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You’ve Got Mail: Celebrity Sitings, the NFL Draft and New Hawkeye Sports?

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We’re touching them all on this Friday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Holiday Bowl - USC v Iowa
Daviyon Nixon is surely not smiling this much about the NFL Draft.
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You ever have a week where things just totally get away from you? One of those weeks where you feel like you can’t catch your breath and then all of a sudden you wake up and it’s Saturday morning and you have no idea what you accomplished? That has been this week in the PinIC household.

It’s a super busy time at the day job (the one with real money involved, anyway) and as always seems to be the case, ALL three of the little PinICs came down with something this week. No going to school. No baseball. No soccer. No friends. No nothing. Just three kids under 6 with fevers, sore throats and lots and lots of time on their hands to need mom and dad.

Fortunately, it wasn’t COVID and it wasn’t strep throat, but it still has been... less than ideal. The same can be said for Daviyon Nixon’s NFL Draft experience, which leads us into the first question of the week.

Draft

Which Iowa player do you think landed in the best situation to succeed, not the best team just most favorable playing time/develop into a pro bowl type player, after the draft?

- hawk85eye

The 2021 NFL Draft was pretty wild from an Iowa Hawkeyes perspective. A couple months ago, if you had asked just about anyone who would be the first Hawkeye taken, it would have been unanimous. Daviyon Nixon was expected to be the first one off the board and it wasn’t really close.

Then he wasn’t. He started falling down draft boards on a less than stellar pro day and rumblings about off field incidents from his early days at Iowa. We never really heard much about those until draft time, but they were apparently enough to have a number of teams back off. The result? Not only was Nixon not the first Hawkeye off the board but he wasn’t the second either.

His landing spot, ultimately, was with the Carolina Panthers and I think he will be fine. He was a total steal there and given his pure talent, he’s going to make his way onto the field. But it’s not like he’s walking into a starting role and Carolina invested a top-10 pick on starter Derrick Brown last year.

I like the opportunity in front of his defensive line-mate Chauncey Golston much better. Golston heads to Dallas, who just let Aldon Smith walk (and his future is now in question). The Cowboys currently have Randy Gregory listed as a starter, but his history indicates he may not necessarily be available for all 17 games next year. DeMarcus Lawrence is there and it’s not an empty roster, but Golston is likely to be in the rotation right away with an outside shot at earning a starting role this year.

But the one who I like the best is probably Ihmir Smith-Marsette. We all saw what the Minnesota Vikings did with rookie Justin Jefferson a season ago and both he and running mate Adam Thielen are still there, but beyond that it is wide open for ISM.

We know Smith-Marsette has his own shortcomings, but he has breakaway speed and as a third option on the field he’ll be able in single coverage against a nickel corner most of the time. I trust offensive coordinators not named Brian Ferentz to find ways to keep him clean off the line and in space he can be a problem. If nothing else, he’s got a shot to be an electric return man, but I think we have our first shot at an Iowa WR actually making an impact in the NFL in some time.

You’re right, the Garzas are great

Here’s a question – what’s the most memorable encounter you’ve had with a Hawkeye during or after their time at UI (besides this story)? I don’t really have a good one, though I have had a couple very pleasant interactions with Gary Dolphin and a few players’ families at bowl game festivities.

- iowaexport

Despite residing in Iowa City for coming up on 15 years now, I have a pretty limited number of interaction stories that are worth sharing. I see Kirk Ferentz relatively regularly as we frequent the same Hy-Vee Starbucks (I remain amazed by the number of people that feel compelled to buy the multimillionaire his $3 black coffee) and he is a genuinely good human being (don’t tell his neighbors, apparently), but it’s not exactly some exciting story.

Probably the most interesting interaction/time I’ve had with a Hawkeye is with the legend that is Mitch King. This was a couple years after we both had departed the University of Iowa and when he was with the Colts. My wife’s best friend had moved to Indianapolis and by some happenstance ended up meeting King while there despite never meeting during their time in Iowa City or growing up a mere 30 minute apart.

Things went well enough that they became an item (they are no longer) and one weekend they came back to Iowa City to visit. Being that we were still pre-kids and just recently post-college, we still acted as young 20-somethings and got together to pre-game before going to do what 20-somethings do in downtown Iowa City.

Iowa Hawkeyes v South Carolina Gamecocks
The guy certainly knows how to have some fun.
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

King was very cool about putting up with my fan oogling and questions about the draft process, the NFL and everything in between. But perhaps the most interesting part was spending time in public with a local hero. It really changes your perspective on how these guys handle themselves. People were ALL over him ALL night. I don’t think he paid for a drink all night, but I also don’t know that he had more than 5 minutes to just hang out with his friends. I can’t imagine living like that for any period of time.

Men’s sports

Any chance that Iowa will add any men’s sports in the future, such as lacrosse or rugby? After this year, Iowa will have only seven men’s varsity sports, fewer than any other team in the Big Ten. Does the conference require a minimum number of varsity sports to be offered?

- IamSparty

The short answer? No. As was pointed out in the comments already, Iowa is cutting sports on the heels of the lost revenue last year thanks to COVID-19. After they eliminate Men’s Gymnastics, Swimming & Diving and Tennis, Iowa will only offer 8 total varsity sports - tied with Maryland and Northwestern for the fewest in the conference.

Image via Wikipedia

As disappointing as that is, it’s not likely to change much. Gary Barta doesn’t seem to care how much money is raised to save any of those sports and the athletic department has already taken a loan from the school after historically making annual payments back to the general fund and fully funding the entire department through football.

Shelling out more money for new sports is not likely and is notably constrained by the need to balance any new men’s scholarships with equal women’s scholarships.

The caveat here is Iowa just announced a new University president and with that changing of the guard, it’s easy to see our beloved Barta potentially looking to hang it up in the not so distant future. In that world, you could make the case for bringing back, say swimming and diving with the existing (and nearly new) facility already a sunk cost.

Beyond that, though, you need to add a women’s sport and financially that’s a problem right now. That could be aided, if say Iowa opted to start selling alcohol at events, upped ticket costs or donation requirements, or got a little creative with things like pay to use Wi-Fi service or (I know this is wild) photo and autograph sessions with players and coaches (with revenues split with the players if, say Iowa decided to not put it’s schools at a disadvantage to places like Alabama, Florida and Texas by passing a NIL bill).

Even then, though, the only sport to add on the women’s side (assuming they brought back swimming & diving first) is lacrosse. That comes with only 12 scholarships so you have to get creative. An easy way to do that would be to go outside the official Big Ten sponsored women’s sports and do something like women’s hockey. Say, there is that fancy new ice arena in Coralville that the volleyball team plans to use...

Dinner

If you were able to select one Hawkeye great (player, coach, etc), living or dead, to have a 2 hour one on one dinner and conversation with, who would it be and why?

It’s Gable for me, but there’s a LONG list of really good options there.

- benvious

Man, this is a really tough one. You’re absolutely correct there are some GREAT options here. For me, I think I’m going to take a bit of a cop out here and say a lot of those guys I would put on my “grab a drink with” list. Thinking of guys like Norm Parker, Hayden Fry and even someone like Bruce Pearl (I want to know where the bodies are buried).

Irving Weber was mentioned in the comments and that would surely be a hell of a conversation, but I don’t know that I could say with a straight face that I would ever choose someone other than Nile Kinnick. Just so much there between the on-field excellence, the potential career off the field and of course the tragic end.


That’s it for this week, folks. Thanks for waiting and if you’ve made it this far, go ahead and tap that “grab a drink with” list and get to it. Happy Friday and Go Hawks!