Are you ready for some football? I suspect most Iowans, except perhaps the few thousand attending the Clay County Fair, will be watching the University of Iowa vs. Iowa State University game today (Saturday, Sept. 21).
The kickoff in Ames will be broadcast on ABC beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Iowa State’s Cyclones are ranked ninth nationally going into the game while the Iowa Hawkeyes are ranked 10th.
To be totally transparent, Connie and I are Cyclone fans. Neither of us attended college there but we do have some solid connections.
Our son Jeff’s wife, Myrna, is a ISU graduate and so is longtime N’West Iowa REVIEW editor Jeff Grant. Jeff and Myrna’s son Sam is another product of Iowa State, having graduated with honors last spring. Finally, Sam’s sister, Katie, will graduate this coming spring to further tie our family to the cardinal and gold colors.
Anyone who knows my wife understands that she is the bigger sports fan. That side of her became obvious when Sam and Katie were playing various sports for the Sheldon High School Orabs. Connie made her best effort to attend every one of their games, even while recovering from back surgery, and didn’t hold back her shouts and cheers when the team scored.
Those shouts grew stronger and louder when the grandkids began their tenure at ISU and Brock Purdy took over as the Cyclone quarterback. But few heard them since those games were watched on TV in the privacy of our home.
At first I just half listened to the audio from another room while reading a book or working at my computer. Over time, however, Connie’s shouts and reactions to good and bad plays lured me into the TV room and we both became ISU football and basketball fanatics. We even purchased the Cyclone cable channel so we’d be able to see the games that weren’t on national television. That, however, has proved unnecessary since the recent winning seasons have led to weekly coverage by ABC and selected cable channels.
As Connie got more and more involved in ISU’s athletic program, I began looking for a way to get her to an actual game at Jack Trice Stadium.
But that is harder than it sounds. Season tickets are sold early in the year and those interested in that fall’s games need to act before the winter’s snow is off the ground. Individual game tickets are rare. Buyers of season tickets, I am told, can often sell their Iowa State vs. Iowa tickets to Hawkeye fans for $500 or more a ticket.
Then recently, ISU Alumni Association president and Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother Jeff Johnson, knowing my wish, invited Connie and me to join he and his wife, Peggy, for last week’s Iowa State game with the University of Northern Iowa.
We left Sibley around 9 Saturday morning to make sure we would be in our assigned parking place earlier enough to work our way to our seating area. But that, too, wasn’t necessary. The walk to the stadium was less than a block and the university had volunteers driving golf carts to transport those with mobility issues to the top concourse.
Our seats were located in an enclosed area in front of the Jack Trice Club. We were right on the 50-yard line and high enough to see all the action across the entire field. For those who were interested, the club room offered complimentary hot snacks, fresh salads, desserts, self-serve soft ice cream and a cash bar. I couldn’t pass up on a fantastic hot dog and the ice cream.
The game itself was a bit disappointing with little scoring by either ISU or UNI in a 16-10 Cyclone win. Both teams seemed to have problems blocking. But, as I mentioned to Connie, the preseason practices never seem to prepare a team for their first real game. It made me worry about ISU’s face-off with Iowa this weekend. The Hawkeyes will be coming on the field with a 34-6 win over previously 17th ranked Indiana University.
Still, as mediocre as the Cyclones played last week, talking with both ISU and Iowa fans at the Iowa Great Lakes, the consensus was ISU still would win the Big Game today.
All in all, it was a wonderful experience last Saturday. Just being there, hearing the roar of the crowd, seeing the color and overhearing the comments of others around us added greatly to the game. Equally good was spending time with Jeff Johnson, his wife and their young grandson. Connie had such a good time she thinks we should buy season tickets for next year.
Peter W. Wagner lives in Sibley. He is the founder/publisher of The N’West Iowa REVIEW and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.