OK, folks. I’ve been seriously neglecting my blog since the end of spring ball, and I’ve decided it’s time to make it a more everyday thing. I want this to be a regular conversation between me and you, the reader, even in the offseason when there isn’t a whole lot to talk about. So, if there is something you want to know, shoot me an email (email@example.com) and ask. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out. And I’ll be doing my best to keep you updated on anything related to Iowa or the Big Ten.
A month from now, I’ll be headed to Chicago for the Big Ten’s annual media kickoff event at the downtown Hyatt (that’s assuming my wife has given birth to our first child, which is due July 22). When submitting my request for a credential, I placed my vote for the preseason top three teams and the offensive and defensive player of the year. I think it’s pretty obvious this year — some years it’s not — and it could be unanimous in all three categories. I voted Ohio State, Illinois and Wisconsin, in that order, for the league favorites (the Big Ten only releases a top three, though I’d expect Penn State to contend for No. 3). I had Ohio State running back Chris “Beanie” Wells as my offensive player of the year and Buckeyes linebacker James Laurinaitis as the top defensive player in the league. Let’s be honest, Ohio State is going to be scary good. The Bucks have almost everyone back from a team that, other than a late-season loss to Illinois, dominated the Big Ten. Their Sept. 13 game at USC might be the game of the year in all of college football, certainly the nonconference season.
I’ve seen a couple interesting preseason reads lately. The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes has a series of player and team rankings he’s come out with. In listing his top five players at each position in the Big Ten, only three Iowa players made the list: Tight end Brandon Myers, outside linebacker A.J. Edds and punter Ryan Donahue. I’d argue a few points: Myers probably isn’t even the best tight end on Iowa’s roster. And I certainly would have had senior Mitch King among my top five defensive lineman coming off an All-Big Ten campaign last season.
Hayes also ranks the nonconference schedules of Big Ten teams. He had the Hawkeyes eighth, ahead of Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota. Iowa plays Maine (FCS), Florida International, Iowa State and Pittsburgh. Wisconsin begged off a matchup with Virginia Tech and filled the open week with Cal Poly. Seriously, Cal Poly. Hayes’ top five games: Ohio State at USC, Illinois vs. Missouri, Utah at Michigan, Michigan State at California, Oregon State at Penn State. And his bottom five included Iowa’s Aug. 30 opener: Cal Poly at Wisconsin, Coastal Carolina at Penn State, Youngstown State at Ohio State, Murray State at Indiana, Maine at Iowa.
Concerning Iowa, according to the school’s online directory, running back Shonn Greene is back on campus. Greene played two seasons for the Hawkeyes before running into academic troubles last spring. He spent this past year at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids (not playing football) and apparently got his grades in order and is expected to be on the field in the fall. The big surprise is that safety Marcus Wilson also is back in school after leaving because of academic shortcomings last summer. He played a lot in 2006 and was listed as Iowa’s starter before last season. He might still have some work to do in order to get eligible, but he could give the Hawkeyes a big lift in an area they struggled last season.
Iowans have had a lot more on their minds than football these past few weeks as flood waters have taken over the state. The University of Iowa’s campus got hit pretty badly, and it was nice to see Iowa players helping out with the sand-bagging efforts there and with the tornado cleanup in Parkersburg. The floods forced the Iowa football program to cancel its elite camp, which is a potential blow to recruiting. Coaches use these camps as a chance to sell the campus, and the prospects get to know each other, which never hurts when it comes time to commit. You have to wonder if all the national press the Iowa flooding has received will have an effect on recruiting. When a kid sees a campus half covered in water on CNN, is that some place they want to move halfway across the country to play football? It’ll be interesting to see. I’m hoping to get in touch with recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson next week to see how this will change the way they move forward, if at all.
Details in the Cedric Everson-Abe Satterfield rape case came out last week. Some pretty ugly stuff in those warrants. I’m not a legal expert, so I really don’t want to go there and probably won’t much as the legal process plays out.
Interesting bit from around the Big Ten: Clint Brewster, the son of Minnesota coach Tim Brewster, is leaving the Gophers after redshirting last season. The younger Brewster isn’t sure where he’s headed. He originally committed to Illinois out of high school but switched to Minnesota after his father got the job. Last year, he was stuck behind Adam Weber, who had a solid debut season as a second-year freshman. Clint probably figured, even with his dad in charge, he wasn’t going to get to play much for another three years.
My question to you: Would you take him at Iowa?
Oh, and, of course, Comcast and the Big Ten Network finally got a deal in place that will let Comcast cable subscribers have the BTN on the basic package starting in August. Comcast was the big one. I’d expect Mediacom and the others to follow suit and get things worked out before the fall, which is good for Iowa fans, because with that schedule and a team coming off a rough season, the Hawks aren’t going to be first pick for ABC and ESPN.
Quick off-topic note before I sign off: I’ve been keeping an eye on the Olympic trails … Shawn Johnson is amazing. I hope all Iowa sports fans will be pulling for her this summer.