I'm going to avoid the lazy "can we finally retire [insert statistic whose predictive merit doesn't apply to my favorite team/player] now, please?" technique that's popular among myopic opinioneers like Bill Simmons, but it's hard not to be alarmed at Iowa's turnover margin this season. No, it's not bad; it's actually tied for the best in the Big 10.
Yeah. 3-5 (1-4) Iowa is, stunningly, +8 this season, which--along with Michigan--puts them at 14th in the nation. This is bad, bad, very bad, and no good. It's not "bad" in a "how can Iowa possibly hope to win, this dooms them" sense, but rather "how can Iowa possibly still be losing?" Turnover margin, while clearly not infallible (see Iowa Hawkeyes, 2007), is one of the best predictors of success in college football. It's a critical factor in both Phil Steele's monthly predictions and SMQ's indispensable Life on the Margins feature. The fact that those two are most certainly more knowledgeable about college football than you or me, dear reader, should not come as a surprise.
This all bodes every bit as poorly for the future of Iowa football as the rates of attrition and the legal woes. If Iowa cannot be more than marginally competitive with a +1.0 TO margin rate, imagine what happens when their luck runs out and the balls start bouncing toward the other team. It'll be 1999 times 9/11 times 2356.
All things considered, it seems that there are many, many institutional changes that need to be made, to the scope and degree that most would consider "blowing the whole thing up." I am not including replacing Ferentz in the "need to be made" category; it's tough to guess how much blame belongs at his feet (and it is a guess; anyone who suggests otherwise is just a forceful liar).
Let's just hope it doesn't come to Barta making decisions for Kirk. The last thing any athletic program needs is a frosty relationship between AD and coach.