TUESDAYS WITH BORE-Y
It's Election Day Kirk, which brings to mind that unfortunate Sarah Palin run-in from a while back, but whatever. Here's what we learned from The Captain on Tuesday:
- Shaun Beyer and Brady Ross are out injured. Aaron Mends could potentially play in a bowl game, but won't be back during the regular season. Matt Hankins is healthy and reinstated to the team, and could start. They are not going to hold him out for a redshirt.
- Tyrone Tracy, the true freshman wide receiver/running back, will play in four games and then redshirt. "He's not in the Army yet," Ferentz said. Same situation for freshman linebacker Dillion Doyle, who took a couple of snaps with the defense due to injury and has made some special teams appearances.
- This whole press conference felt like Ferentz was concerned his team is about to shut down and wanted to warn them that Saturday is going to be a game. It's the first time all year he's gone out of his way to praise an opponent's toughness and trip over himself saying that it's going to be a struggle. That's not exactly a good sign.
- No alternate uniform this year, which was pretty much apparent when Iowa didn't have All-Blacks against Wisconsin. The quirky schedule this year, with just three home games after the penultimate week of September, probably forced the decision to be made earlier than the program was ready to make it.
- Asked if he talked to the Big Ten about the officiating last week: "We typically converse. We converse. We're moving on."
- NO, KIRK. NO. NO. I HAVE BUILT A LIFESTYLE BRAND ON DENYING THIS POINT. DO NOT CROSS ME. DO NOT THREATEN MY LIVELIHOOD: "This game has really become a big rivalry between us and Northwestern going back 20 years. We've had a great series over the years, and it's not a trophy game officially but really kind of feels like that."
- In one of the weirdest angles I've seen from a reporter asking Ferentz a question, someone brought up that it was the 23rd anniversary of Art Modell announcing the Browns' move to Baltimore -- a move that occurred while Ferentz was the Browns' offensive line coach -- and asked whether Ferentz had been paying attention to Northwestern's 1995 Rose Bowl team at the time. The answer was no.
- Some of you wonder why I still read these press conferences. It's for magical moments of insight like this: "The biggest thing for us to move forward right now is moving forward."
Morehouse went deep on Iowa's secondary under Phil Parker, talking with a bunch of former players about what makes Phil so good at what he does. All of it is worth your time; Phil is probably the most opaque figure in the last twenty years of Iowa football, and arguably its most important, and it's rare we get any look into why his secondaries and defenses are so good or why he's so effective at identifying overlooked recruits that he can use.
There was one point in particular that I found interesting on recruiting:
Here’s an anecdote from Charles Godfrey, a former Hawkeye who spent eight seasons in the NFL. Godfrey was a big recruit out of Texas, with offers from Missouri and Pitt.
Godfrey said a lot of college recruiters told him how great he was going to be. Not Phil Parker.
“Coach Parker came in and said, ‘Let’s go watch some film,’” Godfrey said. “He watched film with me and didn’t point out the good things. He pointed out the things I did wrong.
“That’s what I wanted. I wanted somebody who was going to make me better....I wanted him to be honest with me. I’ll work for what I get.”
During my junior year at Iowa, I went on a few law school tours. The third or fourth school I toured was the University of Chicago. On the previous tours, the schools had provided free breakfast and a flashy presentation in a modern auditorium with padded seats and state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment, and there were short movies about the student experience. They were glossy and flashy and intriguing.
Chicago was not that. My group was taken into an old classroom with white walls and wooden chairs. And then our tour guide went to work. Basically, the selling point was simple: They weren't putting money into padded seats or videos. They put their money in instruction, and if you went to Chicago, you were going to sit in hard wooden seats and learn from some of the best instructors in the nation. When I left that afternoon, I would have run through walls to go to Chicago.
The point is, you pitch what you can pitch -- Ferentz brought this up in yesterday's press conference regarding Northwestern's facilities before the new practice building was official -- but you can also tailor that pitch to weed out the people who don't fit your philosophy. If you look at the guys that Parker has turned into pros, they are usually missing top-end speed. Parker knows he can make that up with technique and toughness if a guy is willing to be coached. So you watch some film, you are highly critical, and you see if the guy stays interested. If so, he's probably a guy you can work with. I'm guessing Phil isn't alone in how he does this on the Iowa staff, either.
