They are the vocal minority. They are Iowa Hawkeyes fans who would like to see the Iowa-Iowa State football series get unplugged.
It’s a no-win game, they cry. If we beat the Cyclones, we get no credit because that’s what we’re supposed to do. We’d rather play some other BCS team.
Sure, instead of having a built-in game each year with a Big 12 team that’s only a 2-hour bus ride away, arrange home-and-away series work with … who? Wake Forest? Vanderbilt?
If you think an LSU or Florida State is lusting for a home-and-away with Iowa and ABC/ESPN is hot to carry such a matchup, I hope your world has fewer wars and more electric cars than ours.
Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta has said he wants the series with the Cyclones to endure beyond the end of the current contract that runs through 2017. Hawkeyes football coach Kirk Ferentz said he’s all for the series. I think they mean it, but even if they don’t, they surely realize the public-relations black-eye dropping Iowa State would cause inside and outside the state.
This is ground I’ve covered here before, but I’ll repeat it: Barta and Ferentz are right about this, and sensible people know it.
First, about Iowa having no business losing to Iowa State. Sure, a lot of Hawkeye fans think that. Living in this state, they’re fully aware much of ISU’s football history has basically been pushing a piano uphill. Its all-time Big 12 record is 40-98. That needs no editorial comment.
But at least the Cyclones have had some marvelous moments the last few years. And in those last few years, the wins the Cyclones touted the proudest weren’t the ones over Iowa. Winning at Nebraska in 2009 and at Texas in 2010 and at Texas Tech in 2011 and at TCU in 2012 were really good.
In fact, Iowa State is one of just six teams in the country with road wins over ranked teams in each of the previous three seasons.
However, it was the double-overtime triumph over then-No. 2 Oklahoma State on a November 2011 Friday night in Ames that was ISU’s coup de grace, way, way larger than any victory of the nine it has posted over Iowa in their previous 15 meetings.
That prime-time shocker on ESPN left a deeper impression on America than any Hawkeyes win since No. 1 Iowa beat No. 2 Michigan in 1985. It easily resonated more from coast to coast than the Hawkeyes’ Orange Bowl win over Georgia Tech in January 2010.
But the shelf life for that upset over the Cowboys has almost expired. If you asked someone in New Hampshire or New Mexico which of Iowa’s two FBS programs has made a mark in college football lately, they’d probably say neither. So let’s cut to the chase.
If you have two FBS teams from different conferences in the same state, you should play each other. Florida’s gotta play Florida State, Utah’s gotta play BYU. Iowa’s gotta play Iowa State.
The silent majority might ask “Why is this even being discussed? Neighbors shouldn’t be neighborly? In Iowa?”