ClassyHistory: Who's Got It Better Than Us? Not Many.

By ClassyHawkeye on December 3, 2021 at 4:02 pm
go hawks go
© Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Four weeks ago, I was in a bad way.

It was October 30th, and I was storming out of Camp Randall Stadium as Wisconsin fans and students bounced around to "Jump Around"—the cherry on top of a nightmarish afternoon for Iowa football in a 27-7 loss that wasn’t really that close.

I had never left a Hawkeye game prematurely, but two weeks removed from a demoralizing home loss to Purdue and 21 days after rushing the Kinnick Stadium field following a seemingly monumental 23-20 win over then-#4 Penn State that had a lot of Iowa fans (myself included) thinking CFP, I couldn’t take in any more of the failed stretch runs, the back-to-back fullback dives, or honestly anything else of what looked to be a suddenly lost season. I had had enough.

The loss in Madison dropped Iowa to fourth in the Big Ten West and it felt at the time like the Hawkeyes would struggle to finish just 7-5 at that point in what was going to be another failed run at reaching Indianapolis for the first time since 2015 and only the second time ever.

Oh, how a month can change everything.

Four straight wins and some help from a boat of some kind up north and Iowa is surprisingly heading east for the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday against #2 Michigan.

Ah, who are we kidding? This is quite shocking.

It's shocking mostly because of Wisconsin's loss at Minnesota last Saturday. Count me among the many that felt the Badgers would find a way to hurt us again. It was also a bit startling because I had actually become content with Iowa's lot this year prior to their game at Nebraska: 10 regular season wins, a shared Big Ten West title, more wins over most of its rivals, and a nice bowl game.

This contentment at first felt like settling, but after the Gophers' upset sent the Hawkeyes to Indianapolis, I realize this whole time I should've been celebrating.

I admit I can get a bit "all or nothing" with expectations like this is the New York Yankees or something. I have to remind myself periodically of the inherent challenges at a program like Iowa and how we aren't close to matching the talent that Michigan or Ohio State brings in each season and that likely we never will with how college football is constructed. And that's OK.

So for as much as I want to win this weekend... like more than I've ever wanted anything sport related ever... I think it's time we all just shut up a little and appreciate how good of a season these Hawkeyes have put together. I'd argue it will go down, win or lose, as one of the greatest seasons in school history.

Here are some figures:

  • This is just the seventh 10-win season for Iowa in the last 30 years
  • Not counting bowl games, this is only the fifth 10-win season for Iowa in the last 30 years
  • Of those seasons, Iowa has won the Big Ten only twice (1990 Iowa won the conference at 8-3)

Also, Saturday will be only the third winner-take-all conference title game for Iowa ever (2009, 2015, 2021) Disclaimer: 2004 vs. Wisconsin isn't included because it wasn't a clear winner-take-all contest.

Keep in mind as well that while this is the Hawkeyes' second-ever trip to Indianapolis in December, for all of the hype and the four- and five-star talents that a program like Michigan brings in each year, this will be their first-ever appearance in the Big Ten Championship game in its 11-year history.

So you can see, this is not normal territory for Iowa or most programs. These facts show that not only should we all cherish the opportunity this weekend, but also that this was still a very successful season for Iowa had the Badgers beaten the Gophers last weekend and kept the Hawkeyes home until bowl season.

10 regular season wins for only the fifth time since 1991 is pretty damn special for this program and take it from someone who goes through the ups and downs of a college football season more than most people.

But for as much as we all desperately want them to pull off the upset over the Wolverines, know that the 70 Hawkeyes in that locker room probably want it just a little bit more than us.

If you don't believe me, ask the greatest coach in college football history. His rant went full viral in response to Alabama fans' criticism of their season and the lack of appreciation they have for what the program has accomplished over the past decade.

Think of that. If Crimson Tide fans, who have seen more winning in the last ten years than us Hawkeyes fans will likely see maybe ever, aren't eternally satisfied with what Saban has done, then nobody will. 

Iowa has now won 9+ games in three of the past four seasons, and if a full season was played last year I would wager they'd have made it four out of four. The players and coaches have elevated this program since 2017 and we're enjoying a run of success rivaled only by the early Kirk Ferentz teams from 2002-2004.

College football is supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be really fun when your program is winning. So, ask yourself, why are a lot of us so miserable when our program is winning more than most?

And that's why we should put this season in perspective and feel it's OK if they don't win Saturday night. I've come to realize the sacrifice these players have put themselves through—a ringer over the past four months that takes much more effort than what I've put in as the screaming, half-drunk alum coaching the game from the stands at Kinnick.

As I departed Madison last month I left this Iowa team for dead. I thought there was zero realistic chance of them winning their last four games, and the mere thought of reaching Indianapolis was laughable. At that time, I wanted anyone still talking about winning the West to just shut up.

Well, it's time for me, and a lot of us who get out of control with our expectations from this program, to shut up. And Saturday night this Iowa team, a 10.5-point underdog, will have its opportunity to shut the world up.

These players have killed themselves since the spring to win 10 regular season games and get this non-blue blood program 60 minutes away from a Big Ten Championship. This season has already been a complete success.

And for that they should be celebrated, win or lose.

(whispers) But please win.


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