Toughness. Courage. Grit. That’s what the Northern Iowa Panthers showed us last night. Yes, they looked like a clumsy YMCA team of toddlers who have yet to master basic motor functions, stumbling over their own two feet while trying to break Texas A&M’s full-court press. And yes, they inexplicably fell in crushing, mind-numbing defeat in double overtime to the Aggies after blowing a 12-point lead with a mere 44 seconds left in regulation, when the entire world had already penciled them into the sweet sixteen. But the mark of a true champion isn’t determined by winning actions on the court.
I mean, technically, we will still crown a king of college hoops solely based on the performance of a team on the hardwood — and UNI is no longer even remotely close in contention for that title — but true champions and real men handle both victory and defeat with elegance and grace. And that’s exactly what UNI did. They took adversity head on, swallowed the little dignity they had left, and sat in that losing press conference until every last inane question was asked by the prodding media.
What a group of fine young men gutting it out after having their hearts stomped into the ground. Such fortitude and moxie. Like the American soldiers storming the beaches of Normandy, the seniors of Northern Iowa didn’t run away from the machine gun hellfire — they charged towards it. Downright heroic if you ask me.
The sniffling. The tears. The “just thankful to be apart of it” attitude every cuckold who watches his wife get gangbanged possesses. Absolute class personified. A masterful coaching job by Ben Jacobson that did not go unnoticed.
Jake and his players showed incredible class at the podium. Not surprising, but impressive.
— John Walters (@JWcyclonestv) March 21, 2016
Absolute raw emotion yet flawless class at that press conference. Wow.
— Brittni Donaldson (@Brittni32) March 21, 2016
— Hunter Graveman (@gravy_train4) March 21, 2016
And kudos to UNI Coach Ben Jacobson for answering tough questions. Class guy.
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) March 21, 2016
Tip of the hat to Northern Iowa’s seniors for going through that press conference. Cam Newton would’ve left about three different times.
— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 21, 2016
Give that man both a pat on the back for a massive moral victory and an extension while we’re at it. Forget that his squad just suffered the most historic collapse in the sport’s history; the heart and character demonstrated by his guys post-game are irrefutable. That’s the kind of coach you want your son to play for — especially at a school like Northern Iowa. Pain and agony was eventually the inevitable for this senior loaded Panther squad. It was just a matter of time before the clock would strike midnight on Cinderella. But they had their moments and accomplished what they came into the tournament to do, and that’s lose with class.
Maybe stop dancing for a few moments and take notes, Cam Newton. When you actually shed tears and sit through all the pointless, irritating questions, no one calls you an immature cry baby. You’re just an emotional high character guy who put his entire soul into a game he loves. Raw, unfiltered passion and the acceptance that you disappointed not only every fan in your town but also each guy in the locker room that you line up with day in and day out. That’s what separates the MEN from the boys: weeping and submissiveness. That’s how to handle defeat with outright class. That’s the definition of a true champion..
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