November 25, 2012
The Hawkeye football season has come to a close and the Iowa basketball season is just getting going. It was certainly a busy week with hoops in Cancun and a Friday football game at Kinnick Stadium. It was also a strange feeling yesterday being home and watching regular season college football.
A big thanks to all the Hawkeye fans I met along the way from Ann Arbor to Cancun to Iowa City in the past week. It was a busy week, but it was a great time, even if the result weren't always what Iowa fans wanted.
With that said, here are some things I think about the Hawkeyes and some about the Big Ten in general.
1. I think the Big Ten isn't very good this year. In fact, it's the worst that the league has been in a long time. Granted the weather was a factor on Friday, but Nebraska isn't a great football team. Good team? Sure. Solid team? Absolutely. Wisconsin, well they limp into the Big Ten title game losing three of their last four and finished .500 in the conference. As far as Ohio State, sure they finished 11-0, but they certainly aren't a vintage Buckeye team and even their fans will tell you that. I bet they wish they would have taken that bowl ban last year instead of going to the Gator Bowl.
2. I really felt for James Vandenberg after the loss to Nebraska. I've always liked Vandenberg. Great kid with a good sense of humor and no ego. Heck, anyone crazy enough to challenge Pat Angerer to a wrestling match is good enough for me. After the game he was fighting back tears talking to the media and that's tough to watch. It's tough to ask questions. He didn't have a good senior season and no one feels worse about that than Vandy. I hope fans always remember that while young people sign up for scrutiny when they accept a scholarship that they are still human beings with real feelings and emotions. He never once complained about the scrutiny or made excuses. Class act.
3. I think it's pretty obvious that when the All Big Ten teams are announced on Monday night that the first and second teams are going to be basically empty of Hawkeyes. When you go 2-6 in the league and finish by losing six straight, that's going to happen. I think Micah Hyde, James Ferentz, Mike Meyer, and maybe Anthony Hitchens or Christian Kirksey pop up somewhere as either 2nd team or honorable mention players, but there won't be a lot of Hawkeyes honored this year.
4. I think there's probably something to all the talk about C.J. Beathard. Sometimes rumors like the one circulating that Beathard is the guy the coaches really like prove to be nothing more than wishful thinking in a game of cyber phone tag. I've heard the chatter from too many people from too many different places and that makes me think that where there's smoke, there's fire. The other question is what will that mean from Jake Rudock and maybe for Cody Sokol? Before we put Beathard in pen as the Hawkeyes starting quarterback, I think both Rudock and Sokol are going to put up a strong challenge. One thing I don't expect is some sort of divided playing time situation next fall. I think Kirk Ferentz had enough of that in 2008. I never felt Ferentz was comfortable with it then and I don't think he would be this time around.
5. I think Barkley Hill wasn't thinking at all. Just what you want to start the off season is a player getting a DUI while underage. Kirk Ferentz has said it's already a one game suspension. I expect it to be longer.
6. I think we learn a lot about the Iowa Basketball team on Tuesday night. This will be their first true road test of the season and they will be looking to bounce back from a tough neutral site loss. Iowa traveled back home on Friday, so they will have Saturday and Sunday to prepare before traveling again on Monday. It's a bit of a quick turnaround for a young team. We will find out a lot about the maturity of this team.
7. I think we all kind of underestimate the changes on the Iowa hoops team this year. Two true freshmen and Marble playing off the ball more this year and White play playing the three. That's four starters adjusting and two of them are true freshmen playing pretty demanding positions at the college level. That said, with all due respect to the rest of the teams on their non-conference schedule, the Hawkeyes have three tough games left before the Big Ten season starts. Virginia Tech is one and then Iowa State and UNI.
8. I think Sunday's win by the Iowa Women's hoops team was a big one. They were drilled by North Carolina in the finals of the NIT and then lost a heartbreaker to Florida International on Friday. The Hawkeyes rebounded really well today with a great win over nationally ranked West Virginia. How about Jamie Printy today, 17 for 17 from the line. That's amazing. Good to see Printy is back on the court and playing well after her ACL injury last year.
9. I think the Iowa wrestlers are watching too much Looney Tunes cartoons. Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits? It was good to see the Hawkeyes back on the mat and making news there this weekend by once again dominating the Iowa duals. The Hawkeye host Iowa State this coming Saturday. Unfortunately what was once a highlight meet on the schedule will probably be a route this year. The Cyclones lost to Old Dominion in Ames today, 22-13.
10. I'll go on record now and say that next year might be the most important of the Ferentz era. It's fair to say the program is at a crossroads and one more 4-8 season means you are certainly in a free fall mode. Another 4-8 type season and the drums will beat very loudly. This is building a legacy time for Ferentz and his coaching career at Iowa. If he doesn't start moving the win/loss total in the right direction next season his warm seat turns into an inferno.
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