We weren't sure just how Iowa managed to win the Joe Moore Award for best offensive line this season, and we still aren't, but Bobby Le Gesse's story on Iowa's o-line sheds some light on what happened.
The Iowa offensive line was one big game of musical chairs this season.
Players would be in different spots, possibly next to someone new, each time the music stopped and game day arrived. Someone different seemed to be left without a spot for each contest.
It got to the point Keegan Render stopped noticing all the movement — but not because upheaval and change became routine.
“We got to prepare so fast you can’t really think about it,” the offensive guard said in November.
Therein lies the reason the offensive line went from a liability to a strength and won the Joe Moore Award, all in 12 games.
If you gave the truth serum to Kirk Ferentz and Chris Doyle, I think they would tell you that offensive line development comes in two parts: The physical transformation that Doyle generally supervises, and the experience-gathering that only comes with game action. When injuries hit, players who don't have the second component are forced into action and generally struggle until they get the sufficient experience. That's the story that Le Gesse tells, and I think it rings true.
Were we too reactionary when Render, Paulsen and others struggled early? Probably, but all we know is what is in front of us. By the end of the season, Render and Paulsen looked like they could be future starters, and while Iowa's line never looked like the nation's best (that award remains fairly ridiculous), it also showed more obvious improvement than any other position group.
Profiles in Television Set-Counting
Rutgers got hit with notice of a number of NCAA violations Tuesday, all coming from Kyle Flood's disastrous tenure as head coach (and Julie Hermann's equally-awful time as athletic director). The short version:
- Flood tried to influence a professor to improve the academic standing of a player (which was widely reported last year)
- Two recruiting "hostesses" and an assistant professor had improper contact with recruits (also widely reported earlier this year)
- The recruiting director talked about recruits publicly (not a huge deal)
- Flood's staff failed to report positive drug tests in order to keep players testing positive eligible (that one was new, I think)
Most of the violations were self-reported by Rutgers beforehand, and punishment from the NCAA hasn't been announced, but at what point do we consider the blatant cash-grab that is Big Ten Rutgers a disaster? The Scarlet Knights are the absolute league bottom-feeder in football and basketball, their academics aren't any better than mid-tier in the conference, their athletic program is a complete administrative disaster that just replaced the school President and athletic director, and now the football team is going to be under the NCAA's thumb.
Rutgers Football since joining the Big Ten:— Pick Six Previews (@PickSixPreviews) December 20, 2016
NCAA Violations: 7
Conference Wins: 4
Syracuse gets you those television sets. Connecticut might well do the trick, as well. There are better ways for Big Ten members to get rich than this.
Elsewhere in Scandals
Minnesota's proposed boycott of the Holiday Bowl ended pretty quickly after the 80-page investigative report prepared by the University was released and their position, both internally and outside the program, was no longer tenable. The statement released by the team's representative, receiver Drew Wolitarksky, is a case study in backtracking. And that, as they say, is that.
There remains the issue of how Minnesota got to the point of expelling football players three months after a suspension had been served for the same purported incident. Like whether using Title IX as a pseudo-law enforcement mechanism is constitutional:
The Office of Civil Rights is the federal agency charged with enforcing federal anti-discrimination statutes. The relevant statute here is Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which expressly forbids discrimination on the basis of sex. This law gives us the funding of women's athletics. But, it also gives the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) the jurisdiction to oversee compliance with federal laws (Title IX, also Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) by every college or university nationwide that accepts federal funding.
If your school accepts money from the federal government (which includes most private schools, too,) then OCR gets to enforce these laws. When we talk about federal funding, we are also talking about research grants, and federally-backed student loans. Thus if a school fails to comply with OCR directives, bye bye federal funding, which has much the same effect of bye bye school.
In 2011, the OCR issued a "Dear Colleague" letter about sexual assault on campus. In that letter, the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights set forth new requirements that ALL schools accepting federal money had to meet in order for the schools' investigation of sexual assaults to be compliant with what the OCR deemed appropriate. As a part of this letter, OCR recommended (read "required") that the burden of proof go from "clear and convincing evidence" to a "preponderance" standard. That is the most significant change as a practical matter; as legal matter, the letter raises far more serious concerns.
As RBR points out, the OCR reduction in the burden of proof required for university action is the functional legal equivalent of civil penalties for speed cameras; if the burden of proof cannot be met, just lower the burden and change the penalty. This is to say nothing for the fact that universities are almost-universally awful at conducting investigations or providing judicial mechanisms for challenging the findings of those investigations.
Obviously, sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses (and elsewhere, for that matter) and needs to be directly and honestly addressed. Lowering the legal hurdles to enforcement and funneling that enforcement through a kangaroo court does little more than sow the discontent that led to the Minnesota boycott and resistance elsewhere, though. If we want to get everyone at the table to talk about the substance of the problem, we need procedure that looks fair from the outside.
Odds and Ends
Congrats to C.J. Beathard, who became a father Monday night. Both mom and baby are reportedly doing well. How Beathard played this season and kept up with his studies during his girlfriend's pregnancy is beyond me.
Brandon Scherff is going to the Pro Bowl in just his second season in the NFL.
Congrats to Brandon Scherff on earning his first Pro Bowl. That didn't take long! pic.twitter.com/3bpHLr7d6E— Chris Doyle (@coach_Doyle) December 21, 2016
Former Hawkeye defensive lineman Christian Ballard is selling marijuana (legally) for a living now. Ironically, I don't think he was among those subject to the bizarre drugs innuendo that was so pervasive that Kirk Ferentz had to hold a press conference to refute it back in 2010.
Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette are not playing in their respective teams' bowl games. Perhaps you heard. The bowls are doing just fine, by the way, and nobody was outraged when Iowa's entire team failed to show up for its last two bowl games.
Remember when Nebraska wanted to replace Bo Pelini with a "Football Tim Miles"? Well, now the actual Basketball Tim Miles is losing to Gardner-Webb and fielding calls like this on his radio show:
“You’re a really nice guy, Coach. I’d like to thank you for trying to help here at Nebraska. This just is not working out. And I wish you good luck.”
Miles, after a short pause, replied to Eric: “You’re not my A.D. though, right? So you just didn’t fire me, right?”
"Child punching" is such a Duke thing.
And finally, for your Christmas weekend, how to properly cook a prime rib. Mine is chilling in my refrigerator as we speak.