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Pat Harty: Fans, media need to live in the moment when it comes to Iowa

[ 0 ] October 26, 2013 |

A pattern seems to have developed this football season in which some fans over-react to whatever has happened most recently on the playing field, good or bad.

The media also seem preoccupied with labeling this Iowa team, which improved to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten with Saturday’s 17-10 victory over Northwestern in overtime at Kinnick Stadium.

It’s obvious this Iowa team is much improved over last season’s team, which finished 4-8, was inept on offense and mediocre on defense, along with being battered and bruised down the stretch.

It put the current Iowa team under a microscope with the believers quick to say after a victory that the program has turned the corner, while the naysayers use any loss as a chance to say that Kirk Ferentz’s ship has sailed.

“I didn’t notice,” Ferentz said sarcastically after Saturday’s game about the unusual amount of predictions being made about the current Iowa team. “I think it’s been building. But we didn’t do well last season, so the critique-o-meter is out there, and that comes with the territory.

“But it just shows you what a fine line it is between winning and losing, too. And I think that’s the bottom line. If there is anything bad that comes out of winning, you just have to stay grounded and stay focused on what’s going to help you win.”

I can’t remember a season over the past two decades in which an Iowa football team has been as analyzed and scrutinized more in terms of the big picture than the current one.

The best thing to do, myself included, is just let the season play out and not use each victory or each loss as proof of which direction the team is headed. I understand that predicting the future and declaring whether Iowa has taken the next step as a program is part of being a fan and being a member of the media.

The Minnesota Gophers were left for dead after losing back-to-back games to Iowa and Michigan. The Gophers have since won two games in a row – including a victory over Nebraska on Saturday – and have done so despite head coach Jerry Kill’s ongoing health issues.

We shouldn’t be so quick to judge the current Iowa team — positively or negatively. Maybe Ferentz is right in saying that it’s part of the fallout from performing so poorly last season.

The Iowa players insist that they pay no attention to what fans and media members say about them. They look at each week as being another opportunity to define their team and their season. And that’s how they should look at it.

It was nice to exorcise the demon that is Northwestern football under Pat Fitzgerald — at least for one season. But it’s still not enough to proclaim that Iowa is back, especially with the Wisconsin Badgers coming to town next Saturday.

Need I remind you that Northwestern is winless in the Big Ten this season and was without its star running back, Venric Mark, on Saturday because of an ankle injury? And the Wildcats still almost won on the road.

Saturday’s victory was huge for many reasons, including how it impacts the bowl picture. But it wasn’t a statement victory, nor was it confirmation that Iowa is climbing back to contender status.

“We care about week to week,” junior running back Mark Weisman said. “This is a good win right now. We’re going to watch the film (Sunday) and prepare for the next week against Wisconsin, get better during the week and see what happens.

“There is no big picture for us. We’re taking it one week at a time.”

In other words, they’re living in the moment.

The best thing is to enjoy Saturday’s dramatic victory without drawing conclusions. The season is still a mystery with four games remaining. Let the mystery solve itself.

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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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