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Know the enemy, Rutgers: Why they love Iowa

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Yes, this week they’re the “enemy”. But they are also fans - nay, people - who love their school. And as we’re doing all season, we’re telling you why. Today: Go Hawks!

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

We love Rutgers. Why? Lots of reasons, personal, professional, emotional. But the people we play, their fans, love their schools, too. Why? Each week we’ll tell their story. Today with go with this week’s opponent, the University of Iowa. We’re taking a slightly different tack this week, not going only with alums but with people who have chosen to work there and live in and around Iowa City. Doing the honors is our own Jim Hoffman’s step-daughter, Lindsey, who works at Iowa along with two of her friends who are UI alums.

OTB: Why Iowa? What makes University of Iowa great in your mind?

Lindsey: I chose to take a job at UIowa because it was the best opportunity out there in my field. The university, and education, is really the focus of Iowa City – Iowa City’s population is about 75,000 people. The school itself has 32,000 students. It is home to one of the nation’s premiere writers workshops. It is the first public university to admit women, the first public medical school to admit women and was the first public university to grant a law degree to a woman. In short, it is a small city with a lot of nice people, pride and a huge focus on education.

Having said that, I have only been a Hawkeye for a short period of time. One thing my significant other and I noticed immediately after moving here is that a substantial portion of the population have been Hawkeye fans for generations. To help get a more rounded view, I asked a few Iowa-lifers their opinions on these questions.

2008 Iowa grad: I have lived in Iowa my whole life growing up in both Ottumwa and Cherokee before spending the last 12 years in Iowa City. I think the best part of Iowa is the caring, hardworking people of the state of Iowa. Iowa has many events including the Iowa State Fair (largest state fair in the nation) and RAGBRAI (largest bike ride across a state) that truly shows the generosity of the people and landscape of the state. The University of Iowa is great to me because Iowa City embraces the University and the University is the centerpiece of the town. The strong bond between the University and the town provides students and residents with a sense support as they further their education at the University of Iowa.

I decided to go to the University Iowa because I knew I wanted to go into healthcare, and I felt the University of Iowa gave me the best opportunity to pursue a career in healthcare, while still being close to home.

2005 grad: Many of my friends have gone to Iowa and said it is a great academic University. Being from around the area, I have ALWAYS wanted to be a Hawkeye. There were no other options for me but to be a HAWKEYE. In her mind, what makes Iowa great is: Definitely the people. There is Midwest nice, but then there is Iowa nice.

OTB: Were you a sports fan while at your undergrad school? Where?

Lindsey: I suppose the answer would be, not particularly – I went to a D3 school where sports weren’t really a focus, and football was not an event you really wanted to attend. Taking a job at Iowa changed all that. I enjoy football and have an NFL team I support, but it was a completely different experience to come here and become a Hawkeye fan. In a state with no professional football team, the Hawkeyes are a huge deal. It’s easy to get excited about these hometown heroes – college students, many of them from Iowa, who are also stellar athletes.

2008 grad: While at the University of Iowa I was a big sports fan. For 7 Saturday's every fall the town’s population nearly doubles for football games and Hawkeye fans from all across the state flock to Iowa City to cheer on their football team. Along with enjoying the football games, wrestling is a passion for many people in the state of Iowa. The wrestling team has won 23 national championships, 31 Big Ten championships, and produced many Olympic champions starting back in the 1970's, making it one of the best wrestling training centers in the world.

2005 grad: I was and still am an avid Football and Men’s Basketball fan. While a student, I had football season tickets and even had guest season tickets so my cousin could join me in the student section. Football Saturdays are the best!

Kinnick stadium has a capacity of 70,585 (nearly the size of the population of the city) and is always packed. Tailgating at UIowa is somewhat of a profession, with good tailgating spots at a premium and often hosting multiple generations of people who have been Hawkeye fans literally since birth. There is even a railroad (the Hawkeye Express) that shuttles fans in on gameday. [Note: On game day, Kinnick Stadium has the 6th largest population in the state if it’s at capacity]

OTB: What is the best thing about being on campus?

