I've been surprised by a lot of things, in the world of sports, but I don't know if I've ever been blindsided like this. I thought the Hawks would roll to a comfortable victory over one of the worst teams in the entire country. WRONG! I also thought that the 20th-ranked team in the country would send ISU to its 5th straight Big 12 loss. WRONG-ER! What happened on this Saturday in October, quite simply, couldn't have been predicted by any person on the planet.
Where do we start? I say, let's give the winners their due. Iowa State had been blown out by all four teams in Big 12 play. Frankly, the only game in which the Cyclones looked good, was against Iowa. To say that they would compete against Texas Tech, let alone beat Texas Tech, let alone beat the red off the Red Raiders, would be a stretch. ISU dominated that game from start-to-finish. There was no letup. There was no back-door touchdown to make the final score look closer. The Cyclones suffocated Tech for 60 minutes. By the time it was over, it was 41-7. Iowa State doesn't even beat Kent State, or Toledo, 41-7. This was the case of a football coaching staff having its team ready to play the best game of their careers.
Iowa State has had some impressive wins in the Paul Rhoads era, but this was the most impressive of them all. It's not just because they beat the 20th-ranked team in the land. It's how they beat the 20th-ranked team in the land. This kind of game is exactly why Paul Rhoads is the right man for the job. Iowa State had no business doing what it did. But don't tell the team that.
Now..............to the Hawkeyes. What. The. Heck. Was. That? Minnesota isn't just a bad team. Minnesota might be the worst team in the country. This is a team that lost to North Dakota State, and New Mexico State --- at HOME! This is a team that lost to Michigan, Purdue, and Nebraska, by a combined score of 144-31! And it's a team that made this year's Kirk Ferentz team, look like the 1999 Kirk Ferentz team.
If you would've told me that Marcus Coker would run for 252 yards, and the Iowa defense would hold Minnesota to 3-for-11 on 3rd downs, I would've guessed the final score to be Iowa 45, Minnesota 17. Instead, it was a 22-21 stunner in Minneapolis.Without question (in my mind), this was the worst loss of the Ferentz era.
I've been critical of Ferentz, quite a bit, lately. I started to have my doubts about him in 2006, and this was it. Although I don't think Kirk Ferentz will ever be fired from the University of Iowa, I think it's time for him to move on. Yes, it's a drastic step after all he's done for the program, but I think it's time to go in a different direction. Ferentz hasn't changed a thing in his 13 seasons at Iowa. He's supposed to be a Bill Belichick clone, but he's anything but. Not only is he nothing like him, he's the opposite of him. Rush Limbaugh thinks Kirk Ferentz is too conservative.
I'm not calling for Ferentz to move on based on this one game. Year in, and year out, Iowa loses to teams that it should not only beat...it should blow out. Ferentz's conservatism eats him alive on the road. Iowa can stay in games against better teams, but that hurts them, ten-fold, in games against bad teams. Iowa is the easiest team to game-plan against in the entire country. You know what they're going to do. Some years, Iowa has enough talent to overcome that with outstanding play. But most years, that's not the case.
Since 2004, Iowa has a .500 record in the Big Ten. Outside of one season (2009), Iowa has been an average to below average team in the Big Ten. I don't know who the heck could come in and do a better job, but I do believe that it's time to see what the future holds. Hayden Fry was a great coach, but it was clear around his 15th season that it was time to move on. Ferentz will enter his 14th season, next fall. He will go down as one of the best, if not the best, coach in Iowa history. That won't change, but times do.
I have no idea who could come in and do a better job. And, for the record, I didn't want Tom Davis fired in 1998. Ferentz apologists are afraid to let him go because know how you can be burned by thinking the grass is greener on the side. Who knows if the Hawks could find a guy to take Iowa to "the next level". That's not necessarily what I'd expect. What I expect, is a guy to come in and shake things up. Beat the teams you're supposed to beat, even if this new guys' style means he'll get blown out every now and then by a great team. The new guy should show some guts on the road. He should also show some faith in his players, and not make them think that their next mistake could be their last.
Will that translate to more wins? Who knows. But I do know it would result in less days like Saturday.
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