TUCSON AZ - SEPTEMBER 18: Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes react in the final moments of the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 18 2010 in Tucson Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Hawkeyes 34-27. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
That picture covers it right? The Iowa fan base is down after a lackluster 2011 season that included lopsided losses to Penn State, Michigan State and Nebraska. And then there's those two L's to rivals Iowa State and Minnesota. Hawkeye Nation's Jon Miller asks what should our (Iowa fan) annual expectations be? Miller analyzes seven regular season wins and concludes that in an era with three-to-four gimmes on the schedule seven is the new six. Jon continues discussing the idea of spoiled fans, recent history and the future.
I predicted Iowa to end the regular season 8-4. If you look at the Top 25's (AP and Coaches) there is one team (Florida State) that finished ranked with that record. Even at .500 in the Big Ten, 8-4 puts Iowa around 25-40th in the nation. After watching both Iowa's spring game and fall open practice it was apparent to me that Iowa had a glaring problem along the defensive line. When Iowa can't stop the run that usually means a few losses on the season. A few this season being four, that after looking at the cupcake schedule the Hawks had.
That's reasonable right, 8-4? Especially (dead horse alert), with Ferentz as one of the highest paid coaches in the conference and the nation. In addition to Ferentz's pay he is now the most tenured coach in the league and his staff is the most stable. Six (or seven being the new six) win seasons or below are what I expect out of teams in transition, not of teams with coaching stability.
Miller concludes with a discussion of obstacles Iowa faces and that might be where Ferentz earns his coin. I believe that recruiting at Iowa is very challenging. They have success churning out NFL draft picks but unless it's an offensive lineman the recruits aren't exactly beating down Iowa's door.
Is it attrition?
It's one thing to pat yourself on the back for continuously putting players in the NFL but be careful because the same person is responsible to filling the holes left by the players that were drafted. Ferentz mentioned Sunday that Marcus Grant's departure was a surprise because everything appeared to be going well for him. You can't blame Ferentz for the decisions 18-20 year old young adults make, but, he needs to address roster management with JUCO players when the situation is obvious. Iowa's had a history of turning walk-ons into NFL caliber players but this season's two-deeps included seven. Seven!
It sounds easy to hand out 25 scholarships a year but as I've mentioned, I believe recruitin' ain't eazy at Iowa. So there's a quantity over quality issue debate we could have another day.
Any-who, moving on. We know it hasn't been the best season for Iowa football but dammit, that doesn't mean we should allow Oliver VanDervoort to get away this:
Iowa has to be happy they are just in a bowl game and get to face off against such a premier opponent
This "premier" team is currently ranked #19 in the country. A loss in the Insight.com Bowl and there's a chance they will end the season not ranked at all. Of course there is the brand "Oklahoma" that will still get them on some ballots.
Get used to reading a lot of this. Monday it was Travis Haney, Oklahoma beat writer, who wrote that Iowa was "not good." ESPN's bowl special spent two minutes discussing the game Sunday night and all but three seconds of it were about Oklahoma's woes. It's a catch-22 for Iowa. Lose and you're suppose to; win and it's because something is wrong with Oklahoma.
I get it, Oklahoma is a talented team. They were once rated number one (before anyone actually saw LSU and Alabama play). The Sooners are a 16 point favorite against Iowa, the largest spread of all the bowl games. Before we crown 'em, let's take a closer look at a team that lost 44-10 their last game of the season, the worst Sooner loss since the 2004 National Championship game against USC.
There's quarterback Landry Jones who currently is third in the nation in total offense and an NFL draft pick if he leaves early. There's also Dominique Whaley, OU's leading rusher on the season that injured an ankle and was lost for the year. Roy Finch has taken over the running back role for Whaley and has yet to have a one hundred yard rushing game and scored only two rushing touchdowns in Whaley's absence. Ryan Broyles' season is over but Kenny Stills is still there. The third option at wide reciever, Jaz Reynolds may miss the Insight.com Bowl too. Offensively, becuase of injuries, this isn't the same team that began the season ranked number one.
