Over the past 4 years, you've all seen plenty of ravenous, uncouth diatribes fling from the tips of my fingers, via beer-stained keyboards. Many of those diatribes have been directed at the University of Iowa, their fans, and their revenue sport athletic programs. With the annual Cy-Hawk tilt coming up in a few short days, there has been an expectation that the respective SB Nation blogs of each school hurl insults at each other in an attempt to win e-supremacy. I've been an avid participant at many times in the past, but alas, my feelings are slowly turning.
For years, I harbored an intense, burning hatred for all things Hawkeye. I despised the arrogance of a fanbase that is predominantly built off of people who have no official attachment to the University of Iowa, yet disparage the actual Iowa State University (not just it's athletic programs) as if they sit in some position to judge. I despised the way media focus in the State of Iowa was overwhelmingly focused on Hawkeye sports. Hawkeye paraphernalia dominated the shelves of stores state wide. It was, for all intents and purposes, the Hawkeye State. But in the past 5 years, something has changed.
Slowly but surely, ISU gear started to pop up state wide. No longer was it a noteworthy occurrence to be out and about in places like Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, or Sioux City and see a ton of people in ISU gear. Des Moines media started covering ISU sports just as much, if not more than Iowa sports. Big wins on the football field and a rising national profile on the basketball scene have driven ISU attendance to record attendance in both sports. Iowa State University is now the largest university in the State of Iowa, and it educates more Iowans than any other university. It also leads other universities in the total number of graduates employed in-state. With its roots in fields like agriculture and engineering, it's likely that Iowa State is going to continue to be in position to best serve the state's economy.
The University of Iowa, on the other hand, has desperately begun recruiting in-state students in an attempt to gain ground, as it continues to spit out loads of essentially worthless undergraduate degrees in impractical fields. Between a rapidly growing in-state alumni base, and the ISU basketball establishing itself as the most visible and nationally relevant revenue sport program in the state both now and likely for the tenure of Fred Hoiberg's career in Ames, it's obvious that the gap between the public perception of these two universities is rapidly changing. Sure, Iowa has maintained a higher profile football program, but even on that front we've seen a narrowing gap as Kirk Ferentz still has a losing record against "Little Brother".
For years, Iowa fans have told us that they don't care about ISU because Big Brother doesn't need to worry about Little Brother. Well, guess what, Little Brother grew up. He's bigger. He's stronger. While Big Brother's hair turns grey, and he starts popping Enzyte, Little Brother just scored a gig in Upper Management. Next fall, Jack Trice will be within 10,000 seats of Kinnick Stadium. Iowa State University is the biggest school in the State of Iowa. Fred Hoiberg is leading the defending Big 12 Tournament Champions and Sweet 16 appearing Cyclones onto the hardwood, while Fran McCaffery ponders his epic collapse in conference play, and Iowa's berth in the play-in game, the crowning achievement of Hawkeye basketball in the past decade. Yes, ISU will likely lose on the field of play this Saturday, and stumble through a horrid football season, as it becomes more apparent that Paul Rhoads is not the man for the job, but with shining new facilities, a massive influx of cash, and fan support on par with "Big Brother" ISU will be in a position to bring in the type of coach who takes the program to the next level, while Iowa continues to pay Kirk Ferentz $3,000,000 per year in exchange for trips to Florida to get skull fucked by an SEC team in the good years, and a nice cold, Iowa winter in the bad ones.
When I look around at the big picture, I just find myself struggling for reasons to still hate the University of Iowa. We have passed them in most regards, and in those areas, we're probably never going to find ourselves lagging. We have all the means in the world to shore up our deficiencies, and I have the utmost confidence that our current administration will do just that. I finally understand what Hawk fans meant when they said it was tough to muster hatred for ISU. How can you hate something you don't feel is a threat?
So yeah, Hawk fans, you guys will probably get to smile on Saturday, as you retain the Cy-Hawk Trophy in Iowa City. You should even get a few more smiles as you take on a historically weak Big 10 slate. You'll probably get a bowl game, and we won't. That's fine with us - you need a bone thrown your way these days. You can have the gridiron.
We'll keep on taking the rest.
Love, Little Brother.