TUESDAYS WITH BOAR-Y
Kirk got right to it in Tuesday's press conference. No small talk, no chit chat. No fat on this one. Just pure tenderloin.
- Nick Niemann, who suffered a leg injury late in the Wisconsin game, is still "a couple weeks" away from returning. He was also "a couple weeks" away last week. I'd target Penn State, given what that usually means. Barrington Wade will play in his absence at outside linebacker. Matt Hankins is "working through some stuff" and probably won't be available this week, either.
- Iowa changed its bye week calendar from years past, practicing through Wednesday and then giving the team the rest of the week off. Ferentz thought it helped: "[O]ne thing that's been pretty much constant, we've changed our format almost every year it seems like. And the other thing that's been pretty constant is usually on Sunday, I come off the field in a bad mood about that day's work. And that wasn't the case this year."
- Travel rosters expand to 74 players this year. When asked about his expanded options, Ferentz briefly turned into Nick Saban: "We're still looking for the next 14 to fill it out. So we're not just going to fill seats up. And maybe that hurts us in recruiting or will hurt us in recruiting, I don't know. But the guys get on a bus on Friday, will have a purpose to go. And we've got to make sure they've got a role. And we've kind of done that. I think we can take 74 to the hotel here. We're saving money for the university, doing our part to be fiscally responsible." He also said "we're not going on a field trip up there, we're not going to be taking cameras and stuff like that." So whoever had 'expanded travel rosters' as the thing that would piss Kirk off this week wins the pool.
- A question about how they handle players returning home for road games (Amani Hooker is a Minneapolis native) got us an appearance by Coach Sean Hannity: "So you try to educate, yet we're not trying to be the Grinch that stole Christmas either. Probably can't say that, can you? Stole the holidays. Got it."
- To the reporter who keeps saying -- not asking, saying -- that Wisconsin pushed Shaun Beyer into that punt in the pressers over the last two weeks: Stop trying to make fetch happen. It's not going to happen.
- You always remember your first, especially when you're Kirk Ferentz and it's in your early-80s wheelhouse: "My first one was 1981 out there. I'm pretty sure we were ranked. We were on CBS TV. And my memory is getting a little bad here, but we were -- Sports Illustrated was at the game, which never happened back then. If you're on TV it never happened either. And we got real tight and didn't play very well. I think we lost 12-10 or 12-whatever it was. And I had a holding penalty; I remember that distinctly down in the end zone."
- Kirk then unwrapped a Werther's Original and looked to the horizon, contemplating the passage of time and his regrets: "[Ben] Niemann is a little bit more linear, but now he's playing in the box as I understand it. I still haven't seen him play yet. I regret that."
- "Plus Google. I could even Google stuff. It's not that hard anymore." Yeah, we're done here.
TUESDAYS WITH OAR-Y
We don't usually spend time on the opposition's press conferences -- ours are depressing enough -- but P.J. Fleck's love for Kirk Ferentz continues:
"Kirk Ferentz is one of the best college football coaches in the history of college football."
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 2, 2018
Two observations from this: One, Fleck was low-key gunning for the Iowa job back in 2015 when it looked like Kirk might be one season away from the trapdoor, and if he means what he says here -- and I have no reason to believe he doesn't -- you could see why. An unforeseen upshot of Ferentz becoming the longest-serving FBS-level head coach and breaking Hayden Fry's wins record is a newfound appreciation for Iowa's stability, both within the fanbase and outside the usual Iowa orbit. If the job does open after Kirk leaves, the fact that Iowa has had two coaches in the last forty years has to be a selling point.
Two, it's something about Kirk Ferentz being good said by a Minnesota coach, so of course the mentions devolve into Nebraska fans screaming about Tom Osborne. Iowa's been living rent-free in their winless, sorry-ass, lost-to-Troy-at-home heads for the last half-decade.
THIS IS FINE
Last month, we mentioned in passing that Iowa center Luka Garza had what appeared to be minor surgery to remove a cyst from his abdomen. Obviously, surgery is surgery, and we weren't expecting him to be available at the start of practice last week. November seemed reasonable, though.
Luka Garza is 3 ½ weeks removed from surgery to remove a cyst from his abdomen. Frank Garza told the Register on Tuesday that his son will undergo a medical test in two weeks that will give a clearer indication of how much time he will miss while recuperating. The plan is for Garza, a 6-foot-11 sophomore, to return to the team sometime this winter....
“We’re counting on him being back for sure. We just don’t know when,” Frank Garza said. “He wants to be there for the first game. That’s my son, though. That’s his mindset.”
"Sometime this winter" sounds a lot less like November 8 and a lot more like January 1. For a team that is desperately trying to improve its last-in-the-world defense from 2017-18, losing the only true center on the roster for an extended period of time is going to be extremely problematic. Fran would probably have to stack Jack Nunge on Cordell Pemsl's shoulders, wrap them in a trench coat with a broom for an arm, and tell us that his new center Vincent Adultman had been playing AAU ball with Pat McCaffery since they were kids.
HATE WEEKS OF OLD AND HATE WEEKS ANEW
Iowa and Minnesota have been playing football for 127 years, but (as with just about everything related to Iowa football) the modern version of the rivalry truly began with Hayden Fry. Minnesota coach Joe Salem famously wore bib overalls during practice for Iowa. With Hayden being Prime Hayden, it demanded response: After beating the Gophers 21-16, Hayden changed out the white pants for overalls and a cowboy hat for the postgame interview. Doc writes the history of it for The Athletic, and as I say every week, The Athletic is the best money you can spend.
Hayden was King of Hate Week, but we might have our Crown Prince:
Iowa FS Amani Hooker, a Minneapolis native, says he's only attended two Gophers games in his life. Once was for a field trip. The other time was when he got free tickets.
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) October 2, 2018
All Hail Prince Hooker.
ODDS & ENDS
247 adjusted their rankings this week, and Iowa commit Jestin Jacobs is suddenly a four-star. This is contrary to about 734 Iowa commits over the last twenty years who have been adjusted down soon after committing to Iowa, and it's a weird feeling.
I don't have any idea what to do with this news:
— Quinn Early (@QuinnEarly) September 27, 2018
Scott Frost came here to beef and chew gum, and he's all out of gum.
Iowa native Dana Holgorsen telegraphs his interest in the Hawkeyes head coaching job by going all-in on Our Most Hated Rival Rutgers:
Dana Holgorsen asked about Kansas having eight different defenders with interceptions. "That's the Rutgers factor." pic.twitter.com/wutVYyThJt
— Chris Anderson (@CMAnderson247) October 2, 2018
It's been a year since Tom Petty died, and so the retrospectives are going to come at a furious pace for the next 18-36 months. This NPR story is a pretty good point for jumping into it.