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. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
Is there a better way to get your three-day weekend started? No, there is not.
Noah's Ark was also "just another boat." To some people, a year that began with a preseason top-ten ranking and visions of Big Ten titles and back-to-back BCS bowl game trips and ended with three nauseating November losses, a return trip to Arizona no one wanted for a late December bowl game, and the (very) public disgraces of two offensive stars would be quite a kick to the nuts. And that doesn't even mention the tarring and feathering that commenced in January after Rhabdogate went national. Kirk Ferentz is not one of those people, though.
Despite all that, Ferentz declined to give 2010 any credit as one of the more difficult in his 12 at the helm in Iowa City.
"Every year has its own challenges," said Ferentz on Wednesday before addressing the Tama County I-Club at its spring banquet. "The games didn't all turn out the way you want, we had a couple guys make decisions we wish they hadn't.
"That's part of college athletics."
Really? On one hand, Ferentz's ability to take a big picture view of things is admirable in a world of 24/7/365 news cycles and trumped-up sensationalism -- in general, I think it's a very good thing to have a coach who can keep such an even keel, rather than one prone to exploding into a fit of rage at the slightest provocation -- but on the other hand, there's a rather unwelcome elment of burying one's head in the sand in those comments, too. I don't think anyone's going to be offended if Ferentz acknowledges that 2010 wasn't a year like any other and that it was, in fact, particularly painful -- hell, they'd probably like him more if he expressed some emotion in that fashion.
Ferentz also opined on some of the specific problems from last year -- namely, Iowa's struggles in close games:
"The year before we did a better job pulling games out in the fourth quarter, and last year we didn't. It's really about as simple as that," said Ferentz. "So the key for us is winning close games. If we do that, the season turns out really well and everybody's smiling, and, when we don't, we end up not playing in January."
Well, yes, playing better in close games would certainly help a lot. You know what else would help? Not playing so many fucking close games, especially against teams that have no business being close to you. You know, like Indiana, Minnesota, and just Northwestern.* You do need to win close games to have a good season, but you can also help your case by limiting those close games to teams that actually deserve it (you know, like Wisconsin and Ohio State).
* Yes, yes, recent history and all that. jNW gave up rushing yards like it was their job last year; why Iowa didn't simply pound away with Marcus Coker in that game remains utterly mystifying.
One Life To Creep. So what else is Ferentz doing besides uttering bland platitudes on the I-Club circuit?
"We watch soap operas, play poker, things like that," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz joked Wednesday before speaking at the Tama County I-Club banquet. "We alternate our card playing and TV watching."
Rumor has it Ferentz is a diehard fan of All My Children; nothing says steady reliability and aversion to change like 40+ years of Susan Lucci. Meanwhile, Ken O'Keefe is still bitter that NBC canceled Passions, but he's recently gotten into Niña de mi Corazón; he just can't believe the wacky hijinx that Andrea gets into!
But for reals: news has been awfully quiet on the caring is creepy front. Iowa has all of one commitment so far (offensive lineman Mitchell Keppy), which is the main reason they sit near the bottom of mgoblog's Big Ten recruiting class rankings (only Indiana is below us -- they have no commits). The end of May is no time to panic and odds are the recruiting class will start filling out when the kids take some campus visits this summer, but really: caring may be creepy, but you still need to keep up with the Joneses and the Joneses are out getting their creep on en masse.
It makes sense, especially against spread offenses that get the ball out quickly and require speedy defenders to make plays in space. Iowa struggled to generate consistent pressure against Gabbert in the Insight Bowl, forcing Parker to shake up the scheme quite a bit.
Without much proven depth on the line, Iowa might be well served by being more multiple this season. Although there are some question marks at linebacker, the group could be better and deeper if younger players like James Morris, Christian Kirksey, Anthony Hitchens and Dakota Getz continue to develop. Tyler Nielsen provides a veteran presence to build around, and Bruce Davis is back from a knee injury.
Iowa's linebackers lack experience, but not talent and in Nielsen, Morris, Kirksey, and Hitchens Iowa has arguably its fastest linebacking corps in recent memory. That could come in very handy against the spread offenses that figure to dominate Iowa's schedule this fall. Iowa won't be switching to a permanent 3-4 anytime soon -- outside of Carl Davis (who's very raw), Iowa doesn't have the sort of space-eating defensive tackles you need to make the 3-4 work -- but it could be effective in limited doses.
* Rittenberg also lists Iowa as one of the potential dark horses in the Big Ten in 2011, noting their favorable schedule and potent offensive line.
* The Boston Globe, citing unnamed "rumblings," reports that the Big Ten is considering Maryland and Georgia Tech for expansion; considering the Globe thinks Doug Flutie is still the quarterback for Boston College, we'd take this report with a few mountains of salt.
* The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Doug Lesmerises provides a nice breakdown of the nine-game conference schedule debate; in a nutshell, coaches are against it and athletic directors are for it -- when in doubt, expect the guys who control the checkbooks to win.
* Despite the continued absence of the Cougillsaurus, the Sioux City Journal still has nice things to say about Iowa basketball and the Franimal (probably because he raves about Zach McCabe, another refugee from SUX**).
** Honest to God, that's the airport code in Sioux City.
* Nature used to be so much more awesome. (And more terrifying. But mostly awesome.)
* Friendly reminder: Brad Banks and the Iowa Barnstormers are on the NFL Network again tonight, hosting the Utah Blaze at 7pm CST.