All right, so what if that rose in Brad Banks' mouth last month in Minneapolis didn't turn out to mean a damn thing?
The same for the long-stemmed rose that Kirk Ferentz was clutching while being carried off the field in the Metrodome.
The roses were real. The hopes—or were they expectations?—that went with them weren't.
Quit complaining, Iowa football fans. The Hawkeyes (11-1) are headed to a sensational football game Jan. 2.
They're playing Southern California (10-2) in the Orange Bowl, and it's the best bowl this side of the Fiesta.
Disappointed to be going to Miami for the Orange Bowl and not Pasadena for the Rose Bowl?
Not the guy who went 1-10 in 1999 and had some people ready to ride him out of town on one of Bob Stoops' old jockstraps.
"It's ironic to have co-champs from the Big Ten and Pac-10 playing together on another coast," Ferentz said yesterday when asked on ABC-TV about the game his Iowa team will have at 7 p.m. Jan. 2 in Miami's Pro Player Stadium.
"But, with the BCS, things change. What a great matchup, though. Two tremendous quarterbacks. USC may have the sexier name, but we think it will be a great game."
The quarterbacks Ferentz was referring to are Banks of Iowa and Carson Palmer of USC, both of whom will likely be invited to New York City for Saturday's Heisman Trophy ceremony. One of them may win the prize that goes to the collegiate player voted the best in the land.
Unbeaten and defending champion Miami plays Ohio State, also unbeaten and the team that tied Iowa for the Big Ten championship, for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl at Phoenix on Jan. 3.
That's no surprise. But Iowa teeing it up against USC in Miami is a surprise. After Saturday's games, I was betting the Hawkeyes would be matched against Florida State in the Orange Bowl—and that would have been a downer.
Bobby Bowden's Seminoles have four losses, and could easily have five. Way back on Aug. 24, Iowa State got robbed when it was playing Florida State in the Eddie Robinson Classic at Kansas City. The Cyclones' Seneca Wallace appeared to have scored in the final seconds, but didn't get the call from the officials in a 38-31 loss.
There are plenty of Iowa fans who are upset that Ferentz and his players aren't going to the Rose Bowl. Read the website message boards and you'll find them. And they aren't just the ones who had already plunked down money for airplane tickets and hotel rooms in Pasadena.
The messages say things like, "Screwed By The BCS" and. "Orange Bowl Sucks."
And, on Sunday, right after church, too.
Those people have it figured that the Bowl Championship Series did a number of them by sending them to Miami instead of Pasadena. To them, the Rose Bowl is where an 11-1 team like Iowa is supposed to be playing Some fans are even calling for an Iowa boycott of the Orange Bowl.
Also, forget it that the Rose Bowl is a Big Ten/Pac-10 matchup. Those days are gone, maybe forever. There wasn't a Big Ten/Pac-10 game at Pasadena last season, and there won't be one this season.
I doubt there are going to be upwards of 30,000 Hawkeye fans in Miami, as is being projected by CBS Sportsline.com, but Ferentz and his team won't be lonesome there. Iowans historically have followed their team, and they'll do it this time, too.
If any fans have a right to be disappointed, it's those from Iowa State.
The Cyclones were once 6-1 (one of the victories gave Iowa its only loss) in the 2002 season, but lost five of their last six and were relegated to something called the Humanitarian Bowl today against Boise State in—yes, Boise, Idaho.
The high temperature today in Boise was supposed to be 32 degrees. Last time I checked, that was freezing.
Yes, I'd be disappointed, too.
But, hey, I remember that 0-10-1 season Iowa State had in 1994 when Jim Walden coached there.
That was pre-Dan McCarney. Pretty bleak stuff. Maybe you guys in Ames shouldn't be disappointed. Maybe Boise ain't so bad after all.
Vol. 2, No. 108
Dec. 8, 2002
[Anyone who has information on whatever happened to Notre Dame's football team can e-mail Ron Maly at firstname.lastname@example.org ]