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Am I in the minority that wants the Hawks in the Foster Farms bowl?
(Music City good, just would prefer Pac12/West Coast)
— Jeff B (@JeffreyTheGreek) November 26, 2017
ANSWER: Four bowls remain in play for Iowa (7-5 record), and the Hawkeyes never have participated in three of them. They include the Foster Farms Bowl (Santa Clara, Calif.), Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tenn.) and Pinstripe Bowl (New York). The other is the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, in which Iowa competed in 1986, 1987 and 1991. Big Ten teams Northwestern (9-3), Michigan State (9-3) and Michigan (8-4) are more likely for Holiday Bowl consideration than the Hawkeyes this year.
Iowa fans have made their voices clear on bowl preference in old-school ways such as conversations, as well as via social media. Overwhelmingly, they want to go to the Music City Bowl. Unlike with the Foster Farms and Pinstripe bowls, Iowa fans can drive to Nashville. It’s less than 600 miles from Iowa City — about a 9-hour drive. On Friday, Dec. 29, the bowl is well-positioned between the holidays and attached to a weekend. Economically, it’s a more affordable trip to Nashville than to New York or the San Francisco area.
“I don’t think I have to do a lot of research to tell you that most of our fans want to go to Nashville first,” Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said last week. “I’ve shared that with the Big Ten.”
Country music is popular among Iowa fans, and that was magnified in recent years with former quarterback C.J. Beathard, his brother Tucker Beathard (an up-and-coming country star) and their father Casey Beathard, one of the top country music songwriters in Nashville. With the side concerts, the Grand Ole Opry and other attractions, most Iowa fans would live it up there.
Among the three bowls in play, the Music City Bowl has the highest ticket commitment for Big Ten schools at 8,000 (Pinstripe, 7,500; Foster Farms, 7,000). That shouldn’t be a problem for the department this year. The others — especially the Foster Farms Bowl — would be more challenging. Of course the cost of unsold bowl tickets is shared throughout the Big Ten and not strapped to one school.
In a wildly inconsistent football season that has tested the fans’ patience, the Hawkeyes playing in Nashville would give the fans a reason for excitement. It allows their voice to matter in a positive way, which is rare in the college football world of today.
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