When you wander through a summer of semi-drought and then over a month of near constant rainfall, it’s easy to forget how beautiful Iowa weather can be. On the one clear day last week, my wife and I found ourselves driving to Osceola to see a junior high volleyball match, the colors were beginning to turn and the timbered areas and pastures along Highway 34 were beautiful.
“I can’t imagine not experiencing the change into fall,” my wife said.
It was dreary again Friday, most of Saturday and Sunday, then autumn broke out on Monday and we’ve had this magnificent cool, clear weather, with the leaves seeming to change to brighter, more vibrant colors by the minute.
If candidates for state office had any courage, they would pass laws shutting down all business and schools on days like we’ve had this week and force people outside to enjoy. It would be terrible for the economy and cost the state loads in lost work, but I guarantee you’d gain in the long run because of better attitudes about life in general.
In fact, the weather is so good, it’s hard to drum up something to complain about, even politically. I met my son-in-law heading into our deer hunting area around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and typically we will have something to say about local, state or national politics, Alabama football or health care issues (my kids are in the business), but we stared up at a bright, clear night sky and I simply congratulated him for having a day off to enjoy the morning.
Bob Bowlsby should have stayed in the Big 10 instead of joining the Big 12 as its commissioner and bringing a pucker butt attitude into the league. He announced a $25,000 fine against Iowa State University and its student body for “field-storming” after the brilliant Cyclone victory over West Virginia.
The West Virginia coach, Dana Holgorsen, who couldn’t even bring himself to congratulate ISU for its win (it was all West Virginia’s poor play) complained to the Big 12 authorities about the students pouring onto the field, saying it was “unprofessional” and a threat to his “students’” safety. Okay, first of all his “students” are 200-300-pound elite athletes dressed up like gladiators. Unless one of his student managers was at risk (which they weren’t) he’s got nothing to whine about.
Secondly, when did becoming a college student or college student football fan turn into “professional” status? I mean, do you take classes? Are there some sort of licensing rules I’m unaware of?
Last year ISU students stormed the field after a big win over TCU and nobody said anything. Although both men and women stormed the field to celebrate the victory, I’m convinced this is the continuing saga of minimizing masculinity. I don’t advocate mob violence or tearing up property, and I get that things can quickly get out of hand, but the fact is nothing happened. Since alcohol is no longer sold in the stadium and the drunks who wandered in from tailgating had three hours to sober up, booze wasn’t a factor. College kids were running around on the field turf finding black uniformed players to hug.
What’s the harm?
It was the first game of the 1971 high school season when my South Tama teammates traveled to Williams Field in Des Moines to play East High, ranked fourth in Class 4A at the time. Quite literally, there were still buildings smoldering in the area from riots a year ahead of that and the place was crawling with police and adult men wearing red jackets with the words “Red Dads” on the back. It was the way the east side of Des Moines was trying to restore order post racial/Vietnam violence in most cities across the U.S.
We were told to wear our helmets from the locker room to the field and at the end of the game, from the field to the bus.
We beat Des Moines East 7-0 that night and there was nothing but hard play on the field between our mostly white South Tama team and their mostly black East High team. The helmet warning was pretty good since our bus was pelted with rocks leaving the parking lot. My dad was on the school board at the time, and the rock throwing incident was sort of shrugged off.
Albia had a big win over Davis County in triple overtime two weeks ago and the Blue Pride Nation student body was prepared to storm the field, but waited politely in the endzone until the Davis County team finished their little talk in the middle of the field before running out and looking for guys wearing blue and red to hug. Frankly, it didn’t have the same impact as the Iowa State student body swarming the field the second the ISU-West Virginia game was over.
I remember one other time that student enthusiasm boiled over. In 1975, the UNI student body was jammed into the old Men’s Gym for a wrestling meet between Iowa and UNI, an absolutely rare occasion when Iowa came to Cedar Falls. UNI was on its way to a Division II national championship and this was a pre-Dan Gable Iowa team, although very, very good.
The UNI cheerleaders had purchased little purple and gold megaphones to give to students and the noise level was heightened tremendously. It was all good until a really bad refereeing call went against UNI late in the meet and about 1,000 purple and gold megaphones rained down on the mat. Clearly, this was not a great moment for UNI students, but the good thing was that by the time UNI pulled this once-in-a-lifetime upset of the Hawkeyes, there were no more megaphones to throw.
It was also the last time Iowa ever wrestled UNI in Cedar Falls.
Anyway, Iowa State shouldn’t pay the fine. And as time goes on in the Coach Campbell era, the students might want to act like they’ve beaten highly ranked teams before.
A great story in the Des Moines Register Wednesday about Chariton’s T.J. Hockenson. He is being called one half of the greatest tight end receiving duo in University of Iowa football history. When both T.J. and Noah Fant are on the field, so said the story, it is almost impossible for opposing defenses to defend.
In watching Saturday’s game as a former offensive lineman, his acrobatic catch in the endzone was cool, but his pancaking the Indiana defensive tackle brought me out of my recliner. The Big 10 announcer, also a former lineman, had the TV crew replay the block about 10 times. It was definitely a moment, and I’m thinking all the guys who played against Hockenson while he was at Chariton and were implanted into the turf by one of his blocks were nodding in agreement.