Some of you can rationalize this loss away, but I know better. You might be thinking that the coaching staff bears some responsibility for the less-than-optimal initial defensive game plan that in the early minutes allowed MSU to make every play be a large gain and perhaps the worst 4th down play call in the history of Iowa football when the game was on the line. Not true. Some of you are no doubt looking to the players to assign blame for the poor performance. You might think the loss had something to do with missed blocking assignments, fumbled snaps, dropped balls, four turnovers and lackluster quarterbacking. It did not. Maybe even some of you (perhaps the Penn State fans visiting our site) think that Iowa got "screwed" by the referees on that alleged fumble, which the replays showed occurred after Ramon Ochoa's knee touched the ground. Don't blame the refs because I likely caused that fumble and the bad call.
The "Seinfeld" fans among you might argue that last Saturday's games took place in a "bizarro world" where Cal can beat USC and Kansas looks like a Big 12 title contender.
That was probably my doing as well. How you ask?
It's quite simple. I made the horrid mistake of wearing the wrong t-shirt while watching the game.
It all started last Christmas. Like many of you rabid Hawk fans, I scored a few new clothing items over the holidays courtesy of some loved ones. One of these items was an embroidered t-shirt that reads "IOWA HAWKEYES." The writing is in two-inch black, block lettering … and while understated, looks sharp as it contrasts the golden yellow fabric it adorns.
Next to the "IOWA HAWKEYES" script is an elegant Tigerhawk logo. (The Tigerhawk logo is the traditional one that our athletic teams employ. It is not that newly designed logo that more closely resembles the Tigerhawk after a two week long meth- and booze-addled bender during a windstorm. No self respecting Hawk fan should wear clothes that support the university's sleazy ploy to change the beloved logo to sell more swag. We leave that unrefined consumerism to the fans of Michigan State who are accustomed to quarterly uniform and logo changes. The Tigerhawk on this shirt is the same one that has fueled 24 years of proud tradition in Iowa City and beyond.)
Where did it all go wrong with this seemingly classy Iowa t-shirt? I'm not exactly sure, but the problems first manifested themselves while the shirt was in Miami last winter. I guess the new clothes phenomena took hold of me. Being a new article in my Iowa wardrobe, I wanted to wear it at the first opportunity. I packed it in my luggage in lieu of some of the game-hardened and time-tested Iowa t-shirts of days of yore. Sure, I could have gone with the shirt that inspired Carlos James's final second field goal block against Wisconsin in 1992; or the shirt that enabled Kent McCausland to hit all those 3-pointers spurring Iowa on to an amazing comeback road victory snapping a 62-game home winning streak at #10 Kansas in 1998; or even the shirt that witnessed Iowa clinching the 2002 Big Ten championship in the Metrodome. Any of those shirts would have been acceptable, but I had to try to break in an untested shirt at the Orange Bowl.
The trip to Miami was uneventful until gameday. We had a great time partying on South Beach, sticking out like a bunch of Midwestern, alabaster-white sore thumbs in the middle of the winter. There was nary a Crockett nor Tubbs to be found on Collins Avenue, which my good friend summed up by declaring it "a white-trash tropical version of Seattle." Nevertheless, we met some great people … and we also met some USC fans. For some reason, I picked Jan 2, 2003, as the day to break in my new Iowa shirt.
Like many of the Iowa fans at the game, I'm hazy on the details surrounding the second half, but I know it was not good. Iowa seemed to employ one of the strangest game plans ever. While having two stud running backs and a ground attack that the opponent had no answer for, Iowa abandoned the run in favor of the pass, which proved quite unsuccessful. Iowa looked sluggish on both sides of the ball, and were thoroughly bested by some team in maroon and yellow uniforms that had a school band that continuously played the only two songs it knew. Even the public address announcer was in on the joke, as he let us know that there was a FLAG on the play symbolizing another Iowa miscue. The remainder of the trip was a disaster. It got so bad that my flight to Atlanta was grounded on the tarmac for hours before we were cleared for take-off. The fine folks at Delta forced us to watch "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" three times in a row while babies screamed and the New Year's beer farts permeated the aircraft's recycled air.
I should have known that the shirt was cursed then, but for some reason, I rationalized it away. After all, I had worn the shirt thereafter on non-gamedays without hospitalization, auto accidents or being attacked by ninjas. But now, upon wearing the shirt during an Iowa game for only the second time, the Hawks again fell to defeat. Similar to the Orange Bowl, there were tons of turnovers, sluggish play and baffling play calls. So clearly, last Saturday's loss is my fault. My latest theory is that Satan must have sold my mom an element of pure evil disguised as an Iowa t-shirt and she unwittingly gave it to me for Christmas.
I was stupid enough to wear it during an Iowa game twice. There can be no other rational explanation for the shirt's effect upon the Hawks.
Just to make sure that this shirt doesn't cause any more bad snap exchanges, injuries to star safeties, anemic offensive series or turnovers, upon getting home, I promptly cut the shirt into rag size pieces. All parts of the shirt, excepting only the Tigerhawk logo, will be used to polish shoes and clean bathrooms in perpetuity as punishment for causing us great Hawk fans such grief.
This loss is on me. I and I alone will bear total responsibility for this disappointing loss. As described above, I am making amends as best as I can. In addition, I can now aver that my remaining Hawkeye gear was acquired during or before the tremendous 2002 football season. It has all been battle-tested and game-worn with good results.
Should the Hawks lose again this season, it will not be my fault. However, I am now out one shirt. So … If any of you happen to have a lucky Iowa shirt that you can spare (size XL or bigger), I would be grateful. After all, I destroyed the cursed shirt for all of you.