The pomp and pageantry of college football is one of the reasons it carries a special place in the hearts of fans across the nation. In each college town, the local traditions make game day an experience unique to that school's history.
Iowa is no different, and Iowa City is a special place to watch college football. The Black and Gold runs deep for every Hawkeyes fan. Here are five reasons that make gameday at Kinnick Stadium so special on a football Saturday.
1. The Iowa Wave
The University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital overlooks Kinnick Stadium and has a viewing area where patients and their families can watch Hawkeyes football. During the 2017 season, fans started to turn away from the football field at the end of the first quarter and wave to the children in the hospital. It has grown so popular that the Iowa team and coaches, as well as the opposing team and coaches, are now turning and waving to the children during the game.
2. Back In Black & The Swarm
During Hayden Fry’s time as head coach, he introduced many traditions, including “The Swarm.” Led by Herky Hawkeye, the team jogs slowly onto the field through the tunnel. With the captains in front, the entire team locks hands as a symbol of strength, unity, and support for each other. Today, the team is accompanied by AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blaring through the sound system.
3. In Heaven, There Is No Beer/Hawkeye Victory Polka
After every Hawkeyes win, the marching band delights fans with the playing of this song, which features the lyrics, "In Heaven, there is no beer . . . That’s why we drink it here . . . And when we're gone from here . . . Our friends will be drinking all the beer!"
4. I-O-W-A Cheer
Led by the cheerleaders waving big flags with each letter, each of the four sections of the stadium shout a letter, repeatedly spelling IOWA while forming the letters with their arms.
5. Nile Kinnick’s Heisman Speech
Nile Kinnick is the University of Iowa’s only Heisman Trophy winner. In his 1939 Heisman Trophy speech, Kinnick spoke about his time in Iowa City:
“I thank God I was born on the gridirons of the middle west and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can say confidently and positively that football players in this country would rather fight for the Heisman award than the Croix de Guerre.”
Kinnick was later killed during a training flight crash off the coast of Venezuela in 1943 at the age of 24. The football stadium was named in his honor in 1972, and today, before every home game, a video of Nile Kinnick’s Heisman Trophy speech is played on the scoreboard.