Thursday, July 31, 2008

ESPN's Most Hated: Big 12 Conference

Historically, my favorite Big 12 teams are:
  1. Nebraska - early days of Dr. Tom Osborne (football only).

  2. Texas - I loved Earl Campbell back in his day as a Longhorn - plus I enjoyed my visit in '06 to Austin, when I caught the Iowa State vs. Texas football game, while in Austin on business.

  3. Oklahoma - I was a Bob Stoops fan when he wore #41 at SS for the Hawkeyes in 1979 to 1982. Though, I have often rooted for OU over Texas in Red River Shootout, even before the Big 8-SWC merged into the Big 12.

  4. Iowa State - Former coach Dan McCarney softened my views on the Cyclones. And, the Solich/Callahan era at Nebraska didn't hurt.

I can't say I like everyone in the Big 12 though. But, I do root for the underdog on occasion. Les Miles wins at Okie State over OU were interesting games, but overall, I am not a Cowboys fan.

The poll conducted by ESPN is for all-sports... my rankings of 1-4 are for football only.


Two Part-time starters at DT are dismissed at Penn State

Penn State returns four defensive tackles that combined for all but one start in the interior of last year's Nittany Lion defense. Legal woes have lead to two of the four DTs to be dismissed from the team per news this week. The two players dismissed were the top 2 on the tackle charts for for JoePa 2007 defense.

ESPN's 'Outside the Lines' series has recently spotlighted the off-the-field problems at Penn State lately. While many are pointing to Iowa's sexual assault case as a major distraction, PSU's off-the-field woes appear to be an ongoing concern for JoePa's program.


Big Ten Football '08: Little Love for Iowa Hawkeyes by The Herald-Times

The Bloomington, Indiana Herald-Times releases the Big Ten Power Ratings with no surprise at #1, but a big surprise pick for the cellar in the Big Ten Football race for '08.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes...

11. the Iowa Hawkeyes...

Ouch, the power rankings for the Big Ten conference football for '08.

The blog writer for The Herald-Times had the following to say... "11. Iowa Hawkeyes
From floods to a sexual assault investigation, this will be one difficult season for the Hawks. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and his players have had to deal with quite a bit in the off-season, and winning many games this year seems to be a near-impossible task."

Yes, the Hawkeyes have had off the field issues in 2007. But, the two players involved in the alleged sexual assault were removed from the team in the middle of the Big Ten season in '07. They are no longer at the University.

As Kirk Ferentz pointed out during the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon last week in Chicago, "we're confident that this will be a different year and we ask people to judge this roster on what they do basically starting in March. And this roster really took form. And I'm very confident this year will be different, but only time will tell, just like our results on the field.

The 2007 Hawkeyes finished 6-6 (4-4 in the Big Ten, tied for 5th with Penn State). Iowa returns 52 letterwinners (Ohio State is first with 53). Iowa played 31 freshman in '07. They will be young still, but experience does return lead by three key seniors who were in Chicago, OL Seth Olsen and two players on track to be four-year starters at DT, Mitch King and Matt Kroul.

The impact of the floods and tornadoes in the State of Iowa will likely help build team unity, not act as a distraction. None of the University of Iowa football facilities were impacted. The disasters have allowed members of the team and coaching staff to give back to the community from Parkersburg to Iowa City to New Orleans. Yes, prior to the floods and tornadoes, members of the team and staff went to New Orleans to give aid to those impacted by Katrina.

You may have noticed I offered my thoughts on Iowa on the Herald-Times blog...

cidsports July 31st, 2008 at 8:48 pm Eastern Time
I see Iowa at 5-3 in ‘08, after a 4-4 campaign LY. Iowa was #12 nationally in scoring defense, despite having the weakest and near weakest offense in the Big Ten.
Iowa held the Illini to 6 points and the Hawkeyes have done very well defensively vs. Zook. Only team last year to keep the Illini out of the end zone.
Defense, ball control offense and a positive turnover margin should fuel Iowa’s top division finish in the Big Ten. OSU is in a league of their own in ‘08.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NFL Hall of Fame awaits former University of Iowa star

Andre Tippett helped erase 19 years of non-winning football (1961-1980) at the University of Iowa in 1981. Tippett lead the Iowa defense to a 1981 Big Ten title in coach J Hayden Fry's third season at Iowa.

Tippett brought a black belt with him to the football field. A martial arts expert, he became a terror to quarterbacks in the backfield. After his successful career in Iowa City, Tippett moved on to a highly successful NFL career with the New England Patriots.

Tippett is set to become a new member of the NFL Hall of Fame in the Class of 2008. After 12 NFL seasons with the Patriots as a player, Tippett has remained as a member of the New England Patriot front office serving in community affairs.

Andre Tippett was a joy to watch at Kinnick Stadium and a great ambassador of what is good in college and pro athletics. Cheers to Tippett becoming a new member of the NFL Hall of Fame.


HBO: A City on Fire: The Story of the '68 Detroit Tigers

It is interesting watching the various baseball documentaries on HBO. The Detroit Story of '68 was done in 2002. I caught for the first time tonight. It is an interesting way to learn and reflect about our society and culture. Sports certainly has played a major role in the culture of our cities.

St. Louis vs. Detroit in the 1968 World Series. One of my favorite all-time players in Major League Baseball was Bob Gibson. I have never been an American League fan. But, 1968 was clearly the Tigers year, but it took all of seven games, after a 3-1 game deficit!

Baseball in the 1960's was clearly our national pastime. I grew up enjoying the dog days of summer. I know a number of people who love the game today. I enjoyed baseball in my youth as a player and as a volunteer Kid's League coach in the 1970's and 1980's.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

One of the best documentaries on PBS...

It's been a tough year of flooding and tornadoes in the State of Iowa this year (2008). But, it is hard to compare it to our nation's struggles during The Civil War (1861-65).
No question, the film by Ken Burns on The Civil War captures the pain of a nation at war. Iowa Public Television has been running the series the past couple of Sundays.
It's a brilliant production of music, pictures and stories our country's darkest days. I find my interest for history strengthened by the series. Our family had the pleasure of going to Springfield, Illinois a couple of years ago to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.

A great year for College Football hits the airwaves in August '08

Link to 2008 College Football TV slate.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ten Years of the BCS... 1998 to 2007

The 2008 season represents the 10th year anniversary of the BCS System, involving all of the BCS conferences, including the Big Ten and Pac Ten conferences.
1998 - Tennessee (13-0) beat Florida State (11-2) in the Fiesta Bowl, 23-16, to win the first complete BCS Title. SEC 1st.
1999- Florida State (12-0) beat Virginia Tech (11-1) in the Sugar Bowl, 46-29. ACC 1st.
2000 - Oklahoma (13-0) beat defending champion Florida State (11-2) in the Orange Bowl, 13-2. Big 12 1st.
2001 - Miami-Florida (12-0) beat Nebraska (11-2) in the Rose Bowl, 37-14. Big East 1st.
2002 - Ohio State (14-0) beat defending champion Miami-FL (12-1) in the Fiesta Bowl, 31-24 ot. Big Ten 1st.
2003 - LSU (13-1) beat Oklahoma (12-2) in the Sugar Bowl, 21-14. SEC 2nd.
2004 - USC (13-0) beat Oklahoma (12-1) in the Orange Bowl, 55-19. Pac Ten 1st.
2005 - Texas (13-0) beat defending champion USC (12-1) in the Rose Bowl, 41-38. Big 12 2nd.
2006 - Florida (13-1) beat Ohio State (12-1) in the BCS Title Game, 41-14. SEC 3rd.
2007 - LSU (12-2) beat Ohio State (11-2) in the BCS Title Game, 38-24. SEC 4th.
In ten BCS Title Games, the SEC is now 4-0 in championship games. LSU is the only team with two BCS titles. Florida State, Oklahoma and Ohio State each have one BCS title in three appearances.
The 2008 season will be an interesting race to South Florida and the 2009 BCS National Championship Game. A SEC team is clearly favored as the top conference right now. The Big East Conference doesn't have a current member that has played or won a BCS title. Miami-FL is now an ACC member.

