It’s been nearly a decade since BHGP commenter The Director took to the FanPost to educate us all on some Hawkeye history - the good, the bad and the ugly. Over the next few weeks as we prepare for football season, we’ll be revisiting these history lessons as they truly are great reading. The following was originally posted on December 20th, 2015. You can read the original here: A History of Iowa Football, Part X: Two Kirks, One Bowl.
All parts of this series can be found here:
Anybody remember the last game Iowa played in 2012? (no cheating and looking it up, bub!)
Hint: It wasn’t a bowl game (and that should tell you something).
Another hint: It was a rivalry game.
More hints: We lost. At Kinnick. The game involved this ugly-ass thing:
It was rather cold out that day. Everyone felt full from having eaten a certain type of cooked poultry the day before.
We were kind of a bad team that year. Everyone was mad at Kirk, too, since we’d just lost our sixth game in a row.
And yet we only lost by a TD--and it ‘s really hard to remember this but it’s true--but we actually had a chance to take the lead and win this game in the 4th quarter.
Now here’s a REALLY good hint about this game, if somehow--and I don’t know how anyone could still not know what I’ve been referring to--but if SOMEHOW you’re STILL not sure:
IF YOU STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT GAME I AM REFERRING TO PLEASE SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION
In the 4th quarter we had a chance to take the lead but naturally we shit the bed and lost to #14 Nebraska 13-7.
We led this game into the second half, 7-3. We got 69,000 fans to show up on a cold, blustery day to watch us cap the 2012 season with a loss, leaving us 2-6 in the Big 10, 4-8 overall, yet they came all the same. (1) Nebraska was a good team, the win made them 10-2 on the season.
In other words: maybe it wasn’t as bad, truly, as it seemed at the time. A made kick here, a different bounce there, and maybe we could’ve won a couple more games, and gone 6-6, and at least made an appearance in a (meaningless) bowl someplace.
Maybe a place that used to make a lot of cars before it became the Murder Capitol of the World. (fingers-crossed!) (2)
But that’s not how we fans looked at it at the time. Here’s what Kirk Ferentz said after that game:
”Nobody’s happy about where we’re at. We fully realize we have a lot of work to do right now.”
This is what the Iowa faithful heard: “Coach-speak, coach-speak, coach-speak, bla bla bla.”
The fact that Iowa got a delay of game penalty coming out of a time-out, and then, with 5 yards added on for the penalty, we missed a field goal--well, that didn’t help dispel the notion that our coaches were perhaps not amongst the leading experts in their chosen profession. However, our coach was a leading expert in how to get iron-clad beaucoup-buck contracts from certain baby-faced Athletic Directors. (3)
It was about this time that Iowa fans started getting out their calculators and boning up on their math skills. It was about this time that a certain compound word entered the Iowa fandom lexicon with startling frequency.
That word was: “Buy-out”.
So when 2013 began, it was with some trepidation. I recall the first game of that season, and it was against a team we had some history with: Northern Illinois.
We’d beaten a very good NIU team the year before for our signature win of the season. In 2013, though I was cautious about our chances, my prediction was that we’d take down the Huskies just like the season before.
SOMETIMES PEOPLE GET IT WRONG, OKAY?
I recall that I was REALLY demoralized when we lost that contest 30-27, which I recall was clinched in the wrong direction when Jake Rudock threw a late pick.
The next week we beat Missouri State, which I have absolutely no recollection of and nothing to say about. Why talk about MizzStU when you’ve got ISU on the docket the next Saturday?
You know, I’ve often thought of the ISU game as the first real test of the season. If we beat them, we’re liable to be pretty good. And if we don’t, we’ve been exposed as poseurs. That only makes sense, right?
But if you look at some of the Iowa-ISU games dating back, that’s often not true.
For example: in 1978 we beat ISU, who was pretty good, but we ended up being terrible (4-7). In 1981, when we went to the Rose Bowl, we LOST to ISU 23-12. In 1982, when we won the Peach Bowl, we LOST to ISU 19-7. Then we caught fire and beat ISU about a hundy times in a row, proving nothing, until ISU started to beat us even when we were good, all over again: 2001, 2002 (famous game we all want to forget), 2005 (23-3 loss!), 2007 (ISU won only 2 other games that year, we won 5 other games), and 2011 (the 3 OT game).
