Hello hello hello and welcome to this week’s installment of Overreaction Monday. Our dear columnist JPinIC is out this week, so I hope you will put up with my own brand of bitching this morning.
It was a pretty solid week for Iowa sports! The Hawkeyes had a world champion crowned in Laulauga Tausaga and Kirk Ferentz read some mean Tweets at Big Ten Media days. The biggest news of all, though, was the announcement of ANOTHER grad transfer to the football program in Matt Quarells. The addition of Quarells is something we can truly overreact to.
Just a few weeks ago, I began a writing a piece titled “Preparing for a five-win Iowa football season.” I wrote a few hundred words then forgot about it since I went on vacation for Fourth of July weekend. I got home from a cabin with no internet or cell service to the news of James Butler joining Iowa football’s ranks. After spending about an hour researching Butler, I realized Iowa truly got itself a gamer. But will he make much of a difference? Opposing defenses will just stack eight in the box against a run-dependent team, I thought to myself. Still, I allowed my pessimistic writing collect some internet dust.
Then, the Quarells shoe dropped. Sure, we can talk about how he had just 11 catches for 180 yards last season, but New Mexico attempted just 179 passes in Bob Davie’s quintuple option offense. If nothing else, Quarells can block. And we know how much Iowa loves receivers who can block.
I still told myself, despite the recent additions of this offensive firepower, Iowa will still be breaking in a first-year starter at quarterback. And it looks as though that guy will be just 19 years old, if we’re to believe Nathan Stanley is the next man up. Surely that’s a recipe for disaster in any offense, especially one as fragile as Iowa’s where it relies on minimal mistakes and constant check-downs.
HOWEVEAH, you, loyal readers and commentariat have brought me back up. Perusing the comments in the Quarells commit piece, I came across this from Herbyhawk:
Rudock was a 1st year starter with no prior snaps ended up doing pretty good in spite of a walk on FB playing RB with a RSSO in KMM as the only returning WR with any notable experience. That team had a JUCO transfer Powell, and SO Jerminic Smith who only had 3 catches, in 2015 CJ was a 1st year starter and all he did was lead Iowa to that BT West Title and a 12-2 record. these are the 1st year starters that had these for seasons
2002 Banks 11-2 #8 final ranking Shared BT Championship 8-0 BT record
2003 Chandler 10-2 #8 final ranking
2004 Tate 10-2 #8 final ranking Shared BT Championship 7-1 final ranking
2008 after splitting time with JC #20 final ranking 9-4
2011 Vandenberg record only 7-6 but he did have these for stats 237-404 for 3022 yards, they all had one thing common with this year QB.
KOK was their QB Coach
I have no doubt whoever the QB is Iowa is going to far exceed most expectations
Oh baby, we are back to optimism and downright giddiness for the upcoming season. Nobody is giving Iowa a chance in the Big Ten this year, let alone the west. So here’s where I’ll mention HERR DERR IOWA ALWAYS PERFORMS WHEN EXPECTATIONS ARE LOW. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
If Iowa’s quarterback situation isn’t a complete and total disaster this year, I think we really should be competitive for the West with the Badgers. A stellar line blocking for two NFL-caliber running backs, and a well above-average defensive line giving freedom to the conference’s best linebacking corps should really be reason enough for optimism, friends.
And here we are, talking ourselves into a trip to Indy for the second time in three years. Football season is BACK.
Iowa football is set to get a commitment from class of ‘19 defensive back Larry Tracy today:
I can only thank god and my family for the position that i am in today decision tomorrow at 3 pic.twitter.com/UKxDB9ishC— Larry Tracy (@og_tracy10) July 31, 2017
Larry is the cousin of Iowa commit Tyrone Tracy. This would be a good get at a position of need for Iowa. Tracy was in Iowa City over the weekend at the Hawkeyes’ open camp. It appears some other commits could be coming in as well.
Iowa has a pretty good track record of success at holding these open camp type-things, and if they can continue bearing fruit I’m all for em. Today is also the start of a recruiting dead period, and prospects aren’t allowed to visit campus until the season starts. Going into the dead period with some momentum would be pretty good!
Iowa baseball is... doing things, but we’ll have a post about that later. In the meantime, does anyone know where we can our hands on some jerseys or hats?
The NBA is ruthless
It’s really sad to see Uthoff get traded from the Mavs—who seemed to genuinely like him—just be used as a pawn for the Rockets. That’s how the NBA is today, though.
And now we’re going to talk about something tough. If you’d had your fill of positive Hawkeye news, stop reading now.
Last week you probably saw that the Journal of the American Medical Association published a damning report on findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy—better known as CTE—in former NFL players. Of 111 brains examined, 110 were determined to show signs of the disease. The report is based on the findings conducted at Boston University, part of a study that has been going on for nearly 10 years.
Normally this kind of news wouldn’t have a place on this site, but we’re all football fans, and one of the best Hawkeyes to ever wear the jersey—Tyler Sash—was featured prominently in the New York Times’ coverage of the JAMA research.
Sash was found dead on Sept. 8, 2015 of an apparent overdose of pain medication. His condition was released in 2016, but his brain was still studied again here. Sash played football for 16 of the 27 years he was alive, and had five concussions in his short NFL career with the Giants. Quotes from the study and Sash’s own family are jarring:
Dr. McKee found the disease at a level similar to that found in Seau’s brain, and it was in the region of the brain that is consistent with the symptoms he was exhibiting.
Sash’s mother, Barnetta Sash, said: “Now it makes sense. The part of the brain that controls impulses, decision-making and reasoning was damaged badly.”
This is something I think deserves discussion. Sash was a great Hawkeye, and it’s truly devastating to know he suffered in his final years of life because of football. Knowing another Hawkeye could suffer the same fate is heartbreaking. Nothing to say of the hundreds of players walking around right now with CTE.
To be sure, the study of course is biased. Only the brains of players who were suspected of suffering from CTE were studied, so of course that 110 of 111 number is skewed. I understand this is called a convenience sample in the field, but it’s still scary nonetheless.
Pat Angerer has a great thread going on his Twitter about it. In the thread it mentions how football players are often crazy people who hit each-other. These findings from a biased study aren’t exactly unexpected.
I think they're moving in the right direction with brain health but to say 99% of NFL players have CTE after a bias study is misleading— Pat Angerer (@PAngererUSA) July 26, 2017
But, I think it’s the start of something. We all love football. If nothing changes to increase player safety, we’d still probably watch it. But the outcry would be deafening, so change is imminent. Especially with the rise in popularity of soccer in today’s youth.
Shortly after the report was published, Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel announced his retirement. By all accounts, Urschel is a great player. He’s also a certified math genius, publishing scientific papers in the offseason. He played three years in the NFL, which qualifies him for a pension. This feels like a possible trend.
And that’s where this discussion sort of ends. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know what the answer is. I remember when I played high school football, the coach ordered a special “concussion-proof” helmet for our all-state quarterback. It was different than all the other helmets on our team, and our coach touted it was the same one that Penn State players wore. I’m not so sure if it really made a difference. I’m not really sure if more padding is really the answer.
I played rugby throughout all of high school and very briefly at Iowa. Even though there aren’t pads, I think it’s absolutely safer than football. The lack of padding deters people from using their bodies as a missile, and safer form tackling is stressed. If I were to guess how football might look 20 years from now, I’d wager we’ll see smaller and fewer pads.
And that’s my two cents. It truly is heartbreaking to see this sort of thing happen in a sport that defines many of us. Seeing it happen to someone we cheered for on Saturday’s hits that much closer to home.