Iowa Football

Hoosier Hysteria doesn't apply to football

Hawkeyes head to only Big Ten statae where the pointed ball takes a backseat

Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard (16) gets a block by wide receiver Jerminic Smith (9) on Indiana defensive back Andre Brown Jr. (14) on a 7-yard touchdown run during Iowa’s 35-27 win over the Hoosiers in 2015. It was most-recent time the two teams have met. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard (16) gets a block by wide receiver Jerminic Smith (9) on Indiana defensive back Andre Brown Jr. (14) on a 7-yard touchdown run during Iowa’s 35-27 win over the Hoosiers in 2015. It was most-recent time the two teams have met. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

This was part of the prepared opening remarks portion of Kirk Ferentz’s weekly press conference Tuesday:

“Last week we were in a city area (Minneapolis) where we sat in traffic on Friday and things didn’t run 100 percent smoothly, road construction, all that kind of stuff. This week is a little different deal and what have you. But I think that’s part of conference football, certainly.”

That produced a memory for me. We who covered Iowa football at The Gazette used to travel to selected road football games on an 8-seat chartered plane with people from a local TV station. I’ll recall that longingly late Saturday night as I’m driving past the Farmer City, Ill., exit on I-74, with many miles to go before getting home.

Anyway, several years ago our sports editor at the time heard Bloomington, Ind., had some road construction that was impeding traffic. With good intentions, he moved up our Saturday morning departure for an Iowa-Indiana game to when it was still dark in Eastern Iowa. Our flight landed in Bloomington when it was still dark there. We arrived at Memorial Stadium for a noon kickoff when it was still dark there.

The construction may have delayed our arrival to the stadium from Bloomington’s airport by as much as 15 seconds.

So I got what Ferentz was saying. One week you’re inching your way from Bloomington, Minn., toward the University of Minnesota campus. The next week you can wheel around Bloomington, Ind., to your heart’s content.

The latter is helped by Indiana being the lone Big Ten state in which football isn’t the college sport of choice. The Hoosiers are averaging 40,392 fans per home game. They had 35,492 for their home opener against Virginia.

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A lot of tickets for Saturday’s Iowa-Indiana game sold for $37 this week on at least one online site. That’s face value almost cut in half.

Indiana’s men’s basketball team was 16-15 last year in Archie Miller’s first season as coach. But the Hoosiers still averaged 15,590 fans, 10th-most in the college game and second to Wisconsin in the Big Ten.

Many is the college football stadium that dwarfs a neighboring basketball arena. At Indiana, Assembly Hall feels more imposing than the next-door football stadium.

This week, four-star running back recruit Sampson James of Avon, Ind., decommitted to Ohio State and announced he’ll join Indiana’s program.

“If you had been anywhere near this block, you would have heard me screaming for quite a bit,” Indiana Coach Tom Allen said Wednesday, without stepping on NCAA rules by speaking specifically about James.

Indiana doesn’t get four-star football players or win recruiting battles with Ohio State. That is a really big deal for Allen’s program.

But you know what was a huge deal? When Romeo Langford of New Albany, Ind., signed with Indiana last spring.

Langford is Indiana’s 2018 “Mr. Basketball.” His final three college choices were Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt, after he crossed off North Carolina and UCLA.

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His high school gym was stuffed with fans when he made his college announcement there. They started forming a line outside the building over four hours before the ceremony.

Two weeks ago, a crowd of 13,000 attended Hoosier Hysteria at Assembly Hall for player introductions, a dunk contest, a 15-minute scrimmage, and an autograph session. The line for Langford’s signature went on and on and on.

Indiana has a 5 p.m. home basketball game against Northwestern scheduled on Dec. 1. That’s the same night the Big Ten football title game will be played an hour north in Indianapolis.

Iowa doesn’t have a men’s basketball game scheduled on Dec. 1. Smart, safe move. If the Hawkeye footballers somehow make it to Indy, many Iowa basketball season ticket-holders will be 365 miles to the east that day.

But there’s no winning the West Division without beating the Hoosiers Saturday. If the Hawkeyes are to be anything special in football this season, they have to remain more special than Indiana.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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