Fans of the other 12 Big Ten schools might get a kick out of teasing Nebraska football and Indiana hoops supporters.
But let’s be honest, Iowa fans: Can’t the same be said about those of us who think Hawkeye wrestling deserves to appear in the same paragraph as Penn State, much less the same arena?
The Nittany Lions won their sixth NCAA team title in seven years Saturday. Five Penn State wrestlers – all of whom are supposed to be back next season – won individual national titles.
Penn State crushed the Big Ten the way Iowa used to. The Hawkeyes finished fourth, which is an admirable accomplishment, but for a program with Iowa’s reputation, it disappoints many.
Unless, of course, Iowa fans can do what Nebraska football and Indiana basketball fans cannot: Gracefully accept that times change, empires rise and fall. Expectations shift.
Or, we can look at what happened from 2001-2007, seven consecutive seasons in which Iowa didn’t win wrestling’s collegiate national title, only to rebound and win three straight from 2008-2010.
I’m not ready to give up on Iowa wrestling. I’m not ready to lower my expectations. I am, however, ready to stop laughing at Nebraska and Indiana, because I finally get what they’re going through. Like Hawkeye wrestling fans they long to recapture the good old days, to relive just how golly-gee-whiz-great it was to be King of the Mountain.