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Point/counterpoint: Are Iowa's running backs actually cursed?

BY DI STAFF | AUGUST 28, 2012 6:30 AM

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Barkley Hill became the most recent victim of the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God when his season-ending knee injury was announced. Two of our staffers (facetiously, of course) debate if there are any supernatural forces at work beyond bad luck for the Iowa football team.

Yes

In light of the news Barkley Hill will miss the season because of an ACL tear and the dismissal of DeAndre Johnson, I’ve become convinced that the Iowa Hawkeye running backs are cursed. In fact, there is a vengeful God behind it: The Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God (credit to Hawkeye sports blog Black Heart Gold Pants for uncovering this monster).

It all started in 2001, when Aaron Greving filled in for an injured Ladell Betts in the Alamo Bowl and rushed for more than 100 yards. The next season, he got hurt and quit football. The Running Back God had made his first strike.

Three ACL tears and other injuries sidelined Iowa running backs during the 2004. Still, the Hawkeyes went on to win the Big Ten. But do you remember what happened in 2004? The school started renovations on Kinnick Stadium. Perhaps the spirit of Nile Kinnick took offense to renovations at the stadium named after him. The Running Back God took notice at Nile’s displeasure and took it upon himself to punish the Hawks in crippling fashion.

Some may point to Shonn Greene and say, “Wait, he never ripped up his knee.” But he was academically ineligible as a freshman and went to a junior college for two years. He played one year at Iowa and got out before the Running Back God could get to him.

Of course, we all know about the past few years with the departures of Brandon Wegher, Adam Robinson, Jewel Hampton, and Marcus Coker. Quick, name the only scholarship running back since 2002 to go four years without a season-ending injury. Still thinking? It was Damian Sims. However, Kirk Ferentz fooled the Running Back God by moving Sims to cornerback briefly during his career.

The God and the running-back curse has to be a real thing. There is no other way to explain the attrition at that position. Numbers don’t lie, and there is no way that only having four senior running backs since 2001 is a coincidence. There are plenty of curses in sports, but the curse of the Iowa running backs may be the most devastating.

— by Kevin Glueck

No

A flurry of boneheaded decisions and Kirk Ferentz’s unfortunate luck when it comes to his recruits’ knee ligaments are to blame for Iowa’s current running-back carousel.

It’s not a curse.

In case you all haven’t noticed yet, blaming one’s misfortunes on curses usually doesn’t bode well for you in the world of sports. As a Cub fan, I know this all too well.

Let’s take a step back, though. Marcus Coker ran for 1,384 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Those numbers were good enough to put him in the top 15 in both categories among all Fottball Bowl Subdivision tailbacks.

Coker and Adam Robinson combined to run for 1,563 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2010. The Robinson-Brandon Wegher duo combined for eerily similar statistics the year before in 2009. And Shonn Greene won the Doak Walker Award in 2008.

Some schools would kill for that type of “misfortune,” right?

I’m not saying the Hawkeyes’ running-back situation has been ideal lately, but it’s hard to argue with that kind of production.

To debunk this so-called curse, I nominate myself to be the guinea pig of the operation. With Coach Ferentz’s consent, I’m willing to suit up at Soldier Field on Saturday and prove once and for all that Iowa running backs are not cursed.

For those wondering, I have no previous history of knee injuries and am in good academic standing with the university.

If you’d like to come and see me create a one-man highlight reel, I’ll be the 5-foot-8, 160-pound kid running for his dear life. It shouldn’t be that hard to find me.

All jokes aside, it’s clear that Iowa running backs aren’t seriously cursed by some higher power.

-by Ryan Probasco


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