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HN Mashup: Big Ten Football

May 20, 2010

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

Kirk Ferentz spoke briefly with Marc Morehouse of The Gazette about Big Ten expansion..as you might guess, Kirk didn’t have a lot to say…he’s not the kind of guy that talks about stuff like this, and I suspect he doesn’t give it much thought.  I am sure he thinks about it, but he is the sort of fella that focuses on what he can control…from time to time, he’ll step atop his soap box at Iowa’s weekly media meetings (he even refers to those instances as his soap box) and I enjoy it when he does give those opinions…but it’s not often, and it’s typically to promote his players.

In that link above, Morehouse has quotes from some other Big Ten coaches on expansion…Gophers coach Tim Brewster is all for expansion.  That is not surprising, as he is new school…my thought when I read his quotes was: ‘Are you even going to be coaching in this league when expansion rolls around?’

Speaking of the Gophers, Iowa’s last regular season opponent this season, Brewster recently tabbed senior Adam Weber as their starting quarterback…at least for the start of the season.  Weber has thrown for over 8,000 yards and 52 touchdowns in three years as a starter and he is the all time leading passer in school history.  His numbers through three years compare to Drew Tate’s numbers in three years as Iowa’s starter.  Last year Weber completed just 52 percent of his passes, however, as the Gophers went from a spread attack to a more balanced scheme, making the move from indoors to outdoors. MarQueis Gray is the #2 QB, and some wondered (me included) if he might not replace Weber this year.  I still think that is a possibility, especially if Minnesota’s offense struggles early.  They play Middle Tennesee and South Dakota right out of the chute, so he should be safe there.  But they travel to take on USC in their third game; that will be an interesting litmus test for their offense.  Make no mistake about it; they will lose that game and lose badly.  they have to replace their entire starting front seven on defense from last year and two members of their secondary.  They also host Northern Illinois in Week Four, and that will not be a gimmee as the Huskies are going to be one of the favorites to win the MAC this year….

We’ll learn about Michigan’s self imposed sanctions on Thursday (May 20th)…they won’t likely have a lot of teeth, and the NCAA isn’t going to bring any sort of hammer.  I am far more interested to see how they handle USC’s punishment.  But this will be the first time the football program at Michigan will be sanctioned…another mark against Rich Rodriguez.  He has to win this year, he has to get to a bowl game or he will not get a fourth year.  I remember when he was hired, and I was chatting with my friend Steve Deace about the move…he was excited and I threw in a wet blanket comment along the lines of ‘Well, it might work…or you might go the same road Nebraska did when they hired Bill Callahan.’

Callahan had far more success than Rich Rod has had…Michigan is 8-16 in his first two years, while Callahan won more than he lost in his four years at Nebraska.  The Wolverines host UConn right out of the gate this year, a big time test.  The Huskies will challenge for the Big East title this year in my opinion, and in the opinion of other college football writers.  After that is their game at Notre Dame.  They cannot afford to lose that and of course and 0-2 start would mean big trouble for Rich Rod.  I don’t think they’ll lose to Notre Dame however, and I think that Dennard Robinson is going to be the mainstay at quarterback this year for Michigan, with Tate Forcier being relegated to the backup.  That offense can become closer to what we saw out of Rich Rod’s West Virginia teams with Robinson under center.  Iowa has a bye the week before they play Michigan, while the Wolverines host Michigan State.

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More on out of Chicago, with another Morehouse piece on an early signing period in college football as well as being able to host official visits in the month of June.  The article quotes Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez as being one in favor of both ideas, saying that southern schools were against an early signing period.  “I guess they want kids visiting us in December.” Alvarez said.

That makes sense, and is the reason why it would be great if they changed the rules to allow for official visits in June.  The recruiting calendar has been moved up by several months through the decade I have been following these things…time was when you would have a few commits by the start of your football season, and the vast majority came after Thanksgiving.  That’s no longer the case for many of the marquee schools.  Texas already has 20 verbal commitments, most of them highly rated.  Ohio State has 11 and Alabama has 12, just for a few quick examples.

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Last year, Iowa had most of their hay in the barn before they played their final regular season bowl game.  That was the exception, not the rule for the Hawkeye program.  I suspect they will have a decent number of pre-Turkey day commits this year, too…probably not as many as last year’s haul where all but three members of the recruiting class had verbally committed on or before November 26th.

June official visits and an early signing day would absolutely benefit Iowa and other schools that are not traditional college football powers…it would mean that those big names couldn’t swoop in late in the game and woo away an emerging prospect, and it would reward program’s like Iowa that have done a remarkable job at identifying talent in players that other programs have not seen.

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As to whether or not these things will happen, I have my doubts.  I think an early signing period is a real possibility in a few years, but the June official visit date seems a bit pie in the sky

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