There were a lot of seasons when we were demonstrably better than ISU, yet they beat us, sometimes even at Kinnick, and sometimes even kind of badly. (4)
My point is that it’s not entirely accurate for people to think that hey, if we beat ISU we’re going to have a good season, and if we lose to them, then it’s:
With that in mind, we did beat ISU in 2013 by the score of 27-21 and, while it may not always be predictive of the rest of the season, who gives a shit: WE JUST BEAT THE FUCKING CLONES MAN!
That’s all I’m trying to say. As Groucho Marx once said: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” In other words: just enjoy the cigar, don’t try and make a penis all out of it.
A win is a win is a win.
How we won that game was often how we won most of our games that season: Mark Weisman rushed for 148 yards, Damon Bullock for 50, Jake Rudock was 14-23 for 160 and 2 TDS, and the defense kept everyone but “Bundage, Q” bottled up, noting that “Bundage, Q” caught a whopping 146 yards of passes that day (all, I’m sure we said at the time, against slow Iowa LB-ers).
I also remember that we were coasting with a 27-7 lead into the late stages when ISU scored 2 TD’s and made a game of it, pissing me off, and bringing out a common Ferentz criticism:
”Why can’t we put people away, gol-darnit!”
The ISU game was the season in microcosm. We beat Minny 23-7 with Weisman going for 150 and Bullock for 50. (even I had not realized how uncanny those numbers were, compared to the ISU game, until I looked at the box-scores). Jake was 15-25 that game for 218 and 1 TD.
We then had a couple of games that reminded me of a battle from olden times:
And other than the fact that Goliath won both of those battles against we Davids in 2013, the outcome was exactly the same. For those who care, I’m speaking of losses to MSU and OSU in successive weeks that year.
BUT, even in those losses we had bright spots (before Goliath cut off our head and hung it on a spear for all to mock).
We led MSU at half before we wore out and folded, but against Ohio State--and even though we lost eventually--we rejoiced when we saw that a force had been unleashed, a force almost Biblical in nature, that we thought would someday become unstoppable and make the faces of our opponents melt un-canningly as if they were made of wax (5):
Without saying his name, can you guess it after the next picture, which shows his eventual fate?
Got it? No? (probably Yes, but play along)
Alright, here’s the answer, if you promise not to cry when I post it:
Oh, Jake, whither art thou? Tight End Jake Duzey entered Iowa Hawkeye lore that day by catching 6 passes for 138 yards, including a spectacular 85 yarder to tie the game 24-all late in the 3rd Quarter in the Horseshoe where, amazingly, he seemed to be the fastest man on the field.
And then, in 2015 Spring Drills, the human knee showed why, maybe, running as a biped wasn’t such a good idea after all.
So what happened to Jake? Well, I hear that top men are on the case. TOP. MEN. (6)
So we followed those two losses with a VERY satisfying win over NW at Kinnick (any win over NW, by definition, is a VERY satisfying sort of win), then we dropped a game to Wisky in Kinnick, and then beat Purdue.
We then had a bye week, which ended in a scoreless tie. However, at the time--had we known it--we would have spent the bye week resting up for the parties that would follow the next 2 weeks because....
....WE THEN BEAT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN AND NEBRASKA IN SUCCESSIVE GAMES!
Here is a representation of how this made me feel:
REMEMBER, THIS IS JUST A REPRESENTATION OF HOW IT MADE ME FEEL.
At the time, I don’t think it even dawned on me how important that event truly was at the time (beating UM and NU in a row, not seeing The Wiggles in Concert), since it would never, ever have occurred in any of the seasons of my childhood. But really, beating 2 traditional powers like that in a row is always a big deal. ALWAYS.
