Football season is here, folks. The Iowa Hawkeyes have begun their preseason football camp as of Monday, August 5th, just four short weeks before the 2013 football season kicks off (football term). It's hard to remember a more tumultuous preseason for the Hawkeyes, what with the coaching turnover and the 4-8 season looming over everyone's heads. Still, the program's pretty much clean and there's enough stability in terms of returning talent that panic isn't exactly in the air in Iowa City.
So here's what to expect today and in the coming days and weeks as camp kicks into high gear.
1. The Iowa staff want you to be excited about this. This isn't an Iowa-specific anomaly among sports information departments by any stretch, but even in the miasma of a lousy 4-8 record, pessimism and flux, the school's still putting its best foot forward in terms of hype videos and the like. Observe:
YES YES YES I LIKE THE PART WHERE IOWA KEEPS DOING BETTER THAN THE OTHER TEAM.
That being said, the athletic department is under absolutely zero obligation to talk about any particular subject, so let's be clear: this is the hype arm of the program and nothing more. That's fine, every football program needs one. It's just that you shouldn't expect more out of them than the semi-regular fluff story here and there—usually with zero regard as to whether the athlete is actually going to play significant minutes this year. Just so you know.
2. This is just the beginning. If any personnel questions get answered on Day 1, they weren't exactly tough questions. Otherwise, this is merely the first day the coaches get to do evaluations of their full roster. So that QB race we're all interested in? The coaches themselves won't know for a while who the starter is—maybe not even by Week 1 kickoff—so you really shouldn't expect any significant news on that front this week. If you hear anything it's either A) an injury or B) noise. Filter out the noise.
3. There will be news, though. Pay attention to depth chart updates when they happen, because Iowa isn't nearly the Kremlin-like atmosphere that, say, Michigan is when it comes to announcing who's moving up or down. And aside from the aforementioned QB race, which promises to last a while, there are enough other positions—RB, WR, DE, CB, S—that are still up in the air that you'll likely hear about in the coming weeks. Probably not today, probably not right away, but sometime this month.
The same goes for freshmen who look to play right away. This is going to be a good year for that, not particularly because Iowa had a fantastic recruiting class but just because after the worst season in over a decade, there aren't a whole lot of guys whose names are inked onto the depth chart at this point. And give Iowa credit, when freshmen emerge during summer camp, the coaches don't usually keep it a secret. So we'll see who's emerging. PRO TIP: If after such a bad season, the incoming class isn't making a dent in the depth chart, that's a very bad sign for the quality of players coming in. But we'll see; that's a question for late August, not early.
4. Survive and advance. It seems like the biggest stories to come out during spring every year are usually significant injuries befalling players, with little to no predictability behind them. So be ready for that; somebody's knee is getting blown out. Maybe two people. Maybe 30—well, okay, if there are 30 blown ACLs, someone is doing something very wrong there at camp.
But really if you're hoping for a big year from a certain player, just hope you never hear his name until the season begins and he's out there with a starting job. If his name's popping up in August, there's a decent chance it's because they had to carry him off the field and that's a bad sign (as opposed to May through July, when it meant he had been arrested).