MARSHALTOWN, Ia. – When the Big Ten expanded, it sent Iowa’s football team into new locales and old haunts.
Maryland and Rutgers become conference members this summer, and the Hawkeyes will feel the impact this fall.
“It’s a sign of the times,” coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday. “College football has changed so dramatically, and probably will continue to change.
“So all of us need to stay flexible.”
Ferentz spoke to reporters during the Marshall County I-Club spring banquet at the Elmwood Country Club.
It was another gathering that reminded him of Iowa’s Nov. 15 trip to Illinois.
“I spoke at a deal in Rock Island (Ill.) and as I was driving over, I started thinking about the last time we played those guys,” Ferentz said of the Illini. “It’s kind of weird. You’re a border state and we haven’t played in forever.
“I’m not sure I remember how to get to their stadium.”
The Hawkeyes haven’t faced Illinois in six years – after meeting 69 times from 1899-2008 – but that will change with both schools being placed in the Big Ten’s new West Division.
“There is no perfect world when you have 14 teams,” Ferentz said. “But this makes sense to me. I like the geography part.”
An Oct. 18 trip to Maryland seems to make less sense.
“That’s going to be all new to us,” Ferentz said. “We’ve never been there.
“I’ve been on the campus,” he added. “Drove through there recruiting a couple years ago. Just took a spin, didn’t get out of the car.”
The Hawkeyes will get more familiar with the new territory moving forward.
“It’s a little bit like when we went to Pittsburgh a couple years ago,” Ferentz said. “At least the good news here is, at some point, we’ll get used to this.
“This year, it’s going to be novel.”
Iowa’s first visit to Rutgers is scheduled for Oct. 29, 2016.
To most outsiders, the schedule makers seem to have been kind to the Hawkeyes. They won’t have to play perennial heavyweight Ohio State until 2017.
“They all look tough to me,” Ferentz said. “That’s coach talk, but it is really true.”
Ferentz was asked if Iowa has a quarterback controversy on its hands. Jake Rudock continues to be the starter, but coaches have indicated backup C.J. Beathard could get significant snaps this season.
“I don’t think there is any controversy,” Ferentz said. “We feel really good about both players.
“A year ago, we hadn’t seen either guy in game action. The good news is, both guys are a lot better football players than they were in December and January.”
NO HURRY TO SLOW DOWN
Earlier this week, the NCAA dropped a rule proposal that would have slowed down hurry-up offenses.
Former Hawkeye player and current Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was among those who supported the proposal.
Ferentz, an old-school coach who is now using a more up-tempo offense, couldn’t see what the fuss was about.
“It came out of mid-air,” Ferentz said of the debate. “My biggest question is, ‘How did that happen?’ ’’
From Ferentz’s perspective, every team can occasionally benefit from picking up the pace.
“It’s really difficult to snap the ball quicker than 10 seconds,” Ferentz said. “The biggest reason I thought it was a bad rule was, what if you’re down 17 points in the third quarter? You may be wanting to go up-tempo.
“Me personally, I don’t think you need to be screwing with the game. I think the rules are fine. There are some other things that probably need to be addressed ahead of that.”
ODDS & ENDS
Next week is finals week at Iowa, which leads to a break before summer workouts for football players begin in June. Official practices begin Aug. 2. … An estimated 250 people attended the I-Club event at Marshalltown, a slight increase from last year’s 220.