Football is happening. August and Everything After, as Counting Crows would say.
Here are a few unrelated Monday morning items:
1. To me, the most-interesting NFL training camp story involving a former Iowa Hawkeye is that of running back Akrum Wadley.
He’s an undrafted free agent signee trying to make it onto the Tennessee Titans’ roster. That’s an uphill field for any UFA running back, and it’s uphill for Wadley.
This story from The Tennessean details Wadley’s battle to become the No. 3 (and last) running back on the Titans’ roster.
This is how tough the NFL can be. Wadley had 1,462 yards from scrimmage last year for a Big Ten team and he’s a borderline NFL running back for the time being.
He bounced back from an early fumble in Tennessee’s first preseason game, last Thursday against Green Bay. Wadley finished with 9 carries for 27 yards, a sweet catch-and-run for a first down, and a 64-yard kickoff return.
So he’s in the mix. Getting out of the mix and into September with the Titans will require more from Wadley this month.
2. Sports Illustrated’s preseason college football Top 25 has Wisconsin No. 3, Penn State No. 7. Iowa plays both.
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That’s going to happen in the Big Ten. It’s rare, however, when the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the preseason has been one of the seven teams now in the West Division.
That Wisconsin-Iowa game in Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 22 that opens the Big Ten season for both is kind of a big deal, huh?
Is Wisconsin really the third-best team in the nation? Maybe. It’s kind of overlooked in many places, but the Badgers did go 13-1 with their only loss by one score in the Big Ten title game against Ohio State.
Here’s something I hadn’t realized until today: Wisconsin didn’t allow more than 17 points in any of its last eight conference games in 2017.
That’s how you go 13-1.
But what if Iowa beats the Badgers?
3. After crunching the numbers, we learn that 14.3 percent of all Big Ten head football coaches are on administrative leave right now.
4. Last week, Iowa sent a press release noting sophomore defensive end A.J. Epenesa is on the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year Watch List. That confirmed there is a college football watch list for everything. I’m on the record about watch lists. They’re silly.
But this one taught me something, which is they’re are a lot more talented college football players of Polynesian descent than I would have guessed. Which means I’ve done a poor job of paying attention. I use the excuse that many of the top Polynesians play in the Pac-12, which has games that get done around 3:30 a.m., Central time. That may be an exaggeration.
Anyway, this award was first given in 2014. The winner was a mighty good player, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. He also won himself a little trophy called the Heisman.
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Last year’s winner was Washington State defensive end Hercules Mata`afa, the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year.
This year’s watch list has 51 players. Other Big Ten players on it are Wisconsin defensive lineman Olive Sagapolu, Penn State linebacker Koa Farmer, Maryland offensive lineman Brendan Moore and Michigan nose tackle Bryan Mone.
Iowa State nose tackle Ray Lima, a really good player who has yet to get the recognition he deserves, is also on the list.
So yes, the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year is a thing. If Epenesa wins it, something very good has happened for Iowa. Likewise for Iowa State if Lima wins it.
5. Northwestern plays at Purdue in 17 days. A Big Ten conference game in August. That’s different.