Three cool things:
1. Ricky Stanzi had a good game here. Let’s explore the tall, longhair dude from the shores of Lake Erie.
— Iowa used to have campers from Camp Courageous visit Kinnick Stadium during the summer. I believe there was some sort of legit logistical reason for why it went away or changed (Iowa players might go there now, not entirely sure).
On this particular summer day in 2010, Kirk Ferentz was asked by a camper to win it all.
No, it wasn’t a hyper-charged face-painter. A Camp Courageous youngster asked the Iowa football coach to “beat all the teams.”
“That’s a good idea,” Ferentz said. “I’m going to repeat that to all the players.”
Stanzi was fantastic at this.
When the weather finally cooperated, the campers spent some time playing catch with Hawkeyes on the Kinnick turf.
One camper pointed to his ankle and asked Stanzi if he was OK.
In 2009, about 60 yards from the spot of this interview, Stanzi suffered a high-ankle sprain that needed surgery.
“Ow,” camper Brian said.
“Yeah, that hurt,” Stanzi said with a smile. “But I’m OK now.”
Camp Courageous is a year-round recreational and respite care facility for children and adults with mental and physical disabilities, brain injuries, hearing and visual impairments, autism, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and special needs.
And they’re big Hawkeye fans.
“This is one of those experiences that will never be forgotten by the campers who attend,” said Charlie Becker, executive director of Camp Courageous. “We have campers who have a hard time falling asleep the night before.”
2. Stanzi did pull one of the all-time funnies when thrown an indecipherable question from Fox’s Chris Myers in the postgame of the Hawkeyes’ Orange Bowl victory in January 2010.
“Of course, there’s nothing better than being American,” the Iowa quarterback said after Iowa’s 24-14 victory over Georgia Tech. “ ... If you don’t love it, leave it. USA, No. 1.”
That was funny, but the sentiment behind it is genuine. Stanzi said this isn’t some extension of Will Ferrell’s “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”
“There’s definitely something real. It’s definitely real,” Stanzi said. “People always talk about it being from ‘Ricky Bobby.’ It wasn’t. It wasn’t a joke. We’re dead serious. That’s literally how we feel.
“It was the first thing that popped into my mind, because it’s how we feel.”
The “we” here included Stanzi’s roommates, fullback Brett Morse and linebacker Jeff Tarpinian. They vouch 100 percent for Stanzi’s American fervor.
They’ve seen the rants, sometimes public, that back it up.
Tarpinian is from Omaha, so the trio made the College World Series a regular summer trip. They walked through the concourse and a gate area. People cut in line and there was some chaos.
Stanzi happened to be wearing a T-shirt from Tarpinian’s high school, Millard North. It was from their student section at football games. It’s black with “security” on the back.
There’s cutting in line. Tempers rise. The national anthem starts inside the stadium.
“Some guy from the line, ‘Hey, security! Security! What’s going on? Everyone is cutting us!’” Morse said. “Someone in line who was getting cut thought that Rick was the security guy. They start yelling at Rick when the whole place is quiet during the national anthem.
“I think you can imagine how he felt about that. He turned around and let that guy have a piece of his mind. It was definitely one of the top five hardest I’ve ever laughed.”
Again, a tint of comedy, but it’s real. Stanzi said he grew up in a family that valued patriotism.
Stanzi’s dad, Joe, was in the Army. His uncle, John Stanzi, fought in the Vietnam War. His grandfather also was in the service, he said.
“There’s probably one person in every family almost,” he said. ”There was always an American flag hanging up in the house. There was always one hanging up outside. There was a lot of patriotic talk and having a lot of pride in your country and the freedom and not taking things for granted and working hard. You just kind of adopt those things.”
Stanzi had an American flag on his moped. He also covered it in USA stickers.
He yelled out in the Iowa weight room when Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” came on or when the “Rocky” theme kicked in.
“That’s just the way he is,” Tarpinian said. “It was the way he was raised, it’s the way his family is. He really respects our country and he’s proud to be an American. Yeah, on the stage at the Orange Bowl, that was him being kind of goofy, but he does love America. There’s no doubt about that.”
3. Even Stanzi admitted this thing took a life of its own. There was even a UI licensed “Love it or leave it” T-shirt.
The senior class poster is all Americana — “It’s a Hawkeye Football Nation: Love it or Leave it.”
Stanzi is holding the American flag in it, by the way.
“Everybody I live with is just like I am,” Stanzi said. “We’re always talking about it and it tends to take off from there. It turns into a quote and the next thing you know there are T-shirts.