Lindsey: I would say the fact that the campus is the city and the city is the campus. They are completely intertwined. A 2008 grad says: The best thing about being on campus at Iowa is the beauty of the campus. The campus is built around the old state Capitol building of Iowa, providing a wonderful picture opportunity for visitors. I would agree – the university was founded in 1847 and hosts many beautiful buildings, including the Old Capitol of the state of Iowa (it transitioned to Des Moines in 1857). It is a very pedestrian and bike friendly campus and city. Statues of Herky the Hawk can be found throughout both the campus and the city.

2005 grad: You feel a sense of belonging. Students and residents in the Iowa City area are proud of the University and show it. Going to classes, everyone wore Hawkeye apparel. That was and still is the norm. Also, the food is excellent. New restaurants open up all the time, so there is always something new to try.

OTB: What was the best thing to happen to you (or in general) while you were at UI?

UI Grad: The best thing that happened to me while I was at Iowa was to get involved in the community and feel like I was truly part of the community, rather than just strictly being a student. For example, I volunteered and the worked at the Ronald McDonald house and met many outstanding people, including my wife.

I met a lot of great people while attending Iowa, and have worked with some of them in my career.

OTB: Tell me one or two really cool or important things about Iowa City.

OTB: How does/did Iowa make students feel a part of the school as an undergraduate?

Back to the Iowa grads: Iowa makes students feel very welcome as an undergraduate. The university hosts events every week where students can go and engage with others, and even enjoy free food. In addition, every fall, the university hosts a job fair where students can go and find a job if they are interested. The university is a strong believer in providing students with jobs to help students get through their undergraduate years.

The University has an OnIowa group for the new incoming freshman, where they have a block party with the president of the university, learn about Iowa traditions and organizations. The best tradition is standing on the turf at Kinnick Stadium to form the letter “I” for a class photo. They did not have that tradition when I went to Iowa and wish they would have!

OTB: From what you see there, how important is it to students personally being a graduate of Iowa?

Lindsey: It is a definite source of pride. Back to the grads.

One Iowa grad says: Graduates of the University of Iowa feel a strong sense of pride because they can now forever call themselves "Hawkeyes." Being a Hawkeye is important to graduates because in the state of Iowa it provides a graduate with a better opportunity for jobs. According to a 2015 article published by the Daily Iowan, UI educates 79% of the state's dentists, 50% of Iowa's physicians, and 48% of the state's pharmacists. Therefore, being a Hawkeye is a big accomplishment for an Iowa resident.

Another Iowa grad says: Personally, I have a great sense of pride being an Iowa graduate. Knowing I can tell my kids I graduated from Iowa, a top academic college, is a great accomplishment.

OTB: Other things to know?

  • Wearing a Hawkeye T-shirt anywhere in the country will incite a “Go Hawks!” shout or will get drinks bought for you. I can personally attest to this in California, Massachusetts, New York and Illinois.
  • On football game days, every Iowa fan is your friend. You could be walking down the street, tailgating or even in the stadium and you will get a high five or a go hawks from strangers. It is an AWESOME feeling!

All in all, they seem like nice folks. And we want to thank Lindsey for her thoughts and for recruiting some friends to give us their insights on Iowa.

Hmmm. Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

Film location for the movie 'Field of Dreams' Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Iowa at a glance

Founding: The University of Iowa was founded on February 25, 1847, 59 days after Iowa became a state. The original campus was composed of Old Capitol and the 10 acres of land on which it stood.

Location: Main campus is in Iowa City. Neighboring Coralville is home to the University’s 190-acre Oakdale Research Park and associated business incubators, the Technology Innovation Center and BioVentures Center, along with the University of Iowa Health Care.

Enrollment: 32,150 total enrollment: 23,357 undergraduate, and 7,487 graduate and professional enrollment

Academics: 12 colleges - including medicine and law - and over 200 majors and certificate programs

Athletics: 22 varsity teams - 12 men’s and 10 women’s