Here I am, back again…with another edition of Random Hash!

Gone Through November

Well, as you might have noticed, I’ve been a bit absent lately…in fact, I was MIA through the entire month of November!  Truth be told, I’ve been hard at work conducting research for my fourth book.

People sometimes ask me how hard it is to write a book.  Not surprisingly, I can honestly tell you that it’s very hard…at least it’s hard to do reasonably well.  But as difficult as the writing is, it’s actually much more difficult to do all the research beforehand.

Take my latest book on Duke Slater.  That book had a reference section with over 1,000 footnotes.  Just looking all that information up took hours and hours.  That’s why it’s so important to absolutely love the topic you’re writing about…if you feel there’s any chance you might get sick of it, chances are you won’t finish the book, because you’ll have ample opportunity to get sick of researching your book topic!

Fortunately, I love research…but I’ll admit, it’s time-consuming.  Which means something has to get cut, and in this case, I’ve let my website lag quite a bit.  But as the research portion of my latest project starts to let up, I hope to have more time to share my random thoughts with you once again.

The 2013 Hawkeye Football Team

Very, very proud of how the Hawkeyes bounced back this season!  They had a terrific year, going 8-4 and being in every contest in the fourth quarter.  Now the Hawkeyes await their bowl bid, and the most likely landing spot is Tampa, Florida, for the Outback Bowl.  I’ve personally attended two Outback Bowl games, and they were both a blast.  I absolutely love Tampa, and although I probably won’t be able to return this year, it’s great that the Hawks could be headed back to such a great bowl.

As for their opponent, I’m hoping the Hawkeyes get to play Georgia.  Most projections seem to indicate that the Bulldogs would be a long shot to land here, but I’m pulling for that outcome anyway.  Most of the other projected opponents for the Hawkeyes – Missouri, South Carolina, and LSU – are teams that Iowa has played and defeated in the last decade, and I don’t want my Hawks to be at a disadvantage when it comes to the “revenge factor”!

Moreover, the Georgia Bulldogs are one of the best programs in college football that the Hawkeyes haven’t had the honor of ever playing before.  Iowa has played almost all of the heavy hitters in college football history at least once.  The biggest names in college football that Iowa has never tangled with are Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, and Georgia.  The first three, obviously, won’t be seeing Iowa in a bowl game, as they’re all firmly planted in the national championship picture!  But Georgia’s still a possibility, and I love that the Hawkeyes have played – at least once – almost every great program college football has to offer.

Kirk Ferentz

A particular tip of the cap to Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz, who has been so unfairly maligned over the past year, including by several alleged Iowa “fans”.  Ferentz completed his 15th season at Iowa, and in 15 years, he continues to perform on the same winning pace as his predecessor, the illustrious Hall of Fame coach, Hayden Fry.

Ferentz now has 108 victories at Iowa, with a game left to play in his 15th year.  He’s only 35 wins away from the all-time Hawkeye school record, set by Fry over 20 seasons.  That means if Ferentz can average seven wins a year, he could catch Fry’s win total in Iowa City by staying another five seasons and matching Fry’s two decades with the Hawks.  Seems very doable to me.

Furthermore, Ferentz has an opportunity with a bowl win to tie Michigan State’s great coach Duffy Daugherty as the 11th winningest coach in Big Ten history.  Ferentz is currently three wins away from tying Ohio State’s John Cooper and placing in the top ten all-time in victories as a Big Ten coach.*

Most Wins by a Big Ten Coach, All-Time

1.       Amos Alonzo Stagg (CHI) – 233

2.       Woody Hayes (OSU) – 205

3.       Bo Schembechler (MI) – 194

4.       Fielding Yost (MI) – 165

5.       Hayden Fry (IA) – 143

6.       Doc Williams (MN) – 137

7.       Bob Zuppke (IL) – 131

8.       Lloyd Carr (MI) – 122

9.       Barry Alvarez (WI) – 118

10.    John Cooper (OSU) – 111

11.    Duffy Daugherty (MSU) – 109

12.    Kirk Ferentz (IA) – 108

*Note that this list excludes Penn State’s Joe Paterno, who had most of his Big Ten wins vacated by the NCAA.

Now I’m sure people will probably point out that Ferentz has benefited from the expansion from an 11-game regular season schedule to a 12-game schedule.  That’s fair…but you’ve still got to win the games, and he has.  Furthermore, Ferentz is the only one on this list who had to follow in the immediate footsteps (and into the immediate shadow) of another coach on this list!

Even more impressively, Ferentz has an opportunity in a few weeks to break the school record for bowl victories and move within one of the Big Ten record.

Bowl Victories by a Big Ten Coach, All-Time

1.       Barry Alvarez (WI) – 8

2.       Kirk Ferentz (IA) – 6

2.       Hayden Fry (IA) – 6

2.       Lloyd Carr (MI) – 6

5.       Bo Schembechler (MI) – 5

5.       Woody Hayes (OSU) – 5

5.       Jim Tressel (OSU) – 5**

5.       Earle Bruce (OSU) – 5

**Tressel’s last bowl victory was vacated by the NCAA.  And again, this doesn’t count the vacated bowl victories of Joe Paterno.

That’s a very good bowl record, especially when you consider the teams Iowa has faced in bowl games in Ferentz’ tenure: Texas Tech (at the height of their powers with Kliff Kingsbury), Southern Cal, Florida (twice), LSU, Texas, South Carolina (and Steve Spurrier), ACC champion Georgia Tech, Missouri (ranked #12 at the time), and Oklahoma.  That’s a pretty tough slate, yet Ferentz has gone 6-4 against it.  Here’s hoping he can get lucky #7 this bowl season.

So congrats, Coach Ferentz!  He takes a lot of grief for his high salary, his conservative playcalling, and the 6-7 win regular seasons he delivers roughly half of the time.  But Iowa could do a lot worse than Captain Kirk.  He’s a genuinely good human being who has racked up over 100 wins, including some incredible victories and quite a few bowl trophies.  If all goes according to plan, I’ll be watching on January 1st to see if Ferentz can claim #109!

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