The Hawkeyes wrap up the 2012 season on Friday when they face Nebraska. This means the end of another season for the Hawkeye Roundtable. The crew has plenty to talk about in our final look at the 2012 Hawkeyes. This week we wonder if there will be coaching changes to the Iowa staff in the off season, we hand out our MVP awards, and of course, we give our predictions for Friday's game.
1. Really ugly loss to Michigan last Saturday afternoon. What's your take on the loss and is the biggest concern that Iowa seemed so over-matched on both sides of the ball?
TOM KAKERT: I don't think anyone was surprised by the loss. It was kind of expected and the margin was probably expected. How it looked was ugly. The big concern was athletically, Iowa didn't look anything close to Michigan. That's a huge concern moving forward for this team. How do you close that gap and how long will it take. I don't think anyone knows the answer to that one.
MIKE ZIERATH: Well, no surprise to me, really. Had you told me this in August, I may have told you it wouldn't be as bad as it was. As this season has gone on, nothing surprises me. It's been a difficult season all the way around and was difficult to get my mind around for quite a while. At some point...........it was really obvious what was taking place and how it was going to go. Over-matched? Well, as I've always said, it is never as bad as it appears. Iowa isn't that far off from what has made them competitive in the past. A player here, a player there......
JOHN KERTH: The loss itself wasn't all that surprising, unfortunately. As you said, if anything, it just illustrated the overall talent gap between the two teams, specifically Iowa's overall lack of team speed. While speed can sometimes be overrated, I think that is one area in which Iowa is severely lacking, both on offense and defense and it has hurt them in multiple games this season. That should start to change as some of the younger guys make their way into the lineup, but for the time being, Iowa just doesn't have the type of athletes in the starting lineup that other teams have. Attrition has certainly played a role in this problem, but regardless of the reasons, it is something that needs to change soon if the Hawkeyes want to get back into the top half of the Big Ten.
LYLE HAMMES: There is no denying we were overmatched on both sides of the ball. We can get into a plethora of reasons why, but one in particular stands out to me. Defections of the past few years have come back to roost. Riley Reiff, for instance, would have made a huge difference on offense had he returned his senior year. Then, of course, you have the running backs. Marcus Coker, Adam Robinson, Brandon Wegher, Mika'il McCall, and others could all be on this team. I think the biggest hole, however, has been left on the defensive line, where people like John Raymon, Anthony Ferguson, and Donavan Johnson should be contributing right now. Some of the people we have on defense simply will never be impact Big Ten players. Defections happen, but Iowa has had an inordinate amount recently and I see that as our biggest problem right now.
JON LAZAR: It really comes down to the character of these kids, and the coaches at this point. How do you prepare for a team that totally outclasses you?? We had to do it each Saturday in the 70's, and as a player, you prepare for it like you do when you are winning... You listen, watch films, and look for tendencies ... on and on. That part of the game never changes. For many of these players losing is a new thing for them... funny how losing builds character, and has its entire different set of lessons. I think it is business as usual for IOWA, and let's hope that when we lineup; we get a few breaks... and get lucky.... The best we could ask for is a rainy and wet day..... That would help and even things out...... a little.
2. We will officially be in the off season after Friday's game against Nebraska. Last year due to coaches leaving and the retirement, we saw changes to the Iowa coaching staff. Do you think there will be changes this off season and if so where do you see them happening?
TOM KAKERT: It would be counter what Kirk Ferentz has done in his tenure at Iowa to expect big changes. Like it or not, last year there was a lot of changes in the coaching staff. Some of it was simply moving a coach to a new position, but change is change. I doubt that Greg Davis is leaving, unless he decides to move on his own, which I think is highly unlikely.
MIKE ZIERATH: There might be changes, but it won't be where fans are asking them to be. I believe that Davis will be here for another couple years, minimum. Parker isn't going anywhere. Johnson and Wilson might be the most obvious candidates for change, but I find it difficult to believe that either of them will go anywhere.
