VARSITY TEAMS: 20
INTRAMURAL SPORTS: 22
FAMOUS ALUMNI: DON NELSON, REGGIE ROBY
EXTRA CREDIT FOR: INVENTION OF BUTTERFLY STROKE
In the fall of 1991, Brian DeCoster, an Iowa senior, was shooting pool in a local watering hole when the barkeep asked if he would be going to the following weekend's Iowa- Miami football game. DeCoster nodded. Asked when he was planning on leaving, DeCoster replied, "On Saturday. Like I do for all home games."
"The game's in Florida," he was told.
"Oh," DeCoster casually replied. "Then maybe I'll have to go out and buy a bus."
A few days later, DeCoster ponied up $1,000 for a school bus with 100,000 miles on it, gathered a dozen or so of his closest friends and a couple of kegs, and made the 30-hour drive to Miami. Thus was born the Best Traveling Tailgate Party in America. Christened the Magic Bus, the vehicle has become a symbol of the exuberance with which Iowa students follow their Hawkeyes sports teams. Protruding from the back of the vehicle is a four-foot-long deck, onto which is welded a spiral staircase leading to a platform on the roof. Attached to the platform is a foldaway backboard and rim (regulation height) on which tailgaters often shoot hoops. At home football games, when the bus is parked outside Kinnick Stadium, as many as 1,000 fans flock to this Port-A-Party.
Iowa sports has a serious side, too. The Hawkeyes have appeared in as many Rose Bowls (three) in the last two decades as any other Big Ten school except Michigan, have won 17 of the last 23 NCAA wrestling championships and have seven former national coaches of the year on their staff, among them football's Hayden Fry and wrestling's Dan Gable. No campus in the country offers a better pickup-basketball joint than the Fieldhouse (page 84), which hosts five-on-five and three-on-three intramural leagues as well as three-point and free-throw-shooting contests.
Students were alarmed last November when DeCoster, citing the financial strain of hosting a 30-to 40-keg affair each autumn weekend, raffled off the Magic Bus by selling 100 $5 tickets. But it now belongs to the rugby team, which vows to keep the party going. And DeCoster, apparently suffering from withdrawal, has bought another, larger, touring bus that he'll take to football games next fall. Its name: Magic Too.