I can't stop smiling. It's been this way for the majority of 2016 and probably even before that; I just wasn't really aware that it was happening. It's been weird for those around me, watching as my face constantly shifts between seven different happy emoji faces as I day dream about different aspects of this Hawkeyes basketball season. Even through the tedious drudges that come along with my daily desk job, my ever increasing happiness cannot be stopped.
Hell, Zack Snyder couldn't even draw up a way to destroy all my wondrous feels and he has built an entire career on destroying everything.
On Sunday, after Iowa's convincing win at Illinois (a game in which I was secretly worried because of Iowa's 1-10 record in front of the Orange Krush since the 2000-01 season), I just kept thinking, "this must be what it's like to be an Alabama football fan". Or a Patriots fan. Or a Spurs fan.
There really is a calming, zen-like aura that comes along when everything in your sporting world goes right. And it's a wonderful place to be.
Now before the comments start spewing in, I realize Iowa hasn't won anything (yet) and that there is another big test at Indiana tonight (a game in which the Hawkeyes, not the Hoosiers, opened up as a two point favorite), but I am a man of optimistic tastes that chooses to live in the moment. And at this exact moment, Fran McCaffery's team is one of the best units in the nation no matter how you slice it . No matter where you pull your stats. No matter what polls you look at. The Iowa Hawkeyes are there. And they aren't going away.
This level of elation is unprecedented in my time as an Iowa fan. And I'm just a young blood. There are so many other alumni and fans that have taken on their fair share of battle wounds that I can't even begin to comprehend. But damn if I'm not the only one who wakes up in the morning, flips through their closet and tries to find something with that beautiful tiger hawk logo on non-game days in hopes of having the briefest of conversations with a random stranger. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've heard "Go Hawks" just walking around random spots in Orlando. How many of my customers have asked me my thoughts on "IOWA BEING IN THE TOP 10 IN FOOTBALL AND BASKETBALL!". How many times I've said "New Kirk" and "I didn't expect THIS from Jarrod Uthoff".
It's everything I've ever loved about the University of Iowa wrapped up into a hoops season.
Many of you know my story on campus at this point, but what drew me to Iowa in the first place was the sense of unabashed camaraderie I felt walking around Iowa City. And being a part of that overall community each and every day makes me speed home from the gym to watch early games against Nebraska. It's what keeps me on Twitter into the wee hours of the night so I can see what national pundits I generally don't care about are saying about this Hawkeyes team. It's what keeps me reading some of the outlandish things that pop up on message boards.
These are my people!
And when you take that community and sprinkle in a Hawkeyes team that will surely be in the Top-10 for five straight weeks -- the longest such streak since the early 90's. A team that has dominated the best of the Big Ten, including straight sweeps against Michigan State and Purdue. A team that features one of the most lethal/unique/multi-faceted rosters in Iowa history with two point guards that simply out grind you (among a plethora of other things), a throwback/world beating jump shooter who should've been playing for a blue blood program before his injuries, the love child of Keith VanHorn and Larry Bird and the best defensive center in the country.
Well... can you blame me for letting my inner proud parent out for a sub-800 word pride piece?
No matter what happens in tonights game, it won't stop me from strutting down the street with a bright yellow t-shirt and a Katy Perry song stuck in my head (YOU'RE GOING TO HEAR ME ROAR!). I'm just so damn proud to be a part of this amazing Iowa sports year. I'm just so damn proud to be able to enjoy every waking minute with the old gold and black faithful.
Because at the end night, win or lose (but hopefully a win), it truly is great to be a Hawkeye.