Often, dear reader, you will hear those of us behind the collective keyboards of the Pants talk about the doldrums of summer, the offseason struggle and the grind. I apologize for beating you over the head with this for the next, oh 12 weeks really, but you’re going to hear it a lot. It’s the first full week of May and there is damn near nothing going on in Iowa sports land and certainly nothing worth getting worked up over enough to “overreact.”
The struggle is real, ya’ll.
And yet, here I am this Monday morning, writing to you anyway. Why? Because I care about you, dear reader. We have something good going here, right? We look forward to getting together each Monday morning and
bitching whining ranting overreacting to whatever bit of Hawkeye news we can find. Right? We’re friends? We shoot each other texts about randomness we see. We try to catch up over a beverage or two once in a while. We, oh God, don’t go! I need you, dear reader! Please don’t leave me alone on a Monday morning!
Seriously, this is the time of year when the news really slows down and we (I) typically turn to a little more broad news. This here “overreaction” column tends to turn into a little more of a “what’s happening in the world that caught my eye” post with the occasional bit of uproar over nothing. So consider this your fair warning that until we get out of offseason mode, your Mondays are likely to be filled with a bit less discussion on a single topic and a bit more (than usual) random wandering on the goings on around the world. Of course, if there’s something worth going in on, in I’ll go.
Having said all that, there was a fair amount of tertiary Hawkeye news over the last week or so. For example, apparently DMACC is a national power in softball after not having a program only a few years ago.
In six years, @DMACCsoftball has gone from start-up to national power.— Keith Murphy (@MurphyKeith) May 4, 2018
The Bears just completed a 40-0 regular season ranked #1.
As @Admire_OnAir shows us, DMACC built the program by finding immensely talented--often overlooked--players from Iowa. pic.twitter.com/Xfu1ZUnuWF
Pretty impressive stuff. It reminds me, albeit in a totally different sport and to more success, of the results at Iowa Western in football. That place has become a powerhouse recognized nationwide.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit I know almost nothing about softball and exactly nothing about the Iowa softball program, but from what I’ve gathered from our own Jordan Hansen’s coverage of the team in my time here, it seems like things could be.... better. It sounds like recruiting in the state has been not great and the results have followed.
Again, no softball expert here, but this just seems like some low hanging fruit. You recruit the hell out of DMACC or the AD recruits the hell out of their coach.
Turning to more revenue-positive Iowa sports...
Former/current Iowa basketball player Tyler Cook continues to pursue a potential move to the NBA. While he is still enrolled in classes at the UI and participating in team activities, he’s also participating in NBA workouts.
Tyler Cook has six scheduled workouts with NBA teams including San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Will make a decision by June 10th.— Gary Dolphin (@GaryDolphin) May 2, 2018
First of all, good for Tyler. If you get a shot, make the most of it. But a couple of things to note here.
1. The deadline to return to Iowa with NCAA eligibility is May 30th. So either Dolph has this confused or he is inferring that Tyler is leaving Iowa and his decision will be to either enter the NBA draft or pull his name out by the NBA deadline of June 10th and take his talents overseas. Hmmmm.
2. The fact Cook is getting workouts may indicate he’s got a bit more interest than most around these parts have given him credit for. I’ll admit I wrote off his NBA prospects almost immediately thinking he needed another year to show some defensive ability, consistency on the glass and further growth with his jumper.
However, NBA teams think enough of his game and his potential to spend time working him out (more than they’re doing for Isaiah Moss). There may be more smoke here as The Athletic projects Cook as a potential second round draft pick:
Projected draft slot: second round to undrafted
Key stats: 15.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 56.6/14.3/66.1
Comment: Cook is an interesting player with a lot of skill. He’s bouncy — especially for his size — and has good touch around the basket. But it’s hard to find a good player nationally who has been more misused than Cook was last year. He played nearly one-third of his minutes next to two true centers despite his best position also being at center. As the rest of the basketball world downsized, Iowa decided to play three true bigs fairly regularly and then give Fran McCaffery a contract extension. Go figure. Despite the fact that he should be playing most of his minutes as a true center, Cook still produced. It would be interesting to see him in a more functional situation, and Cook alluded to the potential for a transfer at the end of the season (although he has since squashed a rumored move to Missouri). He’ll get workouts, and if he was to stay in the draft, he’d be an interesting two-way contract candidate as well as a likely training camp look. But his stock is not where it should be right now after the dysfunctional Iowa season.
For those of you hoping not to lose Cook to the NBA, find some solace in the fact the author seems to think Cook, at all of 6’8”, is better suited as a center and was hindered by playing forward this year. In general I think Sam Vecenie is a pretty knowledgeable guy and I don’t have anything against him. In this particular case I think he’s terribly, terribly wrong.
