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Cy-Hawk Rivalry: Fact vs Fiction

Separating truth from lies in an effort to improve our fanbases’ insults towards each other.

Rivals (Yahoo)

Iowa and Iowa State fans have a longstanding tradition of trash-talking each other. On the Iowa State side, we like to ridicule the B1G for being a bloated, over-rated conference and mock the Hawkeyes for their fans and cupcake-laden schedule.

Iowa fans seem to be stuck in a cycle of re-hashed cliches and insults that lost relevancy around the time the Des Moines Register stopped printing their Sunday sports section on peach paper. They tell you they don’t care about Iowa State and wish this game would disappear, yet they won’t stop talking about it.

I enjoy a good back and forth of solid argument rooted in fact, but both sides of this rivalry are seemingly on auto-repeat and needing new material. My hope is, after reading this article, we can collectively put to rest some of the more tired insults used during this week of hate and move towards a new era of trash-talk.

Iowa is the premiere football program in the state: FACT

You win this one, Iowa fan. The Hawkeyes have a solid history on the gridiron dating back to 1892, winning 11 Big Ten Championships and the more recently formed Big Ten West Division Championship last year with an impressive 12-0 regular season. You have a Heisman winner in Nile Kinnick who won the prestigious award in 1939. And, you’ve played in 29 Bowl Games, including six Rose Bowls and two BCS trips to the Orange Bowl.

KCCI and The Daily Gopher

You could make the argument — and we are not the only ones who do — that their recent success is at least somewhat related to a diluted conference that equates to a weaker schedule, and they would be far less successful playing tougher opponents. This may be true, but you still have to march onto the field and vanquish your opponent regardless of who that is in a given week. Iowa has done that. Iowa State has not.

Iowa State seems to be building its program brick by brick, but likely will never over-take Iowa as the state’s premier program. Sorry, Cyclone fans.

Iowa State is “Little Brother”: HALF-TRUTH

If this is the best insult you can find lying among the cobwebs of your cerebrum, then I guess go for it. It isn’t original, isn’t that funny, and frankly isn’t all that true anymore. But, I understand Hawkeyes aren’t the most creative collection of individuals out there, so enjoy it if you must. Traditionally, in a family, the first child born is considered the “Big Brother” and The University of Iowa was indeed founded first, just 59 days after Iowa became a state in 1847. And, so, Iowa State, founded 11 years later in 1858, would be “Little Brother.”

You got us there.

However, little brother is growing up and growing larger than our older sibling to the east. Iowa State’s enrollment is now larger than Iowa’s (36,660 to 33,334 this semester) and has outpaced the U of I since 2013. This, of course, leads to a larger alumni base, more fans, and continued growth of our athletic programs. So mock us while you can, brother, because we’re drinking milk. Pretty soon we will be as big as you and we’re pretty pissed about all those years you’ve been flicking peas at us across the dinner table.

Iowa fans didn’t go to Iowa, they went to Wal-Mart: HALF-TRUTH

Your turn, Cyclone fans. Who cares who makes up the base of Hawkeye Nation, and when did attending a university become the only factor in who you can cheer for? It isn’t an insult to Iowa fans that they appeal to a broader public. This helps drive their sports-related revenue — that very thing that keeps distance between us and them on the field.

If I see a person at the bar wearing Cardinal and Gold, I don’t vet his fan-card by asking to see his diploma. I buy him a beer and together we share memories of good and bad, past and future.

This insult needs to go away. Please make it so.

Iowa is a “National Brand”: FICTION

I admit you can find that angry Tigerhawk logo pretty much any place you travel across the United States. I lived in Las Vegas for 16 years and had regular encounters with the Black and Gold during my kid’s soccer games, or those fleeting moments when I would venture down to The Strip.

But, here’s the thing: if you actually took the time to approach the person, instead of bro-hawking across the street, you would find they are undoubtedly transplants from Iowa either on vacation or now living in whatever warm destination you’re visiting. This doesn’t make Iowa a national brand. It makes the state of Iowa a cold and frigid environment that many relocate from if given the opportunity.

Ohio State v Iowa

Kids aren’t growing up in Florida, Michigan, Indiana or California rooting for the Hawkeyes without a ex-pat parent, and yet I had friends from my small-town-Iowa high school who were fans of the ’Canes, Wolverines, Fighting Irish, and Trojans. Those are national brands with a national following that regularly play in prime time on national TV.

Iowa, you play football at 11 o’clock in the morning on a network that nobody outside of the Midwest gives a shit about.

Iowa State consistently loses to FCS teams: HALF-TRUTH

Last weekend doesn’t help me with this argument much, and losing 3 out of the last 4 FCS games does little more than embolden those who choose this weapon against us. I could counter with an argument that these were quality FCS contenders, national championship level in some years, and we should drop the UNI game because we see no benefit from playing it, but that’s bush-league and I refuse to go there (more on that later).

