Folks… the resident pessimist of this blog here Iowa Hawkeyes is back. And I’m here to tell you, while it’s true that we’re only weeks away from the tailgating return on Melrose, AC/DC blaring over the speakers at Kinnick Stadium, and the excitement is building towards the back from football, we’re long overdue some pain on behalf of Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes.
First, let me tell you why, then I’ll tell you how to survive it.
Let me say something out in the open right now: my wife and I welcomed an adorable little baby into our lives in March, so I’m not as up on my game as usual with all the news from the spring and offseason training as I might normally be. Instead, I’m just on the game tired. So when I’m not talking specifically about how a player might have looked at Kid’s Day practice or things like that, that’s why. I’m writing this purely on my intuition, and I think that’s enough, considering we’re talking about Iowa.
To start: we have a complete list of home football matches. This tends to signal optimism for the season. When was the last time we had a sold-out season? 2011. The result of this season? 7-6, a demoralizing triple overtime loss to Iowa State and a demoralizing loss in the Insight Bowl. We are fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes, coached by Kirk Ferentz. Haven’t we learned by now that whenever there is optimism about the season, things go horribly wrong one way or another?
Not only that, but the schedule for this season is absolutely brutal and has confused me ever since I saw it. I absolutely hate to say this, but we’ve been waiting a long time for a loss to Iowa State. Yes, we are at home against them, and yes, I don’t think they are as hyped as they were last season, but isn’t that the perfect recipe for a loss against them? Just when you least expect it? Add a road game at Ohio State, a road game at Purdue and home games against Michigan and Wisconsin? There are at least 3 (but maybe 4?) defeats in there. Let’s go with 4 – it’s a message of pessimism, after all.
Let’s move on to the man in the photo for the article as a closing point for reasons of pessimism: Brian Ferentz is still perfecting the attack and Spencer Petras lines up under centre. Will the offensive line be better this year? Yes, I hope, even without Tyler Linderbaum. But I don’t care how many times Brian Ferentz talks to Scott Dochterman about his approach to game planning. I don’t care if the attack looks good on Kid’s Day. Is there reason to hope for success at Wideout? You could tell me about it. But this offense has lost a lot. Last season’s team relied on offense to be only competent week after week, following stellar defensive performances, and more often than not, they haven’t done the job. This is where I remind you to give me grace on what might have changed in the offseason, but again, if Kirk and Brian Ferentz are still running the show here, I don’t need to know much to know that much has not changed.
If you really look at last season, in many ways a lot worked in favor of this team. So as an eternal pessimist from Iowa, it tells me that this year, everything will go the opposite way. Expect death.
So here’s the pessimist’s guide to Iowa football. So how is this pessimist handling the season? Well, first and foremost, I always expect the worst. Walk into each season thinking it will be 2012 again and you’re never really disappointed, because you expected it from the start. Taking off my pessimistic glasses, this is the exact setup for a completely average 7-5 season.
I’m not here to look into the macro on the state of the program right now, and how thankful we should be for so many winning seasons. I’m here to talk to you as a guy who’s been in the stands for the 2015 Rose Bowl and 2022 Big Ten Championship blowouts. Even when we get a good thing (a Big Ten Championship appearance in a year where we lost to Wisconsin [again]), we can’t have nice things (we lose against Michigan, 42-3, in a stadium where I pay $14 a beer just to spend 3 quarters of football before leaving).
There’s just something in my stomach that tells me things could go wrong this year. Don’t get me wrong, I love being wrong about this stuff! But I’ve been burned too many times in the past to get worked up before the first snap of the season about what the season might bring.
Instead, I’m just going to sit here, the eternal pessimist, and keep waiting for the lows and savoring the highs a bit, never disappointed but never exactly thrilled either.
That being said, I’m still extremely excited for the season and all of its possibilities. Maybe this time will be different. Probably not, but you never know.