So maybe Cook has no shot at being drafted this year after all?
Elsewhere on The Athletic, we find someone who clearly knows exactly what they’re talking about as Stewart Mandel puts Iowa in his post-spring practice top 25.
I know, I know, it’s behind a pay wall and frankly I didn’t read the whole thing either. But Iowa checks in at #24 and honestly that’s all you need to know. Well, that and the fact he has 7 (SEVEN!!) Big Ten teams in his top 25. None of them are named Nebraska, which seems strange given I was under the impression Scott Frost had already wrapped up the national championship for this season.
In a shock to absolutely nobody, Bama is #1, Clemson #2. From there, the top ten is mostly Big Ten. Ohio State comes in at #3, Wisconsin #4, MSU #7 and Michigan #10. Penn State checks in at #16, Northwestern at #23 and your Iowa Hawkeyes at #24.
OK, so there are some issues there, but clearly he’s at least headed in the right direction with Iowa.
Sticking to football, we did get some news on the coaching front last week. After spending the Pinstripe Bowl on the sidelines due to the odd location of the coach’s box in Yankee Stadium (who would have thought playing football on a baseball field would make things a little wacky), offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has decided he belongs on the sidelines full time.
Brian Ferentz tells us he plans to call plays from the sideline next season. Feels he’s a better coach when he is on the field.— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) May 2, 2018
Personally, I like the move. There are definitely benefits to being higher up to see things schematically, but Ferentz the Younger is an energetic guy who I think will benefit from being closer to his guys. It will allow him to get more direct feedback from players immediately following plays and also to use his energy to feed the team.
Bonus points: no replay officials will be within two stories of BF. God help the guy in the red hat if he gets within 15 yards of him following a blown call though.
In still more football news, the Hawkeyes continue to put guys in the NFL. We spent a good amount of time following the draft giving you the rundown on where each of Iowa’s three draftees (James Daniels, Joshua Jackson and Josey Jewell) ended up, as well as all the undrafted free agents who were getting opportunities.
That list grew again last week as Bo Bower became the third linebacker from last year’s Hawkeye squad to get a shot at the NFL.
Add another undrafted free-agent Hawkeye that has an NFL shot: Linebacker Bo Bower, who ran a 4.57 in the 40 on Iowa's pro day, will have a mini-camp tryout with the Minnesota Vikings.— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) May 4, 2018
It really is simple: come to Iowa, work hard, get a shot at the NFL. The rest is up to you.
One of the next Hawkeyes to demonstrate the mantra is junior tight end Noah Fant. Ben told you last week he’s the most likely of the current players to be taken in next year’s draft. He wasn’t alone.
ESPN’s Todd McShay projected Fant to go #12 overall in his “way-too-early” 2019 NFL Mock Draft.
Iowa junior TE Noah Fant at #12 on Todd McShay's "way-too-early 2019 NFL Mock Draft" https://t.co/umBxCAdJsv— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) May 3, 2018
That might seem crazy, until you recall some of the first round tight ends to go this year. Hayden Hurst of South Carolina went 25th overall to Baltimore. In the second round Mike Gesicki of Penn State went 10th and Dallas Goedert of South Dakota State went 17th.
Noah Fant is better than all of them in nearly every measure. His only knock is blocking, which NFL teams are asking their tight ends to do less and less of.
McShay isn’t the only one with him going in the first round. Our very own SBNation 2019 Mock Draft has Fant off the board at #24 overall. Hawkeye fans need to appreciate him while he’s here, he’s going to be gone after next season.
And finally, with the complete absence of a sport in season, it is officially recruiting season. You’ll be getting a healthy dose of recruiting-related posts over the next several weeks. For now, let’s just say that things seem to be going pretty well on the trail for Kirk Ferentz and staff.
They’ve made a number of changes to their process and the personnel over the last couple years and seem to be picking up steam in some key areas (looking at you Indy, and oh hello flurry of offers in Florida). With all that change and the effort to get recruiting materials, edits and the like out to every recruit you may have an interest in (I said get materials to them, not offer every male over the age of 14, Coach Campbell), it would be easy to have some mixups.
I’m hoping that’s what happened at Oregon State...
My apologies for our players not being able to attend your Spring game. Ours was the same day, bad timing. Quick question, in the 203 years of coaching, none of you realized you couldn’t actively recruit another school’s players? Sent to campus? #leakydam #sloppybeavers pic.twitter.com/2djcmgFbLH— Nick Rolovich (@NickRolovich) May 4, 2018
Hope your Monday is mistake free. Keep your head down and keep plugging. We’ll get through the summer doldrums together, dear reader.