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Archive for May, 2013

Bottom’s up

Friday, May 31st, 2013
It's familiar territory. For the second straight year, Iowa's athletic success lagged behind that of its Big Ten peers. Beyond a dual team title in wrestling, the Hawkeyes didn't celebrate a single conference title and in most sports, Iowa didn't even contend. According to figures compiled by the Lincoln Journal-Star, Iowa's average conference finish was the worst of any program in the league and frankly, it wasn't close. The Hawkeyes' average league finish was 7.58 and using the league tournament as a measuring stick in wrestling rather than dual competition, Iowa joined Michigan State as the only teams in the league not to win a championship. The strongest overall programs? Only one of the top four might be regarded as a bit of a surprise. Michigan led the way with an average of finish of 4.04 and Ohio State and Penn State ranked third and fourth, respectively. Minnesota held down the second position, with an average finish of 4.43 and joining the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions with averages under 5.0. Michigan won league titles in women's cross country, men's gymnastics, softball, men's swimming and women's tennis. Here's a breakdown of the average finish compiled by the folks in Lincoln: 1. Michigan 4.04 2. Minnesota 4.43 3. Ohio State 4.64 4. Penn State 4.92 5. Illinois 5.24 6. Nebraska 5.57 7. Wisconsin 6.10 8. Indiana 6.22 9. Northwestern 6.29 10. Michigan State 6.83 11. Purdue 7.35 12. Iowa 7.58

Goal line set

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
The ultimate goal line for the Iowa football team was announced today when dates, television plans and starting times were announced for all 35 bowls which are a part of the Football Bowl Association. The lineup of bowls with Big Ten affiliations remains the same in 2013 - changes will be coming in 2014 - and the league continues to have ties with eight bowls. Here's the lineup: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Wed., Jan. 1, 4 p.m., ESPN Capital One Bowl, Orlando, Wed., Jan. 1, noon, ABC Outback Bowl, Tampa, Wed., Jan. 1, noon, ESPN Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla., Wed., Jan. 1, 11 a.m., ESPN2 Heart of Dallas Bowl, Dallas, Wed., Jan. 1, 11 a.m., ESPNU Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Tempe, Ariz., Sat., Dec. 28, 9:15 p.m., ESPN Texas Bowl, Houston, Friday, Dec. 27, 5 p.m., ESPN Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Detroit, Thurs., Dec. 26, 5 p.m., ESPN

Middle of the pack

Monday, May 20th, 2013
Iowa is among eight Big Ten schools to pay its assistant football coaches more in 2013 than they were paid in 2012. According to a survey of Big Ten coaching salaries compiled by Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press, Iowa is paying its nine assistant football coaches a combined total of $2,318,052, an increase of $158,052 from 2012. Despite the increase, the collective compensation paid to Hawkeye assistants remains in the middle of the pack according to figures made available to Rexrode by 10 Big Ten institutions. Northwestern, as a private institution, typically does not release salary information of its coaches and under Pennsylvania law, Penn State is not required to provide it either. Iowa's total compensation packages for its assistants ranks fifth among Big Ten programs this year. That position remains unchanged from 2012. Iowa's two second-year coordinators, offensive coordinator Greg Davis and defensive coordinator Phil Parker, rank ninth among their peers in the 10-team survey. Both are paid $325,000 annually. Only Indiana pays its coordinators less. By comparison, two Big Ten coordinators are being paid more than $700,000 per year. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is the top-paid assistant in the Big Ten with an annual salary of $750,000 while Nebraska offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tim Beck is being paid $700,000. Traditional conference heavyweights Ohio State and Michigan top the poll, with Buckeye assistants earning $3.416 million and Wolverines assistants collecting paychecks worth $2.755 million. Nebraska moved from sixth to third this year, paying its assistants $518,500 more in 2013 than it did in 2012. Cornhuskers assistants are paid a total of $2.64 million dollars. Nebraska wasn't the only program to significantly increase compensation for assistant coaches. Former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema complained publicly after he left for Arkansas about the institution's unwillingness to grow its compensation pool for assistant coaches. That's happened since his departure. Wisconsin will pay its assistants $558,000 more in 2013 than it did a year ago. That raises the Badgers' total pool to $2.49 million, moving Wisconsin from seventh to fourth in Big Ten assistant's compensation pools. Indiana and Illinois are the only two schools to pay assistants less in 2013 than they did in 2012.

