A couple kickoff times have been set. Two games have been shifted to Fridays.
Why, it’s as if this Iowa football season really will happen, though fellow Power Five teams Baylor, Florida and Vanderbilt can tell you not take any given week for granted.
Yes, Iowa is set to start its season on Oct. 24 at Purdue. It’s the latest the Hawkeyes have started a season since Oct. 24, 1891, when they defeated Cornell College, 64-6.
The last time Iowa played in a pandemic year was 1918, the year of the Spanish Flu. If you didn’t already loathe pandemics, read up on that one. Yikes. Many college football seasons were shortened or wiped out, but the Hawkeyes played a 9-game slate just as they are set to do this year.
They opened the season with a 10-0 loss to Great Lakes, but finished the year with a 6-2-1 record. So don’t put all your eggs in the basket of the Purdue game. Or do. It won’t change anything either way.
Anyway, it’s been so long since last year’s Holiday Bowl that I’ve recently tried to reacquaint myself with Iowa football. Here’s something I didn’t know:
Iowa senior offensive tackle Alaric Jackson is a Canadian.
Jackson is from Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit. He went to a prep school in Detroit. Just last week, he was named the No. 1 prospect eligible for the 2021 Canadian Football League draft.
Now, Jackson’s not going to play in the CFL. He’ll be in the NFL next year. But he ranks first of all Canadian-born players eligible for the CFL’s next draft, one spot ahead of Oklahoma State linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga. Oklahoma State star running back Chuba Hubbard also is Canadian.
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Last week, Jackson told the Iowa media he is a vegan. So is Ohio State star quarterback Justin Fields. “Of course there are going to be meals that don’t taste the best,” Fields said, “but you have to sacrifice your taste buds for performance on the field.”
That, sports fans, is commitment.
On a dig through Iowa’s 2020 media guide, I learned more. Like:
Cedar Rapids has more native sons on the roster than any other city in the nation, with four. All are Xavier High grads. Two more are from Palo and Shellsburg, Kennedy High alumni.
There are more Hawkeyes from Williamsburg, Waukon and West Liberty (one each) than there are from Iowa City.
Iowa senior defensive end Zach VanValkenburg, vying to be a starter this season, is from Zeeland, Mich. He went to Zeeland West High. Every year, the Zeeland West Dux play the Zeeland East Chix in the Bird Bowl.
This Hawkeyes team has a lot of great names. On the two-deeps alone you have Chauncey Golston, Barrington Wade, Jack Plumb. And Daviyon Nixon, Kyler Schott, Sebastian Castro. And Nico Ragaini, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Coy Cronk.
Twelve of Iowa’s 19 offensive linemen are from Iowa. Its four quarterbacks are from California, Colorado, Connecticut and Texas. Its top four receivers are from New Jersey, Mississippi, Indiana and Connecticut. Its top two running backs are from Georgia and Florida.
Freshman Tory Taylor of Australia may replace graduated Aussie Michael Sleep-Dalton as Iowa’s starting punter. Six other Big Ten teams have Australian punters, including last year’s first-team All-Big Ten punter, Blake Hayes of Illinois. Six of the last seven Ray Guy Award winners were Aussies.
America, we have lost our global punting edge. It’s something to think about when you vote. (Anyone who takes that seriously and feels compelled to respond must stay at least 100 yards from me.)
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Finally, the Hawkeyes have a director of player personnel, a director of player development, a director of football analytics, two football analysts, and a manager of nutrition and performance analytics.
That’s a lot of additions and titles compared to college staffs of the past. The ball itself, however, remains a prolate spheroid and still takes funny bounces.
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