Taking a Moment to Honor the Greatness that is the Iowa Football Program

Not alive for Iowa's last Rose Bowl appearance - Reese Strickland-US PRESSWIRE

I know it is Hate Week and we should be coming up with mean things to say about our kind neighbors to the South.  But I want to take a step back and look at some great moments in Iowa football history.  Ask any Iowa fan and they'll be happy to tell you just how proud they are of their football program.  And why shouldn't they be?  This is a program with an illustrious and prestigious history that is among the nation's elite.

USC, Notre Dame, Michigan, Alabama?  Pathetic wannabes in the pantheon of football programs compared to the Iowa Hawkeyes.  Don't believe me?  Let's take a look at some of the many reasons Iowa Football is among the elite football programs in the hearts and minds of Hawkeye fans.

I don't think anyone could argue against the fact that the Iowa Hawkeyes traditionally have been one of the best college football programs in the country region state in Southeastern Iowa.  Sure, Iowa State may have a slight edge over the last 15 years, but a post on the B12 powerhouse that is Iowa State is for another day.  But don't let that dissuade you from recognizing their dominance, in this instance we will choose to recognize the entirety of the rivalry where the Hawkeyes hold a decisive 41-20 advantage over the Cyclones.

But I don't want to limit Iowa's dominance to just a portion of it's own state, this team is consistently feared amongst their Big Ten brethren.  Their 11 Big Ten titles ranks ahead of Nebraska (0) AND Penn State (1), and it is not even worth mentioning that it ranks ahead of traditional powers Northwestern, Purdue and Indiana!  But it isn't just about finishing first, no doubt this program is consistently in the top half of the Big Ten standings.  It would only take 9 years of undefeated Big Ten seasons to get their overall Big Ten record up to .500 (maybe 8 years with the move to a 9-game schedule).  112 seasons in arguably the best conference historically is difficult so for this we will make the choice to ignore everything that happened prior to Hayden Fry.  Why would anything prior to 1979 even be relevant right?

I know what you are thinking right now.  This is coming from a Gopher fan?  A program that hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since Lyndon Johnson was President.  A program that boasts 6 National Titles, most of them prior to WWII.  This is true and a thorn in the side of Gopher fans.  It stands to reason that the Hawkeyes would be a regular fixture in Pasadena (0-3 record) in the 45 year absence of the Gophers.  You can imagine my shock when I learned that it has been 22 years since Iowa's last appearance in Pasadena.  For this I will concede that even though most (if any) of the Iowa seniors were not born when Iowa last made the trip to the California, 22 years is still more relevant than 45.  Can't argue that fact, I'm still wearing my Twins 1991 World Series sweatshirt any chance I get.

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And when they get there, the games are epic.  They are scoring more points each time they go, unfortunately they are giving up more each time as well.

  • 1981 - 0-28 loss to Washington
  • 1985 - FUMBLE! 28-45 loss to UCLA.  (another FUMBLE!)
  • 1990 - 34-46 loss to Washington

Maybe for this one we'll choose to only recognize Rose Bowls prior to 1960.  Iowa is 2-0 in Rose Bowl  games.

Finally, you have to point out the rivalries.  They have the natural in-state rivalry with Iowa State.  A rivalry that the Hawkeyes have traditionally dominated.  This is a fierce rivalry that brings out the worst in neighbors and friends (and trophy designers, pictured above).  Two other manufactured rivalry trophies have been produced in the past 10 years with Wisconsin and Nebraska.  And finally we get to one of the longest tenured, hate-filled rivalries with arguably the best rivalry trophy in all of college football.  Floyd of Rosedale is the annual prize for the winner of the Minnesota-Iowa game.

This rivalry is so intoxicating and consuming that it causes Iowa fans to do all sorts of things they may or may not normally do on any of the 51 other Saturdays of the year.

When you put all of this together.  A losing Big Ten record, decades since their last Rose Bowl appearance, non-winning records against most of their rivals, attempts to set back the game of football decades and ranking 15th on the all-time Fulmer Cup Standings; it is no wonder Iowa fans have such pride and confidence in their favorite football program.  This is a program to respect and fear (OR HATE!).

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via Winsipedia.

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