College rivalries make life worth living. They make beer worth drinking, football worth watching, and jail worth visiting. So it should come as no surprise that I have embraced our Iowa in-state college rivalry. Surprisingly, I was raised a Hawkeye (University of Iowa). My dad taught me to chant the fight song for football and basketball games by age 4, and I owned piles of Hawkeye apparel. But by the end of high school, I saw the light. A real college education, the chance for an athletic scholarship, and a less pretentious flock of fans that would soon become my family. My Cyclone family. The day I set foot on the Iowa State University campus was a joyous occasion. The sun was shining, the bunnies were hopping, the birds were tweeting, the athletes were practicing, and the students were ready to study. Over at Iowa, things were slightly more grim…the rain was pouring, the bunnies were being hit by cars, the birds were hushed by the shrill voices of sorority sisters, the athletes were making bail, and the students were recovering from drug and alcohol induced comas. Ok…I wasn’t on the Iowa campus that day, so I don’t really know…but I can only assume that it was significantly less charming than Iowa State. I recognize that Iowa is a party school, and I will not deny that I frequented Iowa City when in need of some debauchery. Good city. Fun times. Having said that, I was smart enough to not expose myself to that on a daily basis and while in Ames, I still enjoyed my social excursions while also gaining a stellar college education and participating on a fabulous athletic team…we actually beat Iowa in most sports my Freshman and Sophomore year (I think).
So this weekend is the big game. The Cy-Hawk throw down. The best tailgating in the country. The most die-hard fans. The meanest shit talking. The grounds open for tailgating at an early in God’s Country (AKA, Ames, Iowa). You can hit up chili and beer at the Tip Top, or wait in line for your spot in the sea of red and gold and black. But mostly red and gold. The beer bongs are intense, attached to flag poles standing some 20 feet high. The buses are decked out and the grills are stacked with meat. Hearty, midwestern meat. The smart tailgaters will bring a camel pack…a little backpack that you fill with a drink of choice…the straw is up near your shoulder so that simply turning your head and sucking will quench your thirst. That’s what she said. I prefer a screwdriver that early in the morning, but many will stick with beer. And I support that. At first…it’s all fun and games. Corn hole, flippy cup, beer pong. But by 9am, things get ugly. Fans get unruly. No longer do we share the gold stripe and some magical Iowa unity…we are now enemies at the front line of an annual battle. By game-time, less than half the crowd will take their seats to watch. The rest of the tailgaters will continue to tailgate and watch the new ginormous screen from afar.
What will happen….you never know. Iowa State is always the underdog. But we fight with passion. And Iowa is always over-rated. And their egos (and grades and police records) tend to affect their abilities at times. This beautiful September 14, 2013, Iowa State will fight on their home turf. With a committed coach and a growing team. We will fight with honor and pride and grace (and hopefully no interceptions). We will cheer and drink and keep it semi-classy (unless the Hawks get out of line). And when we win, Jack Trice will erupt with a joy and excitement, because as they always should. the good guys will come out on top. Good luck my Cyclones. I love you. Bring it.
And on a final note…the top 10 reasons I hate the Hawkeyes.
- Because black and gold are ugly.
- I don’t understand what is tough about a Hawks eye. I mean a hawk is tough. But its eye is really just a body part (says the girl who supports a team called the Cyclones with a cardinal mascot).
- They recruit felons. And despite my support for some pushing boundaries, robbery and assault and rape don’t make the list. Boo.
- Because it’s the easy team to support. It’s safe to be a Hawkeye, but only the daring and strong hearted can be Cyclones.
- The Iowa guys were generally quite a bit more attractive than our limited Iowa State options, so there’s a hint of jealousy there.
- Hawkeyes think they’re better than everybody. Not just Iowa State…they think they’re better than everybody in the world.
- Over-rated EVERY year. And NEVER live up to it. Very disappointing. At least we exceed our typically low expectations
- Half of them are frauds and fakes. They just grab a Hawk jersey because somebody they know likes the Hawkeyes. I have respect for the REAL fans, even though I still don’t like them.
- Because they’re terrible shit-talkers. It must be the amount of acid they dropped in those 18 semesters they “attended” Iowa, or the fact that they graduated without attending classes.
- I’m not too proud to admit that I hate them most because they have a history of being the “cool kid”. But not this Saturday.