Sunday, October 26, 2008
Kirk Ferentz, center, at an Iowa Pep Rally
2000- Illinois 31, Iowa 0
2003- Iowa 41, Illinois 10
2004- Iowa 23, Illinois 13
2005- Iowa 35, Illinois 7
2006-Iowa 24, Illinois 7
2007- Iowa 10, Illinois 6
And that's what I've had to fucking deal with the last 8 years. 5 straight wins by Iowa in the rivalry. Iggins! is a maniacal fanatic who'll shlop up anything Iowa throws at him and then spit it out the moment it goes sour. Drew Tate was his idol and he was willing to carry his man child until Tate struggles his senior year and "Iowa'd fuckin win if they'd put in Christensen! Did you see his fucking arm!" was his battle cry. Last year "With Christensen we're going At least 8-4!", he buys his nice little number 6 jersey and they promptly go 6-6. Christensen becomes a swear word in Iggins! household. Next up? "Ricky Stanzi is a fucking Golden God!" Peaks and valleys, friends, peaks and valleys for this "what have you done for me lately?" blasphemer. I won't even get started on how many times I heard "Ferentz is a fucking moron! Run Albert Young!" followed ten minutes later by "WE CAN'T FUCKING RUN WITH ALBERT YOUNG! HE SUCKS! DAMIEN SIMS IS TEH SHIT!"
But I? Oh I have weathered the fucking storm my friends. I was there watching Illinois football when we had Simeon Rice and Kevin Hardy and the best defense in the Big Ten, if not the country (the two went #2 and #3 overall in the 1996 NFL draft), and yet couldn't make a damn bowl game because we tied the last game of the season 3-3. Yeah, the offense was that bad. I suffered without complaint as Ron turner went 5-25 in his first three years, enjoyed the 8-4 season that culminated with the raping of Virginia in the Micron PC Bowl (yeah, THE Micron PC Bowl), I saw the rise of Kurt Kittner, who forever holds a place in my heart. Oh did I thrill at the 10-2 Big Ten Championship of 2001, and yes, I still poke pins into my Rohan Davey voodoo doll with regularity. What followed that Big Ten Championship? Ohh, how about a 13-45 record from 2002-2006. I had to watch Jon Beutjer, Chris Pazan, Brad Bowers, and Tim f*&king Brasic play quarterback. Yet I watched every single game that was televised, which mercifully was never more than 4-5 a year with records like that. But oh did the corner seem to turn in 2007! Juice! Rashard! Rejus Benn! Jay Leman! Vonte Davis! Oh the talent ooozed from that team, and at 5-1, having knocked off ranked teams the previous two weeks, Illinois wandered into Kinnick determined to bust their streak against 2-4 Iowa.
And failed. Miserably. How do I describe the effort of a vastly superior Illinois team against the inferior Hawkeyes last year? Imagine you're in love with this extremely attractive girl. She's kindly, but with emphasis, turned you down year after year. Finally she relents and gives you one date to prove yourself. So you think, "Hey, I'll cook her a nice romantic dinner. Women love sensitive guys who can cook!" And you invite her over. But while you try to talk to her you stumble over your words, start flop sweating and ignore the roast, which burns to a crisp in the oven, setting off the smoke alarm. As you fan a towel in front of the smoke alarm to get it to turn off you accidentally elbow the girl in the head and knock her out cold. You panic so badly you piss yourself. You reach to help her and instead slip and wind up headbutting her in the crotch. She wakes up with your head in her crotch and piss stains on your pants. She calls the cops, you get hauled off for attempted date rape and, having realized that you forgot to turn the oven off, watch as your house burns down. That, my friend, was Illinois' effort against Iowa last year.
This year? The situation looks grim. An Illinois team that seems more and more to consist solely of Juice Williams on offense and Vonte Davis on defense has blown to games in which it was favored, against Minnesota and Wisconsin. A resurgent Iowa has shot out to 5-3 (though thats a weeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit deceptive when you factor in that three of their wins have come against AA Maine, 3-4 (in the Sun Belt!) Florida International, and 2-6 Iowa State) behind demi-God Shonn Green (1154 yds, 10 tds rushing) and the typically stout if boring Ferentz defentz. Iowa will most likely be favored heading into Saturday, even though the game will be played in Champaign.
Is there hope? I doubt it. The milquetoast assassin that coaches the Hawkeyes knows how to dominate Illinois consistently and ruin my lunch every single fucking year. Iggins! and I discussed yesterday the uniquely opposite natures of Zook and Ferentz. Zook can take a brilliant recruiting class that should be spotted 10 wins on talent alone and go 7-5, as he did at Florida and is doing this year. Ferentz can throw together five tubby white kids on the offensive line, pick a kid out of the crowd and win 8 games with a team that should win 4. His teams do tend to struggle in years in which they're burdened with huge expectations, but even that can't help Illinois this year as no one but Iggins! (and he says they'll go at least 8-4 every year regardless) thought they'd be impressive.
I'm not going to pray for one more win as epically as Iggins! did last year. I'm not gonna throw up false bravado and act like I expect Illinois to win. They're more talented than Iowa. They were more talented than Wisconsin, Minnesota, and possibly even Penn State too. But talent and coaching are the yin and the yang of the game, and coaching tends to weigh just that tiny bit more heavily, and if that's the case, get ready for at least one more year of this man standing on the sidelines victorious. If he'd even gloat about it I'd actually like him more. But he won't. He'll curl the tiny little corners of his mouth into a smile practically undetectable, credit his line of fat white kids, button up his shirt and go home and make sweet, lights off, God-fearing, missionary position love with his wife.
There is no room for personality in the classless utopia Iowa Football shall create!