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AIRBHG is an pseudo-acronym for Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God, a supposed deity whose sole and primary function is to cause injuries to University of Iowa running backs or otherwise cause them to be ineligible to play. It highlights what appears to be a level of attrition at a certain position that is beyond reasonable explanation by reverting to the ancient world’s custom of inventing a wrathful supernatural being.
From Urban Dictionary:
Be it through academic ineligibility, arrest, suspension, transfers to other schools, repeated injuries (especially of the knee variety) or other causes, Iowa running backs suffer attrition worthy of a critically endangered species. AIRBHG tends to fell multiple running backs every year without cease, so Iowa can never replenish its backfield.
The deity is often mentioned after an injury, transfer, arrest, or other debilitation to an Iowa running back is announced, though it has been appropriated on many other sports blogs to describe a curse to their team or a specific position group. On Iowa sites, AIRBHG is often pictured as the animated character of God from Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail, although “Angry Zeus” (see above) is another popular depiction.
Angry Michigan Safety Hating God
The meme was first appropriated from MGoBlog, a Michigan fan blog whose author, Brian Cook, supposed the existence of an “Angry Michigan Safety Hating God” in 2005 to explain the multitudinous injuries to University of Michigan safeties. Cook also made mention of the Michigan Safety Hating God on the Blogpoll (a ranking system that uses votes from top college football bloggers around the country) then written by Cook for AOL Fanhouse). Several early mentions of this proto-deity were made on MGoBlog around the time of the 2005 Michigan-Iowa game, in which Michigan was forced to burn the redshirt of cornerback Brandon Harrison to fill the now-empty safety depth chart.
Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God
Adam Jacobi, founder of the Iowa blog Black Heart Gold Pants, began to apply similar wording to describe the far more extensive history of injuries that plagued Iowa running backs since 2001, specifically in reference to supposed starting running back Shonn Greene’s perpetual difficulties in remaining eligible in light of potential backups Kalvin Bailey and Corey Robinson both leaving the school for academic reasons. Cook and Jacobi became a sounding board for the meme, with Jacobi and his readers using it on BHGP, and Cook publishing those mentions on his weekly Fanhouse column (also since moved to SBNation) “This Week in Schadenfreude.”
The meme’s popularity among internet Hawkeyes fans (particularly on Jacobi’s Blackheartgoldpants.com, Hawkeyelounge.com and Hawkeyenation.com) grew because of the continued propensity for Iowa running backs to lose their health or eligibility, and reached peaks of popularity as strings of attrition hit in 2008-‘11. In 2010 a poster named YouslavianMountainHound posted the first attempt at a comprehensive list of AIRBHG’s “victims”--that list has since been updated on, among other sites, www.airbhg.com.
The meme perhaps reached its peak of popularity in August 2012 when the loss of a fullback had Iowa going into the 2012 season with no available scholarship running backs (non-scholarship fullback Mark Weisman became the starter until he too was injured in the 2012 season), and the meme was mentioned on an ESPN broadcast:
The meme has inspired a website to catalog victims (http://www.airbhg.com/), as well as t-shirts, a twitter and facebook profile, and repeated references in context of Iowa football on college football message boards, local radio and rival fans’ sites.
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