Here’s how we did it. Against UM, Weisman gained 92, Canzeri had 53, and Jake went 19/30 239 with 2 TD’s. Against NU, Weisman ran for 80, Canzeri for 59, and Jake went 9/15 for 126 (I recall he had to come out of this game for injury, and CJB took over, even scoring on a bootleg once).
So yes, the pattern set by the ISU win stayed true for our offense: Weisman will run for 80-130 yards, his back-up will run for 50, Jake will hit on about 55-60% of passes for 1-2 TD’s, and the defense makes enough stops to win.
All very workmanlike and simple. (7)
The result of this consistency and balance was that we went 8-4 in the regular season, beating all of the teams we were better than (except for NIU), and losing to all of the teams we were expected to lose to. All in all, a pretty satisfying season.
And then we had that rematch bowl game against LSU that was...kind of a dud.
We kept things interesting enough to warrant an end-of-game onside kick attempt, and lost only 21-14, but really we were never fully in this game. Even without their 1st string QB (who is now in the NFL), LSU had a formidable offense as their RB ran for over 200 yards, whereas we mustered no offense at all until Jordan Canzeri came in, in the 2nd half, and even then, we rather sucked eggs at it.
I loved this Iowa team, its grit and pluck and consistency, but let’s get real: if LSU had Zach Mettenberger healthy, that game would have looked like this:
HINT: WE ARE NOT THE BOMB ANSWER:LSU WOULD HAVE BEEN THE BOMB
We would have gotten our asses handed to us in a sling, truly, so we dodged a bullet (?bomb?) there. Someone who did not dodge one was our (almost) defensive star of the game, John Lowdermilk:
The dropped object in question luckily did not result in a touchback, and LSU did not recover the ball, but Lowdermilk spilt an interception onto the ground at the 1 yard line as he sauntered into the end zone, in about the most embarrassing almost-pick 6 a person can think of, followed by an unbelievably lengthy replay debate that, really, should have included an intermission for the thirsty and hungry to satiate themselves:
THERE SHOULD BE A TWELVE-PACK OF SCHLITZ IN THIS PARADE
Fortunately for “Chowder-milk” (does anyone call him that? If not, they should start) Weisman punched it in from the 1 and it didn’t much hurt us. (8)
All told, we had a solid if unspectacular 8-5 season--but with a lot of our starters returning, I think there was a ton of optimism for 2014. A TON of optimism.
If only we’d known what was about to happen in 2014, we could have been better prepared for it:
ARMAGEDDON IS A LOT EASIER IF YOU COME PREPARED
Yes, expectations were high in 2014, with a bunch of student-athletes good at football returning to the squad: Rudock, Weisman, CJB, Canzeri, Ott, Duzey, Powell, King, Trinca-Pasat, Carl Davis, and a behemoth Outland Trophy-ish beast known as Brandon Scherff
We started out 2-0 and then, naturally (and it WAS an omen this season), we lost to ISU 20-17 in Kinnick. I admit, we lose to ISU waaaaaay too often, and waaaaaaay too often in Kinnick. How much was that buy-out again? (9)
We then won three in a row, and talk of outrageous coaching contracts receded for a time, as we were now 5-1 and about to play the Terps in College Park, MD. It looked like we were likely to go to 6-1 as we jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead in that one, when......
A couple of fumbles and a pick 6 later, and suddenly we were behind 38-21. (10) Our offense became Jake Rudock slinging the ball all over the place (he threw 56 passes that afternoon!) and we lost. More than that, we looked pretty bad doing it, too.
The next week was a respite from what would turn out to be a spiral in a downward sort of direction when we destroyed NW 48-7 in a world-class Fitz-kicking at home in everyone’s favorite win that season.
YES, THIS HAS BECOME A THEME
If I spot you the “S” and the “H” and the “T”, could you guess what word described the manner in which the defense played the rest of the season?
Against Minnesota the next week (11), we give up 51, then a brief shining moment of glory with only 14 to the Illini, but then the spiral again with 26, 37, and then 45 against Tennessee in the WhoCares Bowl that could have easily been 60+.
For Iowa fans used to Parker-esque (mainly Norm, sometimes Phil) stinginess from our defense over the years, this was unusually painful to witness.
