Lighten up, folks.
If you’ve ever chuckled during an "Iowa Nice Guy" segment pointing out the vampire-like qualities of Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, or hit repeat when Chris Hassel played the role of dim-witted Nebraska fan Cooter Ray, then you can’t get all defensive about the Stanford band’s halftime routine at the Rose Bowl.
“You can’t smack talk if you can’t take it,” said Scott Siepker, a Carroll native who made “The Iowa Nice Guy” a popular part of ESPNU’s College Football Daily and has done recent videos for Hawkcentral.com.
The only real buzz generated during the Iowa Hawkeyes’ 45-16 Rose Bowl loss came when Stanford’s band performed some sort of parody to the “Farmer’s Only” dating ads we always see on television. It was the Stanford band trolling Iowa for having a lot of farmers.
They received jeers from a predominantly Iowa crowd, and a firestorm swept through social media.
Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com covered the reaction from the stadium via Twitter: "Iowa fan behind me said, 'They got the cow shape all wrong.' He might have been serious."
“I’m not sure where the outrage started,” Siepker said. “I suppose the booing in the stadium probably got that going. … But that’s part of the fun and games with the Stanford band.
“They (the band) have to take it as well, if they’re going to hand it out.”
To be fair to critics, the performance was haphazard, with people honestly trying to figure out what was going on. As Stewart Mandel of Fox Sports tweeted: "On TV it looked like the Stanford band was forming an Arby's logo. Did I get that wrong?"
And I get it, the whole notion of “let’s make fun of the fact they have a lot of farms in Iowa” is a tiresome cliché. But the indignation was silly. Having pride in an agricultural heritage doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humor.
“Everybody has their own little corners of protection,” Siepker said of fans from different parts of the country. “The things they hold near and dear, they don’t want to be made fun of.”
And let’s not pretend the Rose Bowl is too esteemed for such antics. That sort of thinking was stripped away by Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl.
These days, pretty much anything goes.
“The Rose Bowl is no longer your granddaddy’s Rose Bowl,” Siepker said. “It’s not as important as it used to be, with the College Football Playoff. It’s still awesome. It’s still fun. I’m glad it has the nostalgia to it, but it’s not sacrosanct anymore.”
Kurt Warner, a former Northern Iowa quarterback now with the NFL Network, was blunt when talking about the Cleveland Browns during a guest appearance Monday on the Dan Patrick Show.
“The quarterback is what drives this league and drives teams, and Cleveland has been a team that hasn’t had a quarterback for I don’t know how long,” Warner said. “Every year they’re in the same position and every two years they fire their coach.”
During ESPN’s telecast of the Russell Athletic Bowl, the network showed a highlight graphic listing key statistics from a game between Boise State and Northern Iowa, using logos from both schools. Just one problem: Boise State didn’t play UNI. The Broncos beat Northern Illinois 55-7 in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Having the College Football Playoff on New Year’s Eve contributed to a ratings plunge, with viewership for both semifinals dropping more than 36 percent from a year ago. This could also be a problem again next season. The Rose and Sugar bowls won’t host the semifinals again until Jan. 1, 2018.
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Andrew Logue has been with the Register for 20 years. Follow him @AndrewMLogue.