By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Iowa football program can look as good or as bad as you want it to look based on your perspective and how you spin the numbers and statistics.
Iowa crushed Nebraska 56-14 this past Friday in Lincoln, Neb., to finish the regular season with a 7-5 record, including 4-5 in the Big Ten.
The Hawkeyes now wait to learn their bowl destination and still have a chance to win eight games for the 10th time under head coach Kirk Ferentz.
But on the flipside, a loss in a bowl game would mark the eighth time in 19 seasons under Ferentz that Iowa has lost at least six games in a season.
Those contrasting views provide a glimpse into the latest debate about Hawkeye football between Mr. Optimist and Mr. Pessimist.
They decided to resurface after a November in which Iowa performed at an incredibly high level in lopsided victories over Ohio State and Nebraska and at a embarrassingly low level in back-to-back losses to Wisconsin and Purdue.
Here is a copy of the transcript:
Mr. Optimist: This season marks the 14th time in 19 seasons under Kirk Ferentz that Iowa has won at least seven games and the 16th time in the last 17 seasons that Iowa has earned bowl eligibility.
Mr. Pessimist: This season marks the seventh time in the last eight seasons, and the 13th time overall under Ferentz, that Iowa has lost at least five games.
Mr. Optimist: Next season looks promising with Iowa returning its starting quarterback, its top two tight ends, the top four defensive ends, possibly all four starters in the secondary and a reliable kicker in Miguel Recinos.
Mr. Pessimist: Next season looks uncertain with Iowa having to replace its top two running backs, three starters on the offensive line, if you include Ike Boettger and Boone Myers, all three starters at linebacker, its best defensive tackle and maybe Josh Jackson should the star cornerback choose to enter the NFL draft as a junior.
Mr. Optimist: You could make a strong case for Iowa being favored in at least nine of its 12 games next season based the on the current circumstances, including home-field advantage. The only for sure exceptions would be Wisconsin at home and at Penn State.
Mr. Pessimist: If we've learned anything after 19 seasons with Kirk Ferentz, it's not to assume anything when it comes to the schedule.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa is a candidate for four bowl games, according to Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta: The Music City Bowl in Nashville; the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City, the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif., and the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa has lost five bowl games in a row by a combined score of 172-75 and was outscored 108-10 in the first half of those five bowl games.
Mr. Optimist: With just two head coaches since 1979, the Iowa football program is a model of stability and consistency, and proves that changing head coaches isn't always the solution.
Mr. Pessimist: With three head coaches since 2006, Wisconsin has proven that stability and success can be sustained despite changing head coaches.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa has won four of its last five games against Nebraska, five of its last six games against Minnesota, seven of its last 10 games against Iowa State and 12 of its last 15 games against Illinois.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa has lost five of its last six games against Wisconsin, four in a row against Penn State, eight of its last 13 games against Northwestern and four of its last five games against Michigan State.
Mr. Optimist: All five of Iowa’s losses came against teams headed to a bowl game and with a combined record of 46-14, including 34-11 in Big Ten games.
Mr. Pessimist: Three of Iowa’s four Big Ten wins came against teams with a combined record of 11-25, including 5-22 in conference games.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa scored six rushing touchdowns against Nebraska, marking the first time since 2001 that Iowa has had six rushing touchdowns in a game.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa entered the Nebraska game with just nine rushing touchdowns on the season, including just three in the five losses.
Mr. Optimist: Senior Akrum Wadley rushed for a 158 yards against Nebraska this past Friday to become just the fourth Iowa player to surpass 1,000 yards rushing in back-to-back seasons.
Mr. Pessimist: Wadley combined to rush for just 301 yards in Iowa’s five losses against Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Purdue.
Mr. Optimist: Sophomore Nate Stanley has thrown 25 touchdown passes and just six interceptions in his first season as Iowa's starting quarterback.
Mr. Pessimist: Stanley only threw four touchdown passes and was intercepted three times in Iowa's five losses.
Mr. Optimist: Junior walk-on Nice Easley finished the regular season with a team-leading 50 receptions.
Mr. Pessimist: His 50 catches have only produced 498 yards and no other wide receiver on the team has more than 27 receptions.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa averaged 43.3 points per game in its four Big Ten victories, and scored 55 and 56 points, respectively, in victories over Ohio State and Nebraska.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa averaged 11.6 points per game in its five Big Ten losses, and the offense combined to score just seven touchdowns in the five losses.
Mr. Optimist: Iowa had 32 players on NFL rosters as of June.
Mr. Pessimist: Just four of the 32 players were either a running back, quarterback or a receiver, and of the four, quarterback C.J. Beathard is the only one who had appeared in a game heading into this weekend.
Mr. Optimist: Kirk Ferentz and his predecessor, Hayden Fry, have won five Big Ten titles combined as the Iowa head coach.
Mr. Pessimist: Four of the five titles came within the first seven seasons in each of their coaching reigns. The only exception was Iowa's 1990 title, which came in Fry's 12th season.
Mr. Optimist: Construction is now underway on the $90 million North End Zone renovation at Kinnick Stadium in which the cramped general-admission seating will be replaced by upper and lower general admission seating bowls, two general admission concourses and a premium club level. The club level could also be used for non-game-day uses.
Mr. Pessimist: Now if they could just do something about the annoying television timeouts.