Strength of schedule

Friday, May 17th, 2013
Even before Fran McCaffery began to work on strengthening the nonconference schedule the Iowa basketball team will face next season, one thing was assured. A rotation in Big Ten scheduling was going to leave the Hawkeyes with a more challenging conference schedule in the 2013-14 season. Iowa has played Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State just once the past two seasons, not necessarily a bad thing for a coach attempting to build a program. As expected, those recent Big Ten heavyweights will return to the Hawkeye scheduled twice next season. Iowa will play all four both at home and on the road, something the Hawkeyes should be better-equipped to handle now than they would have been two years ago. That will only benefit Iowa's strength of schedule as the Hawkeyes angle for NCAA opportunities with a veteran team which loses just one scholarship player after winning 25 games last season. Of the four teams Iowa will face just once next season - traveling to Penn State and Indiana and hosting Purdue and Nebraska - only the Hoosiers reached the NCAA field last season. That shift not only provides Iowa with more challenges, but it also gives the Hawkeyes more opportunities for growth.

The right fit

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
A match-up with Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge is the right fit for the Iowa basketball team. In the 15-year history of the made-for-TV event, organizers have worked to create interesting match-ups between teams that at least on paper should be somewhat even in terms of where they are projected to finish in the respective conferences. Iowa fans have grumbled in recent years with less-than-sexy pairings have brought the likes of Clemson, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Not exactly the upper echelon of the ACC in recent seasons, but three teams that realistically were on even terms with a Hawkeye program that wasn't exactly the cream of the Big Ten crop at that time. The improvements Iowa has made under Fran McCaffery's watch, and the potential which exists with a team which loses one scholarship player from an NIT finalist, was rewarded today. The pairing of Iowa and ACC newcomer Notre Dame in this year's Big Ten/ACC battle is a welcome one full of great storylines. From McCaffery's lengthy tenure as a Fighting Irish assistant to the fact that these teams haven't met in Iowa City since 1950 add intrigue beyond the match-up between two veteran teams. Notre Dame returns four starters from a team which has won at least 20 games in each of the last seven seasons. Coach Mike Brey's team finished 25-10 last year and played in its fourth straight NCAA tourney, losing to Iowa State in the opening round. Senior guards Jerian Grant, a second-team all-Big East pick, and Eric Atkins return as part of a backcourt which combined to average 24.5 points and 11 assists last season. Junior wing Pat Connaughton averaged 8.9 points and Tom Knight averaged 5.5 points during the 2012-13 season. The Hawkeyes, losing only Eric May from its rotation from a 25-13 season, return 92 percent of their scoring next season including the team's top five scorers and rebounders. Devyn Marble and Aaron White averaged in double figures for Iowa last season, combining to average 27.8 points, while White and Melsahn Basabe led the Hawkeyes in rebounding. It will be a good test for Iowa, which should receive a couple in the Battle 4 Atlantis the week before its Dec. 3 game with the Irish. The Hawkeyes will follow on Dec. 7 with a game against Drake in Des Moines a week before a road test at Iowa State. A lack of schedule strength factored into the reasoning Iowa found itself playing in the NIT instead of the NCAA tourney and McCaffery promised the issue would be addressed heading into the upcoming season. Mostly, those changes will take place because he believes his team is in a position to handle a more challenging schedule. The move from a Great Alaska Shootout field filled with mid-majors to the Bahamas tournament headlined by Kansas and Xavier is a step in the right direction. The game with Notre Dame provides provides another one as McCaffery and the Hawkeyes work to move the program forward. The start of the 2013-14 season tips off six months from this week, but the interim will be busy for the Hawkeyes. In addition to the Prime Time League, Iowa will travel to France and England for an overseas trip which will include several games in August. Those experiences, much like a more challenge-filled schedule, should provide the right fit of tests for a more experienced Hawkeye team. 2013 Big Ten/ACC Challenge pairings Tuesday, Dec. 3 Florida State at Minnesota Illinois at Georgia Tech Indiana at Syracuse Michigan at Duke Notre Dame at Iowa Penn State at Pittsburgh Wednesday, Dec. 4 Boston College at Purdue Maryland at Ohio State Miami (Fla.) at Nebraska North Carolina at Michigan State Northwestern at North Carolina State Wisconsin at Virginia