The best way to start your day is right here at Landof10.com as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Hawkeyes Wake-Up Call here with you at 8:30 a.m (ET) Monday through Friday.
So let’s get to it. Here is your Wake-Up Call for Tuesday, Sept. 20.
The moment you knew was coming
It happened again and it wasn’t a surprise. Controversial talk-radio host Colin Cowherd went after Iowa on his Fox Sports radio show that’s also simulcast on FS1.
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) September 19, 2016
Iowa fans should have expected Cowherd to come after Iowa. He’s done it before, many times. He’s a sports personality mixed with a shock jock. He’s proven that he’ll keep going back to a topic that generates buzz or riles up a fan base.
Cowherd will keep coming at Iowa when given the chance. It’s what he’s historically done in a spot like this. He isn’t alone.
No tweets today from Hawkeyes fans about their coach getting an extension or how the s/c coach puts players in the NFL. Funny how that works
— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) September 18, 2016
Here’s the hard truth. When Iowa pays its football coach as much as it does — same with the strength coach — these kinds of comments from the sports media will happen after something like the North Dakota State loss.
It comes with the territory. Fans don’t have to like it, but they also don’t have to listen to it. Getting riled up over something like this isn’t beneficial to anyone, except Cowherd when it comes to his ratings).
Iowa East out at Rutgers, starting with Ash
Iowa is opening up Big Ten play by facing Rutgers. It might as well be playing Iowa East. It’s not just that there are connections to the Hawkeyes on the Rutgers staff. There are connections to the whole state nearly everywhere you look.
Start with first-year head coach Chris Ash. He’s an Ottumwa native. He was a defensive back at Drake. He started his coaching career at Drake. He served on the staff of former Hawkeye Chuck Long at San Diego State in 2007 and 2008. He spent seven years at Iowa State in two different stints as a graduate assistant and assistant coach in the 2000s. Ash is as close to the living embodiment of the entire state of Iowa football as one can get.
Then there is defensive coordinator Jay Niemann. His son is Iowa linebacker Ben Niemann. Jay Niemann also played for Iowa State from 1979-82.
Rutgers offensive line coach A.J. Blazek was a co-captain and earned All-Big Ten honors at center for Iowa in 2000. He also started his coaching career as a student and graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes.
The connections really never do stop. Rutgers defensive line coach Shane Burnham spent the last seven years with Iowa State and Rutgers offensive coordinator Drew Mehringer was a graduate assistant with the Cyclones under former head coach Paul Rhoads.
Rutgers really is Iowa East under Ash.
Are you ready for some basketball?
Iowa released its schedule on Monday.
Expectations won’t be as high for Iowa this season, not with five seniors, led by Aaron White, no longer roaming the Carver-Hawkeye Arena floor following the 2015-16 season. The Wake-Up Call went through the schedule and found the five most intriguing games on the schedule.
Here they are:
Nov. 25 vs. Virginia at Emerald Coast Classic
Nothing helps a team learn about itself more than a game against a strong opponent in the nonconference portion of the schedule. Virginia is certainly a strong team. The Cavaliers made the Elite Eight last season and could very well be a preseason Top 10 team. This would be one the best wins Iowa could notch all season.
Nov. 29 at Notre Dame
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge game will wrap up the most telling week of Iowa’s nonconference slate. It starts with the Virginia contest, will include a game against either Memphis or Providence and concludes with a matchup with the Fighting Irish. Nonconference road wins against good teams are the toughest thing to do in college basketball. Hawkeye fans should know what it has with the basketball team before December arrives.
Dec. 8 Iowa State
The Hawkeyes blew a 20-point lead and lost at Hilton Coliseum 83-82 last year. Heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to describe the defeat. Iowa will be out for revenge in the Cy-Hawk showdown.
Feb. 11 at Michigan State
Michigan State is Michigan State. It’s the class of the league and coach Tom Izzo is bringing in a recruiting class that would even impress John Calipari. It features four top 40 recruits, led by potential superstar Miles Bridges.
Beating Michigan State is the best win a Big Ten team can get this year, though that’s usually the case every season.
Feb. 21 Indiana
The Hoosiers are arguably the best Big Ten team coming into Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season. (The Wake-Up Call could be talked into Purdue or Michigan).
This would represent the biggest chance at a (potential) home upset win for the Hawkeyes. If they are to get anywhere near the 22 wins from last season, the Hawkeyes will need to win games like this come the conference calendar.