“Little stuff over time has added up and now it’s just exploded and everybody’s just running with it. It’s fun. It’s great.”
Quote: A victory over Bert. Enjoy!
“We have a very disappointed football team. A big part of our demise was in the second half ...” — Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema
Note: This isn’t a complete list. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos had a 100-yard game. Those are rare for Iowa receivers. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Iowa football moves along without a 100-yard receiver happening. But how rare is it?
Well, I gave it a quick look. Going back to 2015, Iowa has had seven 100-yard receiving performances.
2017 — Noah Fant had 116 yards vs. Nebraska
2016 — Riley McCarron had 108 yards vs. the Huskers. George Kittle had 110 yards vs. North Dakota State. Matt VandeBerg had 129 vs. Iowa State.
2015 — VandeBerg had 114 vs. the Cyclones. Tevaun Smith had 115 vs. North Texas and 110 vs. Michigan State. Jerminic Smith had 118 vs. Illinois.
Why No. 46? — Feels like every win over Wisconsin should be in the top 10. But that would be hyperbole. Iowa traded punches just fine with Wisconsin, it just hasn’t in the last five or so years.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2009
MADISON, Wis. — Kirk Ferentz is a stoic’s stoic. He’s seen all the whining about the flu around the Big Ten this season. He’s not about to let his team fly that up the excuse flagpole.
The only thing that gave him away Saturday was cornerback Amari Spievey. Every time he coughed, reporters moved a few steps back.
“It’s reflective of our team,” Ferentz said. “We keep pushing forward.”
Eventually, they did.
After falling behind 10-0, the No. 11 Hawkeyes (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) blanked Wisconsin (5-2, 2-2) in the second half, 20-10, before 81,043 fans at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Hawkeyes moved to 7-0 for the first time since 1985. They raised their winning streak to 11 games, the second-longest in the nation behind Florida’s 16. When you look at the Big Ten standings Sunday, you’ll see Iowa in first place and the only undefeated.
“Yeah, I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to talk about that,” wide receiver Trey Stross said with a hoarse voice. “But, yeah, it’s happening at campuses all around. We pushed through.”
Let’s just go ahead and call the first half the Hawkeyes’ flu half.
The Badgers played Wisconsin football and led 10-0 after running back Montee Ball capped an 11-play, 92-yard drive with a 10-yard TD run in the second quarter.
The Badgers piled up 93 rush yards to Iowa’s 23. The total offense was 172 to 79 in favor of Wisconsin. Quarterback Scott Tolzien, who finished with three interceptions, was 8 of 10 for 83 yards. Running back John Clay, in and out after an awful-looking ankle tackle, rushed 14 times for 69 yards.
“We have a very disappointed football team,” Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema said. “A big part of our demise was in the second half ...”
Iowa was beat on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
“Coach (Ferentz) told us we’ve been here before; we know how it feels,” said linebacker Pat Angerer, who led the Hawkeyes with nine tackles and a sack. “We continued to believe in ourselves and continued to fight.”
They went into the locker room down 10-3 after Daniel Murray’s 37-yard field goal. They looked as if they needed chicken soup and a comfy Snuggie.
They went into the locker room Urkel from “Family Matters.” They came out Rambo.
“It kind of goes back to the first game, when everybody was kind of throwing dirt on us for having a close game against UNI,” linebacker A.J. Edds said. “I think we figured out something about ourselves then and that came through today.
“We get into tough situations, it’s not pretty but we find a way to get it done.”
But it was pretty.
On Wisconsin’s first drive of the second half. Spievey got the first of his two interceptions, setting up Ricky Stanzi’s 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tony Moeaki to tie the game at 10-10.
Stanzi finished 17 of 23 for 218 yards and a touchdown, including 11 of 13 in the second half.
Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos caught a season-high eight passes for 113 yards, including a 24-yarder when he was pushed out of bounds and then came back in play for the catch. That drive ended with Adam Robinson’s 10-yard TD run and a 17-10 Iowa lead with 13:15 left.
“It came down to playing Iowa second-half ball,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “If we learn to play the first 30, we’re going to be good. If we play the full 60, we’re going to be amazing.”
This was the “push forward.”
So was the defense holding UW to minus-2 yards rushing in the second half after allowing 89 in the first. So was clamping down on Clay, keeping him to just 6 yards in the second half. So was Robinson gaining 56 of his game-high 91 yards in the fourth quarter. So was keeping the Badgers off the scoreboard after a fumble gave them a first down at Iowa’s 25 at 10-10 with 2:36 left in the third.
When they cough, take a step back. When they push forward, just go with it.