Author’s Note: We originally ran this handy guide back in 2021 when Iowa fans were being particularly obnoxious about their success and were less run into the ground by Brian Ferentz’s refusal to field an offense. It immediately became one of the all-time classics on the site, and with Iowa making another barely-deserved trip to the CCG courtesy of the feckless Big Ten West, it seems like a good time to revisit this one.
We all love our Iowa regulars and writers, and believe they are the best Iowa has to offer. If that sounds like a low bar to clear, well, probably it is, but we’ve got some cool, smart, fun Iowegians as a treasured part of this community.
But any success tends to bring out the… less delightful part of a fanbase, and Iowa’s recent #2 ranking has shown that they are no exception. Since Iowa is unlikely to lose in the near future, the rest of us had best get used to the HOKFANs of the world. This is not an undertaking for the faint of heart, as you will be exposed to grammatical carnage, the reminder that we at OTE are the worst “sports journalists” in the world, and sick burns about Twitter follower numbers. But we are here to help you through it.
To that end, we’ve put together a guide - specifically, OTE’s Authoritative Guide to the Hawkeye Fan. The first edition of our Deranged and Delusional: The Fanbases of the Big Ten series of guidebooks is packed to the gills with useful descriptions and real-life examples of Asinorum Stultus Hawkalis in the wild, so that you may be able to identify the species at a glance! What’s more, the OTE Authoritative Guide is packed with tips for dealing with this invasive species should your website suffer an attack in the wake of Iowa football success.
The Bandwagon Jumper (Mentis Insanis)
Due to a lack of professional sports teams in its native habitat, there is a notable absence of any one professional sports team that significantly overlaps with Hawkeye fandom. Common combinations like the CardinalHawk and the CubHawk, for example, are both common. The NFC North is well-fertilized with the support of Hawkeyes across at least three teams. Several unsavory behavioral manifestations result from this unique geographic situation:
- Hawkeyes are unusually disputatious. They are used to arguing among themselves, and do so with gusto. The in-group affiliations common to other sub-cultures typically breed loyalty and companionability within the group, but that is not always the case with Hawkeyes.
- The splintered pro allegiances mean that in these disputes some Hawk fans (those who also like the Packers, say) bring the heat like only bandwagon jumpers can. Others (Bears fans, for example) get to stew in the special rage that comes from having “one of your own” (a fellow Hawk fan) mock your pro sports allegiance.
- In other words, Hawk fans, collectively, exude the two worst pathologies of fandom: front-running and a persecution complex, resulting in an unpleasant brew of arrogance and a belief that everyone else is out to get them.
Spotting Mentis Insanis in the Wild
This is unfuckingbelievable!!! Iowa’s O comes back from too TDs down AND scores the most points that Penn St had given up this year. @offtackleempire is what happens if a literal piece of shit took a shit of it’s own.— HawkTakes.gif (@Hawk_Takes) October 11, 2021
Are they even watching games?!? https://t.co/SpOy8YAPo7
Notes: The anger exhibited by this specimen is evident and far-outsized to what the situation called for—the practiced sports anthropologist will recognize in the grammatical slaughter that has occurred and the promiscuity with which the term “literal” is employed the telltale signs of the diseased brain that happens as a result of the subject’s numerous pathologies. This subject begins with enthusiastic burst of front-running, declaring his clan’s evident greatness with much fervor, many exclamation marks, and glaring typographical errors. This subject then moves on to exhibiting his persecution complex, displaying his sense that anyone who does not share his belief in his clan’s evident greatness must be the shit of shit, an interesting though impossible scatological imagining. His ire causes him to again question the known truths of the universe (of course the writers are not watching the games) and employs this rhetoric as an ineffective attempt to bolster his own claims.
Protecting Yourself: This behavior, while juvenile and annoying, is ultimately harmless. It is usually apparent to other observers that the bold statements of “truth” delivered in this mode are unlikely to be, in fact, true. Let the Mentis Insanis humiliate himself and move on. If the Mentis Insanis is in your intimate circle of acquaintances, you may enjoy keeping a record of his more confident pronouncements for an opportune time. When his team has unexpectedly lost to a team that “sucks,” you may wish to remind him of his certainty of going to Indianapolis or the playoff only mere weeks earlier. He will probably tell you to “fuck off,” which is the universal cry of lament among the species.
The Time Traveler (Tempus Viator)
Like most cultures, that of Asinorum Stultus Hawkalis values its past. Notably, it often claims not to, and there is much evidence that the species often volleys accusations of excessive past-honoring at neighboring cultures, while turning a blind eye to its own tendencies in this arena. Sports anthropologists have attempted to explain this in various ways, but the most compelling argument comes from Dr. Kindofbutnotreally. He states: “In most of Iowa’s best seasons during the Fry-Ferentz era, Iowa has still managed to lose to Iowa State (1981, 2002) and/or Minnesota (1981, 1990), their chief rivals. Lately, Iowa has gotten a handle on these two rivals, which emboldens a run-of-the-mill Asinorum Stultus Hawkalis to think that their overall standing in the greater Big Ten ecosystem pecking order has increased as well. It has not. When this delusion is pointed out, a hostile reaction often ensues.”
