TUESDAYS WITH BORE-Y
We're running a bit behind on INP this week, but it's another week of Spring Football, which means it's another week of position assistant inter--
Wait, hold up.
Is that Goo Goo Dolls I hear in the background?
Could it be? COULD IT BE?
- KOK is totally on board with '20 For 20': "The biggest story is the head coach -- the guy has been head coach of a Division I program the last 20 years. I think that is a pretty darn big deal. You ought to find out how that happened, never mind all this little stuff you're dealing with me."
- There really wasn't much from KOK that we didn't already know or expect: Stanley is obviously the starter and progressing as expected; redshirt freshman Peyton Mansell has taken a leap forward in the first full year in the program; he likes true freshman Spencer Petras, who KOK landed late in the recruiting calendar.
- Receivers coach Kelton Copeland gave the same statement that every Iowa receivers coach has given for the last decade: There is a lot of potential in the receiver group, but that needs to translate to production in the fall.
- Unsurprisingly, it sounds like Iowa will primarily rely on Nick Easley, Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette at receiver. There is obviously some growth needed from Smith and Smith-Marsette -- ISM's phone use came up again, because whatever -- but they've got potential we haven't seen in a while.
- Also look for Kyle Groeneweg, who is originally from northwest Iowa and spent a season at the University of Sioux Falls before transferring into the program. He's been mentioned in at least two of these press conferences now.
- O'Keefe did say that the speed at receiver has allowed him and Brian Ferentz to extend the field in the passing game, which all ties to the biggest problem with Iowa's offense in recent years: Without a legitimate deep threat, Iowa's play action game hasn't been enough to keep defenses from loading the box with safeties.
Word trickled out yesterday that Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, would no longer carry the Big Ten Network. Eventually, BTN confirmed, but with the caveat "in many markets":
Comcast XFinity has decided unilaterally to drop BTN in many markets. All of their competitors still carry BTN everywhere. We at BTN share your disappointment. Let Comcast know how you feel.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) April 12, 2018
Subsequent reports indicate that Comcast is getting rid of BTN in markets outside the conference footprint, i.e. states without a Big Ten team in them. As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
The Big Ten Network will remain available on Comcast Xfinity in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Comcast is not available in Nebraska and Iowa.
Two important takeaways from that particular announcement: One, this isn't Mediacom or Cox, so Iowa and Nebraska are unaffected. Two, there is an important state missing from that list. You know, the one that singlehandedly justified including Stupid Rutgers in the Big Ten and moving the conference tournament to Madison Square Garden in the middle of mid-major Championship Week. And if New York doesn't have BTN anymore, not only does the conference lose out on millions of dollars of revenue, but it also loses the rationale for Stupid Rutgers.
Here's the thing: It looks like Comcast is already caving a bit, as initial reports did not include Virginia or Washington D.C. within the footprint (which is why they are apparently tacked onto that statement, out of alphabetical order, from Star Tribune).
Also, if the Big Ten had any inclination to go to sixteen teams AND knew that it could shoehorn states into its Comcast "footprint" just by getting a legitimate sports program near them (as it apparently has already done with Maryland), UConn is looking for a home and could be paired with any number of schools that don't really match their current league: Syracuse (depending on the terms of their ACC agreement and what the league's lawyers think they can get away with), Boston College (ditto, with the caveat that the Big Ten has avoided all non-Notre Dame religious schools for most of its existence), Missouri (same caveats plus SEC money, but they still don't seem to fit there). In other words, if Comcast is going to change the rules, don't be surprised if Jim Delany uses their new rules to his advantage.
Of course, this could all be negotiating tactics for the next round of usage fees, too, and if so, it will probably resolve somewhere around the second week of September after displaced Big Ten alums riot against Comcast and threaten full-on cord cutting if they can't have their Michigan football.
THE FALL'S GONNA KILL YOU
I'm not sure I agree with the premise of our friend Kevin Trahan's post at Above the Law, theorizing that the NCAA has shot itself in the foot on player-pay litigation by somehow getting federal prosecutors to enforce its player-pay prohibitions, but it's worth a read.
Essentially, for those who haven't been paying attention to the status of ongoing litigation against the NCAA, the organization is knee-deep in an antitrust suit brought in the wake of the federal court's decision in the "Ed O'Bannon likeness" case. It was filed in the same court and is now before the same judge as O'Bannon, who just denied an NCAA motion to throw the case out. For thirty years, the NCAA has relied on a previous Supreme Court decision, Board of Regents of Oklahoma, to shield it from antitrust claims. But the Ninth Circuit eviscerated that argument in O'Bannon and held that the prohibition against paying players for the use of their likenesses -- in video games, for instance -- was in violation of antitrust rules because it had no rational competitive basis.
With Board of Regents gone, the NCAA has come up with new arguments as to why its member institutions should not pay players, chief among them that people won't watch college sports if they know the athletes are getting paid. Trahan's argument is that the FBI investigation into college sports has shown everyone that some athletes are already being paid, and yet we still watch the NCAA Tournament.
