Greetings From 'Harvard on the Hill' Two former Iowa players struggling with grades and the Mardi Gras-like "party life" in Iowa City have landed at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs as members of the inaugural edition of the Reivers football squad. QB/WR David Blackwell and WR Shane Prater (whose exit - and its 'Parent Trap'-killing implications - have been previously discussed) are both on campus, in an attempt to get back to Division I football. Morehouse tracked down Scott Strohmeier, former NIACC head coach and the man tasked with building this program from scratch, to discuss his former Hawkeyes. Blackwell, who was signed to the 2008 class despite suffering a torn ACL in his senior year of high school and struggled in the classroom during his first year, is probably the starting quarterback but could play a number of positions:
“Right now, he’s playing quarterback for us,” Strohmeier said. “He only played a limited time in high school before he got injured. He was a good receiver, also. He could project as a linebacker, also. He’s physical. He’s 6-2, 6-3 and 205, 210 pounds. He’s a pretty physical kid.”
6'3", 210 pounds might be enough for a linebacker in junior college, but it's about 25 pounds short for the Big Ten. Despite all of this, the Iowa staff appears very much interested in bringing him back:
Strohmeier cautioned that it’s early in the school year and that the season hadn’t started, but he believes the door is open for Blackwell to return to Iowa City, where he’d be a junior in 2010. Blackwell signed with the Hawkeyes in February 2008. When he signed, he was rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered early in his senior season at Cardinal Gibbons, where Blackwell excelled as a receiver, catching 63 passes for 1,352 yards and 15 TDs.
“I know they’re (Iowa coaches) still interested in him and following him through,” Strohmeier said Friday. “He had a knee injury and then also, obviously, academics. There are some things they want to follow him through this year. He’s done well.
“He’s working extremely hard and is an unbelievable kid, from a standpoint that he signs a Division I and goes junior college. They can sometimes be, hey, I’m a little bit better than this. He’s been awesome.”
The Clinton Solomon Memorial Community College Grade Resurrection Program has worked well in the past (I can think of one example in particular) and a season or two of JUCO quarterbacking can do wonders for a player (I'm thinking of someone else), so everything appears to be all systems go for Blackwell.
Shane Prater, on the other hand, could be an issue:
“I think they’re (Iowa) not closing the door but it’s just not wide open, either,” Strohmeier said. “Shane’s got to come in and take care of academics and have a good year to showcase to them what type of student he is. They (Iowa coaches) know he’s a good player. He has to get the other stuff figured out.
“I think he wants to open it up a little bit, the recruiting, but you never know. A lot could change between now and then. Obviously, his brother being there.”
Prater, who is from Omaha, has said he's considering going to Nebraska once his time in purgatory is complete. Either way, the River Pirates appear to be happy with the conduct of their Iowa transplants to date.
Picture Me Bowlin' The weekend gave us some updates on Big Ten bowls. First, ESPN will assume responsibility for coverage of the Rose Bowl in 2011. This comes as no surprise; ESPN (thankfully) outbid Fox for BCS broadcast rights beginning in 2011, and ABC (who has held the Rose Bowl broadcast rights since 1989) and ESPN are under the same Disney superumbrella.
Second, the Alamo Bowl has a wandering eye, and the Pac-10 just walked by in a tight sweater:
The conference is in discussions with the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio for a possible contract to begin after this season's pacts expire. The per-team payouts could potentially position the bowl to earn an alternating spot with the Holiday Bowl, long a holder of the Pac-10's No. 2 pick behind the Rose Bowl, for the second and third choices.
The Alamo, regionally tied to the Big 12, wants to continue with that arrangement, but would like to enhance the profile on the other side. The Big Ten's top three slots are taken by the Rose Bowl and the two lucrative Florida bowls, the Outback and Capital One.
The Alamo last year had a per-team payout of $2.25 million, comparable to the Holiday's $2.3 million. The Sun Bowl, which has long been tied to the Pac-10's No. 3 team, paid $1.9 million.
The Alamo Bowl has spent the offseason trying to boost its position, first by moving to January 2 and now by attempting to improve its position in the conference pecking order. Mike Hlas correctly points out that the Alamo should be careful what it wishes for; a Pac-10 team is unlikely to travel as well as its Big Ten counterpart. The Sun Bowl, which has hosted the Pac-10 number 3 finisher since the mid-90's, has sold out only twice (pdf) despite being played in a far smaller facility and frequently hosting Texas-based schools.
Cancellation Yeah, picking on Tim Brewster is fun, and we've gotten plenty of mileage out of the Twitter thing. But this is an Iowa blog, and the Brewster meme has clearly jumped the shark; 7 of our 10 front-page posts currently reference Brewster in one way or another. The point has been made: Brewster is a doofus. There's no need for overkill, and I'm tired of writing about exclamation points. "Tim Brewster Tweeting o' the Day" is officially on hiatus until further notice.
Miscellany Speaking of which, PantherHawk is being attacked on all sides by Minnesota fans. Wisconsin brings in South Florida transfer (and son of former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice) quarterback Nate Tice. Iowa apparently said, "Thanks, but no thanks." Varsity Blue previews the Hawks. Oh, and watch out for the meat shelf.