116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — No animals were sacrificed during Iowa's media day. The closest anyone came to voodoo was coach Kirk Ferentz making a passing reference to a TV doctor.
'We didn't have to call Dr. Phil in or anything like that for our football team,' Ferentz said during Iowa's media day activities Saturday. 'We're just trying to work a little bit harder, work smarter and get better at the things that really determine successful outcomes.'
No rituals, no drum circle, no hugs. Any residual scar tissue from last season's collapse into mediocrity has been dealt with. After all, the Hawkeyes did have almost nine months to process. And really, in football, all you can do is punch in. Fall camp started Thursday and it's time to ride.
The 2014 season is in the books, and everyone is happy to be right here right now.
'I don't think our ego needed anything,' linebacker Bo Bower said. 'We all just came together at the end of the season and after that game [the nightmarish thingie known as the TaxSlayer Bowl, a 45-28 loss to Tennessee] and told ourselves, it's not going to happen again. It can't happen again. I think we've made a lot of strides this offseason.'
OK, not everyone is here right now. Iowa updated its 2015 season ticket number. As of Saturday afternoon, it stood at 37.890 compared to 45,613 at this time last season, a drop of 16 percent.
In full voice, in his 17th season as head coach, Ferentz declared that the 2015 Hawkeyes are here with a championship agenda.
'I just wanted to restate that we're totally committed to being a Big Ten Championship caliber football team,' Ferentz said. 'That's been our goal since 1999 when we got started, and things haven't changed on that front. I believe we have a strong foundation in place right now, and I feel very good about the adjustments that we've made since January.'
Front and center on the 'adjustments since January' list is quarterback. Junior C.J. Beathard is in, and two-year starter Jake Rudock took the graduate transfer route to Michigan. Beathard will bring a stronger arm, quicker release and more athleticism. Your next question is what took so long?
'We felt like we needed to make a decision that was best for the team and we made it,' offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. 'It wasn't anything extraordinary, we just sat down and felt like we needed to do it and so we did.'
Not extraordinary? Unseating a two-year QB starter? In January? In favor of a junior with one career start?
'We just felt like C.J. was ready to takeover,' Davis said, recounting his days at Texas when Chris Simms beat out Major Applewhite, who at the time was the Big 12 player of the year. 'Sometimes, you go with what you see and part of it is you go with your gut, too.'
No one points to any one thing that turned QB in Beathard's favor. Essentially, the Iowa staff left whatever cash prize that was on the table and chose what was in the mystery box.
'Eventually, it caught up with Jake where I was making plays,' said Beathard, whose career numbers are 61 completions on 119 attempts (51.3) for 824 yards with six TDs and four interceptions. 'I was progressing well as a player and that's what happened.'
Let's close out today's QB discussion with this thought from Ferentz. This statement in and of itself should serve as an exclamation point. 'We thought it was the best thing to do. I think there's a stronger consensus right now that we did the right thing.'
If Beathard is the living embodiment of hope for Iowa fandom, then other areas on this team need to be a monument to improvement. The linebackers should be a year stronger, smarter and better. With two new offensive tackles, the O-line will have to prove itself. Punter seems to be a mission for assistant coach Chris White, running backs and special teams coordinator.
Everyone had their personal nadir. Bower quickly pointed to Minnesota and Tennessee. Punter Dillon Kidd watched two punt returns against Nebraska shatter a 17-point second-half lead. Guard Sean Welsh said the bowl game or Wisconsin or Nebraska.
'You can look at it one of two ways,' Welsh said. 'You can dwell on it or you can use it as motivation. That's personally what I've done and I feel like that's what a good part of our team has done. Everyone has a fire under them.'
The goal now is for Iowa football to be more relevant than a Dr. Phil reference.
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