Mind Games: Pink-Colored Visiting Team Locker Room
Back in 1979, first-year Iowa Hawkeyes Hayden Fry decided to try and gain an edge over opponents at Kinnick Stadium by painting the visiting locker room's walls pink. It took a couple of years to start working (if you believe in its effect) since Iowa stumbled to a 4-8 home record in Fry's first two years. However, he quickly turned Iowa into a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten, leading the Hawkeyes to only one losing season and three conference titles in the next eleven years. Now, whether or not you think the pink locker room is "merely funny," or you think Iowa deserves a discrimination lawsuit because of it, or you think this usage of pink is a problem in today's society, one thing is certain: Bo hated the pink walls, so much so that he oncesent Jon Falk ahead of the team to cover the walls with white paper to not distract the Wolverines. The debate over the pink locker room will continue for years to come, I'm sure, but whatever the reason, Michigan has a three-game losing streak at Kinnick, with their most recent road victory against Iowa coming in 2005. In '09, Denard Robinson and the Wolverines couldn't complete the comeback against the #12 Hawkeyes. Again, in '11, Denard and the Wolverines failed to score a potential game-tying touchdown from Iowa's three-yard line. With four attempts. And last year, Michigan fell apart in the second-half, allowing 17 unanswered points for Iowa, with the three-point loss being sealed by an unfortunate Devin Gardner fumble in Iowa territory. Three games, three close losses. Maybe the pink walls have haunted the Wolverines for the past three games at Kinnick, but I agree with Kevin Koger's opinion on the locker room in '11: "It's bigger than a lot of the opposing locker rooms that we do get dressed in, but it really doesn't make a difference. It's just a locker room."
Hawkeye Victory Polka: "In Heaven There Is No Beer"
Off Tackle Empire wrote about this tradition a few years back, but simply put, the Iowa Hawkeyes' Marching Band blasts this little ditty after every victory. The lyrics speak for themselves:
In Heaven there is no beer
That's why we drink it here
And when we're all gone from here
Our friends will be drinking all the beer.
A lone, but legendary, Heisman winner: Nile Kinnick
Tait Cummins - an Iowa sportscaster - wrote in 1974: "He proved one thing, that college athletics could be beautiful. Everything that can be said that, is good about college athletics he was -- he didn't represent it -- he was it."
Most college football fans know that Iowa's stadium is named Kinnick stadium, but I'll admit that until writing this article, I didn't know the story of Nile Kinnick. Kinnick is the only Hawkeyes player to claim a Heisman trophy, and his acceptance speech is heralded due to its powerful message. I chopped a video here so you can listen to the entire speech, but the lines that stand out are below.
"Finally, if you'll permit me, I'd like to make a comment which in my mind is indicative perhaps of the greater significance of football and sports emphasis in general in this country, and that is, I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country would much more, much rather, struggle and fight to win the Heisman Award than the Croix de Guerre. Thank you."
However, Kinnick ended up serving his country two years later as he joined the Navy in 1941, and two years after that, he died during a routine training flight. The plane suffered an oil leak that forced him into an emergency water landing. It's unclear exactly how he died, and when rescue boats arrived, his body wasn't found.
A bird with a Kevlar head: Herky the Hawk
I prefer the football version of Herky, the one that wears a helmet and looks like an actual bird, rather than the other, more intense and a little creepy version. Herky - a reference to the Greek divine hero Heracles - started out as a cartoon in 1948 and came to life just a few years later in the middle of the '50s. He does cool things, like fight Minnesota Golden Gophers band members and ride out like a surfer with Iowa's flag before games. The aforementioned fight is the reason his head is now Kevlar, since the fight broke Herky's ceramic head.
So that about does it for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Oh, and apparently when Hayden Fry was still around, they used to do the Hokey Pokey after beating teams. Pink locker rooms and the hokey pokey. Hayden Fry, you are a man-child.