This is a new and mysterious place Iowa football enters today, something you wouldn’t have dreamed of just two years ago.
A Friday game? A Black Friday game? Against Nebraska? Nebraska of … the Big Ten?
Speaking of which, what do Nebraska fans have in mind? I called a few who were generous enough to give their thoughts on the Huskers’ play this year, Nebraska joining the Big Ten, and the Iowa-Nebraska “rivalry.”
Chad Arens, 28, sales director for a media monitoring company in Omaha:
“A growing sentiment — I don’t know if it’s 50 percent of the fans yet — is we’re kind of sick about the way things are going. It kind of seems like we’ve hit a wall here. The recruiting doesn’t seem to be going really fantastic, or at least it hasn’t. We don’t have the special athletes in terms of skill positions. The line play has been subpar.
“It’s frustrating to see a Nebraska team get pushed around. That’s something you don’t really get used to. It’s frustrating to spend money on a program and watch them look very lackadaisical and not prepared well.
“What we’ve seen from the Wisconsin game (a 48-17 Huskers loss) and the Michigan game (a 45-17 Huskers loss) was not getting beat, but getting absolutely destroyed.”
Bob Bonge, 67, retired in Lincoln:
“There are probably a few people hollering for Bo’s (Pelini) scalp, but for the most part people are happy.
“For 40 years, we kind of got used to 9, 10 wins a year. It kind of shocked us a little bit for a couple, three years when we didn’t have years like that. There had been kind of an sense of entitlement that we should play for a national-championship every year. The reality is we may end up 8-4 or whatever, and it’s still a good year.”
Bryan Gottula, 25, works at an advertising agency in Omaha:
“Around these parts, there’s always a certain level of disappointment if you don’t get a conference-championship or reach the BCS level. You’ve got to try to look at the big picture and see there is improvement being made. There are more ways we can improve, but we’ve got to realize we had a young and inexperienced team coming in, and try to look at things objectively.”
“I like the stability of the Big Ten. In the long run it will mean more money, and that leads to greater facilities. I think everyone’s enjoying the TV coverage (of the Big Ten Network).”
“I love it (moving to the Big Ten). It’s probably the best thing that’s happened to us. Number one, it’s nice to be out from under Texas. When the Big 8 and Southwest Conference combined, Texas kind of rode herd on the whole thing. It’s nice to be away from them.”
“I talked to Ohio State fans, and everybody said how well they were treated here at Nebraska. Ohio State people said we’re not like they are at Wisconsin.”
“The Big Ten rolled out the welcome mat for us by having us play pretty much all the big teams from the other division. I went to our games at Wisconsin and Michigan. Wisconsin was tons of fun. It was definitely a different experience than Manhattan, Ames, Columbia. I didn’t find anyone to be rude, though.
“With the instability of the Big 12, you could have been on a sinking ship. You didn’t really want to hitch your wagon to that.”
“I definitely think Nebraska-Iowa will be a rivalry that will happen with time, but it’s hard to call it that right now.
“I think it’s got to grow a little bit. I don’t think it’s a real big rivalry until you’ve played every year for a certain amount of time. I think it will be a good rivalry, a game people will want to see every year.”
“I’ve always been a Nebraska fan. My parents are from Nebraska, but I grew up in Humboldt, Iowa. I think Nebraska fans look at Iowa as an inferior program, a bit of a little brother. We definitely don’t want to lose. It’s a big game. There’s definitely more hype and buzz about it. I think the Iowa game is getting more blood boiling.”