What's with this week's Rivals Football Roundtable Question?

The College Football Roundtable headline:
Roundtable: Which fallen power on the rise?

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: With the season fast approaching, which program will start to again make annual visits to the top 10 first: Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame or UCLA?

I am sorry, but what does a basketball power, UCLA, have to do with a commentary about fallen football powers? How is UCLA labeled a football power?

I'll take Iowa's college football resume over UCLA's for practical purposes. Since 1981, coaches Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz have elevated Iowa's football resume ahead of UCLA. Why don't you throw in the University of Minnesota, while you are at it, especially, if you are tossing UCLA into the category?

While we are at it, what has Alabama or Notre Dame really ever done in the BCS? Notre Dame does get a huge break, due to no conference affiliation. The modern BCS really began, when both the Big Ten and Pac Ten conferences joined the system ten years ago. The new BCS Title Game format, since 2006, has elevated the format, while preserving the bowl traditions a little better.

Jumping off topic for a moment: I would make one change: make the BCS Title Game a +1 system, after all the bowls are played. This would allow the bowls to maintain to preserve their historical bowl tie-ins. It would also use the BCS scoring system for what it was intended to do... match #1 vs. #2, nothing more.
Clearly, the list of football powers this decade doesn't include Alabama or Notre Dame. Today's Top Football powers of the decade and since the BCS began it's format in 1998 are:

  1. LSU (2 BCS titles, 4-0 in BCS)
  2. USC (1 BCS title, 5-1 in BCS)
  3. Oklahoma (1 BCS title, three title game appearances)
  4. Ohio State (1 BCS title, three title game appearances)
  5. Georgia (could this be the year for coach Mark Richt?)
  6. Florida (1 BCS title)
  7. Texas (1 BCS title)
  8. Michigan (new coach Rich Rodriguez hopes to keep them on the list)
  9. Miami-FL (1 BCS title)
  10. tied Florida State (3 title game appearances) and Tennessee (each, with 1 BCS title)

Notre Dame has three appearances and is 0-3 in BCS bowls. Alabama hasn't been seen, since it's lone appearance in 1999, a loss to #8 Michigan in the Orange Bowl. UCLA's lone appearance was in 1998, a loss to Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

Clearly, Miami-FL and Florida State need to improve or they will see themselves slide off this list, but each having a BCS Title is certainly a plus over the three other teams mentioned by


Can College Football take the Big Ten for granite in '08?

Prior to 2006, the Big Ten entered BCS Bowls at 15-7. Setting the pace for other conferences, including the SEC. In the past two years, the table shifted with the Big Ten 0-4 and the SEC 4-0.

Plenty of talent returns around the Big Ten, especially with the top flight Ohio State Buckeyes for 2008. The Buckeyes return 20 starters and only lose 4 starters from last year.

Outstanding all-Big Ten first team returnees are back and will hit the field again in 2008
  • QB Todd Boeckman, Ohio State, senior
  • RB Beanie Wells, Ohio State, junior
  • C A.Q. Shipley, Penn State, senior
  • TE Travis Beckum, Wisconsin, senior
  • PK Austin Starr, Indiana, senior


  • DE Maurice Evans, Penn State, junior
  • DE Greg Middleton, junior
  • DT Mitch King, Iowa, senior
  • LB James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, senior
  • CB Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State, senior
  • CB Vontae Davis, Illinois, junior
  • PT Jeremy Boone, Penn State, junior

As well, all-Big Ten second team performers return for '08, as well


  • QB Kellen Lewis, Indiana, junior
  • RB Javon Ringer, Michigan State, senior
  • C Ryan McDonald, Illinois, senior
  • OG Kraig Urbik, Wisconsin, senior
  • OG Rich Ohrnberger, Penn State, senior
  • OT Alex Boone, Ohio State, senior
  • OT Xavier Fulton, Illinos, senior


  • DE Matt Shaughnessy, Wisconsin, senior
  • DE Will Davis, Illinois, senior
  • DT Terrance Taylor, Michigan, senior
  • LB Marcus Freeman, Ohio State, senior
  • PT Justin Kucek, Minnesota, senior
  • * LB Sean Lee, Penn State, senior will not play in '08 due to ACL injury*
But, as we all know, football is a team sport and it will be the work of 11 man units that really pull teams together. Having an all-star type player to build around is always valuable, especially at the major play making positions, but it always comes down the sum of all parts.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Who will be next in College Football?

Prior to last season, Indiana University from the Big Ten Conference hadn't reached a bowl game, since the 1993 season, Independence Bowl (L 20-45, Virginia Tech). Under first year head coach Bill Lynch, who replaced the late Terry Hoeppner in '07, finished 7-6 overall (3-5 in the Big Ten) and reached the Insight Bowl last year (L 33-49, Oklahoma State).

Longest droughts around the FBS, by conference affiliation:
  • SEC East - Vanderbilt (1962, Hall of Fame Bowl)
  • SEC West - Mississippi State (2003, Cotton Bowl)
  • Big Ten - Northwestern (2005, Sun Bowl)
  • Big 12 North - Iowa State (2005, Houston Bowl)
  • Big 12 South - Baylor (1994, Alamo Bowl)
  • ACC Atlantic -North Carolina State (2005, Car Care Bowl)
  • ACC Coastal - Duke (1994, Hall of Fame Bowl)
  • Pac Ten - Arizona (1998, Holiday Bowl)
  • Big East - Pittsburgh (2004, Fiesta Bowl) and Syracuse (2004, Champs Sports Bowl)
  • Mountain West - San Diego State (1998, Las Vegas Bowl)
  • Conference USA East - Marshall (2004, Fort Worth Bowl) and UAB (2004, Hawaii Bowl)
  • Conference USA West - SMU (1984, Aloha Bowl)
  • WAC -New Mexico State (1960, Sun Bowl)
  • Independents - Army (1996, Independence Bowl)
  • MAC East - Kent State (1972, Tangerine Bowl)***
  • MAC West - Eastern Michigan (1987, California Bowl)
  • Sun Belt - Three teams have never bowled***

*** The Buffalo Bulls of the MAC have never been to a bowl game. Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Florida International of the Sun Belt Conference have never been to a bowl game, either.

The SEC is recognized as the top FBS conference, but at the bottom, it shows some weaknesses as compared to the other BCS conferences. The Big Ten had IU with a nearly 15 year drought before last year, but Vanderbilt hasn't been to a bowl game, since the Kennedy Administration was in power in the White House.

A strong season for head coach Mike Stoops would greatly relieve some pressure on the University of Arizona fan base. Patience may be in order, if Stoops isn't successful in 2008, but the fan base may get a little restless, if they are shutout for a 10th straight season.

Ball State from the MAC ended an eleven year drought last year earning a bid to the International Bowl in Toronto (L 30-52, Rutgers). Ball State and IU were two Indiana FBS schools that ended longer bowl droughts in '07.

