It’s June, which means it’s time for the annual series of conference expansion non sequiturs and cockamamie realignment plans. The Gazette kicked off with the standard non-denial denial on further Big Ten expansion from Iowa president Bruce Harreld:
With the 10-school Big 12 still considering whether or not to add schools — therefore warm — the 14-member Big Ten remains aware but dormant in expansion. But that doesn’t mean the league isn’t preparing for a possible earthquake, either.
“I think there’s always discussion because I think we’re trying to understand what’s happening across the nation and what our alternatives may be,” Iowa President Bruce Harreld told The Gazette. “But there’s no serious conversation. There’s no specific set of proposals.”
As it stands, there are only two serious targets for further long-term expansion: Raiding the Big 12 for Oklahoma and (likely) Kansas, which might not be politically feasible due to the existence of Oklahoma State and the questionable existence of academics in Norman, or raiding the ACC, which might not be legally possible due to the league’s assignment of rights agreement. Neither of those are easy absent the implosion of the Big 12 opening everything up or an unlikely Big 12 raid on the ACC.
The Big 12’s move toward a conference championship game without divisions — essentially, the top two teams just play each other again — has mGoBlog re-examining Big Ten scheduling absent divisions. Brian’s solution is to give each team three protected rivals (Iowa has Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nebraska, naturally) with six other games against the league as a whole. It would mean more games against the eastern teams, which is probably good for everyone.
With expansion unlikely and wholesale Big Ten changes even more remote, let’s turn to the other June football blog pipe dream: Relegation, where Friend of the Pants Tom Fornelli might have settled the issue once and for all:
So what I've done is taken all the teams from the Power Five conferences (64), along with Notre Dame, and added five new teams poached from the independent ranks or the Group of Five (Boise State, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston) to give this new league 70 teams total.
I then took those 70 teams and broke them off into five new conferences. The new conferences aren't based on current league loyalties or geography. Instead, I took each team's record of their last five seasons and found their combined win percentage in those years. I then ranked all 70 teams based on that win percentage and put them in new conferences based on nothing but that.
The 14 best teams are in the top conference, the next 14 in the second conference, and so on. The only change I made was the five new teams from the Group of Five must start at the bottom because that's just how the Power Five would do things. "You can join us, and you can have access to our money, but you're going to start at the bottom."
Iowa starts in the third division with teams like West Virginia, Penn State, Auburn, Miami and Texas. It’s magnificent, and it should be implemented tomorrow because I want a trip to Oxford, Mississippi this fall.
You might remember the articles from last season on Iowa football’s implementation of “The Slight Edge,” a self-help book that formed the foundation for the Hawkeyes’ resurgence. Iowa’s leadership group made it required reading during the offseason and presented book reports to the team on its theme, that daily application of small improvement principles can lead to long-term success. And, hey, it worked.
The 2016 season presents a far bigger historical problem for Iowa, though, a problem that has flummoxed Iowa in prior years: Capitalizing on an historic season and meeting the expectations generated by it. Despite returning almost the entire starting lineup from a 2009 Orange Bowl champion, Iowa limped to a 7-5 regular season in 2010. High national rankings and returning starters did not translate to success in 2005, as well.
Iowa’s response in 2016: Another book, apparently. As Chad Leistikow reports, the Hawkeyes are turning to another team known for black uniforms, the New Zealand National Rugby Team.
The Hawkeyes’ latest required reading, “Legacy,” outlines how they plan to maintain it.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz’s review?
Though the 207-page book, authored by James Kerr, details years of principles instilled by the world’s most successful rugby team, the All Blacks of New Zealand, it speaks profoundly to the current state of Hawkeye football.
Leistikow details a number of lessons from the book and how they are being, or could be, applied. There’s something about a centipede. It’s very Confucian. And it might be worth a read, because the New Zealand All Blacks are pretty awesome.
FEELING A DRAFT
The NBA Draft is Thursday night, and in an unlikely twist, Iowa senior Jarrod Uthoff is moving up the board. As reported in the Des Moines Register, ESPN’s Chad Ford believes Uhtoff could go in the late first round.
“I think he starts in the 20s. There’s teams like the (Indiana) Pacers, for example, that have liked him for a long time,” Ford said of the franchise that owns the draft’s 20th pick. “They see him as a good fit for what they do. I don’t think it’s likely he gets drafted there, but if he went that high it wouldn’t shock me. He’s got several more spots in the 20s.
“He’s a guy who I think once he gets to the 30s, he doesn’t get out of the 30s.”
This comes after an ESPN metric graded Uthoff as the 19th-best player in the Draft, ahead of surefire first-rounders Malachi Richardson, Malik Beasley, Tyler Ulis and DeAndre Bembry.
It’s not a surprise that Uthoff is getting some love; he was an All-Big Ten performer and in the discussion for National Player of the Year until the last month of the season. It’s just surprising that a fifth-year senior gets a second look from the NBA at all.
Iowa could have its Class of 2017 quarterback by the end of the day, with Texas senior Peyton Mansell set to announce his decision today and Iowa a big favorite.
Incoming football walk-on Sam Cook was named Iowa Prep Athlete of the Year by the DMR. Cook reads like the standard Iowa in-state recruit: Good student, two-sport standout (he could have wrestled on scholarship at Oklahoma), and finished his career as the fourth all-time leading rusher in Class 4A. Keep an eye on that one.
The latest sign of the Big Ten’s financial position: Northwestern announced a $110-million expansion of its basketball arena. Miracles never cease.
LSU, which could well be the only major-conference school in America with a sideline area as small as Kinnick, is banning opposing marching bands from playing halftime shows due to “safety concerns”. Because when in doubt, we always get rid of one small thing that makes college football great.
The U.S. Open Cup throws essentially every professional and semi-pro soccer team in a tournament, which is how you get the L.A. Galaxy needing to ignore an injured player and restart play before anyone was set to score a late goal and avoid an embarrassing loss to La Maquina, a team that was thrown out of its beer league last year for too much fighting.
This is fun, courtesy of noted Hawkeye fan Zach Johnson (stay until the end).
Nothing says “LOOK HOW AWESOME WE ARE” like posting a video of a guy from an in-division rival school.