Spotting Tempus Viator in the Wild
Notes: While Tempus Viator does not pause to denigrate traditional rivals, he displays a number of other hallmarks of his type. He casually dismisses the defenses of the rest of his team’s Big Ten foes, while he focuses on the certain accomplishments of the post-season, still a month and a half away. But the true indication of how highly he thinks of his team’s new place in the world come in the phrases “the Sky is the limit” and “He keeps improving and I think he is good enough to guide this team to a win against any team except maybe Georgia.” Not only does he see the Hawkeyes as greater than their conference, but indeed, greater than all other college football clans except for the Meridionali Canibus of Georgia.
This one is typically rather easy to spot, as Tempus Viator will engage in casual equivalencies of themselves with clans like Ohio State. Often, they will be more disparaging than necessary toward their vanquished foes of yore to better convince their listeners that they are “not even rivals anymore.” References toward “the future of Kirk’s teams” and self-identification as “conference elite” may also occur, along with depictions of other Top Ten teams in the conference as “trash.”
Protecting Yourself: Dr. Kindofbutnotreally recommends disengagement: “The best path may sometimes be to let this illusion persist,” he observes. “When engaged in this particular flight of fancy, no amount of reason is likely to penetrate the armor of conviction displayed by Tempus Viator. Nod your head, and slowly back away from them.”
The Nervous Nelly (Timere Homines)
Some older Iowa fans can be insufferable, and some younger Iowa fans can be reasonable, but it is the older, reasonable Iowa fan who knows what the rest of Hawkeye fans only vaguely fear: this is almost certainly destined to end poorly. The scoring margin for each of Iowa’s BCS bowl appearances during the Fry-Ferentz era: -28, -17 (as prohibitive favorite), -12 (trailed by 26 until garbage time), -21, +10, -29. Unless somebody other than Clemson wins the ACC and Iowa finds their way to the Orange Bowl, there is every reason to think that history will repeat itself and Iowa fans can sense this. They’re going to get their licks in while they can.
For many Timere Homines, the resulting attitude can be confusing. They engage in both understated arrogance and a peacocking display of foreboding, all at once. It is, in fact, one of nature’s most fascinating and curious shows. But where it often grates on neighboring clans comes from the seeping insincerity in the statements predicting certain doom. They really don’t think that Nebraska is going to beat them at the end of the season, but they’d like you to think that they’re not getting ahead of themselves. They don’t really believe that they’d make it to a playoff game only to shit the bed, but they want you to believe that they see it coming. Experts explain this as a coping mechanism derived from Midwesterness and superstition—the former placing a value on the appearance of humility even when not sincere; and the latter a belief that if they speak their greatest fears into the universe, the gods of their sport will not punish them for hubris, and instead will reward them with success. Note: Other nearby clans engage in remarkably similar behavior, wailing about the certainty of doom—most notably the men of the Michigan Mustelae. As neither of these clans have lost a single game halfway through the season, many other clans believe their claims lack verisimilitude.
Spotting Timere Homines in the Wild
Notes: This is classic Timere Homines behavior. An initial observation shows apparent respect for an upcoming opponent, though one far enough in the future that it is a comfortably distant object of rumination—prognostications will not be remembered by the rest of the clan in two weeks’ time, let alone by the end of the season. It’s the perfect chance to display a bit of humility to get the gods of sport on the side of one’s clan.
Most importantly, this case study subject blows his cover late in the game and gives the researcher full view at the lack of sincerity typically lurking beneath such posts. “There is a good chance they will be playing to become bowl eligible and they are disparately (sic) starving for a win over Iowa,” writes HawkeEye. “I am not saying Iowa is going to lose, far from it.” There it is. His concern was well-drawn before that, but at the end, he reveals it for the charade it is. He’s not actually concerned that they will lose this game—but is superstitiously interceding for his team in order to better their chances at a perfect season.
Protecting Yourself: You don’t need to. This is hilarious, odd, superstitious behavior. There are clans in the conference that can legitimately claim a sense of impending doom—Nebraska, Illinois, and Northwestern’s adherents all have a demonstrated recent history that legitimizes their need to worry about the worst-case scenario. But Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio State? This is performative. Leave them to the football gods they are trying to impress.
The Tough Guy (Magnus Fortis)
Magnus Fortis is one of the oldest known specimens on the internet, and the species proliferates in Hawkeye clans. Anthropologists suspect that its prevalence is due in these circles due to their ancestral belief in the dogma of STRENGTH and CONDITIONING. While a normal part of many college football clans, there is a belief among many Asinorum Stultus Hawkalis that their particular interpretation of the ancient rite simply means more than similar rituals among their neighboring clans.