Last year, Florida Atlantic of the Sun Belt played in their first bowl game winning a bid to the New Orleans Bowl (W 44-27, Memphis). It will be interesting to see who ends a drought in '08.

  • Most Likely Team to Bowl in '08 - Pittsburgh Panthers (Big East)


Thursday, July 24, 2008

College Football is certainly a better place for this man...

Purdue's head coach Joe Tiller is right... while Penn State will certainly miss Joe Paterno, when he decides to step down from coaching. However, college football in general, will miss this great ambassador when it comes time for Joe Pa to step down.

Tuning into the Big Ten Network tonight, it was refreshing to listen to Joe Paterno speak to the media. On one question, he basically gave his feelings, but closed by saying, whatever the younger coaches feel is right, I can live with that. The question was on an early signing period.

One job I think Joe Paterno would have been very good at... would be as an in-studio TV analyst. He is a just a bright and refreshing ambassador for college football.

Cheers Joe! Here's to your health and family!


Big Ten Football Coaches Meet with Media Today

All eleven Big Ten head football coaches met with the media today in Chicago. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany also meet with the media, as well.

Ten of the eleven coaches are returning from last year, with the exception of new head coach Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, who moved over from West Virginia for the '08 season.

Eight teams will bring their version of the spread offense to the field in '08. Rodriguez brings over his version of the spread offense from the Big East Conference.

Purdue's Joe Tiller will wrap up his final season as head coach for the Boilermakers in '08. Plenty of questions about Joe Paterno's future at Penn State and whether '08 could be his final year.

All eyes are on the Big Ten, especially the Ohio State Buckeyes, after two straight defeats in the BCS Title Game. The 2008 Big Ten season should be another outstanding one, with the quality of head coaches in the conference. The race for #2 in the conference should be a very interesting one.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Iowa's Best of the Kirk Ferentz Era

Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (Career 61-49, 38-34 in Big Ten; two co-Big Ten titles, one perfect Big Ten campaign in '02) enters his tenth season at Iowa in '08. What are some of the highlights entering Year 10 of the Kirk Ferentz era?

College All-Americans during the KF era
  • QB Brad Banks
  • TE Dallas Clark
  • C Bruce Nelson
  • G Eric Steinbach
  • T Robert Gallery
  • DE Matt Roth
  • DT Colin Cole
  • LB Chad Greenway (2)
  • S Bob Sanders
  • PK Nate Kaeding (2)

Brad Banks was awarded was the Maxwell Award, as well as being runner up for the Heisman Trophy in '02. Dallas Clark won the John Mackey Award in '02. Robert Gallery in '03 won the Outland Trophy. Nate Kaeding was winner of the Lou Groza Award in '02.

First Team all-Big Ten Players during the KF era

  • QBs Brad Banks*** and Drew Tate
  • RB Fred Russell
  • TE Dallas Clark
  • C Bruce Nelson
  • Gs Eric Steinbach (2) and Mike Jones
  • T Robert Gallery (2)
  • DEs Aaron Kampman, Howard Hodges, Matt Roth and Kenny Iwebema
  • DTs Colin Cole, Jonathan Babineaux and Mitch King
  • LBs Fred Barr, Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge
  • DBs Bob Sanders (3) and Jovon Johnson
  • PK Nate Kaeding (2)

Brad Banks was named Big Ten Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player in '02. While Eric Steinbach in '02 and Robert Gallery in '03 were each awarded the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year. Drew Tate was awarded Big Ten Player of the Year in '04.

NFL Draft Picks during the KF era

  • RB Ladell Betts
  • WRs Kevin Kasper and Kahlil Hill
  • TEs Austin Wheatley, Dallas Clark, Erik Jensen, Tony Jackson and Scott Chandler
  • C Bruce Nelson and Mike Elgin
  • Gs Eric Steinbach, Ben Sobieski
  • Ts Robert Gallery, Pete McMahon and Marshall Yanda
  • DEs Aaron Kampman, Matt Roth and Kenny Iwebema
  • DTs Jared Clauss and Jonathan Babineaux
  • LBs Chad Greenway, Abdul Hodge and Mike Humpal
  • DBs Matt Bowen, Derek Pagel, Bob Sanders, Sean Considine and Charles Godfrey
  • PK Nate Kaeding

Kirk Ferentz was an assistant coach from 1993 to 1998 in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise, before returning to the University of Iowa to become head coach, after the 1998 season. Other former Iowa players under Kirk Ferentz made the NFL as free agents. Ferentz and his coaching staff at Iowa have developed a very good reputation among NFL coaches for having young men ready for the NFL.

Three former Ferentz assistants at Iowa are now in the NFL as assistants. Two assistant coaches that were hold over members from Hayden Fry's staff and served as Ferentz assistants at Iowa are now head coaches in college football.

Bowl Wins (3 wins, 3 losses) during KF era

  • 2005 Capital One Bowl (30-25 win over LSU)
  • 2004 Outback Bowl (37-17 win over Florida)
  • 2001 Alamo Bowl (19-16 win over Texas Tech)

Iowa finished #8 in the final AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Polls for three straight seasons from '02 to '04. Clearly the best 3 year stretch in Iowa football history. The 2008 season under Kirk Ferentz will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Iowa's best finish in Hawkeye history. The 1958 Iowa Hawkeye football team was awarded with the #1 final ranking from the Football Writers Association of American (FWAA) - Iowa's only football national title.


New Instant Reply Policy for Kinnick Stadium in '08

Finally, the University of Iowa is adopting the Big Ten standard on "controversial" plays and stadium replays. As an Iowa season ticket holder, I am glad the season ticket holder survey was listened too.


Iowa Football: Pre-Fall Roster Released for 2008

Two missing names on the University of Iowa 2008 Roster released ahead of the Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon this week. Florida recruit QB/WR David Blackwell isn't listed and neither is DB Marcus Wilson, who was rumored as making a come back.


Iowa State Football '08: Year 2 for Gene Chizik

Iowa State (3-9, 2-6 in the Big 12 North in '07) will bring zero all-Big 12 award winners to the field this fall. Year 2 may not be high on wins, but most around the Big 12 believe 2nd year head coach Gene Chizik is the right man to move the Iowa State football program forward.

The Cyclones return 27 lettermen (lose 25 lettermen), so look for some ups and downs in '08. 2008 schedule:

  • Aug. 28 vs. South Dakota State (Thur. night game)
  • Sept. 6 vs. Kent State
  • Sept. 13 @ Iowa
  • Sept. 20 @ UNLV
  • Sept. 27 bye week
  • Oct. 4 vs. Kansas
  • Oct. 11 @ Baylor
  • Oct. 18 vs. Nebraska
  • Oct. 25 vs. Texas A&M (Homecoming game)
  • Nov. 1 @ Oklahoma State
  • Nov. 8 @ Colorado
  • Nov. 15 vs. Missouri
  • Nov. 22 vs. Kansas State

Bold games - Top games for Cyclones in '08

Two sophomores will battle for the #1 at QB position, with hometown Austen Arnaud and Omaha's Philip Bates. Both players lettered in '07 and must replace 4-year letterwinner Bret Meyer, who lead ISU to back to back bowls his freshman and sophomore seasons ('04 and '05), but ISU has fallen to 7-17 the past two season. Meyer's favorite receiver, Todd Blythe has departed, as well.

