One Big 10 program. Seven topics. Five stars.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are getting the Five-Star Treatment this week, and there is a weird mix of optimism and concern as we eye the fall schedule. The matchups look good, but 2010 fell apart so quickly once November hit that there has to be a little trepidation in the air. How much? Let’s break down the topics …
What happened in 2010 worth getting excited about?
2010 was the one that got away. Five losses by a combined 18 points offset some impressive victories (a 37-6 drubbing over MSU, 24-3 over Penn State, and an Insight Bowl victory over Missouri despite a suspension-depleted squad). The Hawkeyes started off 7-2, then slumped to the finish line with three straight regular-season losses. However, the talent cupboard is usually pretty full in Iowa City, and you’d have to hope that so much adversity would lead to a renewed focus in 2011.
Outlook: 3.5 stars/5.
What female actress does this school remind me of?
Britney Spears. Yes, she counts as an actress. And like the Hawkeyes (31-7 from 2002-2004), Spears had an unbelievably high peak in the early 2000s. They then went through a rough period (Iowa went 19-18 from 2005-2007, while Spears shaved her head, married this guy, and essentially disintegrated into madness). However, over the past few years, both seem to have gotten their acts together again and become solid contributors in their respective industries … though it’s unlikely that either is capable of reaching heights as extreme as they previously enjoyed. For Spears, that still means world tours and sexually-charged music vids. For Iowa, it means that, under the right circumstances, they’re a contender for a BCS bowl.
Outlook: 4.5 stars/5
What does our situation look like within the new Big Ten divisions?
The Hawkeyes are our first previewed school in the new Legends Division. Michigan and Northwestern are dangerous on the right Saturday, but Michigan State and Nebraska look to be the biggest hurdles to overcome in 2011. Minnesota also stayed on this side of the conference split, ensuring annual battles for The Floyd of Rosedale for years to come …
Outlook: 3.5 stars/5
What bar should I be drinking at when I’m on Iowa’s campus this fall?
The Union Bar. It’s the biggest bar in the Big Ten, it serves $2 wells on game day, and I’ve never been to another bar on campus.
Outlook: 5 stars/5
What happened with the schedule?
Gale Berg can get behind this itinerary. Early road tests at Iowa State and Penn State could prove tricky, but they really shouldn’t. Iowa’s two non-division games in the Big Ten are against Purdue and Indiana, which is an amazing draw. Potential threats Michigan and Michigan State will both be coming to Kinnick Stadium. We can’t give the full five stars because it likely will all come down to the season-ending road test against new foe Nebraska. All in all, though, things are promising.
Outlook: 4.5 stars/5
What happened with the coaching personnel?
Kirk Ferentz continues to man the sidelines, despite being casually linked to NFL jobs for most of the past ten years. Ferentz seemed to lose control of the team to some degree with all of the off-field drama last year, and his squads have slightly underwhelmed in recent years, but he’s still built a consistent winner that has reached nine bowl games in ten seasons.
Outlook: 4 stars/5
What (based on the assessments of the past two questions) Anchorman quote applies to the supremely early gambling vibe of the 2011 Hawkeyes?
Ron Burgundy to Frank Vitchard: “You dirtbags have been in third place for five years!”
Iowa has won between 4 and 6 conference games in five of the past six years … good enough to guarantee a warm trip to Texas or Florida each winter, but again, it’s nothing compared to the heyday of 2002-04. Perhaps a sour end to 2010 and a favorable 2011 schedule will be the combination they’ve needed.
Outlook: 4 stars/5