Hawkeye fans, the holiday season is in full effect. The decorations are hung, the music is playing and everyone is scrambling to get those last minute gifts. And while this is the season of giving, our inner child is always compiling a Rolodex of ideas we’d love to unwrap for any occasion.
Rather than talk about literal gifts, however, we asked our staff for a few of the things they’ve got on their list for the world of Hawkeye sports.
So, here’s a little list, alphabetical, starting with Catherine…
The Hawkeye holiday shopping list is always a little difficult for me. On the one hand, I’m pretty content with how things are in Hawkeye land. I like finding the football team perennially on the fringe of the top-15 nationally. I like top-25 recruiting classes. I like a basketball team that’s exciting and for the last few seasons has been among the best in the nation. But on the other hand, it’s not hard to find yourself longing for more.
It does seem a bit greedy to start asking for things like a national championship or some big postseason run, because everyone wants those. So here are a couple more manageable things to pick up on the next trip to the store.
- I want Kirk Ferentz to remember what gave him the most success he’s seen in Iowa City and go back to it. That is, I want him to remember how goddamned fun it was playing with a mobile Brad Banks and go hard after a true dual threat QB that opens up an offense without the need to overhaul the existing playbook. Someone who extends plays, picks up hopeless third and longs with his legs and lets Iowa ground and pound without being predictable. I don’t care if that’s via traditional recruiting or the portal, I just want it.
- On the hardwood, I want Fran to go full Dr. Tom and press the living daylights out of everyone. This team is different from every other version we’ve seen under McCaffery and it appears as close to what he described when he was first hired. They’re long, but lacking a true center. They’re deep. And they’re athletic. USE IT. Use it a lot. Press in waves and use the strengths of this unit to generate points, create havoc and supplement the superstar in Keegan Murray.
- Lastly, I just want some usable cell service in Kinnick. We were promised improvements years ago and as a Verizon customer I can tell you in the east stands I am lucky to grab a single bar once I’m within a block of the stadium. If you’re not going to show me scores from other games on the fancy scoreboards, please just let me check them from my phone once over the four hours I’m there.
My Hawkeye wishlist is not that long. I figure you are more likely to get what you want if you aren’t greedy. [Even though as a kid I only asked for an Atari 2600 and never got it - thanks, Mom and Dad.] So here goes:
- I would like Tyler Linderbaum to come back and become a two-time Consensus All-American. He is so good it’s not even fair. I don’t expect him to return, nor should he, but hey, let’s start with the big one. #LindyForHeisman
- I would like Carver Hawkeye Arena to have the same atmosphere as Kinnick Stadium. Carver can get loud, but I want it to be rowdy. Teams come into Kinnick a little bit afraid. I’d love for that to carry over to the hardwood. I’m a basketball guy so I’m not referring to wrestling.
- I’d like a true quarterback competition that isn’t weighted 90/10 in favor of experience over talent. I’d rather take some lumps with a talented QB with moxie than play ho-hum, try-not-to-make-mistake football with a QB a step below a game manager. Brad Banks, Drew Tate, and CJ Beathard type guys are what we should expect from the position.
- I’d like “In Heaven there is no Beer” and the Iowa fight song to be the two official songs of the state of Iowa. Come to think of it, they probably are already. As always, Go Hawks!
- Men’s basketball making a tournament appearance. Just get to the tournament this year, a year after losing Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp to the NBA, plus CJ Fredrick
to tamperingand Jack Nunge to transfers. This would be an impressive accomplishment for Fran if he can pull it off. This also feels like a team that can make a run with the right draw. They have athleticism in the back court (finally!), multiple guys that can go nuclear, they’ll have the best player on the floor against all but a handful of teams, they’re a little better defensively plus they have that wicked 3⁄4 court trap...feels like no one would want to be in a draw with this Iowa team. Just don’t get blown out in the rebounding column every night and this is doable, you guys.