Oddly, while a lot of people criticized the defense, there was one player who seemed to be falling farther and farther out of the good graces of Iowa fans, and that was Jake Rudock. Looking at the stats (and these games were all losses), it is not immediately apparent why this occurred, since he was 20/30 against Wisconsin for 311 yards, and 32/56 against Maryland for 317 yards, and against ISU he was 16/24 for 146 yards. Most games, even in some of the losses, Jake’s stat line didn’t look all that bad.
We had another QB named Jake at one time (Christensen), and he also produced statistical QB anomalies. For example, both Jakes were pretty careful with the football. In 2014, Jake R had only 5 picks against 16 TD’s. Jake C, in 2007, had only 6 picks against 17 TD’s. Jake R completed 61% of his passes in 2014, and had a QB rating of 133.5 (noting that CJB’s was only 129 in 2014). Much like Jake C in 2007, you saw one type of Jake R game on the field, and read about another type of Jake R game in the box score
How can this be?
Because a box score is devoid of context. When Jake threw a pick, it was usually a killer pick (NIU, Maryland). When he missed a wide-open receiver, it was in a salt-it-away-okay-maybe-not situation, like his missing a wide, wide, wide, wide, wide, wide, wide open Damon Powell against Nebraska, a pass that, if caught, surely results us winning a rivalry game at home. Jake R was many positive things, but he turned out not to be the kind of QB a team like Iowa, a team that (by philosophy) operates under razor-thin margins absolutely needs:
Iowa needs a QB who is CLUTCH. And Jake R wasn’t, not in 2014. (12)
So we limp into the TaxSlayer Bowl (truly, bowls should not be named after the Superheroes of Accountants) where we got DESTROYED by Tennessee where--even with CJB now starting--this happened:
WHY EVEN BOTHER WITH WHEELS IF THEY ALWAYS END UP FALLING OFF?
I’ve been watching Iowa football, on TV and in person, for longer than most of you have been alive. So listen when I say this, and listen good:
GET ‘OFFA MY LAWN!
No, wait, that’s the other thing I say. When it comes to the 2014 Taxslayer debacle, I have to say this:
I NEVER SEEN SUCH A DEMORALIZING PERFORMANCE BY AN IOWA FOOTBALL TEAM IN ALL MY BORN DAYS.
And that includes having seen the famed 0-11 1973 team, and Ferentz’s first sucky team in 1999, and Comming’s last sucky team in 1978, and so on.
Now: GET ‘OFFA MY LAWN!
Then, of all things, Kirk Ferentz, for the first in the history of (his) ever, decided to keep us all in suspense until the last minute, waiting until January 2015 to name his QB for the 2015 season, a whole human baby’s length-of-gestation away in September 2015 (that puts it in perspective, doesn’t it? A lady could have gotten preggers the day Ferentz named his 1st string QB, and delivered before the opening game that fall).
BTW, that QB was CJ Beathard, and not Jake Rudock. (13)
Amazingly and really I believe truly 100% coincidentally, Jake Rudock then announced he was transferring to Michigan to be the QB for incoming Michigan
nut-job coach Jim Harbaugh.
Rudock, the most famous pre-med student in the history of medical education not to have yet been accepted to a medical school, apparently found a
loop-hole grad program Iowa did not offer that Michigan did, and was allowed the transfer with immediate playing time, given that rule that somehow only we never seem to be able to take advantage of.
The result was that our back-up to CJB was now a non-pre-med student that nobody ever heard of (his name was Tyler Whats-his-name). Still, CJB was a talent (according to all of the fans, even though his QB rating was never as good as Rudock’s), so I (and a few others) were admittedly a little nervous about CJ taking the reins for 2015.