Top linemen appears to be LG Reggie Stephens (junior, 16 starts), 4 of 5 starters return for the Cyclones on the O-line. Three other starters return on the offensive side, with part-time starters RB JJ Bass (3 starts), WRs RJ Sumrall (6) and Marquis Hamilton (9).

The Cyclones had the weakest offense in the Big 12 North, last year. The Cyclones do add the bottom 3 Big 12 South teams to the schedule in '08, with top 3: OU, Texas and Texas Tech falling off.

On defense, the Cyclones must replace their 2 top tacklers, LBs Alvin Bowen and Jon Banks. Also, the two interior linemen, in ISU's 4-3 defense, have departed. Seven starters return, including all 4 members of the secondary. Senior DE Kurtis Taylor (6.5 sacks), MLB Jesse Smith (junior 2.5 TFL, 3 PBU) and CB Allen Bell (junior, 12 starts LY) are three building blocks for Chizik's Cyclones in '08.

Special teams squad returns punter Mike Brandtner (39.4 yards per punt), but PK Bret Culbertson and KR Milan Moses have departed. Two true freshmen are among the candidates vying for the #1 PK job.

Four wins appear to be a good baseline this fall for Chizik's Cyclones. A 5 or 6 win season would have Chizik's Cyclones on the fast track, as they rebuild coming off the post Dan McCarney era, minus 2. Like McCarney, Chizik's background comes on the defensive side of the game. The defense gave up far too many points, but should be the strength again in '08.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

2008 Big Ten Football: All for One...

Will there be much of race in the Big Ten Conference in football this fall? Of the eight publications or media outlets that have come out thus far, they are clearly all for one!

Ohio State is seeking a share of the Big Ten title for the fourth straight season and their third straight outright title. Other than Penn State in 2005, it's been all Ohio State in the Big Ten.

The Buckeyes are still a candidate for the BCS Title Game. However, with back to back disappointments in the last two BCS Title Games, no one is picking the Buckeyes #1 nationally. They will have to earn the top nod on the field. Look for many to root against the Big Ten's unanimous favorite for this year's BCS Title Game.

Will the Buckeyes make it three in a row in '08? If they do make it to the title game... look for them to get it done. Of course SEC fans will likely sing the following tune in '08: Who in the SEC will knock the Buckeyes out in the Title Game this year?

Ohio State isn't the only conference unanimous choice, thus far:

  • ACC Atlantic: Clemson Tigers
  • ACC Coastal: Virginia Tech Hokies
  • Big East: West Virginia Mountaineers
  • Big 12 North: Missouri Tigers
  • Big 12 South: Oklahoma Sooners***
  • Big Ten: Ohio State Buckeyes
  • Pac Ten: USC Trojans
  • Sun Belt: Florida Atlantic Owls***

*** You can take Florida Atlantic in the Sun Belt per Pro Football Weekly's 2008 College Football Preview, they have Middle Tennessee #1. Surprisingly, they have Texas Tech #1 in the Big 12 South. I don't know Stassen's 2008 Preseason Consensus Chart will list PFW/CFN Season Preview among their listed picks?

Other than the SEC races, the majority of the BCS Conference Races repeat the Big Ten's theme of "All for One"... at least for now!


What were you doing 39 years ago today?

July 20, 1969

Apollo 11 and the first moon walk were conducted 39 years ago today.

Neil Armstrong's famous words were heard.

Later that year, the boys of summer, the New York Mets would go crazy in Major League Baseball. Coming up on the 40th anniversary, next year!


Padraig Harington is going to do it again!

The Shark, Greg Norman, hung around this weekend, but Padraig Harrington is going to win back to back British Open Championships. A fine accomplishment for Mr. Harrington indeed!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Winds of Royal Birkdale in '08

Wow, over 30 mph winds are providing for added drama as the 3rd round is on at the 2008 British Open. Cedar Rapids native Zach Johnson is +4 for the day, after 8 holes.
Should be interesting to see Greg Norman chase opening day leader KJ Choi. Ben Curtis is safe in the clubhouse with a 70 for the day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Iowa Basketball 2008-09: Solid slate in Las Vegas

The University of Iowa men's basketball team will face West Virginia in the Las Vegas Invitational this season. The Hawkeyes will close the Invitational facing either the University of Kentucky or Kansas State.

Coach Todd Lickliter will enter his 2nd season as Iowa's head coach in '08-'09. Lickliter's Hawkeyes will benefit this season with six new scholarship players on the roster for the Hawkeyes.


Rating the Top OOC Football Schedules for Big Ten Teams in '08

Best OOC schedules to worst in the Big Ten for '08

Here's my take on the top OOC slates:

  • 1. Michigan State (vs. 4 FBS teams; at Cal, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame).
  • 2. Michigan (vs. 4 FBS teams; Utah, Miami-OH, at Notre Dame, Toledo).
  • 3. Purdue (12 straight games; OOC vs. Northern Colorado, Oregon, Central Michigan, at Notre Dame).
  • 4. Ohio State (great road game, but...; Youngstown State, Ohio U, at USC, Troy).
  • 5. Illinois (great neutral rivalry, but; vs. Missouri , E. Illinois, LA-Lafayette, vs. Western Michigan).
  • 6. Iowa (two BCS teams; Maine, Florida International, Iowa State, at Pittsburgh).
  • 7. Wisconsin (no BCS teams for Badgers; Akron, Marshall, at Fresno State, Cal Poly).
  • 8. Penn State (not one #25 candidate among OOC opponents?; Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, at Syracuse, Temple).
  • 9. Minnesota (no BCS teams; NIU, at Bowling Green, Montana State, Florida Atlantic).
  • 10. Northwestern (rarely runs table in OOC; Syracuse, at Duke, Southern Illinois, Ohio U).
  • 11. Indiana (no BCS teams or road OOC games; Western Kentucky, Murray State, Ball State, Central Michigan).


Big Ten Conference: Top 20 OOC games for '08

Conference bragging rights are always a great debate. Here's my Top 20 OOC games for Big Ten teams in '08...
  • 1. #1 Ohio State at. #2 USC... Buckeyes are playing for a lot in this one on the road to the BCS in '08

  • 2. #16t Illinois vs. #6 Missouri at St. Louis... #1 OOC rivalry today for a Big Ten team...

  • 3. #11 Wisconsin at #25 Fresno State... a great game for UW, but shouldn't the Badgers play an OOC BCS team too?

  • 4. Michigan State at California... classic Big Ten vs. Pac Ten 2nd tier match up for '08...

  • 5. Purdue vs. #20 Oregon... another 2nd tier Big Ten vs Pac Ten, w/ Big Ten hosting...

  • 6. Michigan vs. Utah... after last year's Appalachian State game, this one should be on the must watch list...

  • 7. Michigan at Notre Dame... are the Fighting Irish back in '08?

  • 8. Iowa at Pittsburgh... why isn't Penn State playing Pitt... Iowa plays Iowa State each year?

  • 9. Michigan State vs. Notre Dame... are the Spartans for real?

  • 10. Purdue at Notre Dame... this will be Joe Tiller's chance to go out on top, as he will retire after '08 from his head coaching job for the Boilermakers...

  • 11. Penn State vs. Oregon State... 4th Big Ten vs. Pac Ten match up in '08...

  • 12. Purdue vs. Central Michigan... both teams are playing 3rd game in nearly one year between each other, wow!

  • 13. Minnesota at Bowling Green... a rare BCS team for a home appearance for Bowling Green...

