Dear America: Iowa Doesn’t Care What You Think

October 18, 2015

Written by Jon Miller

Dear College Football America:

We know you don’t like Iowa, but we don’t care that you don’t like Iowa.

We get that it’s nothing personal (for most of you, anyway), but that you just don’t like Iowa’s football team.  You may write or say some nice things, how they have surprised you and all.  Hey, they’ve surprised most all of us, too.

Having said that, most of you are just participating in an echo chamber now.  You hear Kirk Herbstreit say on College Gameday (which is about as deep a research dive as many of you will take) that Iowa’s schedule the rest of the way is embarrassing.  You hear Brian Griese and the ESPN crew taking shots at Iowa’s schedule during the second half yesterday because they had a lot of time to fill as Iowa kicked the fur off the Northwestern Wildcats. You see other pundits and talking heads begin to file in and say and write the same things.

Look, we get that Iowa’s schedule the rest of the way is ‘manageable’, or ‘fortuitous’, or ‘soft’. The thing is, Iowa didn’t have one ounce of input on the next five teams on its schedule.  The Big Ten computers spit that out.  It came up with Maryland and Indiana as Iowa’s Eastern Division crossovers.   Iowa is not to blame for Minnesota’s return to being Minnesota.  Iowa is not to blame for Purdue continuing to flat out stink.

Iowa is not to blame for that.

But you are focussing on the low hanging fruit, the obvious, something a junior high kid with access to the internet can figure out.  You’re missing out on a few important things here, like Iowa’s route to get to 7-0.

-College Football America, did you know there are two teams in the nation who have two or more road wins over ranked opponents. One of them is Almighty Juggernaut of Historic Juggernauts Alabama from the Greatest Damned Conference That Has Ever Been, the SEC (Myth). The other? The Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa beat Northwestern as impressively as MICHIGAN did the week before, but in some ways Iowa’s win was more impressive considering it was a) a road win and b) Iowa was down so many starters for this and still won by 30.

-Northwestern beat #10 Stanford and #21 Duke this year and had not allowed a 100-yard rusher heading into the Iowa game. They still haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher, but they have allowed a 200-yard rusher in Iowa’s Akrum Wadley, who was Iowa’s 4th string running back to start the season. You see, options #1 and #2 were injured on Saturday. Option #4 gained 204 on Saturday while option #3, Derrick Mitchell, gained 74 yards. By the way, Mitchell’s total is the second highest allowed by Northwestern’s defense this year. Did you know that, College Football America? I doubt it.  Or this?

-College Football America, did you know Iowa did that damage to Northwestern’s Top 20 defense with backup offensive tackles who couldn’t beat out former walk ons who were the starters with zero combined starts coming into this season, but couldn’t play due to injury? That another one of Iowa’s starting offensive lineman was a true freshman who chose Iowa over Alabama, Ohio State and others? I am sure you didn’t know that because someone couldn’t possibly choose Iowa over Alabama or Ohio State, but I am here to tell you, it happened, he started Saturday and Iowa for 294 yards. What’s that? You thought only Wisconsin or Ohio State did that in the Big Ten? Think again.

-College Football America, did you know Northwestern had one of the nation’s best scoring defenses in the nation before Saturday’s game against Iowa? You might have known that, since Northwestern held #10 Stanford to just six points earlier. Since we know you took note of Stanford’s 56-35 win against UCLA on Thursday, you might also know Stanford scored 41 against USC, 42 against Oregon State and 55 against Arizona, but they scored just six on Northwestern. Iowa? The Hawkeyes scored 40 against Northwestern and pulled all their starters with just under 10 minutes to play in the game.

-Let’s talk about Strength of Schedule, College Football America, since that seems to be your topic dujour. Per Jeff Sagarin’s Strength of Schedule rankings through games played October 17th, Iowa has a tougher strength of schedule than the following:

#1 Ohio State
#2 Baylor
#3 TCU
#4 Michigan State
#6 Clemson
#9 Florida State and many more of your favorites, including this week’s darling #17 Memphis and their 72nd ranked schedule, Bama Slayer Ole Miss and #19 Toledo and their 111th ranked schedule Do you like apples America? How do you like them apples?

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-As mentioned before, Iowa has two road wins over ranked opponents. They also have another win over an opponent who is presently in the Top 25 and that is Pittsburgh, whose only loss is to…wait for it….Iowa!

-College Football America, we know you love the darling FCS programs when they upset their big brothers in the FBS; we’ve read your articles and seen you jumping all over yourselves like a garter snake in the middle of a mating ball, trying to convince the uncivilized fans among us that the best of the FCS are great football teams. OK, deal. Iowa remains the lone blemish on Illinois State’s record, that Illinois State team that was seconds away from a national title last year and who is presently ranked in the Top Five of the FCS; Iowa squashed them 31-0 before Iowa pulled their starters and Illinois State scored two garbage TD’s.

-College Football America, I have nothing witty or smart to write about Iowa’s wins over Iowa State or North Texas, I will give you those. But then again, Baylor and TCU have Iowa State on their schedules, too. Florida State played Texas State and as of right now, they only have two ranked opponents on their entire schedule for the year, at Clemson and at Florida. They’ll need to win both of those to do what Iowa has done, if Florida is still ranked by the end of the year. Given the Gators are an SEC team, the odds of them still being ranked even if they have four losses is good because you love yourselves some #SECMyth, don’t you College Football America?

-College Football America, we know you know about Ohio State’s dynamic offense.  But do you know which offense in the Big Ten has the most explosive offensive plays of 40 yards or more?  It’s not the Buckeyes.  OK, being you would have to do some work now, I will give you a hint; it’s Iowa.

-College Football America, you discount the job Kirk Ferentz and his staff are doing. I’ve talked with some of you about it, or written to some of you about it. Many of you have already crowned Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh or Florida’s Jim McElwain as your award winners. You guffaw at the ‘turnarounds’ at those programs. Turn around? You make it sound like Harbaugh and McElwain were inheriting Kansas State circa 1988. Here is the Rivals.com National Recruiting class rank for Michigan and Florida’s 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 classes, which are the classes who comprise 90% or more of their current two deep rosters:

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Michigan: 12/7/4/31
Florida: 21/3/5/8

Now, how about Iowa:

Iowa: 30/43/53/59

Just because Brady Hoke and Will Muschamp turned Chicken Parm into Chicken Feces doesn’t mean that what we have seen this year are miracle working turnarounds; they’re just doing what most coaches have done at those programs. Kirk Ferentz? He is having a third renaissance when most people in his own state didn’t think he could (including me) with players that most of the ‘Have’s’ in college football didn’t want and doing that against a schedule we have proven to be better than any of you thought it was had you even bothered to look.  And if you think talent doesn’t matter, check yourself; it’s at least 60% of the battle, the rest is coaching and development.  At Iowa, there is a lot more of coaching and development that has to happen to reach a pinnacle than does at Michigan and Florida for them to reach the same.

A slogan around the Iowa football facility reads like this;  Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Doesn’t Work Hard.  For most of the Ferentz era, this mantra has served them well.

But yes…Iowa’s schedule the rest of the way isn’t a murderer’s row, but Iowa’s schedule to date deserves some mention in the breath before you dismiss what is to come.

You know, maybe Iowa fans do care what you say and write about Iowa, but only in this sense; get your stories straight and present a fair narrative.

Other than that, knock yourselves out, College Football America. Iowa will be on a bye week and Iowa fans are enjoying the heck out of this season, regardless of what you say.

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