You might have heard once or twice that Iowa's caucuses are tonight, perhaps. And you might have noticed once or twice that the Big Ten Network has essentially turned into political ads with some basketball lightly interspersed into the gaps, perhaps. And you might be totally sick of all of this and eager for all the politicians to leave the Hawkeye State, all of both parties' awful leeches with awful hair and awful things to say. Perhaps.
But that doesn't mean we can't caucus.
So instead of talking partisan politics, which is strictly forbidden at BHGP, let's go another direction. Assuming that "Iowa Athletics" is our party, let's elect a President, or at least caucus for one. We've got a field of five candidates for you to choose from, for the position of "President of Iowa Athletics," a title that confers absolutely no new powers or responsibilities but presents the winner as the brightest shining example of the work done in this athletic program. Maybe one of our readers might festoon the winner's office door with a wreath or whatever. Do we have any wreath experts? Anyone well-versed in festoonery?
With that, here are not only the candidates' stump speeches for "President," but what you'll hear from the anonymous SuperPACs or whatever standing in opposition. Gary Barta is not running, because he's already AD, and it would be like a sitting president running for prime minister, or whatever. Can you we're not political scientists here? Anyway, make your choice in the poll after hearing the cases, and per caucus rules, if we need to weed out any unviable candidates, we'll reconvene tomorrow. Let's do this.
Please note that, obviously, we've made up all the "pitches," and the "attack ads" are meant as tongue-in-cheek representations of the skewed negativity we have to hear from political ads and not honest editorial positions of BHGP. We are happy that so many coaches are doing so well here and we support everyone involved.
Also, "candidates" are listed in alphabetical order, lest we give another reason to be accused of bias.
"The guys get all the headlines in the state, but isn't it long past time to let a woman be the face of Iowa athletics? My wonder women have outperformed Fran McCaffery's team and gotten farther in the postseason every single year he's been here. One high-profile loser who couldn't hack it in Iowa City once complained that Iowa is a football school, but I don't think so—I think we're on our way to establishing Iowa women's basketball as the most successful basketball program, regardless of gender, in this entire state, and I'm going to be here long enough to prove it. I've got a long history in this conference, and my teams win 61% of their games in the Big Ten. Kirk's at 55%. Fran's one game over .500. You want a coach who'll take on everyone in this conference in a sport they all want to play and give you a real winner? You'd better come looking for me first.
I'm the winningest coach in Iowa women's basketball history, and that includes the legend herself, C. Vivian Stringer. We're 15-7 (5-5) in a rebuilding year, and we haven't had a losing Big Ten season since 2006-2007, when Kirk was getting the shine beaten off of him the first time. We've got enough talent coming in to contend for the Big Ten for the next several years straight. I don't think football or men's ball can say that—in fact, I know they don't recruit as well as I do.
This school has one of the proudest histories of women's athletics in the nation, and I know we've got the fanbase at Carver-Hawkeye to prove that women matter a whole heck of a lot to Iowa athletics today! It's time to write that pride in stone by electing me, Lisa Bluder, as your first President of Iowa Athletics!"
The Attack Ads
"She's had a ton of NCAA Tournament appearances and she's gotten to the Sweet Sixteen once. Iowa rejected Dr. Tom for a record like this, and ignoring that would be turning our back on our school's proud history of high standards."
"She sometimes dresses frumpy. Why doesn't she care about image? What's she hiding?"
"This team is already suffering badly now that Samantha Logic is in the WNBA. We can't elect a candidate that ignores a glaring... Power Outage."
"Iowans have already voted at the ticket office, and women's basketball doesn't measure up in this state. This is clearly a reflection of dissatisfaction with Bluder."
"Iowa deserves a champion, and I'm the only one out here winning national championships. Ask anyone to think of the best college wrestling program ever, and they'll all say Iowa. And if they don't, they're lying. My friend and mentor, Dan Gable, established that legacy here, and I'm keeping it alive.
Most wrestling teams compete in smaller gyms. We do it in a 15,500-seat arena we can fill, and when that's not enough, we do it in football stadiums. Most other schools wish more than a couple thousand people would watch them; we shatter attendance records. We dominate. When these other Iowa coaches lose, it's just a part of their season. If my teams ever lose, it's a surprise.
My record is what it is: better than any other sport's coach at the University of Iowa by a gigantic margin. My standards are what they are: brutal, unrelenting and effective. If you have any questions, you can go ask the six guys I've led to individual national championships or the three teams in a row I won with. Brent Metcalf might be too busy being an international superstar in the sport, but you can leave him a voicemail.
Ask an Iowa coach in any other sport why they're not the best program in the nation, and you'll get excuses. I'll tell you this: we're the best in the nation right now, we're preparing to win a national championship, this year like every year, and we won't tolerate anyone in our program who doesn't share that same goal. If I'm not your President of Iowa Athletics, maybe you're better off cheering for an athletic department that shares your values and doesn't really care about being the best, like over there in Ames. Up to you."
The Attack Ads
"He hasn't won a national title since 2010. He might already be past his prime. Can Iowa afford to celebrate a coach whose opponents have already figured him out?"
"Tom Brands walked into the best program in the nation on Day 1. It's like Steve Alford taking credit for what John Wooden built at UCLA. Iowa deserves a leader who actually has proven experience overcoming opposition."