  • 14. Northwestern at Duke... the only Big Ten vs. ACC game in the '08 regular season...
    15. Indiana vs. Central Michigan... is this a dangerous Nov. game for Big Ten?

  • 16. Minnesota vs. Florida Atlantic... a revenge game for the Gophers at home this season...

  • 17. Iowa vs. Iowa State... the Cy-Hawk Series is the other Big Ten vs. Big 12 rivalry game that doesn't quite have the national flare as the game in St. Louis...

  • 18. Penn State at QB in the Carrier Dome for Nittany Lions... danger?

  • 19. Illinois vs. Western Michigan in Detroit... Nov. 8 road trip in the OOC vs. a MAC school... upset trap?

  • 20. Michigan vs. Miami-OH... the Wolverines are 23-0 all time vs. MAC teams... head coach Rich Rodriquez's inaugural season could be a dandy?
One game I'll regret leaving off this list: Ball State at Indiana, Sept. 20th.


Picked up Pro Football Weekly's 2008 College Football Preview Magazine

Iowa and Iowa State both get props from Pro Football Weekly's College Preview Magazine... in the Big Ten and Big 12, respectively. "Team That'll Surprise" label is given to both Iowa and Iowa State for their respective conferences. Interesting, the magazine has Nebraska as the "Team That'll Disappoint" (pages 41-42).
In the Kickoff 2008 section (pages 8-11), Iowa is listed among "Five teams that could be this year's Kansas or Illinois..." In '07, KU and the Illini both made a bowl game after not bowling the previous season. Is Iowa on the path again from mediocre (12-13 the past two seasons) to big-time?
First time I have picked up the magazine, but with Street & Smith's and the Sporting News one now, I thought another preseason magazine was needed to fill the void.
It was interesting to see Nebraska get the "Team That'll Disappoint" label, since all in Big Red Country are pretty excited about new head coach Bo Pelini. The magazine sees a bowl game for Big Red, something outgoing coach Bill Callahan didn't do in two of four seasons, but Big Red fans have high expectations... and the Cornhuskers "aren't there" when it comes to "national title level" talent.
The Big Ten vs. the Big 12 will have twice in '08 in the regular season. Illinois vs. Missouri is set for August 30th in St. Louis, ranked #2 among all OOC match ups by Pro Football Weekly (page 26), but the battle of each conference surprise teams will take place September 15th with Iowa hosting Iowa State for the Cy-Hawk Trophy at Iowa's historic Kinnick Stadium.
Go Big Ten! vs. Go Big 12!

Iowa Incoming Basketball Recruit Avoids Theft

Matt Gatens is attending 2 summer school classes this summer ahead of his incoming freshman season at the University of Iowa. A trip to the restroom almost cost him in the classroom. Gatens father, Mike, was a lettermen on the Iowa basketball team in the 1970's.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big Ten Football in '08: Letterwinners Back and Departed...

Another outstanding year of Big Ten football approaches, who's on the rise, who's staying the same and who's falling...
The defending Big Ten champs, Ohio State, return 20 starters for the 2008 season, so clearly the Buckeyes are the team to beat again. The Buckeyes have won at least a share of the Big Ten title the past three years.

New coach Rich Rodriquez has the most work to do on all sides. Implementing a new scheme and a new coaching staff will create a transition for the Michigan Wolverines. Coach Rodriquez lost 13 starters from last year's team that tied for 2nd place.

Last year, the Top 5 teams in the Big Ten finished in the final USA Today Top 25 Poll. While Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin finished in the final AP Top 25 Poll. It will be interesting to see the chips fly in '08, as the season kickoffs on August 30th.


Message Boards

I usually contribute to various rival message boards, especially the Hawkeye Lounge on, but I posted today on on an old Hawkeye message board that for many years I enjoyed. Here's some thoughts for the 2008 Big Ten football race, especially for Iowa. Thanks Eli.

Message Board reminder 101: if you share a computer with other family members, make sure you are the person logged in, before you post! I am clearly not the only member using ezboard in our household.


Focusing on Football in the Big Ten

The 37th annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon will be July 25th. All eleven Big Ten coaches and 33 players will be on hand in Chicago for the event. Brent Musberger of ABC and ESPN will host the event.

Big Ten Conference will have new Coordinator of Officials beginning in 2009.
Let's hope the current coordinator goes out on a positive note. Thankfully, the Big Ten Conference learned from the past and introduced instant replay several seasons ago. But, as the speed of the game increases on the field, the human call gets tested more and more.

"Big Ten's top ten defenders touted for Bronko Nagurski Trophy. Speaking of the Golden Gophers, 10 conference standouts were named May 12 to the watch list of a trophy which bears the name of a former Minnesota legend. The 10 league representatives named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which honors the National Defensive Player of the Year, were Illinois' Vontae Davis, Indiana's Greg Middleton, Iowa's Mitch King, Michigan's Terrance Taylor, Northwestern's John Gill, Ohio State's Marcus Freeman, Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis, Penn State's Maurice Evans, and Wisconsin's Matt Shaughnessy. The Buckeyes' Laurinaitis captured the award in 2006 and was a finalist in 2007."

"Three Conference Snappers the "Centers" of Attention. A trio of Big Ten players was named May 7 to the Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List, which honors the nation's top center. Joining 41 other centers were Indiana's Alex Perry, Ohio State's Jim Cordle and Penn State's A.Q. Shipley."

"Big Ten Linemen also on a Watch List. A dozen conference linemen have been named to the 2008 Outland Trophy Watch List, which honors the nation's top interior lineman. This year's Big Ten candidates include Illinois' Xavier Fulton and Ryan McDonald, Iowa's Mitch King and Matt Kroul, Michigan's Terrance Taylor, Northwestern's John Gill, Ohio State's Alex Boone and Steve Rehring, Penn State's Gerald Cadogan and A.Q. Shipley, Purdue's Sean Sester, and Wisconsin's Kraig Urbik. The award has been given to a Big Ten player in three of the last five years. Iowa's Robert Gallery won in 2003, while Minnesota's Greg Eslinger and Wisconsin's Joe Thomas claimed the honored in 2005 and 2006, respectively."

"Lots of impact defenders on Lott's List. Six Big Ten defenders were named to the watch list for the 2008 Lott Trophy, awarded to the nation's top defensive impact player. Conference honorees included Illinois' Brit Miller, Indiana's Greg Middleton, Iowa's Mitch King, Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis, and Wisconsin's Jonathan Casillas. Among the 42 players, seven repeat candidates received recognition, including Casillas and 2007 finalist Laurinaitis."

"Four signal callers honored by JOHNNY U. Four Big Ten quarterbacks were named to the candidates this week for the 2008 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation to the best senior college quarterback in the nation. Congratulations and best of luck to Michigan State's Brian Hoyer, Northwestern's C.J. Bacher, Ohio State's Todd Boeckman and Purdue's Curtis Painter."

"Ohio State's Trapasso hoping to be the "GUY": Ohio State's A.J. Trapasso was one of five punters named to the preseason watch list for the 2008 Ray Guy Award, which identifies the nation's top collegiate punter. Trapasso, who finished last year with 2,049 punting yards, joins Arizona's Keenyn Crier, Ball State's Chris Miller, Cincinnati's Kevin Huber, and Utah's Louie Sakoda on the initial list."

