116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Twenty years ago this week, Iowa fans toppled the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome’s south end zone goal posts and carried an upright up the stadium steps after the Hawkeyes’ 45-21 win over Minnesota.
It was anarchy within the most-militaristic of American sports. It also was comical, especially the realization there was no way the upright was going to leave via the stadium’s revolving doors.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission billed Iowa $2,761.15 for the goal post. The price of Iowa football lore.
The win gave them the Hawkeyes their first undefeated Big Ten season since 1922.
“We had about 50,000 fans charge the field, rip down goal posts, throw people in the air and carry us off the field,” Iowa defensive end Matt Roth said. “It was a lot of fun. They were grabbing everything they could. They were kleptomaniacs, trying to steal players, coaches and goal posts.“
Those fans — well, a few of the strongest among the estimated 32,000 there to root for Iowa in the 65,000-seat stadium — actually lifted Hawkeye players. One was 6-foot-7, 315-pound David Porter, who got carried on strangers’ shoulders for a bit.
“I’m not used to that type of thing,” Porter said. “I’m tall, but that was a little scary. I’m used to having my feet on the ground and being tall.”
Iowa’s program has had a lot of good and great days in the 20 years since, home and away. But it has never had anything resembling that insane afternoon.
Can Saturday be a smaller-scale version? No. For one thing, it will be about 7 degrees Fahrenheit when the Iowa-Minnesota game is over at the open-air Huntington Bank Stadium, and even the happiest fans will be happier once they get out of there and find a heated shelter.
For another, it isn’t a game to nail down a perfect Big Ten season. This is to maintain West Division title hopes and get to 5-3 in the league. That isn’t the stuff of toting 300-pounders and trashing goal posts.
Maybe the game can become fabled in Hawkeye history, anyway. The coldest game in Kinnick Stadium history was in 2013, when it was 18 degrees at kickoff with an 18 mph wind. This one could be even colder.
So you have that, and then you can have the expected brutality of a defense-dominated game with a completed forward pass being a possible rumor to both offenses. Maybe you’ll get an Iowa win.
If so, the Hawkeyes will almost surely be a home win over Nebraska next Friday from returning to Indianapolis to play for a league championship.
The opponent in Indy, it would be noted, would have a balanced and brilliant offense to accompany a fine defense, and would be playing in the climate-controlled atmosphere of Lucas Oil Stadium. But that’s no one’s concern right now.
By the way, Iowa rushed for 365 yards that November 2002 day in the climate-controlled Metrodome, proving that 20 years ago really is a trip in the way-back machine.
Going back even further, Eddie Vincent was an Iowa football player who went on to be the mayor of Inglewood, Calif., for 12 years, then served in California’s state legislature for the same amount of time. A city park in Inglewood bears his name.
His 96-yard run against Purdue in 1954 still stands as Iowa’s all-time longest offensive play.
When Vincent was a senior in 1955, the Hawkeyes defeated Minnesota 26-0 in Iowa City. Vincent, an All-Big Ten halfback, threw a left-handed pass for a touchdown and rushed for two others.
“I just don’t remember anything about the game,” Vincent said afterward. “Somebody told me I ran 40 yards when I got knocked out, but I don’t remember a thing about it.”
Wednesday, Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker used the word “violent” to describe his unit’s practice that morning, adding “That's a good thing. That's the way you want it to be.”
If football didn’t exist in this country, it would probably be invented in its precise current form tomorrow.
Anyway ... no matter how this game turns out, let’s all hope it includes some nonviolent anarchy. And if you’re in attendance, wear long sleeves.
Comments: (319) 398-8440; firstname.lastname@example.org