Sunday, October 17, 2004

Iowa's Crushing Victory Is Ferentz's Biggest at Kinnick

Iowa City, Ia. -- Until 1972, it was called Iowa Stadium. Since then, it’s been Kinnick Stadium.

Call it what you want. I’ve seen some very big Hawkeye victories there.

But the way Iowa thrashed Ohio State, 33-7, yesterday in the harsh October cold and wind told me a couple of things.

It was the biggest victory for Kirk Ferentz at Kinnick Stadium in his 5 ½ years as the Hawkeyes’ coach and the third-biggest for any Iowa coach in my 56 years of watching football games at a place that soon will be undergoing an $87 million makeover.

Ferentz may have been reluctant to put a ranking on Saturday’s victory, but I’m not.

Until yesterday, the 30-27 nail-biter Ferentz and his Hawkeyes grabbed from Michigan last Oct. 4 ranked as the coach’s biggest victory at Kinnick.
Move over, 30-27 nail-biter.

Yesterday’s thumping of Ohio State – magnificent football tradition and all – ranks as the No. 1 home victory Ferentz has had.

However, it’s not No. 1 in my book as far as both home and away are figured in. His biggest victory as the Hawkeyes’ coach remains the 34-9 shocker his 2002 team pulled off against Michigan at Ann Arbor.

I saw my first Iowa home game in 1948. Eddie Anderson was in his next-to-last season as the Hawkeyes’ coach that year, and I was a 13-year-old patient in the children’s wing of University Hospitals at Iowa City.

I somehow talked the nurses into letting me go to the Iowa-Wisconsin game on Oct. 30. They arranged to get me the ticket, and I hope they didn’t have to buy it from one of those scalpers who stand on the corners in Iowa City all day on Saturdays.

The Hawkeyes won the game, 19-13, and I was the happiest kid in the whole world because (a) I was able to go to a game at what then was Iowa Stadium and (b) I was within a few days of getting out of the hospital so I could go back to eighth grade at Wilson Junior High School in Cedar Rapids.

Earlier in this essay, I wrote that I thought Iowa’s victory yesterday was the third-biggest by the Hawkeyes among all of those I have seen in Iowa City since 1948.

The two I would rank higher are, No. 1, the 6-0 victory Forest Evashevski’s 1956 Hawkeyes scored over Woody Hayes and Ohio State and, No. 2, the 12-10 victory by Hayden Fry’s 1985 team over Bo Schembechler and Michigan.

The victory on Nov. 17, 1956 sent Evashevski’s team to the Rose Bowl. The victory on Oct. 19, 1985 kept Fry’s Hawkeyes No. 1 in the national polls. The historic game matched Fry’s top-ranked team against No. 2-ranked Michigan.

Some of Iowa’s fans – sick and tired of Ohio State’s domination of Iowa – stormed the field after yesterday’s game. However, the frenzy that accompanied those 1956 and 1985 games was even greater.


After being out of the top 25 rankings for several weeks, Iowa jumped to No. 25 in today’s Associated Press sportswriters’ poll.

The Hawkeyes, who take records of 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten into an 11 a.m. game Saturday at Penn State, are No. 31 in the coaches’ poll.

And look at another team that’s making some noise. Notre Dame (5-2) is now No. 24 in the AP poll and No. 25 in the coaches’ poll.

I guess more teams should get Navy on their schedules.


Some of the things I heard and observed yesterday in Iowa City, and have been thinking about since:

 It was interesting to hear Iowa fans taunt Ohio State’s players with lines like, “Have fun at the Motor City Bowl!” as they ran off the field after the game.

 Call it spoiled: It was also fun to hear sportswriters from Ohio talk with each other about how they didn’t want to go to anything called the Motor City Bowl [in Detroit] or the Music City Bowl [in Nashville] during the holidays. Remember what the coaches always say, boys: “There’s no such thing as a bad bowl game.”

 It was good to sit next to Bernie Wyatt in the front row of the press box during the Iowa-Ohio State game. Wyatt lettered on Forest Evashevski’s last two Hawkeye teams in 1959 and 1960, as well as Jerry Burns’ squad in 1961. The 1959 and 1960 teams beat Ohio State, the 1961 team lost to the Buckeyes. Wyatt later was an assistant coach at Iowa and Wisconsin, and is now retired in Madison, Wis.

