116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
And so it begins.
The high school football season officially kicked off a week ago with the start of fall practices. Now the big boys have joined the fun, with Iowa, Iowa State and UNI all holding their media days last week.
Those three have been practicing for some time now — and, of course, had summer conditioning programs. But things are starting to feel real.
With the start of every new season, there is a slew of rankings, too.
The FBS coaches poll came out last week and had Iowa State at No. 8 and Iowa at No. 18. The Associated Press Top 25 comes out later today and you can bet those two teams will be ranked.
Iowa State is getting much-deserved love in the early polls. The Cyclones are coming off an historic season, a huge bowl win and have arguably one of the hottest coaches in the country in Matt Campbell.
Throw in guys like Brock Purdy, Breece Hall and Mike Rose and you’re looking at another breakout season this fall, very likely a 10-win campaign and a second straight berth in the Big 12 championship game.
Campbell is a master at messaging and his latest — pushing toward that final “5 percent” — is wonderful.
“What we realize is the higher you go up the mountain, the more challenging that mountain becomes and the more challenging it becomes to breath and the more precision is required the higher you get,” he said.
Iowa, too, is looking for a big season with a quarterback who got valuable experience last fall, talented running backs and wide receivers and an offensive lineman who is among the best the nation.
As The Gazette’s Jeff Johnson noted last week after media day, the Hawkeyes can’t afford a slow start, however. Opening with Indiana (ranked 17th by the coaches) and ISU is a huge challenge.
Iowa is capable of another eight-win season and, if it can start 2-0, maybe even bigger things are on the horizon.
“Like most years, we have a mix of veteran players,” Ferentz said on Friday. “We have a bunch of guys we feel really good about and have a lot of confidence in based on what they have done out on the field already and what they've done off the field, just the way they do things and the way they continue to work out there and lead our football team.
“And, needless to say, we lost a lot of really good football players off last year's team, so there's always holes to fill. ... That is the beauty of college football in my mind. Each and every year — I say it every January, and it's really true — it's truly a new team anytime you start a new venture.”
UNI is ranked No. 21 in the FCS poll released by Stats Perform. That’s a little low by normal Panther standards, but UNI struggled a bit during its abbreviated spring season and has some big holes to fill.
And the Missouri Valley Football Conference isn’t getting any easier. South Dakota State and North Dakota State are ranked 3-4. North Dakota and Southern Illinois are 7-8. Missouri State, once an almost sure win on the MVFC schedule, is ranked No. 24. Illinois State received votes.
The guess here is UNI will surprise and finish a little higher than projected in this poll. But it won’t be easy.
Speaking of rankings, ESPN released last week a list of its top 100 college football coaches over the past 50 years. Nick Saban was No. 1 — big shock — followed by Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden, Tom Osborne and Urban Meyer.
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz came in at No. 71 and at least one person figured that was too low.
“One name in the Big Ten that felt really low on this list was Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz at 71. Of Ferentz’s 22 season’s in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes have only had a losing record four times, with two of those coming in Ferentz’s first two seasons as head coach. By comparison, Mark Dantonio is ranked 48. Aside from Michigan State making the College Football Playoff in 2015, I don’t see much of a difference between the two coaches.”
That was written on an Ohio State fan website, by the way.
Other names of note on the list include the late Hayden Fry (61) and two of his former assistants — Barry Alvraez (32) and Bill Snyder (8).
Former Hawkeye standout Bob Stoops is 26, and ex-Iowa State coach Johnny Majors is at 50. Earle Bruce, who coached at Iowa State and UNI among his many stops, is No. 60.
Let the games begin.
Comments: (319) 398-8416; email@example.com