Schwartz: Ten Sentences – One Eye on Football And The Other On Garza Edition

October 4, 2020

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye fans have been blessed, but not by the return of football. It’s another return – Luka
Garza’s return – that makes the Big Ten’s attempt to play sports this season a high-stakes
emotional game for all of Hawkeye Nation. Ten sentences to set the stage:

1. We’re t-minus 20 days until the start of Hawkeye football season – finally! Hawkeye football
season – but this week a different thought crossed our minds, one with even bigger
ramifications for Hawkeye athletic programs and their many fans.

2. We’re creeping closer to basketball season.

3. It might not begin until early December, or mid-to-late December, or even January or
February, but it’s coming, and with each passing week, as organizations such as the Big Ten and
leagues such as the NBA and NHL figure out how to make sports happen, two things become
increasingly clear: first, sports find a way, and second, there is way too much money at stake for
the University of Iowa and other power-5 institutions to not play college football and men’s and
women’s basketball this season.

4. It’s terrible, I know, what with everything horrible that’s going on in the universe, but when
college football was getting canceled (or postponed or whatever) and then brought back, there
were moments when I’m sure many (OK, maybe just several dozen) of us wondered what
would happen to basketball season; it’s one thing to find a way to sneak football back into the
rotation because it’s an outdoor sport and coronavirus spreads less rapidly outside, while
basketball is an indoor sport.

5. Carver-Hawkeye Arena, a unique facility with a good amount of history and an amazing place
to watch a basketball game, isn’t exactly known for its generous airflow; it’s basically an
eardrum-bursting petri dish with awesome ice cream cones and bathrooms less appealing than
a porta-potty in August.

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6. All of this is to say that indoor sports are far more difficult to pull off than outdoor sports,
especially when those indoor sports are college sports, because professional indoor leagues like
the NBA and NHL employ professional players who don’t have to go to class or live in dorms, so
they’re able to live in “bubbles” for as long as is necessary to collect paychecks, pull in that ad
revenue, sell merchandise, and complete their seasons.

7. The big deal here – and the reason why we’re talking about basketball today instead of
football – is because we have the opportunity this season to watch what might be the most
successful Hawkeye men’s basketball team in more than 30 years, possibly since the 1988 Elite
Eight squad.

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8. Imagine what must have been going through Luka Garza’s mind the last couple of months:
first he has to make the hellish decision of whether to jump to the NBA after winning National
Player of the Year honors or come back to college to play one last season with his teammates
on a team that’s stacked, and then after deciding to come back and expecting COVID to be
under control by now, he has to witness in real time (just like the rest of us) a scenario play out
in which the country might not get back to normal until the summer of 2021, and by some
estimates 2022 once vaccines can be administered to enough of the population.

9. Garza, obviously, has a legitimate financial and personal stake in whether the Hawkeyes play
basketball this season, while fans like us have emotional, somewhat superficial stakes, but that
doesn’t mean our stakes are any less real, because teams (or potential teams) this good don’t
come to Iowa all that often; there was the 1988 team, there was the loaded mid-1990s squad
that included Jess Settles, Kenyon Murray, Andre Woolridge, Russ Millard, Chris Kingsbury, and
Ryan Bowen; and there was the 2006 team that earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament
before getting upset in the first round.

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10. Which is to say that, perhaps this year more than most, we need to keep our eyes on the
prize – usually that’s football, but not this season (not that it won’t be fun), but rather a men’s
basketball team with a roster that only comes around once in a Hawkeye generation.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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