In men's basketball, the coaches can't quit Iowa. In football, they just don't love us enough. The final college football polls of the year are out now that the season is officially in the books (congrats to our new Clemson overlords) and they're a mixed bag for the 9-4 Outback Bowl champion Iowa Hawkeyes.
On the good side of the ledger: the final AP Poll has Iowa at #25 overall, one of four previously unranked teams who leaped into the final rankings on the back of bowl wins. Northwestern (Holiday Bowl victors), Utah State (New Mexico Bowl winners), and Cincinnati (Military Bowl conquerors) were the other three teams to crack the rankings after previously being unranked, slotting in at #21, #22, and #24, respectively. Iowa enters the rankings ahead of Appalachian State, Stanford, and their Outback Bowl victims, Mississippi State.
On the bad side of the ledger: the final Coaches Poll has Iowa as the top team in the Others Receiving Votes category, aka #25, aka Not Ranked In the Top 25. Slotted ahead of them in that #25 spot? Why, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, of course. The 8-5 Mississippi State Bulldogs. Who just lost to Iowa exactly a week ago today. Perhaps the coaches were too busy trying to recover from New Year's Eve hangovers to actually watch that game (or at least note its result)? Or the more likely explanation: Coaches Poll gonna Coaches Poll.
The AP Poll's wise final poll means that Iowa finishes the season ranked for the first time since 2015 and for the seventh time in Kirk Ferentz's 20 seasons at Iowa. Those previous rankings: 8th (2002-2004), 20th (2008), 7th (2009), and 9th (2015). Thanks to Mississippi State's loss in the Outback Bowl and Iowa State's loss in the Alamo Bowl, Iowa also ends the season without any wins over teams ranked in the final AP Top 25. (Mississippi State was ranked at the time Iowa beat them, though, so maybe they can get partial credit for that.)
Meanwhile, various advanced stats give Iowa a bit more love for its 2018 campaign. The S&P+ rankings have Iowa at #22, a few slots above the AP pollsters. Matt Hinton, the Artist Formerly Known as Dr. Saturday, has Iowa at #18 in his final rankings. But no rankings love Iowa as much as Jeff Sagarin's ratings, which have Iowa at #10 overall to end the season. Yowza.
This season Iowa didn't quite hit expectations and the four losses Iowa suffered will rankle for quite a while, no doubt. But there are far, far, far worse fates than ending the season with nine wins, a bowl victory, and a spot in the final Top 25 rankings. We can take a moment to enjoy that, I think.