Archive for November, 2009

Recruiting class gets even better

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Iowa already was having a very good recruiting year, but things got a lot better this week when C.J. Fiedorowicz, regarded by some as the top tight end prospect in the country, announced that he would renege on an earlier commitment to Illinois and sign with the Hawkeyes.

Fiedorowicz, a 6-foot-7, 240-pounder from Johnsburg, Ill., had been rumored to be reconsidering for several weeks and he told the Chicago Sun-Times he feels much more at ease with the Hawkeyes than he ever was with the Illini.

“I wasn’t happy with what is going on at Illinois,’’ he told the Sun-Times. “I like all the coaches at Iowa. They will be staying around for a long time. I went to the Iowa-Minnesota game last weekend and the atmosphere was so much better than at Illinois. Now I feel good about my decision.’’

While Iowa often features the tight end in its offense, Fiedorowicz said it seemed as though the Illini threw to theirs “maybe 10 times all year.’’

Fiedorowicz, who also had football offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame and LSU and basketball offers from Indiana and Wisconsin, is considered to be a superb receiver who needs some work on his blocking skills.

“He has an NFL body,’’ recruiting expert Tom Lemming said. “If he listens to his college coaches, he’ll be a first-round draft choice.’’

Fiedorowicz is the 20th player to commit to the Hawkeyes, who weren’t expected to sign quite that many. Included are three four-star recruits and 16 three-star recruits, according to Three of those players were named Iowa’s high school player of the year in their respective classes last week – A.J. Derby of Iowa City (4A), Matt Hoch of Harlan (3A) and James Morris of Solon (2A).

All-Big Ten teams had some surprises

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

There were only a few surprises on the All-Big Ten teams that were announced Monday night. One of the surprises was that Iowa was as well-represented as it was.

I figured the Hawkeyes might get as many as five first-team selections, but they had a league-high seven first-team players on the team chosen by the BigTen coaches, only four on the media team.
The five I thought were deserving: Linebacker Pat Angerer, strong safety Tyler Sash, defensive end Adrian Clayborn, offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and cornerback Amari Spievey. All of those players made the coaches team and all but Spievey were honored by the media.

The coaches also put Dace Richardson and Tony Moeaki on the first team even though Richardson missed the last 4 ½ games of the conference season and Moeaki was more or less missing in action over that same span.

Other thoughts:

– The offensive line, which never really got its act together, had four players selected. In addition to Bulaga and Richardson, Rafael Eubanks and Kyle Calloway made the second team.

– Although 19 Iowa players received some sort of mention, there was at least one more that merited at least honorable mention. Receiver Marvin McNutt scored six touchdowns in a span of four Big Ten games, including some of the clutch plays of the season.

– Iowa’s defense received the recognition it deserved. The only two starters who didn’t get some sort of mention were Jeremiha Hunter and Shaun Prater.

– Although everyone knew Wisconsin’s John Clay and Penn State’s Evan Royster would be the first team running backs, I thought Adam Robinson had a chance to make the second team. He ended up being honorable mention on both teams with Purdue’s Ralph Bolden and Ohio State’s Brandon Saine making the second team.

– There was widespread disagreement on the first team wide receivers. The coaches picked Minnesota’s Eric Decker and Michigan State’s Blair White. The media went with Indiana’s Tandon Doss and Purdue’s Keith Smith. I would have voted for White and Smith.

– It was interesting that Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick was the coaches’ defensive player of the year, but he wasn’t even first team on the media squad. There’s no way he had a better season than Wisconsin’s O’Brien Schofield, Michigan State’s Greg Jones (the media pick) and Angerer.

– You can’t help but wonder how the coach of the year voting might have gone if the voting hadn’t been done with a week to go in the season. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz won the award, but Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern club finished very strong, beating Wisconsin in the final game to finish 8-4. Fitz might have gotten a few more votes if the voting was done later.

