By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – During my more than two decades with the Iowa City Press-Citizen, I sometimes would write a column listing facts, predictions and opinions about Iowa Hawkeye athletics with an emphasis on football and men's basketball.
So with the Iowa football team set to face Miami of Ohio in the season opener on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, I figured it was time to bring it out of storage.
Fact: Kirk Ferentz is entering his 21st season as the Iowa head coach, which is a school record, and makes him the longest tenured FBS college football coach in the country.
Prediction: The 64-year old Ferentz will coach for at least two more seasons beyond the current one, health permitting.
Opinion: Brian Ferentz will succeed his father as head coach if Iowa wins a Big Ten title in the next two or three seasons and wins no fewer than nine games in each of Kirk Ferentz’s remaining seasons as head coach.
Fact: It was announced on Wednesday that Iowa receiver Oliver Martin was granted a waiver to play this season by both the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference. The former Iowa City West star will have three seasons of eligibility.
Prediction: Martin will finish with between 15 and 25 receptions this season while playing both receiver positions.
Opinion: The NCAA had its reasons for allowing Martin to play this season, and you have to feel good for Oliver and for his family that his waiver was granted. But you also have to question why the NCAA denied offensive lineman Brock Hoffman’s waiver to play this season for Virginia Tech after he transferred from Coastal Carolina.
According to the Roanoke Times, Hoffman transferred to Virginia Tech in order to be closer to help care for his mother Stephanie in Statesville, North Carolina. His mother had surgery to remove an acoustic neuroma (a non-cancerous brain tumor) in early 2017 a few days after Hoffman arrived on campus at Coastal Carolina. The offensive lineman decided to transfer after the 2018 season.
One of the requirements the NCAA added over the summer to the guidelines that impacted Hoffman says student-athletes transferring because of an illness in the family “must occur within or immediately after the academic year.”
The Roanoke Times also reported that the appeals committee used those guidelines in debating the merits of Hoffman’s appeal since it wasn't officially submitted until July.
The decision to deny Hoffman’s waiver seems rigid and unfair, considering how many other waivers are being granted under far less dramatic and stressful circumstances.
Fact: Iowa is the only school to have two tight ends both selected in the first round of the NFL Draft as T.J. Hockenson was picked eighth overall by the Detroit Lions and Noah Fant 20th overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Prediction: Iowa's returning tight ends, led by senior Nate Wieting, will combine for at least 50 receptions this season.
Opinion: Iowa's pro-style offense is ideal for a tight end to develop because the position is asked to do everything that NFL teams value.
Fact: Redshirt freshman running back and Wisconsin native Henry Geil has entered the NCAA transfer portal and is the second Iowa player to enter the portal in barely two weeks, the other being redshirt freshman linebacker Jayden McDonald, who has since transferred to Troy.
Prediction: Every team in the Big Ten will have at least one quarterback enter the transfer portal over the next two years.
Opinion: Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta is right in saying that the NCAA either has to make all-student-athletes sit out for one year after transferring or allow them to transfer once without having to sit out. One or the other because the lack of consistency and transparency is frustrating and the time spent analyzing these cases is a waste of time and resources.
Fact: Iowa junior receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette led the Big Ten and finished second nationally in kick returns last season with a 29.5 average on 24 returns.
Prediction: Smith-Marsette will return at least one kick for a touchdown this season and have at least 30 catches.
Opinion: Iowa needs to recruit more players like Smith-Marsette because his blazing speed can’t be coached.
Fact: Iowa senior offensive linemen Levi and Landan Paulsen are expected to start at the two guard positions in Saturday’s season opener against Miami of Ohio and will be the first twins to start in a game for the Iowa football team since Kent and Kevin Ellis started in the secondary in 1980.
Prediction: At least another 40 years will pass after this season before twin brothers ever start again for Iowa.
Opinion: The Paulsen twins deserve credit for staying the course at a time when many college players transfer due to a lack of playing time early in their career.
Fact: Iowa senior quarterback Nate Stanley has 52 career touchdown passes and needs 23 more to break Chuck Long’s school record of 74 scoring strikes.
Prediction: Stanley will fall just short of breaking Long’s record this season.
Opinion: Stanley will have a strong case to be ranked among the top five Iowa quarterbacks of all time if he leads Iowa to a Big Ten title this season, or even to a West Division title, and produces similar statistics from the previous two seasons.
Fact: Nebraska is being picked by some to win the Big Ten West Division despite having finished 4-8 in each of the past two seasons.
Prediction: Nebraska will win at least eight games this season as long as sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez stays healthy.
Opinion: Nebraska has the most delusional and insufferable fans in all of sports.
Fact: Iowa has plenty of star power on its 2019 roster, led by junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa and junior offensive tackles Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs.
Prediction: All three of those players will declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, and will be selected in the first round, marking the first time Iowa has had three players picked in the first round since quarterback Chuck Long, running back Ronnie Harmon and offensive lineman Mike Haight were selected in 1986.
Opinion: Iowa has to have a better rushing attack this season to fully validate the greatness of Jackson and Wirfs.
Fact: Eight of the 14 Big Ten schools will now sell beer to the general public at football games.
Prediction: Iowa will join the party for the start of the 2020-21 sports calendar year.
Opinion: Schools should charge $1 dollar per ounce of beer in order to cash in big and to limit binge drinking with that being a concern on college campuses.
Fact: Iowa junior running backs Mekhi Sargent, Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin each started at least three games last season, led by Kelly-Martin with six starts.
Prediction: Assuming they stay healthy, Sargent and Young will both rush for at least 700 yards this season.
Opinion: Sargent is one of the more versatile running backs to play for Kirk Ferentz at Iowa in that he can run, catch and block at a high level.
Fact: Former Iowa All-America center Megan Gustafson set a school record and led the nation with 33 double-doubles in scoring and rebounding last season.
Prediction: The Iowa women’s basketball team will combine for less than 10 double-doubles this season, but that isn’t meant as criticism.
Opinion: We’ll never see the likes of Megan Gustafson again at Iowa.