Iowa's punter Ryan Donahue is only a sophomore. Look for this young man to be a player to watch in the near future. He appears to be on track to be a candidate to join Iowa's top punters dating back to 1974. Reggie Roby (1979-82) and Nick Gallery (1993-96) rank as two of Iowa's very best punters. Donahue earned Big Ten player of the week honors as a freshman on 8 kicks for a 51.6 average in Iowa's win in '07 vs. Michigan State.
For more information on the Big Ten Conference, visit

Friday, July 11, 2008

Western Illinois football coach Don Patterson on leave

Don Patterson, former Iowa assistant coach under J Hayden Fry and current head coach at Western Illinois, will take a leave of absence due to health reasons.

Best wishes to Don and his family as he looks to receive treatment at the University of Iowa's Department of Otolaryngology.

Western Illinois assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Mark Hendrickson will serve as acting head coach. Both Patterson and Hendrickson have roots at Iowa with Fry.


Should he stay or should he go?

What should the Green Bay Packers do? Should he stay or should he go? Yes, The Clash song comes to mind, after hearing the news today that Brett Favre may want to revive his short-planned retirement from the National Football League. Of course the song used the word "I" and the real decision is with the Packers now, since retirement was the original plan for Brett Favre.

Wow, what a nice situation developing in Green Bay over one of the best quarterbacks of all-time. Clearly, Favre is a QB that has skills, despite his original plans for retirement after last season. But, he also is in his final years of playing.

It's a tough situation for the Green Bay Packers. At some point, the Packers have to implement plans for life after Brett Favre as their quarterback. With Favre's original plans to retire this season, the Packers clearly began setting things into play for life without Brett Favre.

As a Green Bay fan and a person who has enjoyed the Brett Favre era over the years, I am not sure allowing Brett Favre to walk is a good move for the Packers. I guess Favre wants to take a page out of Joe Montana's playbook and play for another team.

It's too bad Brett Favre had a change in plans. I was hoping to see him retire as a Packer. The Packers do need a veteran QB in the mix with Aaron Rodgers and Brian Brohm, but I didn't figure it should be Brett Favre. The Packers should receive something for Favre, if he wants to go elsewhere?


Thursday, July 10, 2008

2008 Iowa Football Season: Year 10 under Kirk Ferentz

Kirk Ferentz opens the 2008 season, against the Maine Bears, the FCS program, that gave Ferentz his first head coaching job back in 1990.

Ferentz served as OL coach for head coach J Hayden Fry at Iowa from 1981 to 1989. The Hawkeyes went to eight straight bowl games from 1981 to 1988 under Fry. After three years at Maine and six more in the NFL as an assistant, Kirk Ferentz replaced one of his old mentor, after Fry retired at the end of the 1998 season.

Entering 2008, Iowa is looking to get back to a bowl game, after their six year bowl streak from 2001 to 2006 came to an end The Hawkeyes went 6-6 overall in '07 (4-4 in the Big Ten, tied for #5). Bowl eligible last year. But, the Big Ten ran out of bowl bids after a record ten Big Ten teams completed season eligible for a bowl. Iowa and Northwestern, both stayed home for the holidays in '07.

So far, it appears the college football preview magazines have mix reviews for the 2008 Iowa Hawkeyes. Most of the reviews have low expectations for Iowa this fall...

  • Street & Smith's Sporting News is picking Iowa #9 (page 52) in the Big Ten for '08. Ferentz (page 15) is one of five found on the Sporting News "Coaches on the Hot Seat" and like many in the media pointing to Ferentz's "$2.8 million a year for six wins."
  • Lindy's is picking Iowa #7 (page 85) in the Big Ten for '08. "Loaded at receiver and defensive tackle -- two keys spots every winning program needs." But, "the Hawkeye ground game has been tougher to find than Waldo." In closing, never to be taken lightly, but this team can neither be considered a title contender." Of the 119 teams in the FBS division, Lindy's rates Iowa #45.
  • Athlon Sports is picking Iowa #6 (page 98) in the Big Ten for '08. They call Iowa's schedule "favorable" since there is no Ohio State or Michigan and they get Penn State and Wisconsin at home. But, "the bad news is that the Hawkeyes have no experience runners, a so-so passing attack and lost three of their top six tacklers." Athlon Sports complete preseason rankings have Iowa #38.
  • Phil Steele's 2008 College Football preview is picking Iowa tied for #4 (page 56) in the Big Ten for '08. "The Hawks do not have overwhelming talent at the skill positions but do have my #4 rated O-line and #4 rated D-line (both in the Big Ten) plus much improved special teams and a top-notch HC. They also do not face OSU or Michigan in Big Ten play, giving them the best schedule of the middle-rung teams." Phil Steele has Iowa rated #34 (page 29) saying "the Hawks were in 4 straight January bowl games from 2002-2005 but are 12-13 the last two years. They have my #12 O-line in the country and #19 D-line. While not flashy at the skill spots, they do have a solid coach in Ferentz, a good fan following and will return to being a winning team with a blue-collar work ethic." Phil Steele predicts Iowa to reach a January bowl game this season, projecting Iowa vs. South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Iowa has played in two Outback Bowls under Ferentz, going 1-1 vs. Florida ('03 and '05 seasons).

50 Years Ago (1958) The Football Writers Association of America crowned Iowa with the school's only football national title, as Lindy's put it "Iowa's outstanding regular season and rout of California in the Rose Bowl got the Hawkeyes the nod." Iowa's top player and head coach were mentioned in this week's Sports Illustrated.

40 Years Ago (1968) head coach Woody Hayes and the Ohio State Buckeyes were crowned the nation's mythical national champion.

I don't see Iowa in 2008, but Ohio State is certainly a candidate from the Big Ten for the BCS Title. In the Big Ten though, I would call Iowa a sleeper more than a contender. But, does one ever want to say never to Iowa having a stronger year than expected?

Back in 2005, coming off three straight #8 finishes nationally, including two Big Ten shared championships ('02 and '04), Iowa was over hyped by many preseason previews as a Top 25, even Top 5 team. Some of the expectations...

  • Athlon Sports picked Iowa #3 nationally fueled heavily by the "Ferentz" factor...
  • The Sporting News picked Iowa #10 "Believe the hype... Hawkeyes will contend for a BCS bowl..."
  • Street & Smith's picked Iowa #13 fueled on the 10 wins in '04 despite a "completely decimated running game... "Kirk Ferentz could be the best coach in college football."
  • Phil Steele picked Iowa #14 "this is one of Kirk Ferentz's best teams yet which means a Rose Bowl trip is a possibility. OK, I realize that Iowa will likely be in the preseason Top 5 and Hawkeye fans are not too happy as they read this..."
  • Lindy's picked Iowa #15, despite "the front four has to start from scratch."

Hype over substance, there was plenty of it pointed towards Iowa City after three straight #8 finishes back in '05...

Lindy's wrote the right comment back in '05. "The Bad News: the most telling trait among championship teams is a veteran, stout defensive line that is immovable against the run. Iowa lost four seniors on the D-Line, and their are Big Ten teams eager to test the underbelly." A win over Florida in the Outback Bowl would likely have made Lindy's projection for Iowa in '05 a good one. But, Iowa came up short 24-31 to a team that went on in '06 to win the BCS Title.

Kirk Ferentz is entering his tenth season at Iowa in '08. Over the past ten seasons, we have seen some common denominators for success and for failure...

