Saturday, August 20, 2011

Random Thoughts

With two weeks left until the opener, I figured it was about time to spend some time behind the computer and hammer out a few words and thoughts on the upcoming season, the various happenings around the Big Ten and college football in general.

Uncertainty.  With Iowa breaking camp today, my optimism does not match the optimism that many fans have prior to the beginning of the season.  It does not take an Iowa football fanatic to state the obvious that there are many holes on this team.  The biggest question, of course, is how well the new defensive line will be able to play.  Call me skeptical, but this unit is going to frustrate fans all season long.  Mike Daniels and Broderick Binns anchor the group as the only two returning starters, but neither one of them gives me the confidence to think that the defensive line can stop the run or create pressure the way Iowa fans have become accustomed to under a Norm Parker coached defense.  But Daniels was an animal last year you say.  Yes, he was impressive at times last season albeit against some of the weaker teams.  In eight Big Ten conference games last season, Daniels totaled 22 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack.  Not exactly jaw dropping numbers from someone who fans are expecting to fill in for Karl Klug, who by the way is getting looks at earning a starting position at defensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans.  We all know how disappointing of a season that Binns had last year, due in large part to the emergence of Daniels, but nevertheless, it was a big drop off from his sophomore campaign.  Dominic Alvis, the other defensive tackle listed in the initial two deeps to start fall camp is listed at 6’4 250 lbs.—not exactly a bruising body on the interior.  Carl Davis, the redshirt freshman that many fans were rightfully excited about given his 6’1 310 lbs. frame has supposedly not turned heads in practice and evidently lacks the mean streak that is required of that position.  On the end opposite Binns, Lebron Daniel is a complete unknown as a fifth year senior who has not seen sparse playing time in his first four years on campus. Perhaps true freshman Darian Cooper provides some spark to this unit, but that is a complete unknown. We all knew that the defensive line was going to be a question mark this season and that seven to eight would be shuffled in and out of the lineup, but I think given the inexperience and small size of this unit, Iowa fans are going to become very frustrated at the group’s ability to stop the run and create pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Record.  When it comes to fans and media members making predictions on this year’s team, I find it entertaining that when asked to give the win total on the season, the typical response is something to the effect of, “Well I could see them winning 9 games this season, but I could also see them winning 7 games.”  Way to go out on a limb on a deviation of two, folks.  Look, the schedule this year is very, very favorable for a young team that will likely have some growing pains, but it is just difficult for me to get my mind around this team winning 9 games.  Where things stand now, I see a 7-5 season with losses coming against Pittsburgh, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska.  There are two weeks until the opener, so maybe some additional reports out of camp will change my mind, but the aforementioned issues with the defensive line and an unknown at the second string running back position bother me to the extent that I think that Iowa fans will be seeing déjà vu in the fourth quarter of several games this season, which is to say that the Hawkeyes will keep it close, but will not be able to close out games.

The Circus. As you can tell by this point, the tone of this entry is not exactly uplifting.  Maybe it was sparked in part due to the unveiling of the new Cy-Hawk trophy yesterday at the Iowa State Fair.  I am sure you all have now seen the trophy that belongs on a mantle in someone’s house who has zero taste when it comes to decorating.  Look at some of the best rivalry games in college football:  Michigan/Ohio State, Army/Navy, and Texas/Oklahoma, none of which have a lame trophy that goes to the winner.  Yes, the old Cy-Hawk was a joke of a trophy but it at least had an association with the game of football.  Of course, this does not come as a surprise to me given the fact that this was likely approved by the same marketing department that brought you “Let’s Get Mad Again,” “The Heroes Game,” and a gimmick for every Iowa home game.  Gary Barta has now shown that he has no chutzpah to maintain the University of Iowa brand as a longstanding brand that was around long before he was born and will be around long after he is gone.  The University of Iowa and Hawkeyes brand has been severely cheapened by all of the hokey marketing efforts that his athletic department has either approved or acquiesced to over the past few years.  Does every Iowa home game have to be associated with some type of color scheme?  Is it too much to maybe just designate one home game each year as a “Be Bold, Wear Gold,” “Blackout,” or alternating stripes game?  With his willingness to desecrate Carver Hawkeye Arena with Mediacom logos on the floor, do you have any doubt that if a sponsor was willing to put up the money that he would do the same at Kinnick?  Curse the day if that were to ever happen.  The stadium atmosphere at Kinnick is starting to resemble an NBA game with constant music and cheers generated by a sound system rather than a college football game. Hell, you cannot hear the band playing On Iowa when the swarm comes out on the field thanks to the lame video of a truck rolling over a graphic of the opponent’s mascot or logo.  Say what you want about Notre Dame, but it was refreshing to see no advertisements around the stadium and no sound system-induced music every five minutes.  The purpose of gathering at that beautiful stadium nestled in between Melrose Avenue and Hawkins Drive is to watch a football game, not be amused by the Panchero’s burrito lift or whatever other outrageous gimmick that Barta’s marketing department comes up with next.  Couple those developments over the past few years with the changes to tailgating, and I am not sure if we will recognize the gameday atmosphere in Iowa City in ten years

These are my random thoughts about Iowa football at the moment.  My predictions are subject to change, but for now I remain very bearish about this football season.  Despite my current prediction, I am ready for the season to begin so that the talk around the water cooler returns to talk about the game on the field and not the recent scandals and off the field miseries that the game of college football has endured for the past four months.


  1. I can foresee people complaining about the secondary and linebacker coverage. In order for this defensive scheme to work, the big fellas up front have to do their job. If they can't fill holes and create pressure the Hawks are going to have to chew some serious clock on offense if they want to win games. Not something Hawk fans or teams are used to experiencing/doing. I think the offensive line quality is there to use that strategy but as we know sometimes after the first quarter the offense tends to stall. If that happens, it's going to be a long year. I don't know if they lose to Pitt this year, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them come out flat on the road against a subpar B1G opponent. I'll say 8-4, just to keep my glass half full.


  2. CyHawk trophy looks like the dad is proposing to the son and worshipping the baby Jesus as an ear of corn

  3. 9-3. Couldn't agree more about your assessment of the marketing department.