Okay, I grew up in the Heartland where college football rules. It was a ritual going to the big games on Saturdays and the last time I went to games in my hometown of Iowa City, Iowa, home of the University of Iowa, Iowa played in the 1959 Rose Bowl for the second time in three years. They won. It was the last time they would win a major college bowl until yesterday in the Orange Bowl.
This year they played Georgia Tech, the favorite, and Iowa strong-armed their way to a 24-14 win over the ACC champion. Both my parents went to the University of Iowa along with a herd of relatives. It was a delight to sit with my Irish Wolfhound and watch the victory and I am thrilled for the University, my hometown and the state.
But that is not all. I lived in Nebraska for 14 years and spent a year taking classes at NU, while both my kids graduated from the University of Nebraska. I was there when the University of Nebraska rose to national football powerhouse and won five national championships. The 1971 Nebraska team is rated the greatest college football team in history. Check out these plays by the 1971 Cornhuskers.
At Nebraska winning was expected and over 300 straight stadium sellouts tell the story. This was a rebuilding year with a new coach and still Nebraska went 10-3 during the season with one loss to high ranked West Virginia in the last second. In the Big 12 championship game they lost to Texas by 1 point after time had expired. Texas is playing for the national championship. Nebraska then beat Arizona 33-0 in the San Diego Holiday Bowl.
Which brings up another of my teams, Arizona. The Wildcats were 8-4 and finished second in the PAC 10. I went to school at the University of Arizona and had mixed loyalties. One of those losses this year was to Iowa. But Arizona was in a major bowl and had a great year so losing to Nebraska was a great learning experience. Did I mention I was a jock at Arizona and was quite enamored with the cheerleaders? This UA coed was chosen national cheerleader of the month by Sports Illustrated.
All three of my teams will have most players back next year. Perhaps a national championship awaits?
Great work Hawkeyes, Cornhuskers and Wildcats. You made this a most enjoyable year.
Now a final note. When I was young I was enchanted by the University of Iowa Scottish Highlanders, a group no one believes existed as where do you find college football bands composed of bagpipes? Well take a step back in time and watch the history and a performance by the Highlanders in videos in this story. I remember sneaking up to the stadium and watching the girls practice. Later I learned my ancestors on my mother's side were from Scotland.
Created in 1936 by Colonel George Dailey, the University of Iowa Scottish Highlanders started out as an all male band, connected to the university's R.O.T.C. department. Introduced to the public, the enthusiasm was overwhelming as Dailey was approached by many male students who wanted to join this new and unique group. Col. Dailey then hired William Adamson of Boston, to instruct and direct the growing band.
In 1937, the Scottish Highlanders first began to perform at University of Iowa Hawkeye football games. The band continued to grow in numbers and popularity until the early 1940's, when World War Two depleted the male students on campus. In 1943, Adamson made the decision to open membership to female students. Hundreds applied, and soon, the University of Iowa Scottish Highlanders became the largest all female bagpipe band in the world.
In the decades that followed, the Highlanders became extremely popular and world famous. Besides performing at halftime at Iowa Hawkeye football games (and one Big Ten away game per season), the Scottish Highlanders have performed before millions around the world, both in person and on television. Noteworthy appearances include The Tonight Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York World's Fair, Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade, two Rose Bowls, and Disneyland plus Disneyworld.
The Highlanders have been ambassadors for their university, the state of Iowa, and the United States, during seven world tours, starting in 1952, where they were greeted by large, appreciative crowds in Scotland, England, France, and across Europe.
Sadly In the Spring of 1981, the University of Iowa eliminated the Highlander's budget, and the band's glory days were gone. The Scottish Highlanders continue today as a small student group on the Iowa campus. Thanks so much for the memories of my heritage.