The Iowa football season was originally set to begin Saturday, now there’s a long countdown to kickoff

The Saturday before Labor Day should be an exciting time for Iowa football fans – under normal circumstances.


Katina Zentz

Iowa players walk onto the field for the first game of their season against Miami (Ohio) at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, August 31, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Redhawks 38-14.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

September is here, but Hawkeye football will still have to wait.

Iowa was originally scheduled to take on the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday to open its 2020 football season. Then, after the Big Ten moved to a conference-only schedule, Maryland was set to come to Iowa City to kickoff the campaign. When the Big Ten announced on Aug. 11 that all fall sports seasons were postponed because of ongoing concerns with COVID-19, it meant this weekend was now open for Hawkeye football fans.

Many students have come back to campus for the fall semester, and on Saturday thousands of Hawkeye fans across the country would typically be coming together at Kinnick Stadium to celebrate the start of the new season. Coming down I-380 would, under normal circumstances, be Northern Iowa fans ready to see if their Panthers could upset the Hawkeyes.

Early that morning, there would be fans making their way down Grand Avenue, trying to get into the stadium’s parking lots or the surrounding area of Melrose Avenue. The sweet smell of barbecue would be filling the air around the stadium.

The Hawk Walk would be taking place two hours before the game, offering the first opportunity for Hawkeyes fans to see this season’s team before they hit the field.

Thirty minutes later, the gates should open, with students scrambling to get the best seat in the student section and showing their support for the Hawkeyes warming up under new interim director of strength and conditioning, Raimond Braithwaite.

A half-hour before kickoff, the Hawkeye Marching Band would start its pregame performance, and the stadium would start to look full. Nile Kinnick should start to read his Heisman Trophy acceptance speech on the scoreboard soon, and the team would swarm onto the field with AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blaring from the stadium speakers.

RELATED: Iowa AD Gary Barta supported fall football season

Then, kickoff would come, and for three-plus hours, Hawkeye fans’ eyes are focused intently on the game.

A normal season would allow fans the opportunity to watch new starting quarterback Spencer Petras at the helm, and see what he could do with an offense full of offensive players like Ihimr Smith-Marsette and Tyler Goodson.

“The wave” would take place after the first quarter, and everyone in the stands would be on the same side supporting the children in the hospital for a moment.  At halftime, the band would have another performance. In the second half, the Hawkeyes would likely pull away from the Panthers and have their first win of the season.

But after the Big Ten’s decision, nothing on Saturday will look how it normally would.

Most undergraduate classes are online, making the foot traffic on campus a remnant of what it used to be, and there’s great uncertainty if classes will continue to stay in-person up to Thanksgiving.

The Big 12 has decided to play football, and there will be no fans present at Iowa State’s first game on Sept. 12.

When the Big Ten teams will take the field next remains to be seen. Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said a January start to the season could be on the table, and other reports indicate some members of the Big Ten support beginning a season in late November.

A season will take place eventually, but that won’t stop Iowa City from looking abnormal in the meantime.

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