A matter of perspective

I always find a great deal of humor when a group of people get so worked up about an issue that they actually lose all sense of adult reality about it.
It happens a lot in politics, religion and family. But mostly, it happens in sports.
Both my wife and I attended the University of Northern Iowa (she graduated from there and I did from Mount Mercy), but when it comes to “big time” college sports, most Iowans are expected to come down on one side or the other of the decades long debate: Iowa vs. Iowa State.
While I will admit that I did get caught up in all of the 1980s hoopla about the re-birth of Iowa football, deep-down, my loyalties in this whole discusssion have always faced west (as in Ames).
I was a Cyclone fan first in wrestling in the late 1960s in the era of Dan Gable. When Iowa State began its run of five bowl games in the 1970s, I was in the middle of it all. I actually applied at both UNI and ISU when I was making my college choices (and ended up choosing UNI based on the fact that more of my buddies were going there which was dumb reason, but that’s a column for another time) and was accepted by both. Never even considered Iowa.
But now it’s almost 40 years later. The Iowa-Iowa State debate goes on, and obviously, the Hawkeyes dominate the headlines. And, frankly, they should.
Iowa has the bigger stadium, more of the press wrapped around its little finger and better financial support. Through the Big Ten Network, they have made a fortune.
Yet, this year, the Black and Gold has stumbled. A team that was lauded as the Big Ten champs, a BCS team and even a possible National Championship contender has shown itself unable to finish games, confused and at times even out of shape. The senior class what was supposed to lead the Hawks to greatness is likely leading them to a New Year’s Day date in the Gator Bowl against Florida — basically a home game for the Gators. That’s a long way from the Rose Bowl.
The Cyclones, on the other hand, probably overachieved this year. Four years removed from a questionable firing of Dan McCarney and two years removed from Gene Chizek’s gutless quitting on the program, ISU has had back-to-back near-.500 seasons. Coach Paul Rhoads has taken the team to bowl an within a couple of plays of another. And that has been mostly with players two other guys recruited. This year, the Cyclones played what was ranked in the pre-season as the toughest schedule in BCS football. Yet they went 5-7, and were pretty much two plays from being 7-5.
Frankly, Rhoads is a great coach; he’s not afraid to take chances, he wears his loyalties on his sleeve and says the words that all coaches should say to his players every day, no matter what happens: “I am proud to be your coach!”
And don’t get wrong, I’m not including all Hawkeye fans in this discussion by any means. The majority of Iowa fans are fair. But what I am talking about are the self-entitled, arrogant, and frankly childish segment of fans. I’m talking about the ones who refuse to give Iowa State credit for anything. I’m talking about the childish ones.
I’ll be honest; I love to poke fun at the Iowa fans who are childish. They thunder their loyalty and blame losses on everything but the fact that their team just might not be as good as they thought they’d be in August. You know, back when they expected the “stars to align?”
And oh Lord, do they hold the wins over Iowa State over everyone’s head. It’s like they conquered the Roman Legions as opposed to being a Top 10-ranked team beating a team in a major rebuilding process. Iowa should have won that game, should have won by a lot and did. But it was a huge deal and was treated as such. As a wise man once told me when it comes to winning games you should win, “Act like you’ve been there.”
So anyway, that’s my rant. To the Hawk fans who aren’t childish, I do hope they do well in the bowl game. To the others, instead of acting entitled, you might want to act grateful you’re even going. Like I said, “act like you’ve been there.”


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