It's Not Plagiarism If You Link To It Eschews Star Ratings

Here Comes the Blowback.  Between moving to 7-0, picking up the standard for the Big Ten in the wake of Ohio State's inevitable implosion, jumping into the BCS top six, and remaining Iowa, the mainstream media backlash has begun against the Hawkeyes.  I'm not linking the unworthy; you don't want to start your day with that shit anyway.  But lost in the morass of reactionary, ill-informed haterade is some writing of note

Phil Steele is cashing in on his Oracle-like ability to see the future, calling 2009 Iowa the newest incarnation of 2008 Alabama, a team with a tough road schedule that scares off the prognosticators but with enough experience -- especially in the trenches -- to overcome the road tests.  He also names his mid-season All-Big Ten teams, with eleven Hawkeyes in the first two teams; Calloway, Angerer, Spievey, and Sash make the first cut.

Sports Illustrated shows the Hawks some love, as Stewart Mandel calls Iowa "the most un-talked about 7-0 team in the country" (to be fair, there are only two), and George Schroeder pronounces himself ready to jump on the Iowa bandwagon:

When A.J. Edds' interception sealed victory late in the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon, it was time to start thinking about the Rose Bowl. Or maybe even that little contest that will be played a week later in the same location.

It still feels like a stretch, calling Iowa a BCS title contender. But the Hawkeyes keep doing the one thing they must. They win.

Up next, a trip to Michigan State. And next month, there's a trip to Columbus, Ohio. But after winning at Penn State and Wisconsin -- and with Purdue's upset Saturday of Ohio State -- it might be time to jump on the Hawkeyes' bandwagon.

Or not. Wait a while longer, if you must. When you look at these guys, it's easy to see flaws. Until you check the scoreboard. Where you see perfection.

While Ohio State decides whether they should bench the Preseason Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Cleveland area sportswriter Mark Podolski (via Hlas) asks whether Ohio State would be better off with Swingin' Dick Stanzi at the helm.  The answer?  Well, it can't get much worse than Terrelle Pryor.

If Ohio State coach Jim Tressel had to do it all over again, do you think he would have given Lake Catholic's Ricky Stanzi more than just a look-see four years ago when he was a high school senior and had his offer from Iowa in his back pocket? We all know about hindsight, but this is a recruiting decision worth second-guessing.

No one is saying Tressel should not have recruited Terrelle Pryor. Any big-time school would have gladly welcomed the player who was "the nation's top recruit" two years ago. Stanzi, though, is proof recruiting is the most inexact aspect of the game. Projecting how players, especially quarterbacks, handle adversity, pressure and criticism, adapt to an offensive system and execute in front of 100,000 fans is why coaches are paid millions.

But unquestionably the most fulfilling read of the day comes courtesy of SBN Illinois blog Hail to the Orange, which takes the ample time and page inches provided by a 1-5 team to reminisce on days gone by, when Iowa appeared to be declining, Illinois was winning the recruiting wars, and J Leman was guiding the Illini to the Rose Bowl:

God I miss 2007. The Illini were on a tear through the Big Ten leaving destruction and the taste of J Leman endorsed Orange Soda in their wake. When we dared to believe that we were importing an SEC style powerhouse to the cold prairies of Illinois. Best of all  Iowa was in the middle of a down year at 6-6, and seemed to be the falling stock of the Big Ten after several years of resurgence.  Evidence pointed toward Illinois reasserting itself for the long term while Iowa would continue to slip.

Zook was beating out Ferentz for excellent players like Cordale ScottHubie Graham and Jason Ford. Illinois fans were gleefully touting the end of the Ferentz era all over the message boards.

Two years later all of those same facts now seem to be only twist the knife for Illini fans faced with their season falling apart and Iowa returning to the top tier of the Big Ten.

Your tears taste like victory.  And chicken.  And...lentil soup?  What have you been eating?

Footnotes:

  • Well, that was quick:  It took all of two days for the Iowa frontcourt to be depleted by injury.  The only surprise is that it wasn't Jarryd Cole (again).  Incoming JUCO transfer Devon Archie will miss 4-7 weeks with a shoulder injury.  That leaves Iowa with the injury-prone Cole, the nearly-hopeless Andrew Brommer, the undersized Aaron Fuller, and the not-so-undersized Brennan Cougill rotating through the two frontcourt spots.
  • The SBN bracketologists at Blogging the Bracket preview the Big Ten.  Unsurprisingly, Iowa is picked to finish last (and that was before our front-line depth was cut in half by the Devon Archie injury).
  • Chris Brown at Smart Football gives a simple explanation of the zone running scheme used by, among legions of others, Ken O'Keefe.  Note the emphasis on the cutback, especially on the outside zone.  Now watch the game tape from the last two months and count the number of cutbacks on one hand.  If you needed an explanation of the struggles in the running game, the lack of vision and experience in seeing the cutback lane, changing direction, and bursting through the seam is public enemy number one.
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