Iowa: The Hawkeyes have a connection to Tom Brokaw, who attended the University of Iowa. He stayed a year before graduating from the University of South Dakota.
Stanford: Yes, Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson got her big break on that network’s dopey morning show. She had also studied at Oxford and collected a Miss America when she graduated with honors from The Farm in 1990.
Who's got it better than us? Both have Midwestern roots, with Carlson growing up in Minnesota. Brokaw also classed up morning shows, as he was a fixture on NBC’s Today. Carlson was a classical violinist, but just about everyone in the current TV news business falls short of an American institution like Brokaw.
Vintage G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time)
Iowa: Nile Kinnick is forever a legend, for his grace off the field as much as his football skills. Excerpts from his 1939 Heisman Trophy acceptance speech (“I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest and not on the battlefields of Europe”) are played before home games at the stadium that bears his name. A passing, rushing and kicking guru, Kinnick led Iowa to a 6-1-1 record and a No. 9 ranking that year.
Stanford: Ernie Nevers’ credentials put Paul Bunyan to shame. He rushed for 114 yards in the 1925 Rose Bowl. He outgained the Four Horsemen that day, while nursing two broken ankles (and playing on splints Pop Warner designed). His Stanford teams (1924-1925) lost one regular season game. He played 1,714 out of a possible for 1,740 minutes in 1926 for the NFL’s Duluth Eskimos. Stanford retired his number (No. 1), even though didn’t wear an actual jersey number.
Who's got it better than us? I call a draw. Sports Illustrated named Nevers, who died at age 73, the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th Century. Kinnick, who eschewed pro football for law school, never got the chance to reach old age. He died when his training flight crashed in the Caribbean Sea in 1943. He chose not to land on the nearest aircraft carrier, for fear he would endanger planes ready for takeoff.
Biggest postseason goat
Iowa: Ronnie Harmon was a dual-threat extraordinaire for the Hawks in 1985, a running and receiving threat out of the backfield. He fumbled just once all season in helping Iowa bring a 10-1 record into the Rose Bowl against UCLA. He lost four fumbles (three in the first quarter alone) and dropped a sure touchdown pass in the Bruins' 45-28 rout.
Stanford: Stanford's kicker missed three field goals in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, most infamously a shanked 35-yard try on the last play of regulation.
Who's got it better than us? Harmon deserves more scorn. Plenty of kickers miss. All-conference running backs don’t lose four fumbles in his team’s biggest game. And did the Cardinal kicker leave Justin Blackmon in single-coverage during the waning moments, on a fourth down with the Cardinal holding a 35-28 lead? Did Williamson fumble deep in Stanford territory in the third quarter? Didn’t think so.
Best on-campus concert venue
Iowa: Carver-Hawkeye Arena is one the many Big Ten venues that replaced Depression Era fieldhouses. Comedian Kevin Hart rocked the house last fall. Other headliners have included Whitney Houston, Guns ’N Roses, Stevie Nicks and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Stanford: Frost Amphitheater. Grateful Dead.
Who's got it better than us? Nobody. Enough said.
Most impressive coaching job
Iowa: In Hayden Fry’s first season in Iowa City (1979), the Hawkeyes were 18 years removed from their most recent winning season. Fry retired from coaching in 1998 with a school-record 143 wins, including three Big Ten titles and fourteen bowl games. He painted the opposing locker room pink, changed Iowa’s uniforms, and essentially transformed Iowa football. Famous for homespun humor and a positive vibe, he was very much the anti-Bo/Woody.
Stanford: It’s ironic that Jim Harbaugh is Stanford’s equivalent of Fry, who designed game plans to stop former Michigan quarterback and Schembechler pupil. Harbaugh will remain the architect of the Cardinal’s ongoing success even as Shaw keeps collecting wins. Who’s got in better than us? I give the nod to Fry, if only for longevity. Harbaugh was destined for the NFL while Fry was tempted to leave Iowa only when the USC job opened up after the 1986 season.
Most Pro Football Hall of Famers
Iowa: Emlen Tunnell retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in interceptions, only to be surpassed by fellow Hawkeye Paul Krause. Andre Tippett was the one member of the Super Bowl XX-losing Patriots who could have started on the ’85 Bears.
Stanford: Nevers was a charter member in Canton. James Lofton and John Elway have since joined him.
Who's got it better than us? Expect John Lynch to soon break the tie, so Stanford gets a slight edge. That said, when will Alex Karras get his due?
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