Iowa State is not a national powerhouse in football. Hell, it's not even a regional contender. On the grand scale of sports-related disappointments, I'd put being a Cyclone Football Fan somewhere between being a lifelong Cubs fan and actually being that guy who used to fall down during the "agony of defeat" section of ABC's Wide World of Sports montage. They are a historically bad team in a good conference with very little exposure outside of central Iowa.
There is really only one reason anyone even considers being an Iowa State fan - because one actually attended (and possibly even got a degree from) the Iowa State University of Science and Technology.
I've never regretted the decision, surely. My degree in Materials Science and Engineering has kept me employed and reasonably comfortable despite graduating during a time when the national economy was, to use a technical term,"completely fucked on the job front." I wouldn't trade the 5 and a half years I spent in Ames for anything in the world.
So yeah, I support the school as a whole. I think it's a bastion of higher education with top shelf educational facilities and I think it's something worth supporting, both in the classroom and outside of it. And because of that, I support the football team. Simple as that. They can suck forever, I won't care, I'll still be a fan. To me, that is an absolutely unbreakable bond between a person and the institution at which they spent the years who shaped them into the men and women that they become. It is sacred.
So yeah, I get pissed when people try to insinuate that I shouldn't support a team because they might always suck. For what it's worth, I think that CPR has this program going in the right direction, but you know what? They could go 0-12 and I'd still watch every game I could because they're unequivocally MY team.
There's a reason that Iowa State fans tend to be a bit... crazy. Insane. Fanatical, even. Know why? It's because we are histrorically bad. And as such, there is no reason to be a fairweather fan of this team. No bandwagon. No need for one. Why hook your passing college football interest to the Dan McCarney/Gene Chizik trainwreck when there's a tough and rugged B1G title contender only two hours east?
(And no, I don't want to make this an argument about how only alumni should be fans. I'm glad that Iowa has achieved the success that it has, and I have mad respect for Kirk Ferentz and his team. They do benefit from the lack of a professional football team in Iowa - if you're going to be a football fan in Iowa, you might as well go with the Hawks. So while Iowa has enjoyed the support of notable alumni, they have also benefited from the fact that they are essentially the only game in town.)
That's what makes hate week so hard for me. You see, I grew up as an Iowa fan. I was the kid who obsessively scribbled Tigerhawk logos on my trapper keepers. For 18 years, I bled black and gold, only to have to go and make this life decision that forever saddled me with unbreakable ties to a terrible team in the greatest sport in the history of the world. My father threatened to disown me. Yet I'm expected to somehow return volley on some quality hatred like this.
For the record, Iowa Fan, I don't hate you. In fact, I deal with your type all day. Assholes twice my age who have hit their career peaks. Pot Bellies sticking out under grease stained black and gold t-shirts. Male Pattern Baldness covered by a Hayden Fry trucker cap, machine operators making terrible hourly pay and having to answer to some snot nosed punk kid with an Engineering degree from Iowa State.
Iowa State could get blown out of the stadium on Saturday. 35-3 all over again. Wouldn't matter. We'll rationalize it away no matter how badly we lose. Know why? Because Monday, when you and all your friends are laughing at Jantz's 3 interceptions? I'm not going to be mad. Because I still make ridiculous bank with my engineering degree. Because it has afforded me opportunities you will never know, Hawk fan. Because come Monday morning, I will still be your boss. While your team is winning at football, mine has me winning at LIFE. And that's why I'm going to give you a gift.
I WANT you to pour your hatred into me. I mean, don't get me wrong - Iowa State already gets a lot of hate. We're the afterthought of the BCS superconference era. We made the mistake of being the Vanderbilt or Indiana in the conference that exploded. The only time we're relevant is when we're being made fun of. But it doesn't matter in the long run. Give your hatred into me, Iowa fan, so that you may feel better about your station in life. I owe you at least that, as a fellow Iowan. Gloat in having "your team" beat "my team" despite the fact that "your team" under that definition would be the Kirkwood Eagles. Give me your hatred, becase I can take it. It doesn't matter. I've already beaten you in the game of life.
Now get out of my office and get back to work or I'm making you work the Saturday of the Penn State game.