There's no FCS in 'Big Ten'. The big takeaway from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's appearance at the conference's preseason media spectacular: The days of FCS pushovers are coming to an end. Delany announced that the conference would stop scheduling opponents from the former Division I-AA starting in 2016, in an attempt to improve the conference-wide strength of schedule to improve the chances of a conference champion making the College Football Playoff.
"I think that's responsive to what the College Football Playoff committee is looking for," Delany said. "It took a little while to get here because of schedules and expansion. But all of our coaches and players and athletic directors are committed to this platform. We think it's what our fans want. We think it's what our players want. And we think it's what the College Football Playoff committee wants."
The proposal itself isn't surprising -- Delany first proposed a ban on FCS opponents way back in 2013 -- but the statement that "all of our coaches and players and athletic directors are committed" raised some eyebrows among the BHGP staff. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta previously said he would request an exception which would allow Iowa to play UNI as an in-state foe. That, apparently, is off, and UNI's athletic director is not too happy about it.
Iowa has games against North Dakota State (2016) and Northern Iowa (2018) already contracted, and all indications are that those contracts will be honored. Iowa has Wyoming and North Texas contracted for 2017. But what of schedules after 2018? Barta has repeatedly said that Iowa must play seven home games each season. The nine-game Big Ten schedule, combined with the required home-and-home with Iowa State, means that Iowa will have to find two FBS opponents each season that will not require a return trip, which won't be cheap. Maybe we can convince Bob Diaco to make us a rival.
"I Didn't Come to Iowa to go 7-6." Media Day is the year's best opportunity to get overly optimistic about your football program. Everyone thinks they have a chance if things break the right way, every coach and player are excited to get started, and pretty much all of the assembled press doesn't really want to rock the boat.
And yet, when I read what Austin Blythe said, I can't help but think OMG WE'RE GOING 11-1:
"I didn't come to Iowa to go 7-6,'' Blythe said. "There was some complacency at times last season, times when we took things for granted and thought maybe a loss was OK. It's our job as senior leaders to do something about that.''
"It's about the way we approach things. It's never OK to not give 100 percent,'' Blythe said. "Things have changed around our team. It's a new look.''
The leadership issues on last year's team came up with Jordan Lomax and Drew Ott, as well.
"The big thing was that [Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey] led by example, on the field and off,'' Lomax said. "They were committed to turning things around and we're committed to doing the same. The way things ended last year, that's not acceptable. That's not what any of us wants our legacy to be about.''
"Everyone is on the same page now,'' Ott said. "I'm not sure we could say that last year. The leadership on this team is very different. We've worked since January to get it together and that's happening. That's where it has to start - with all of us.''
The seasons where Iowa had leadership issues -- 2006 and 2010, in particular -- ended in late-season meltdowns. If that's what was going on in November last year (and let's face it, that Minnesota debacle doesn't happen if there isn't some sort of leadership issue) then Iowa might well have a chance with a new quarterback and senior leadership.
He's Got Eggs. He Knows How to Chew Them. Drew Ott was the story of Big Ten Media Days after eating a raw egg, shell and all. It was...well, it was disgusting, and yet it was also kinda awesome and emblematic of a football program that remains steadfastly old school.
One the story got back to Bristol, the Drew Ott Egg Challenge became a thing. ESPN college football analyst Brad Edwards gave it a shot, though they cut away before we could determine if he completed the challenge.
Jemele Hill got into the act, as well.
It was pretty much the best thing to ever happen on ESPN between 10 and 3.
Mike Gesell threw out the first pitch at a Quad Cities River Bandits game over the weekend. The Bandits were playing Wisconsin, so the opposing shortstop probably bodychecked him during his windup, then complained to the referee.
BT Powerhouse recaps 2014-15 Iowa basketball. You had us at "This was a really good team that did not get the appreciation it deserved last season."
The women's basketball team, fresh off a Sweet 16 appearance, is back to work in preparation for a tour of Italy. No, not the Olive Garden dish.
Iowa native and Hawkeye fan Troy Merritt won the Quicken Loans National Sunday, his first PGA Tour win. It's the second PGA Tour win by an Iowa native and Hawkeye fan in the last three weeks. Go Iowa Awesome.
Do you want an insanely optimistic preview of the season? Turns out you can find what you need on a visit to Orlando.