 Wyatt said Bret Bielema, a former Iowa player and assistant coach who is in his first season as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator, has been good for Barry Alvarez’s program. “Wisconsin needed some young blood in its program,” Wyatt said. “Who knows, maybe he’ll have a chance to be the new head coach there when Barry decides to retire.”

 There aren’t many football coaches who wear neckties during games, but Ohio State’s Jim Tressel is one of them. Tressel was dressed in his trademark white shirt, red patterned tie, bright red vest, grey slacks and white football shoes during the game and in the interview room afterward.

 Woody Hayes once threw his sportcoat into the stands during a game his Ohio State team was playing in Iowa City. If he’d had to watch the Buckeyes’ awful display of football yesterday, he might have thrown his entire wardrobe into the stands, and not asked for the fans to return it.

 “I’m speaking for everyone in the locker room when I say that’s an embarrassment,” Ohio State tight end Ryan Hamby said after the game. “You never see that happen to Ohio State. It’s unacceptable.”

 Tressel said he didn’t know if he’d go so far as to say Iowa dominated Ohio State. “But they kicked our butts,” he said. Take it from me. Iowa dominated the Buckeyes every way possible. And, yes, Tressel was accurate when he said his players got their butts kicked.

 Said a sportswriter who works for an Ohio newspaper: “A fifth-team walk-on had more rushing yardage than Ohio State’s entire backfield.” He was talking about Sam Brownlee of Emmetsburg, who ran for 35 yards in 10 carries. Ohio State’s rushing total was 27 yards in 29 attempts.

 Furthering the thought that some of the best stuff that’s said never winds up in the paper, another guy said, “I think Tressel should start recruiting in Emmetsburg.”

 It was ironic that the night before Brownlee played so well for Iowa, his high school had a real downer. Emmetsburg’s 31-game winning streak ended with a 9-6 loss to Cherokee.

 What a difference the atmosphere was yesterday than on Oct. 21, 2000, when Ohio State played at Kinnick Stadium the last time under coach John Cooper. The Buckeyes toyed with Iowa that day, 38-10. Dave Stockdale, a friend of mine who works for the local paper, went to that game with me, and we were seated in the east stands. The Hawkeye fans who sit behind the visitors’ bench on that side of the stadium enjoy heckling the players, and they love it when they find someone who talks back to them. Several undisciplined Ohio State players chattered with the fans during the 2000 game, one of them wide receiver Reggie Germany, who talked virtually non-stop. Little did Cooper know then that he’d be fired at the end of the 2000 season. His team lost to Michigan, 36-26, in the final regular-season game, then to South Carolina, 24-7, in the Outback Bowl.

 Ohio State was such a pitiful team yesterday that Iowa made it look like one of those first-game patsies such as Kent State, Akron and Miami of Ohio that have been on the schedule.

 It was too bad the late Bill Reichardt couldn’t have been at the game. The outcome would have erased some of the hurt—both physical and emotional--he and the other Hawkeye players sustained in an 83-21 loss Oct. 28, 1950 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

 I wonder what Maurice Clarett is saying about Ohio State’s offense these days.


Iowa State coach Dan McCarney doesn’t need me to tell him, but I’ll say it anyway. There isn’t a team remaining on the Cyclones’ schedule that they can’t beat. The list includes Baylor, Kansas, Nebraska, Kansas State and Missouri….We were driving home after yesterday’s game in Iowa City when Jim Walden called into the “Sound Off” show on WHO-radio. That’s the kind of talk show that Walden hated when he was Iowa State’s coach because the fans—from Iowa State, Iowa and probably UNI and Drake, too—second-guessed him so much when it seemed that modern football had passed him by. The people who felt the worst when Iowa State fired Walden were Iowa coach Hayden Fry and his assistants. Fry beat Walden like a drum. Walden now says he has written a book about Washington State football. That figures. If he’d written about the highlights when he was coaching at Iowa State from 1987-1994, the book would be only a half-page long. Walden was Washington State’s coach from 1978-1986, and he’s now a commentator on the school’s football broadcasts.

Vol. 4, No. 268
Oct. 17, 2004