BLOODPUNCH'D. You have to tip your hat to Gary Barta: If you take out the Taxslayer Bowl, he's had a heck of a 2015. His two basketball programs each won a game in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001. His baseball hire has turned the program into a Big Ten contender in just two years and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years. Wrestling had a good season, if a disappointing postseason. And, despite howling protests from people like, well, me, he kept Kirk Ferentz and now has a potential playoff contender damn near selling out Kinnick Stadium.
Barta has more than enough ammo to quiet the haters. He's not really doing that, though.
Many would probably relish the idea of hitting "reply" to the Fire Ferentz crowd.
Barta understands that temptation, but said he's choosing the high road.
"Believe me," he said, "it's not an ‘I told you so.' ... Especially in today's world with social media, there can be so much external noise."
Make no mistake about it: New Kirk probably had some prodding from his boss. A 180-degree shift from "That's Football" to the guy who coaches this team today doesn't happen by accident, and the backlash was so severe and sustained that an internal change was required if no external change was going to be made.
There is, of course, the field hockey issue and the related lawsuits hanging over his head. But while it took an extraordinary length of time, Gary Barta has finally found an on-field stride to match his fundraising. Credit where credit's due: The man was right.
Regarding Mizzou. Obviously, the NO POLITICS rule applies here, and so we're not diving too deep into the situation at Missouri. Suffice it to say, this is not the first example of a group of players boycotting, but the speed at which it led to the resignation of the university president only reinforces the importance of the football program to the modern-day public university. On Thursday night, there was a one-man hunger strike and isolated protests. On Saturday, part the team boycotted. By Monday, the rest of the team and the coaching staff announced their support of the protests, and the president was gone by lunch.
As Mike Hlas writes, this is the same reason why Iowa's new president made his first on-campus visit to the football building:
Before Harreld got to know the rest of Iowa's student body, he went to the football team. He told them to take a leadership role in encouraging safety on campus for females, so at least it was a better message than "Beat Illinois State and make us proud!"
The Missouri protest got its goal on the same day that Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas was fired, due in no small part to allegations of player abuse in two programs, a scandal that already lost Tim Beckman his job. Players still make no money and have few rights, but yield enough influence that they can bring significant change to campus. And so, the question is: How far are we away from a general college athlete strike? Because it feels like that's just around the corner.
That's not a Chip on their Shoulder. It's a Boulder. Dear national media: You want to ensure that Iowa has the motivation to run the table? Keep talking about how undeserving they are of their record.
Yes, the national pundits will take more shots at the Hawkeyes heading into next week's game with Minnesota. Iowa's position in the National College Playoff ranking — No. 9 last week — will be scrutinized. Again.
Not that it matters.
"If we win out, there's nothing they can do about it," King said.
Ferentz doesn't care, either.
"We're not worried about a committee," Ferentz said. "We're just worried about the next game."
Does the coach laugh at the cynics?
"It wouldn't be kind if I said I laugh," Ferentz said. "I'm entertained by some things every now and then. But I don't spend a lot of time worrying about it, quite frankly. That's the reason I think we've been able to get to 9-0. The guys have done a great job of staying focused on what's in front of us. That's really all you can control."
The entire Iowa football program has been built for years on a have-nots mentality. It's a bunch of two-star guys who nobody else wanted, never more so than this season. Desmond King didn't get a Power 5 offer until a week before Signing Day. Josey Jewell, Akrum Wadley and Matt VandeBerg somehow got offers even later than that. Forty percent of the starting offensive line didn't get offers at all. And while they might not have the athletic talent of Alabama, they have had no lack of motivation this season. David Pollack's uninformed bullshit only adds to that motivation. No need to make him stop.
Wars of the Roses. Michigan State's loss improved Iowa's Rose Bowl chances exponentially; essentially, Iowa now has a better chance than anyone but Ohio State of finishing as the top Big Ten team not in the playoff, and with most picking Ohio State to beat Iowa and make the Playoff, Iowa's a natural choice for Pasadena. Jerry Palm puts Iowa in the Rose Bowl against Utah Both ESPN guys have Iowa in the Rose Bowl against Stanford. Jason Kirk has Iowa in the Fiesta Bowl, explaining that an Iowa loss at Nebraska and to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game would move them out of the Rose.
Can I Have Your Autograph? It doesn't have nearly the same hype as its football counterpart, but it's Signing Week for men's basketball. Iowa has a four-player class lined up, headlined by four-star forward Tyler Cook out of St. Louis. The remainder of Iowa's class -- forwards Cordell Pemsl and Ryan Kriener, and guard Jordan Bohannon -- all hail from Iowa. As Don Doxsie writes, it's the first time that Iowa has signed three in-state basketball recruits since 1994 (Ryan Bowen, Kent McCausland and Greg Helmers). And with three other in-state recruits already committed in future classes, it's safe to say that Iowa has locked down the state, which is basically the opposite of what we expected when he arrived.
Iowa posted the depth chart for Minnesota Monday. All four running backs are listed, which is kind of hilarious. Otherwise, nothing new.
The Blackout uniforms won't be unveiled until a couple of hours before kickoff. That sentence effectively sums up just how different Iowa football has been this year. Not only are there alternate uniforms, not only have they been promoted enough to build excitement among fans, but they're even milking the anticipation for effect. It's a brave new world.
Yes, it didn't count, but there are plenty of reasons for concern after basketball's exhibition loss to Augustana. Mostly this:
Good gracious the rebounding effort. The Vikings had somewhere between 100 and a bajillion second chance opportunities because nobody on this Iowa team though it wise to box out. Boxing out is all heart. It has nothing to do with skill, which is most concerning.
Iowa's rebounding has been called into questions all offseason, with players like Dale Jones and Nicholas Baer likely getting playing time just because they can grab a board here or there. This isn't a good sign.
At least one basketball team is getting it done in the exhibition season: The women destroyed Upper Iowa 95-41, and did it without Ally Disterhoft.
Michigan is hailing the return of "Iowa Rudock," which begs the question: What the hell has Rudock been doing this year?
Everyone is all-in this week: On the Banks says Rutgers needs to fire Kyle Flood, Testudo Times thinks Maryland might get Nutty.