JOHN KERTH: I don't foresee any big changes on the staff despite the wishes of some fans. If there is one thing Kirk Ferentz has shown over his tenure at Iowa, it's that he isn't prone to making knee-jerk reactions. Because of this, I don't think one season of struggling, no matter how ugly it looked at times (and it was ugly), is going to cause him to make wholesale changes to the staff or the system. I wouldn't be surprised to see some lower level assistants move on, but more so by choice than being forced out or asked to leave.
LYLE HAMMES: I don't see much changing this off-season on the football staff. I can see one of the position coaches possibly leaving, but it won't be the sweeping changes we saw last year.
JON LAZAR: That is a tough question as KF has never done any knee-jerk decisions with his coaches. He has been very dedicated to what they do, how they learn and grow. I do believe that on Defense, we have not seen it this bad in years.... I mean, blown coverage's, and basically, just letting them catch the ball. On Offense, there have been injuries, dropped balls, and bad decisions by the QB on 3rd and long situations. Those few things have killed us all year.... I think having the summer, getting in a few new recruits in those coverage positions will help this team. The problem too I saw were players, and situation players stuck in the middle of the field wondering if they were IN or OUT on particular plays... that really looked bad and it happened time and time again. Something not seen in Iowa teams.
3. It's hard to find MVP's on a team that will not be going bowling and is limping to the finish line of a disappointing season. But, who would your MVP's be on offense, defense, and special teams?
TOM KAKERT: I'll go with Mark Weisman as the offensive MVP. Who would have thought that before the season. You could probably make a decent case for Brandon Scherff being the MVP this year because what little offense Iowa had going has disappeared without him on the left side of the line. On defense, I will go with Micah Hyde. He's been very solid all season on the corner. On Special Teams, the easy choice is Mike Meyer. Frankly, he's been the most consistent player this year on either side of the ball.
MIKE ZIERATH: Offense: Mark Weisman. He was a sparkplug when Iowa needed one.
Defense: Anthony Hitchens: Nose for the ball, leading tackler in the
conference and even after missing some time, still one of the leading tacklers in the country.
Special Teams: Mike Meyer. Pretty steady. Honorable mention to Jordan Cotton. Provided some spark and excitement.
JOHN KERTH: Offensively, I would go with Mark Weisman. He was forced into a starting (and staring) role early when the season was still very much in play and helped keep the Hawkeye offense above water. While injuries both to him and the offensive line slowed down his production in the second half, he was one of the few bright spots for the offense this season. Defensively, I would give it to Christian Kirksey. He's not quite as big as you would like a linebacker to be, but he has improved from last season and made a lot of big plays in 2012, including a couple of interception returns for touchdowns. For special teams, it has to be Mike Meyer. He has been a reliable presence at kicker, something Iowa really hasn't had in quite some time. Meyer has been pretty much automatic no matter the range, which is big for an offense that has struggled as much as Iowa's has.
LYLE HAMMES: I'll start with special teams first, and give the nod to Mike Meyer. He's had another solid year, and has been as consistent as any kicker in the Big Ten. Jordan Cotton has to get a mention also, as he's really developed into a good kick returner. On defense, I'll go with Micah Hyde. Each of the linebackers have had their moments, particularly Hitchens, but Hyde has probably been the most consistent defender for Iowa. That brings us to offense, and that's a tough one. The first half of the season, I'll choose Brandon Scherff. Since he got hurt, whether it's a coincidence or not, our offense has been a mess. Outside of being injured, Damon Bullock has really impressed me, so I'll choose him for the second half. He didn't have a lot of yards, but that goes back to my first choice on offense. It's been a tough, tough year to score points.
JON LAZAR: I would say Mark Weisman is a clear choice for Offense, and Hyde on Defense... Both played hard, and had no help. Both deserving, because of their extra effort to get those awards.
4. Are you concerned about the future of the program under Kirk Ferentz after this season or is this the low point where you see him building things back up once again?
