Opinion | Appreciating an entertaining Black Friday in Hawkeye sports

A sixth consecutive win over Nebraska, Luka Garza being Luka Garza, and the most entertaining press conference of the year meant that Iowa fans had a lot to be thankful for on Black Friday.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa kicker Keith Duncan attempts a field goal during a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Kinnick Stadium on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 26-20.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Of course – because it is 2020 and all – a Zoom conference stands out as the most memorable part of what was an already entertaining Black Friday in Hawkeye sports.

About four hours after Keith Duncan nailed his first of four field-goal attempts in Kinnick Stadium on Friday in Iowa’s unprecedented sixth straight victory over Nebraska, Luka Garza drained his first 3-pointer for the top-five Hawkeye men’s basketball team at the start of the game, down the road at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

But Duncan – Iowa’s charismatic kicker – and Kirk Ferentz – Iowa’s head football coach whose comically snarky tone postgame screamed “I’m too old for this” (in a funny way) – adding fuel to the already red-hot rivalry with Nebraska (well, maybe not in terms of wins recently…) was the mic-drop moment on a seemingly perfect day for the Black and Gold.

This was a Black Friday to be thankful for, Hawkeye sports fans.

Let’s start with the press conference.

Maybe my Zoom classes would be more appealing if Duncan was on those calls, too. Because that’s typically how football press conferences work. When the senior takes the podium, I’m prepared to be entertained. I wasn’t disappointed on Friday.

Duncan ended Nebraska’s season last year with a game-winning kick that prevented the Cornhuskers from reaching bowl eligibility. He enjoyed the moment and blew kisses at Nebraska’s sideline in celebration. Duncan heard about that from Nebraska players on Friday and let loose postgame.

From calling out Nebraska players for growing mustaches prior to the Heroes Game, to waiting with great anticipation to call his uncle, a Husker fan, Duncan’s responses were good for a few smiles in the press box.

RELATED: Iowa-Nebraska rivalry on full display before and after the 26-20 Hawkeye victory

Ferentz followed shortly after.

Between his petty use of timeouts against Minnesota and his off-the-rails postgame press conference slamming accusations made by Nebraska’s coaching staff, Ferentz either is as annoyed with P.J. Fleck and Scott Frost as Iowa fans are, or is running out of, well, “expletives” to give.

Probably both.

Ferentz went on a rant of all rants in response to Frost claiming Iowa coaches were clapping to disrupt Nebraska’s snap count. Pure gold. “Are they OK with how I dressed today?” was my personal favorite part of his response.

Now, back to the field, and the court.

On the gridiron, Iowa won another down-to-the-wire game against Nebraska, 26-20. Chauncey Golston ended the Huskers’ hopes of a game-winning drive with a sack on quarterback Adrian Martinez that forced a fumble, which was recovered by the Hawkeyes for Zach VanValkenburg.

The suddenly 4-2 Hawkeyes won their fourth game in a row. Trophy secured.

I watched the Heroes Game in the second row of the press box at Kinnick Stadium. As some reporters scurried out of the press box to make the trip to press row at Carver to see the Hawkeyes on the hardwood, I stayed in my seat and wrote my football game story as the men’s hoops game started to appear on the TVs overhead.

Looking up occasionally from my laptop at the basketball game, it quickly became apparent that Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery was the only person capable of stopping Garza from scoring against Southern.

In the first half – yes, only the first half – Garza dropped 36 points and hit all 12 of his shots from the field.

“Yeah, but he’s missed two free throws,” a reporter in the press box quipped.

Garza finished with 41 points, and only played sparingly in the second half. And the good news is, there’s more coming from both these two teams, as well as other Hawkeye programs.

The No. 24 (and maybe moving up) Iowa football team can continue its win streak this week, and the Hawkeye men’s hoops team will likely rise to No. 3 in the nation in the next poll after two top teams lost in the opening week of the season.

And maybe if we’re lucky, there will be a memorable Zoom interview or two as well.

It was a fun day of watching sports. And, in a year like this, we need more of those.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

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