IOWA CITY, Iowa – Well, here we are Hawkeye fans. Iowa heads to Lincoln at 11-0.
No, this isn’t some sort of dream sequence. Feel free to pinch yourself, though.
If anybody said he saw this season coming, well, he’s not being truthful. Two losses, maybe even just one, but unbeaten on the way to Nebraska? Sorry. Not buying it.
I’m not going to try to explain it. If anyone tells you they can explain it, well, they’re not being truthful. See what I did there?
Kirk Ferentz can explain a lot of it. Like, most of it. He’s the common denominator.
Backer or bash alike should recognize him as an Iowa coaching legend. Personally, he was before the season for me. He’s just adding to it now, in a big way.
The frustration with him at times is understandable. A lot of people prefer conservative politics. Pretty much no one likes it in football.
That’s not a negative. Leaving politicians out of it, Ferentz boasts a long track record of being a good guy. He gives a ton of time to this community and the state outside of job requirements.
Ferentz has remained true to himself despite cries for change from outside of Fort Kinnick. He holds strong core beliefs on how football should be played and won’t do it.
The head honcho has altered things and those slight tweaks earned him the nickname, New Kirk. What you’ve seen on the field is Ferentz football. That’s not because practice times were switched or the off day moved.
Credit whomever pushed for those alterations because even it’s only psychological, it’s helping.
Throw the more aggressive approach in the praise bucket. Smart money is on the younger man with the same last name on the coaching staff who also helped improve the in-game stadium experience.
A lot of support for C.J. Beathard being the reason for Iowa’s magical run. The guy has a heck of a case with an all-time program best 12-0 record as a starter at the outset of a career.
Look, we don’t know what the record would be with someone else behind center. We don’t know what the record would be with Beathard starting last season. We think but we don’t know.
Dude is making plays now and that’s all that matters. He’s beyond gritty and innate with what he does and is a large reason why the Hawkeyes are unbeaten on Thanksgiving.
We can toss in "The Slight Edge", a book that preaches turning simple disciplines into massive success and happiness. The ground this team has made up since January would not have been possible had it looked at the big picture. This may have been Chris Doyle’s best work, and that’s saying something.
Pat yourself on the back if you attended a game at Kinnick Stadium this season. Photographing all seven home games created a greater understanding of the intense support and how much that helps the players and knocks the opponent off its axis.
Obviously, the young adults knocking heads take a backseat to no one. It took an amazing amount of hard work by the offensive line, running backs, receivers, tight ends, linebackers, the secondary and special teams, especially the punter, to markedly improve. Defensive line has held steady which is saying something after losing two NFL players.
Kicker Marshall Koehn is experiencing some yips but he’s still kicking off well and has evidence that he can perform in crunch time. He could receive another chance at windy Memorial Stadium Saturday. He appears confident in his ability as do his teammates and coaches.
The assistants should see some love pushed their way. It took some time but the staff gas gelled.
OK, some of you are annoyed that your main reason for the turnaround is being underplayed here. Think about the folks connected to contributing areas the author is too ignorant to know about or has absentmindedly forgotten.
Hopefully this exercise illustrates the real estate on which the Hawkeyes currently reside is beyond rare. To believe that one or two people or things are responsible would not be issuing all credit due.
Losing at Nebraska would suck on the lot of levels. The Huskers making a bowl while ending our playoff hopes and winning streak would rank high among them.
A loss Friday won’t erase the lasting memories from this season and should only slightly diminish its overall value. Whatever bowl in which Iowa ends up will be glamorous.
While the playoff still seems more hope than reality at this point, remember that the unthinkable already has happened. And we’re not talking about Rhonda Rousey being kicked in the neck.
-Amidst the increasing excitement surrounding Iowa football the men’s basketball picked up a really nice win last week. The Hawkeyes displayed what one would hope can be the identity for this group.
Iowa smacked around a respectable program in Marquette Thursday, leaving Milwaukee with an 89-61 decision. The Hawkeyes’ experience overwhelmed the youth of the Golden Eagles.
Iowa features some really good players but in the end the whole must be greater than the sum of the parts. And this team will rely heavily on its veterans with the best of the newcomers playing roles.
-What’s happening in recruiting? Not a whole heck of a lot unless you’re into the minutiae that is unofficial visits and Q&As centering on how much the prospect liked the facilities, environment and coaches.
I did see a kid outside the Iowa locker room on Saturday that intrigues me. Class of 2018 Gurnee (IL) Warren Township receiver Micah Jones returned Saturday to Kinnick, a place he’s been on multiple occasions.
The 6-foot-4.5, 190-pounder already holds offers from Iowa, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. A Notre Dame visit is under his belt and he’s squarely on the radar of Wisconsin, Michigan State and others.
The Hawkeyes offered in June. That was the summer before he was a sophomore in high school.