TOM KAKERT: I think it's fair to be concerned right now about the future. The program hasn't lived up to expectations since the 2009 year and this year, while I think a lot of fans believed it would be a bit of a rebuild, no one really saw a likely 4-8 finish. I'd like to say this is the bottom and I think it will be, but then I look at the schedule next year and I'm not so sure.
MIKE ZIERATH: It was fun watching the transformation from 1999-2001. It was an awesome ride from 2002-2005. 2006 was horrible, after starting with so much promise. 2007 & 2008 weren't special. 2009 was.........2010 was a disappointment. 2011 was average. 2012 has been a bitter pill, not one that I will soon forget. I think, if I were being honest, I've been concerned for the last couple years. This philosophy is getting a little stale for many. Can it still be successful? I honestly don't know the answer to that. I will only say that we have all seen how well another team in the same conference has done with a new coach and a black cloud hanging over it.....while getting away from a philosophy that was pretty close to that of our own head coach. It might be time to change that philosophy in order to keep up with the Jones's.
JOHN KERTH: I am somewhat concerned because this is looking like a longer rebuild than the one Iowa went through after the great run in '02-'04. Back then, the pieces were in place, the players just didn't play up to their ability, so it was just more of a retooling. This time, I don't think the turnaround will be as quick. There are young guys on the roster with promise, but the junior and senior classes that Iowa typically relies on aren't nearly as strong. I believe Ferentz will be able to turn it around eventually, but it will not be a quick fix and I don't know how much patience fans will have.
LYLE HAMMES: The natives are restless. I see people left and right saying Ferentz needs to be fired, and we'll get somebody better. Or they say they won't renew their tickets if he's still the coach. We've been here before. In 2000, someone told me that Ferentz "couldn't coach his way out of a wet paper bag". After all, he had a 4-19 record. In 2007, a different person said the game had passed him by. In both cases, they were two years away from a BCS game. I tend to be very loyal to this coaching staff, yet I don't think it's blind loyalty. Clearly some tough questions need to be asked and addressed, and possibly more changes need to be made. However, you don't kick this head coach to the curb and go hire the next Gene Chizik of the coaching world.
JON LAZAR: This is a business and as we know, you can have good years and disappointing years.. They key is what is done about it at this point and KF will have the opportunity to right the ship and get things back on track. That is a real testament of a great coach. How they react to the issue before them, and put things in place to stop the bleeding... that is the test for Coach Ferentz at this time ... and, he has the fans behind him as we know he is a great coach ... this all happened with a new coordinator on Offense, and on Defense, and with that said, adjustments and evaluations will be made. I look for positive results here.
5. This week the Big Ten added Maryland and Rutgers to the conference starting in 2014. Good move by the Big Ten? If the Big Ten goes to 16 teams, who would you like to see them add?
TOM KAKERT: This was a money grab on both ends. That's what it comes down to. The Big Ten is a cash cow and Rutgers and Maryland will be grazing in more fertile lands now. This move will allow the Big Ten Network to get into the NYC and D.C./Baltimore markets. That means a couple of big revenue streams for the conference. Maryland has a great tradition in hoops, but neither school has much tradition in football other than the ugly uniforms for the Terps. I guess I'll just conclude that this was a money grab and it will diminish the prestige of the Big Ten Conference. When Nebraska came on board, I thought it was a great fit. This time, not so much.
MIKE ZIERATH: Oh, I don't know. Probably will be in the long run. They wouldn't have been my first choice, but they open up some very nice recruiting lanes. Still think Iowa needs to be more proactive in Florida, Texas and California. If they go to 16 teams, and they will, I'd like to see them add Boston College and Notre Dame.
