By Adam Jacobi on September 14, 2022 at 9:00 am
Bob Stoops cameo screenshot / Bob Stoops

SCENE: 8 am sharp, in a stately office on the west side of Iowa City. A silver-haired man sits at his desk, impeccably dressed but also wearing the stress of 96 unpleasant hours and counting on his visage. In one of the seats, another silver-haired man, much wearier, and wearing a high-performance sweatsuit. A sharp knock reports from the office door, but it's cursory, as the man on the other side lets himself in with a calm urgency.

Fran Stare  Morning Gary.

Barta  Morning, Fran. Have a seat.

Fran Stare  [He has a seat.]

Fran Stare  Look, as soon as I found out—

Kirk Ferentz icon  I know, I know. I know you well enough. You were trying to do a good thing.

Fran Stare  I mean, what kind of Hawkeye fan does whoever did this think they are?

Kirk Ferentz icon  Fans like these... 

Fran Stare  I mean, you can imagine my horror when Connor texted me after it went up. Turns out there is some benefit in knowing people who pay attention to this crap. Speaking of which, he should—

[Another perfunctory knock, before a young man peeks his head through.]

Barta  Connor, please, have a seat. We won't keep you long.

Connor McCaffery icon  Thanks, Mr. Barta. Hi, Mr. Ferentz.

Kirk Ferentz icon  [would rather be anywhere else on the planet right now]

Barta  So you're a podcaster, you know online.

Connor McCaffery icon  I... sure. Yes. Yes sir. I know online.

Barta  How bad is the damage from this Cameo thing?

Connor McCaffery icon  It, well... it's barely...

Fran Stare  No, c'mon. Tell him.

Connor McCaffery icon's all over the place. There's reporters sending it out, the hit website Go Iowa Awesome dot com, I saw some pretty big podcasters... there's this one guy with like 50 thousand followers who keeps his account private because he likes posting chicks with their tops off from OnlyF—

Kirk Ferentz icon  We done here?

Fran Stare  Connor.

Connor McCaffery icon  OK yeah sorry. It got all over the place. Everyone knows it's a troll, nobody thinks either you or him did it on purpose, but they're eating it up. Look.

Kirk Ferentz icon  Yeah, they got Bobby good. If he bit that hard on play-actions when I was first coaching here, Hayden would have stapled his ass to the bench.

Connor McCaffery icon  Also, we did some damage control, Patrick posted a tweet about how the money's going to cancer research.

Kirk Ferentz icon  Oh, well, sounds like the important work's done.

Barta  Now Kirk—

Fran Stare  Well hang on. Kirk, look. I know this is tough for you. I know how much Brian means to you. And your whole family has my whole family's full support. You know that. 

Kirk Ferentz icon  Thank you.

Fran Stare  And I also know a thing or two about how difficult it can be to adjust the reality of your dreams for your kids. I mean, I'm not exactly raising the Murray twins. Ha, ha, ha!

Kirk Ferentz icon  Ha, ha, ha!

Barta  Ha, ha, ha!

Connor McCaffery icon  hey

Fran Stare  And I also know, as a father, that the bigger a shadow we cast, the more we get used to having our sons under it.

Fran Stare  I've got one more year coaching this guy, and I'm awful lucky to even have that. And then his future's out there. Probably a couple more seasons with Pat. We're real lucky for those. Jack, hopefully, but I can't take that for granted yet.

Fran Stare  These kids know I love them, I'd do anything for them. But... as a father, I also want to see what their shadow looks like. Maybe not today. But soon.

Kirk Ferentz icon  I appreciate you telling me that.

Barta  All right. Well, glad to know things are solid here, but I gotta put this fire out ASAP. Here's a framework our people drew up, just a couple sentences for you to sign off on, and let's move the hell on already. 

Fran Stare  Gladly.

Barta  Oh! Almost forgot the other important part. You got your phone on you? Can you look up who bought the Cameo? 

Fran Stare  Yeah—I can get you a username. Let's see... "Cameo purchased by user xcdad1016." There you go.

Barta  Like cross-country? Kirk, you in bad with any cross-country parents?

Kirk Ferentz icon  Christ, Gary.

Barta  Fair. Hey, Secretary?

Iowa's secretary who is not necessarily Pam Beesly  Yes?

Barta  Can you run me a list of all the fathers of everyone on our cross-country teams? And 1016, 1016... can you flag if any of them have a birthday of... October 16?

Fran Stare  Oooh

Kirk Ferentz icon  [points excitedly] 

Iowa's secretary who is not necessarily Pam Beesly  Legally I'm not sure I—

Barta  Just figure it out. We have a traitor in our midst.

Iowa's secretary who is not necessarily Pam Beesly  Yes sir.

Barta  Look at that. Cracking the case as we speak. And everyone claims I'm not smart.

Kirk Ferentz icon  I thank the lord every day that you're my boss, Gary.

The four men idly chatter, pleased with the strength of their detective work and solidarity. The air in the room feels a hundred times lighter.

SCENE 2: Reckon about 8, in a dusty, hay-filled barn in downtown Ames. Chickens peck through stray seeds lit by the morning's fresh beams, peeking through the wooden doors. Chilly morning, but the city boy at the desk in the middle of the barn doesn't mind -- keeps the skeeters off his neck for another hour or two. Several cross-country accolades, for he and his children, adorn the barn walls. A horse whinnies over yonder.

Secretary  Excuse me, sir?

Jamiekins Yes, Secretary?

Secretary  We got an email yesterday evening, an unusual charge on your corporate card. $310 charged to something called... Cameo? Should I report it as fraud? Did we get hacked?

Jamiekins Oh! Ha, ha. I was just looking at some promotional material. A legitimate expense. Bill it to football promotions - special projects.

Secretary  Yessir, right away.

Jamiekins Football's ours now! Ours! 

Jamiekins And now I... I... I'm no longer inconsolable! I've never been so consolable in my life! Nyeahahahahahahahaha!


Jamie Pollard smiles a horrific Photoshopped smile

Thank you to our most extraordinary friend Tom Ksobiech for the idea. If you are dissatisfied about anything contained in this story, it is exclusively his fault.

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