"It was a big deal when Tom got Kinnick half-full for a wrestling meet, but that would have been the worst football crowd in several decades. Sorry, Tom: this isn't a wrestling school, and your rural values won't move Iowa forward."
"How many Big Ten schools even field a wrestling program anymore? What's his next idea, giving our armed forces muskets? Elect a 21st century President of Iowa Athletics."
"When Gary—I'm on a first-name basis with him—asks fans about winning, graduating, and doing it the right way, you don't have to choose with me; my teams do all three. I took Iowa from the pit of the Big Ten to the Orange Bowl in three seasons. Then I took it to another Orange Bowl. Then I took it to Pasadena. You want to go back to Pasadena? I do, real soon. I think we will.
I've been here 17 years and I'll be here as long as I can be, and the NCAA never, ever, ever comes around here with a major violation. And yes, of course I'm the establishment. That's what anyone who's not an established power wishes they could become, and most of them aren't good enough to do it. That's what going to the most BCS bowls (or whatever we call them these days) in the last half-century of Iowa football gets you, and I'm not going to blow it like Forest Evashevski did.
I'm on track to be the most successful coach in school history at the most popular sport in school history. We have 70,000 fans who show up every week to prove it. Our aspirations are as high as they've ever been, coming off the first 12-0, Rose Bowl-worthy regular season ever at Iowa. And we've got so much talent back we want to do it again.
Anyone can get lucky and have one or two good years at Iowa. I've built, rebuilt, and rebuilt. Nobody has ever been worth more to the University of Iowa's athletic department than I've been, and nobody's more deserving of your vote for President of Iowa Athletics than I am."
The Attack Ads
"Exactly how short does he think Iowa fans' memories are? One good season can't build back all the trust he eroded in the Hawkeye State since he signed his state car, private jet contract."
"He hasn't won a bowl game since 2010, and usually it isn't even close. Kirk Ferentz routinely gets exposed once he gets out of the comfort of the Big Ten West. We need a President of Iowa Athletics who can stand up to the rest of the nation."
"You can't tell the state of Iowa it was mere coincidence that he only started coaching well again as soon as his buyout finally became manageable. What's his real motivation?"
"Take away 2002 and 2016, and he's a .500 coach in the Big Ten. He's more synonymous with mediocre seasons than great ones. Kirk Ferentz: We just can't trust him to succeed."
"I rescued a dormant Iowa baseball franchise, and I did it quickly. Wasn't going to the NCAA Regional fun? It was fun when I took Indiana State to one for the first time in nearly 20 years too. It's what I do. I've been doing this for 28 years, and I've got decades, plural, still ahead of me. I've won 800 games at schools that don't even have good baseball facilities.
I've got a record of experience and reform, and I did it where teams aren't supposed to succeed, where they're supposed to lay down and die. Well, I'm not here to lay down! I'm here to represent this state and this university in its pursuit of higher goals than it's ever seen! I'm the only truly transformative candidate out of this entire group, and I'm here to transform the entire University of Iowa athletics department into the best in the nation. Vote for me for President of Iowa Athletics."
The Attack Ads
"We've heard these empty promises before. Duane Banks went to the CWS his second year coaching. He then made two more regionals in his last 25 years. Now we're supposed to trust a guy with two D-I NCAA Regional bids in 16 years of coaching? Iowa deserves better."
"Baseball is a small-time sport at a big-time sports university. Let's not lose our heads when we have plenty of candidates who know how to handle a bigger stage."
"He wears a baseball cap to work. This is phony populism at its worst and an insult to Iowans' intelligence."
"My record is improvement, and my record is outstanding. I've taken four programs to the NCAA Tournament, the first three coming in one-bid leagues where there's no margin for error or relative mediocrity. And I'll tell you this: if the Big Ten were a one-bid league this year, I think we'd have that best team to take that bid. And there's more competition for the title in this league this year than any of my colleagues in Iowa City have ever succeeded against.
My teams have improved every single year I've been here, and we've gone from the basement of the league in 2011 to the penthouse today. I've got the best team of assistants in the entire Big Ten. That last coach resisted the fact that this sport is dominated by shoe companies and AAU leagues? How'd that work out for him? I'm embracing it and now we've got a gravy train of four-star recruits lined up for the next several years, including a couple kids I've taught since birth.
This league doesn't belong to Bo Ryan anymore, he's gone. I just swept Tom Izzo and Matt Painter. Tom Crean's a bozo, and Thad Matta's not my concern. I can bust John Beilein's zone in my sleep. And I beat Turgeon at Maryland by a whole lot more when they came here last year than when we went there this year. I'm like most of you; I didn't inherit much coming into this, the excellence isn't about my predecessor, it's up to me. I've got to work hard every day. And look at where we are now and where we plan to go. Vote for me for President of Iowa Athletics, because we're doing great things, and we're just getting started."
The Attack Ads
"He came here from Siena, which is in the same county as Albany. We just can't trust his New York values."
"Even if this team doesn't collapse like 2014, that'll only make two teams with winning records in six years in the Big Ten. That's not a record of success."
"Look at what the starting lineup will be next year, and ask yourself if he'll take as much credit for that debacle as he is for this season. Isn't that his responsibility too?"
"He's best known for losing his temper on the sidelines and his teams blowing halftime leads. Iowa can't afford that embarrassment from its most public face."
"He's never gone deep in the Big Ten Tournament, much less the NCAA Tournament. He just doesn't have what it takes."