I refuse to call any bowl flak and ask about Iowa.
What are they going to say? They’re hogtied by the possibility that a team they might diss will end up at their gift lounge in three weeks. Or, they’ll say how much they love such-and-such and such-and-such ends up wearing the other bowl guy’s hoodie in three weeks.
“Such-and-such absolutely is in the middle of all of our discussions,” Sponsored exhibition game president and CEO Smiley Face said.
Anyone feel enlightened? Didn’t think so. Waste of time.
I’ll make some calls, but keep an eye on the travel agencies.
So, why Iowa?
1. Fans — Even though this season was a disappointment by every measure, a certain percentage of you, the Iowa football fan, has made the bowl trip the vacation for the year. What percentage? I’m not sure, but enough to keep bowl people interested and Iowa fans’ reputation for “have bowl, will travel” intact.
2. Starpower– Debate performance all you want, Iowa has some fabulous players. This will be your last chance to see defensive end Adrian Clayborn get triple teamed wearing an Iowa uniform. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi would love to send the NFL one last piece of video to consider before April’s draft. Same for Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who, I think, combines well and maybe goes a step higher in the draft than you might think. Maybe.
Then, of course, what up with juniors Tyler Sash and Marvin McNutt? Stay? Go? Probably won’t know definitively until after the bowl, but that’s become part of Iowa’s bowl suspense the last two seasons. It’s a good thing.
3. Ferentz– Let’s run down the possible coaching matchups:
Outback: Ferentz vs. Saban. — Both worked for Bill Belichickwhen he was head coach for the Cleveland Browns (really?). Ferentz won the last matchup in the ’05 Capital One. Two teams that didn’t win as expected in 2010.
Gator: Ferentz vs. Urban — They met in the 2006 Outback, a game marred by horrific officiating. This time, maybe it won’t be officials from a rec flag football league in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Again, two teams that didn’t win as expected in 2010. Sensing a theme.
Insight: Ferentz vs. Pinkel/Gundy/Pelini — Yes, yes and yes.
Iowa fan, let go of that whole scheduling flap. That was 2004. The last hole it left in Iowa’s schedule was 2008. Then-Iowa AD Bob Bowlsby might still be carrying the grudge, but other than that, it’s a dead issue with Iowa.
If you need an issue to fire up for Missouri, look no farther than recruiting. Missouri has reached into western Iowa (Hoch brothers), while Iowa has set up shop in St. Louis (Clayborn, McNutt, Don Shumpert, Christian Kirksey and I’ll bet there’s one this year).
Mike Gundy has seemed to move beyond the “I’m a man, I’m 40″ thing into a fine football coach. He was the Big 12′s coach of the year this season.
And maybe, just maybe, the Insight gets the Iowa-Nebraska thing started a year early. I was on the Schick and Nick Show, 1620 KOZN The Zone in Omaha, earlier this week. I brought up the possibility of an Iowa-Nebraska Insight. They said that’s not one they’d heard.
I think Iowa-Missouri makes the most sense.
4. Beer — I’ve heard stories of Iowa people drinking bars in Tampa and Miami clean out of Bud Light.
If it’s not Tampa, you’ll have a new city to terrorize. You can do it.
5. It’s cold — In Cedar Rapids today 23 and partly cloudy, kind of like our lives are lit by a fading 40-watt bulb.
In Tampa, it’s 67 and cloudy but it’s straight sun the rest of the week.
By the end of the week in Jacksonville, Fla., it promises to be 68 and sunny.
This Saturday in Tempe, Ariz, it’ll be 78 and partly sunny.
Iowa will still be 7-5, but at least you’ll be wearing shorts.