The summer is a time for fun and relaxation. For soaking up the sun and getting away from things, even if only for a few days. In the sporting world, it’s a time of desperation where fans are looking for something, anything to get them through to that first fall Saturday when they can get an actual glimpse of their favorite team. And thus, the summer is a time for the excitement build and the hype train to gather steam.
The University of Iowa is no exception. Playing on that fan excitement and hunger for news, we saw this little beauty drop over the weekend:
We are excited to share something with you all…stay tuned for the release on Monday the 17th!
— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) July 15, 2017
So here we are on a Monday morning, only a few hours (presumably) away from learning what this exciting news could be. And so the hype train leaves the station. And speculation has run the entire gamut. I’ve seen everything from rumors of a hockey team or a lacrosse program to a new contract for baseball coach Rick Heller, to the less exciting public announcement of large gifts to fund some capital projects such as the Kinnick North End Zone renovations or the Finkbine Clubhouse.
We’ll know the true answer soon enough, but in such dull sporting times, it is no doubt fun to speculate. If I were a betting man, I’d put most of my chips in the “major gift to fund a capital project” corner and perhaps throw a few behind a potential new contract for Heller. We’ve heard Barta talk about both recently without anything formally announced and we know both are big needs of the department.
Heller will certainly be a hot commodity soon, and he’s voiced a desire to stay in Iowa for his career. However he’s vastly underpaid relative the top tier baseball coaches around the country. The questions remain about Iowa’s willingness to drive large sums of money into a non-revenue sport (I think they should, especially with the new TV money coming in and the excitement Hawkeye fans showed when the program was on TV late this season), but there’s no question the man deserves it.
And on the capital projects front, the Iowa athletic department has always made an effort to be vocal about their largest supporters to show their appreciation and encourage others to show their generosity. Both projects will need big gifts to meet their goals and despite how exciting it would be for this announcement to be something more program related (how fantastic would a new hockey program be with the new ice arena going in over at Iowa River Landing?), I think this is the most likely outcome.
In keeping with the hype machine, outside of vague pre-announcement announcements about upcoming announcements, what could be more inconsequential and do more to build the hype than summer watch lists? As the other JP pointed out last week, it seems virtually everyone is on a watch list these days.
The hype started with The Outlaw, Josey Jewell, being named to the Bednarik Award watch list for the nation’s best defensive player overall. The same day, RB Akrum Wadley was named to the Maxwell Award watch list for the nation’s best offensive player.
Both would obviously be incredibly high honors.
The hype train kept chugging along last Tuesday when center James Daniels was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list for the nation’s top center. You might be thinking to yourself, “hey, that seems like old news.” Well, your’re right. Sort of. Daniels was actually named to the watch list back in May.
Naturally, you’re likely thinking last week’s announcement must have been for a narrowed list of candidates. But if that were the case, someone’s hype train might lose some steam. No, last week was actually an increase in the number of centers on the list.
With the update, there are now 71 (!!!) centers on the Rimington watch list. There are currently 130 FBS football programs (124 FCS programs). I’ve punched those figures into the mathulator and it appears that’s more than half the centers in FBS football on the “watch” list. OK.
Oh hey, look! Daniels isn’t just on the watch list for the nation’s top center, he’s also on the Outland Trophy watch list, along with Sean Welsh, for the nation’s top interior lineman. I’ll let you decide what interior lineman means since roughly half the award winners have played tackle.
Not to be outdone by Daniels’ two watch lists, Josey Jewell found himself on the Nagurski Trophy watch list on Thursday. The Nagurski goes to best defensive player of the year. But wait, you say, that’s what the Bednarik is for! Yes, but the Nagurski is from the Football Writers Association of America and the Bednarik is from the Maxwell Football Club. See, they are totally different awards with totally different watch lists. Totally.
For those of you counting at home, that means Iowa is looking at * potentially * having the nation’s best offensive player overall, the best defensive player overall (x2, but the same guy so he is twice as good), the best center and two of the best interior linemen. So I think it’s safe to pencil them in for 10 wins minimum, right?
Listen, I love that the Hawkeyes are getting some recognition. There isn’t much else going on in the middle of July so I suppose getting a little excitement building for some programs isn’t a bad thing. But why don’t they just announce who isn’t on these watch lists? Or, and this is way out there, wait until we’ve seen a game and announce a more concentrated list rather than actually expanding these things in the middle of summer?