What about the defense? Iowa's defense has struggled all season and are ranked 68th in the nation allowing 387.58 yards per game. Not too far up the list of NCAA team defensive rankings is Oklahoma at number 62. The Sooners give up on average 383.17 yards per game. Oklahoma plays in an offense first conference and their pass defense is much better than Iowa's. What's surprising is that the Sooners' rush defense is 49th in the country allowing close to 140 yards per game. Those defensive stats are certainly not an example of what I'd expect to see from one of the nation's "premier" teams.
The defense has been a topic of Sooner fan discussion all year. There's talk that current defensive coordinator Brent Venables may be taking a job elsewhere. Who is rumored (actually the Sooner fans are wishing/praying/hoping) to be his replacement? Bob's brother Mike Stoops. There are rumors that the job has been offered to Mike but then again he's been rumored to have received numerous offers these past few weeks.
NewsOK believes that Mike isn't the answer to Oklahoma's problems. Berry Tramel writes that the Sooners miss Mike's "fire and brimstone," but Bobby hiring back his brother isn't his style.
Crimson and Cream, the SBNation Sooner blog, is planning to learn a lot about Bob Stoops and the football team over the course of the next month. Author jtesooner says it may be dramatic but,
the Insight Bowl, against Iowa, is a massive disappointment for what this team's goals were before the season started
Jtesooner notes that Tempe is a "terrible location" for the team and fans because they've visited the area so often in recent history playing in the Fiesta Bowl. He also notes that,
Iowa is a terrible opponent, not because they're a bad football team/program, but because the only people excited about the match up are the sportswriters who have a month's worth of "Did you know that Bob Stoops is from Iowa?" columns
which, as we've already seen this week, is true.
There's fear of a letdown and losing to a team you're better than on paper. There's also fear of heading down a track similar to Texas, 5-7 and 7-5 seasons. It all sounds a little like Iowa fans and the response after both last year's finish and this season.
After reading blogs and news stories for both teams I get the feeling that the general mood of each fan base is the same. Both are expecting the worst in the Insight.com Bowl. Both are wanting coaching changes in the off-season. Both are unhappy with the teams performance on the season and the final regular season records. Neither appear to be real happy about this exhibition game in the desert.
So what do you think? What are reasonable expectations for Iowa football fans? Is seven the new six? Should conference championships be expected when your coach is one of the highest paid in the league? Are fans of any team really any different?
Hoops. A two point game with ten minutes to go turned into a blowout in Cedar Falls. It was a Hoosiers-esq scene in the McLeod Center when Fran McCaffery went all Norman Dale. The only thing missing was Matt Gatens being thrown into a trophy case. After UNI player flop after flop and technical after technical the game slipped away from Iowa and UNI went on to win 80-60.
McCaffery was rather subdued following the game. It was a "serenity now" moment.
The Hawkeyes were without senior point guard Bryce Cartwright who sat out with a sore hamstring. Cartwright said the hamstring has been bothering him the last few days. Sophomore Devyn Marble got the start in his place and led Iowa with 14 points.
Last night may have been an end to the Iowa-UNI series. Northern Iowa AD Troy Dannen says the contract with Iowa and Iowa State ends this year and a new contract is something "we really haven't gotten all the way into it yet."
Up next for Iowa is Iowa State Friday night. The Cyclones knocked off Prairie View A&M last night 84-59 to move to 6-3 on the season. ISU's three losses have come to Drake, UNI and Michigan. Iowa may again be without Bryce Cartwright. The game tips at 7:00 pm CST at Hilton Coliseum.
Other links of interest:
- Mike Gesell impressive in win over Sioux City West
- Pat Ingram goes for 20 (points)
- Kyle Meyer had a double-double
- Gesell and Woodbury square off against each other Saturday (7:30 PM)
- A little dated but a closer look at Mitch Keppy
- Jaleel Johnson, all-conference
- Drew Ott, Nebraska eight-man player of the year
- Sooners were Sugar Bowl bound until they lost to Okie State
- Iowa will wear their road whites and be on the West sideline in Tempe
- Scott Dochterman expects a 3:1 Iowa to OU fan ratio in Phoenix
- Tony Ramos, Big Ten wrestler of the week
- Big Ten football Bowl TV schedule
- Adam Woodbury loves him some Fran McCaffery