Iowa, ISU rivalry remains heated, but fun

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Storm Lake residents Paul Dlugosch and Bob Payer were no doubt glued to their television sets Wednesday night as the Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball took on Iowa State in Ames.

Dlugosch, who'll be 88 next month, is an avid Iowa Hawkeye fan and as late as Tuesday night, had some trepidation as to how his Hawkeyes would fare.

"I'm afraid we're going to get our a-- whupped," he said at his home near Lake Creek Country Club Tuesday night. "Our center is out for a while and just had foot surgery and two other starters are out for academic reasons.'

Payer, meanwhile, would have liked to seen the carnage live in Ames but had other commitments. He's a 1966 graduate of Iowa State and has had season football tickets for the past 34 years.

Together, they mirror the mix of Hawkeye and Cyclone fans in Storm Lake, and probably much of Iowa.

"It's about 50-50 between Hawkeye and Cyclone fans here," said Payer, whose walls at his architectural office in town are laden with Cyclone photos and memorabilia. "Whether it's football or basketball, an Iowa State-Iowa ticket is pretty hard to come by."

But both don't have much trouble getting them. Dlugosch has had Hawkeye season football tickets for 39 years and hasn't missed a home game during that stretch.

"And that includes the annual spring game," he reminded a local reporter.

Dlugosch is on the Board of Directors of the I-club, the Hawkeye athletic booster club. His five grandchildren all attended the University of Iowa and one of his granddaughters is married to former Hawkeye and Chicago Bulls basketball standout B.J. Armstrong.

"I go a long way back with Iowa football," Dlugosch said. "I still remember watching Al Kinnick make drop kicks for three points like they used to do. I haven't missed a game, rain, spit, blood or shine."

Payer, who also has as Masters Degree in civil engineering from ISU, has had Iowa State season football tickets since 1969 and hasn't missed many Iowa-Iowa State grid matchups.

"It's always a great atmosphere, with a lot of tailgating - sometimes a little too much - going on," he said with a chuckle. "But there are always enough fans from the other school at either venue to make it an exciting event."

All three of Payer's children are Iowa State grads and Cyclone sports fans. Together, they've learned a little bit about Hawkeye fans over the years.

"With them, there's always a reason their sports programs are just a little better than Iowa State's," said Payer. "Fans of Iowa State remember when (Hawkeye) basketball coach Steve Alford spoke of the U of I being the 'major' basketball program in Iowa. That's why Iowa State fans always call Alford 'The Major.'"

"Hawk fans can be a little condescending," added Payer, but not without humor. "In our office, about half the people are Iowa State fans and half are Iowa fans. But we keep the Hawkeye fans in the back room at all times."

Payer said Iowa and Iowa State sports teams played each other earlier in this century but the rivalry stopped in 1934 because of some violence between the two teams' fans.

To the relief of most Iowans, the two schools started playing each other again in most sports in 1977.

Payer said even though Iowa sports administrators were hesitant at restarting the rivalry, state legislators pushed hard for it.

"There are obnoxious Hawkeye fans and obnoxious Cyclone fans," Payer said. "It's still a heated rivalry."

Dlugosch has seen it get a little too heated.

Just over 20 years ago, Dlugosch and his wife were leaving the stadium in Ames after a Hawkeye-Iowa State football game and didn't like what they saw.

"Some Iowa State hecklers hit an Iowa fan in the back, then came over to us and started taunting us with a lot of profanity," he said.

Both Dlugosch and Payer say there's no room for that within the rivalry, which they see more as good-natured, good-humored fun.

"It's just a game after all," Payer said, "and Bob wanted to to something about the bad blood."

Back in Storm Lake, Dlugosch organized a golf outing at Lake Creek that became a Northwest Iowa tradition - the Double I Bash."

It was held each Wednesday before that Saturday's Hawkeye-Cyclone football game. Most of its participants were either avid Iowa State or Iowa sports fans.

"I just thought getting bitter about the rivalry was ridiculous," Dlugosch said. "There's just no place for acting the way some people do about the games."

At the height of its popularity, Dlugosch said, the Double I Bash had 360 participants. Iowa State and Iowa sports clothing and memorabilia were given away as prizes, and Dlugosch even managed to coax a local car dealer to give away a new car as a prize if a golfer notched a hole-in-one.

"We started out and filled the course with foursomes," he remembered. "But it got so popular that we had to increase it to six-somes. Iowa State and Iowa fans all found out they could get together and have a good time."

Added Payer: "Most of the people at the Double I Bash knew each other and couldn't get too obnoxious about the rivalry because they had to coexist with each other the other 364 days of the year."

Even though Dlugosch started the golf outing to foster good will between the two teams' fans, he does remember this fact - "Iowa teams under Hayden Fry won every game the first 13 years of the tournament."

Payer had a tough time pin-pointing his favorite Iowa-Iowa State football game but finally came up with an answer: "Probably any game between 1998 and 2002, when the Cyclones won each year's game."

Of course, when told of that statistic, Dlugosch had a reply.

"It took an Iowa man, Dan McCarney (the ISU coach during those years), for them to accomplish that," he said with a smile.

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