Don't Call It a Comeback. In the wake of Iowa's improbable victory at Indiana (and the ensuing teeth-gnashing across the Hoosier State) comes the news that suspended Iowa guard Anthony Tucker has returned to practice effective Monday. Tucker, who averaged 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3 assists in 32 minutes per game during the first 11 games of the season, has been away from his team since a public intoxication arrest on December 20. As you surely remember, Tucker's arrest stemmed from an incident in which he left his cellphone in an Iowa City taxi, accused the driver of stealing it, then played a quick game of "kick the cab." He should have learned from Adrian Clayborn and punched the guy in the face; he could have been an All-American.
There is no word on when Tucker might return to the Iowa rotation, though Lickliter's emphasis on conditioning would lead one to assume it will be some time. With that said, he is capable of playing the point in a pinch, and his return would almost certainly relegate John Lickliter to the bench. Even the most unabashed of Iowa homers knows that's a good thing.
Also Ranking Iowa #2? The Pyongyang Post-Dispatch. The preseason hype for 2010 Iowa football is only growing. First there was that Fox Sports guy. Now Iowa is receiving championship consideration from the unlikeliest of sources: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
2. Iowa: Football, as with all things in life, is cyclical. And we saw in the bowl season that teams from the slow and boring Big Ten looked neither slow nor boring.
Mark Bradley goes on to place three other Big Ten teams in his top 16, including Ohio State at #4. In retrospect, it's not necessarily the strangest source of praise for Iowa; after all, while the ratings were relatively terrible, Georgians were watching the Orange Bowl en masse. The Big Ten love, however, might be the first sign that the conference's surprisingly successful bowl season has effectively shattered the usual arguments against a Big Ten presence in the top two. Whether one of those two is Iowa is a story 11 months in the making; this is starting to feel like 2005 all over again, and I'm not ready for that reality just yet.
It's That Well-Documented East Coast Wrestling Media Bias. Brent Metcalf, almost certainly the best college wrestler in the nation, won his weekend match against Purdue's Nick Bertucci by disqualification after Bertucci, while struggling to avoid a pin, kneed Metcalf repeatedly in the head. When the incident went largely ignored by the wrestling media, The Gazette's KJ Pilcher pointed out the double standard:
How Metcalf kept from exacting revenge immediately I don’t know. I would have wanted blood in return for having been cut open. In the words of White Goodman from the movie Dodgeball, "Nobody makes me bleed my own blood." He did point a couple times while leaving the mat. Maybe he said something terrible, but from my view it was a reasonable reaction to what happened and more restrained than most people would have been.
Had it been the other way around you can bet the trumpets would sound and the villagers would be trying to break into Carver-Hawkeye Arena with pitchforks and torches, wanting to tear down the Hawkeyes. I don’t see the same level of outrage and, actually, name-calling, that would have been directed toward Iowa.
Speaking of gestures, Oklahoma State 197-pounder Alan Gelogaev showed the Iowa crowd exactly where he thought the Hawkeyes should be ranked, which was "No. 1″, and then displayed that to the Iowa crowd after his 3-2 decision over Luke Lofthouse in the Hawkeyes’ 19-16 win over the Cowboys.
Again, it didn’t get as much attention as other gestures. This was done in front of nearly 11,000 fans with one mat in the center of a nearly full arena instead of a partially full dome with a number of others mats with competition going on simultaneously.
Pilcher is right, of course; the breathless reporting of Metcalf's "jerkoff" gesture at the National Duals largely ignored both the fact that ISU's Jake Varner made his own taunting gesture toward the Iowa bench, and that the opposing wrestler in question, by virtue of attending Iowa State University, is actually a jerkoff. The Gelogaev incident apparently went completely unreported.
But a large part of this is due to a lack of reportable stories, made worse by Tom Brands' steadfast refusal to engage in the same kind of mopey whining that coaches like Kevin Jackson and J Robinson so often use. Had Iowa lost to ISU at the National Duals, it is unimaginable that Brands would enter the press room and, before even addressing his team's shortcomings, launch into a passive-agressive attack on Jake Varner's hand gestures. Yet Jackson did almost that very thing after losing for the second time to the Hawks.
When nobody can beat the top team, writers need stories. Jackson and his ilk provide them, and wrestling reporters (who know far too well that anti-Iowa pieces are popular among wrestling followers) lap them up. Sure, there's a double standard; as long as we're winning, I'm fine with it.
- The Rivalry, Esq. profiles Bryan Bulaga in anticipation of the NFL Draft. The consensus remains that Bulaga is the fourth-rated offensive tackle, will need to improve his pass blocking at the next level, and destined to go in the mid- to late-teens.
- In the next stage of Bloodpunch Barta's plan to fill Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa will offer half-price concessions at three upcoming sporting events (MBB vs. Michigan 2/16, MBB vs. Minny 2/18, wrestling vs. OSU 2/19) and $1 hot dogs at another three events (MBB vs. Illinois 2/3, wrestling vs. jNWU 2/13, WBB vs. Indiana 2/25).
- Keno Davis, coach of the Providence Friars, former coach at Drake, and long considered near the top of any list of potential Lickliter replacements, is taking heat for losing games and throwing his team under the bus. Davis, whose Friars are 11-8 and fading fast in the Big East, has said his team is "not as talented as [it] need[s] to be." We've seen this before, Iowa fans.
- A very special ""You Found Me!"