Well, we all know how THAT turned out! CJB only led Iowa to 12 straight wins this season, wins that are so fresh in our minds that it’s pointless for me to dissect them in detail in this already lengthy tome (it’ll have to wait), but during that run the old adage that “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” came true for Kirk Ferentz:
Which was said by some old Italian guy named Vince, who is probably about as unknown and irrelevant as that anonymous elderly black gentleman who handed that MVP trophy to this awesome dude:
Well Vince, whoever he was, was right, because with Iowa winning, Kirk Ferentz (and his minion, Gary Barta) managed to divert any and all attention from the insanity of Ferentz’s contract, because when a guy gets his team to 12-0 and a top five ranking, words like “Buy-out” and “Where’s that moron Barta” suddenly lose all meaning.
A lot of people look at 2015 as the year of “New Kirk”, the coach who goes 12-0, as compared to “Old Kirk”, the coach who limps along with a lot of 8-5 or 7-6 (or worse) seasons. They point to changes in his staff, like bringing in some of the “cool kids” like his son Brian, who knows how to work the Twister feed and all the Facebooking and Instograms. (14)
Others point to Ferentz “opening things up”, like naming CJB as 1st string QB a full human-baby-gestation before the season starts, and playing more freshmen, and telling Jake R to not let the door hit ya’ where the good Lord split ya’ on the way to
Ann Arbor Mordor.
And others point to Ferentz attending a coaching seminar at a university famous for its flamboyant uniforms and its fantastic facilities, known for its use of the color green (and yellow):
THIS IS ACTUALLY A PHOTO OF EUGENE, OREGON. IT IS NOT THE EMERALD CITY, A COMMON MISCONCEPTION.
Some say that this “New Kirk” must have killed the “Old Kirk” in a dual to the death, and that’s why we’re Rose Bowl bound at 12-1. Or maybe it was a Gollum/Smeagol sort of thing. Or kind of like that guy(s) in FIGHT CLUB.
However, if you remain confused about the dual nature of the two Kirks, here’s a helpful primer, courtesy of STAR TREK:
HELLO, I AM OLD KIRK. I PUNT FROM THE OPPONENT’S 35 AND NEVER GO FOR IT ON 4TH DOWN.
I AM NEW KIRK. I SOMETIMES GO FOR IT ON 4TH DOWN. I ALSO PLAY TRUE FRESHMEN SOMETIMES. STANDING NEXT TO ME IS SOME POINTY-EARED HOBGOBLIN WHO HAS NO ROLE IN THIS STORY.
But don’t confuse either of the above Kirks with this guy:
I....AM......KIROK! I GO FOR 2 IN THE FIRST QUARTER, I RUN A LOT OF WILDCAT, MY OFFENSIVE LINE IS IN WIDE-SPLITS, AND I GO 5-WIDE WITH MY RECEIVERS ALL THE TIME. I...AM....KIROK!
I can see the confusion one might have between the Kirks/Kirok.
But there’s not nearly as much difference between Old Kirk and New Kirk as there would be between New Kirk and Kirok. In fact, as the season wore on, the only difference I could see between New Kirk and Old Kirk was that New Kirk was winning every frigging game with a team that had terrific chemistry, whereas Old Kirk was sometimes stymied by teams that had talent (2006, 2010, 2014) but caustic team chemistry, or just plain bad luck in close games.
But no matter which Kirk you’d prefer (15), or really want, or think we now have--chewing gum and scribbling on a clipboard all game long, which all the various Kirks/Kiroks would do--the only Kirk that matters is this one: the one who wins.
I WANT THE KIRK WHO WINS.
And no matter which Kirk we have, or want, there’s one bowl that any of the Kirks would want to drink from, and that is this one:
....AND THIS BOWL WILL BE FILLED WITH RABID IOWA FANS AND NOT......HOW CAN I SAY IT....OTHER STUFF NORMAL PEOPLE DO NOT DRINK, NOT FROM CUPS OR BOWLS OR ANY OTHER VESSEL.
How did we achieve such a lofty position compared to prior, perhaps more talented Iowa teams? One thing is chemistry, as I’ve said above. In particular, the ultra-talented 2010 team had terrible chemistry, as evidenced by the defense just laying down against Minnesota in TCF Bank Stadium (Adrian Clayborn admitted as much after the game). But there’s another reason, and it’s easy to see.
