by, 08-19-2010 at 08:44 AM (3135 Views)
I am a life-long Hawk fan of a 50 plus vintage. I grew up in the Iowa City area. I remember $2 knothole tickets. I specifically recall going to watch the Hawks play Penn St. when Lydell Mitchell and Franco Harris were in the Nittany Lion backfield. It was raining AND the game was on TV. There was only one game per week on TV, and it was rarely the Hawks. But being at the game was better than watching it on TV, just like it is today. Even though the reality was that Iowa was unlikely to win.
When I went to those games in the 60s and 70s the Hawks were not good. They sometimes played entertaining football but they were no threat to win the Big Ten or even produce a winning season. I loved to go to the games, but I learned not to expect much. With each game I attended or listened to or watched, I was pulled deeper into my pessimism.
While I was a student at Iowa we hired a coach from Texas named Hayden Fry and the rest is legend. Turns out Iowa could play winning football. Also turns out mine was the last generation to experience the cheap knothole ticket. I loved the big wins and it was harder to be a pessimist. Harder, not impossible.
My son is about to start his sophomore year at Iowa. He too is an enthusiastic Hawk fan, full of "youthful exuberance." When I express my doubts that the Hawks will be successful in a big game he says I need to be positive. He is right, but it is hard for me to be optimistic and expect the positive. The Hawks of my youth had a flare for finding a way to lose and making me expect the negative. Sort of like the Chicago Cubs do to their fans each year.
I finally turned a corner last year watching the end of the Michigan State game. I knew that Iowa was going to win that game. Even with 4 seconds left as they lined up for that last play, there was not a doubt in my mind that they would score a TD. It is progress, but I am not cured.
My son is convinced Iowa will be in the BCS Championship game this year. I sincerely hope he is right, but this nagging image of the Hawks of my youth keeps playing in my mind. My son thinks I am just negative. I tell him my outlook is a product of watching numerous seasons of non-winning Hawkeye football. He is trying to help me overcome my problem. The Hawks could help more by making it to Phoenix in January. If they do, I just may go from a recovering pessimist to a recovered pessimist.