Iowa doesn't recruit stars. It doesn't recruit pure athleticism. Kirk Ferentz Iowa wants program guys, and it has refined its method for identifying and pitching them over the 20 years that those coaches have been here. And especially when it comes to Parker, there's no basis for criticism.
Gary Barta addressed the most important aspect of this basketball season last week: What's the deal with this table thing?
Athletic director Gary Barta on Thursday called it "a pilot project" to see how popular it is with fans. He said the university decided to try it out after seeing it done elsewhere.
"We're constantly trying to find new ideas to enhance the fan experience," Barta said. "We didn't want to do a thousand of these. We wanted to start with 100 and see how popular it becomes."
Season-ticket packages are being sold for the tables at $1,500 a seat. Barta said the goal is to sell about half of the spots on a season-long basis and leave the rest for sale game-by-game.
"We can have a lot of people experience it and then sell them more permanently in the future," Barta said.
Not sure how you're going to convince "a lot of people to experience" the worst seats in the building at an enormous markup, but there's a sucker born every second, I suppose.
I get that Iowa wants luxury boxes in an arena that doesn't allow them to be retrofitted. Hell, I sympathize with Barta's predicament in trying to do to Carver-Hawkeye Arena what he did to Kinnick Stadium. CHA is still a perfectly fine place to watch a basketball game, so long as you don't care about atmospherics.
But atmospherics matter for a program that needs to draw fans from outside Iowa City in order to sell every seat. That means luxury boxes. That means students close to the floor. That means the basic ability to get out of your seat without being shouted down by someone pining for the salad days of Bucky O'Connor. And that means being able to park without much issue and get out of town quickly when the game is over.
You can't bolt luxury boxes onto Carver Hawkeye Arena, a stadium built with one concourse around the perimeter. You can't let students get close to the floor or let people stand up, because the lack of a middle concourse means they're blocking the view of another ten rows of seats behind them. And you can't allow parking, because there isn't anywhere nearby to put more stalls.
CHA isn't old -- there are at least 30 Power Six college arenas older still in use -- and it isn't small -- still 25th nationally in capacity -- but it's a problem. Earlier this fall, Stadium published a "Best Job in the Big Ten" poll of the conference's coaches and administrators. Iowa was eleventh overall. Its facilities were twelfth, ahead of just Penn State and Rutgers. Program resources, whatever that means, were thirteenth. Game atmosphere was eleventh. If it weren't for the fact that Iowa's admissions policy is lax and its academic support is top-notch, the program might be lower overall. If you want to fix this program, you would move it to something new and bright, and give CHA over to the indoor programs as a multi-purpose practice facility.
The athletic department is perpetually flush with cash. It has the perfect location for a new arena in its possession, and there's no more talk of moving the football stadium west after the most recent renovations. It's probably time to stop putting bandages on this problem and build a new arena.
ODDS & ENDS
Iowa dropped to 21st in the CFP standings last night, which is less surprising for the ranking than the fact that Iowa is even ranked at all.
Three-loss teams ranked ahead of the Hawkeyes: Penn State, Texas, Michigan State, Mississippi State, and Florida.
Hayden Fry made it to homecoming at SMU last weekend, and the man still knows how to rock a spread collar shirt.
If you want to go to the Iowa hoops opener tomorrow night, today is your last chance at getting a FOUR PACK. A FOUR PACK costs $55.
OUR MOST HATED RORY
Good luck to my friend Evan Boudreaux and his teammates on the Purdue Mens Basketball team in their season opener tonight against Fairfield! Get the win and Boiler Up! @eboudreaux12, @boilerball, #boilerup! #bigten #ncaatourney pic.twitter.com/RwoHrJrJeS— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) November 6, 2018
And finally, after a brief stint on a college sideline this fall, Drew Tate is back in the CFL with one of the eight teams named Roughriders. He found an old friend when he got there.
2 Hawkeyes chasing their 3 championship together. Lets get it! pic.twitter.com/89Vl9Ns4Wd— DrewTate (@CoachDrewTate) November 6, 2018