Norm Parker was smiling through the pain Saturday.
Back spasms kept Iowa’s defensive coordinator in the hospital and away from Kinnick Stadium.
But his Hawkeyes kept Iowa State away from the end zone until the final seconds, extending their recent dominance in the Big Game to 17 touchdown-less quarters, in a 35-7 victory.
Sure beats a get-well-soon card and a bouquet of flowers.
“He hasn’t been on the sidelines since midseason last year, so we’re always thinking about him and we hope to have him back soon,” defensive end Adrian Clayborn said.
Parker, 68, is diabetic, and coach Kirk Ferentz said that condition led to his hospitalization after the back pain flared up late Thursday.
“(Friday), the doctors looked at him; they just decided they needed to admit him to the hospital,” Ferentz said. “We thought there was a shot he’d be out some time (Friday) morning and be able to rejoin us. He wasn’t able to. That’s the bad news, that he wasn’t there. Good news, everything I’ve heard so far, at least there’s nothing major going on and hopefully we’ll get him back here in the next couple days.”
Iowa’s defensive line was down in the dumps after last year’s Big Game, despite a 35-3 victory, because the Cyclones racked up 190 yards rushing. The Hawkeyes were determined to put together a stronger showing this season.
And they certainly did, holding Iowa State to 78 rushing yards on 25 carries, forcing seven punts and getting three third-quarter interceptions.
“We had the game plan, so we knew what we had to do,” said safety Brett Greenwood, who had one of the interceptions.
The only difference for the Hawkeyes on the field was that linebackers coach Darrell Wilson was sending in the calls, he said.
“Everybody’s been playing their assignments well,” Greenwood said of Iowa’s stranglehold on Iowa State.
Ferentz was asked if he felt sorry for the Cyclones after Saturday’s thrashing.
“I don’t know if we’re in the sympathy business. They aren’t either. They wouldn’t want any,” he said.
Parker probably isn’t seeking any either. Another strong effort by his defense this week will go a long way toward easing his pain.