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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw a late-game, 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd on Dec. 31 that gave his team a win over the Baltimore Ravens in the last game of the NFL regular season. That put the Buffalo Bills in the AFC playoffs instead of Baltimore.
Elated and appreciative Buffalo fans responded by donating about $350,000 to the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation, which responded by putting a thank-you to those Bills followers on their website's home page. The foundation provides assistance to families in Cincinnati and Fort Worth (Dalton's hometown) struggling to pay medical bills for families with seriously ill or physically challenged children.
Pretty nice. A lot of those people gave $17 in honor of Dalton helping the Bills end their 17-year playoff drought. Seventeen bucks is pretty painless, especially for the amount of joy Dalton's Bengals gave them for a week. Until, that is, the Bills lost to Jacksonville in the playoffs Sunday in a game that bore no resemblance to an instant classic.
But it got me thinking. Where is Alabama's tangible thank-you to Iowa? Were it not for the Hawkeyes' 55-24 November squash of Ohio State, the Buckeyes would have gotten the fourth-seed in the College Football Playoff, not Alabama, which won Monday night's title game over Georgia.
By the way, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban was on the Cleveland Browns staff with Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz (and then-Browns head coach Bill Belichick) in 1993 and 1994. The Browns went 11-5 in '94. No Browns team has had a season that good since.
Anyway, if Iowa had beaten OSU by just, say, 34-24, the Big Ten-champion Buckeyes would have been in the playoffs. Alabama, which didn't even reach the SEC's title game, would have been in the Cotton Bowl or some other godforsaken New Year's Six bowl.
Maybe the Crimson Tide would have met UCF in the Peach Bowl, where it surely would have met the same miserable fate as Auburn did in that game against the unbeaten Knights.
But the Hawkeyes unleashed fire and fury on Ohio State. They did the Tide a solid, as they say in Tuscaloosa and Talladega and Tuscumbia. The state of Iowa did another in raising Ross Pierschbacher of Cedar Falls, a first-team All-SEC offensive guard this season.
Pierschbacher originally verbally committed to attend Iowa, but Saban apparently told him he could play for at least two national-championship teams if he switched to the Tide, and off to Alabama went Pierschbacher.
Pierschbacher was on the field for the 41-yard touchdown pass in overtime that won the championship game for Bama against Georgia Monday. He's a fourth-year junior who already has a degree in marketing, and may be headed to the NFL this spring. Unless he wants to win another national title, that is.
Anyway, Alabama was yet again reliant on our state to help prop it up in football. In November 2011, Iowa State upset previously unbeaten Oklahoma State to effectively knock it out of the BCS national-title picture. That opened the way for Alabama to take the No. 2 slot behind SEC mate LSU, and the Tide beat the Tigers in the championship contest.
Alabama fans did lavish the Cyclones with thanks, but I don't remember them paying for refurbished infrastructure in Ames or any other gesture with some teeth to it.
Well, Bama, that was then. There's a children's hospital on the University of Iowa's campus, and we know you've heard of it. Everyone who follows college football has heard of it by now.
So, here's the link to tell you how to show your gratitude with a few bucks. Instead of buying your umpteenth national-title T-shirt that will end up sitting in a closet with all the others, this would actually help somebody.
And hey, Nick Saban. I hear you may have some extra walking-around money …