ESPN ranks Hawkeye student section No. 5 in the country

In collaboration with Taco Bell, ESPN introduced the first-ever Live Más Student Section of the Year award. Each week for 10 weeks, sections will be ranked before the final winner is decided. For the first two weeks, Iowa stayed in the top five.


Katie Goodale

Fans spectate during the Iowa vs. Maryland game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday Oct. 20, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins 23-0.

Kinsey Phipps, News Reporter

“Back in Black” plays over Kinnick’s speakers. The scoreboard displays the Hawkeye football team walking out of the tunnel. Kinnick booms with fans yelling and cheering as the players reach the field and run out, but no fans are louder than those standing in the Hawkeye student section.

For the first time, ESPN is collaborating with Taco Bell to present the Live Más Student Section of the Year award. The Hawkeye student section ranks No. 5 in the nation in the first two weeks of the competition; at the end of 10 weeks, a winner will be crowned.

RELATED: With the Big Ten Tournament out of reach, what is the next step for Hawkeye football?

According to ESPN’s website, a team of college-football experts are evaluating student sections from across the country each week and ranking the top 10.

“The reason we stand out is the overwhelming sense of community. Everyone knows they are a part of something bigger than yourself,” Hawkeye super-fan Molly Corlett said. “Everyone has shared spirit and dedication to Iowa football.”

Students may participate by posting on social media with the hashtag #LiveMasStudentSectionChallenge to show judges school pride and what makes their student section the best in the nation.

RELATED: With the Big Ten Tournament out of reach, what is the next step for Hawkeye football?

Teams are evaluated based on five categories: creative energy, endurance, impact, social good, and tradition champs. Hawks Nest Vice President Jack Brenneke said the UI student section encompasses all five.

Hawks Nest is the official student section of Iowa Hawkeye athletics. Present at all sporting events and a leader in recruiting UI students to support the Hawkeyes, Hawks Nest is at the forefront of spirit.

Creatively, the band stands out, Hawks Nest President Kayla Carrothers said.

“We have one of the craziest bands. The band starts everything as far as chants go,” Carrothers said. “They are great at getting everybody excited and bringing the energy where it needs to be.”

Endurance, Brenneke said, is one of the UI’s greatest strengths.

“We are not the fans who leave if it’s cold, or if it’s raining, or if we are losing by a lot,” he said. “If we are down a bunch in the fourth quarter, the student section is still going to be full. We are fans that are in it whether we are losing or winning.”

Impact and social good go hand-in-hand, Carrothers said. From the Hawkeye Wave to the Children’s Hospital patients to the Kid Captain program, the UI student section cheers for something bigger than football. At the end of the day, she said, it’s all “for the kids.”

Tradition not only comes from the famous Wave and Kid Captains but also from the Kinnick speech and “Crazy Train” blasting each time the opposing team reaches a third down.

Tradition encompasses Hawkeye football, Brenneke said.

At the time of publication, the schools topping the UI were Penn State, LSU, Clemson, and Texas A&M.

“I think it’s a strength in its own not having a top-five football team but having a top-five student section,” Brenneke said. “That’s the pride that comes with the state and the school.”

Hawks Nest hopes to carry the pride and excitement of the rankings into basketball season, Brenneke said. They hope to bring the tradition from Kinnick to Carver this winter.