Finally, it wouldn’t be summer hype without talking some Prime Time League. And boy did we get some stuff to overreact to last week!
Here’s a quick look at the stats from last Thursday’s games:
BoilerHawk crunched the numbers before these came out, but he isn’t the only one with some spreadsheets and a math troll locked in his closet. I did some quick back of the envelope work on these and came away with the following:
1.BEAR CAGE IS A MONSTER
43 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists?!?! Uhhh, that’s a triple double.
2.SO IS EVERYONE ELSE
Seriously, everyone went off. Moss, Cook, Garza and Nunge all dropped at least 30 and Kreiner was right there with 29 and 10 on 5-8 shooting from 3. Bruh. Sign me up for all of that.
Numbers don’t do it for you? How about some Cook video?
To my highly trained basketball eye, that looked, uh, good. Step back jumpers, the typical high-flying dunks, and post moves, including a turnaround off the block. It’s PTL, no defense, yada yada yada, Tyler Cook is good at basketball.
Need a little more to keep the hype train chugging along? I present to you the leading candidate to make up some of the scoring lost by the departure of Peter Jok: Isaiah Moss.
Moss is a guy we’ve see show glimpses of greatness. He’s got a better ability to attack the hoop off the dribble than probably anyone else on the roster. He’s got a solid outside shot. He’s long and he has the ability to get up. What he has lacked, at times, is the aggressiveness to take over the game. He’s done it at times, and come through big time when Peter Jok was in a drought or on the bench with foul trouble. But this team is going to need it every night with Jok gone.
That’s the aggressiveness I’m talking about. Shooting contested shots and drilling them in guys’ faces. Attacking the hoop and finishing with authority. This team has all the tools to put together a hell of a season and make a push into March. But they need that go-to scorer. Jordan Bohannon has shown he can be that guy, but he doesn’t bring the same length and athleticism as Moss. If those two can both showcase an outside shot and the ability to get into the lane on a regular basis, this team will be damn good.
Again, I know it’s the PTL and there’s no defense, etc. But I like what I’ve seen out of Moss. I really like what I’ve seen out of the newcomers Nunge and Garza. I always like what I see out of Tyler Cook (ok, I’d be down with a little more effort on the glass and consistency on defense). I hope I like what I see come November.
Side note, and not to derail the hype train or steal Boiler’s thunder, but he dropped a really telling stat to the group the other day: prior to Sunday’s game, every Iowa player participating in PTL this summer is averaging at least 20 ppg except Christian Williams and Maishe Dailey. Bonus stat: Dom Uhl is only averaging 20.8 ppg. Again, it’s PTL so take everything with a grain of salt. But I heard someone say the other day you can’t take anything away from the Prime Time League unless someone isn’t tearing it up. They’re not wrong.
I think Williams and Dailey can bring something defensively that few other can based on their length and quickness. Both can handle the ball well enough to earn at least some playing time, even if they aren’t scoring a ton. I continue to wonder what Dom Uhl will bring that Jack Nunge doesn’t. And Nunge is lighting the scorer’s sheets on fire in the PTL every week. Prove me wrong, Dom. Please.
Hey look, the NCAA is getting with the times!
We’ll see how this actually gets implemented, but sounds like road wins will be valued more and the fancy sheets the committee uses for the selection process won’t be geared so much toward the RPI, but will have more emphasis on some other (better, @ me) metrics such as Sagarin and KenPom. About time.
Former Hawkeye Mike Daniels went on the Rich Eisen Show last week and was instantly pulled into some friendly Big Ten banter (Eisen is a big Michigan fan). He proceeded to spit some truth and ruin every Michigan fan’s day. Cliff notes? At Iowa we work harder than you and we’re more physical than you. When you’re done playing us, you’re going to be hurting. And Harbaugh and his ideas about dealing with the locker room? He lost the battle the moment he started thinking about it.
Here’s the full interview:
Daniels has been taking the NFL by storm the last few years. He plays with an edge and a chip on his shoulder.
Saturday Tradition ran a story that talks a little about his story and why he might have that chip. Suffice to say he’s the ideal product of the Iowa way under Kirk Ferentz and a hell of a spokesman for the program. Great stuff.
Meanwhile, in Nebraska:
And finally, like usual, I just want to tell everyone to have a better week than this ATM repair man. And remember, no matter how bad your day is going, at least you aren’t stuck inside an ATM.
Happy Monday. Go Hawks! Outwork everyone. Keep the hype train chugging along.