It’s Friday. College football is back. Iowa is pissed off with Sutton Smith’s blatant disrespect. And I’ve worked myself up in a lather from all of your questions this week.
Just as a reminder, I’ll be off next week traveling through Italy. I look forward to all of your little brother questions a week later.
Let’s get to the bag.
Q: NIU is PAYING STUDENTS to attend its football games (sort of)! Alternately: Maybe Iowa should try the same thing with basketball?
— Close Shave America
I’m so glad to see that you all know how to trigger me still. Here we are a day out from real football and the first question that rolled in was about basketball. With that said, it’s not a bad thought CSA; that is, if Iowa would think outside the box for a change, let alone pony up the cheddar.
For those that didn’t click the link, NIU has come up with a promotion called the “Huskie 100’s” — which, at first, sounds more like a freshman mess hall challenge than anything else — where they give away $100 to at least ten students that go to their home games:
Here’s how it works: NIU students, who already are admitted free to every NIU Athletics home event, will be automatically entered to win $100 when they swipe their OneCard ID upon entrance.
The more students in the stands, the more winners will be selected. If 1,000 or fewer students appear, 10 students will win $100, which will be deposited in those students’ bursar accounts. For 1,001-2,000 students, there will be 20 winners. For every additional one thousand students in the stands, 10 more students will win $100.
The idea: Bring your classmates.
It seems simple and in theory, could work. But, from my personal experience, it was hard enough getting the Athletic Department to bring in pizza’s before the game for a “Meet and Greet” with Fran McCaffery. I can’t even begin to imagine how some of their faces would contort and bend at the question of giving away AT LEAST $1,000 every home game ($18,000 minimum for the season).
But, let’s say they did. Let’s say Iowa started to care about the students and wanted them to usher in a new era of Hawkeye basketball that actually got Carver Hawkeye Arena rocking as much as McCaffery talked about in his opening presser. Would something like this really bring more students to the game? I’m not so sure. We’re not talking about getting to Kinnick in September, October and November here. We’re talking about an entirely different motivation here. These are 18-22 year old’s that are making a decision to either watch/stream/illegally stream a basketball game from the comfort of their own home (of which, more than likely has beer and better food) or to trudge across campus in the dead of winter to then sit in the purple sections of this map — AKA the worst seats in the house:
NOBODY WANTS TO SIT THERE. You know how I know that outside of experience? Do you see a breakdown of what kind of contribution to the I-Club gets you seats in the purely white section on the opposite side of the arena from the student section? There isn’t one because nobody wants them. It’s no wonder why that side of CHA looks like a teenage wasteland most of the season.
Look, I understand that I graduated seven years ago, but I don’t think much has changed from when I was passing out free tickets out on the Pentacrest. It still comes down to this: If I was a new student and was iffy about going to a basketball game, would the hope of winning a $100 lottery, some soft serve ice cream (if you choose to miss an entire half to wait in that line) and some dodgy seats behind the basket get me to go more than once? What’s the hook when I could just as easily stay home and have the best view and overcharge that same $100 on my U-Bill and just ignore my Dad’s phone calls when he finds out and wants to talk about it?
“But Jerry, other Big Ten teams draw fans and have an electric atmosphere at their basketball games in winter. It can’t all be about the seating arrangements?”
Are you sure?
I know. I know. That’s not fair. The Spartans aren’t on the same playing field as Iowa.
But, would you say that Illinois is? I would:
That’s a premier college basketball power house and a program that compares very fairly to Iowa that aren’t losing any of their season ticket holders OR pissing off any of their donors by putting their students up front and center; which, I will take this to my grave, are all reasons I’ve personally heard from Iowa’s Athletic Department as to why Iowa’s students are shoved into the corner and not, at least, behind the benches.
To get students to come and fill up your stands (and change your home court advantage) you have to have a real focus on fan engagement. Involve the students and season ticket holders alike. Hear what they have to say and allow them to see the change. Leverage social influencers that are in and around Iowa City to make basketball games look like an event that cannot be replicated or duplicated by staying in your house/dorm/apartment and watching on TV.
Try something different. Try something.
Ugh. Sorry. This is a sensitive subject in my house.
Q: Stanley throws for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns with 10 int’s. Fant has a 1,200 yards and 9 Touchdowns. Who gets more national attention and do they both leave?
You know who gets national attention?
