A KIRK IN SPRING
Iowa held its spring football-opening press conference Tuesday afternoon, as sure a sign that winter has broken as the groundhog not seeing its shadow. The big news items:
- Linebacker Ben Niemann, running back Derrick Mitchell, and cornerback Greg Mabin will not play this spring due to injury. Those injuries, which Ferentz said are largely lingering from last season, are added to offensive lineman James Daniels and cornerback Joshua Jackson, who were ruled out at the January press conference.
- Note that the list of injuries does not include C.J. Beathard, who had hernia surgery earlier this year. He will be available; Ferentz said, "I wouldn't describe him as a hundred percent, but I think he's close now." With that said, spring exists in large part to get backups some quality time in front of the coaches. Don't be surprised if Beathard is limited for his own good.
- Defensive tackle Kyle Terlouw, a walk-on transfer from Iowa Central Community College who had bounced around the depth chart last season and played in nine games, decided against coming back for a fifth season of eligibility. Godspeed, sir.
- Iowa is still waiting on a Drew Ott decision: "No real update on Drew Ott. We're still appealing that. We've had some encouraging news from some other cases, a basketball player from Temple had a case similar to Drew's. Just learned actually yesterday about Case Keenum who is playing for the Rams right now, when he was at Houston he actually got a sixth year, redshirted one year, played three and then was injured in his fifth year and got a sixth year."
- The now-annual Des Moines open practice is set for the evening of April 8. Ferentz expected it would start around 6 p.m. at Valley High.
- Ferentz described Kelvin Bell as "recruiting coordinator," full stop. Bell counts against Iowa's assistant coaching staff, which has generally meant that he would hold a positional assistant role. That could remain the case this year -- secondary coach remains open after the transfer of Seth Wallace to linebackers coach -- or Phil Parker could be filling in so that Bell can work near-exclusively on the recruiting side. Watch spring for what he's doing.
- It looks line tackle Boone Myers is moving to guard as part of Iowa's "best five players" plan on the offensive line. Myers is also listed as a backup tackle, one of three walk-ons in the offensive tackle two-deep. Gun to my head, I'm expecting Cole Croston, Myers, Daniels, Sean Welsh and Ike Boettger across the offensive line on opening day.
- The money quote, on how Iowa is adjusting to sustaining success rather than building to it: "Every year is new. We haven't sustained so well at times. It really gets down to the same story. Every January you start over again.... The older guys, guys like CJ and Josey, if they play the way they played last year, it's not going to be good enough. We need them to play better, and that's true of all the guys that have played, and the guys that haven't played have to deal with the guys we've just talked about."
- No, Desmond King is not going to play on both sides of the ball, as was breathlessly reported Tuesday afternoon. Ferentz was asked if King would play on offense. His response: "I haven't thought about that. We'll have to take that to the drawing board." That's not exactly a ringing endorsement.
All in all, it was an uneventful press conference, which makes it like every spring press conference ever.
There was one significant omission from the spring roster: Defensive back Omar Truitt, who was picked up for DUI on February 14.
No Omar Truitt on the roster. He had a drunken driving arrest in February.— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) March 22, 2016
Ferentz did not address Truitt's status in the press conference, but about three hours after the presser ended, we got an ominous sign: Truitt's Twitter account crackled back to life with a retweet of a mixtape.
Certainly, it could be nothing more than an accidental click of the retweet button, but the timing, combined with the pseudo-roster news, are generally not good. Truitt, a three-star defensive back recruit out of Washington, DC, had committed to Iowa sight unseen. That's probably not ideal, and it might have just not been a good fit. Regardless, if the signs are correct, he becomes the latest mid-Atlantic washout at Iowa.
RUMOR HAS IT
Pitt head basketball coach Jamie Dixon left the Panthers to become head coach at his alma mater, TCU, earlier this week. One Pennsylvania native's name was quickly on the shortlist of replacements:
Names for Pitt could include Tim Cluess King Rice Matt Driscoll Kevin Willard Herb Sendek Fran McCaffery all could win all likely say yes— Coaching Changes (@CoachingChanges) March 21, 2016
It looked like Iowa had dodged whatever bullet this is late yesterday, when Pitt had reportedly offered the job to Arizona's Sean Miller. Those reports turned out to be false, and the Panthers' search continues.
With that said, it looks like McCaffery's inclusion on any list is the usual connect-the-geographic-dots from a coaching search site. Yes, McCaffery is a Pennsylvania native and played hoops at Penn, but his career has hardly built toward returning to Pennsylvania; he's coached in North Carolina, Indiana, New York and Iowa. He has two high school-age kids at West High and family in Iowa City, and the program looks poised to turn the corner on recruiting. And that doesn't even include that Iowa has more money and better facilities (and I'd argue lower expectations) than Pitt. I don't see it happening.
If his cryptic tweets are any indication, assistant coach Andrew Francis doesn't see it either:
Commitment is deeper than the words that come from your mouth or fingers. Fight for Iowa, we continue to fight forward for Iowa. Go Hawks— Andrew Francis (@CoachAndrewF) March 22, 2016
Former Hawkeye Melsahn Basabe plays basketball in Belgium. Yesterday was not a good day to be in Belgium.
Get Me Outta Here— Melsahn Basabe (@projectslimeHD) March 22, 2016
Hawkeye Report's Tory Brecht examines Iowa's basketball expectations and the program's fundamental issues. The dialogue could use more tiny pictures on the left, though.
Overall, comments from Des Moines' first shot at hosting the NCAA Tournament were positive, but the issues -- long concession lines, cramped concourses, lack of media space -- are endemic of an arena that is simply not big enough for the event. My guess is that it could be a while before the Tournament returns to Iowa.
The Pac-12, which got steamrolled in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, got all of those high seeds in no small part because it gamed the RPI. Of the obvious issues with this season's bracket, these are probably the easiest to identify and correct.