Game ‘hype’ has grown through the years
Way back in 1977 folks in Iowa were buzzing about the renewal of the Iowa-Iowa State football rivalry. But, it wasn’t nearly like it is today.
It’s become more than just a game. One local television station spends a week in an RV traveling to five different cities through the week, ending up in either Ames or Iowa City, depending on where that year’s game will be played. Even, the Little Cyclones of Ames and the Little Hawkeyes of Iowa City High have begun their own Cy-Hawk series with a game the Friday night before Saturday’s Iowa-Iowa State game. It seems that Iowans can’t get enough of the rivalry, can’t read enough in the days leading up to the big game and can’t leave school colors in the closet, even if they didn’t attend one university or the other.
It was nearly 40 years ago that the schools renewed the rivalry of a game that had last been played in 1934. The news was big across the state, and the “hoopla” spread from river to river, border to border.
Still, there was a lot of negativity over the game, most of it from the black and gold. Hawkeye fans felt that they had nothing to gain and everything to lose in playing the game. Win and folks would say that, well, the Hawkeyes should have won. Lose and it would be a devastating end to a game that hadn’t been played in more than four decades.
Iowa State was at team growing in stature. Earl Bruce had taken over the reigns four years earlier and had led the Cyclones to an 8-3 regular season record in 1976.
Iowa, on the other hand, had hired a favorite from the Hawkeyes Rose Bowl teams of the 1950s to lead them back to the winning side of the ledger. Bob Commings campaigned for the job to replace Francis X. Lauterbur, whose Hawkeye teams has sunk to the depths of the Big Ten. Commings’ first two teams finished 3-8, not the resurrection Hawkeye fans were wanting.
And, so the 1977 game arrived. Both teams were 1-0, like they were this year. Iowa State had opened its season with a 35-9 bombing of Wichita State. Iowa had opened with a 24-0 win over Big Ten foe Northwestern. Iowa State entered the game ranked No. 19 in the nation.
Iowa State was leading 10-6 (Iowa had missed an extra point after an earlier touchdown) when Dennis Mosley thrilled Hawkeye fans with an 80-yard touchdown run down the sideline that ended in the end zone and broke Cyclone fans’ hearts.
That’s the way it ended. Iowa won the game 12-10.
Mosley wasn’t even Iowa’s leading rusher that season. John Lazar from Tama earned that honor. Iowa went on to finish with a 4-7 record, better than the previous two years but not good enough for Commings to keep his job. After he put his son Bobby in a quarterback for a season, Iowa fans were tired of losing once more. Hayden Fry came aboard and everyone knows the success that followed.
Despite the loss in that 1977 game, Iowa State went on to finish 8-3 overall and 5-2 in the Big 8 before losing to North Carolina State, 24-14, in the Peach Bowl. Iowa State, remember, was led back then by an outstanding running back named Dexter Green.
Iowa’s uniforms that day were pretty much the common black and gold you see every Saturday. Iowa State wore white uniforms trimmed in Cardinal red and the fronts were emblazoned “Beat Iowa.” The field was the hard-as-concrete Astroturf which would, thankfully, soon be replaced on the Kinnick Stadium field. Not only was the first game played in Iowa City, so were the next three. It wasn’t until 1981 that the game was held in Ames.
And, oh, how things have changed. Iowa State this year unveiled a stadium with an enclosed south end zone and seats for 61,500. There was a rear end in every one of them. Iowa, on the other hand, has a stadium that seats about 10,000 more, but ticket sales in Iowa City are down. When Iowa won its opener a week earlier, there were plenty of empty seats visible.
There are plenty of folks who take the game so seriously that they’ll either mope or gloat for a week - even longer. There are others, like myself, who root for both teams. I’ll admit, growing up in the 1950s in the Forest Evashevski era of Iowa football, that I’m still a big Hawkeye fan. But, I spent plenty of Saturdays in old Clyde Williams field in Ames, too, so I have a place in my heart for the Cyclones.
I guess a lot of politicians do, too. There were enough of them at Saturday’s pre-game. Thankfully, though, the big news was the game, not the soap box orations in the tailgating party. I guess it was another “first” in the series and perhaps someone will remember that, too, 38 years from now.