Matthew Holst/Getty Images
Iowa CB Desmond King intercepts a pass intended for Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd during their 2015 game at Kinnick Stadium.

Why (He Who Must Not Be Named) is way off on Iowa’s grueling 2017 schedule and 2015 criticism

The best way to start your day is right here at as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Iowa Breakfast Club here with you at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

So let’s get to it. Here is the Iowa Breakfast Club for Wednesday, May 3.

There was nothing fake about playing Pitt in 2015

Iowa gets a bad rap for its nonconference scheduling pattern and much of it is a result of its annual nonconference series with Iowa State. We’ve written quite a bit about that here, and we probably will again in the fall. With nine Big Ten games plus the annual series with the Cyclones (who compete in the Big 12, by the way), the Hawkeyes repeatedly have been roasted unfairly by He Who Must Not Be Named (AKA the Lord Voldemort of sports radio shock jocks).

However, the year when (He Who Must Not Be Named) really attacked Iowa was 2015 when the Hawkeyes ended the regular season 12-0. It was the first 12-win team in school history. There was nothing flashy about that group. Iowa was the Rocky Balboa of college football. It was gritty and tough and physical and executed at a high level. It’s the type of team with which every coach in the country would be proud to associate.  Yet Iowa’s lack of star power coupled with an unimpressive schedule led (He Who Must Not Be Named) to ridicule the team at every outset. I know it rained heavily on (He Who Must Not Be Named) when he brought ESPN’s SportsNation to Iowa City in 2010, but his criticism largely is all wet.

Iowa’s original 2015 Big Ten schedule included games against Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. When the Big Ten expanded, that’s when the Hawkeyes’ crossovers switched to Maryland and Rutgers. Iowa did face the Spartans in an epic Big Ten championship slugfest, which Michigan State won 16-13 on a touchdown with 27 seconds left. The Hawkeyes still played two Power 5 opponents in nonconference action that year — Iowa State, which finished 3-9, and Pittsburgh, which ended its season 8-5.

The Panthers came to Iowa City with talent at all the key positions. Five Pitt starters who played that night were drafted by NFL clubs, as was a sixth who didn’t play. Quarterback Nate Peterman, who many analysts considered the most pro-ready QB in the draft, was just selected in the fifth round by the Buffalo Bills. Pittsburgh’s left tackle (Adam Bisnowaty) and left guard (Dorian Johnson) were drafted Saturday in the sixth (New York Giants) and fourth (Arizona) rounds, respectively. The top wide receiver was Tyler Boyd, who entered the 2016 draft early was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round. On defense was edge rusher Ejuan Price, who was a seventh-round choice of the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday. Unfortunately Pitt RB James Conner missed that game with a knee injury. He was drafted in the third round Friday night.

It was a beautiful September night at Kinnick. The game was physical, which reflected many of the grueling Iowa-Michigan State battles from Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi’s days as the Spartans’ defensive coordinator. The Hawkeyes won 27-24 on a 57-yard field goal as time expired.

I thought Pittsburgh was a solid team that night and throughout the season. Pitt’s calling card was more like a two-by-four to the chops, not a fake ID. The Panthers had some nice wins and a few close losses that season. Iowa won all its close games until the Big Ten championship.

When it comes to Iowa’s 2017 schedule, (He Who Must Not Be Named) should move along and talk about LeBron, the Warriors, Red Sox-Yankees, Alabama, USC, Harbaugh and the NFL. The Hawkeyes face three teams that last season qualified for New Year’s Six bowls (Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin), another two that won nine games (Minnesota and Nebraska), two other road rivalry games (Northwestern and Iowa State) plus a Mountain West divisional champ (Wyoming) that includes the possible top pick next year’s draft in quarterback Josh Allen. Maybe I’m too close to the action here in Iowa City, but that’s a schedule more befitting of James Dalton in Road House than McLovin’ in Superbad.

If (He Who Must Not Be Named) keeps up this charade, he might lose face — or even a Horcrux.

Iowa happenings

Iowa’s baseball team dropped a 7-5 decision at Western Illinois on Tuesday, ending the Hawkeyes’ four-game winning streak. After sweeping Penn State last weekend at home, Iowa falls to 27-16 with the nonconference defeat. The Hawkeyes travel to Michigan State this weekend.

Iowa softball improved to 18-29 overall with a 2-0 win against in-state rival Drake. The Hawkeyes, who are 8-12 in Big Ten competition, play host to Northwestern this weekend in the final regular-season series.

Golfers Raymond Knoll and Matthew Walker each earned second-team all-Big Ten honors, the league announced on Tuesday.

Wrestlers Michael Kemerer and Cash Wilcke were named to the 2017 Amateur Wrestling News All-Rookie Team. Kemerer was tabbed for the first team after playing third in the NCAA Tournament in March at 157 pounds. Wilcke was tabbed for the second team. He was one win shy of qualifying for All-American status.

Lots of links