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Friday, November 16, 2012

Know Your Foe - Iowa 2012

Saturday is the last home game for Michigan's seniors who have gone through hell (the three seasons we will no longer mention) and back (returning Michigan to being Michigan). While U-M holds a 40-13-4 series record over the Hawkeyes, Iowa has won the previous three meetings. Last year, the Hawkeyes milked an early lead and got a favorable call at the end hung on in Iowa City. This year, 4-6 Iowa will have to win its last two games against ranked teams just to be bowl eligible. But that's not the info you're here to read.  This is: the latest and greatest edition of the MZone's KNOW YOUR FOE: Iowa 2012.

This looks like a made-up
seal for a soap opera
History – The University of Iowa was founded in 1847 - and still has the legal name of - the State University of Iowa. The official university web site claims that Iowa was the first public university to admit men and women on an equal basis. In 1868, the university established the first law school west of the Mississippi. In 1870, the university opened the first co-ed medical school, allowing all of the lawyers from the first western law school to sue both male and female physicians. Iowa was also the world's first university to accept creative work in theater, writing, music, and art on an equal basis with academic research. With people confusing "State University of Iowa" with Iowa State, the Board of Regents approved the usage of "University of Iowa" in 1964.

Location – Iowa City, Iowa. It’s the sixth largest city in Iowa, and was the first state capitol until 1857. The Old Capitol building remains and is a centerpiece of the Iowa campus. It’s tied with Stamford, Connecticut as the U.S. Metropolitan area with the highest percentage of adult’s holding a bachelor degree (44%). Much like so many of the locales that are home to Big Ten schools, Iowa City is a stereotypical college town. There’s a pedestrian mall that includes many of the town’s restaurants and bars, with a lively music scene. And it’s been ranked as the eighth most enlightened town by Utne Reader, and the tenth smartest place to live by Kiplinger’s. It’s also the home to the ACT, so if you don’t “test well” and your ACT score kept you out of the school you really wanted to go to, you have someone in Iowa City to blame. Because KYF is sure that your 18 had nothing to do with you getting drunk the night before the exam.

Nickname/Mascot – Hawkeyes, named for the state of Iowa which is known as the Hawkeye state - the same way that U of M is known as the Wolverines. But how did the state - and thus the university’s sports teams - get the name Hawkeyes? Well, that’s subject to a bit of debate. There’s no questioning that the efforts of two men, Judge David Rorer and James G. Edwards, were the driving force behind the adoption of the name. But the origin is still unclear. Wikipedia claims it’s a tribute to Chief Black Hawk, following the Black Hawk War of 1832. But the Iowa Athletics site maintains that it originally came from the novel, The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper. In the book, Hawkeye was the name bestowed on a white scout who hunted and lived with the Delaware Indians.

The university has a costumed Hawkeye, known as Herky, who has been a symbol of the university since 1948. The university had had gone through a number of mascots, including Burch, a black bear cub who lived under the football bleachers until he was found drowned in the Iowa River in 1910 (thankfully, KYF had an alibi). Herky was conceived by a journalism instructor and his name was selected based on a statewide contest and is supposed to be a shortened version of Hercules (so much for all that creative writing stuff). His first appearance at a football game came in 1959.

Colors/Logo/Fight Song – Black and Gold. But is it really gold? If I remember my Crayolas correctly, gold is what Purdue or Notre Dame wears. The “gold” on Iowa’s helmet is more of a corn yellow or, dare I say, maize. The colors have always been the same for Iowa, but the football uniforms purposely mimic those of the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Hayden Fry came to coach the Hawkeyes in 1979, his main task was to eradicate the atmosphere of suckness in the program – Iowa hadn’t had a winning season since 1960 before he arrived. Since Iowa had the same colors as the most dominant NFL team of the day, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Fry copied the wide stripe on the pants, and the black helmet with single yellow stripe. Whether it was the uniforms, or more likely his coaching ability and getting better players at Iowa, Fry turned around the Iowa program quickly and made it into one of the Big Ten’s best during his tenure.

