Schwartz: Holding Myself Accountable for Hawkeye Predictions

November 29, 2018

Written by David Schwartz

Wanna know the laziest job in journalism?

Cable television punditry.

You know the folks. They’re the ones who say So-and-So made a bad decision or a good decision, or HERE’S WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN. Punditry falls under any number of media genres, but it’s most visible in sports and politics.

Punditry is lazy because it’s unaccountable. There are no consequences for being wrong, no benefits to being right. It’s just noise. Even worse, it’s disposable—words forgotten before they’re heard.

The tax plan is great … the borders must be secured … the senator is insane … the senator is not insane … the Buffalo Bills selected the wrong quarterback … Nick Saban is good for college football … Saban is bad for college football … the Lakers should trade everything for Kawhi … Hugh Jackson shouldn’t have been fired …

And it just goes on and on and on.

But the era of unaccountable sports punditry ends today, and it stops with me.

Before the season began, writers were asked to make 10 predictions about Iowa’s football season. In this column I’m going to review each of my predictions to see what I wrote that was right, right-ish, wrong, and just plain embarrassing to the point that I should have my Hawkeye Card revoked.

Here goes:

1. What player can Iowa least afford to lose to injury, suspension, etc. this season?

My answer: Nate Stanley. I acknowledged that it was a safe, predictable answer. In hindsight it might not have been the No. 1 answer on the board, but it’s not too far off.

2. Who will be the breakout player on the Iowa offense (cannot have started a game in career)?

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My answer: Ivory Kelly-Martin. Nope. He was important when he was healthy, but his value has been surpassed by Mekhi Sargent.

3. Who will be the breakout player on the Iowa defense (cannot have started a game in career)?

My answer: Amani Jones. Ugh—I blew it on this one. Jones lost his starting job at linebacker before the Big Ten season arrived. He’s contributed on special teams, but not much else. Through the first three predictions, I’m 1-2.

4. Finish this sentence: In 2018, Iowa’s punting will be…?

My answer: “In 2018, Iowa’s punting will be up and down.” I deliberately answered this question vaguely because the Hawkeyes had so many questions at the position. A wait-and-see approach seemed more prudent. I’m 1-2-1

5. Which of Iowa’s incoming freshmen are you most excited to see? Why?

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My answer: Dallas Craddieth. “Who?” you might ask? He redshirted. So this is definitely a loss (1-3-1), but I’m excited to see how the defensive back performs moving forward.

6. Who will lead Iowa in receptions and rushing yards in ’18? Why?

My answer: T.J. Hockenson for receptions, and Kelly-Martin for rushing yards. I’m not going to worry about K-M because of the aforementioned injuries, but I’ll take a win for the Hockenson call. His 46 catches lead all Hawkeye receivers. 2-3-1

7. Who will lead Iowa in tackles in ’18? Why?

My answer: “Parker Hesse, but I don’t feel good about this pick.” Nobody was a close second to Jake Gervase, who has 83 tackles (and counting). No other Hawkeye had more than 59 tackles, and only five, including Gervase, broke the 50 mark. One of those was Hesse, so not a horrible prediction after all. 2-3-2.

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8. Who will be Iowa’s most valuable player in ’18? Why?

My answer: “Nate Stanley. If he can consistently land the deep ball, it will be the difference between a mediocre offensive season and a very good one.” My if-then relationship wasn’t bad. Stanley was as off throwing the deep ball this season as he was the first month of the 2017 season. While not quite a deep ball, I keep flashing back to the easy touchdown to Hockenson he missed against Penn State. So, no, Stanley was not the MVP. 2-4-2.

9. Iowa’s regular-season record in ’18 will be? Why?

My answer: 8-4! Woooooo hooooo! Nailed it! I also wrote the following: “Penn State and Wisconsin are losses. There will be one loss to a team that is better than anyone thought during the preseason—Purdue, maybe?—and one inexplicable loss that shouldn’t have happened.” Not bad. I’ll take the wins where I can get them. That raises my record to 3-4-2.

10. What two teams will meet in the Big Ten Championship game this season?

My answer: Wisconsin and Ohio State. So, half-right. Final tally: 3-4-3

So what does this exercise in accountability reinforce? That what I’ve been saying for years holds true: 1) I’m a decent analyst of the sporting landscape, but I’m a HORRIBLE prognosticator, further supported by my 34-42-1 against-the-spread record this season in’s weekly picks. And …

2) Never, ever put too much stock in punditry. If you must, however, try keep it in the sports world, where the stakes are low and the subject is fun. Those political pundits are the worst.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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