By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz has been coaching football for so long that he often says nothing surprises him anymore.
I've also learned to expect just about anything while covering University of Iowa athletics for over a quarter century.
But unlike Ferentz, some things still surprise me, or even shock me.
Here is a list of my 10 biggest you-have-to-be-kidding-me moments while covering Hawkeye athletics since 1992.
There is no right or wrong with this kind of list because it's all subjective and just my opinion. And remember, these aren't necessarily the greatest moments or the worst moments, but rather the most shocking and the hardest to understand.
1. Buckeye Beat-down: The final score of 55-24 will forever have special meaning to Iowa fans because that was the margin of victory in last season’s stunning upset over Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium.
Defensive back Amani Hooker recorded a pick-six on the opening play from scrimmage and the rout was on as Iowa dominated from start to finish.
Ohio State is the only Big Ten team to have kept Iowa in a stranglehold for decades in football. The Hawkeyes win about once every decade or two against Ohio State, and usually by the slimmest of margins.
The game this past Nov. 4th was the exception as it defied history and explanation.
Nobody saw it coming because why would you?
Iowa was fighting just to stay afloat, while Ohio State was fighting to stay in the playoff hunt with yet another deep and talented roster leading the way.
You kept waiting for the Buckeyes to seize control in the first two quarters, but it never happened as Iowa just kept making big plays on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley threw five touchdowns passes, including one with Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard wrapped around his lower leg, producing the perfect Kodak moment from the game.
"We came into this game heavy underdogs, and for good reason," Ferentz said. "Ohio State is a tremendous football team, but the big thing is our guys believed in themselves all week long. They had a good week of preparation, and then most importantly, came out and played with great energy, effort, a lot of grit, and played opportunistic football. That's important in a game like this."
I remember looking up at the scoreboard at Kinnick Stadium after Iowa had defeated Ohio State 33-7 in 2004 and thinking to myself; savor the moment because you’ll probably never see anything like it again.
Well, I was wrong, and it only took 13 years to prove it.
Defeating Ohio State is one thing. Embarrassing the Buckeyes is another.
The 31-point drubbing made no sense, especially after Iowa was held to just 66 yards during a 38-14 loss at Wisconsin the following week.
2. Tate to Holloway: Most legends are made over time, but Warren Holloway isn’t like most legends.
He earned that distinction in a matter of seconds, the amount of time it took for him to make arguably the greatest touchdown catch in program history.
It came as time expired in the 2005 Capital One Bowl as Holloway slipped past the Louisiana State secondary and caught a 56-yard game-winning touchdown pass from Drew Tate.
Holloway couldn’t have picked a better time to score his only touchdown as a Hawkeye. He played sparingly for most of his career, but stayed the course and finally cracked the rotation as a senior.
Tate also couldn’t have thrown a better pass as he hit Holloway in stride and then let his speedy little receiver do the rest.
The play, now known simply as Tate to Holloway, came at the expense of Nick Saban, who was coaching in his final game for LSU in the 2005 Capital One Bowl.
3. Miracle in East Lansing: The power of friendship, the human spirit and the 3-point shot all joined forces to create an extraordinary moment at the Breslin Center on Jan. 28, 1993.
The Iowa men’s basketball team was playing its first game since star forward Chris Street had been killed in an automobile accident nine days earlier and trailed by 15 points with 3 minutes and 30 seconds left in regulation.
Senior guard Val Barnes, who led Iowa with 29 points, triggered the emotional comeback by making three 3-point baskets, including one with 20 seconds remaining in regulation that tied the score at 76-76.
Iowa bolted to an 85-78 lead in overtime and the Spartans never threatened.
In a tribute to Street, the Iowa players wore a black patch with Street's initials and his jersey number, 40, on the left shoulder strap of their uniforms. Street, the team's leading rebounder at 9.5 per game and third-leading scorer at 14.5 points, was a leader on and off the court.
4. Chris Street Miracle Part 2: Just three days after the miracle at Michigan State, Val Barnes and his cohorts did it again, this time at the expense of Michigan’s legendary Fab Five.
Iowa defeated the eventual national runner-up 88-80 in a game that was filled with tears of sadness and joy.
When the game ended, the Iowa players rushed to Street’s parents who were seated courtside at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to present them with the game ball.
It was a powerful moment that will be etched in the minds of Iowa fans forever.
5. Sun Bowl supremacy: Hayden Fry was a master motivator, and sometimes he would use the media to help deliver his message or to create a distraction for his players.
That was the case heading into the 1995 Sun Bowl between Iowa and Washington. Fry noticed, or more likely was told, that only one member of the Iowa media had picked the Hawkeyes to defeat Washington and he seized the opportunity to play the underdog role.
Iowa hadn’t won a bowl game since 1987, was only 7-4 at the time and paled in comparison to Washington from a notoriety standpoint.
Fry fed off the circumstances and whatever he said to his players worked because Iowa pounced on the 20th-ranked Huskies and rolled to a 38-18 victory. Star running back Sedrick Shaw blasted through a huge hole and raced 58 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
Iowa rushed for 286 yards and led 21-0 at halftime and 31-6 after three quarters.