Here are Iowa’s commits for 2011 who are playing/played some (this is their 5th year):
Duzey (whither art thou?), Canzeri, Krieger-Coble, Hillyer, Lomax, Cooper, Walsh, Fisher, Spears, Plewa.
Notable washouts: Coe, McCall
Transferred to the Big House: Jake Rudock
Here are the 2012 guys (4th year):
CJ Beathard, Sean Draper, Drew Ott, Greg Mabin, Tevaun Smith, Faith Ekakitie, Jaleel Johnson, George Kittle, Nate Meier. Nine guys who have seen the field a ton.
The washouts/transfers: QB Cody Sokol was one. RB Greg Garmon was another one, who you might remember had some trouble that put him at risk for transfer to a different kind of “Big House.”
Here are the 2013 guys (3rd year):
Boettger, Daniels, Jewell, Desmond King, Mitchell jr, Jonathan Parker, Vandeberg, Wadley, Welsh, Bazata.
Notable washouts/transfers: Willies (the big one we might really miss), Spearman, Shimonek.
And here are the ones from 2014 (2nd year):
Parker Hesse, Josh Jackson, Matt Nelson, Ben Niemann, Dillon Kidd (JUCO), Miles Taylor, Tyler Wiegers (hasn’t played much yet, but still has an important role).
Notable washouts: Too lazy to figure it out, maybe too early to tell.
In sum, you have a solid 7-10 signees for these four classes contributing this season, with the washouts not likely to have made a big difference (except maybe for Willies). And, of course, you also have walk-ons (like Adam Cox) and others that I may have missed (the lists I found are not necessarily complete).
But it’s a good mix. There’s a half-dozen 5th year guys who got hurt or red-shirted their freshman year, there’s a bunch of 4th years and 3rd years who are the core of the team, and there’s a few younger guys seeing increasing playing time. Maybe I’m wrong, but I recall some years where we seemed to have lost a lot of upperclassmen (some of our Senior classes have seemed very small and devoid of inspirational leaders), and other years where we were really Senior-heavy, with no one to replace them. What you want is balance, and the 2015 team has it.
To my mind, the accomplishment was to finally assemble the kind of team KF works with best: a mix of responsible upper classman leaders to set the example for the newer guys, with the newer guys being very solid players. And with a QB who is pretty clutch and, by all reports, very well-liked.
The coaches all seem to be on the same page for once (heard that was the problem with “Soup” Campbell, who was not on the same page as
Gerg Greg Davis), with the promotion of Brian Ferentz notably working out well with the running game. That’s how a team with maybe a little more talent last year tanks a bunch of late season games, and how a team with better leadership and chemistry starts out 12-0 this year, even despite some pretty big injuries. (16)
It’s been a great run, hasn’t it? And next year has all the makings of another tremendous season. I’ll be back to comment on 2015-2016 someday.....but not for a while yet (think years, not months).
Until then, here’s a sentiment we can all agree with:
FOOTNOTES. LOTS OF FOOTNOTES:
(1) Strange, isn’t it, that Iowa drew 69,000-70,000 consistently in 2011-2012, yet in 2015 we hardly sold out a game? Even when we were 8-0, 9-0, 10-0 there were still seats to be had. Just how good do we have to GET to consistently sell-out Kinnick any more? Theories abound about tailgating crackdowns, parking hassles, and so on, but I think it comes down to this: Why pay $50+ a seat to watch a game you can see for FREE at home? It’s that simple. If a ticket cost $25, there’d be 70,000 every single game. But that won’t happen. Even Northwestern charges $50+ a seat.
(2) Detroit, of course. I think it’s no longer the Murder Capitol of the World, but that’s only because there’s nobody left in the city of Detroit to kill.
(3) Barta, who followed Bowlsby, who followed “Bump.” I don’t know who is going to follow Gary Barta, but I’m going out on a limb and say their name will have something to do with a “B”. Also: did you know that Bump Elliot once coached the Univ of Michigan? For NINE whole years, including a Rose Bowl win in 1964. He was also an excellent AD who made some great hires for the Hawkeyes (Lute Olsen and Dan Gable foremost among them).
