Saturday, August 04, 2007

Last One Out, Hit the Lights

This will almost certainly be the final post at Hawkeye State.

Now, before you go crazy and start questioning the meaning of life, let me assuage your fears. Long-time readers know of my affinity for Steve Alford's Hair Gel, the immensely entertaining Iowa basketball blog. But there isn't always that much news on Iowa, and it soon became obvious that we were each covering the same material in almost the same style (for example, take a look at our basketball coaching short list, compared with their short list, published within 12 hours of each other). The fact is, you deserve better. As an Iowa fan, you deserve to have all the news covered with wit and irreverence in one place.

That place is The Hawkeye Compulsion, the new joint venture of HS and The Hairgel. Four writers, one topic, and updated far more frequently than my little old corner of cyberspace. And the topics I don't really follow (like recruiting) will likely be covered by someone who cares far more about such things. So fear not, loyal readers. I have not left you.

It's been a fun (almost) year here, and thanks for reading. I'll hopefully see ya at my new place.

Follow me! Follow me to freedom!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

So Who's Sir Robin?: Big Ten Blog Roundtable, Round 1

The first installment of the Big Ten Bloggers roundtable comes courtesy of Badger Sports. Enjoy.

The press and the coaches will be predicting the Big Ten champ at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago on Wednesday. That's fine, but overdone. In lieu of boilerplate predictions of who will come out on top, which Big Ten team will be the most surprising? Remember, surprises can be good or bad; the underdog who comes out of nowhere to share the title is just as surprising as the favorite who winds up with five losses and no bowl bid.

I'll go ahead and say it: The Ohio State University, and it's not a good surprise. They lose a Heisman winner at quarterback, the most explosive receiver/returner in the conference, Antonio Effing Pittman, and more than half of their starting units on both sides of the football. Throw in games at Big Blue and PSU, and it feels like 2005 all over again. Well, except for the beatdown in Kinnick (Iowa doesn't have tOSU on the schedule this season). In case you forgot:

Imagine it's December, and the consensus in the media is that your team's season was "surprising." Is this a Good Thing or a Bad Thing? What would have to happen for you to consider your team's season surprising?

Oh, that's a very good thing. Iowa has been "surprising" since 2002. In 2002, they came from nowhere to gain a share of the Big Ten championship. In 2003, they lost the Heisman runner-up and still won 10 (and kicked the crap out of Florida in their own backyard). In 2004, they had literally no running game (anyone else remember Brownlee?) and STILL won a share of the Big Ten crown. One of the writers for CBS Sportsline had Iowa at #2 entering 2005 based solely on the fact that he was tired of being proven wrong.

It was at that point that "surprising" became a bad thing. Two disappointing seasons, culminating with last season's 2-6 mark in the conference, have diminished expectations yet again. Now "surprising" would be a 10-win season and a run at the title. That, my friends, is a very good thing.

A preseason player of the year will also be dubbed in Chicago. For your team to succeed, which player or unit is going to have to put forth a "player of the year" performance? What's the one position that would take your team to the next level if it performs above expectations?

The defensive line will make or break Iowa in 2007. Norm Parker's one-play playbook is predicated on the pass rush, especially with a thoroughly mediocre secondary. When we have it (Matt Roth, Aaron Kampman, etc.), we win. When we don't, we lose. It's been that simple for 7 years. With Mattison and Iwebema on the ends, and the enigmatic Mitch King in the middle, they certainly have the capability of doing just that.

Which Big Ten team's out-of-conference schedule would you most want to have this year? Why? Do you think your team will have out-of-conference losses this year?

We don't have Big Blue or OSU this year, so I want Michigan's schedule just so I can see Notre Dame and Oregon. Everyone else seems to be intent on scheduling the powerhouse programs of 1-AA and the various directions of Michigan. Not exactly a barnburner noncoference slate, and a real problem for those of us who are inclined to argue Big 10 supremacy.

Here's a chance to look like a complete genius in a few months: pick the biggest in-conference upset that will happen this season. Justify your prediction!

October 27, 2007. Minnesota catches Big Blue in a Grade A Trap Game (Michigan's next three are at MSU, at Wisconsin, and vs. the Sweater Vests). Yes, Minny will most likely suck this year. But they may have a little brown chance at the Little Brown Jug.

Say something nice about the Big Ten school whose name precedes yours alphabetically. Say something mean about the one that comes after.

Indiana gave us Myles Brand, who is known far and wide as a scholar and a gentleman. His visionary leadership gave us the NCAA you know today.

Michigan stole our school president, and then plunged her into a Supreme Court case over admissions. Also, Ann Arbor is a whore.

USC: great football program, or greatest football program? Also, how about that SEC? Damn, those guys are fast!

USC? Greatest program ever in the history of the world...of Warcraft. As for the SEC, Jim Delaney has already told us they are fast because their heads are lighter. I'm comfortable with that.