The Iowa defense also held Washington to just 96 rushing yards in Bill Brashier’s final game as defensive coordinator.
Brashier grew up with Hayden Fry in Eastland, Texas and was a member of Fry’s original staff at Iowa after accompanying him from North Texas.
They were life-long friends who fit perfectly together as coaches. Fry handled the offense and the spotlight as the head Hawk, while Brashier ran the defense behind the scenes.
6. Lickliter’s miracle: The three-year stretch from 2007 to 2010 is maybe the lowest of low points for the Iowa men’s basketball program. Todd Lickliter proved to be a horrible hire and only lasted three seasons as head coach.
Too much losing and too many player defections ultimately led to Lickliter’s quick demise.
It also didn’t help that his teams played at a snail-like pace and often melted the shot clock down before attempting a shot.
It was painful to watch, but every once in a while it worked.
Just ask Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
He watched in agony as Iowa defeated the sixth-ranked Spartans 43-36 on Jan. 12, 2008 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Fans rushed the court as Iowa gave Lickliter his first Big Ten victory.
Izzo described the loss as maybe the lowest point in his coaching career.
The loss stopped an 11-game win streak for the Spartans, dropping their record to 14-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. With the win, Iowa improved to 8-9 on the season and 1-3 in the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes forced 18 Michigan State turnovers which led to 15 points. Iowa also went to the free-throw line 29 times, converting 16 times, while holding Michigan State to only 1-of-4 from the line.
Izzo called Michigan State’s four free throw attempts as “almost ridiculous.” He also commented on his team’s 18 tournovers.
"Turnovers hurt you two ways," Izzo said. "It depresses you and encourages them. This is one of the poorest games we've played maybe in my entire time as head coach. He (Lickliter) deserved what he got and we deserved what we got. Hats off to Iowa and disappointment for us. We were out of it all night. This will be a tape that gets burned."
7. A rivalry is born: Sept. 12, 1998 is a day that Iowa State fans will cherish forever because that was the day the rivalry with Iowa in football finally shifted to their side, and did so in convincing fashion.
An Iowa team that would go on to finish 3-8 in Hayden Fry’s final season as head coach had no answer for the Cyclones, especially running back Darren Davis, who rushed for over 200 yards during the 27-9 drubbing at Kinnick Stadium.
The 18-point victory not only ended a 15-game losing streak to Iowa, it also was the start of a five-game winning streak for Iowa State in the series.
The rivalry has been competitive ever since with Iowa State having defeated Iowa 10 times since 1998.
The big surprise wasn’t necessarily that Iowa State won the game in 1998, but rather how one-sided the outcome proved to be.
Adding to the drama, or to the frustration from Iowa's standpoint, was that former Iowa player and assistant coach Dan McCarney was the Iowa State head coach at the time.
8. Catastrophe in Columbus: Speaking of one-sided outcomes at the expense of the Iowa football team, Oct. 28, 1995 wasn’t a good day, either.
That was the day Iowa trailed fourth-ranked Ohio State 56-0 late in the second quarter. The Hawkeyes scored 35 unanswered points in the second half, so the final score of 56-35 was much closer than what had actually transpired on the field in Columbus.
Hayden Fry praised his players for launching a comeback in the second half, but it came against Ohio State reserves and did little to steer the post-game reaction.
The fact that Ohio State won the game, or even dominated the game, hardly was a surprise because the Buckeyes have dominated the series with Iowa.
The surprise was that Iowa trailed by 56 points in the second quarter despite having a star-studded roster that included Tim Dwight, Sedrick Shaw, Jared DeVries, Tom Knight, Damien Robinson, Vernon Rollins and Ross Verba.
9. Route 66: If the 31-point victory over Ohio State was the high point to the Iowa football team's 2017 season, which it undoubtedly was, then the low point came just a week later during a 38-14 loss at Wisconsin.
Again, it wasn’t that Iowa lost to the Badgers in Madison that was shocking, it was how the loss unfolded.
The same Iowa team that shredded Ohio State for 55 points the week before failed to score a point on offense against Wisconsin and was held to just 66 yards.
Both of Iowa’s touchdowns came on pick-sixes by All-America cornerback Josh Jackson.
10. Beat-down at the Big House: The first real sign that Iowa had a special team in 2002 was the 34-9 victory over Michigan in the Big House.
Iowa already had hung on to defeat Penn State 42-35 on the road and Purdue 31-28 at home, while also whipping Michigan State 44-16 at home.
But none of those wins were nearly as impressive as the beat-down in the Big House.
Iowa dominated Michigan in nearly every facet of the game and you could argue that Iowa was the more athletic team that day.
Backup running back Jermelle Lewis replaced an injured Fred Russell and rushed for 109 yards in a game in which Michigan barely mounted a threat.
This game edged out the 2016 Rose Bowl debacle for the final spot on the list. Stanford’s 41-16 victory was certainly a surprise, but it came in the Rose Bowl where Iowa has a history of performing poorly.