(4) Yeah we all know that Hayden used to beat ISU all the time, usually 50-something to about 7, and that Kirk has a losing record against ISU (which is still a strange thing to realize), and yes I find it annoying, and yes I cannot stand ISU, I hardly ever root for them except maybe when they play an elite B12 team and then it’s only because I don’t like the B12 overall, or there is a B12 team ranked ahead of us that I want to see lose.
These days, I’m of a mind that we want to play ISU only 2 out of 4 years, which would make the game much more special, and open up the schedule to play another team the other 2 out of 4 years (like an SEC team, maybe?). But I’m not in charge, so....
(5) I mean, those faces melted amazinglysimilar to wax, I mean, almost indistinguishably so from wax. It’s almost as if their faces had been made entirely of wax!
A note: You might think people would enjoy being informed in a movie theater that “For your information, those melting faces are just made out of wax!” but you would be wrong.
(6) Jake Duzey suffered a significant knee injury in Spring Drills earlier this year, and while it is nice that people have such faith in the medical profession these days to make everything all better, it did not prove to be the case with our Tight End Ark: Jake is still not 100% back to where he was before the injury, he’s not going to be the big star we thought he might be, and it’s a real shame, since he seemed to have tremendous “upside”.
To his credit, he is still out there, playing and working hard, and I congratulate him for that, coming back so soon after a big-time injury. In fact, Jake having any role at all on the 2015 squad is a testament to his loyalty and commitment to this team, since a lot of players might have just called it quits by now.
LITERALLY LAST SECOND NEWSBREAK: Seconds after I posted this, news came out that Duzey hurt his knee and will miss the Rose Bowl. This sucks for the young man, he deserved to see the field in that hallowed stadium. I feel for him.
(7) “Workmanlike” was the right word to describe the play of Mark Weisman. But we had a tendency to work him too hard in some seasons (2012), and then he would get dinged up, and in 2014 I still maintain that the problem was in playing him as a halfback when he should have been moved back to fullback, but used more often than usual for a FB, playing next to a fleeter halfback who could also catch passes, thus keeping the defense off-balance, and making us a lot less predictable. But does anyone listen to MY ideas?
Never again after this:
(8) Lowdermilk was initially a victim of mild hot-dogging, when he dropped the ball too soon crossing the goal line, and then next season he was a victim of good sportsmanship when, having caught a sure pick 6 at the end of a blow-out, he elected to kneel down rather than score. So, I guess the lesson is: Some people will never get their pick 6, no matter what.
One other note about that LSU bowl game: Jake Rudock was not near-100% physically, and really should not have started, since he was hobbled and basically immobile. I don’t know whose decision it was to leave him in and not sub with CJB early on, but I thought it was the wrong one at the time. Same with not going to Jordan Canzeri more in the first half; we kept giving it to Weisman who just went nowhere repeatedly. Just a couple of mysterious decisions, to my mind, about that game.
(9) I think it was upward of $20 million at one time, but as we get closer to 2020 the amount goes down, of course. At this point, I think KF is safe, no matter his record between now and 2020. The REAL question is: what will happen in 2021?
(10) I was watching this game at my mother’s house, where we were staying for the weekend, and I remember very vividly how quickly it seemed to go downhill for the Hawks. One minute I was thinking we were going to blow them out, the next I was hoping we would not get 50-pointed. It was a long drive home later that day.
(11) During the Minnesota game (which was an away game), I was stuck at a planning retreat for work, so I watched the game on DVR when I got home. I stayed ignorant of the score during the whole retreat, and then turned on the DVR to watch the game. I bet I got that game watched in under 5 minutes, since I skipped through all of the bad stuff, and there only seemed to be bad stuff. When I put down the remote and saw we’d given up over 50 to Minnesota, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief. And then I broke out the Scotch.
(12) Jake had some clutch wins in 2013, but in 2014 he wasn’t clutch enough. And Iowa needs a clutch QB who can do a few key things near the end of games, like a) get first downs to run clock, and b) see and hit open receivers so you get first downs to run clock, and c) basically do what it takes to possess the ball and run clock.
