Adam Robinson, only one of a countless number of former Iowa running backs who have succumbed to AIRBHG. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
ITBUUS returns with a look at the Iowa Hawkeyes. Once again, our old pal Ross (aka RossWB) over at Black Heart Gold Pants has kindly volunteered to answer a few questions. How drastic of a difference will see in Iowa's style of play thanks to new offensive and defensive coordinators? Who would win a chair-throwing contest between Fran McCaffrey and Bob Knight? What word does Ross use to describe his former colleague, Adam Jacobi? These answers and more, if you'll read on...
Year one post-Stanzi Americanzi (aka former Hawkeye QB Ricky Stanzi) was not the best for the Hawkeyes. How are things looking for 2012? What is it going to take to appease AIRBHG (Angry Iowa Running Back-Hating God) into allowing whichever tailback emerges as Iowa's top rusher to finish out a season without a major injury?
Things look... uncertain for 2012? Iowa returns five offensive players of note: James Vandenberg (QB), Keenan Davis (WR), Kevonte Martin-Manley (WR), James Ferentz (C), and C.J. Fiedorowicz (TE). Everyone else should step on the field on September 1st with a name tag on. Couple that with a new offensive coordinator (Greg Davis), who happens to be the first new offensive coordinator in over a decade at Iowa, and honestly I don't know what to expect. Well, other than the fact that at some point Iowa will be leaning on a fourth-string former walk-on at running back. But that's just a given at this point. The only good news for Iowa is that the schedule in 2012 could scarcely be friendlier for a Big Ten team -- no true road games in the non-conference slate (nor any BCS opponents other than Iowa State), no Ohio State, Wisconsin, or Illinois from the Leaders (in Exile) Division, and Nebraska at home. Road games at Michigan and Michigan State (and, inevitably, Northwestern) will be challenging, but those are the only games that really make me too nervous at first glance.
AIRBHG cannot be appeased. He is a black hole, sucking in any running back that has the audacity (or idiocy) to set foot in Iowa City and spitting them out in far flung locales like Stony Brook, NY and Carbondale, IL.
So, Greg Davis and Phil Parker are Iowa's new offensive/defensive coordinators, respectively. What drastic changes should we expect (if any)? Do you see them as upgrades over Ken O'Keefe and Norm Parker?
Let's look at Parker Swap first. Trading Norm Parker for Phil Parker (no relation) is unlikely to be an upgrade, at least right now. It was only a few years ago that Norm devised a defensive gameplan that completely shut down Georgia Tech's much-vaunted triple option attack, after all. And Norm's been doing crap like that for decades -- he was a legend and there's no doubt we'll miss him to some extent. Phil brings promises of exotic concepts like "man coverage" and "blitzing," though, which is exciting. He was an excellent position coach (Parker was the main reason Iowa was able to churn out a seemingly never-ending supply of defensive backs to the NFL) and well-regarded enough as a defensive mind to be considered for the Florida State defensive coordinator job, so given a little time to get settled in I think he could develop into a very fine defensive coordinator for Iowa.
The Greg Davis move is harder to project right now. Phil's defenses are unlikely to be that different from what we saw under Norm -- we're not going to be a base 3-4 team, we're not going to bring back RichRod's 3-3-5 -- but Davis has the potential to change Iowa's offense more noticeably and more significantly. There's been a lot of talk all off-season about a greater emphasis on the passing game (due in part to the pieces Iowa has in place -- an experienced senior QB and a whole lot of question marks at RB), longer routes, and increased use of the shotgun. Of course, Ferentz is still the man at the top of the pyramid, so it's not like Iowa's going to transform into Oklahoma State or Texas Tech (Leach edition) overnight, but I am fully expecting an Iowa offense that looks different than the run-run-play action pass-punt offense that we saw so often under KOK. As for whether or not Davis is an upgrade to KOK... TBD. But he's different and for now that's exciting enough.
Your old colleague, Adam Jacobi, is now heading all things B1G football related at Bleacher Report. We all know BHGP has and will continue to remain a great blog, but what are you missing most about him right now?
His potent musk. And dinosaur racecars. They were kind of his baby.
Well, it looks like Hawkeye hoops is on the rise, again. Who are some critical recruits that they have coming in? Also, would you dare pit Fran McCaffrey against Bob Knight in a chair-throwing contest?
Bob Knight is old and his senses are dulled from years behind a TV desk; Fran McCaffery is young, virile, and full of the hot-blooded fury that comes from being a head coach. Fran is the future and he'd shove a chair up Knight's ass sideways. But I digress... McCaffery's bringing in a very highly-touted (top 20, nationally) recruiting class, which is headlined by a pair of local stars, Adam Woodbury, a 5* 7-footer out of Sioux City, IA and Mike Gesell, a 4* PG out of South Sioux City, NE. Woodbury is the sort of recruit Iowa hasn't landed in, literally, decades -- a highly sought after post player with great size and (seemingly) skills. Iowa beat out Roy Williams and North Carolina to earn his signature, which was sweet revenge after seeing a steady stream of top-notch Iowa prep players head to North Carolina (fellow 2012 stud recruit Marcus Paige, Harrison Barnes) or Kansas (Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison). Mike Gesell was a two-time player of the year in Nebraska and a potent AAU playmaker who's primed to be the starting PG from day one at Iowa. Woodbury looks like he may take some time to get adjusted to the college level (and to bulk up), but Gesell appears to have the tools to be a key contributor immediately. For the first time in... uh, a really long time, I can't wait for Iowa basketball season to get here.
I know next to nothing about wrestling but feel obligated to ask on behalf of all the hardcore wrestling fans on BSD what to expect from this year's Iowa wrestlers. Will Iowa-PSU be B1G wrestling's version of OSU-Michigan?
It would be disingenuous of me to say that Iowa-Penn State will be the "big two" in B1G wrestling this year since Minnesota finished second at the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament last year and returns about as many stars as Iowa and Penn State. The reality is that wrestling, in both the Big Ten and the NCAA, looks like a three-team race next year. Penn State is the clear favorite (a position you're likely to maintain as long as you have superfreak stars like David Taylor and Ed Ruth leading your team), but Iowa and Minnesota have deep, talented teams as well. Iowa's led by senior Matt McDonough, going for his third NCAA title at 125, and junior Tony Ramos, going for his first NCAA title at 133. Iowa's other stars are Derek St. John, a two-time All-American and the returning NCAA runner-up at 157, Bobby Telford, a returning All-American at 285, and Mike Evans, a stud recruit who endured a disappointing NCAA Tournament in 2012 (he crashed out at 1-2 and didn't earn All-America honors), but has tons of talent. It will take a special weekend from Iowa next March -- and some stumbles from Penn State -- for the Hawkeyes to regain the NCAA title next March, but it's not an impossible dream. Hopefully some home cooking (the NCAA Tournament is in Des Moines in 2013) will be just what the doctor ordered for Iowa.
Herky - Hero
Hayden Fry - Legend
Tim Dwight - The Flash
Ricky Davis - Triple-Double!
Steve Alford - [Redacted]
Adam Jacobi - Beardy
John Cena - Sucks
And last but not least, give us your take on how this year's PSU-Iowa game plays out.
As for this year's Iowa-PSU football game... my preference would be to punt on a prediction because I have no idea what to expect out of Iowa and I REALLY have no idea what to expect out of Penn State (or even who might still be around to make the trip to Iowa City in October), but that wouldn't be fair. So I'm just going to guess that Iowa taps into a little Kinnick magic to bounce back from last year's dull loss, and wins 24-14 on the back of a pair of Vandenberg touchdowns.
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