  • 1999 to 2000 - Iowa's biggest weakness was found in the offensive and defensive lines, when Kirk Ferentz arrived in Iowa City. Former Michigan State head coach Nick Saban mentioned it after the 1999 Iowa-MSU game in East Lansing to open the Ferentz era in the Big Ten.
  • 2001 to 2002 - Kirk Ferentz was gaining praise in the development of the offensive line at Iowa. Iowa's top two scoring offenses to date in the Ferentz era came during this period. Iowa began to develop a reputation of strong special teams that would become a strong baseline for Iowa's better Hawkeye teams to date in the Ferentz era.
  • 2003 to 2004 - Defensive coordinator Norm Parker was gaining high praise for the play of the Iowa defensive line, especially against the run, but improved pressure on the QB lead to a stronger overall defense for Iowa. Iowa's linebackers were gaining a lot of notice, as well.
  • 2005 to 2007 - Iowa's defensive line and wide receiver units clearly had ups and downs. Further, the offensive line was suspect at times, especially last year, when Iowa's OL gave up 46 sacks, which was #114 in the NCAA. Also, the running game dropped from 4.8 yards per carry in '05 to 4.3 and 3.5, respectively, the past two seasons.

Going back to the baseline for Iowa during the 2002 to 2004 seasons. Some highlights entering the '08 season:

  1. Iowa from '02 to '04 had a new starter each season at QB. Iowa had a different starting QB the season previous to the 3 year run. Skills varied throughout the period, with each QB. The biggest formula for Jake Christensen or Ricky Stanzi will be avoiding mistakes in '08. Titles have been won around the Big Ten with such a formula.
  2. The best two seasons offensively were highlighted by the offensive line more than any other position group. The '08 OL doesn't compare to '02, but appears capable of being a successful group with all 10 members of the two-deep returning for '08.
  3. A strong run defense is essential to success for Iowa, with the strongest results coming in '02 to '04. Mitch King and Matt Kroul anchor the interior defense entering their 4th season as starting DTs.
  4. Iowa success in '02 to '04 was fueled by by stopping the run and creating pressure on the quarterback. Sophomore defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Christain Ballard bring less experience as first year starters, but are very talented players and could bring an upside to Iowa's pass defense, with added pressure on the QB.
  5. Iowa's defense is designed to put at least one linebacker at the top of the tackle chart. Iowa must replace two of their top three tacklers from '07, both LBs. However, junior AJ Edds returns after finishing #2 in tackles for Iowa last year and will step into the leader of a unit that is young, but appears to have some interchangable parts, after Edds.
  6. Iowa's skill players on offense have varied greatly during the Ferentz era. Injuries have at times depleted Iowa's TEs, RBs or WRs options. We saw that last year, but we also saw it at times during the '02 to '04 run at Iowa in the skill positions. It takes 11 players working together to be successful on offense, but don't be surprised to see Iowa's offense improve this fall. Iowa returns 4 of the top 5 WRs from last year. Everyone is back at TE. In '02, Iowa went 8-0, but opened the season with a new starting QB, RB and FB and had to replace its #1 WR.
  7. Iowa's secondary plays two important roles... run support and pass coverage. Iowa has to replace its top two CBs, but the secondary has experience returning, lead by both returning safeties and a part-time starter at CB. Sophomore FS Brent Greenwood is a former walk-on and returning starter from last year. Ironically, between '02 and '04, former walk-ons Derek Pagel and Sean Considine filled the FS position for Iowa.
  8. Special teams play will be very important. Iowa has three very good players returning with special teams experience. Sophomore punter Ryan Donahue should emerge as one of the Big Ten's best this fall. Sophomore kickoff returner Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and senior punt returner Andy Brodell also could figure as candidates for all-Big Ten honors. A consistent placekicker needs to emerge, Iowa has three candidates, two with experience. Coverage units have been a trademark of good Ferentz teams and should continue to improve with the experience returning this fall. Iowa played 31 freshmen last year, with many contributing to Iowa's special teams.
  9. Iowa coaching staff is very respected by the NFL. In '05, Kirk Ferentz received a lot of praise. Today, some of those same sources, point to the high salary and 12-13 record the past two seasons and cast criticism. But, this is still mostly the same experienced staff that put together strong performances from '02 to '04 at Iowa.
  10. Kansas was 17-18 over the previous three seasons, before last year's breakout 12-1 campaign. Iowa is 19-18 over the past three seasons. Lindy's had KU #58 entering '07, while Athlon Sports had KU #57. Phil Steele in '07 commented about the fact, since the inception of the Big 12 in '96, 3-5 was as good as it got for KU, until last year's 7-1 finish in the Big 12 North. Can Iowa pull a KU type season in '08? KU clearly had a more favorable schedule, facing all 4 OOC opponents at home. KU and Iowa will face two common opponents in '08: Iowa State and FIU. KU coming into '07 had 4 close losses in '06. Last year, Iowa opened 2-0, but lost two close games in back to back road games at Iowa State and Wisconsin.

Like Kansas in their conference (Big 12) in '07, I don't see Iowa winning their conference title (Big Ten) in '08, but they should be an improved team and a tougher out for opponents during the '08 season. A January bowl game would be a nice outcome for '08, after two disappointing seasons the past two years. Of course, a Top 3 finish may be required and Iowa has some teams to catch before they can be considered for a bowl game of any kind. In the Big Ten, Ohio State is the team to beat.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

37th Annual Kickoff Luncheon scheduled for July 25th!

All eleven Big Ten football coaches will be in attendance, along with
three players from each university representing their respective schools. Iowa will send three linemen, each recognized in '07 as all-Big Ten members: senior defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul, along with offensive lineman Seth Olsen.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Is Joe Pa coaching his final games in '08?

Joe Paterno has been an icon at Penn State and for college football for quite some time. He became head coach at Penn State in 1966.

My first memories of Joe Paterno were in the early to mid 1970s. I began attending Iowa football games in 1974. Iowa and Penn State were playing one another back then.

With Joe Paterno under contact only through the end of this season, it's pretty easy to speculate that one of his assistants could be taking over on the sidelines quite soon.

Reports out of Pennsylvania speculate that Joe Paterno and Penn State will look inside the Nittany Lion program for his replacement.

So, could former Florida Gator head coach and current Penn State offensive coordinator Galen Hall be a top candidate in the near future? I have heard many college football fans mention current Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who has been a loyal Joe Pa assistant for more years.

Galen Hall coached at Florida from mid-1984 to mid-1989. There were problems associated with the SEC program back in the 1980s. But, Hall is coaching currently at Penn State, so past issues shouldn't be relevant today? Hall was 40-18-1 for the Florida Gators as head coach. His best season, they went 9-1-1, but were ineligible for post season play and conference honors.

Ironically, UCLA hired former college head coach Rick Neuheisel, who has been coaching in the NFL as an assistant after run-ins with the NCAA, while a head coach in the Pac Ten.

It will be an interesting season, but conventional wisdom seems to indicate that Purdue's Joe Tiller may not be the only head coach in the Big Ten finishing his career as a football coach after the 2008 season. Stay tuned.


Analizing the Sporting News College Football '08

So, Sporting News' Top 10 - Buy or Sell?
  1. Georgia
  2. Ohio State
  3. USC
  4. Oklahoma
  5. LSU
  6. Missouri
  7. Clemson
  8. West Virginia
  9. Florida
  10. Illinois

I know Ohio State has never beat a SEC opponent in a bowl game, but if the Buckeyes make it in '08 to their 3rd straight BCS title game. Then I say, three's the charm for Ohio State. They win their 2nd BCS Title (first was 2002 season) and celebrate the 40th anniversary of Woody Hayes' last MNC in style.

