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DON'T SHOOT THE MESSENGER, EVEN IF THE MESSENGER IS COLIN COWHERD

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He's a doofus, but he's highlighting a gigantic problem for Iowa football going forward.

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I haven't spent much time on the apparent beef between Iowa fans and Fox Sports radio guy Colin Cowherd, mostly because the opinions of a basic cable talking head who pulls fewer viewers in a day than we do isn't really on my radar.  But Cowherd has reportedly said he would never rank Iowa because they don't schedule any top teams in non-conference.  Which, OK.

Cowherd points to Notre Dame scheduling Texas, while Iowa only played a team that shut out Texas.  He also said that Iowa played Lamar.  Iowa has never played Lamar.  Baylor played Lamar, and let Lamar score 31 points against Baylor, but I don't hear anyone saying they would never rank Baylor.  What I'm saying is, Cowherd's logic is slightly less than impeccable.

With that said, he is absolutely right about Iowa's nonconference schedule being soft and getting softer.  Prior to the advent of the nine-game Big Ten schedule, Iowa typically played two cupcakes (usually an FCS opponent and a MAC/Sun Belt lackey), Iowa State, and one comparable Power 5 team (the obligatory Pitt spot).  Iowa used to routinely schedule Arizona or Arizona State in that position, but has stopped in recent years because it doesn't like traveling west in September (games have to be played at night to avoid the desert heat, which means Iowa is playing into the wee hours of the morning in God's time zone).  Since Ferentz started at Iowa, the Hawkeyes have played the following power conference teams in non-conference games: Nebraska (2x), Kansas State, Arizona State (2x), Syracuse (2x), Pittsburgh (4x), Arizona (2x).  That's not exactly a murderer's row over 17 seasons, especially when you consider that the Nebraska and Kansas State games were scheduled under Hayden Fry.  Iowa hasn't played a ranked non-conference regular season opponent since going to Arizona in 2010.  The Hawkeyes haven't beaten a ranked non-conference regular season opponent since 2003.  That's some weak-ass scheduling right there.

It's only going to get worse.  With the nine-game Big Ten schedule starting next season, it's not the cupcakes that are being eliminated.  Iowa absolutely refuses to give up its seventh home game and has yet to show the creativity that Wisconsin and Michigan State have in neutral-site scheduling.  Instead, it's the Pitt game that is gone.  Because Iowa has to play Iowa State and can't schedule a home-and-home without losing the seventh home game, it won't get a Power 5 opponent in non-conference.

Iowa's refusal to give up that seventh home game for higher-quality opposition is going to bite the Hawkeyes in the future.  We have seen first-hand this fall that Iowa is simply not going to get respect from those that dictate the sport's final outcomes without a schedule full of quality wins.  The steadfast refusal to improve schedule strength in the eyes of the Committee because it won't let go of a few million dollars in hot dog sales remains the ultimate sign that the athletic department isn't serious about Iowa football becoming a perennial national contender.  If you want to be mad about something, be mad about that.