Coming off a season that ended in New York City, playing for the
N.I.T. Championship, Iowa Basketball now owns some of its highest
expectations in over a decade.
I’ve always been an optimistic guy when it comes to Iowa Hawkeye
sports (perhaps by definition, a homer, if you will). Yes, I’m that guy
who thought Todd Lickliter, in his third year as head coach of Iowa,
might be able to get his team to finish in the top half of the Big Ten.
Yes, I’m that guy who thought maybe, just maybe, Iowa fans were being
too hard on Steve Alford back in 2005. And now I’m saying that while I
think Iowa is going to be better than last year, fans and media might
want to step back on their enthusiasm just a bit. Wait.. What?! It’s
true. Iowa has been labeled a “dark horse” so many times in the
preseason, Black Beauty is jealous. Rip Van Winkle thinks calling the
Hawkeyes a “sleeper pick” has been overplayed. Iowa being tabbed as
this year’s “sexy pick” has Kate Upton… ok, you get the point, I’ll stop
But why not get excited? Why not eat up all the publicity and high
preseason praises and go with the flow? Be a man and pick Iowa to win
the Big Ten! No. Why? The short version – Iowa is basically the same
team it was last season when it failed to win the essential
resume-building games (Indiana and MSU), while losing a few
resume-destroying games (Virginia Tech, Purdue, Nebraska). The long
version – keep reading....
With Iowa being officially on The Bubble (and currently about 4 or 5 teams away from the NCAA Tourney depending on which "expert" you believe), here are the teams you should be rooting for today.
Teams You Should be Pulling For Today if You're an Iowa Fan
For Bubble implications:
NC State over Virginia
Duke over Maryland
UTEP over Southern Miss
St Louis over Charlotte
Temple over UMASS
Vanderbilt over Kentucky
Butler over LaSalle
Tennessee over Alabama*
Missouri over Ole Miss
* - some debate to this as it could be a knock-out game regardless of who wins.
For Potential Bid Stealers :
Memphis over Tulsa
Miami over BC
Florida over LSU
VCU over St Joes
Oregon over Utah
Iowa has to win tonight's game from MSU to get serious consideration for an at-large bid... they would need to win at least one more after that to feel really good about their chances. However, one more might be enough depending on how the rest of the bubble goes. So far this postseason, things have pretty much gone the best anyone could hope for in regards to helping out Iowa's chances. The Hawks just need to keep winning, simple as that.
This summer's session of the PTL gave the Hawkeye Basketball faithful a shot of adrenaline. A lot of fans came away from the summer league excited about this year's team. In fact, someone even made mixtapes of both Devyn Marble and Aaron White from their PTL highlights.
OK, fine, Jamie. You put up "It's a Cyclone State" billboards when ISU beat Iowa in football. Fine, whatever. It was a jab at Iowa. And while petty and trite, it at least made sense in its efforts to get under the skin of Hawkeye fans.
Yes, that's former Iowa and UNI AD, Bob Bowlsby on a billboard in Iowa markets. The ISU marketing department Pollardized this advertisement by making it seem as if Bob Bowlsby is coming home to Iowa State. And by doing that, getting under the skin of Iowa and UNI fans. But here's the thing. It doesn't make any sense. Both fanbases are completely apathetic when it comes to Bowlsby. No one gives a shit. Really. No one. He works in Texas, where the Big XII offices are located. He has 9 other schools besides ISU under his wing. Yet ISU Marketing thinks this makes sense. I just do not get it. I can't even put into words how silly this billboard is, I'm not even upset, I'm dumbfounded at why a program would put something like this up. Seriously, you made a billboard about your conference commissioner.
Needless to say, even Iowa State fans weren't pleased with this billboard.
Since I can't put it into words, I'll have to draw an analogy. I guess it only makes sense that Iowa would put a billboard (a Pollardized one, of course) to "get back" at those rascals down there in Ames. Oh, Iowa is gonna troll you guys from Ames.
SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!?!?!
Cael coaches for Penn State and because of that, he coaches in the Big Ten. Well, guys, IOWA IS IN THE B1G CONFERENCE, you know. So Cael is TOTALLY coming home to Iowa when he left the state to become the head wrestling coach at Penn State. NOW I GET IT. I UNDERSTAND POLLARD AND ISU MARKETING 101.