Our overall record against FCS opponents illustrates the fallacies of this statement, but suck it up, Buttercups. Until Iowa State gets their act together, the enemy has a point.

Iowa vs Iowa State is the Cyclones’ Super Bowl: FICTION

There was certainly a time when beating Iowa would have been the highlight of any season. Unfortunately, try as we may, from 1983 – 1997 we never accomplished this feat. Hayden Fry and Iowa dominated the series during this extremely dark period in a mostly dim past, and Cyclone fans had little else to brighten their lives each Fall.

Dan McCarney changed this when he brought his rag-tag team of misfits into Iowa City and did what hadn’t been done in more than 24 years. Beat Iowa.

Kirk Ferentz would fare no better in his Cy-Hawk initiation the following season. Or the season after that. Or the season after that. Or even the season after that. Iowa State won each game between 1998 and 2002. The matchup no longer became the highlight of the year, as the Cyclones have actually enjoyed some measured success, playing in eight different bowl games since 2000. In fact, most kids enrolled in the schools today weren’t even born the last time Iowa won more than three in a row against Iowa State and haven’t suffered the misery us older fans have.

That doesn’t mean we don’t still look forward to this annual rivalry, but don’t confuse passion for sole-interest. We’d gladly trade a loss to Iowa if it meant an otherwise undefeated regular season and trip to the Orange Bowl, like Brad Banks experienced in 2002. Hell, we’d trade a loss here just to make the game against Oklahoma worth going to on a cold November night. We want to win in Iowa City, but beating Texas in Austin, again, would provide a far better boost to the season and our program in general than the outcome of this weekend’s game.

You want to believe the only way we ever win this game is because it means more to us than it does to you. That’s bullshit.

Basically, the only thing we look forward to if we win this game is looking into your sad, bloodshot eyes Monday morning and laughing hysterically until our throats are raw. The same humiliation you hope to bestow upon us, I’m sure.

This is not a rivalry: FICTION

Iowa fans hate losing to Iowa State.

Iowa State fans hate losing to Iowa.

They compete each year in multiple sports for the bragging rights of being the state’s best. This makes them rivals.

Their matchups, then, become rivalries. Iowa fans don’t want to admit it, but this game matters to them. They hate that it matters to them, but it matters. Not because it has any impact on their Big Ten standings or eventual bowl assignment. It doesn’t anymore than it affects the outcome of our conference season. But this is one game on the schedule you cannot lose if you are a Hawkeye fan because “little brother” will never let you hear the end of it for 12 months.

And don’t kid yourself, you’re confident about the outcome of this game and are looking forward to finding each of your cowering Cyclone coworkers Monday morning. You have your bag-o-insults ready (which I hope you will go through and update after reading this article) and your strategy planned. You want the upper hand so badly you can taste it.

You don’t do this with your Indiana or Purdue coworkers, if you have any, because they aren’t your rivals. We’re your rivals.

Iowa gains nothing from this game: FICTION

I admit you have little to gain from a victory this Saturday other than bringing Kirk Ferentz’s record against Iowa State one game closer to .500. The Cyclones will not be a Top-25 team at any point this year, and it’s doubtful we go to a bowl game. So a win should be expected at home against an inferior opponent. The same could apply to Miami of Ohio, who you beat 45-21 inside Kinnick Stadium last weekend. But you scheduled and played them anyway.

Next year, you’ve invited Wyoming and North Texas to your house for a friendly game of toss-the-pigskin-around. Neither are expected to be of great threat to the mighty Hawkeyes, but you scheduled them anyway. Even 2018 is void of any team not forced on you by your conference’s rotating schedule that offers you any kind of moral victory should you (gasp) lose.

Why is that? If your logic is this game has no value, is a lose-lose proposition and should be eradicated from the schedule, then why agree to play those other guys? What makes the game against Iowa State so much worse than playing North Dakota State?

You argue you should replace this game with a Power-5 matchup against a better opponent, but what’s stopping you from doing that anyway? If Iowa State is worse than UNI, then go ahead and put a Clemson, Auburn or Missouri on your schedule. We’re not holding you back from that, obviously.

Fact is, this in-state rival has little bearing on the rest of your schedule and has less impact on your winter plans. Only twice since 2001 has a loss to the Cyclones kept you from playing in a bowl game - 2007 and 2012 - and you have never beaten Iowa State and missed the opportunity to play in December or January.

You want the game removed because losing it ruins only your image of who you are and what you stand for. You lose your sense of what’s right in the world, having spent years telling yourself lies. Iowa is a good team, we’ve established that. It’s time you acknowledge Iowa State might just offer more of a challenge than you want to believe. That scares you and you would rather eliminate the cause than face that reality


As Iowans, we’re better than this. We once led the nation in education, and the arts and creativity are a large part of our culture. We need to do better than rely on the lame and mostly false examples I provided above. Let’s make it our mission to find fresh and exciting ways of showing hate towards one another before basketball season. We owe it to ourselves as rivals. We owe it to Iowa.