Iowa football ain't what it used to be, television-wise

Penn State vs. Iowa, Kinnick Stadium, 2010 (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)
Penn State vs. Iowa, Kinnick Stadium, 2010 (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

In major-college sports, television tells you who you are and where you are. Somewhat, anyhow.

In 2012, Iowa football isn't with the "in crowd," as my good friends stuck in the 1960s still call it. (By the way, I've never taken or even seen LSD, and the most-recent episode of "Mad Men" made me glad I haven't. What a trip, Roger Sterling.)

Anyway, the 2012 prime-time schedules came out for Big Ten teams today, and Iowa isn't a player, player.

The Hawkeyes have just one night game, at home against Penn State on Oct. 20. On the Big Ten Network, or BTN as the network is fond of calling itself.

That's what coming off a 7-6 season will do, with no external expectations of being significantly better than that this year.

Contrast that with Nebraska, which has three games scheduled for either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 on Saturday nights, vs. Wisconsin, at Ohio State, and vs. Michigan.

Iowa was a prime-time team in 2009 in more ways than simply being 11-2. The Hawkeyes were at Penn State at night on ABC, hosted Michigan at night on ABC, and played at Michigan State at night on BTN in a game that easily was ABC-worthy as far as tension and a dramatic finish.

The following season, the Hawkeyes were at Arizona on a Saturday night ESPN telecast, and hosted Penn State in an ABC prime-time game.

In 2011, Iowa's lone prime-time game was at home against Northwestern on BTN.

This year, again just one night game, and again on BTN.

Since the Big Ten doesn't have night games in November, it's not like any team is overburdened with night contests. Michigan has just the game at Nebraska. I wondered if the Michigan State-Michigan game of Oct. 20 would be a night game, but this has ABC/2:30 (CT) written all over it.

Wisconsin has two night games, Utah State at home and the trip to Nebraska.

Besides the Cornhuskers, the only other conference clubs with three evening contests are Ohio State and ... Indiana? Yes, the Hoosiers are BTN staples, with home games against Indiana State, Ball State and Ohio State on "The Network," as Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany calls it.

The Big Ten likes itself.

Purdue, on the other hand, is the only league team without a prime-time game even though it went to a bowl game last season while Indiana wallowed in losing.

Iowa has at least one good reason to be disappointed in not getting more Big Ten night games. Since 2009, the Hawkeyes are 5-0 in conference games held in the evening. So they have truly been ready for prime-time. 

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