fbpx Schwartz: What’s So Bad About 8-4? | HawkeyeNation

Schwartz: What’s So Bad About 8-4?

November 21, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Hawkeye Nation

Iowa’s win last weekend over Minnesota set them on course for a 9-3 regular season, assuming neither Illinois nor Nebraska upsets them in the final two weeks.

But let’s look at the worst-case scenario. Let’s say the Hawkeyes trip against one of their last two opponents, expectations-exceeding Illinois or the Will Smith of the Big Ten, Nebraska, and finish the regular season 8-4.

Would that be so bad?

Is 8-4 as bad as 0-12 – the old Reese Bobby “If you ain’t first, you’re last?”

The Hawkeyes have finished around 8-4 (meaning a final season total of between seven and nine wins) during 10 of Kirk Ferentz’s first 20 seasons as head coach. They’ll make it 11-of-21 unless they finish the season, including the bowl game, 3-0, which would put them at the 10-win mark, a solid accomplishment in college football no matter how one looks at it.

So let’s get back to this 9-3/8-4/7-5 idea. Is the goal to win more than you lose? Is the goal championship or bust? Most likely that’s a false choice. The work gets done in the gray areas; a team ravaged by injuries that finishes 9-3 warrants praise while a team projected to compete for the national title that finishes 9-3 deserves criticism.

Not long ago, maybe a few years, I came down hard on the Iowa athletic department and many Hawkeye fans for not demanding more of the football program. They seemed content to fall into the “pretty good” range with an occasional peak into great and, rarely, a dip into lousy.

Continue reading below

Related In HawkeyeNation Forums

If they weren’t going to set for themselves the highest of goals, I reasoned, then what exactly were they doing besides making excuses and giving in to a self-fulfilling prophecy of inadequacy?

But it all became too hard – “it” being the will to consistently summon the hope that the Hawkeyes can ever be anything more than they already are. They’re a good program. They’re perfectly fine, and there are programs and fan bases across the country that would do anything to have the sort of sustained good, solid, 7.5-out-of-10 success that the Hawkeyes have had under Ferentz.

Continue reading below

I’ve won the victory over myself. 8-4? 9-3? It’s all one should ever ask for out of Iowa. Anything significantly more than that and I’ll be the first person in line to buy a commemorative book at the end of the season.

One might conclude this is a cynical approach. Resigned realism is more like it.

Resigned realism with a silver lining: It could be a lot worse. Rutgers, Vanderbilt, Maryland, North Carolina, Kansas – major-conference schools where bowl games are major a accomplishment.

Continue reading below

With Iowa, 8-4 – winning two-thirds of your games – represents the baseline. Once every 7-8 years you get to order off the menu without prices. Once a decade or so you’re stuck with a Lunchable. Yet for the most part you know that each meal will include a nice cut of meat, well-seasoned potatoes, and a fresh vegetable, so long as you’re willing to stand far enough back to look at entire seasons as their own snapshot rather than each individual game.

Oh, you lost winnable games to Michigan and Wisconsin? That stinks. Oh, you went 9-3 this year? Cool.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

Trending in Forums View All >

HawkeyeNation Archives View All >

Hawkeye Nation

Schwartz: Ten Sentences – The Most Important Edition

David Schwartz

February 23, 2020

Hawkeyes facing high hurdle in East Lansing.

Hawkeye Nation

Game Report: Hawkeyes Unfriendly Hosts to Visiting Penn State

Rob Howe

February 22, 2020

No. 19 Iowa blows out Nittany Lions Saturday.

Hawkeye Nation

Photo Gallery: Hawkeye Women Overwhelm Penn State

Rob Howe

February 22, 2020

Iowa too much for visiting Nittany Lions Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Hawkeye Nation

Life-Long Hawkeye Fan Cooper DeJean Building Relationship with Iowa

Rob Howe

February 22, 2020

Odebolt Arthur-Battle Creek-Ida Grove junior holds an Iowa offer.

Hawkeye Nation

B1G Hour Podcast on KGYM: Connor McCaffery Joins the Show

Rob Howe

February 21, 2020

Iowa sophomore talks about future as two-sport athlete, health of younger brother and more.

Hawkeye Nation

Instant Reaction Podcast: Recapping Iowa’s Win Against Ohio State

Rob Howe

February 21, 2020

HN’s Andrew Downs discusses latest Hawkeye triumph.

Hawkeye Nation

Game Report: Hawkeyes Keep It Rolling at Home Against Ohio State

Rob Howe

February 20, 2020

Story, interviews, photos and box score from Thursday’s game in Iowa City.

Hawkeye Nation

HN TV: Iowa Players Ohio State Postgame Interviews

Rob Howe

February 20, 2020

The Hawkeyes talk about Thursday’s game against the Buckeyes.

TOP