- 4-seed or better for the women’s team. The degree of difficulty just went up with the disastrous loss to IUPUI (not a bad team, mind you - they took Michigan to overtime - but you can’t drop that game when you lead by 15 going into the 4th quarter), but it’s still doable. They need Caitlin Clark to get back on track - her shooting splits are way down this year - and that could happen at any moment. If it does, no reason they can’t rebound and get a 4-seed or better in any region. Additional shopping list item, for a few years down the road - did you know Clark’s just shy of 1,000 career points already? In just 39 games played?? She has a shot at the all-time scoring record for Division I, though the games they’re losing to Covid could be costly in that pursuit (only 30 last year, then 9 this year with a couple of missed games already). They’ll have to make up for that lost time somewhere - have to play a couple of full seasons, plus a couple of deep Big Ten Tournament runs, plus regular trips to the second weekend of the tournament (or beyond) for this to happen.
- Spencer Lee to become Iowa’s first 4-time national champion. It’s the one thing missing from Iowa’s otherwise sterling reputation as a program. Several 3-time winners, but no 4-timers. That must change this year.
It is really hard to be upset with many things going on in Hawkeye sports. Over the last year or so we’ve been spoiled with some really good players and moments, but I still have a wishlist.
- Please find SOMETHING for the offense. Iowa football is so close. So close to achieving all the things Hawkeye fans never could’ve dreamed of achieving. Big 10 West champs. Ranked in the top 5 very early in the season. The GREATEST atmosphere at a game this year. This was all with a very very subpar offense. If the Hawks find a consistent offense for next season, we aren’t gonna be discussing a Citrus Bowl game, we’re gonna be discussing a NY6, possibly a playoff birth.
- Hawkeye basketball: the opposite of Hawkeye football. Please, find a defense. The best teams in the nation now are centered on defense. As much as I hate to say it, the guys over in Ames are starting to figure it out, even if it took way too long. In college basketball, defense wins championships. The last 2 champions, Virginia and Baylor, were top 10 in defensive efficiency, even while not great offensively. Defense will win you so many more games. Offense on its own can only take you so far, and I really hope Fran and co. can figure that out sooner rather than later.
- Brian Ferentz and Ken O’Keefe get better job opportunities! This one is self explanatory. I don’t wanna blame all of the offensive woes on them, but boy they haven't made it easy. We all know the issues with Brian, but the QB room has not done us any favors. The Hawks are well on their way to becoming an even more successful program, this could be the last step.
I’m horrible at asking for gifts but I’ve thought a lot about this one for Iowa football. I’m not talking about streamlining the way Iowa calls plays to catch up with like 95% of college football or implementing the pistol. I just want Kelton Copeland to be promoted to passing game coordinator. He is more than deserving after 5 seasons at Iowa and the Hawkeyes are decidedly in need of someone in the area.
He cradle-to-graved a real live NFL wide receiver from the University of Iowa in spite of all which holds back the position in Iowa City. The wide receiver room has seen genuinely insane recruitment despite failing to capitalize on said talent. Keagan Johnson & Arland Bruce IV were both 4-stars. If Iowa cannot make the most out of recruiting talent like them, can we really expect other highly rated WRs to choose the Hawkeyes?
The area where Iowa sorely needs help is where a role like passing game coordinator can elevate the offense. The route combinations are often disjointed from the run game while they rarely scheme guys open with consistency. Iowa does have some guys who can win 1v1 battles but it’s not a way to build an offense in 2022.
Plus, a promotion for Copeland would be in line with past staff moves. Brian was promoted to run game coordinator with arguably less credentials while Seth Wallace & LeVar Woods were granted the assistant DC & Special Teams Coordinator nods a couple seasons ago.
Iowa needs a jolt in the arm offensively and Copeland could provide that for them.
Happy holidays, Hawkeye fans! Let us know in the comments what’s on your list this year in the word of Iowa sports!