Back in 2010, an Iowa program fresh off a BCS bowl appearance and Big Ten runner-up finish extended Kirk Ferentz for ten years with an obscene buyout. Two weeks after signing the extension, Ferentz's team, solidly ranked in the top 15, went to Arizona, ran for just 29 yards, and lost on a late touchdown to the Wildcats. Two months later, the team stumbled to a 7-5 finish and didn't return to the Top 25 for five years.
Six seasons later, it's like nothing has ever changed.
A lazy, ineffective performance from another top 15 Iowa team, two weeks removed from yet another ten-year Kirk Ferentz contract extension with yet another obscene buyout clause, was not enough to beat FCS champions North Dakota State Saturday, eliminating Iowa from consideration for anything of substance this season and again exposing its coach as a contract-year player. North Dakota State was dominant through the second half, outrushed Iowa 239-34 and managed to run for more yardage than Iowa gained in total. C.J. Beathard turned in one of the worst performances of his career, completing just 11 passes for 152 yards in his first loss in Kinnick Stadium. To his credit, his offensive line -- touted as one of the nation's best before this season -- gave him and his running backs almost no chance, wholly failing to handle the Bison defensive front throughout the day.
Iowa's defense allowed five yards per carry and forced just one turnover, an interception which was immediately given back by yet another Beathard blind side hit caused by yet another lapsed blitz pickup, and could not stop NDSU in the fourth quarter when needed. And with his defense clearly exhausted following a 15-play Bison touchdown drive with just 3 minutes to play, Kirk Ferentz yet again reverted to his ultra-conservative form, running three times into the line and punting, allowing NDSU to stage a short, run-heavy two-minute drive to set up the game-winning kick.
A football team does not lose games as a double-digit favorite simply due to lack of talent or bad breaks. Losses from that position are usually due to lack of motivation. Anyone who watched Iowa listlessly stumble around the Kinnick Stadium turf on Saturday can attest to that. And when the guy responsible for providing that motivation has a $36 million insurance policy handed to him -- a policy which codifies a seven-win season as a massive success -- and immediately reverts to his famously staid seven-win form to tank yet another promising season before it began with yet another embarrassing September loss, it's hard not to see history repeating.