Iowa football: It’s time to claim a national championship
How about that Iowa win on Saturday?
One of the unexpected byproducts of the 23-20 win over No. 4 Penn State is that the Hawkeyes now can add a national championship to their list. No, not 2021’s. Not yet.
Nittany Lions fans — and some media — have been very vocal in the wake of the loss, telling Hawkeyes fans and reporters it didn’t count because Sean Clifford went down in the second quarter and never returned.
Iowa’s schedule, which includes beating 3 ranked teams and 1 just outside the rankings on the road, is also suddenly devoid of strength.
Now, a football cynic might say the critics are moving the goalposts:
“Iowa has beaten four bad teams, one decent team and a good team that lost its quarterback.”
That’s Dan Wolken. I don’t know which team is which from Iowa’s “formerly” tough schedule, other than Penn State. The poll voters told us four teams were good, if not great — No. 9? No. 4?! — when the Hawks played them. Apparently they’ve all been downgraded in one way or another. Iowa wasn’t supposed to survive the first 2 games, let alone the first 6.
Several experts had Iowa State in their College Football Playoff predictions. Now Iowa hasn’t played anybody. Chris Fallica, who picked Iowa State to win the Big 12 — is that bad, decent or good? — replied to Wolken that the top 3 should be Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State — “if we’re being honest.”
Is that how the College Football Playoff committee operates? Because it’s not how athletic competition has been decided for decades — on the field. I know this is college football, but still … if you want an invitational, bring back the Great Alaska Shootout.
Wolken argued for Kentucky (SEC! SEC!) or Wake Forest at No. 2 over Iowa. Why not?! Four AP voters dropped No. 1 Alabama all the way to No. 2 after losing to an unranked team. Oh, never mind. Voters decided Texas A&M is decent again. No. 21. Maybe they should be No. 2 over Alabama. It would really help sell that loss come playoff time.
Why not throw Clemson in there? Cowards. Any elite team can have a bad month. Have you forgotten 2016 and 2018 already? Have you seen their recruiting class? (I’ll be honest — I haven’t.)
Josh “It’s A Power Rating” Pate had Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Iowa State as his final four to start the season, with the Tigers as the champions. Those teams have 6 losses combined. In other words, the same number of wins the undefeated Hawkeyes have.
One of Iowa’s rivals — the team on a 6-game skid in the series — claims every year that Iowa was lucky not to face some other quarterback on its depth chart. You could flip the same two guys over four years and the excuse would be the same.
Sorry, I should have clarified. Three of four Iowa rivals are on a six-game trophy hiatus. I was talking about Iowa State the Great.
Then there’s 2015. It didn’t end well, but during a 12-0 start, it became popular for the national media — particularly Colin Cowherd, who, to his credit, sees what angle is going against the grain in 2021 — to rip Iowa. Engagement on social media must have gone through the roof — Hawkeyes are a passionate people — because “Mad About Iowa” has absolutely become a thing.
When I made the mad about iowa meme in 2015, I had no idea just how actually mad people would be about Iowa in 2021
— anyone can be an astronaut (@hawkize) October 10, 2021
Some have fun with it — this is not sustainable! — but I think it’s even seeped into some fans’ psyches.
The urge to find a flaw sometimes supersedes the enjoyment of the entertainment before them.
This team is undefeated. Understand that. Be present in this moment. Savor it.
Because even if it ends in all the dreadful ways fans and critics have dreamed up, it’s never over.
Let’s get back to that new national championship claim the Hawkeyes earned over the weekend. Sorry, Iowa was gifted it. (Still getting used to how being disingenuous works.)
We learned from Penn State fans and even some national media that when losing a quarterback in the second quarter, the loss doesn’t count. Therefore, no game the backup quarterback starts and loses should count, either. Injuries are no longer part of the game. Next man up can stay seated. Therefore, Iowa’s losses to Northwestern and Ohio State in 2009 never happened. Let’s call them “vacated.” Because Ricky Stanzi got hurt in the second quarter against the Wildcats that year and didn’t return until the Orange Bowl.
With that out of the way, the path is clear for a belated claim that the 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes are national champions.
I’ve reached out to the oracle of college football national championship claims, Jason Kirk, but at press time, he had not yet responded. I can’t imagine why.
So forever hold your peace. Move over Alabama. You’ve got company. Storm the field next week, Hawkeyes fans. It’s a celebration 12 years in the making.
It shouldn’t take until 2033 for this year’s Iowa team to earn some respect from the doubters. It can be done by January as the naysayers scream into the void (or mumble in the press box).
They're going to be handing Kirk Ferentz the national championship trophy after the Hawkeyes pick off Stetson Bennett 5 times and I'll be in the press box mumbling, "this is not sustainable." https://t.co/4i1nBIebPA
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) October 10, 2021