Since I talked to you last, the Iowa football team has had two home football ames. Here is my thoughts as I walked around Kinnick Stadium the past two weekends.
They won. The people that wanted the vendors taken off Melrose Avenue, for the most part, have gotten what they wanted. There are far fewer folks out there selling their war, then there has been in the past. I would guess, the number is half what it used to be (my guess only). It really has hurt the atmosphere surronding game day in Iowa City. The city council and some neighborhood residents got what they wanted. The rest of us will just suffer. Walking up and down Melrose on game day, used to be a special event. It's not nearly that any longer.
I also noticed that around the stadium, there are far more scalper tickets for sale, then in the past. Maybe we can attribute it to the patsy schedule (which we will talk about next), or maybe some of the sluggish play early on. It just seems like anyone can walk out on Hawkins or Melrose, and get a ticket for a reasonable price.
What about that schedule? Come on guys. Tennessee Tech? And Louisana-Monroe? They would match up pretty well against each other on ESPNU on a Thursday night. But bringing them to Iowa City (for a reported 1.2 million dollar guarantee for both), and then charging us what they do for tickets, is almost absurd. I'm not naive, nor an I advocating dropping ticket prices. What I am saying is, lets bring in some better opponents. Now Pitt was quality. Lets feel good about beating someone. Tennessee Tech and ULM would be good opponents for UNI, but not Iowa. We beat them, and it proves absolutely nothing.
By the way, the storms at the Tennessee Tech game were unbelievable. In my years going to games at Kinnick, I have sat through seering heat, bitter brutal cold, snow, and rain. Now I can add Monsoon to that list. I thought I was going to drown. And no, I didn't go back in once play was resumed. Being soaked to the bone and freezing had something to do with it. Actually I was kind of lucky. About an hour before kickoff, I left my tailgate and took a stroll down Melrose. One of the remaining vendors was yelling "Rain ponchos, five bucks," just as I was walking by his stand. Best fin I ever gave up. It was also the last one he had, probably the last one in all Johnson County. It worked for a while, until the storms really hit. Then a little plastic rain poncho was like a bucket on the Titanic.
Time for a Kinnick food update. Since my regular hot dog vendor was a Melrose casulty (see above), I was forced to break one of my rules, and buy one from inside the stadium. Hey Gary Barta, I want my $3.50 back. That's all I have to say. The pretzels are okay though, though stay away from the cheese. Look at the way it comes out of the dispenser. Do you really want that in your veins? Lately I have been buying bags of peanuts while watching the game. It gives kind of a Wrigley field feel. Now maybe if they would just start selling Old Style...
Speaking of alcohol consumption in and around the stadium. At both the Pitt and ULM game, a person near my section was arrested and forcibly removed. Hey, if you go into a game and act like an idiot, they will get you. One guy was 20 rows behind me, and one was 10 in front of me. Both times, about seven or eight cops showed up, and carried the perp (I like that word. Right out of NYPD Blue) right out of the stadium, and into the county slam. They mean business. Think about how embarrassing it would be to walk out of the stadium in front of all those people, in handcuffs.
Finally, what about the Pitt comeback? As I was sitting there at the end, all I could think about it the past few years at Kinnick. Two field goals blocked in the closing seconds against UNI. There was Tyler Sash picking one up from who knows where and going the distance to beat Indiana. Or maybe it was Daniel Murray squibbing up an ugly field goal at the end, to beat Penn State in the cold night, which was the second most exciting Iowa game I have ever seen (Rob Houghlin kicking the field goal in the rain to beat Michigan 12-10 in 1985 was my all-time favorite). I can still see Andy Brodell running back a punt to beat Iowa State. From joy and elation, there was the horror of watching Wisconsin run that fake punt.
The point is, we should all know better. The lesson is very clear. And that is WHY WOULD YOU EVER LEAVE KINNICK STADIUM EARLY? WE KNOW WHO IS PLAYING HERE. AND PASS THE HEART MEDICINE.
I am going to close with one more memory. That's of Brett Greenwood picking off a Dennard Robinson pass to hold off Michigan two years ago. From all of us Iowa fans, Brett get well soon. We all want to see you at the tailgate parties telling us about that play.