If both of these things happen, the Hawkeyes are going to be headed to Indy and knocking on the door for a playoff appearance. I have no doubt in my mind. Now, in terms of the individual notoriety, I’m going to go with Nate Stanley. While, at first, I agreed with Chuck Longs Mom saying that “Iowa QBs will continue to get looked past until the make noise in the NFL”, I think it would be completely different for Stanley if he were to have a season in which he hits 3,000/30 and launches Iowa into the Top-10 for the majority of the season.
While Iowa hasn’t had much success developing NFL-level talent in the past, it’s not like Wyoming or UCLA or Texas Tech or UNC are the model of NFL quarterback consistency.
Nate Stanley, at least right now, seems different. He’s already getting some love as a first round talent. And because the NFL is a quarterback league, a season like the one you mentioned above would put Stanley on the ESPN/NFL Draft QB carousel all season long.
Tight end play is great and it gets me pretty jazzed up. But nothing is better than having a future Top-15 NFL talent as the one that feeds that very tight end.
Q: Let me paint you a picture: Iowa is down by 10 at half during the 2018 B1G Championship game. If you can only have 1 fictional motivator pump up for our guys at halftime, who would it be and why?
Right away... and I’m talking RIGHT A F***ING WAY, I dug in with my fingah nails for Pacino’s “Life’s a Game of Inches” speech. That one is and always will be one of the ultimates.
But then I remembered Will Patton’s “WE WILL BLITZ ALL NIGHT” speech and how he completely dismissed his Hall of Fame induction to win a football game against a racist because in that moment, that’s the only thing that mattered. Just watching it over again made me want to get in my car, drive 100 mph all the way to the gym and do 1,000 squats.
Just the way he says, “I don’t want them to gain another yard” so calmly, while his eyes are borderline psychotic. It’s mesmerizing. It’s thunder. It’s perfect.
But, of course, this isn’t my answer for what speech would amp up a bunch of boys from Iowa. No sir. What they need is the G.O.A.T.
A guy that made a living giving underdogs that nobody believed in a mental dose of real life pre-workout, straight, no chaser:
If this doesn’t make you want to drop kick a gorilla in the face and also make you want to be the best damn human on the face of the earth, I don’t know what will.
Q: How much do we need to pay Phil Parker to continue mentoring lockdown corners? He quite obviously has an eye for talent and a knack for turning that talent into guys that OC’s have to game plan against.
WHATEVER IT TAKES.
Phil Parker might be one of the most underrated coaches that have come through Iowa and the Big Ten. He’s been an integral part of this team for a long, long time, and, like the Black Mamba, only getting better with time.
If you haven’t read Scott Docthermans’ profile on Parker on The Athletic, you need too now.
Q: Who will have more 47 yard plays this season: Fant, or Rastetter?
Are we even sure that Rastetter is going to see the field at all this year after averaging, what, 37-yards a punt last season? I’ll take Fant and Stanley connecting on a few of those Go-routes up the seam that they missed on last season.
Q: How do you feel about being geographically closer to Rutgers?
Q: How excited are you for that first snow in Philly?
I’ve spent a lot of time between Philly and the lovely shores of New Jersey since moving here. I don’t think I’ve seen more than, say, two pieces of Rutgers paraphernalia during my travels and downtime at the beach. Penn State? So much. Like, way too much if I’m being honest. I got so tired of hearing about Penn State at work, I’ve not only rented an AirBnB at a horse farm in State College, but I’ve also printed this bad boy out:
That’s 10 feet of pure American glory.
Rutgers is such an afterthought, even here, that I often forget that they are even in the Big Ten.
As far as my excitement for winter, I’ll say this: After spending nearly six years in Florida, I’m currently wearing a quarter zip in my office. It’s 72 degrees in here and 92 outside. I have an honest to goodness chill in my bones so bad that I have to walk into our warehouse and take a lap just to warm up.
Q: Please rank the following: Casey’s, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, Wawa.
I’ll be frank with you. Wawa doesn’t belong on this list. One of the reasons I was wanting to live in this area is because of Wawa. I probably go there five times a week and I’m not even joking. It could be for a half pretzel, a hoagie, gas, a Siptopia Milk Shake, coffee or cash. It doesn’t matter. I love this place.
Where Casey’s, Kum & Go and Kwik Trip are gas stations first and convenient stores second (How often you feel like you have to go into those places?), Wawa is a Convenience Store, Food Market, Coffee Shop and Fuel Station all in one. And sometimes, it’s not even a fuel station. There are literally Wawa’s up and down Pennsylvania without a gas station attached.
So, if I had to rank them, I’d go with Wawa, Casey’s, Kum & Go and Kwik Trip.