Saturday, December 10, 2011

Football Withdrawel, No National Titles For ISU/UNI, Panther Hoops For Real

(By Zach Borg)

This was the first Saturday since August that we didn't have a team in Iowa playing college football.  Very strange and weird.  I already miss the sidelines at Kinnick, Jack Trice and yes, even the UNI Dome.  Though I don't miss having to smell the exposed sewer line on the Dome field.

Spoke with departing Cyclone offensive coordinator Tom Herman today.  The decision to leave for Ohio State really was pretty simple.  Professionally it's a chance to work with perhaps the best offensive mind in college football, Urban Meyer.  Personally it's a hefty pay raise moving from OC at ISU to OSU.  This was a no-brainer. 

Herman wanted to stay for the Pinstripe Bowl and will.  Players and the rest of the coaches were clear they wanted him for the final game.  Helps continuity, and sometimes we see teams play a bit harder for an outgoing coach.

Courtesy Iowa State Daily
Volleyball is not (and never will be) the top college sport in Iowa, but the Cyclones came damn close to having the best team in the country.  ISU lost in five sets to Florida State in the Elite 8 in Minneapolis.  Congrats to them on a fine season first off (their second Elite 8 trip in four years).  Still, this one stings.  They'd beaten the Gophers on their home floor last night, had more of a homecourt advantage in the Cities, and with top seed Texas (whom they'd lost to twice this season) ousted earlier in the day, the bracket couldn't have been set up better for them to win a national championship.

Something must be in the water at Iowa State when these coaches speak in postgame.  Christy Johnson-Lynch isn't quite Paul Rhoads, but she did have a pretty good and emotional speech after the Cyclones defeated Minnesota (it starts at about 1:40):

The Northern Iowa football team looked like a national title contender in FCS for much of the year.  But they never seemed to recover from their big 27-19 loss in late October at North Dakota State.  Had they won there the Panthers would have won the Valley outright and had either the one or two seed in the playoffs.  Instead they never really were the same, even in victory.  Going into the postseason, and even into the game, UNI had a better regular season resume than Montana, and Mark Farley still seemed upset about it in postgame last night.  But when you lose by 38 it's more than muted.

Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette
The Panthers have had one of the most consistent programs in FCS over the last 21 years, but you have to wonder if this program will ever get over the hump and win a national title.  Ever since their 2005 loss in the national title game to Appalachian State it seems like the Panthers tease everyone by playing their best ball in midseason, only to run out of gas as the playoffs arrive.  The last three years were especially brutal.  The 2009 team that nearly won at Iowa lost three of their final five and missed the playoffs.  The 2010 team sputtered at the end and was stunned by Lehigh at home in the first round.  UNI may struggle to even get back to the playoffs next year with early season road games at Wisconsin and Iowa.  The (likely) losses won't hurt so much as the fact that they could come away from that death march beaten up and injured before they even start league play.

Courtesy CR Gazette
The good news at UNI is that the Panther men's basketball team is for real.  In a cat fight against 8-1 UW-Milwaukee (also nicknamed the Panthers) UNI won soundly 67-51.  Northern Iowa is now 9-1 and their resume is impressive.  They've beaten power conference teams (Providence, Iowa and Iowa State), solid fellow mid-majors (Milwaukee, Colorado State, Old Dominion), and their only loss is to a perennial tournament contender St. Marys.  The Valley will be tough, but unless the Panthers do a total faceplant in league play, I think this is a team that can get an at-large bid even if they don't go all the way in Arch Madness.

Robert Griffin III was the deserving Heisman Trophy winner, don't get me wrong.  I just wish there had been more suspense.  Announcers were practically consoling Andrew Luck for finishing runner-up 20 minutes before the actual announcement.

NL MVP Ryan Braun has tested positive for use of performance enhancing drugs.  Braun called it "BS" and is claiming there was no intentional use.  I'll wait to see how it plays out before passing judgment on him.  He doesn't have a freakish build or anything of that nature that would lead you to believe he's on PEDs.  However, it would be naive to think athletes aren't doing them.  Just because they have more tests doesn't mean there are less ways to mask use.  As long as games are played someone will always look for that "extra edge", and that will include cheating too.

