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Overreaction Monday: Back to the Future

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A lot happened last week in the world of Iowa athletics. And yet, it kind of feels like everything is the same.

The more things change, the more the stay the same in the world of Iowa athletics.
Image via 91x.com

What. A. Week.

It was a whirlwind, but at the end of the day, we see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. We saw it with the Super Bowl last night as Atlanta looked like they were poised to take down Brady and Belichick, and despite a 25-point lead at one point, things remained about the same as they’ve been for some time now: Brady led an epic comeback, aided by mistakes and balls bouncing the Pats’ way, and the New England Patriots are champions once more.

Hoops

On the hardwood, Iowa Basketball spent most of the week giving fans a glimpse of the future. With Peter Jok sidelined with back problems (you know you’re a senior when...), the young Hawkeyes won a pair of games, including their first road game of the year. And it was spectacular. The young guns played with intensity and fire. Nobody was afraid to pull the trigger and everyone was in a sharing mood.

Sunday saw the return of the Jok, and things looked kind of the same as they did before. For a while. The intensity was missing, and guys were deferring a bit to their senior leader. And then it was like a switch was flipped and we were back to the Hawkeyes of the future. The intensity was there. Guys were diving for loose balls. Guys were attacking the glass. And guys were knocking down threes.

So many threes.

It’s hard to watch this young group of Hawkeyes and not be excited about the future. Jok is fantastic and I think if he had another year at Iowa, this group would find a way to be truly special. As it stands, they look like two different teams with him on the court and with him on the bench. I honestly don’t know which I would prefer for an entire game, but seeing Fran mix and match lineups on Sunday was a joy. Add the outlook of the recruits the staff has lined up for the next few years and it’s hard not to be excited to get back to the future.

Wrasslin

On the mats, things got back on track after a fall from grace a week ago. The Hawkeyes regained their footing and their rightful place amongst some of our local rivals with wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota in the span of three days. It may not be the same level of success we have come to expect out of Brands’ crew, but despite the struggles, it’s not far off. As it stands, Iowa is still in the top 5. As it seemingly always has been. And perhaps always will be. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Gridiron

Nowhere did that trend hold true than in the world of Iowa Football last week. As the week kicked off, all eyes (OK, most eyes) were focused squarely on the recruiting trail. Heading into the final countdown to National Signing Day, Hawkeye Nation wasn’t exactly filled with optimism. Seven months ago, the class was shaping up wonderfully. It looked like Iowa might have it’s first top-25 recruiting ranking in quite some time. The pipeline from Texas to Iowa was flowing and there were a handful of 4-star kids to go along with all-world DE AJ Epenesa.

Of course, we all know we can’t have nice things. So we endured Texodus and prepared for the class of 2017 to look much like the recruiting classes we’ve grown accustomed to under KF. Last week saw a flurry of activity (if you managed to miss anything, we have you covered with more than 30 recruiting-related updates from last week).

And while things appeared a little different in this home stretch of recruiting, with the Hawkeyes snatching last-second commitments from guys committed to South Carolina (Kyshaun Bryan), Minnesota (Trey Creamer) and Rutgers (Ihmir Smith-Marsette), they also looked the same, with the late additions of former MAC recruits Nate Weiland (Northern Illinois) and Geno Stone (Kent State).

Always the MAC recruits. They’ve panned out pretty well, to be sure, but there is always a stigma with the program when they fill out their class with guys who didn’t have a laundry list of offers. This year was no different. There were surely smirks and snarky comments abound when the final list was read. But this year, I think there was also some genuine intrigue and hope. Such is life as a Hawkeye fan. There’s a constant balance between self-deprecating humor and humility and a sense of hope that real success is just around the corner.

It doesn’t hurt when you have 5-star athletes coming in who can do this:

In the sport they’re giving up. Yes, there is hope, young Hawkeye fans. There will always be hope.

A mere two days after NSD, the football coaching staff truly took us back to the future with the announcement on Friday that former offensive coordinator and fan favorite (I know nobody here ever bad mouthed the guy - right) Ken O’Keefe is leaving his post with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins to be the new QB coach for the Hawkeyes.

Let the comparisons between GDGD and KOK really begin. I’m a pessimist by nature and will remain skeptical of all things KF coaching hire related until I’m proven wrong, but if I’m being honest, I really kind of like this hire. No, really. Just hear me out.

If you’re of the opinion that the problem with Iowa’s style of play hasn’t been the offensive coordinator the last ~18 years (I’m firmly in this camp), you really can’t be upset by this hire. I mean, if KF has been the offensive hold up, it wouldn’t have mattered who the OC was. Chip Kelly wanted to come to Iowa? Good luck running that offense with Iowa’s athletes and KF breathing down your neck.

Anything drastically different from what we’ve seen the Iowa offense be under KF was going to result in head-butting and more bad than good. With BF at the helm, adding a QB coach who we know will be a cultural fit, who has the trust of the head man (and can perhaps help BF persuade him to make SMALL changes here and there) and who has a track record of being a decent recruiter can only be seen as a positive.

Go ahead, rip me apart in the comments, that’s what they’re here for. But good luck changing my mind. I’m stubborn as hell. Snort.

The (re) addition of KOK leaves two vacancies on the Iowa coaching staff with a third becoming open in April. In all likelihood, the Hawkeyes will be adding a RB and WR coach. Perhaps those will light a little more fire for those of you not on board with the KOK hiring. I’m guessing not. And if they did, I’m guessing they wouldn’t be terribly successful. Because the more things change at Iowa, the more they stay the same.

The basketball team is improving. They are showing fight and some serious potential. The future is bright. It always is. The wrestling team isn’t quite what we had hoped, but they’re still a national power. They always are. And the football team seems kind of bland. The recruiting class finished about where it always does (a little higher) and the staff changes aren’t going to be terribly inspiring. But they’re going to be solid and they’re going to work hard. They always do. And at the end of the day, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Being a Bama football fan or a Kentucky hoops fan wouldn’t really be that much fun, would it? You have to endure a little bit and be in a constant state of hope and anticipation to truly embrace the joy of success. If 2015 (and subsequent 2016) taught me anything, it was to enjoy the success when it’s there and always be hopeful that it’ll come back.

Water Works

And since we are talking back to the future and remaining hopeful, here’s a quick look at the post-game press conference with hoops coach Fran McCaffery. As I’m sure you’re all aware, his son (and future Hawkeye) Pat was diagnosed with cancer back in 2014. In spite of the on court antics (I like to think of it as fire and passion, but that’s just me), McCaffery seems to be a genuinely good person and someone I hope is here to help continue making the future bright for Iowa Hoops.

That’s all I got for this Monday. Get back to your future. Happy Monday. Go Hawks.