Clark is and did absolutely nothing to grow the game or further women’s athletics and she is for some reason lauded alongside Clark at every turn. She’s not even top-two on her own team and we are naming her co-athlete of the year? WHY??
If Reese hadn’t chased down Clark on national television, 95% of the country would have no clue who she is. And if the SEC cared at all about academics, nobody would know who she is.
Stop watering down what Clark has done by mentioning the Bayou Barbie in the same breath. And can we at some point start giving Clark the kinds of calls every other male great has received in their prime?!?
Where’s the Tylenol?
So, we took care of that whole Brian Ferentz thing. Or Beth Goetz did, anyway. It was time. I am going to continue to be disappointed in Kirk and Brian for quite some time, however. What could have been... Now, on to my current gripe. I have been mostly ok with Fran McCaffery as our hoops coach. Fran is one of the best offensive coaches in the country. I have thought for several years that if he would hire a defensive-minded assistant coach (and emphasize this), Iowa would have two Sweet 16s under his watch. Whether it is right or wrong, college basketball coaches are graded on the Big Dance. Fran has had success in the B1G tourney, but we fall flat on our beaks when the lights are brightest. I grew up watching Ronnie Lester, Kenny Arnold, Vince Brookins, Special K, Greg Stokes, et al. I LOVE Iowa basketball. I currently am more interested in the women’s program (not a bad thing) as we know what we have on the men’s side. A team that likes offense, doesn’t try on defense, and a coach who will freak out on occasion. I’d love for Fran to roll with our young guys who at least bring effort on the defensive end. If not, I’d be fine with Fran hanging up his whistle.
At the risk of leaving something out, I’m limiting myself to half a dozen grievances, or else we’d be here all day, so here goes:
- I did not think it was possible for Iowa’s offense to be worse than it was in 2022, then it was. I suppose we can’t get any worse than dead last. If Kirk’s new OC (be it Chryst, Frost, Philbin, or whoever) can’t put a halfway decent offense on the field, it might be time to seriously consider accelerating the Kirk Ferentz succession plan.
- I’d really love it if Fran would spend as much time coaching defense as he does getting T’d up and ejected from games.
- College refs have been getting worse every year, but good god damn they were just horrific this year, and I’m not just talking about calls that went against Iowa. Every game that I watched had so many bad calls. The NCAA really needs to have professional, full time, officiating crews, and that goes for all the revenue sports.
- The NCAA can pound sand for not allowing Noah Shannon to play a single game this season.
- I’ve had just about enough of the “wait until USC/Washington/Oregon offenses show up in the B1G” talk, I honestly can’t wait to see them play B1G defenses in Minneapolis, Madison, Ann Arbor, Lincoln, Iowa City, or Columbus on a blustery November day when the windchill is hovering around -10.
- There are 41 bowl games this year, 41. Let’s cut that in half and up bowl-eligibility to 8 wins (which would leave 4 teams on the outside looking in this year). It’s ridiculous that you only have to win half your games to make it to the post-season. No team with a sub-.500 winning percentage (looking at you PJ) should ever play in a bowl game again.
My real grievances are with Iowa football wasting yet another championship-caliber defense on a team with a JV-caliber offense and the Iowa men’s basketball team’s decades-long inability to get to the Sweet 16. But given how much ink I’ve spilled writing about those two topics over the years, I’ve decided to pick another target to rain blows upon this Festivus.
As an avid sports watcher, college football bowl season used to be one of my favorite times of the year. Great teams from different conferences would play opponents of similar caliber on a neutral field, and fans would get one more chance to watch their favorite program play one more high profile game before its seniors graduated and its NFL-caliber players started defecting to the league. However, the advent of the transfer portal and proliferation of postseason opt-outs has reduced games that would have been the capstones of successful seasons to glorified scrimmages. So many matchups that would have been must-watch TV during the regular season have been devalued due to the loss of impact players from one or both teams. Who wants to watch Notre Dame vs. Oregon State when both teams are playing their backup quarterbacks? How about LSU vs. Wisconsin with both Jayden Daniels and Braelon Allen missing from their respective rosters? Players should have the freedom to control their own destiny and protect their future livelihood and transfer prospects by not playing if they don’t want to, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch games between two teams with 10+ players in the transfer portal while wondering what could have been. If college football wants bowl games to matter again, the powers that be should seriously consider reforms that would put bowl season BEFORE the selection of the playoff and the opening of the transfer portal to incentivize players not to skip these contests and turn them back into feats of strength they once were instead of the holiday sideshows they are today.
This is definitely some recency bias, but the way Kirk Ferentz described Iowa’s offense earlier this week irked me to no end. Comments on the Run and Shoot. Mentioning June Jones.
Look - I spend a ton of time here, as both a commenter and as a contributor. I spend a ton of time on Hawkeye Report. I went to school at Iowa and most of my friend network went there as well. I have never, ever seen or heard anyone in the Iowa fan base make a legitimate, good faith argument about the need to change the offensive concept to a run and shoot or an air raid. NO ONE is saying this. No one is asking for June Jones (though he was a quarterbacks coach at both the collegiate and professional levels of this sport; I AM asking for that in the next offensive coordinator hire).
What we want is an offense that isn’t struggling to gain 10 yards in 3 plays. Iowa’s offense has basically reset to 1978 and we’re all collectively Hayden Fry watching game film and noticing Iowa fans losing their minds about something as simple as gaining a first down. What I want is an offense that actually does complement the rest of the team. We want competence and an actual plan to solve the offense. We’re on Year 3 of trying to solve this. So solve it. This is not too much to ask.
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!