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Harty: Hawks are not among B1G contenders

[ 10 ] May 27, 2012 |

One of the many storylines when Kirk Ferentz rebuilt the Iowa football program was the chip-on-the-shoulder mentality that helped fuel the resurgence.

Ferentz and his cohorts thrived on proving prognosticators wrong and many fans still believe that the Iowa football team flies best when flying under the radar.

So perhaps there is hope for the 2012 season because to say that Iowa is flying under the radar would be putting it nicely.

Not much is expected from the Hawkeyes this fall based on an early sampling of preseason college football magazines.

Lindy’s picked Iowa to finish in fifth place in the six-team Legends Division ahead of only Minnesota, and Athlon Sports has Iowa finishing in a tie for fourth place in the division.

Combine that with Phil Steele not having Iowa senior quarterback James Vandenberg on any of his four preseason Big Ten offensive units and the circumstances seem right for the chip on the shoulder to return.

It’s nothing like the beginning of Ferentz’s reign at Iowa when the Hawkeyes often were overmatched, sometimes severely overmatched.

But it’s clear that prognosticators and outsiders in general don’t think much of the 2012 Hawkeyes.

The changes on the coaching staff is cause for excitement and something to write about, but they aren’t enough to mask what are believed to be the concerns with player personnel, concerns like having no proven running backs, no Marvin McNutt and neither starting offensive tackle from last season.

The low opinion of Iowa probably goes beyond the concerns about 2012 team itself.

It might be a glimpse of where some feel the program is headed with Ferentz entering his 14th season as coach.

Even the most delusional fans should agree that Iowa has been average more than good since the start of the 2005 season. Take away the 9-4 record in 2008 and the 11-2 mark in 2009 and Iowa’s record is 34-29 overall and 19-21 in the Big Ten since 2005.

The 2010 season is also fresh in the minds of prognosticators of how Iowa failed to live up to their lofty expectations. They now figure if Iowa couldn’t contend for a conference title in 2010 with a roster filled with proven stars, especially on defense, there is no way it’ll happen with the current personnel.

Iowa isn’t the kind of program that gets the benefit of the doubt from prognosticators.

It’s almost like the program is in a second mini-rebuilding phase under Ferentz since the initial rebuilding job took place a decade ago.

It’s the continuance of a journey under Ferentz whose conclusion is uncertain.

One thing is certain, though. Iowa is no longer considered a Big Ten contender, which might be a key ingredient to getting back to that level under Ferentz.

Reach Pat Harty at 339-7368 or pharty@press-citizen.com.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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