Back in July of 2010, Jarrod Uthoff chose to accept a scholarship to play basketball for the Wisconsin Badgers. To the outside world, he had pledged his allegiance to Bo Ryan and Badger Nation. Oh you silly people in the sports world and general sports fandom, you. Don't you see what happened? Haven't you watched enough Archer to figure this out by now? Jarrod Uthoff and Fran McCaffery just pulled off the greatest con in the last decade of B1G Basketball. Don't believe me? Here you go...
McCaffery was hired by Iowa and he immediately dug in and tried to retain the current players that had signed an NLI. Wisconsin got in the ear of one of the signed players (Ben Brust) and after a bunch of hoopla, Brust was allowed to go play for Bo Ryan penalty free. That pissed off McCaffery. A lot. East coast, Philly-type White Magic fury. Grrrr, I'm-really-mad type of stuff.
Pretty confident McCaffery is giving a chocolate-covered pretzel stink palm here
There is no love lost between Fran and Bo. Hate isn't a strong enough word.
So, how to retaliate? Easy. Go find a diehard Hawkeye fan who just so happened to be a Top 150 player with a Wisconsin scholarship offer. Couldn't be that hard to find, right? Oh, there you are Jarrod Uthoff (who just so happened to reside a half an hour from Carver-Hawkeye Arena). I see how this will pan out. Be sure to have Uthoff mention Bohannon (one of the first Eastern Iowa preps to spurn Iowa for Wisconsin) in his commitment to Wisconsin too, so he sounds honest. Have him say all the right things. It worked. For all intents and purposes, everyone thought Jarrod was a Badger. Except he was double-agenting all over Bo Ryan's face. Still don't believe me?
Iowa hadn't beaten Wisconsin on the road since 2000 (nine straight losses). In the last five games in the Kohl Center - Iowa had lost by an AVERAGE of 17 points. Iowa went to Madison and whooped up on the Badgers, they put up 72 points against Bo Ryan's defense (that's like the infinity sign against most defenses). How? How did they do it? Wisconsin was a Top 15 team, Iowa had lost to Campbell at home just over a month previous. I'll tell you how Iowa won. Jarrod Uthoff. I'm sure he got a bunch of film and paperwork on all of Wisconsin complicated offensive sets to the Iowa staff. I'm mean that Wisconsin offense is nearly impossible to scout against - how are you supposed to play defense for 30 seconds while the offense just dribbles around aimlessly (hint - you can't, it's reaaaaallly tough). Not to mention Uthoff must have added something to the Gatorade on the Badger bench, how else does Wisconsin shoot 3-28 from behind the arc? Thanks, Agent Uthoff.
And then Wisconsin comes to Iowa to rectify the situation, to get one back on Iowa. They forgot they were on Uthoff's turf, though. He already had the entire state on his side. Remember the stuff he added to Wisconsin's Gatorade up in Madison? He added the exact opposite serum to Iowa's drink of choice in one bottle, the bottle that belonged to Matt Gatens. That's why Matty Fresh went BANANAS on Wisconsin in February. Because of Jarrod Uthoff. Sneaky, sneaky Uthoff.
Alright, so you don't really buy into this conspiracy, huh? No? Don't forget this tidbit. Bo Ryan wanted Jarrod Uthoff to play last year, but Uthoff himself chose to redshirt. No way could he log minutes as a Badger. Look, giving information to your hometown team is one thing, but actually playing on the bad guys' team is a whole 'nuther level.
So when Jarrod Uthoff officially decides to come to play for Iowa, don't be fooled. He was always playing for the Hawkeyes, he just lived in a different state.
Michael Riggan, president of TanTara Transportation Corp., has been
transporting football equipment for the University of Iowa since 1985.
He became involved with the university when a friend — Ed Huff, who ran
Hawkeye Moving and Storage — asked for his help. Huff began hauling
Iowa football gear in 1983. “He asked me to go on a trip with him to haul the equipment, and I
was hooked. It was just an awesome feeling,” Riggan said.
