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Hlas: Hawkeyes add an opponent: SI cover jinx

Iowa makes Sports Illustrated regional cover

IOWA CITY — People who believe in jinxes are, as a rule, saps and suckers.

They’re more vulnerable to schemes and scams. They willingly swallow every conspiracy theory, but are deeply suspicious of those distasteful things called facts.

For those who instantly shuddered in fear of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx Tuesday after learning Iowa football was featured on a regional cover of this week’s SI, I have a box of magic beans I’d like to sell you.

Sure, St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley was on a recent SI cover and has been held to 61 carries for a total of 200 yards over his last three games (all losses), after peeling off four straight games of at least 128 yards.

But the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry was on back-to-back covers in May, and didn’t seem too hexed as he led the Warriors to the NBA title in June. It’s funny how the best teams and individuals are more successful at overcoming jinxes. Michael Jordan was on the magazine’s cover 50 times.

This week’s Iowa cover, which is going out to 10 Midwest states, shows Iowa tight end George Kittle in the Kinnick Stadium north end zone after his touchdown catch against Purdue last Saturday. Teammate Matt VandeBerg is also in the shot.

“That’s a pretty cool cover,” VandeBerg said when I showed it to him Tuesday.

Cool? More like chilling. Didn’t he know the Iowa program has been down this pothole-plagued road before?

The Hawkeyes were 9-0 in November 2009 when Iowa receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was on the SI cover, airborne with the ball in his team’s win over Indiana at Kinnick. A few days later, Northwestern upset the Hawkeyes.

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Jinx. Or, they just got beat. It depends how many of those magic beans you’re willing to purchase.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz cooperated with the magazine for the story Albert Chen wrote about Ferentz’s team, even though Chen also wrote the cover story in ‘09. “The most charmed team of 2009,” Chen wrote in the first paragraph.

That Ferentz allowed Chen back in the state indicates he isn’t terribly superstitious.

“We’re going to have to do a little research and prove that there is no jinx,” Ferentz said.

“We’ve already done some things nobody has ever done here before, so maybe we can — last time we couldn’t survive, I think we lost that next week, right? I think we did, so maybe we can break that one, too. That’s one more thing we can put up on the board and try to shoot for.”

The prevailing attitude of the ‘15 Hawkeyes seems to be to take nothing seriously that others say about them, whether it come from skeptics or slobberers. Quarterback C.J. Beathard has publicly used the phrase “outside noise” at least a few times this season.

“You just can’t listen to the outside noise,” Beathard said again Tuesday. “The people out there that didn’t think anything of you before the season started and all of a sudden they’re all over you and giving you all this credit and stuff — you just can’t listen to that kind of stuff because that’ll get you beat.”

“I’ve never even heard of the Sports Illustrated jinx,” senior safety Jordan Lomax said. “I’m so oblivious to the outside noise.”

But when I gave Lomax a look at the SI cover, he smiled and said “Sweet. Nice. Wow, that’s nice.”

VandeBerg admitted he might have to stash a copy somewhere.

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“I don’t know if that’s something that comes along that often,” he said.

Well, there is a way for the Hawkeyes to get back on the cover in January, and to all 50 states. They’ll be there again if they win four more games for a national title.

But why jinx them by saying that?

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