Here lies the NCAA’s problem: Its two most persuasive justifications — and explanations for why no less-restrictive alternatives would work — are premised on the fact that fans wouldn’t watch and athletes wouldn’t be students if they weren’t paid. But the more the FBI shows that athletes were getting paid, while athletic departments continued to rake in money and those players still showed up for class, the more the NCAA will struggle to argue that such strict rules are necessary to preserve college sports....
Not only can the plaintiffs now show that schools themselves separate athletes from the rest of campus, they can also show that the system didn’t come crumbling down when players did get paid....Moreover, if people were truly so turned off by the fact that athletes are getting paid, why were they still watching “March Madness?”
There is one big problem with this line of argument, though. The concept that coaches, recruiters and shoe companies were conspiring to get cash into the hands of the nation's best high school athletes in order to get their commitment is hardly something new. Under-the-table payments have been assumed to be part of college sports since the University of Washington got its recruits no-show jobs in the 1920s. The NCAA has uncovered illicit benefits to players and their families for a hundred years. SMU got the death penalty for sending out cash to players accompanied by letters on university letterhead. Countless programs have had wins and titles "removed" by the NCAA for violations. Sure, the FBI adds a modicum of legitimacy to the findings, but the sport we have watched for years has always been assumed to be corrupt.
What the NCAA is arguing is permitted payments to players -- above-board salaries, negotiated between the school and its athletes -- would turn this into a quasi-pro endeavor that strips the veneer of school spirit and pride of alma mater off the entire exercise and make it unpalatable to fans. And while that logic might seem ridiculous, latching onto the longstanding existence of illicit payments as proof seems less effective that simply pointing out that this is how large-scale sports work.
A fan of a team is a fan of the laundry. Nobody attended school at Minnesota Vikings or Kansas City Royals, and yet they somehow find people who become passionate supporters of their teams, willing to spend their money to watch those games, no matter who is wearing the laundry. The idea that college sports, a system in which the people wearing the laundry change every four years, is somehow different from that is absurd on its face. Losing sight of that and focusing on secret payments as some sort of stand-in for an open market is a mistake.
Iowa's newest football assistant coach, running backs coach Derrick Foster, is an Alabama native who spent his prior two years at Samford (which is also in Alabama). And given that Iowa currently has seven offers out to Alabama prospects for the Class of 2019, Matthew Bain at the DMR asks the question: Is Iowa trying to break into Alabama?
"The biggest thing about it is (Alabama prospects) truly believe that we can get a couple players down there that’d be interested in coming up and playing in a Power Five, Big Ten school like Iowa," Foster said in a conversation with the Register after his spring practice press conference. "(Hopefully we could) go down there and pick a couple — steal a couple good football players."
That’s the plan.
Because Iowa, which doesn't traditionally recruit the deep South, now has an inroad with one of the region's most talent-rich states....
The question is: Can the Hawkeyes create a small-scale pipeline? Iowa has a recruiting footprint in Connecticut thanks to quarterbacks coach Ken O'Keefe, who grew up there. But there's obviously less competition in Connecticut than Alabama.
That quote from Foster is telling: Iowa's not going into Alabama with any intent of pulling recruits away from the Tide, the Tigers or anyone else in the ACC or SEC. Targeting players "that’d be interested in coming up and playing in a Power Five, Big Ten school like Iowa" implies that they don't have other Power Five, Big Ten offers.
The problem with targeting players that aren't on anyone's radar in Alabama is you're doing that in a state where every school is scouted by all the schools and all the services. As we wrote on Signing Day, some of the secret sauce of Iowa's recruiting is its willingness to take the road less traveled. Landing a two-star in South Dakota makes some sense, because Iowa's track record in scouting South Dakota is higher than any recruiting service, all of which largely ignore South Dakota. The same goes for Connecticut, as Bain writes in his post. But nobody ignores Alabama; it's Ground Zero for college football. Iowa is now putting its ability to scout up against everyone, and claiming it's better at locating football players in a place where everyone is trying to locate football players.
The last time Iowa did this in Alabama, it was a last-second offer to running back Eric Graham on Signing Day. It didn't work out, and while Iowa should be willing to move past a single mistake and try something again, bargain shopping in Alabama is going to be extremely difficult.
ODDS & ENDS
Connor McCaffery is back in good health and practicing baseball full-time, according to the DMR. Obviously, it's late enough in the season that he'll redshirt, but it's a good sign for both Iowa Baseball and Iowa Basketball in 2018-19.
Hawkeye Nation catches up with former Iowa defensive lineman Colin Cole, who recently retired from the NFL after an impressive fifteen-year run.
They say the prevent defense prevents you from winning. But when you're running it at Minnesota, the whole "prevents you from winning" thing is already decided by the name on the front of the uniform.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) April 13, 2018
And finally, for those too young to remember the insanity of Late Night with David Letterman, the entirety of Letterman's appearances with world chess champ Garry Kasparov in 1989, including Letterman and Kasparov playing chess.
— Don Giller (@thedonz5) April 13, 2018