Today's edition of Hunting Hawkeyes with the Natives is from Iowa State blogger, Mark of Clone Chronicles. Iowa State is kinda like GT in the state of Iowa, the smaller fan base of the two major universities. Mark explains the ratio of ISU:Iowa fans for us:
It's probably 75% Hawkeye, 15% Cyclones, 5% Huskers, 5% everybody else... Out of people that were to choose one or the other, it's probably 80% Hawkeye, 20% Cyclone. Main reason why: lack of education. Iowa does a good job attracting recent graduates of the GED class of (insert year here). They have more fans, but their collective IQ is lower.
He later explains...
On a more serious note, it's mostly due to Iowa having success during most of the 1980s and 1990s. I believe they were the first team to have a radio deal in the state, and were on TV often as they had big games.
Most people don't pick ISU, unless they went to ISU (but even then many ISU students are Hawk fans), or unless they like to root for the underdog. With Iowa, it's a lot of casual fans and bandwagon jumpers.
I asked Mark what differentiated Hawkeye fans from Cyclone fans and it reminded me of a certain unwashed horde from Athens:
Loyalty. If you are an ISU fan after enduring years of being mediocre at best, there isn't much that's going to disappoint you or push you away from the program.
For Iowa, they just roll with whatever. Kirk Ferentz is the genius of all geniuses, but when they just missed on a bowl game a few years ago, he needed to be gone. One year, they're backup QB is the next Heisman Candidate. The next year, when he becomes the starter, they boo him off the field. If the team starts losing, the fans go back to rooting for Notre Dame or USC, or whatever. When they start winning, they get decked out in Black and Gold, and head to the Orange Bowl. I guess it's easy for most Hawk fans, as all they have to do is tow their home down to Miami. Saves on the hotel costs, if you can bring your double-wide to South Beach!
Honestly, you can find many "big time" Iowa fans who can't really name the players, or know much of really anything about the team. Moreso than Cyclone fans... But that's what happens when you're able to capitalize on those skipping on child support but going to Hawkeye games.
When I asked him to tell us an interesting confrontation or story pertaining to the rivalry, Mark said the Cyclones and Hawkeyes have a heated rivalry on the field but cool off-the-field:
...the rivalry is pretty tame. I think more nastiness comes from students, but it's not much more than talk. At the games, ISU fans will boo the Hawks, but at the end of the day, the drama is limited... After the teams play each other, both fan bases move on. There's always the d-bag or two that try to start some drama, but a majority are not like that.
My favorite type of questions to ask in blogger Q/A's usually relate to food or putting players in unusual situations (e.g. Chris Rix throwing grenades out of a foxhole or Charlie Whitehurst bull fighting in Spain). So, I asked Clone Chronicles to define the Iowa Hawkeyes as an ice cream flavor:
Rocky Road. When Kirk Ferentz and his coaching staff aren't busy covering up off the field scandals, they are winning football games for the most part... If Iowa would have been a .500 team over the past few years, these issues would have had more pub and Ferentz may have been out the door... Instead, they put together a couple of good years, including missing the Rose Bowl by 1 game, they've bought themselves a few more years. Behind the scenes, things are very Rocky, but all of it gets smoothed over when the team is winning.
And finally, what does the Cyclone fan base think about the Orange Bowl? Do they have a rooting interest?
As far as the bowl game, I'm interested in it. At times, both teams have looked great, and other times they have put up some headscratching performances. Personally I think it's a perfect matchup for Iowa, and it will be a close game.
As far as ISU fans, most will be indifferent. I think many hardcore fans enjoy seeing the Hawkeyes in misery, but that's a small group... You will likely have a certain number of ISU fans actually rooting for Iowa. I know many ISU fans that root for Iowa when they play other teams, because "The Hawkeyes are representing the state of Iowa"...
Thanks to Mark of Clone Chronicles. The journey through the Iowa fan base was compelling to say the least. Good luck to the Cyclones and other non-Hawkeye teams this year. We'll try to please that small group of "hardcore" Cyclones that root for Iowa's misery come January 5th.