How a bobblehead convinced me to root for the Cyclones in this year's Cy-Hawk game
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell talks about the passion behind the Cy-Hawk rivalary Tommy Birch, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am an adamant agnostic when it comes to all this Cy-Hawk rivalry. My favorite part of Cy-Hawk week is when it’s over, regardless of the score or the victor.
I grew up an Iowa Hawkeyes fan because that’s who my dad and older brothers cheered for, but I went to Drake University, which plays a lower division of football, is up-and-down in men’s basketball and excellent in women’s basketball and other sports our football-obsessed culture doesn’t care about.
I cheer for the Oklahoma Sooners because my friend Paul Russell, a Drake classmate who did some growing up in Oklahoma, explained to me the meaning of “Sooners” one Saturday afternoon watching games in the age before Wikipedia.
(Look it up for yourself sometime. It's a better mascot story than birds who fly over the state or natural disasters that occur here, but that's just, like, my opinion, man.)
Paul is more informed about the Sooners than I am, though I like their team colors and the interlocking letters on their hats. I guess when it comes to sports, I’m more into the graphic design of team logos than the actual games.
I get more pleasure out of my friends’ enjoyment of their teams than I would picking Iowa or Iowa State, so I let most of the jibber jabber that leads up to the game fall into the background noise, like State Fair and RAGBRAI hype.
Still, this year, I’m rooting against the Hawkeyes, not for football reasons, but for merchandising.
Proving there’s always a buck to be made even on terrible ideas, a company named FOCO has created an officially licensed bobblehead of Herky the Hawk, Iowa’s mascot, sitting atop one of the painted-pink locker room stalls at Kinnick Stadium.
Former Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry claims when the locker rooms needed to be renovated early in his tenure at Iowa, the only color of paint they could find was pink. This strikes me as dubious, but maybe there was a shortage of paint in the early 1980s that was under-reported.
Others suggested Fry ordered the painting as a psych-out job on opponents who would be mellowed by the calming tones. Apparently Bo Schembechler, the former Michigan coach, hated it so much he sent people out to get butcher paper to cover the lockers so the poor Wolverines wouldn’t have to endure the color.
While I’m all for irking Schembechler and Michigan football coaches just on general purposes, others have argued the locker room has sexist overtones because pink is often associated with girls, feminity and, in the minds of some, gender-based weakness.
I will say this: I cannot fathom why anyone would want a bobblehead depicting a locker room regardless of the color, and you’re talking to a guy who owns three different depictions of Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.
It appears I walk alone in this distaste for bobbleheads depicting pink closets. The first 1,000 bobbleheads have already sold out, per FOCO’s website, but a new batch should be available by December.
The bobblehead itself is a bizarre design. Herky is flexing on top of a visiting locker. There's a Hawkeye football helmet and football in the visiting pink locker. The likeness of the mascot is pretty good, but why he’s sitting on a visitor’s locker puzzles me.
Why is Herky putting Hawkeye equipment in the visitors' locker room? Has Herky passed his concussion protocols?
If I were a visiting player, I would be much more annoyed that some kid in a cartoon suit was sitting atop my locker than the fact that the locker was pink.
The product is officially licensed, which means somebody at the University of Iowa had to sign off on this thing being made and sold with Hawkeye colors and logos.
It’s not as dumb as when they let the school fight song be used in an Iowa Lottery ad some years back, but it’s in the neighborhood.
I know Iowa didn’t create this thing just to dump on the Cyclones, but I find its university-approved tackiness a bit much to bear in a week when all talk about the Cy-Hawk rivalry is too much to tolerate.
So, this $40 bobblehead of a pink locker room has tilted me, for one year only, in favor of the Cyclones.
But the truth is, all things considered, I still don't care and just want folks who might feel a little overwhelmed, maybe even annoyed, by all the Cy-Hawk-a-palooza, to know that they have some company.
Columnist Daniel P. Finney grew up in Winterset and east Des Moines. Reach him at 515-284-8144 or email@example.com.