Ferentz-Irish rumors are pure blarney

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Normally this just happens after the season is over and with NFL teams. Now Kirk Ferentz is being linked to a college head coaching job while the season is still in progress.

It’s almost certainly hogwash. I would be amazed if there’s any concrete foundation beneath the rumor that Ferentz is a candidate to become the next head coach at Notre Dame.

More than likely this is some media guy peeling names off the top of his head without any real basis in fact.

It’s possible there’s interest on Notre Dame’s part. But Ferentz has a pretty good thing going at Iowa. He’s one of the 10 highest paid coaches in the country. He’s probably in the top five in the country in terms of job security. So, why uproot your family from a place they’re happy and comfortable to go somewhere they’ve never lived, where you’re not likely to make more money and where you’ll be fired in four years if you’re not at least 10 games over .500?

It makes no sense. Ferentz didn’t come right out and slam the door shut on the rumor Tuesday – he never does; it’s bad business – but he kind of laughed it off and said he’s very happy right where’s at. It’s the closest he gets to a complete denial.

There also are reports that Oklahoma coach Bobby Stoops has expressed interest in Notre Dame and the names of Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly and Florida coach Urban Meyer have popped up. This shows the arrogance of the Notre Dame mentality. Meyer leaving Florida to go to South Bend would be like Ferentz leaving Iowa to go to Drake. It isn’t going to happen.

‘Experts’ can be quiet now

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Although James Vandenberg and his teammates insisted they weren’t into moral victories or consolation prizes, there were a lot of things they could take away from Saturday’s 27-24 overtime loss to Ohio State.

They proved that the Iowa offense does not move by Ricky Stanzi alone. They showed that no one on this team is completely irreplaceable. Vandenberg served notice that the Hawkeyes have a quarterback of the future, once Stanzi is gone.

Best of all, they shut up some of those national “experts’’ who gave Iowa zero chance of even being competitive with Ohio State.

Some of the pregame commentaries were pretty outrageous. One of the “experts’’ on the 9-hour pregame show on a Columbus radio station said this was one time Ohio State could go into “Michigan mode’’ a week early because this wasn’t even going to be a contest.

(Sure, like Michigan is going to be a big test. The Wolverines are no better than the ninth best team in the Big Ten. Right now, at this point in time, they might be No. 10 or 11. I’d say Ohio State can go into Rose Bowl mode about six weeks early.)

On the ESPN Game Day show, Desmond Howard (an old Michigan man, by the way), said Ohio State would beat Iowa by at least three touchdowns. His cohort, Lee Corso, said Iowa had two chances to win – “slim and none.’’

Of course, a lot of us long ago stopped regarding Corso as any sort of expert.

Unbeaten Hawks getting bashed

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

For a team that just won its 13th straight game and became the first team in the country to win nine games this season, Iowa is taking its share of abuse.

The Hawkeyes dropped a spot in the AP poll, largely because everyone is now convinced Oregon is a world-beater by virtue of its rout of an overrated USC team. (Didn’t Washington also beat USC?)

The Hawks also were harshly criticized in a postgame analysis by ESPN’s Lou Holtz and by Terry Bradshaw on Sunday night on Fox. At least, they’re not being bashed by anyone who actually has a brain, huh?

Those who are pecking at Iowa point to a touchdown that Indiana had overturned by replay in the Hawkeyes’ 42-24 victory on Saturday. It wasn’t a great call. It wasn’t the worst call I’ve ever seen but it definitely was questionable. But that only took seven points away from the Hoosiers, who lost the game by 18.

I didn’t see Holtz’s babbling diatribe against the Hawks, but I’ve heard plenty about it. As I understand it, he said they didn’t belong in the BCS championship game and that they wouldn’t win at Ohio State on Nov. 14.

The thing is, the Hawkeyes already have won at Penn State, which I think is better than Ohio State anyhow. I suspect we’ll see confirmation of that Saturday when the two teams meet in State College, Pa.