College Football

Iowa Hawkeyes season teaser from FOX and FS1

Doug Stamper says the pink lockers are in your head

The pink visitors locker room at Kinnick Stadium Saturday, May 4, 2013 in Iowa City.  (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)
The pink visitors locker room at Kinnick Stadium Saturday, May 4, 2013 in Iowa City. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

You know that Big Ten football games will be on FOX and FS1 this fall. When the Hawkeyes travel to Lincoln for their annual season-ender with the Huskers, the game will be 3 p.m. on FS1.

The Hawkeyes are sure to have other games on Fox entities this fall. Maybe even some night games. The networks that have media rights contracts with the B1G (FOX, ABC/ESPN, Big Ten Network) can flex games without a pre-announced time into any slot (11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.) through the first weekend in November.

FOX, ABC/ESPN and BTN each have first selection on different weeks. Iowa will land on FOX entities, maybe often, who knows? This is a new model and it will take some getting used to.

In the meantime, FOX is getting to know the B1G. Today it released school-centric hype videos under the tagline “Every Game is Everything.”

Iowa’s video centers on the visitor’s pink lockerroom. It’s cool. It’s like someone gave David Lynch a rough idea of what football is and let him go wild. (RIP, Log Lady.)

From FOX: The school-specific pieces are based on the traditions and other unique qualities that make each Big Ten university special and are voiced by Michael Kelly from House of Cards and NatGeo’s The Long Road Home. The campaign will feature 17 total videos, including “Anthem,” plus two additional matchup-specific spots, which will be released at a later date.

So yes, you recognize that voice. Well, you have if you’ve watched “House of Cards,” the wacky presidential drama starring Kevin Spacey on Netflix (pink lockerrooms, Log Lady and Kevin Spacey, it’s “The Cultural Idiocy Quiz”).

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Michael Kelly plays Doug Stamper on House of Cards. Menacing, complicated and just a flat-out weird dude.

And, yes, this probably starts an avalanche of pink locker room complaints. Fantastic tradition, not intentionally sexist but a psychological ploy. Hayden Fry covered this in his book. But you know, to each their own.

From a Mike Hlas column in 2005:

The locker rooms are much better, too. NFL-worthy, actually. But don’t expect visiting teams to find theirs especially attractive. Because it isn’t. It’s pink.

We’re not simply talking about mere bubble gum pink walls, initiated by Hayden Fry for visiting teams early in his 20-year Iowa tenure. We’re talking pinker than Porky Pig. Pinker than the Pink Panther. It’s just plain pink.

The walls and lockers are a soft pink. The ceiling tiles are pink. So are the shower surfaces. And the restrooms. And elements of the locker room carpet. The visiting coaches’ locker room is smaller, but just as pink.

The color of the walls, University of Iowa Senior Associate Athletics Director Jane Meyer said with a fairly straight face, is “Innocence.” She said the urinals’ darker shade is “Dusty Rose.” The overall effect is “Nasty.”

Fry’s rationale for making his guests’ walls pink was that it’s a docile color. Since Fry’s degree at Baylor was in psychology, who was to argue? Especially when the pink walls did seem to get in the heads of a few foes. Michigan’s Bo Schembechler always had team managers put white paper (Fry called it “butcher’s paper”) on the walls. Some would call that obsessive. Not Fry. “Most coaches don’t do that, because they are not that smart,” Fry said.

The best way to deal with the pink has always been to laugh it off. In 1989, John Mackovic’s Illinois coaching staff wore pink caps during the Illini’s game at Iowa. The Illini rolled, 31-7. It helped that Illinois was good enough to win 10 games while the Hawkeyes had their first losing season in 10 years.

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At a press conference the Monday before he took his Michigan State team to Iowa last fall, MSU Coach John L. Smith asked “What kind of joker would paint their locker room pink?” When told him the perpetrator was Fry, Smith replied “Speaks for itself.”

That same day, MSU senior captain Tyrell Dortch called the pink locker room “insulting.” By the end of the week, the Spartans had injury added to insult when they were battered by Iowa, 38-16.

If the old visitors’ dressing room made guests mellow, the color scheme of the new digs may make them nauseous. But it’s all in good fun, Iowa Associate Athletics Director Mark Jennings said Saturday. And let’s face it, it’s kind of cool that there’s a place for a little campiness in super-serious major-college football.

You spend $87 million or so to give a stadium a facelift, there should be a wrinkle somewhere that’s good for a giggle.

“We want opposing teams to have a little fun with what we’ve done,” Jennings said. “It’s a little touch of Hayden in our new facility. I think we took it to a new level.”

A little touch? The visitors’ locker room is pinker than a Pepto-Bismol factory. Even Fry will say it’s over-the-top when he sees it. After he gets done laughing, anyway. Jennings said there are plans to put a plaque honoring Fry outside the visitors’ locker room. Of all the additions and changes at Kinnick, that may be the most fitting.

Michigan State doesn’t return to Iowa until 2007. When Smith walks by that plaque then, Fry’s image just might wink at him.

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

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