Howe: Couldn’t Be Happier for Hawkeye Football Student-Athletes

September 19, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa Football welcomed the media into its facility one day last year for an up-close look at the program. While all of it was interesting, I was most struck by the schedule kept by student-athletes.

These guys are working three shifts a day during the season. There isn’t an offseason. Football is a year-round operation. An unbelievable amount of dedication goes into the endeavor.

That’s why it was so crushing when the Big Ten postponed its fall campaign last month. With the conference reversing course on Wednesday, it’s the student-athletes for which I was most happy. They have a four-to-five year window to realize a dream they work tirelessly to achieve.

The medical experts decided it was safe to play after the development of rapid antigen testing and a better understanding of Myocarditis. The president and chancellors at league schools decided the advancements were significant enough to get back at it and voted unanimously to do so.

Make no mistake, the vast majority of Big Ten players would have accepted the risk of contracting COVID-19 and suited up if given the choice 40 days ago. They’ve been programmed to compete and believe they’re invincible.

Now they can do so with the peace of mind that the decision makers see a safe path five weeks after believing there was too much risk. The protocols put in place, including daily testing and monitoring hearts if someone comes up positive, allows their minds to be at ease so they can focus on football and school, not necessarily in that order.

Continue reading below

Related In HawkeyeNation Forums

Iowa senior receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who has been outspoken about wanting to play, predictable rejoiced when he heard the news Wednesday. So did his running mate Brandon Smith. Defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon was so happy, he had to dance.

While all three guys are good teammates and put winning above all else, the season is important for them as individuals. They possess NFL potential. Playing in the fall provides the best chance to make that happen.

Continue reading below

Executive Director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, Jim Nagy, listed Smith-Marsette and Hawkeye senior lineman Coy Cronk as two of six Big Ten offensive players that will benefit the most from having 2020 tape. He could have included Smith, Nixon, Matt Hankins, Chauncey Golston, Alaric Jackson, Nick Niemann, Keith Duncan, Jack Heflin, Cole Banwart and other Iowa student-athletes who can raise their stock this fall.

Getting back on the field also addressed the mental health of these student-athletes. Think about how you feel as a fan without Big Ten football and then imagine how it impacts someone with a good deal of his life invested in it.

You could sense Smith-Marsette’s suffering when he Tweeted at his conference last week: “With football back on and seeing them play, (Big Ten) y’all gotta let us play!!” Penn State’s Shaka Toney pleaded for people to stop speculating on the league possibly returning because it was weighing on his mind. Again, if you think you’ve been riding an emotional rollercoaster as a fan, consider what the student-athletes went through.

Continue reading below

The emotional toll was created by a lack of confidence last month in being able to play football safely from a physical standpoint. It was a tradeoff the people in charge felt necessary.

Now that those fears have been lessened and the games are coming back, they bring with them positives for the players. And nothing is more important than that.

HawkeyeNation Archives View All >

Hawkeye Nation

HN Radio Show – Previewing Northwestern

HN Staff

October 30, 2020

Joe Chmelka and Andrew Downs look back at Purdue and ahead to Northwestern in the Hawkeye Nation Radio Show on 1460 and 106.3 KXnO: Continue reading below Related In HawkeyeNation Forums Continue reading below Continue reading below Related In HawkeyeNation Articles October 30, 2020 — Minnesota DE Chase Carter Discusses Hawkeye Opportunity Iowa offers son…

Hawkeye Nation

Minnesota DE Chase Carter Discusses Hawkeye Opportunity

Rob Howe

October 30, 2020

Iowa offers son of former Golden Gopher basketball player.

Hawkeye Nation

4-Star Ohio OL Aamil Wagner Discusses Recent Iowa Offer

Rob Howe

October 29, 2020

Younger brother of Ahmad Wagner has history with the Hawkeyes.

Hawkeye Nation

Iowa Football Preview, Prediction: Retooled Wildcats Come to Kinnick

Rob Howe

October 28, 2020

New look Northwestern in Iowa City for Hawkeye Halloween.

Hawkeye Nation

Iowa Wrestling Preparing for HWC Showdown

Anna Kayser

October 27, 2020

Event taking place Sunday in Coralville.

Hawkeye Nation

Iowa Football Notebook: Indiana Grad Transfers, Friends Face Off

Rob Howe

October 27, 2020

Coy Cronk, Peyton Ramsey go from teammates to opponents.

Hawkeye Nation

Bohnenkamp: Iowa Feels Sense of Urgency in Short Season

John Bohnenkamp

October 27, 2020

Hawkeyes trying to avoid 0-2 start.

Hawkeye Nation

HN TV: Iowa Player Press Conference Highlights

Rob Howe

October 27, 2020

Hawkeyes look back at Purdue and ahead to Northwestern.

TOP