Recently, this attitude has taken on the issue of “fake injuries.” During a recent match against the Leones Nittanus native to central Pennsylvania, many Asinorum Stultus Hawkalis booed loudly at their opponents when the opponents displayed signs of apparent injury. The booing is believed to be both a judgment on the veracity of the injury, but also an assertion of their own belief that their team would never have the temerity to be injured, thanks to STRENGTH and CONDITIONING. And this is really important. For almost the entirety of Kirk Ferentz’s time at Iowa, they had a world class STRENGTH and CONDITIONING coach. He was renowned in local legend as an excellent motivator, one who put the players’ well-being first, never falling victim to a hint of scandal—the Magnus Fortis’ beau ideal of manhood. Because of all the positive reinforcement and honor-based motivation, Iowa players only come off the field if they’re truly injured, and even then, sometimes they don’t. Rumor has it, some have tried to play through maladies as serious as rhabdomyolysis! It’s unfortunate, but because of this tradition, those of the Hawkeye clan can have a tendency to assume the worst when an opposing player goes down and does not require a stretcher.
Spotting Magnus Fortis in the Wild
Notes: In this example, the specimen begins with an assertion of his own perceived strength and autonomy in the face of efforts by his neighbors to correct his crowing. He then proceeds to offer judgment about the likelihood that the injured player (Clifford) was, in fact, injured. He is a Magnus Fortis, and thus unsurprisingly reaches the conclusion that the injury must be faked, as the “hit wasn’t even that hard.”
For many Magnus Fortis, no tough-guy demonstration is complete without a devolution into a personal attack against the person he believes himself to be arguing with. He fires indiscriminately (“gophers fan or wildcat”), caring only that he launches what he believes to be a debilitating attack on the neighboring clan member (“your team sucks.”)
Protecting Yourself: The Viridis Bellator of East Lansing has shown the optimal response to the Magnus Fortis: mockery. It is unlikely that the Magnus Fortis will even recognize what is happening, having put most of his eggs in the brawn rather than brain basket, but the rest of the neighboring clans will likely recommend profusely to show their appreciation for the joust.
The Child (Pueri Hawkalis)
Another classic specimen of the internet, Pueri Hawkalis displays a markedly childlike mental process, often standing in stark contrast to his stated claims to be a Magnus Fortis. Typical behaviors include: name-calling, “burns” that are tepid at best, and even sometimes things like homophobia or misogyny. Pueri Hawkalis thinks that Colin Kaepernick is literally Satan, and that “Let’s Go Brandon” is high comedy. No matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary, they will likely never accept that their mental development stalled in early adolescence.
Spotting Pueri Hawkalis in the Wild
Case Study 1:
AAAAAADAM!!! Pleeeease don’t come down on my so hard in front of your 92 followers.— HawkTakes.gif (@Hawk_Takes) October 11, 2021
“Hey let’s start a college football site! But where will we find writers with less than 100 followers? Wait… what about Adam?!”
Case Study 2:
Notes: Though it can induce a cringe reflex in the minds of rational adults to read such things, if one is truly dedicated to the identification and study of Asinorum Stultus Hawkalis in the wild, one must become familiar with Pueri Hawkalis. In the first example, above, Pueri Hawkalis exemplar “HawkTakes.gif” launches what he believes to be the most trenchant of criticisms—a citation of his opponent’s Twitter follower numbers. Twitter, a communication method utilized by many members of all college football clans, can be a valuable source of breaking news and funny sports gifs. But it also tends to attract Pueri Hawkalis due to how quickly and easily they can blast off poorly spelled, illogical, and unfunny takes and be validated by others of their species. Most adults do not place much value on Twitter numbers, unless it happens to somehow be a part of their career, but Pueri Hawkalis has no career and lacks the ability to find meaning in anything beyond having his fellows like his keyboard rantings. Anthropologists are deeply concerned about the effect this juvenile way of seeing the world may shape future generations, especially if, heaven forfend, the Pueri Hawkalis chooses to spawn.
In the second case, a more sinister presentation appears: the deployment of homophobia as an intended slight. Sports anthropologists sometimes have difficulty dating these missives, as they are better suited to a past of some decades earlier, and yet they continue to present in the modern day. Closely related is the tendency of Pueri Hawkalis to delve into displays of misogyny (calling an O-Line coach a “ma’am” as an intended slight) as an attempt to bolster their own self-worth.
Protecting Yourself: In this case, an analysis of the style of spew coming from the Pueri Hawkalis is necessary when deciding a course of action. The simply childlike attempts at “burns” can be either ignored or mocked, with no ill effects. However, it is advisable that if the Pueri Hawkalis is sufficiently angered to begin to imply that persons of different sexualities or women are inferior to himself, it is best to tell him to Go Fuck Himself because it’s 2021 and we do not have time for that shit anymore.
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