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Clown emojis and disbelief: Indiana football reacts to Outback Bowl berth on social media

Let’s first re-state the obvious: the 2020 Indiana football season has been unlike anything we ever could have expected.

What’s more is that the last month has been full of improbable twists and turns. Things you just can’t make up. After being widely projected to play Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, IU missed out. Even more baffling: the Citrus Bowl, Indiana’s next most likely bowl destination and the bowl that should have claimed the second best team in the Big Ten, also passed on the Hoosiers, opting for Peyton Ramsey’s Northwestern Wildcats instead. And at this point, the disrespect is nothing new.

Anyway, Indiana is headed to Tampa to face Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl, absolutely nothing makes sense, and that’s, well, sort of okay. Because in 2020, why would it be anything different?

As Indiana learned its fate Sunday afternoon, players across the team took to social media to react.

The overwhelming consensus: absolute and utter disbelief. We lead off with a simple GIF tweeted by one of Indiana’s stars, Whop Philyor. Whop always lands on the money, and this time, just really sums it all up:

And sticking with the GIFs, this one from Jaylin Williams shall not be missed:

That theme carried throughout the day, as it was announced that Iowa State, despite three losses, would stay ranked ahead of Indiana, effectively booting IU from the Fiesta Bowl. From redshirt sophomore Luke Shayotovich, and left guard Dylan Powell:

Tiawan Mullen might be an All-Big Ten First Team selection, but on Sunday, he was right there with the rest of us:

Allow me just to say, the clown emoji might have gotten its entire year’s work in a single day:

Like so many others, it seemed like defensive tackle Jovann Swann is also wondering whether or not wins matter at all. So ya know what? Eff it!

Honest question though — would you rather watch Indiana play Purdue or Ole Miss?

Recent graduate Hunter Littlejohn, who was at the front and center of the Tom Allen transformation, knows how much all of this means to the team. He also took to Twitter to voice support for his guys. But then again, there’s only so much that Twitter fingers can do…

Well, in case you’ve missed the last month of all of this, Tom Allen is a much better human than most of us. Again on Sunday, Indiana’s head coach took the high road, reiterating the “earmuffs and blinders” motto, which has become Indiana’s calling card through the disrespect.

Allen told media there will eventually be “a time and a place” to address it, but remained focused on the positives that will come from Indiana’s second consecutive bowl berth. Those include playing a “really good football team” in the Rebels, the opportunity to take the next step in the transformation of Indiana’s program, and what might loom the largest — the location of the Outback Bowl itself — which will signify a homecoming for Allen, his son Thomas, and nine other Hoosiers from the greater Tampa area.

So, yeah, Indiana in the Outback Bowl feels like being the 22-year-old who still has to sit at the kids’ table on Thanksgiving…but maybe there’s at least some good dessert:

Florida natives Tiawan Mullen (Fort Lauderdale/Coconut Creek) and Juwan Burgess (Tampa/Plant) both took to Instagram to express how they feel about coming home. (Note the shrug and queasy face emojis. Big “not mad, just disappointed” energy here):

(Instagram: Tiawan Mullen/@t.mullen1)

(Instagram: Juwan Burgess/@freak5how_)

Yes, it’s messy. Yes, people are mad — and rightfully so. But in the words of Tom Allen himself, “this team is too special” to let anything get in the way. In a year full of bad, Indiana football is a sliver of good. I, for one, cannot wait for Jan. 2 in Tampa Bay.

Connor Hines

I am a sophomore from San Diego, California studying in Indiana University's Media School. Beyond my work with The Hoosier Network, I'm a broadcaster for WIUX 99.1 FM, IU's student radio station, and BTN Student U. I previously served as beat reporter for Indiana Softball during my freshman year, and I look forward to continue to deliver fresh and innovative content with softball and much more during this year. Last summer, I interned with San Diego's Mighty 1090, the flagship AM sports radio station in my hometown. Tweet me your hot takes @ConnorHines17. Email: cohines@iu.edu

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