JOHN KERTH: I really didn't like the additions. I could understand the previous addition of Nebraska from an athletic standpoint because whether Iowa fans like it or not, the Cornhuskers are a "name" school, even if they haven't deserved the reputation in recent years. Nebraska is also a Midwest school, so logistically; it made a lot of sense. Maryland and Rutgers, however, don't really add much other than to increase the all-important TV footprint and the money that goes with it. They are both fine academic schools and from an athletics standpoint can be average to good, but neither of them add to the overall prestige of the conference not to mention that neither of them make sense from a geographic standpoint. Did adding these two mid-level athletic programs do anything to move the needle other than to start another arms race to see who can expand to a 16-team league the fastest? When news broke, my first thought wasn't, "Wow, this really improves the conference." It was, "Why was this necessary?" It's becoming more and more evident that this is the way all the major conferences are going, but I don't necessarily think that's a good thing.
LYLE HAMMES: I'm surprised it happened this fast, but I'm not surprised it happened. I think Notre Dame (partially) joining the ACC put this on the fast track again. Academically, these are two very good institutions. In athletics, Maryland has had its moments, which include a national championship ten years ago in basketball. However, their athletic department is cash poor. Rutgers doesn't have a flashy athletic resume, but they've been rumored to be joining the Big Ten for quite some time. It's not a bad fit. Both institutions are rich in television sets, and that's what this is all about. As the Big Ten gets ready to negotiate its next television package, they will be assets. As far as who I would like to see round out a possible move to 16, I've always thought Missouri would be an ideal fit. That ship has likely sailed, but it's pretty clear that they would rather be in the Big Ten than the SEC. Moving back east, acquiring Pittsburgh - if you go to 16 -makes sense. Adding those two schools would keep all the schools in adjoining states which I think is important.
JON LAZAR: I still am not sure about all of this, and how it plays out in the Big Ten. In my head, I still think of the main schools that have been a mainstay for years in this conference. Now looking at Maryland and Rutgers being added, I just cannot comprehend those additions. I think because all along, the last 30 years, I kept thinking the Big Ten had a chance to get Norte Dame as that was my thought. It surprised me that they would go to the ACC with the reason being it was a better academic fit for them. I guess with money being the main goal for schools here shows that college sports in many cases is in trouble. I saw a story the other night where there are only a handful of college teams that show a profit each year... Michigan was one of the few. Makes me wonder more about all of the changes in many conferences across the Country. The Big East for one.
6. Prediction time. Final score of Nebraska/Iowa and your pick to click for the Hawkeyes.
TOM KAKERT: This one could get ugly. Nebraska has a lot to play for and Iowa will be playing for pride on Senior Day. I think the Hawkeyes will come out and put up a great fight in the first half. They have a punchers chance for the upset, but in the end, I think the Huskers pull way to a 38-17 win. My pick to click this week is Mark Weisman. I think he finds the end zone twice.
MIKE ZIERATH: I finally sold my tickets, to a Hawkeye Fan, for all you concerned fans. I'm going to be sitting at home, with Mrs. Z, missing my first senior day in 18 years. I hope the stadium isn't as red as the field. This is going to be a one-sided affair folks. It's not going to be pretty. Nebraska 54, Iowa 10. Unfortunately, there's never anyone clicking when you get beat this bad.....See everyone next year.
JOHN KERTH: I think this is going to be another long day for Iowa. Nebraska 38, Iowa 16. Mike Meyer drills all three of his field goal attempts for the Hawkeyes.
LYLE HAMMES: It's pretty depressing that the season is one day from being over. This Nebraska game is all we have left until next August. Uggh. The point spread is 15, which says it's very unlikely the Hawkeyes will win. Having said that, something tells me this game is going to be a memorable one. I can't quite pull the trigger and say Iowa will pull off the upset, but I think it will be closer than people think. I think Keenan Davis will finally come off the missing-in-action list with a big game. There will be a lot of red in the stands, and those fans won't be comfortable until the end. Nebraska 27 - Iowa 21.
JON LAZAR: Nebraska 42 Iowa 21. I hope I am wrong !!
...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now for a FREE Trial