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This year's night game probably won't look this incredible.
Nightgaming. As always happens this time of year, ABC/ESPN is getting their ducks in a row and announcing a good chunk of their primetime games for next fall. That includes the Big Ten games because the Big Ten is old and slow and needs lots of time to prepare for these nighttime encounters. ESPN/ABC is airing seven primetime games involving B1G teams next fall, but for the first time since 2008, Iowa won't be participating. Wisconsin fans, on the other hand, better get used to hearing "You are looking live..."; they have four primetime games on ABC/ESPN. It's almost like they won a conference title and went to the Rose Bowl last year. Oh, right.
Despite being shunned by ESPN/ABC, Iowa will still be getting their night game on in 2011, per Rittenberg:
The Big Ten Network's primetime football schedule is expected to be finalized soon, most likely next week. I have confirmed that every Big Ten team will have at least one primetime game televised this season.
Hlas thinks it will be jNW's trip to Iowa on 10/15, which is certainly possible since there's a fairly uninspiring slate of B1G games on tap that day (the best of the lot looks like the Battle for The Great Lakes State between Sparty and Big Blue). Even though the last two games in the rivalry have been under the lights, I don't think Iowa's trip to Penn State on 10/8 will be in primetime; ABC has already tabbed Ohio State-Nebraska for that night.
It could also be Pitt's trip to Kinnick on 9/17, since it's the rare Big Ten non-conference game that features two teams from BCS leagues. Or it could be something completely out of the blue; Southern Illinois-Illinois, Akron-Indiana, and Northern Illinois-Minnesota were all primetime games on BTN last year.
Up next? Road movies. The Norm Parker and Fran McCaffery Happy Fun Comedy Hour continues to do the rounds on the I-Club circuit and the entertainment hasn't let up.
A Michigan graduate and an Iowa graduate both join the army. While serving, both men were captured by the enemy and sentenced to death by firing squad. Each man was granted a last request.
"Before I die," said the Michigan man, "I want to hear the beloved fight song of the University of Michigan, ‘The Victors,’ played."
Upon hearing the Michigan grad’s final request, the Iowa man issued a simple demand.
"Shoot me first."
After seeing a four-pack of courtside seats auctioned off with the advertised perk of being close enough to noted official Ed Hightower that'd he'd be able to hear your gripes, McCaffery offered a disclaimer.
"I don't care how close you sit to the floor, Ed Hightower still can't hear. I've been screaming at him for 15 years."
There's some other good bits from both guys in those links, so go ahead and click through.
The first 100 is the easy part. Rittenberg wonders which Big Ten players might have the best shot to top 100 tackles next year, which is the sort of thing you wonder about when you're a college football blogger and it's May and you work for an outlet that doesn't let you just produce transcripts from lost episodes of To Catch A Predator. Anyway, an Iowa guy makes his list... but probably not the one you'd expect:
4. Iowa S/CB Micah Hyde: Hyde had 82 tackles from the cornerback spot in 2010 and should see that number increase if he plays more safety this fall. Although an Iowa linebacker like James Morris certainly could climb up the tackles chart this fall, Hyde seems to have a knack for being around the football.
Micah Hyde, really? It's a pretty safe bet an Iowa player will have 100 or more tackles; at least one Iowa defender has reached that total in at least nine of the past eleven seasons (I couldn't find data for 2002). It's just that normally that defender is a linebacker. A linebacker has led the team in tackles in each of the past eight years and until last year that linebacker had always racked up at least 100 tackles. (Last year Jeremiha Hunter led the team with 90 tackles, a function of a linebacker corps that was slammed by injuries.) Hyde has certainly shown a knack for amassing tackles; he had 82 tackles as a cornerback last year, the most by any Iowa cornerback since Charles Godfrey had 83 in 2006. Frankly, it's not a good thing to see an Iowa cornerback making that many tackles; it probably means something has gone horribly awry on defense.
Even if Hyde's move to safety is permanent it's not likely to improve his odds of hitting 100+ tackles all that much; no Iowa safety since Bob Sanders has racked up more than 100 tackles (he did it in both 2001 and 2002). We like Hyde a lot, but he's not in the same class as Sanders (nor does he play the same position; Sanders was a strong safety, while Hyde figures to be a free safety). Based on historical trends, an Iowa player probably will get more than 100 tackles in 2011 -- but the smart money is on it being James Morris, not Micah Hyde.
Let's get iconic. The Big Ten Icons series is returning next fall and winter and this time they're focusing on the one group of Big Ten figures who was notably absent from the first go-round: the coaches.
"I think right now we’re going to do six football coaches in football season and six other coaches probably more toward January-February," Silverman said. "We’re just really trying to find those iconic coaches from whatever program they may be.
Unlike the player-icons, the coaches aren't being ranked; they're just spotlighting twelve coaches who have been hugely significant to their respective programs. As Scott Dochterman points out, though, this presents something of a conundrum for Iowa. Some choices are obvious -- Woody, Bo, JoePa, Osborne, Bobby Knight -- but that's not the case for Iowa. Dochterman narrows it down to four candidates (Hayden Fry, Dan Gable, Kirk Ferentz, and Tom Davis), and even that omits some great coaches (Forest Evashevski, C. Vivian Stringer). Really, it probably comes down to which you prefer: Dan Gable's absurd reign of dominance for 20+ years in wrestling or Hayden Fry's efforts to resurrect the football program and end the duopoly of Michigan and Ohio State atop the Big Ten. There's a poll at the link above; go and vote.
* Rittenberg's "Hope and Concern" series hits Iowa, with largely predictable results; the strong Insight Bowl performances of returning players like Marcus Coker, Micah Hyde, and James Morris is reason to be hopeful, but the lack of depth in the defensive front seven is concerning. Yep.
* UpUpDownDown's excellent post on player development continues to produce interesting responses throughout Blogfrica, including this post on recruiting biases from MGoBlog.
* UI women's hoopster Jamie Printy was invited to try out for the USA World University Games team, while Melsahn Basabe was invited to the USA Basketball U-19 training camp; best of luck to all. It's nice to again have talent worthy of being considered for teams like that.
* To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Summer Iowa Games, Tim Dwight will be competing in 25 different events; that's cool and all, but it'd be even better if he was doing 25 different timbersports.
* Get your weekend started off right by watching the greatest Royal Rumble of all-time.