Editorial

Don't have a cow, man

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Let's pass on the brewing beef between Iowa and California. The Stanford Band may have trotted out a lumpy, rabid-looking 9-foot version of a cow during the halftime of the Rose Bowl, but that doesn't mean we have to have one.

In fact, it was pretty funny. Come on, admit it. Turn that frown upside down, buckaroos.

Not that we needed any more punishment than Stanford was handing out in the football game, leading 35-zip at half en route to a dominating win over the Hawkeyes, but are we really going to take a self-described college band of "goofs" all this seriously?

Watching the game on TV, I couldn't quite tell what they were attempting to do. From the aerial shot, it looked like a drunken ant colony searching for a queen. A Fox Sports commentator said he thought the formation was going for the Arby's logo. I was thinking Saturn.

The idea, however, was to parody FarmersOnly.com, the countrified dating site, and poke fun at Iowa as hayseeds in the process.

Sure, it's a ridiculous stereotype, and all stereotypes are ridiculous, but it's a joke, people.

Iowans are rallying around Facebook shares of "An Open Letter to Stanford University From an Iowa Farmer," which responds in indignantly solemn tomes to "your distasteful halftime performance," which it says has "raised the eyebrows of our great nation and farming communities elsewhere."

Nations have eyebrows. Who knew?

It goes on to detail that the cow character - which looked to be made out of bedsheets - is apparently a dairy-type bovine, technically, and that California has more dairy cows than Iowa. So there. Guess we told them.

"We all make mistakes, and because we're Iowa Nice, we'll forgive you, but that doesn't mean we'll let you forget," the farmer response says.

I didn't hear the band ask forgiveness. This is the same crew that once trolled Ohio State by spelling out O-H-N-O on the field. In fact it's just coming off double-secret probation, banned from traveling with its team this past season for a litany of crimes against humanity including public vomiting, smuggling of contraband in tubas and asking applicants offbeat sex questions during the selection process. Which, possibly, is a new geek mating ritual. Wish we'd thought of it when we were high school freshmen.

Welcome to the sequel to "American Pie: Band Camp," Rose Bowl edition.

You can choose to laugh with them or at them, but man, you really should laugh. Life's too short not to. There's enough real stuff in the world to get all offended about.

I'd be the first to fetch the flaming torches and pitchforks if this were really some mean-spirited putdown. But, we are a state of farmland, and as far as I know, have no cause to be ashamed of that. For that matter, Stanford's nickname is "The Farm" since it was built on one.

A Cardinal band leader says the show was meant to "tickle" - not create raging civil war. It's called fun, and perhaps we should look into it.

If Iowa's identity and our largest industry are threatened by a bedsheets cow, we're in big trouble. Seriously, there are probably two, maybe three people in inner city Des Moines who have never even participated in a cow-tipping party.

My only beef about all this is the announcers repeating that "Iowa fans booed the Stanford band!!" without explaining the practical joke. Football fans in most of the country who are not clued into the details now probably think Iowans are a bunch of bad-sport louts who despise music. Booing a marching band may go down in history with the Philadelphia Eagles faithful who attacked Santa Claus with snowballs.

On social media, Iowa fans went on the offensive by calling the Stanford musicians things like "typical California fruits and nuts," an even more tired stereotype than what the band parodied to begin with, and worse thing our moms wouldn't less us print here.

The musicians, from a Twitter account, flung back, "Glad you liked our corn show, Iowa! Couldn't tell, was that booing or mooing?" #imsosorry. Okay, darn it, you have to admit, decent line.

In fact, if I'm reading the intel out of California correctly, the Stanford band script was making overtures to "date" Iowa's marching band, after their nasty breakup with the band of arch rival UC Berkeley. All this could be a fun running joke between the schools if we just don't take everything so seriously.

Try as we might, we just can't be too upset with a bunch of students for trying to do something creative and funny with a typically yawn-inspiring halftime show. Based on the fact that the band is getting more buzz than the football game, they succeeded.

We'll survive a fake cow, and we'll look back at this and get a good giggle. Eventually.

In the meantime, we should take Ron Bergandy's advice and stay classy, Iowa. Congratulate Stanford for their most impressive performance in the Rose Bowl, and also credit the Hawkeyes for an amazing year.

Who would have thought a team that went 4-4 in the Big 10, lost to Iowa State, averaged over 3,000 empty seats for home games, and inspired a website called "FireKirk.com" in 2014 would go unbeaten through the regular season and achieve a top-four rank one season later?

Before we get too upset about the loss, consider: if anyone had asked Iowa fans before the season if they would be happy enough to make it to the Rose Bowl, would anyone have said no?

As for the Stanford Band: You got us. We've been punked. And most of us are good enough sports to appreciate a good gag.

But now it's time to get creative. Don't get mad, get even.

Payback, Stanford, can be...

A whole different tune.