By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted all over the place, and that includes the Iowa football facility.
Last season, it wasn’t unusual Saturdays to be the only day the entire team was together.
But now that things are mostly back to normal, senior offensive lineman Kyler Schott said it can only make the team stronger.
“Everyone is training,” Schott said. “Not half the team is there or whatever it is because a couple of guys have gotten it. I think just being there, training together as a team, it’s going to really show a little bit more of what we could have done last year and how we’re going to be this year.”
Iowa is coming off a 6-2 season with an anticlimactic finish.
Iowa started 0-2 before reeling off six consecutive victories, but its championship weekend matchup with Michigan and its Music City Bowl matchup against Missouri both were canceled due to COVID problems within each program.
Junior receiver Tyrone Tracy said the mood has lightened a little bit among players and coaches now that many have been vaccinated.
“It’s very different in the facility,” Tracy said. “I feel like everybody kind of laid down a little bit. Last year, the medical staff, coaches were on us make sure we weren’t in any contact with anyone with COVID so we could have a season. They’re still kind of on us, but they’re not really on us as much in the facility.
“The mask was the biggest thing. It’s very hard to hear people.”
While many of his players and staff are vaccinated, head coach Kirk Ferentz said he is not sure he could or would require those within the program to get the vaccination.
“I think everybody’s got to make their own choices,” Ferentz said. “I know there’s a lot of factual information and a lot of not factual information out there, too.”
Inevitable NIL: States around the country are introducing or passing name, image, likeness bills, but Iowa has yet to do so.
The legislation would allow college athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness without penalization from the NCAA.
Tracy, whose brother runs a marketing firm, said he is fully in favor of a similar bill being passed in Iowa.
“That’s one of the biggest things I’m rooting for right now,” Tracy said. “I feel like a lot of players go down just because they don’t get the chance to go out and make money off themselves. Right now is the time where players are getting their name, image, likeness, all that. They should be able to bring in money for all the stuff that we do for the university, the football team, the organization.
“We should be able to go out and seek rewards for being a good football player. I understand why we shouldn’t. I do understand that, but I feel like there’s a bigger reason why we should. If there’s a vote, I’m checking yes.”
It seems like more a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ a bill will be passed in Iowa.
Ferentz said Tuesday that he isn’t an expert on the subject and will have to rely on those who are when the time comes.
“I know in my case and probably coaching staff’s case, we’re going to be really leaning on people that do understand the ins and outs of this,” Ferentz said. “It’s like any changes that come along, you try to navigate and do as best you can for you and your institution. It’s probably going to be different for everywhere in the country would be my guess.”
Hurdlers wow Moss: Apparently senior defensive back Riley Moss is so focused on football he doesn’t pay attention to other sports, including one of his favorites.
Moss, who was a state champion hurdler at Ankeny Centennial, was asked if he knew of the Iowa men’s track and field team’s recent accomplishments.
Moss said he had no idea that Iowa’s Jaylan McConico and Jamal Britt finished second and fourth, respectively, in the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA Championships.
“That’s crazy,” Moss said. “That’s nuts. I did not realize that.”
Moss also was the Drake Relays and Iowa state champion in the 100-meter hurdles as a high school senior.
Ferentz for playoff expansion: Much like the name, image, likeness legislation, it seems that College Football Playoff expansion is inevitable.
It has been rumored recently that the NCAA will expand from a four-team playoff to a 12-team format at some point.
Ferentz said Tuesday he is all for playoff expansion.
“I’ve not been a great fan of the four-team playoff,” Ferentz said. “Apparently, the media and the fans aren’t either which is why this is happening. What I don’t like about the four-team thing is it’s kind of a win it all mentality which is what the NFL is. The only teams happy in the NFL are the first-year staffs that show improvement, maybe a team that just got to the playoffs, or the teams that get to the top. Really the only team that’s happy in those last four teams is the one that wins the Super Bowl.”
QB Update: Despite junior Spencer Petras starting all eight games last season, Ferentz said during spring ball that they were maintaining an open quarterback competition between Petras and his backup, sophomore Alex Padilla.
“We’re going to keep an open mind for every position,” Ferentz said. “Spencer clearly has that experience. He didn’t a year ago and now he does. He did a great job during spring practice from start to finish. The real story is the other two guys improved. You usually expect that for guys that haven’t played a lot, you hope it clicks at some point.
“Alex, in particular, not that he wasn’t doing well, but he was just kind of flatlining for the first two weeks. Then that last half he really ascended. He looked more comfortable, more natural and really decisive. The takeaway for us right now is we feel like we have a couple guys that can go.”