Iowa City, Ia. — They are what they are. When Paul Chaney enters the game at receiver for the Hawkeyes, there’s a 70 percent chance the next play is an end-around. And an 80 percent chance the opposing defense will see it coming from a mile away.
Iowa football is now where Iowa men’s basketball was 15 years ago under Tom Davis: Consistently good, widely respected, fundamentally sound. Also, completely predictable. Take it or leave it.
They will run over the sisters of the poor. Their cornerbacks will give receivers all kinds of cushion at the line of scrimmage. They will be extremely tough to blow out. They’ll take few chances on offense and even fewer on defense. Some years, they will win a lot of close games (2009); other years, they will lose them (2010). More often that not, they’ll own Joe Paterno. More often than not, they’ll be owned by Pat Fitzgerald. They will be an easy team to prepare for, but a hard team to beat.
It is a machine built to go 8-4, every autumn, regardless of the roster or the dance card. A lot of very bad, very strange things have to happen for the Hawkeyes to be any worse than 6-6. Conversely, a lot of very good, strange things have to happen for them to finish 10-2.
So here’s the rub, Iowa fans: Is very good — New-Year’s-Day-bowl good but not Rose Bowl/BCS good — good enough?
The long view says yes, especially if you remember the pre-Fry Dark Ages. Just as there are no illusions about living on the same block as Ohio State, there is no shame in living in the same zip code.
But 1-3 Novembers bring discontent, and with discontent comes the predictable cries for change.
Coach Kirk Ferentz does a lot of things well. Change is not one of them.
Complaining about offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe is like shaking your fist at the heavens when it snows in February. Damning the inevitable doesn’t make it any less inevitable.
“It’s a pretty old game. I’ve lost interest in it, I guess,” Ferentz said Friday. “I’m sure Ken was a hero after the Michigan State game (A 37-6 Iowa win). I’m sure all of us were. It’s been different since then. That’s football.”
Barring an alien abduction, O’Keefe will remain at his post in 2011, same as it ever was. When a reporter asked him Friday if he’d ever logged onto the Internet and typed his name into the popular Google search engine — young folks call it “Googling yourself” — he cracked a knowing smile.
“Googled myself? My kids have,” O’Keefe replied. “I haven’t done it in a while. My wife will tell me she does this. I shouldn’t even be saying this in public. It’s too late. She’ll do stuff like that every now and then.”
Defensive coordinator Norm Parker’s situation, of course, is more complicated. His heart is in it, forever and always, but the poor man’s body is slowly falling apart. He said Friday that he intends to return next season. You want Norm to be happy, but you also want him to do what’s best for his health. If that’s dissecting film, so be it. After all, it ain’t broke.
Is it ideal? Well, no. But it ain’t broke, just as Iowa basketball wasn’t broke some 12 years earlier. Fed up with being merely good, tired of second-round losses in the NCAA Tournament, then-Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby decided it was time for a new direction. The Hawkeyes haven’t been the same since.
Iowa basketball shot for the moon, got its head stuck in the clouds, then plummeted to earth like a stone. Steve Alford, the can’t-miss hire, instead sowed seeds of apathy. Todd Lickliter made a sick patient even sicker, and now it’s Fran McCaffery’s turn with the defibrillator.
Tom Davis. The next time you sit down at a keyboard and call for O’Keefe’s head on a plate, think on that. Those who do not learn from history just might wind up doomed to repeat it.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football