It's Not Plagiarism If You Link To It is BHGP's regular news roundup. Send all tips to any of the email addresses at the bottom of the page. Seriously: any and all tips are appreciated, although not all tips will necessarily get used in INP.
Closing time / turn the lights up. The most troubling theme in Iowa's losses last year was the Groundhog Day-like repetition of the same goddamn formula over and over and over: Iowa gets/maintains lead (or tie) in the fourth quarter, only to collapse like a cheap accordian and lose in gut-wrenching fashion. Kirk Ferentz is no Bill Murray, but he's still well aware of that pattern.
"The one thing you want to be careful of is not oversimplifying what the issues are," Ferentz said Friday at Big Ten media days. "Sometimes, it’s two-minute drill, two-minute defense, four-minute offense. I’d also say that there have been a lot of games, and I can think of a couple very prominent right now that we’ll share with the team, that a lot of times it’s what you do in the first half. You squander opportunities that are there for you and you’re not ready to go.
"Those last two minutes, you’re thinking about a couple series you had where you did a poor job and that we wouldn’t be in this situation right now if we had done better there. I can think of two games right off the top of my head like that."
He's absolutely right, of course, on both points. Iowa's late-game execution -- on offense and defense -- was deplorable last year. Much of that falls on the coaches to right, although the players aren't without blame, either -- especially when there were so many heavily experienced seniors involved in the execution of those plays. The good (or bad, depending on your perspective) news is that most of those players are gone; many of the current players won't bear the immediate scars of those failures.
But Iowa can do a lot to lessen the importance of late-game execution by playing better in the first half, too. The Arizona game was lost in large part because Iowa dug themselves a gargantuan hole in the first half. The fourth quarter might have been irrelevant against Minnesota and Northwestern if Iowa had bothered to show up (especially on offense) in the first half of those games. And as painful as Wisconsin's fake punt conversion was, it might have been irrelevant if Iowa's special teams hadn't spit the bit in the first half (flubbing an extra point and a field goal). The defense (and Stanzi) bailed Iowa out of numerous holes in 2009, but playing that way too often is a dangerous game, which Ferentz seems to realize. Hopefully, he -- and the other coaches and players -- can find a way to fix what ailed Iowa football last year. I'm not sure my insides (or the SBN servers) can take many more fourth quarter meltdowns.
Scheduling shenanigans. Big Ten conference games in the first three weeks of the season? It could happen.
Zook, Bielema and Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald are among those who favor playing conference games early in the season, as the Southeastern Conference does.
The Big Ten's television partners also would applaud that to avoid situations like last year, when during Week 4, the league's glamour games were Temple-Penn State and Ball State-Iowa.
On one hand, the (mostly) hard split between non-conference and conference games in the Big Ten is nice: you aren't eliminated from Big Ten title contention by the time farmers are finishing up their harvests, it gives you a few weeks to get up to speed, and from a mental standpoint it's satisfying to be in "conference mode" all the time come October. On the other hand, most of the Big Ten's non-conference games fucking suck, which leads to a lot of boring TV in the first part of September.
"He’s an intense guy all year around. But Iowa does bring out a little bit in him. It really does. I’m not sure what it is. There is no love lost between us and Iowa."
You don't say. Fitz's mad-on for Iowa has been evident to anyone with two eyes and a half-functioning brain since he inherited the head coaching gig in Evanston. Conventional wisdom said that he's still bent out of shape about Iowa because (a) Gary Barnett brainwashed him into loathing the Hawkeyes and/or (b) he's still bitter about breaking his leg in a game against Iowa during their Rose Bowl year. (Of course, we know the real reasons Fitz loathes Iowa have more to do with baked potatoes and the dark arts, but shhh.) Also, if there was "love lost" between Iowa and jNW and it was found, would that end the circle of
losing hate? Do we need to start scrounging through all the lost-and-founds between Iowa City and Evanston?
"I always like going there," Mabin said. "It’s one of the best stadiums to play at. Their fans are always crazy. And you can hear them (because) they’re so close to the field. And it’s always a sold-out stadium.
Translation: "It's awesome and I love going there because it's the exact opposite of a home game at Ryan Field!"
"The whole crowd is (dressed) in black and yellow, and than the national coverage, too. It’s usually a prime-time game."
Actually this is the first time the game hasn't been an 11am kickoff in as long as I can remember, but we'll cut Mabin some slack: prolonged exposure to the level of intensity that Fitz brings every day is sure to do strange things to a man's brain.
This is only acceptable if the Big Ten adds BattleBots as a varsity sport. So the big takeaway of this article (which we already mentioned briefly on Friday) is that Tim Brewster is going to be taking his TRY FIGHT TREMENDOUS eloquence to the sidelines of Fox's college football broadcasts this fall, but there's also this chilling note:
Not surprisingly, Fox's dive into college football will include the animated Cleatus robot character that it parades on its NFL coverage and hawks to consumers as an action character. Says Shanks: "We'll have team-specific robots. Cleatus will be going to school, visiting campuses. On the NFL, Cleatus will have a son." Sounds like hijinks will ensue.
Also also in that column: if FOX had won the rights to broadcast upcoming Olympics they were going to put Joe Buck into the host role (aaaaaiiiiiiieeeeeee), but they were also considering putting events featuring Big Ten athletes on BTN (which actually would have been kind of cool).
* If you didn't read Dochterman's exhaustive recounting of the division split in the Big Ten last summer, do so now. It's well worth reading.
* Spare a few thoughts for injured former Iowa player Kyle Spading, won't you? He could use them.
* Iowa ranks pretty highly in Phil Steele's homefield advantage rankings (higher than I would have thought, actually, considering they've dropped at least one game at Kinnick every year going back to 2005).
* Our fellow heroes at Corn Nation have an eloquent take on the "Heroes Game" controversy.
* The Pac-12 is the latest league to get into the conference TV network game; the most pressing question, of course, is whether Barbasol and Ro*Tel will abandon BTN and take their sweet, sweet advertising lucre to the new Pac-12 Network.
* Speaking of BTN... now you can stream their fine programming over ye olde interwebs or on your mobile device (assuming you have an iSomething, at least).
* Tim Brewster JUST LOVES THOSE DANG KIDS SO MUCH, MAN. The line between art and reality is always blurred when Brew is involved.
* Former UI wrestler Paul Bradley is making his UFC debut this weekend at UFC 133, fighting Rafael Natal.
* And while we're talking wrestling... this takedown is bugfuck insane.
* If any damsels are reported missing next fall, please ask Syracuse DE Mikhail Marinovich about their whereabouts immediately.
* DOES NO ONE RESPECT THE SANCTITY OF THE BRATWURST?