Army and Navy never seem to be any good on the field.  Does anyone care?  It's one of the greatest rivalries in sports, and these are some of the greatest people in the world.  


Anonymous said...

Quote, "Army and Navy never seem to be any good on the field".

Really? Navy went to 7 straight bowl games beginning with the 2003-04 season, ending up #26 in 2010. I'd say that's pretty good.
Next time, do some homework Zach.

Zach Borg said...

I was actually referring to the game itself in which Navy has won 10 straight. Oddly enough today's game actually was close (closest its been since Army last won actually).

Jeff said...

Give the man a break "anonymous". For the most part he's right. Overall Navy has done pretty well the last few years. Army has been terrible but seems to be improving. I think weak scheduling has helped both of them (and their bowl chances) . Neither one will ever be a powerhouse due to the obvious restrictions they have in recruiting,but it doesn't matter, they have more important things to worry about. Which is what makes this game more special than most.

Becky Bush in said...

Volleyball isn't a sport come on, it's an excuse for men to look at women in tight and oh so sexy shorts. Also, Iowa State coaches have to try to give stupid speeches, they're Iowa State, something has to make the players feel better about themselves for not being Iowa. Kirk just walks in the locker room and says, "congrats, you're Iowa so you're a winner by default." Iowa is so much better than Iowa State it's not even funny, if I were ISU I would just abolish all of my sports programs, like they did with baseball, and save myself the embarrassment.

Erik Eckhardt said...

Are you serious Becky Bush? Did you even watch any of the game? Half of those girls have a vertical jump higher than any thing you've ever dreamed of jumping and the other half jump just as high. On top of that I would like to see a troll like you make some of the athletic plays ISU's libero made. That's the one in the different color jersey if you didn't know. And apparently Iowa State's

Erik Eckhardt said...

Inferior players that have to feel better about themselves don't have much to feel inferior about this year seeing they beat Iowa in almost everything except wrestling

Shawn said...

I would say that UNI football making the playoffs year after year is a far greater accomplishment than Iowa and Iowa State going to sub par bowl games. I believe that only 16 teams in the FCS are invited to the playoffs. Makes the accomplishment a little better than going to the Beef O'Brady or Potato Bowl.

Then all their basketball team does is hand Iowa and Iowa State their hat nearly every year and then make the tournament - and then have the nerve to actually win games there. Without question, UNI has the best men's athletic program in the state.

Charlie Weis said...

I don't know, the beef O'Brady or Potato Bowl both sound delicious to me!

Evil Adam said...

Shawn.... UNI Men's basketball went to the sweet 16... last year... beat Kansas and UNLV to do it.

brian bosworth said...

Shawn, uni only beat Iowa in basketball because the officials screwed Iowa over, did you even watch the game? And I suppose after Iowa thrashes them in football next season you'll still think uni is better. You're delusional.

Shawn said...

Hey Boz - I'm as Hawkeye as they come but it is pretty clear that UNI has it going on right now. Comparing the two is not apples to apples but with what they go up against UNI is clearly better than Iowa with the hand and schedule that they are given.

As for Iowa getting screwed against UNI - I agree. That being said, they still did nothing that would have allowed them to win that game. UNI was clearly the better team.

Shawn said...

One more thing. Fran will get it turned around but it is going to take at least two more years. Then Basbe and Marble will be seniors and the great class coming in next year will have a year under their belt. If Iowa is not in the top three in the Big Ten in two years I will be extremely surprised.

The Former Real Ice Borg said...

Paul Rodes doesn't need an offensive coordinator, shoot he doesn't need any assistant coaches at all. He could recruit from only Hoover and North and still compete for Big 12 championships year in and year out.

Lifetime contract now!!!

Paul Roades now, Paul Rhodes tomorrow, and Paul Roads forever!!!

Mike said...

Hey Becky last I looked Iowa State had a pretty healthy lead in the Cy-Hawk series this year, 13-6 last I looked. Sounds like they're doing plenty terrible.

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