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Hlas: By George, don't seek depth in Hawkeye depth charts

Weekly two-deeps aren't given under oath

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IOWA CITY — George Kittle was listed on Iowa’s depth chart Monday as his team’s starting tight end for Saturday’s game against Wisconsin. Which was a good thing for the Hawkeyes, since Kittle is quite a valuable player.

But wait. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said this about Kittle on Tuesday morning’s Big Ten teleconference: “For us to count on him, I think that’s probably unrealistic.” Which was a bad thing for the Hawkeyes, since Kittle is quite a valuable player.

But wait. “Did I say that?” Ferentz replied when asked about his “unrealistic” response about an hour earlier. “I’ll tone that down a little bit. I don’t want to be Dr. Doom here. I think he’s got a chance … But it’s probably a long shot.”

Here’s when we’ll all probably learn if the senior who has 17 receptions for 280 yards and is a wonderful blocker can play Saturday: Less than two hours before kickoff.

Maybe that’s when Iowa’s coaches and Kittle himself find out if he is recovered enough from a sprained foot to be game-ready.

By the way, Hawkeye offensive linemen Boone Myers and Sean Welsh also had ouchies during their team’s win at Purdue last Saturday, so we’ll see if they stay in the lineup.

Both are listed as starters on the depth chart and Cole Croston is not, though Ferentz’s Saturday prognosis on Croston being able to go this week sounded positive after Croston sat out the Purdue game.

Starting offensive lineman Ike Boettger was asked if he knew this week’s lineup, and how healthy his linemates were.

“You can talk to the head coach about that,” Boettger said. “I’m not going to divulge any of that information right now.”

Good answer.

Many a depth chart isn’t worth the paper or bandwidth it’s printed upon. I asked Big Ten assistant commissioner of communications Jason Yellin if the league had any rules about releasing depth charts, let alone accurate ones. Yellin said there is no such protocol.

Now, in April (sort of) and August (more so), and the Tuesday before the first game of the season (very much more so), depth charts have meaning. But going into Week 8? They’re usually the guys who started the games of Week 7 and didn’t leave the field on a cart.

“Part of it’s projection, part of it’s just what you’ve been doing, and that’s what it is,” Ferentz said. “None of our guys are ruled out yet, so health-wise you hope we get guys back and what have you, but I don’t know.

“Yeah, maybe (depth charts) are antiquated, I don’t know.”

Almost everyone still releases them. But Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh regards them as if they are things not to be shared with the opponent or world. WikiLeaks reportedly has yet to get its mitts on a Wolverines depth chart.

Two weeks ago, Michigan released an empty depth chart before its game at Rutgers. It did the same thing in September before it played Colorado. So Colorado’s sports information people decided to mock Harbaugh, and issued a depth chart full of fiction.

Elmer Fudd was listed at quarterback, Austin Powers at defensive end, James Bond (wearing jersey No. 007) at defensive tackle. A deodorant brand was the “right guard.”

The funniest part is that Harbaugh didn’t find any of it funny.

“In our preparation for Colorado we’ve had a hard time working humor into the preparations,” he said.

“I was trying to imagine how many people sat around and how many hours they worked on that.”

Monday night on Harbaugh’s weekly radio show, he touted the merits of global warming after a mid-October day brought unusually warm weather to Ann Arbor.

“Now we’re the new Mediterranean,” he said. “A lot of coastline and how about that out there today? Eighty degrees out there, it is so beautiful here, it’s awesome.

“Global warming is good for Michigan, it’s good for recruiting.”

Maybe someone should chart the depth of that comment.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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