By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Mr. Optimist and Mr. Pessimist both have a passion for Iowa Hawkeye athletics, but they just see things differently, and have for years.
One’s glass is always half full, while the other’s is always half empty.
One sees sunshine and lollipops, while the other sees gloom and doom.
One thrives on positive reinforcement, while the other thrives on snark and cynicism.
One always gives Iowa the edge, while the other never seems to give Iowa the edge.
Some readers over the years have complained about Mr. Pessimist being too negative, and have criticized him for hiding behind an alias. They also ask why I provide a stage for him, and I do so because I enjoy the spirit of debate.
My guess is this latest debate, which occurred on Friday, won’t change how some fans feel about Mr. Pessimist, because once again, negativity is his co-pilot.
Mr. Optimist, on the other hand, was in typical form and provides a nice alternative as an unwavering Hawkeye homer.
Mr. Optimist: Marv Cook’s 28-yard touchdown catch in the final second at Ohio State in 1987 in which he plowed over Bo Pelini to reach the end zone is one of the greatest moments in the history of Hawkeye football, a moment frozen in time, partly because of the incredible circumstances, and because of the opponent.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa is 1-8 against Ohio State in Columbus since then, and 5-34-1 against Ohio State since 1963.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa football has the third best record in the Big Ten since 2015 at 53-21 overall, trailing only Ohio State (68-8) and Wisconsin (56-19).
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa football hasn’t won a Big Ten title since 2004, while Ohio State has won nine Big Ten titles and Wisconsin has won three since 2005.
Mr. Optimist: The Iowa football team showed incredible resolve last season by finishing 6-2 after a 0-2 start.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa’s six-game winning streak to close out the 2020 season came against opponents with a combined record of 18-28.
Mr. Optimist: The Iowa football team had a combined record of 54-27-4 in nine seasons under Forest Evashevski from 1952-60, and was 2-0 in the Rose Bowl.
Mr. Pessimist: The Iowa football team had a combined record of 29-53-3 from 1961-69 with Forest Evashevski serving as athletic director.
Mr. Optimist: Lute Olson’s climb to legendary status really started at Iowa where he is the last head coach to lead the Iowa men’s basketball team to a Big Ten regular-season title in 1978-79, and to the NCAA Final Four in 1980.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa didn’t make the NCAA Tournament in the first four seasons under Olson, and lost twice in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament under Olson.
Mr. Optimist: The 1986-87 Iowa men’s basketball team set a school record with 30 victories, advanced to the Elite Eight and had a roster filled with future NBA players.
Mr. Pessimist: The 1986-87 Iowa men’s basketball finished third in the Big Ten regular-season standings.
Mr. Optimist: Nov. 4, 2017 is a day that Iowa fans will cherish forever as Iowa crushed Ohio State 55-24 at Kinnick Stadium on that day.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa lost to Wisconsin 38-14 just a week later on Nov. 11, 2017 in Madison, and both of Iowa’s touchdowns were scored by Josh Jackson on pick-sixes.
Mr. Optimist: The Iowa football team has won six consecutive games against Nebraska, and seven of the last eight in the series.
Mr. Pessimist: That streak would’ve been more impressive 25 years ago.
Mr. Optimist: Circumstances are definitely trending in the right direction with regard to the global pandemic as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Thursday that people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer need to wear masks or physically distance, whether indoors or outdoors in most circumstances. So look for Kinnick Stadium to be packed full this fall.
Mr. Pessimist: More than half of the country still isn’t fully vaccinated, and it’s probably fair to say that a large chunk of those people have no interest in getting vaccinated. And if you think that won’t have an impact when deciding attendance for this fall, then you haven’t been paying attention.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa has a proud tradition of running the football behind star-studded offensive lines that often wear down opponents using a hard-nosed and methodical approach.
Mr. Pessimist: Over the past six seasons since 2015, the Iowa football team has finished no higher than 47th nationally in per-game rushing yards, and finished 95th, 95th and 90th, respectively, from 2017-19.
Mr. Optimist: Ihmir Smith-Marsette became the fourth Iowa receiver under Kirk Ferentz to be selected in the NFL draft, and the first receiver under Ferentz to be taken before the sixth round.
Mr. Pessimist: Ihmir Smith-Marsette became just the fourth Iowa receiver under Kirk Ferentz to be selected in the NFL draft, and the first receiver under Ferentz to be taken before the sixth round.
Mr. Optimist: The Iowa football has combined to outscore its last four opponents in the Rose Bowl 61-59 in the second half.
Mr. Pessimist: The Iowa football team has been outscored 105-17 in the first half of its last four Rose Bowl games.
Mr. Optimist: Barry Alvarez is retiring as the Wisconsin Athletic Director, and the further he gets from the Badger football program, the better for Iowa.
Mr. Pessimist: Barry Alvarez hasn’t been the head coach at Wisconsin since 2005, and yet, the Badgers still are 9-4 against Iowa since he retired from coaching.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa has a 51-28-3 all-time record against Northwestern in football.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa has a 10-14 record against Northwestern in football since 1995.
Mr. Optimist: Chuck Hartlieb set a program record with 558 passing yards against Indiana on Oct. 29, 1988 in Bloomington, Ind.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa lost to Indiana 45-34 on Oct. 29, 1988 in Bloomington, Ind.