Iowa Football

Iowa's 2020 football schedule: Omigosh, this is strange

Opening with Maryland, closing with Ohio State ... maybe

Iowa Hawkeyes football fans tailgate outside Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 19, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes football fans tailgate outside Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 19, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

You wake up to learn the Iowa Hawkeyes have a new 2020 football schedule that starts in a month, and so many thoughts and questions spring to mind.

How many tickets will the Hawkeyes sell? Who gets the tickets for which games? How in the world will people be kept 6 feet from each other in the sardines can known as Kinnick Stadium?

What if Big Ten players issue demands like those Pac-12 players presented recently, addressing coronavirus-related health and safety protections, economic rights and compensation for college athletes, racial injustice in college athletics, and protection for all college sports programs from being eliminated by budget cuts?

(Oh wait, Big Ten players did issue similar demands Wednesday. Well, that will be interesting.)

Will the teams’ road hotels be off-limits to everyone but hotel employees and the team? Will the Hawkeyes bus to Purdue or Minnesota for safety and economic reasons? Obviously, they would fly to Penn State. But can a place be allowed to call itself Happy Valley during a pandemic?

Will tailgating as we’ve known it be allowed? If there are restrictions, who enforces them? Isn’t cornhole a tailgating activity that can easily incorporate social distancing?

Will the Hawkeye Marching Band be at its normal size? Can you have a Blackout or Goldout or black-and-gold checkerboard game with so many seats unused?

Will there really be a season?

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Will a national sports radio host eventually stop using the phrase “plantation overlords” when mentioning Iowa football?

On days of home games, will there still be Big Ass Turkey Legs for sale across the street from Kinnick Stadium on Melrose Avenue? Hey, that’s what they’re called, so don’t be offended. The sign on the vendor’s stand says so, everybody knows it, everybody sees it.

Will there really be a season?

“Just because we release a schedule,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren told the Chicago Tribune, “doesn’t mean we are going to play.”

Doesn’t Jim Delany’s timing in retiring and handing off the reins of the conference to Warren prove without question that Delany was the shrewdest conference commissioner in world history?

OK, there’s a schedule and it’s coming up fast. Here we go, maybe. For Iowa, it starts with a home game against a Maryland team that wasn’t even on the Hawkeyes’ original 2020 slate. Omigosh, this is all such a strange deal.

The Hawkeyes play Nebraska at Kinnick on Sept. 26. Iowa hasn’t played the Huskers in September since 2000 when Associated Press had Nebraska ranked No. 1 in the nation. That was the last season the Huskers held that position.

Don’t laugh, Hawkeye fans. Iowa hasn’t been No. 1 since 1985.

The last time the Hawkeyes played a 10-game schedule was 1970. If you’re looking for a good omen, look elsewhere. The Hawkeyes were 3-6-1 that season.

The last time Iowa opened a season with a conference game was 1980. If you’re looking for a good omen, here you go: The Hawkeyes beat Indiana, 16-7.

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Iowa closes — unless there’s a postponement of another game until Nov. 28 — at Ohio State on Nov. 21. The Hawkeyes have never ended a regular season against the Buckeyes.

What if Iowa needs to win at Ohio State to reach the Big Ten championship game against … Ohio State?

Though the Hawkeyes are starting the season against a Maryland team that has lost its last seven games and by an average of 30.6 points, they have had worse opponents for season-openers. Not a lot, maybe, but some.

One more question: Will the players be OK?

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

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