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Commentary: First loss as an Iowa fan

BY IAN MARTIN | NOVEMBER 09, 2009 7:20 AM

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It’s not that I’m not used to losing. It’s just that I’m not used to losing as a Hawkeye.

I’ve been a University of Virginia fan, living an hour from Charlottesville, Va., for the last eight years of my life. I’m also a Viking, National, and Wizard fan.

Aside from Virginia’s national lacrosse championship in 2006, I have experienced devastation when it comes to my sports followings and fanhoods.

And honestly, I didn’t think Iowa would be any different when I came to Iowa City. I knew I would watch and follow the team (figuring my Virginia and Iowa support could be mutually exclusive).

Watching the Northern Iowa game, I would have settled for a bowl berth this season and, as always, hoped next year would be better. After Iowa State, and even Arizona, I reserved my euphoria for a reserved excitement.

I had been here before.

Al Groh’s Cavaliers had a 9-2 record going in to the Commonwealth Cup with Virginia Tech in 2007. All they had to do was beat the Hokies, and, by jove, the Cavliers were in the ACC championship game. After finally believing, Sean Glennon and Tyrod Taylor tore through the defense the whole game, winning, 33-21.

That was the last time I had truly believed in one of the teams I followed and invested all of my emotional energy into a squad contending for a BCS game. I swore I would be more cautious.

Then Adrian Clayborn blocked the punt at Penn State, and I knew I was an Iowa fan. If the Hawkeyes could beat the Nittany Lions, then they could beat anybody.

Even the national championship was in reach after the BCS standings came out, and I hadn’t been so excited about a team since the 1999 Minnesota Vikings.

After Northwestern, when the Ricky “Stanzi-coaster” derailed, I was distraught. It was my first loss as an Iowa fan, and Iowa’s first loss with me in attendance — including the 34-27 win over Michigan State during my official campus visit two years ago.

If you had looked into the student section after the Northwestern loss, you might have mistaken me for the Crying Indian, a single tear rolling down my cheek. I had invested in my team once again, and now I knew Jan. 7, 2010, was out of the question.

But after a two-hour nap, and a subsequent night of “therapy,” I realized the 17-10 final wasn’t really as bad as I had initially made it out to be. It was a loss to an inferior team at home, but think of all the worse things that have happened in Iowa football.

In my research (also known as me talking to my grandfather from Cedar Rapids), this is still one of the best years in Hawkeye history.

No team had ever started 9-0, and no team had been so highly ranked in the BCS. The feat was even more impressive considering the number of teams that are undefeated this season.

So think of all the students during the Frank Lauterbur era of the 1970s. Actually, just think of any fan during the gap between Forest Evashevski and Hayden Fry, and how they never got to see the Hawkeyes in a bowl game.

Really, I’m ecstatic with my new team and how well it has done and all the fans who have committed much more time in to the cause than I have.

At the beginning of the year, if someone had said, “Iowa will be 9-1 overall going into its road game against Ohio State, even though Stanzi, Jewel Hampton, Adam Robinson, and Dace Richardson are out,” you would take it, right?

Because I sure know I would.


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