How about a podcast in which recent Iowa Hawkeyes football players tell you how hard it is to no longer be on that team?
Or one in which one of those ex-Hawkeyes tells you at length why he is so disdainful of Nebraska? Or one in which they candidly talk about the point spread of the Hawkeyes’ next game?
Or one in which they tell you how much their team’s 2015 Big Ten championship game loss to Michigan State still hurts and always will?
Yes, please. Well, that podcast exists and is called “Washed Up Walkons.” It’s available on iTunes, Spotify and elsewhere. It’s 2017 Hawkeye seniors Tyler Kluver, Drake Kulick and Kevin Ward telling their truths, wearing their hearts on their sleeves, and having some laughs.
It debuted three weeks ago. New episodes come out on Thursday mornings. They are the opposite of polished, which is for the better.
“We said in the first episode that we don’t know what we’re doing,” Kluver said. “None of us are journalism or broadcast or production majors.”
Kluver was a long snapper, Kulick a fullback, Ward a linebacker. All joined the Hawkeyes as walk-ons and left as valued members of the team.
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Ward lives in the Chicago area, where he is getting into medical sales. Kluver will be a coach at a new Des Moines fitness facility. Kulick, said Kluver, “is playing poker for a living right now. He’s gotten serious about it and he makes money playing poker.”
They have rapport. The three lived with teammates Ike Boettger, Bo Bower and Josey Jewell for two years in an Iowa City duplex. The six are on a group text list. Not long ago, they discussed how fun it would be if they did a podcast.
“Later, Kevin texted me and Drake and said if you want to do it, I’d be in,” Kluver said. “I’m somewhat technically skilled with computers and equipment. I bought mics for them, and we started doing it from three remote locations.”
They talk about Iowa’s previous and upcoming games, with questions from Twitter followers in-between. But a lot of side streets are traveled.
“There is no script,” Kluver said. “It’s real. It’s how we talk in real life.”
It’s not safe for work. The language and thoughts are unfiltered.
“We’re going to cuss,” Kluver said. “The topics aren’t always fan-friendly.”
They also aren’t always things the NCAA or the lords of college football would smile upon. In each of the first three episodes, the hosts correctly urged their listeners to bet on Iowa against the point spreads.
“For all of you who haven’t bet the Hawks the last couple weeks and are listening to the podcast,” one of the hosts said on last week’s podcast, “what the (expletive) were you thinking?”
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“We’re not going to back down from anyone’s norm or standard,” said Kluver. “No one has an investment in the podcast except us three. We have nothing to lose, no one to answer to.
“If you’re into sports betting and want a serious opinion on the line, who better to listen to than guys who played?”
However, he added, “Sports betting is something I personally wouldn’t recommend. It’s hard to win. But if you’re listening to anybody …”
Kluver said you shouldn’t expect the three to automatically predict glory for the Hawkeyes each week.
“My opinion is that a lot of Iowa fans want Iowa to win so bad that they’re slightly diverted from reality in that they don’t think Iowa can lose,” he said. “Everybody plays 11 on the field. It’s whoever comes out and plays some serious football that day.”
The trio is humble on the podcast when it comes to their own football abilities, though all had significant roles on the Hawkeyes.
“That’s why we chose a self-deprecating title,” Kluver said. “If we came on and started chirping about ourselves, it wouldn’t be as fun to listen to. We’re not three big shots who were the best football players. We want to share real-life relatable stuff, real emotion.”
Their first three podcasts have totaled over 10,000 listens. Kluver said he thought 50 to 100 people would tune in and maybe a couple would respond. But honesty and humor combined with insiders’ insight never go out of style.
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