Georgia appears to be the right team for #1, until someone knocks them off. Heck, my early Top 25 pegged the Bulldogs #1 too. Ohio State's strength of schedule is #31(per Phil Steele page 318), which would appear a good formula for a BCS title run, looking at Florida and Louisiana State the past 2 seasons.

The Buckeyes clearly look strong, with a senior QB among the 10 returning starters on offense; 9 back on what should be a strong Buckeye defense. Georgia is rated #3, Florida #12 and defending champ, LSU, is #19 in strength of schedule (SOS). Tennessee is 16th, USC is #21, Texas #23, Oklahoma #30, with Florida State #50 in SOS of the former champs.

Heisman watch (pages 10-11): It would be an irony, if Ohio State wins the BCS in '08, while Tim Tebow wins his second Heisman Trophy, which would put him in company with only one player, former Buckeye running back Archie Griffin, the NCAA's only two-time Heisman winner!

Buckeye watch: RB Chris Wells and "hidden" Heisman hopeful, LB James Laurinaitis are mentioned in the Sporting News captions.

Coaches on the Hot Seat (page 15):
  • Washington's Tyrone Willingham (page 94) on the decline, picked #9 in Pac Ten.
  • Arizona's Mike Stoops (page 94) on the decline, picked #6 in the Pac Ten.
  • Iowa's Kirk Ferentz (page 52) steady, picked #9 in the Big Ten (steady? Iowa #5 in '07).
  • Syracuse's Greg Robinson (page 40) steady, picked last in the Big East basement, again.
  • Kansas State's Ron Prince (page 68) steady, picked #5 in Big 12 North.
While the top new hires go to Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson, who moves over from Navy, ahead of #2 Michigan's Rich Rodriquez (from West Virginia), #3 Rick Neuheisal (back in NCAA from NFL Baltimore assistant), #4 Ole Miss' Houston Nutt (from Arkansas), and #5 Arkansas' Bobby Petrino (from NFL Atlanta). Where's Bo? Nebraska hired #7 Bo Pelini (from LSU DC), while no love for #18 Texas A&M's Mike Sherman (from NFL Houston assistant).

Looking back at the Sporting News Top 10: are both #6 Missouri (page 70) and #10 Illinois (page 56) going to end in the Top 10? Both teams face each other right out of the gate (page 13), then must face their peers in the Big 12 and Big Ten, respectively. Neither has a strong history for consistency at the top of their conference ladder.

Can #5 LSU (page 117) stay this high playing in the SEC and coming off the BCS Title last year? SEC is rated the #1 conference again, by the Sporting news. It will be interesting to watch the QB situation for Tigers. Florida went from #1 to #13 in the AP the next year after their recent title. Like Florida, Texas dropped from #1 to #13 in the AP following their title. LSU should have a fun start in '08, they face defending FCS champ (formerly known as Division I-AA), Appalachian State, in the season opener.

It will be interesting to watch #8 West Virginia (page 74) under new head coach Bill Stewart. Popular among the players, but will he step up to the battles in the Big East and a trip to Boulder to face head coach Dan Hawkins and his Colorado Buffaloes.

The Sporting News, now owned by Street & Smith's, certainly keeps the tradition of Street & Smith previews with coverage of the FCS and small college previews. A good story (pages 153-154) on the parity in college football closing between FBS and FCS teams. Defending Champ Appalachian State rocked the college football world in '07 with its outstanding upset win in Ann Arbor over Michigan. North Dakota State beat both Minnesota and Central Michigan last year. Northern Iowa beat Iowa State and will open at #19 BYU in '08.

Street & Smith's Sporting News still makes mistakes in editing. Going through the years, Street & Smith was known for some misstatements. In the JUCO Report (page 183), Super Sophomore Amari Spievey, DB 6-0 187, Iowa Central, isn't at Iowa Central. As Phil Steele's Preview (page 64) points out, Spievey, sophomore, 7 interceptions, 4 block punts, 2 kickoff return TDs at JC last year is projected by Phil Steele's preview to start at CB for Iowa.

All in all... I am sad to see Street & Smith's and the Sporting News combine efforts. I liked each formats, though I believe other magazine previews to be better in their forecasts and overall information.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rating the Quarterbacks of the Big Ten...

Over the years, the Big Ten has had some outstanding QBs. Entering the 2008 season, eight of 11 Big Ten teams return their #1 signal caller for this season.

Rating the best quarterback units in the Big Ten?
  1. Ohio State, 7-1 in '07: Todd Boeckman, senior; Terrelle Prior, true freshman - This unit may attempt play out for the Buckeyes as Leak-Tebow played out for the Florida Gators in '06, in pursuit of nation's top prize in '08!
  2. Purdue, 3-5: Curtis Painter, senior; Joey Elliott, junior; Justin Siller, redshirt freshman - Painter could leave West Lafayette as the Big Ten's all-time #1 passer, a solid NFL prospect, but absent the Big Ten's biggest prize, a title.
  3. Illinois, 6-2 : Juice Williams, junior; Eddie McGee, sophomore - The Illini have the most experienced 1-2 punch two dual-threats at QB, but can Coach Zook pull the right strings to make the right music for the Illini in '08, with a runner and a passer?
  4. Indiana, 3-5: Kellen Lewis, junior; Ben Chappell, sophomore - Lewis is clearly the Big Ten's top dual-threat QB with his run-pass skills for the Hoosiers. Chappel is a dropback QB, who has thrown one pass, a pick 6.
  5. Iowa, 4-4: Jake Christensen, junior; Ricky Stanzi, sophomore - as Lindy's points out, "Iowa has to have better production at this spot," which this rating projects, with improvement in the OL. "When Jake has time, he's lethal," as one Big Ten opponent's coach told Athlon's.
  6. Michigan State, 3-5: Brian Hoyer, senior; Kirk Cousins, redshirt freshman; Nick Foles, redshirt freshman; Connor Dixon, sophomore - Hoyer is the clear #1 for the Spartans, but a battle will continue to unfold for #2 and the Spartans future QB.
  7. Minnesota, 0-8: Adam Weber, sophomore; Tony Mortensen, senior; David Pittman, junior; MarQueis Gray, true freshman - Weber had a surprisingly strong redshirt freshman season last year as a dual-threat; JUCO Pittman and Indianapolis prep Gray are both dual-threats and expected to battle for #2.
  8. Northwestern, 3-5: CJ Bacher, senior; Mike Katko, junior - the Wildcats QB needs to cut down on mistakes, but with experience returning in Evanston, look for greater production at QB lead by Bacher.
  9. Penn State, 4-4: Daryll Clark, senior; Pat Devlin, sophomore - the Nittany Lions may be another team looking to use a 1-2 punch at QB; Clark is a run-first prospect, while Devlin is viewed as a typical pocket passing QB. Team to Watch in '08 at the QB position.
  10. Wisconsin, 5-3: Allan Evridge, senior; Dustin Sherer, junior; Curt Phillips, true freshman - inconsistent Evridge had 6 starts as a redshirt frosh at Kansas State, spring arrival Phillips is a dual-threat QB for the future, while Sherer has taken too few snaps to know what to expect.
  11. Michigan, 6-2: Steven Threet, redshirt freshman; Nick Sheridan, sophomore; David Cone, sophomore; Justin Feagin, true freshman - Coach Rich Rodriquez will bring a new system to Ann Arbor, some look for GA transfer Threet to get first shot, with possible dual-threat Feagin emerging by season's end.