We may need to adjust the cadence of these posts going forward for a couple reasons. First and foremost, we’re approaching the official kickoff to Kinnick in the next week or so and that means more content you all care more about than my opinions. The second is the solicitation for questions does seem to generate conversation, but often times at the expense of questions being submitted.
This week, we only had three or so questions submitted via the comments, so we’re in an “abbreviated” format. That said, these were some really good ones and frankly, each could be made into a post of its own. So apologies for not being very brief in the “abbreviated” format.
Three Up, Three Down
Iowa’s had a first team all conference basketball player in 6 of the last 8 seasons:
who’s the most likely to have that distinction next year and what will it require for him to get there?
First and foremost, that’s a pretty remarkable feat given where this program was when Fran arrived on campus and the complete lack of talent on the roster. Whether through solid recruiting or development, Iowa has indeed had a slew of players who are among the conference’s best. They’ve also had a player make the All-Freshman team four of the last five years.
To me, if Iowa is going to land a player on the first team for a seventh time in nine years this winter, there are two possible scenarios.*
The first one is a pessimistic outlook. One where Iowa really struggles offensively and relies on their most capable scorer even if it’s via volume. It’s not outside the realm of possibility given the complete lack of shooting ability currently on the roster. In that potential scenario, Jordan Bohannon is easy to envision as a player who just dominates the Iowa offense. He’s capable of carrying the team when he’s hitting outside shots and without anyone else able to do so, he may well be asked to do that a LOT this season.
The second scenario is much more rosy. Despite the shooting deficiencies, Iowa does have a lot of weapons and more athleticism than we’ve seen on the roster in some time. There are several guys who can create their own shot off the dribble and the aforementioned Bohannon can step up to take over a game. The added athleticism and quickness in the backcourt should make perimeter defense better and for as great as Luka Garza was, the pick and roll defense out of the post should be improved.
The guy who ties it all together is Keegan Murray. He was the All-Freshman selection a year ago and while it may be asking too much for him to make the leap to 1st Team All-Big Ten, he has the skill set to do it if things go just right. He’s got the size to defend in the post, the athleticism to be a backside rim defender, the quickness to defend pick and roll, and his offensive game has a little bit of everything as well. If Iowa lives up to its full potential in 2021-2022, Keegan Murray is going to be your favorite Hawkeye.
*I continue to run on the assumption there is no chance Joe Wieskamp returns. If there is some major shocking development on that front, he would of course be the easy choice.
My son lives in Oxford, MS. Ole Miss averaged almost 9,000 attendance at games in 2019, before the pandemic. Of course, they play in the South where baseball starts in February under sunny, mild skies. Northern teams are always going to face that obstacle with the current college baseball season. I have long advocated moving the season back to practice starting March 1st and games in April-May-June, with the CWS in July, but the Southern schools oppose this for obvious reasons.
My question is this: What additional men’s sport would have the best chance of building success and a following at Iowa? Ice hockey, lacrosse and rugby have little or no play at Iowa high schools, so Iowa would have to recruit almost exclusively out of state. Soccer?
I’m woefully under qualified to give any sort of opinion on what the state of Iowa is producing in terms of high school talent outside of basketball and football. My knowledge really only comes from following Hawkeye recruiting closer than I should so it’s not like I pay close attention to high school sports across the state (that will surely change as my own kids get closer to that age).
Having said that, soccer does seem like the low-hanging fruit. Of all the potential sports to add, it’s probably the most cost effective. The equipment needs for a soccer team are pretty low and because Iowa already has women’s soccer, there isn’t much needed from a facility standpoint. The state does have it at the high school level so you have some sort of built in recruiting base. So I think the sport would have a decent shot at success and there are rabid soccer fans in this state who would support it.
But I actually think hockey could do pretty well. Not like Minnesota or Wisconsin well, but those states are right next door and we could surely load up on their leftovers. I also think with some level of funding and support, which this fanbase is clearly capable of, they would have little problem poaching recruits from currently successful but lower level programs.
There’s already a brand new ice arena in Coralville the university is already using for volleyball and to me, that truly opens the door for hockey sometime down the road. I doubt given the current budget crisis we see the athletic department venture into really any new sports, but particularly one with the equipment needs of hockey. But if they did, the added women’s scholarships could go a long way for Title IX and I do think the men could be successful even without a substantial number of high school programs in the state.
Maybe this has been hit on before, kiddingly, but perhaps endowment is the way to go. How much does a non-revenue program cost? How large would an endowment have to be to cover that cost? Would the “John & Jane Doe Family University of Iowa Men’s Tennis Team” be a bad thing if it secured the team’s future?
Frankly, I’m shocked we aren’t here yet but fully expect to hear something on this front before too long. Barta has been quick to sell naming rights on just about everything (hello, Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena) and with the introduction of the Michigan State Rocket Mortgages or Michigan State Spartans presented by Rocket Mortgage or whatever it was, I’m sure those wheels got turning.
If they are going to add naming rights to say, an entire team name, I do actually think the corporate route is the way to go. Having something else thrown in there already sounds like you sold out (you did) so why not maximize the dollars for it?
With an endowment for naming rights, you only get to sell the rights once. It’s been a while since I was in endowment world, but as I recall the minimum to establish one is ~$50,000. That won’t get you naming rights, however. That’s in the multiple millions of dollars. The intention is the initial gift stays intact with the investment returns covering a payout of ~4.5% plus inflation.
The math there should tell you the size of the gift needed to match an annual sponsorship is pretty big. For example, earlier this spring the UI announced the head football coaching position was going to be endowed by the owners of the World’s Largest Truck Stop. That’s a bit misleading, I believe. The donors handed over $10M with $5M to an endowed football fund, $3M for football and other athletics at the discretion of the AD and $2M for the Kinnick Edge project. Well, 4.5% of $5M isn’t paying Kirk Ferentz’s salary any time soon. And you aren’t able to monetize those rights again (unless maybe there is something totally out of the ordinary like say a casino mogul doing some things after getting a building named after them).
With a sponsorship, however, you can lock in an annual payment for a set period of time (and I have to believe MSU got millions, not hundreds of thousands) and then re-sell those naming rights at the end of the contract. The Case-IH Iowa Hawkeyes has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Maybe the Iowa Hawkeyes, presented by Principal Financial?
As I said, each of these could likely be their own topic in a stand alone post. Would love to see opinions from the community so drop yours in the comments below.