Iowa Football

Iowa football Tuesday Takeoff: Dealing with a good Minnesota

Think tearing down the goal posts was cool (it was)? Gophers are coming for everything they can carry

Iowa fans hang from the goal post after the Hawkeyes' win over Minnesota Saturday, Nov. 16, 2002, at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
Iowa fans hang from the goal post after the Hawkeyes' win over Minnesota Saturday, Nov. 16, 2002, at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

IOWA CITY — Before the Hawkeyes and Gophers got together in 1982, reports out of Minneapolis circulated that then-Gophers coach Joe Salem dressed in bib overalls at practices leading up to the Iowa game.

The Gophers had a four-game winning streak over the Hawkeyes entering the game. Salem was 3-0 against Hayden Fry and the Hawkeyes. So, when the Hawkeyes won 21-16, Fry had a plan. The man always had a plan.

Fry changed out of his typical game attire of a black jacket and white pants, and came out for interviews wearing a red flannel shirt, a white cowboy hat trimmed with a red bandanna, and blue bib overalls.

“All you great Minnesota writers, radio people and TV,” Fry said, “I didn’t want you to look like liars, so I’ve got my clod clothes on.

“We’re taking Floyd (of Rosedale) home where he belongs — Soooo-ey!!!”

Of course, you remember 2002.

In the throes of Iowa’s Big Ten title-clinching victory, with an 8-0 conference record on top of that, Iowa fans tore down the goal posts in the Metrodome’s south end zone.

The Hawkeye horde carried an upright up a flight of stairs and onto a concourse before discovering the Metrodome’s revolving doors.

The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission billed Iowa $5,000 for the goal post. Then-athletics director Bob Bowlsby gladly accepted the charge.

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“We can’t take responsibility for everything our fans do,” Bowlsby said, “but it’s a good bet Gopher fans did not tear down the goal post.”

It’s believed the last time an opposing team tore down a goal post was California students at Stanford after losing the 100th edition of the “Big Game” in 1997.

“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.”

The Hawkeyes won, 45-21, cinching up the school’s first undefeated run in the Big Ten in 80 years. It was Iowa’s first Big Ten title since 1990. And nothing was going to stop Hawkeye fans from celebrating.

Minneapolis police arrested a handful of fans. The Metrodome P.A. announcer issued two “final warnings” and then dome security unleashed that unforgettable high-pitched squeal from the loudspeakers.

“It did not have positive results,” then-Minnesota AD Joel Maturi said. “No one has told me who did it and why.”

An estimated 32,000 Iowa fans helped pack the Metrodome on Nov. 16, 2002. The attendance of 65,184 was the largest crowd to watch a Gophers football game at the Metrodome, breaking a record of 65,018 against Iowa in 1986.

“People say that it’s ‘Kinnick North,’ and that’s for good reason,” junior linebacker Chad Greenway said. “Our fans travel so well up there. Our fans get up there in masses. They’re loud, and that place gets rocking.”

Has Iowa flexed on any other Big Ten program so openly? Probably not. OK, maybe Northwestern.

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Iowa had beaten Northwestern 20 straight. The tables turned in 1995. Later on, NU coach Gary Barnett revealed in a book that a Hayden Fry postgame comment — “Hope we didn’t hurt any of your guys” — stirred the embers in their souls. And now Iowa and Northwestern are on even ground in the Big Ten West.

Yes, this is the stuff in the margins. Let’s call it “moto.” This is the kind of hype stuff that puts fire in the veins and then either fuels you for four quarters or burns out after two series.

Place it where you will. Everyone knows where Minnesota is going into Saturday’s game — No. 7 in the country and 9-0 — and everyone around here knows where the Hawkeyes aren’t.

None of this will matter, but the football brain needs that spark of disrespect.

Here’s one more.

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck was in his first year at Western Michigan in 2013. The Broncos came to Kinnick and were herded. Wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley returned two punts for TDs. Cornerback B.J. Lowery returned two interceptions for TDs and it was 59-3.

You know the pre- and postgame coach meetings are super awkward for Kirk Ferentz. He probably just said the words he though would get him through. And what the hell do you say after two punt returns, two pick-6s and 59-3?

”You know you didn’t play very well when the opposing head coach, who I respect and admire, just looks at you and goes, ‘Just one of those games,’” Fleck said. “Wow. Kirk Ferentz said it’s just one of those games, I guess it was. I mean, I don’t know. We didn’t play very well.”

The football brain doesn’t necessarily need disrespect to fuel it, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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