For college football fans, the summer months can often times drag on in anticipation of a new college football season. And while I would recommend getting outside and enjoying nature or taking interest in baseball or soccer, I certainly can't blame you if you still just can't wait for that first college football Saturday to be here. In the meantime, to try and assist in feeding the collective football appetite of my fellow Hawkeye fans, I present to you a chart:
Iowa Football: 1899-2013
Well, technically, I just presented you with two interactive charts that you can toggle back and forth between at your own discretion. The first chart simply shows the number of wins every season for each football team that Iowa has fielded since 1899. Now, you may ask "Didn't Iowa play their first varsity game in 1889? Why 1899?" Because this was the dataset that the always amazing Sports-Reference.com gave me. Now, they vary from year to year based on a number of things. Obviously, teams play more games nowadays than they used to in the past, so that gives them the opportunity to rack up more wins. That means you can't definitively say that 2002 Iowa was better than 1958 Iowa because the more recent version won 11 games compared to only 8 by the older squad. Brad Banks and company played 13 games in 2002, while Randy Duncan's gang played 10. Not to mention, that these are entirely different eras that aren't directly comparable.
The second chart plots the same Iowa teams from 1899-2013 based on their points per game vs. their points allowed per game. This also comes with a disclaimer because, like with win totals, scoring has changed drastically over the past century. Forest Evashevski and his Wing-T offense was one of the most dynamic in all of college football in the 1950s and yet his highest scoring team only averaged 27.20 points per game. No other team coached by Evy eclipsed that 27 point per game norm. Meanwhile, Kirk Ferentz, whose teams have not exactly been known for their explosive offenses, has had 7 different teams that have averaged at least 27 points per game during his time in Iowa City. In other words, you can't directly compare scoring from today to past eras. Also, points per game is a flawed statistic, but points per play is not available dating back to 1899. Also, while Sports-Reference does list a metric that gives an idea of how difficult the strength of schedule that Iowa played every year was, none of the scoring totals are adjusted for the level of competition. Just keep these things in mind.
With those caveats aside, these charts are fun to just hover over and see what you can find that you may not have known or may have forgotten. Each one of these data points can lead you down a Wikipedia wormhole that will be sure to suck you in until Iowa kicks off against UNI on August 30th. I'll give you a few of the interesting things that I found while perusing these charts.
- John Chalmers was the lone head coach at Iowa from 1903-1905 and went 24-8 in those three seasons. He was obviously something of a hot commodity and must have been snatched up by a football powerhouse of the time like Harvard or Yale, right? Not exactly. According to Wikipedia, Chalmers left in 1906 to set up a law practice in Dubuque, Iowa. He still coached football at Columbia College (today known as Loras College) and later Dubuque University until 1924. Though Chalmers was still at Iowa for the 1906 season, Mark Catlin was considered the head coach. Chalmers had one foot out the door in 1905, hoping to set up his law practice in Dubuque, but Iowa convinced him to stay one more year and assist with the transition. It should also be known that Chalmers coached a little bit of baseball and basketball during his time as football coach. What an interesting career.
- The 1931 team, coached by Burt Ingwersen, went 1-6-1 overall and averaged a whopping 0.88 points per game. No, that's not a typo. That team mustered less than 1 point per game, while giving up 16.38. How that team won and even tied a game, I have no idea. But their only points of the season came in a 7-0 win against George Washington, while their tie came in a 0-0 affair against Indiana in what was surely a football game for the ages. Unsurprisingly, this was Ingwersen's final season as the Hawkeyes' head coach. It should be noted, however, that this terrible season was the result of Iowa being punished for recruiting violations during the previous decade.
- Clem Crowe coached Iowa in 1945 on an interim basis, as Iowa's actual head coach, Eddie Anderson, was off fighting in World War II. That team went 2-7, scoring 8 points per game and giving up 34. They were not very good.
- Frank Lauterbur's 1973 team gave up the most points per game out of this entire dataset. That year, the Hawkeyes' opponents averaged 36.45 points per game. Iowa went 0-11 in 1973.
- Despite his 0-11 1973 campaign, Sports-Reference's Simple Rating System (SRS) actually puts Frank Lauterbur's 1971 1-10 Hawkeye squad as the worst of the past 114 years. They scored 11 points per game, gave up 35, and finished 9 points below the average 1973 NCAA football team in SRS.
- For some positive history, the 1913 team, under Jesse Hawley, scored 44.29 points per game and gave up only 7.29. They finished the season 5-2. Their wins weren't very close, and their losses were only a little bit closer.
- Some of the scores from older games are pretty awesome. As evidence for this claim, the Hawkeyes defeated Coe College 92-0 in 1908. They would later go on to beat Northern Iowa 95-0 in 1914.
- Alden Knipe was a pretty damn good coach. His 1899 team went 8-0-1 and allowed only 0.56 points per game. He followed that season up by going 7-0-1 in 1900. Unfortunately, his defense was absolutely porous, and gave up almost three times as many points as the season before (1.50 per game). Amazing.
- According to SRS, Evy had the four best Iowa teams (1960, 1958, 1956, and 1953) during this period of time, relative to the college football landscape in which they played. By SRS, the 1960 team was 26 points above average and the best team in the country. They also had the toughest strength of schedule in the country. The 1958 team wasn't far behind, as they were 25 points above average and also the best team in the country while playing the second most difficult schedule in the nation. They were also voted National Champions by the Football Writers Association of America.
- The best Hayden Fry team ever, based on SRS, was the 1985 team. Quarterbacked by Chuck Long, that team rated out to 16.5 points better than the average college football team in 1985. That was good for 8th in the country.
- Meanwhile, the best Kirk Ferentz team, as judged by SRS, was the 2002 team. That team rated out to just under 16 points better than average.
That's probably enough. There's plenty more Hawkeye history that can be discovered by looking at these charts and then going and digging around on the internet. Those are just some of the things that stuck out to me, so go filter by coach, AP rankings, points per game, etc. and then go get lost in your own Wikipedia wormhole. And don't forget to leave your discoveries in the comments section. Hopefully this will help those of you suffering from a long case of the summers get through these next couple of months. Don't worry, college football season will be here before you know it.