By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY – Iowa and Iowa State fans both woke up on Sunday depressed and frustrated, but for different reasons.
Iowa fans are coping with not having a fall football season, at least not yet, while Iowa State fans are coping with their team’s shocking 31-14 loss to Louisiana in the season opener on Saturday in Ames.
Actually, shocking might be too strong of a word, considering Louisiana returned a bulk of its starters from a team that won 11 games last season.
But still, Iowa State had no business losing to the Ragin Cajuns at home, unless Iowa State is vastly overrated.
Matt Campbell as the Iowa State head coach is now 0-5 in games played on the second Saturday in September, with Iowa responsible for the first four losses.
It’s back to the drawing board for the Cyclones, but at least they have a season to keep them energized and driven.
Iowa, on the other hand, doesn’t have a fall season, but that could soon change based on the latest rumors and reports using anonymous sources.
While it almost has become comical the amount of rumors and speculation that have persisted since the Big Ten Conference voted on Aug. 11 to cancel the fall football season, these latest rumors and reports actually might have some substance.
It was being reported Sunday afternoon that the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors soon will vote to start the season, with the target date set for Oct. 17.
Hope has reportedly been replaced by confidence and optimism, and the change in attitude is mostly due to having more reliable and rapid tracing and testing for the highly contagious coronavirus compared to just five weeks ago when the Big Ten voted 11-3 to cancel the season.
Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio State were the three schools that voted to play this fall.
The 14-member Council of Presidents and Chancellors is scheduled to be briefed Sunday on the medical updates.
Nine votes would be needed to reverse the original decision, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is reporting that Wisconsin is expected to vote yes this time.
It just feels that the tide is shifting, and that playing this fall is no longer a lost cause, assuming all 14 teams can be ready in what amounts to about a month of preparation.
An Oct. 17 start would allow Big Ten teams play an eight-game schedule with a conference title game on Dec. 19.
That timetable is important because the College Football Playoff field is scheduled to be announced on Dec. 20.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has said before that it would take about six-to-eight weeks to get his team ready to play, but that is under normal conditions.
There is nothing normal about living with a global pandemic, so teams will just have to deal with a much quicker learning curve, and with maybe not being in the best shape physically when the starts.
It was easy to see the lack of execution during many of Saturday’s college games. From dropped passes to overthrown passes to missed tackles to missed blocks, much of the play was sloppy and shabby.
But sloppy and shabby is better than not having football, and the Big Ten finally seems to be leaning towards playing this fall, assuming all these reports are accurate.
You also have to wonder if both public and political pressure has swayed the Big Ten because there has been plenty of both.
President Trump has made his feelings abundantly clear on Twitter that he wants the Big Ten playing football as soon as possible, while eight players from Nebraska filed a lawsuit on Aug. 27 seeking a reversal of the league’s decision.
Fans from Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State and Nebraska also have written letters to the Big Ten demanding answers.
The Big Ten’s lack of transparency has made a tough and delicate situation even worse, and much of the backlash has been directed at Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, even though he doesn’t have a vote on whether to play.
It has been a horrible month for the Big Ten from a public relations standpoint, and the conference certainly deserves part of the blame for how it has handed this developing story.
Some have accused the Big Ten of being influenced and driven by politics, but that just seems like nonsense because nobody suffers more from not playing football than the Big Ten.
A majority of the Big Ten’s presidents and chancellors didn’t feel it was safe enough to play football a month ago, but apparently the circumstances have since changed, thanks mostly to more reliable tracing and testing for the virus.
So if they vote this time to have a fall season, and pick Oct. 17 as the starting date, I wouldn’t question or criticize that vote just like I didn’t question or criticize the vote not to play.
My criticism has been directed entirely at the Big Ten’s lack of transparency and consistency.
My stand has always been the same in that I want football back as soon and as safely as possible.
And now it appears it might happen sooner than later.