At this stage, Iowa football fans should embrace anything that is considered good news.
The Big Ten on Monday released its schedule of games to be played in prime time this coming season and two of them include the Hawkeyes.
Iowa will play Pittsburgh and Minnesota in prime time on Sept. 19 and Nov. 14, respectively. Both games will be played at Kinnick Stadium.
Playing in prime time, which Iowa hasn’t done since 2012, is supposed to be a sign of relevance, a sign that your program still matters to some extent.
To be able to do it at home is even better, although, the weather conditions for the Minnesota game could be colder than Bill Belichick’s public demeanor.
The Minnesota game is also the 10th game of the season, so we should have some indication of where Iowa stands by then.
If you win in prime time, it helps build morale and is great exposure.
But if you lose in prime time, the hurt from losing is magnified by that same exposure.
This marks the first time that Iowa will play two games in prime time in the same season.
That seems like a big deal, but playing in prime time, which is the slot when most people watch usually between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., isn’t what it used to be.
The rise of cable television has made night games a common occurrence. Iowa’s game against Pittsburgh on Sept. 19 isn’t even the Big Ten Network’s marquee matchup in prime time for that night. It’ll be shown on an over-flow channel, meaning hardly anybody outside of Iowa’s viewing audience will see it, while the Penn State-Rutgers game takes center stage on the Big Ten Network.
It makes sense that Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta would embrace any prime time slot as a way to get more fans into Kinnick Stadium.
Now let’s shift to recruiting because we all know that recruiting never sleeps.
The Iowa football team would benefit from these four things happening in recruiting:
Keep quarterback Nathan Stanley and running back Toren Young both committed: They are the only players committed to Iowa’s 2016 recruiting class and they’re both Wisconsin natives. Stanley also has a scholarship offer from the Badgers. I’m not suggesting that their situations are fluid. But their commitments won’t be official until they sign national letters of intent next February. So keep your fingers crossed.
Land a big fish: It has been a while since Kirk Ferentz’s crew has landed a recruit who had scholarship offers from multiple teams in the power five conferences. Not only could it help on the field, it also would send a message that the program still has a pulse under Ferentz.
Get more recruits from the Windy City: In addition to being the third most populous city in the United States and home to numerous Division I football recruits, Chicago is less than a four-hour drive from Iowa City. However, despite that proximity, Iowa’s 2015 recruiting class only has two players from Illinois and one of them – linebacker Jack Hockaday – lives near Champaign in central Illinois.
Land two or three junior-college recruits: Iowa needs all the help it can get ASAP. Recruiting high school players is best for the long run, but Ferentz needs some older players who can contribute right away.
Now for men’s basketball…
Land the next Reggie Evans, or at least a poor-man’s version of him: Power forwards like Reggie Evans don’t come around very often, but his rugged style of play is exactly what Iowa coach Fran McCaffery needs in order to keep building.
Land a point guard in the 2016 class: Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons both will be seniors next season, leaving Iowa without a true point guard until McCaffery’s son, Connor McCaffery, arrives in 2017 after two more years at Iowa City West High School. It might be hard to convince a high school point guard from the 2016 class to pick Iowa knowing that Fran McCaffery’s son would be a grade behind him. So perhaps it would make more sense to recruit a junior-college point guard to play with Connor McCaffery for one or two seasons.
Coach McCaffery apparently doesn’t feel that way. He offered scholarships to two high school point guards on Monday, including Charlie Moore from Chicago. McCaffery might be reluctant to go the junior-college route in the wake of Trey Dickerson’s brief stay with the team. Dickerson played one season in junior college before transferring to Iowa last fall. He now plans to transfer again after leaving the team in February.
Recruit better shooters: The need for athleticism goes without saying, but the game still comes down to making shots. McCaffery has assembled a deep and talented roster, but he still needs more reliable shooters in order to create better spacing on the floor.
Get more recruits from the Windy City: What I said in football applies here. McCaffery apparently agrees, considering Iowa has two players from Chicago in its 2015 recruiting class.