A message to Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta
Makes little sense to play in the Music City Bowl under the circumstances
By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – A message to Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta:
Shut it down.
What’s the point in trying to play in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 in Nashville, Tenn., against a 5-5 opponent that closed the regular season with two losses by a combined score of 100-46 when six of your coaches, including your head coach, and several players, reportedly have tested positive for the coronavirus?
Your head coach is 65-years old and has looked and sounded sick and tired in his most recent interactions with the media.
Your quarterback coach is 67-years old, and more at risk from a health standpoint.
You’ve already decided to pause all in-person football-related activities for at least five days in preparation for a bowl game that is less than two weeks away.
Your athletic department is bracing for about a $50 million deficit because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and the bowl trip will only add to the deficit.
Of course, the players want to play in the bowl game because they’re competitors, and because they only have so many opportunities to play in bowl games.
But again, just look at the surreal circumstances.
You’re scheduled to face Missouri in the Music City Bowl in just nine days, and yet, you just paused in-person activities for five days due to health concerns.
Kirk Ferentz was strongly against finding a different opponent after Michigan canceled this past Saturday’s game because he didn’t think there would be enough time to prepare a new game plan.
So why is this any different?
You’re taking almost a week off for a game that is barely a week away.
And even if you do manage to have enough players and coaches to fill a roster, the experience will be far from a typical bowl experience.
Your team is set to arrive in Nashville the day before the game, so it’s not as if the players would be missing out on some great bowl experience if you did shut down. This is more like a road game against a mediocre opponent, and there would only be a limited number of fans in attendance.
Some fans will almost certainly oppose the decision to shut down, and will resent and rip this message because they feel strongly that the players deserve an opportunity to participate in a bowl game as a reward for winning six consecutive games after starting the season 0-2.
And I agree with them.
The players do deserve to play in a bowl game, but they also need enough time to prepare for the game, but so much of that time has now been taken away.
At some point, you have to decide if the reward is worth the risk, and worth the hassle of trying to navigate through these uncharted waters.
It seems to have reached that point with you having paused in person-activities for five days.
Missouri is also not practicing again until Dec. 26th, so neither team will have had enough time to properly prepare.
Be proud of what the Iowa football team has accomplished this season under difficult circumstances. The season could’ve easily unraveled after the 0-2 start, but the players stayed the course and stayed unified.
Iowa, as you know, is one of just three Big Ten teams to have played all eight regular-season games. That is a noteworthy accomplishment.
So this season is already a success, even without playing in a bowl game.