Nov. 8, 2004
Kirk Ferentz has a remarkable memory and great sense of Hawkeye history. Both were on display at a recent news conference leading up to the Purdue game when, in reference to officiating, he mentioned the name of Jim Bain.
When it drew blank looks from reporters, the Iowa football coach, obviously pleased that he had stumped the news media, smiled and asked the venerable Bob Brooks, "How's that one, Brooksie?"
"That's terrific," growled Brooks, the only member of the Iowa press corps who ever met Nile Kinnick, and as such, has great appreciation for Hawkeye history.
Older Iowa fans do not have to be told that Jim Bain is the Big Ten official who made the wrong call at the wrong place at the wrong time. In the final seconds of a basketball game at Purdue on March 6, 1982, he whistled a foul on Iowa's Kevin Boyle.
The Boilermakers took advantage of what TV replays showed to be an obviously bad call by making two free throws. The 66-65 defeat cost the Hawkeyes a piece of the Big Ten championship, and Jim Bain became a name taken in vain around Iowa.
Bain received threatening mail and phone calls, the Big Ten office was inundated with protests, and it was years before Bain was assigned to work another Iowa game. Nobody was more outraged than Lute Olson, who left Iowa the following year. Some fans convinced themselves that the popular and successful coach would not have gone to Arizona if Bain had not "stolen the game."
It is not uncommon for Ferentz to reflect back to Iowa games of bygone days, but normally his thoughts are about football. When Chad Greenway makes an important stop on third down, Kirk recalls Larry Station nailing a Michigan ball carrier in 1985. When Antwan Allen intercepts a pass, Kirk remembers Devon Mitchell's theft that sealed a win at Indiana in 1984.
So on Saturday it was no surprise, when his team was backed up at the two-yard line after watching a Purdue kickoff roll down the sideline, that the Hawkeye coach thought back to the Iowa State game of 2002. Iowa's failure to field a kickoff late in that contest was pivotal in the Cyclones' 36-31 victory.
That is still Iowa's last defeat at Kinnick Stadium, although there was a brief moment in the Purdue game that Ferentz thought the home-field winning streak, now at 17, might be coming to an end.
"The ball looked like it was going out of bounds," said the Iowa coach later, "and the next thing you know we've got it at the two. So that game (with Iowa State) did cross my mind. Just fleetingly."
The flashback didn't last long, because his team looked adversity in the eye and stared it down, as it has done so often this season.
With less than two minutes left in the third period and Iowa clinging to a 17-14 lead, Iowa's offense marched nearly the length of the field and got a short field goal from Kyle Schlicher, giving the Hawkeyes a much-needed boost in morale.
If there was a defining moment in the game, that 12-play, 94-yard drive was it. If Iowa's offense, which hadn't done much since the first quarter, stalled again, the game might very well have gone Purdue's way.
But it didn't, and the Hawkeyes pulled out a 23-21 victory. The fifth straight Big Ten triumph makes Iowa 7-2 in all games and a solid third in the conference standings with a 5-1 record.
Every win brightens Iowa's bowl prospects. At worst, it will be the Alamo Bowl, and that's not bad, as we know from previous trips to San Antonio. At best, it will be the Capitol One Bowl or Outback Bowl, both in Florida.
Iowa's offense, defense and special teams can all take a bow in this one. The Hawkeyes built a 17-0 lead in the first period, and when the offense sputtered, the defense and special teams saved the victory with two pass interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two blocked field goal attempts. Had either kick been good, Purdue would have won the game.
Minnesota is the next-to-last opponent on Iowa's schedule, and let's hope Ferentz conjures up some positive memories as his team takes the field Saturday in the Metrodome. He's seen the Hawkeyes win there four times - three as an assistant coach and most recently as the head man. Two years ago Iowa clinched the Big Ten championship in the Dome.
You're going to be hearing a lot this week about Minnesota losing four of its last five games, two by big margins. But don't buy into that talk. The Gophers and their powerful running game are unbeaten in the Metrodome and this is their last game, which means it's Senior Day, which means emotions will be high.
The Hawkeyes have demonstrated they like a challenge, and one is on the way Saturday when they'll try to deliver Metrodome victory No. 5 to their head coach.
Editor's Note: George Wine, the University of Iowa's long-time sports information director who is now retired and living in Coralville, Iowa, is the author of George Wine Online. George has remained very close to the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI since his retirement and, in fact, has authored two books during that time. The first was a collaboration with the subject of today's editorial, Hayden Fry, and named "A High Porch Picnic." The second, "Black & Gold Memories, The Hawkeyes of the 20th Century," included many of the essays George originally wrote for "The Voice of the Hawkeyes." As he wrote in the book, "Collectively, they serve as a historical reference, and hopefully provide entertaining reading." "Black & Gold Memories" is currently available at Barnes & Noble book stores across Iowa and on the world wide web.