Iowa Hawkeyes

Dec. 19 could be greatest day in Iowa Hawkeye sports history

Imagine beating the No. 1 basketball team and winning Big Ten football title on same day

Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery (left) meets Hawkeyes football coach Kirk Ferentz on April 17, 2020, not long
Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery (left) meets Hawkeyes football coach Kirk Ferentz on April 17, 2020, not long after McCaffery was hired at Iowa. (Charlie Niebergall/Associated Press)

Did that headline reel you in?

OK, let’s just say for now, that there is potential for Dec. 19 to be a great, great day for Hawkeyes fans. Or a great day. Or a good day. I won’t go lower than good, because you can get that anywhere.

But consider the possibilities. We now know the Iowa men’s basketball team will play Gonzaga in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Dec. 19. No game time has been set, but this would seem to be a nationally televised afternoon game on a Saturday because …

Because the Big Ten football championship game is also Dec. 19, and one would assume that would be in prime time in Indianapolis as it has always been in the past. Although, the idea of making assumptions this year is laughable. We’ll go with this anyway.

OK. Back to the basketball. It isn’t a reach to think Gonzaga could be ranked No. 1 in the nation on the morning of Dec. 19. It plays Baylor two weeks earlier in Indianapolis, and those two are expected to be ranked extremely high when that game is played. Let’s say the Zags win that game and are unbeaten when they get to Sioux Falls.

Let’s also say Iowa has beaten its ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent in Iowa City, a North Carolina or another marquee foe, and is unbeaten and ranked extremely high itself come Dec. 19.

Big game in Sioux Falls.

By the way, the Hawkeyes do have a relatively recent win against the No. 1 team in the nation. They beat No. 1 Michigan State in Iowa City, 83-70, on Dec. 29, 2015. Mike Gesell scored 25 points, which stood as his career high.

OK, back to football. Let’s say that Iowa wins the Big Ten West. It’s not far-fetched.

Let’s also say the Hawkeyes would then face Ohio State in the league-title game. Let’s also say the Buckeyes are unbeaten and ranked in the top two or three. Or even No. 1 if Clemson has somehow lost to an ACC team and the SEC powers cannibalize each other.

Under all these scenarios, you’d have Iowa men’s basketball playing for a potential No. 1 ranking in the afternoon and the Hawkeyes football team vying for its first Big Ten championship since 2004 in the evening.

Would any heads in Hawkeyeland not explode if that all played out?

Sioux Falls is 396 miles from Iowa City. Indianapolis is from 367 miles from Iowa City. Iowa City would be almost precisely in the middle of those two events. It would almost be poetic, no?

Hey, this is all for fun, kids. We don’t know if Big Ten football will make it to Dec. 19 given how the coronavirus is meddling with the NFL. We don’t know how the games will go for Iowa’s teams before that day. The Hawkeyes aren’t even favored to win the Big Ten West in football.

Without imagining fun scenarios, however, what’s the point of following sports?

I mean, what if Iowa State gets progressively better, wins the Big 12, and despite a season-opening loss to Louisiana, is slotted to face the Big Ten champ when the College Football Playoff announces its pairings on Dec. 20?

What if Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta is stuck doing his duties as CFP selection committee chairman on the day his Hawkeyes are playing for a spot in that playoff?

And what if that Big Ten champ is Iowa, crowned hours after the Hawkeyes men’s basketball team has defeated No. 1 Gonzaga?

And what if a charitable billionaire sees to it that I have everything I could ever want or need for the rest of my days with no strings attached? If you’re going to be a sports writer in Iowa and are greedy, you might as well go for it all the way.

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

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