I know this column is usually reserved for a sort of recap/assessment of the most recent Hawkeye football game, but I am taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to talk about something that is deeply important. This is an issue that is profoundly serious and impacts us all as Hawkeye football fans, but has gone undiscussed for far too long:
The Pancheros Burrito Lift is a complete embarrassment and should be discontinued immediately.
Now perhaps you haven’t been fortunate enough to attend a Hawk game Kinnick in, oh, say, the last decade-and-a-half, and don’t know what I am talking about. That is overall a bummer for you, but on the plus side, you have been spared the experience of having to endure the worst marketing gimmick/stadium “cheer” in the history of the human species. At some point during the game, cameras will pan around the crowd looking for willing rubes who will awkwardly flail their arms in the air while on the Jumbotron they can be seen “lifting” (If you call a shitty plug-in graphic of a burrito asynchronously moving up-and-down "lifting") a giant-sized burrito while the song “Pump It Up” by some weirdo named Danzel blares unpleasantly on the loudspeaker.
Now before I go any further, none of this is an indictment of Pancheros as a product. I love Pancheros and eat it weekly. Like a lot of you, Pancheros is inextricably linked to my college experience. When I want to relive my more carefree years, I head to a Pancheros at night, spin around 100 times in the parking lot and stand around dizzy in the back of the restaurant for a half hour, before ordering a burrito, chips, and two helpings of queso.
That this marketing sham denigrates something I love is part of what makes it so awful. If this were promoting a product I hated, I would shrug it off as exhibit J why that product blows chunks. Instead, when I watch the Pancheros Burrito Lift, I’m stuck wondering not only if Pancheros is actually terrible, but if everyone and everything that I’ve ever loved is in fact vile and grotesque.
If you were to ask me what makes the Pancheros Burrito Lift so repulsive, I would start with the conceit itself. The point is to raise your hands in the air, but raising them as if you just really do care about keeping this stupid burrito airborne. There is no narrative or context or purpose. It isn’t like we need to lift this burrito to save “Queso Jim” from being crushed to death or something. It is supposed to be some sort of irreverent, hedonistic pleasure flinging a boulder-sized burrito up-and-down. It isn’t. Plus, if we are being honest, this “Burrito Lift” is really just the inbred cousin of “Raising the Roof.” “Raising the Roof” was not cool in 1999 and has only become less cool in the last couple of decades.
Now you may be thinking to yourself here that simple movements can nevertheless create fun in-game rituals, citing something like Wisconsin’s “Jump Around.” That’s a fair point. You know the difference between that and the “Panchero’s Burrito Lift?” A song that isn’t complete dogshit. “Pump it Up” has all the charm of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” with a fraction of its musical nuance and incisive lyrics. The only thing this song makes me want to pump up is my desire for early-onset hearing loss.
If whoever created this monstrosity was determined to stick to their “pumping things up” guns, why not go with “Pump Up the Jam” by Technotronic? A song that is actually good, silly, retro 90s fun? We know why. It's because that song would have cost actual money whereas somebody that works for Pancheros found Danzel wandering Iowa City stoned and offered him a shot of queso for a non-exclusive license to use his music, and he gladly accepted.
There is nothing creative or entertaining about the Pancheros Burrito Lift. I have hated it most of my adult life. When it comes in Kinnick, I stand there scowling with two thumbs down in judgment of the exercise and all the dopes around me that participate in it. In local Iowa City elections, I wrote in “Pancheros Burrito Lift” for the joy of voting against something I hated. It is a dull, lifeless, corporate nightmare constructed with the sole purpose of sucking the beauty out of life. Perhaps the most maddening thing is that it would take such little effort to improve upon it. Literally almost anything would be better: T-shirt cannon, “fresh-pressed high fives,” “the cheesy queso smile cam,” Hell, even spraying the crowd with scalding hot queso would be better. Death to the Pancheros Burrito Lift.
Oh yeah, there was a game yesterday, too. This game against Colorado State was gross, I’m glad it's over and I don’t want to do an in-depth recap. CSU’s halftime lead was built in the first half on two short drive caused by a shanked punt and an absolutely atrocious interception and was fueled by a staggering 9/13 third down conversion rate. In the second half Iowa got a turnover and an awesome punt return by Charlie Jones to set up two short touchdown drives for the Iowa offense. CSU’s 3rd-down conversion rate cratered back to Earth and they achieved almost nothing offensively. Game over and good riddance to the non-conference slate.
*I’m at peace with Spencer Petras as a game manager. It's probably not enough for the College Football Playoff but probably is enough for a Big Ten West title. The interception was terrible, but the play call itself was worse given the few passing plays Iowa is clearly comfortable running in the red zone. Aside from that play, Petras has avoided turnovers and picked his spots, including a few very pretty deep balls.
*That said, Iowa’s offensive line play is poor enough that it could tank any hope for a Big Ten West title. We’ve focused a lot on Petras early, but the offensive line is the real Achilles’ Heel of this offense and team. The predictable and staid running game is astoundingly bad and it isn’t Tyler Goodson’s fault. There are two or three dudes waiting for him at the line of scrimmage on every play. Opposing defenses are going to feast on this offensive line. Brian Ferentz needs to get real creative real fast, because Iowa is not winning the Big Ten West with a YPC of under two yards, even if they had stellar QB play.
*But this defense will keep Iowa in every game regardless and we are likely headed for some nasty, ugly, low-scoring football games. After two weeks against the Big Ten East, a bevy of bad quarterbacks await Iowa in the Big Ten West. Put it this way: if you held a gun to my head and asked me to pick the best QB in the division, I would probably say Adrian Martinez. I would then probably ask you to pull the trigger anyway.
*Aside from the defense, the other bright spot is that Iowa’s special teams are easily the best in the division. Even though Tory Taylor was out-dueled for one of the first times in his career (shout-out to CSU punter Ryan Stonehouse, who was as good as advertised), Charlie Jones gave Iowa the special teams advantage today with a 16.5 yard average on his four punt returns on top of his solid kick returns. Look around the Big Ten West and you will see multiple teams whose awful special teams play are cement boots dragging their seasons to swim with the fishes.
*Factoring in all of that, I have no idea what my expectations are for this team, other than a series of hair-pulling, stressful defensive slugfests. Iowa’s Big Ten West title hopes are likely coming down to a couple of really stupid plays in October and November. Here’s hoping those stupid plays break Iowa’s way.