KF’s philosophy is simple: reduce the game to as few possessions as possible, keeping it close, then somehow win it in the end. And if you can’t get first downs because your QB can’t a) find or hit open receivers, or b) improvise and get game-salting first downs, you’re going to lose more than your share of close games. CJ is just a better fit for Iowa’s game-time philosophy, it’s clear now. Jake R turned out to be a pretty good fit for UM, and personally I’m happy for him. Maybe not for Harbaugh, but I am for him.
(13) I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know, and I don’t think we’ll ever know the whole story of what happened, whether it was CJ/CJ’s dad threatening to transfer, or Jake seeing the writing on the wall (which said: “You are not starting”), or a combo of both, but I’m certain there’s a story to tell. As in: did Kirk know BEFORE he named CJB starter that Jake was thinking of transferring? Hmmm.....
(14) Brian was certainly smart enough to know that, when you play Wisconsin in Kinnick Stadium, you don’t hand out red and white pom-poms. Unfortunately, not everyone is as smart as Brian.
(15) I sit around a lot of fans who really, really want Kirok.
As far as the dual Kirks is concerned, the Evil Kirk and Evil Spock seemed to be a helluva lot more fun to hang with than the Good Kirk and Good Spock. At this point, Gene Roddenberry needed to spin-off Star Trek into two series: “Star Trek: Good” and “Star Trek: Evil”.
I know which one I would’ve watched: Evil Uhura had killer gams.
(16) Losing Drew Ott was huge, like season-changing huge when it comes to playing elite teams like MSU. And losing Jordan Canzeri was huge, too, especially against MSU. It was a real testament to this team that they led MSU until the last 20-odd seconds without those two guys. What a tense, thrilling game that was! I was there in Lucas Oil with my wife and youngest daughter, and it was, without a doubt, the most fun game I’ve been to where we lost, and also one of the most nerve-wracking. At one point, my wife turned to me and said, “I’m so nervous I think I’m going to throw up.”
And she was serious (I scooted a little to the left in my seat, just in case). My stomach hurt the whole game, and only stopped hurting when we got back to the hotel (on second thought, maybe it was the White Castle Sliders we’d had down the street from Lucas Oil). Walking back to our car, my daughter couldn’t talk about the game without starting to cry.
But isn’t that what Iowa football is all about? Feeling alive, whether joyous or sick to your very guts, and with your family by your side? I’ve seen 0-11 and I’ve seen 12-0 and everything in-between, snuck into games as a little kid and paid thru the nose for seats as an adult, had my heart broken and had it soar. I’ve even seen a four jet-fighter Kinnick Stadium flyover by looking straight ahead--not up!)
Yet some people say: wouldn’t you rather be an Ohio St fan and go to Nat Champ games?
Are you KIDDING me? Winning a Nat Champ game would be awesome, but as to the thrill of it, the sheer pleasure of the victory, I guess I don’t think it’s really all that different than when we beat Purdue in 2002, or Ga Tech in the Orange Bowl, or Tate-to-Holloway in Orlando, or 1985 #1 vs #2. It’s the same feeling, just in a different context, and from a different perspective.
You know, the only thing you really get, winning NC’s, is bragging rights for a time, and Iowa fans ain’t much for bragging anyway, not compared to most. And boy do the OSU and UM and OU and ‘Bama fans get spoiled but quick! Remember when OSU lost a couple of NC games in a row? How crazy their fans got all about it? I can tell you this: that’s not for me. When you lose a NC game and you want to fire the coach? Nuts. Just nuts. Like this Les Miles business, I don’t understand that mentality, of firing a coach after a winning season, just because they didn’t get to an elite bowl game. You think I want to follow a team like that? Or a team that cheated to get recruits, like Miami or USC?
No, I’m sticking with Iowa, thank you. It’s family to me, when it comes to football. You might change jobs, you might move, but you will always have that one special spot set aside for your family that cannot be moved or changed. And I will always love my football family. And that family is, and forever will be, an Iowa Hawkeye one.
Hey, I’ll see you in a couple of years! Until then: GO HAWKS!