While at working at my local meat department last night, I was talking with a co-worker about this upcoming season of Hawkeye Football. We got into the usual topics, like replacing Greene, King and Kroul; How Stanzi is the best QB in the history of the game; and the new field at Kinnick and lack of midfield art.
But then the Customer I was waiting on brought it up: 2005.
"Don't Forget '05. We were supposed to be National Champions that year."
And suddenly all the bad emotions and memories came flooding back to me: throwing up in the Iowa City Scheels after Iowa State, losing 20 bucks to a family friend after Ohio State, the humiliation of the ended win streak at home to Michigan, and throwing a remote control at a new flatscreen TV after Northwestern.
And then there was January 2nd, 2006.
Several blown calls from the ref's on both sides cumulated into the ultimate slap in face for the whole season: that stupid offsides call that resulted in the haunting "what if" question.
Coming into 2005 I, like any other of the Hawkeye faithful, were riding the wings of a hail mary and a #8 finish. 2005 was to be a sweet serinade of Drew Tate, Roses, a heisman nod and a dozen or so Hawkeye Victory Polkas, and nothing less.
What we got was nothing short of greek tragety. Drew Tate went down early in the Iowa State game with a concussion and would not return for 2 weeks. Then Ohio State had a bone to pick with a certain team that handed them their worst loss in the 44-14-3 series. A 33-7 victory was turned into a 31-6 defeat only one year apart, and this dropped Iowa from the rankings until the end of the year.
Michigan broke a 26 game win record at Kinnick along with bits of Ed Hinkles arm, and Northwestern almost cost me a 1200 dollar flatscreen TV. I felt dirty, violated, and was referring to the team as "you guys suck" instead of the usual "we rule."
Suddenly the 11-0 Big Ten Champion, Rose Bowl Bound Hawkeyes with All-American Heisman Winner Drew Tate was a 7-4, middle of the pack injury ridden team ill-equipt to deal with Urban Meyer's Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl.
Down 24-7 at the Half, I slowly regained confidence that a victory could happen. And why not? They were in Florida, the land of all things magical, like Disney and Tim Tebow. But when a group of refs decide that they don't have their quota of penalties in a game, they flag the most asinine of all plays, resulting in the collective "WTF?!?!?!" calls from all of Hawkeyeland. Could we have come back and won it? Probably, but i'm in the camp that says no. Nothing was going right, and we would have found some way to screw it up.
The 12-0 National Champs were a defeated, broken 7-5 team on a cold January morning in Iowa. Looking Back, 7-5 is pretty good compared to a 6-7 and 6-6 year, but then again hindsight is 20/20.
After that little trip down nostalgia lane, I thanked the customer and wished him a good day. I pondered on 2005 a little more and continued my conversation with my co-worker, when Steve the assistant manager comes over and not-to-subtlely says "Hey I was a senior at Iowa State that year. Boy wasn't that a fun Game?"