Well for us Hawkeye fans that was about everything we could ask for. Solid performance from start to finish, dominated our instate rival, got to 2-0, looked good doing it, and no one got hurt. All in all a great second week of the season that helps set the stage for what should be a great game this next weekend against an excellent team in the North Dakota State Bison, which by the way is the first team in the modern football era to win 5 straight FCS National Championships.
But more on that later in the week.
Preparing for a night game is a very different thing than a normal 11:00 or 2:30 kickoff. You basically have to sit around at a hotel with the team and spend the day waiting. Sure, you try to keep a bit busy, stay focused, do a little prep/meetings/football talk, etc, but by game day you are either ready to play or you are not. The good news is that this Iowa team has had the chance to play in some night games over the past few years and understands what that is like and how to prepare for it. And the staff seems to do a great job managing the day and keeping the guys ready to play.
But there are some other down sides to a night game. After it is over you have hardly any time to see family and friends and barely any time to get out with your buddies and enjoy the victory. And then there is the night game when you are the visiting team and have to travel back after the game. The Iowa v ISU game was over around 10:30. By the time a team gets off the field, gets everyone showered and the buses fully loaded, it is usually at least another hour or more before you leave the stadium. And then you still have the trip home, which for ISU was another solid 2+ hour bus ride back to Ames. That is a long day and a long trip (made more difficult when it is a loss!). And if you are flying back from anywhere from a real distance it is an unbelievably long day/night (and think of the coaches who get back into town at 2:00-3:00 AM, try to get a couple hours of sleep, and then have to be back in the office early Sunday morning to start it all over again!!).
But then there are the fans. What about us? It is a long day for us as well and on the one hand it is great not to have to get up so dang early in order to get to the stadium, try to do a sprinter's tailgate party, and then get inside to watch the game. The 11:00 time slot is almost too early (although as a player/coach when the early games are over it is great to have so much down time after the game). The 2:30 games are about the best of the current time slots because they are not so early it feels rushed and not so late that when you get done you still have time to see family/friends and then get out with your buddies.
Of course, back in the day, before all the televised games, all the games were at 1:05, and it was great. Not too early, not too late, plenty of time with family and still had some of the evening left to enjoy campus life. But in came the TV money, all the time slots got moved (so we could have more games), and here we are. I wouldn't change it because as a fan it is great to have college football on TV all day long. But there has been a cost, particularly for the players and coaches who have to deal with all the craziness of it all. But so it goes and just another reason we love the game.
During the ISU game as I was watching from the stands there was a moment I really identified with and wanted to share. With TV we have those very long "TV Timeouts", which leaves players standing on the field waiting for play to resume (while everyone at home hits the bathroom and/or gets something to eat or drink). But as a player those timeouts, even though they can feel very disruptive to the flow of the game, can also be really cool. At Iowa when these occur the offensive line tends to stand out on the field while the so called "skill players" are on the sideline talking to coaches. (I think the reason they do that is because the OL guys are so smart they don't need all that extra coaching! : )
But during one of those timeouts in the ISU game I was watching George. As he was done speaking with his coach on the sideline he walked out on the filed to join the 5 OL who were standing there. So it was just the 6 of them, standing on the turf at Kinnick, at night under the lights, in front of 75,000 people, just waiting for the game to start again. In those moments, once you have said what needs to be said with teammates, there is brief period where sometimes you get to look around and you realize the space you are in, the moment you are sharing, and how very special it all is.
Standing on the turf in Kinnick stadium in the middle of a game with your teammates is one of the best life experiences there is. And for the rest of your life you really cannot duplicate it. Don't get me wrong, there are clearly other great moments in life to be sure (birth of kids, etc.), but nothing in business or otherwise really captures what those moments with teammates on the field during a game feel like. Especially in tight games, in great stadiums, in front of big crowds, at critical moments, and during a nationally televised game. It is a feeling you can hardly explain to someone who has not done it.
I remember some of those moments very well from my days. What I really remember was the crowd, being with my teammates, and the energy we felt to be a part of it all. You know you are visiting sacred space, space you only get to visit for a brief time and then it is gone. So when you look into the eyes of the guy next to you and you know that he knows, it is very special.
Anyway, I sat and watched George have one of those moments, during a long time out, just hanging with the OL on the field and taking it all in. Holding it close for just those few moments that you have, appreciating the very incredible gift it is to be able to do that, to share it with people you really love and care about, and then go on and get to play the game you love.
Life is so unbelievably great in these special moments that you have to make sure to pay attention and try to see them clearly, with vision and appreciation. All of us get those moments in different ways, but not all realize or appreciate them when they happen, even when we are standing right in the middle of them. So encouragement to focus on what is good, the love you have in your life, the people, and the moments you get to experience when your passion gets to be fully expressed in positive ways. Savor them, be grateful, offer thanks. And hold on to them because in each life there are only so many that we get.