FAC in Cedar Falls in the 1980s had to include a stop at Mary Kay’s something something.
This is where young me discovered the glory that is post-drinking food in the form of cheese-covered French fries. It was glorious. Of course, I don’t remember any nuance, but you throw some ketchup in that and it really, really, really, really works.
I want you to get to and stay with the basketball, so we’ll make the bad ideas quick this week.
The Long Island iced tea idea
Had a text-cast with my favorite sportswriter Scott Dochterman this morning. We were talking Nebraska football.
I have a theory that part of the loyalty that the Huskers enjoy is built on their relationship with fans. When the Huskers entered the Big Ten in 2011, I thought their relationship with media would mirror Iowa’s, which is “We’re Iowa and you’re not” when it comes to access.
Maybe a minor access rant coming, but stick with me, it’s not all that.
Iowa football enjoys mega-star status in eastern Iowa. I’ve explained it over the years by calling the Hawkeyes the “Green Bay Steeler Cubs Bears” of eastern Iowa. It is everything. A recruit commits to the Hawkeyes? He’s probably looking at a couple of thousand of followers. The Hawkeyes carry a lot of interest/weight and social media does give you somewhat of a measure.
In that regard, the highly restricted access made sense to me. They don’t have to show you anything and, hell yes, you’re still going to love them.
When I first met HuskerWorld in 2011, I thought, “This deal has got to be locked down. If Iowa is the Chicago Packer/Bears/Cubs, then the Huskers are the Yankees/Notre Dame/Earnhardts.” When the thing is so big, you’ll take whatever look inside they’ll give you.
I was wrong. The Huskers were wide open, especially compared to Iowa. Nebraska had multiple access time slots throughout the week. Reporters talked with coordinators and, IIRC, assistant coaches (adding some simple answers to the simple question “How is XXXX doing out there?”
My theory went Huskers fans know a ton about their team. Fans are able to track progress for all or most of the kids who were scholarshipped. All of that connectivity, in my mind, added up to the intense loyalty. Even though the “sell out” streak is mostly a myth and as jerry rigged as the night the lights went out in Baltimore for Cal Ripken, fans will go along with it because they’ve had that seat to get to know their guys. They see under the facemask, you know, as much as you can in interview settings.
Naive? Probably. I give credit for the Nebraska administration for having the vision to wave fans in. I get how Iowa would throw up the stop sign. Obviously, natty titles in the 1990s had a lot to do with this, but that was a long time ago, even in 2011.
Scott told me today things have gone cold in Nebraska. There’s not a lot of availability. Things have tightened. Can anyone think of a reason why?[CLAPPING GIF]
So, throwing out an idea for Iowa to expand its conversations, open its doors even a little bit more, is a pretty bad and naive thought on my part.
So, here’s my idea for Iowa: I know it’s not inviting reporters in. The pandemic is the only argument you need. So, what can the Hawkeyes do?
Webisodes. Take your best staff interviewers and catch the star players in the “walk-n-talk,” when everyone jogs to the lockerroom after practice. Get a few thoughts and, there, everyone has heard from Tyler Linderbaum today.
Another webisode could be the new coaches, OL coach George Barnett (you guys caught the Joe Moore influence there, right?) and RB coach Ladell Betts (a bad hammy kept him out of the 2001 Alamo Bowl, which would’ve been the crowning achievement of the career for a running back who went through some hard-ass times at Iowa, and he still stayed positive).
Follow them through some drills. Iowa’s video director Chris Ruth is a damn rock star. Let him show the world how cool you are. He’s been doing it.
After the third Long Island, I’d suggest live cam for pass rush and inside running drills. I would do this for $10 a day. I know I would buy that.
The lemondrop shots are always a bad idea
Not this spring, but next spring, when Northern Iowa is on the same fall football schedule as everyone, invite the Panthers to Kinnick in the spring or during fall camp for a scrimmage in Iowa City.
Yes, totally unrealistic, I know. Don’t even ask how the insurance would work. I’m not sure anyone knows that answer.
It’s hard not to notice the juice flowing out of NFL camps when two teams are going at it. The greatest football fight I ever saw was the Bears and Browns at UW-Platteville in the mid-1990s.
I’m not saying “fight night,” but Iowa (and any Big Ten team, really) could throw UNI some money and have the Panthers come in and work out for a day or two. Pass the cost on to your TV partners. They have the cash.
I love any sports organization that embraces its heritage. I think every program has some crazy logo, tradition, lore, piece of old gear that when fans see it, they want to buy it.
For example, the Iowa State club hockey team has a jersey with the Cyclones’ old-school, wonderfully ’70s-style tornado logo. I RT’d that at some point this winter and, yes, Hawkeye fans were interested in purchasing.
I’ve got a really great one for Iowa, great in the mindset of a freshman enjoying his first semester of FAC (my GPA did kind of recover, but “C’s get degrees” was the motto):
Let’s do something with Pony.
Yeah, they don’t make them anymore. I don’t think. I wrote a story a few years ago on the day Hayden released the “Wings of Desire/banana peel” unis.
I don’t mean wear them in competition. If they’re even being made now (I’m not bothering looking it up), I’m not sure they were game-ready even when Iowa wore them in the ’80s.
Quick review from Iowa linebacker John Hartlieb: “Those Pony shoes we were wearing were 12 pounds apiece. As slow as I was, that didn’t help much.”
You can put anything on a hoodie now and people will buy it. I’m thinking the Pony logo with “The Hayden Series” in script like the basketball team. From there, you can cherry pick all of the cool things Hayden brought to Iowa and let your talented designers go crazy putting things on Hayden Series hoodies.