My sports editor reminded me Saturday that it’s been a while since Mr. Optimist and Mr. Pessimist have debated about the Hawkeyes.
They must have been listening because their latest verbal skirmish ended up in our hands.
Mr. Optimist: The Iowa football team’s 2012 schedule, which includes three very winnable nonconference games against Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa and Central Michigan, home games against Iowa State, Penn State and Nebraska and no regular-season game against Ohio State or Wisconsin, is reason to think this season could be special.
Mr. Pessimist: You said the same thing about last season and about the 2010 season, but with all due respect to the Insight Bowl, it’s not where special seasons are supposed to end.
Mr. Optimist: Senior center James Ferentz is one of the Big Ten’s best and most experienced offensive linemen with 26 consecutive starts to his credit.
Mr. Pessimist: He had better be good because all of Iowa’s other offensive linemen have combined for just 13 starts, and 10 of those were by senior guard Matt Tobin.
Mr. Optimist: Switching Reese Morgan to defensive line coach makes sense given his reputation as a teacher and builder of men. The rebuilding job he did at West High, albeit at a much different level, was extraordinary.
Mr. Pessimist: Morgan might need a magic wand, considering only two of the defensive linemen on the spring roster are lettermen and six of the eight defensive linemen listed on the spring depth chart are either freshmen or sophomores.
Mr. Optimist: Kirk Ferentz is now the dean of Big Ten football coaches, and the fact that he is entering his 14th season at Iowa is a huge plus because continuity often breeds success.
Mr. Pessimist: Iowa hasn’t won a Big Ten title in football since 2004, so I’m starting to wonder if Ferentz is falling into the same pattern as his predecessor, Hayden Fry. Fry won all three of his Big Ten titles in his first 12 seasons as coach, but then only finished as high as second place once in his last eight seasons.
Mr. Optimist: Playing the season opener against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago is a unique and exciting way to kick things off.
Mr. Pessimist: The last time Iowa faced Northern Illinois in a season opener at Soldier Field was in 2007 and that season proved to be a painful march to mediocrity.
Mr. Optimist: It’s always a positive to have your starting quarterback return, especially when he threw for more than 3,000 yards the previous season, as is the case with James Vandenberg at Iowa.
Mr. Pessimist: Four of the six teams in the Legends Divsion return their starting quarterback, so it’s not like Vandenberg is anything special. And the other three quarterbacks — Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Minnesota’s MarQueis Gray and Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez are dual-threat quarterbacks, unlike Vandenberg.
Mr. Optimist: The state of Iowa’s four Division I men’s basketball teams did the right thing by agreeing to stage a doubleheader at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines because it’ll be a chance to showcase our capital city and bring all four fan bases together at the same time.
Mr. Pessimist: Don’t believe the hype about a lack of scheduling flexibility being the main reason Iowa and Iowa State pushed for this doubleheader. More than anything it comes down to the Hawkeyes and Cyclones not wanting to play road games at Drake and Northern Iowa anymore because the risk of losing is too high.
Mr. Optimist: Despite all the attrition and injuries at running back, there should be at least four or five players on scholarship at that position when practice starts.
Mr. Pessimist: To assume anything about the Iowa running backs is just asking for trouble.
Mr. Optimist: It’s a heartwarming story to have four members of the Ferentz family associated with the 2012 team, which will happen if City High senior Steven Ferentz follows through on his plan to walk on next season.
Mr. Pessimist: I’ll watch an episode of “The Walton’s” or “Little House on the Prairie” if I want a heartwarming story about a family.
Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football