116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It was late May, and I was putting the state’s best interests at heart as usual.
I asked you good people to come up with a much-better name for the Cy-Hawk football game than the one Iowa-Iowa State owns. We can do better than “Cy-Hawk,” and we must, I insisted. Especially since this year’s game had the potential to be a big, big, biggie.
We had all summer to find the perfect handle. You sent me suggestions. Quite a few, actually. Nearly all appeared to be sincere, not snark. There was just one problem.
None were good.
I admit I’m a tough critic about certain things. For instance, I’ll never understand how a state-full of football fans have such a powerful loyalty to a beer made by a multinational conglomerate.
I won’t print a laundry list of all the submissions, but trust me. None were grabbers. There was no Iowa equal to “Iron Bowl” or “Apple Cup” or “The Civil War” or even “The Game.”
Something occurred to me after reading one failed offering after another. You can’t put a name on the Iowa-Iowa State game. It’s too great, too important, too all-consuming. It’s beyond all description.
Wait, that’s it! It’s the Beyond All Description game. That has majesty, grandeur. Except it’s acronym might not work too well.
Although, calling it the BAD Game with the BAD Trophy might impress the world. It would show Iowans can laugh at themselves and keep a football contest in its proper perspective.
So here we are, stuck with the — ugh — Cy-Hawk. No previous game in the series has been bigger than Saturday’s, football-wise. Not only are the Hawkeyes and Cyclones ranked, they’re both in the top 10.
Were they 11-0 and meeting in a regular-season finale rather than 1-0 with a whole lot of proving left to do, we’d have to flee to Cape Cod or Denali to escape the game’s big noise.
Things are kind of loud as it is, frankly.
As for the game itself, only the most-delusional can honestly claim to be sure about what will happen between the lines Saturday afternoon/evening at Jack Trice Stadium.
All we can confidently say is that the winning side will be euphoric and the losing side will be in a foul mood. Be grateful that’s what will happen, because there is another scenario that would make no one happy.
Let’s say the game is decided on a last-second play. It is reviewed by the officials because the original call is questioned, and at a decibel count equivalent to that of a volcano erupting at a space shuttle launch.
The play is shown from 17 different angles on the Jack Trice Stadium video screen, and to the ABC audience around America and across cyberspace.
It is clear to all that the call must be reversed. Even fans of the team that would benefit from the original ruling concede as much, and sorrowfully accept that it will be changed.
Then the replay official’s ruling is announced. “After further review … the call stands.”
Fans of the losing team are enraged and stay that way for the rest of their lives. Fans of the winning team never enjoy the win because the world refuses to let them forget it was tainted.
Nobody’s happy. The lone upside is it gives the rivalry instant legendary status. For the first time, the nation buzzes about an Iowa-Iowa State football game long after it’s over.
Ken Burns can’t do a nine-part documentary about the history of college football — or a 99-part series on America itself — without featuring that early evening in Ames.
The losing team rakes in the sympathy, but forever carries that “L.” The winning team has the “W,” but gets punished by the pollsters. Members of the College Football Playoff selection committee admit they regard the “win” as a loss.
But what about the replay official? Doesn’t he become the biggest loser of them all, forced to live out his days in regret and shame, regarded by the masses as incompetent and/or corrupt?
Not at all. In fact, he gets a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court the next time there’s an opening.
OK, that stuff won’t happen. It’s too much to ask. Oh well. Maybe Saturday’s game will be an epic, anyhow.
It’s a top-10 clash, you know. You did know that, right?
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