“In 1987, I bought a tractor to use with [Huff’s] trailer, and [we
shared] expenses until Ed retired around 2008,” Riggan said.
Now Riggan, who drives the “Hawk Hauler” with his son, Jeff, picks up the entire tab. “I’ve been fortunate where I can afford to do this,” the elder Riggan said. Riggan, whose oldest daughter earned a bachelor’s degree from Iowa, said he has always felt welcomed by the Iowa staff.
“Former [head football] coach Hayden Fry made us feel like part of
the team,” said Riggan, who was, and still is, struck by a feeling of
camaraderie. “We had sideline passes and, since that day, I’ve been on
the sidelines of every away game that I’ve gone to.”
After Fry retired in 1998, Kirk Ferentz took over the reins of the football program. “He, likewise, has treated us like we’re part of the staff,” Riggan said. “He’s just good people.” “Mike is a big part of our team,” Coach Ferentz said. “The thing
that has always jumped out at me is that the truck is symbolic of the
way Mike treats us. . . . It’s just absolutely spectacular. I tease Mike
[that] you could perform surgery on it. Mike takes great pride in
keeping that thing spotless.” The coach said the truck helps spread the university’s name and football program through the areas in which it travels.
“It’s great advertising for us,” Ferentz said. “The detail of the graphics and the artwork on the truck is splendid.” He also said that it’s always a kick to see the truck waiting for the team.
“We’ll get off the plane, and the truck is sitting out there on the tarmac,” the coach said. And he heaped praise on Riggan’s dedication to the university and the team.
“Mike’s truck is very representative of the type of person he is,”
Ferentz said. “He’s so well-grounded, so committed, so supportive.
He’s all about supporting the Hawkeyes. . . . I wish all our players
were as committed as he is. We could all learn from him.”
Riggan said the movement of the football gear can be an arduous one. “We haul everything from the jock straps to the gym shorts. We
arrive on Thursday afternoon and start loading the stuff that we can
while the team practices — the trainer stuff, communications equipment,
video equipment. After practice, their shoulder pads, helmets [and
other personal gear] go into the players’ bags, which are the last
things to go on truck.
“We drive to the hotel where the team is staying and unload stuff
there,” he said. “Then, we go to the stadium and help unload gear in the
locker room and set up all of the lockers . . . for them,” he said,
adding that this is done so the players have the gear that is needed for
a practice walk-through on Friday. “It’s almost a military operation at that point,” Riggan said.
“That’s something that Hayden [a former marine] brought with him.”
Riggan also said, “At each home game, we park our truck outside
the stadium and have a tailgate out of it. A lot of the old players stop
by and say, ‘Hi.’ ”
Although the vehicle usually isn’t completely filled for away games, “for bowl games, we have a full load,” he said.
Iowa, which finished the regular season with a 7-5 record, lost to Oklahoma, 31-14, at the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.
The hand-painted Hawk Hauler has been updated several times. “We’re on our fourth trailer and our fifth tractor,” Riggan said.
“The truck is all Hawk. It has close to 300 chicken lights — that’s an
industry term. It really glows: I’m guessing a satellite could see it
from space. It does look good.” Riggan said the truck is used for carrying only football gear — with three charitable exceptions.
“We use the truck to support Freezing for Food and Toy Time,” he
said, adding that the vehicle is parked at a Hy-Vee Food Stores facility
to collect donated food for the Salvation Army pantry and at a Krieger
Automotive center for Toy Time, another Salvation army charity. “They
make sure that families in need get the food baskets and toys,” Riggan
The truck is also used to support a football camp for children
from 7 years old through high school, he said, adding that 2011 was the
program’s inaugural year. The idea for the Davenport, Iowa, camp came from Matt Hughes, a
linebacker for Iowa back in the 1990s. Riggan said that about 60 former
Iowa players tutored the kids in football skills.
He also said that the Iowa alumni solicited donations from area
businesses for the camp. And although there is a fee for the kids, those
who couldn’t afford it were allowed to attend for free.
Riggan said the donations and fees go to football-related programs in
the area — and in one special case, to help pay for a kidney transplant
needed by a former Iowa player.