[Vince McMahon Walk]
WWE is making its way through the upper Midwest this week, and stopped at Des Moines' Wells Fargo Arena last night. And one of you magnificent bastards came through huge:
The GO IOWA AWESOME sign is the best thing to appear on WWE television since SummerSlam.
The Second Amendment
We've reached new levels of Nicholas Baer-related puns, following the walk-on forward's 19-point performance against Tennessee Tech last night (so proud of Adam going with a Christmas theme instead of building a story around hibernation). The scoring outburst on Tuesday came just two days after a 13-point, 7-rebound line against Drake.
But there's an obvious long-term story in play: Now that he's an established contributor for this program and the de facto sixth man on the Iowa bench, will Nicholas Baer get a scholarship? Baer says it doesn't matter to him.
"That's not really a concern right now. Nothing is going to change in the immediate future. So that's not a conversation that I think I'm going to be having anytime soon.
"But maybe when the season ends. But right now, we're just focused on the next game."
McCaffery acknowledged that Baer should receive a scholarship earlier this week. The only problem: Iowa doesn't have one for this year or next, and would need a defection to open something up. Regardless, Baer's improvement will have an obvious effect on Iowa's recruiting going forward, because he's not staying as a walk-on for the next four years.
Can't Rock the Body Without the Body Clock
Kirk Ferentz participated in his pre-Rose Bowl radio call-in show Tuesday. Between calls from Tommy and snarky asides from Dolph, he dropped a small bit of news: Iowa is practicing at night in preparation for Stanford.
Awkward moment. KF had to haul tail to practice. Dolph, on the air, kind of escorted him out, saying pointedly, "Coach needs to get to practice, we have to let him go."
Iowa's practice schedule has been a much-ballyhooed part of the Ferentzissance, with both players and coaches citing the Hawkeyes' move to morning practices as a big factor in improving the team's sharpness. Shifting away from that might be easier now that classes are finished, but it's still surprising.
The rationale: The same thing that was discussed by Jeff Long when dismissing Stanford's early loss to Northwestern, the infamous body clock. Iowa has struggled for 30 years with West Coast games, the most recent example being the 2010 loss to Arizona that extended deep into the night. And while the Rose Bowl kicks off at a completely reasonable 4 p.m. God's time, Iowa still has a week on the West Coast and the jet lag that comes along with it. Starting the adjustment at home is one of those smart details that Iowa didn't really address until this season.
Jennie Lillis and the Watson Twins
Iowa women's hoops beat Drake 89-76 at Carver Hawkeye Arena last night. Head coach Lisa Bluder used to coach Drake, and former Hawkeye Jennie Lillis (now Jennie Baranczyk) is the current head coach of the Bulldogs. And Bluder hates everything about this game.
"I wish we never had to do it," Bluder said of playing Drake. "I honestly don't know why we play this game. I really don't. I don't like playing against my former players. I don't think it's good for any reason. Why would you want to beat somebody that you really care about and really love?
"I cheer for Drake every single game except for this game. I have no desire to play Drake. We have everything to lose and nothing to gain by playing Drake. So it's not a game I really enjoy at all."
Obviously this isn't just about an annual in-state game against a dangerous-but-relatively-unknown opponent, but it's also dangerously similar to how we ended up with the Big Four Classic, an acknowledgement that this might not be the best use of Iowa's limited scheduling resources. And with Iowa making a not-so-subtle move toward the next level in women's hoops, there could be a change to the series coming soon.
If you thought Iowa was satisfied with making the Rose Bowl, think again (autoplay video, so turn down those speakers). It's just another version of the UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT meme underlying the entire season.
In Caring is Creepy news, four-star 2017 running back Eno Benjamin surprised just about everyone by declaring Iowa as the current leader in his recruitment. Benjamin, who hails from Wylie, Texas, doesn't have a ton of offers so far, and other teams could jump in. But for now, Iowa might finally have a chance of cashing in on Levar Woods' airline miles into Dallas.
Elsewhere, two Iowa commits picked up new in-state scholarship offers this week. Defensive end Cedric Lattimore finally got his much-anticipated Michigan State offer (he says it doesn't change a thing), and tight end Shaun Beyer picked up an offer from Iowa State (his mom could barely stifle her laughter). Much ado about nothing, other than confirmation that Iowa's decisions on offers were probably pretty good.
Remember the Punt Flag? Courtesy of a Hawaii fan at last night's game against UNI, we now have the basketball equivalent: The Time Out Towel.
Michigan defensive end Mario Ojemudia, brother of Iowa freshman defensive back Michael Ojemudia, is done with college football after failing to get a medical redshirt. Why it matters: Ojemudia was knocked out for the season with an Achilles tendon injury on October 3, one week before Drew Ott's season-ending knee injury. It could be an uphill battle for the Egg Man.
Former Hawkeye Carl Davis took his teammates with the Baltimore Ravens out for dinner this week. It cost him the gross national product of Mauritius:
Rookie dinner. Smh pic.twitter.com/8PPV4GOeNG— Trenchwork94 (@Carldavis94) December 22, 2015
Mike Hlas previews the Rose Bowl with the former athletic director of Iowa and Stanford, current Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. It's the biggest guest that Hlas has gotten for his podcast since I was on it.
Our friend Peter Berkes breaks down the 1991 awesomeness that was Super Play Action Football, the first football game in which players ran a 40-minute 40 yard dash. Yes, I had that game. Yes, I played a hypothetical season as Two Lanes.
Need a late gift? Smart Football lists his favorite books of 2015, a list that's light on actual football. You could also just buy Smart Football's second book for everyone you know. Or, better yet, you can send your favorite woman to the Iowa Ladies Football Academy and help out UI Children's Hospital.