TUCSON AZ - SEPTEMBER 18: Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes watch the beginning of their 2012 football season with dismay. Buck up fans, there are other things in the world to be happy about! (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Hey there, Hawk fan. How you feeling? Not too good, huh?
Yeah, it's understandable. That opening game against Northern Illinois wasn't very encouraging. You spent the last eight months convincing yourself that the Greg Davis experiment was going to be a big upgrade for your offense, and then everyone just shits the bed during the first game against a MAC team in rebuilding mode.
But hey, at least you won the game! You know what they say; a win is a win, whether it's by 20 points or... one point. Ugh. 18-17. That may be the most Big Ten score ever recorded. And not to rub salt in the wound, but take a look at the stats from the game last Saturday. James Vandenberg went 21-33. Hey, not too shabby! Oh, it was for 129 yards? That's 3.9 yards per attempt. Looks like Greg Davis' patented horizontal offense has been fully installed. And 268 offensive yards? That is... that is just rough. But hey, that kind of implosive offense is why Davis was hired, right?
Alright, the passing attack was subpar, but how 'bout that offensive line! With Ferentz's background and success with offensive linemen in the past, that unit will surely be a bright spot this year, right? Oh, the line gave up six sacks? To Northern Illinois? Again, not to harp on this, but the MAC isn't exactly known for their fearsome defenses. Northern Illinois had 24 sacks last season. Total. They got a quarter of that total in one game against a Big Ten team.Yeesh. Iowa's game Saturday just seems like a clusterfuck all around. This has to be rough on you, Hawk fan. If you don't have Iowa football, what do you have? This is your life, right? So while this is Iowa State and Iowa's rivalry week, it just doesn't feel right to kick Iowa when they're down. So let's look at some of the good things Iowa has going for them this year.
For example, Iowa is still a flagship university in a state known for education. True, the University of Iowa no longer educates a majority of Iowans; that honor falls to Iowa State. And that fact, coupled with the success Iowa State is seeing in revenue generating sports could start balance the ridiculously skewed media coverage in the state of Iowa. Which could start to even out the fanbases between Iowa and Iowa State. But still! You enjoy a college team!
You know what, forget Saturday's game. At least the Hawkeyes got to play in an NFL stadium! That must have been fun, right? And the turf at Soldier Field is legendarily bad. That's probably why the Hawkeyes played such a poor game. When you play the kind of fast-paced, up-tempo, explosive style of football that the Iowa Hawkeyes are known for, subpar turf can really slow a team down.
Hey, look at attendance for that first game! Iowa vs. Northern Illinois filled 84% of Soldier Field! Not too shabby! With all the Iowa fans in Chicago, that number is totally, completely
mediocre acceptable! True, Iowa State managed to oversell Jack Trice Stadium's seating capacity by a good 120% in their opening game, but 84% in an NFL stadium is pretty good. Nice job, Hawks!
And let's talk about that Chicago market! Everyone knows that the Hawkeyes have the Chicago sports scene on lockdown. So many kids attending the University of Iowa grew up in the Chicago area (read: All of Illinois, southern Wisconsin, western Indiana). But the Hawkeyes are a huge draw in Chicago! They in no way play sixth-fiddle behind two baseball teams, a football team, basketball team and hockey team! They are Chicago's favored college team, right after Notre Dame, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern.
So what if football doesn't have a great year in 2012? There's always basketball. Fran McCaffery really has that program on track to compete for multiple NIT berths, following a proud tradition started by Steve Alford almost 15 years ago. Everyone knows the NIT is where the REAL action is in March. The NIT tournament: The only place to see the Dayton Flyers on Bradley Braves action that true basketball fans crave.
And the Hawkeyes have a lot of good publicity! True, nothing on the level of changing the entire national championship picture with one game against Oklahoma State, or have a president name check your coach in a speech (TACIT PRESIDENTIAL ENDORSEMENT). But there were other things! Remember the Insight Bowl? That camera nearly crushing Marvin McNutt got a lot of attention last year.
Hey, hey now! Don't cry! It's going to be alright! Iowa's schedule is fantastically weak this year. Even more weak than usual, and that's saying something. As usual, the Hawkeyes only play eight conference games to Iowa State's nine conference games. That's four non-conference games against two MAC teams, a FCS team and Iowa State. A few of those games should pad the ol' win total before you enter the meat grinder of the Big Ten.
About the Big Ten: QUALITY CONFERENCE. Lodged right there with the Mountain West and Big East in terms of conference strength. So while your team struggled to beat a middle-of-the-road MAC team, a conference slate full of the likes of Minnesota (3-9 in 2011), Indiana (1-11 in 2011) and Penn State (lost home opener to Ohio) is sure to result in at least a 6-6 season. Maybe you'll get a third straight trip to Tempe for the Insight Bowl. THAT would be something.
Pro-tip: If you visit a city often enough, you should really look into buying property, like a condo or timeshare. Really cuts down on the hotel costs.
So c'mon, champ. Dry those tears. Even if the Hawkeyes can't quite pull out the win this week against the Cyclones, it won't be the end of the world. Now let's go get ice cream and rewatch some old game footage from the 2009 season.