The Iowa logo showed up at the same time as Fry, and the football team’s success since then has ensured that the logo will be around for a while. It’s actually a very clever design, consisting of four separate pieces to make up a hawk’s head. It’s not only the helmet logo, but is a symbol of all of the sports teams and the university itself. Just about any piece of Iowa memorabilia contains the logo.  Although we always kinda thought it looked like a certain cartoon character...

The Iowa Fight Song is rather generic, especially when compared to many of its Big Ten counterparts. The song only has 61 words, yet the word “Fight!” appears nine times. Even “Iowa” only shows up four times. Even the word “Rafters” shows up once, but that’s not surprising – this is a farming state.

You're supposed to be reading about
Iowa's academics. Shame on you.
Academics – Surprisingly, Iowa only rates as #72 on the U.S. News rankings of the nation's universities, tied with Big Ten cohort Sparty. KYF never would have imagined. The pride and joy of the University is probably the Writers’ Workshop. The Workshop is a two-year residency program which ultimately requires a creative thesis, usually a novel or a collection of stories, and its alumni have won a dozen Pulitzer Prizes with four graduates of the program having been named U.S. Poet Laureates. Oh sure, if Know Your Foe was in the hands of a Writers’ Workshop grad, it would be much more interesting.  But would you get pictures like the one to the right? (Like you're even reading KYF at this point)

Athletics – As mentioned above, Hayden Fry breathed life into the moribund football program starting in the early ‘80s. Though only appearing in three Rose bowls since then (and losing them all), the Hawkeyes are a consistently tough Big Ten opponent (at least for Michigan of late). But wrestling is where Iowa really shines.  Under legendary coach Dan Gable, the Hawkweyes won 20 national and 31 Big Ten titles. This included nine straight national titles from ’78 through ’86. So even though the basketball team has had some success, and the trampoline was invented by university members George Nissen and Larry Griswold around 1935, when you’re talking Iowa athletics, you’re talking wrestling.

Famous alums – While not a super-impressive list, they pick up points for being able to claim Tom Brokaw, John Irving, Tennessee Williams, Eddie Robinson and Gene Wilder (who was married to Michigan alum Gilda Radner). But they have to lose some points for having Tom Arnold, Ashton Kutcher, and Lou Holtz as alumni. And though she didn’t attend school in Iowa City, current U of M President Mary Sue Coleman held the same post and the University of Iowa prior to moving to Ann Arbor.

The Game – Saturday will be the last time Michigan great Denard Robinson suits up in the Big House. He likely won't play, but the Michigan fans (who show up on time) will be able to give him the tremendous send off he deserves. It's likely to be the only real exciting part of the day. Michigan should roll a truly bad Iowa team that's fortunate to even have the four wins on their record.



616goblue said...

Michigan Football Friday routine:
1. Wake up before my 5am alarm
2. Take care of the all important S from the three Ss
3. Log onto the Interwebs
4. Read Know Your Foe
5. Appreciate the pregame healing photo for the Hawkeyes--errrr--the part where Iowa's academic achievement is unveiled to the Michigan blogosphere.
6. Said photo brings back memories of my first job out of college which was in Iowa City, IA in the 319
7. A tear is shed in tribute to the two greatest summers of my post collegiate life--snif
8. Space bitches, space
9. Plenty of lawyers and doctors but no US Presidents
10. Know Your Foe gets me fired up to be among 110,000+ maize and blue faithful tomorrow in The Big House


Dennis said...

Well done as usual. How come there is nothing about their academics or athletics?

Seriously, I wish you luck, but don't think you'll need much. They are pretty bad this year. Nice tuneup game for you for next week.


surrounded in columbus said...

top notch. hard to imagine this is the last "home" KYF of the season. where has the time gone? seems like only yesterday we were scouting AFA.


MonkeyWrench32 said...

Re: Gold versus yellow:

Almost every team that uses a shade of yellow in their palette will officially call it "gold" (or some other fancy word) because they do not want the word "yellow" to be associated with the team.

The names for colors that teams give them are totally arbitrary, anyway. For example, from the amazing ColorWerx site, here's two universities who use "crimson":

University of Kansas
Harvard University