Correlation & Causation: The Dolph Curse

By DREW245 on March 10, 2019 at 8:51 am

Twitter (@GaryDolphin)


Post hoc ergo Iowa Suc?

In light of the less than inspiring performance by the men’s basketball team, fans have been quick to point out a correlation between this March basketball malaise and Gary Dolphin’s absence. Shortly after Dolphin’s first suspension, following his hot mic commentary on Maishe Dailey, the Hawks let a winnable home game against Wisconsin slip through their fingers. A few days later, Iowa was entirely out-classed in East Lansing against MSU. Of course, the current 3-game losing streak follows Dolphin's most recent suspension (save snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against Indiana), leading some to believe that a curse has fallen upon the team.

Alas, this nefarious correlation raises the question: did the former event cause the latter event? Can we pinpoint the cause to the team’s anemic offense and its 233rd ranked scoring defense to the suspension of a play-by-play radio announcer? Is the fate of the team doomed to be subject to the arbitrary whims of external (and seemingly unrelated) forces?

Obviously, the answer is an emphatic YES. Correlation IS causation. Everybody knows this. See the chart below:

Reliable Source

Clearly, Iowa’s past success and failure across all sports have been influenced by events that preceded them. It’s time that we finally shed light on this phenomenon in Iowa football and basketball history.

Adam Vinatieri

The Iowa Hawkeyes are in the midst of 14 year conference championship drought in football, having not won at least a share of the conference crown since 2004. Prior to this drought, the Hawks were able to take home two championships in the 2002 and the 2004 seasons. Should we attribute the success of these teams to Kirk Ferentz, who won Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in both seasons? Perhaps the stellar defenses for both teams deserve attention, since both finished in the top 25 in total defense. Or maybe it was the resilience of both squads, working through off the field adversity, and finishing the regular season riding a 9-winning streak in 2002, and a 7-game winning streak in 2004.

Nope. We have Adam Vinatieri to thank for these championships.

That’s right. The former New England Patriots kicker kicked the game winning field goal in the closing seconds of both Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl XXXIX. When did those Super Bowls take place? You guessed it: 2002 and 2004. Adam Vinatieri has yet to kick last second field goal to secure a Super Bowl since 2004. Iowa has not won a Big Ten Conference title in football since 2004. So why didn’t Iowa win the conference title in 2009 and 2015? It’s evident that the 46-year old kicker from South Dakota is at least mostly responsible, if not entirely.

Richard Dreyfuss

Although the Iowa men’s basketball team has put forth a number of kick-in-the-pants performances in high stakes games, the one that really sticks out in my mind took place on March 17, 2006. This was the day when the 3rd seeded Hawkeyes’ season ended in a last-second, heart-breaking, nausea-inducing, program downslide-initiating buzzer beater to [NAME REDACTED STATE] in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Iowa’s 19 turnovers did little to help them advance to the Round of 32. Letting a 15-point lead with less than eight minutes left in the game slip away certainly didn’t help either. Of course, Greg Brunner failing to secure a 3-point lead at the free throw line in the last 15 seconds might be the most agonizing contribution to the upset.

But what was really the cause to Iowa’s defeat at the hands of a 14 seed? Don’t overthink it, folks: it all boils down to Richard Dreyfuss.

Yes, the Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Mr. Holland’s Opus star did something the day before this game that had a DIRECT impact on its outcome, and that’s this; he married Russian bombshell, Svetlana Erokhin. Now I’m sure that the uninitiated audience might have a few questions regarding this theory. What does Richard Dreyfuss have to do with Iowa basketball? Who the hell is Svetlana Erokhin? Didn’t Richard Dreyfuss also play the narrator in the 80s classic, Stand By Me? With regard to the first and most important question, the devil is in the details...this was Richard Dreyfuss’ third marriage. Guess which 3 seed in the NCAA basketball tourney was destined to lose its game as a result? Guess which school has yet to win an NCAA tourney game as a 3 seed since these two have been married?? Yeah. The truth hurts. That said, sources tell me that we should all aspire to watch Mr. Dreyfuss' filmography.

Monkey Business

The 2006 Outback Bowl is one of the most frustrating bowl outcomes in Iowa’s bowl history, and for obvious reasons. The team’s 7-4 record going into this game was enough of a disappointment, having started the season ranked #11th in the country. A lethargic performance in the first half put Iowa in a 17 point deficit against the Florida Gators at halftime. Lastly, the Conference USA officiating crew miiiiiiiiight have had an impact on the game. All eight of the game’s penalties were called against Iowa, including the infamous offside call on the onside kick at the end of the game (which might not have even been the most asinine call of the game). Revisit and re-agonize at your own risk.

However, it is time to make manifest the true source of that game’s woes. The unmistakable cause of Iowa’s misfortune that day was nationally-recognized and even acclaimed icon the day before this game (New Year’s Day 2006). This perpetrator’s spell over Iowa athletics would run dormant for over 13 years after this game, but would return to wreak havoc in a mere 3 weeks ago. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you...KONG!

However, it is time to make manifest the true source of that game’s woes. The unmistakable cause of Iowa’s misfortune that day was a nationally-recognized and even acclaimed icon the day before this game (New Year’s Day 2006). This perpetrator’s spell over Iowa athletics would go dormant for over 13 years after this game, but aye, it would return to wreak havoc a mere three weeks ago. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you...KONG!


This film stood atop the box office, and as a result, the game was lost before it had begun. So there you have it, folks. Here is your undeniable proof that King Kong had an immediate impact on the outcome of the ‘06 Bloomin’ Onion Classic...and on Gary Dolphin’s fate in the 2019 men’s basketball season...and on the team’s recent losing streak. As much as I detest the impact that the cinematic icon has had on our beloved Hawkeyes, I do tip my cap for the stellar foreshadowing. Ergo, all we fans can do is hope that the whimsical forces that tangentially determine the outcomes of Iowa sports contests will have pity on our sluggish basketball squad.


...maybe the team and the coaching staff can regain their composure and make their own luck in spite of the off the court distractions. Eh. Who knows?

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