On a Big Ten Monday, let's cook up five bites to chew on:
Ľ 1. Dear Iowa fans (or the few who are left, anyway): How are you feeling about the “trajectory of your program?''
That's the hot buzz phrase in college athletics, and it doesn't look good for coach Kirk Ferentz. Or it doesn't until you remember the contract of a lifetime he took.
Ferentz makes $3.8 million a year. And his pal, Athletic Director Gary Barta, signed him to an extension that includes a buyout of $250,000 per month to 2020 if fired. That's $21 million as of now.
Money can't buy happiness, but it sure can cushion the recipient of that loot from misery. And misery has arrived.
Iowa's loss Saturday at decades-long doormat Indiana dropped it to 4-5, the first week below .500 since 2007. Hey, at least the Hawkeyes were ahead for a while. They went the entire month of October without holding the lead in regulation.
Ferentz's playbook, with pages stuck together because of mildew, screams for fresh air and modernization. Or are those the screams of fans who can't watch much longer?
What little change has come to Iowa football recently was oversold, specifically Ferentz's moves last winter to his coaching staff. Realistically, how much effort went into it?
His new defensive coordinator was already on staff. His new offensive line coach is his son. And his new offensive coordinator was out of work with no line of people at his door waiting to hire him.
Ľ 2. Often we hear about a team on a roll whose coach says “we're just finding ways to win.''
But that can go the other way, too. Slumping teams find ways to lose, with Exhibit A being Michigan State.
The Spartans, who talk incessantly about their attacking defense, went soft on the final Nebraska drive and lost because of it. Good on the Huskers to take advantage, bad on the Spartans to go away from their strength.
|MORE BIG TEN NEWS|
|Get the latest Big Ten headlines from The World-Herald and from beat writers around the nation.|
MSU's national top 10 defense also allowed Iowa's dysfunctional offense to drive 68 yards for a tying touchdown in the final five minutes of a game the Spartans eventually frittered away in double overtime.
Oh, and the MSU penalty that nullified the 96-yard interception return against Nebraska?
That came straight out of the “God, I'm frustrated with this season, I'm going to hit somebody'' book. A selfish, undisciplined play turned an insurmountable lead into a chance to lose.
Ľ 3. All you Nebraska fans who couldn't wait to go to the Big Ten and get away from the “horrible” officiating in the Big 12 are learning that no conference has cornered the market on inconsistent application of the rules.
Ľ 4. Indiana coach Kevin Wilson is playing it smart with the newfound hype over his team having a chance to win the Leaders Division.
Instead of going ga-ga over back-to-back Big Ten wins for the first time in five years, the second-year coach has gently ragged on his team about execution errors, and said what is happening now isn't good enough.
I like it. All programs need to set an internal standard of excellence, and then hold staff and players accountable.
Now, a home win Saturday against Wisconsin would give the Hoosiers vice-like control of the Leaders race. Note that the last time IU won three straight league games was 1993.
Ľ 5. In honor of my one-week trek back into Big 12 territory, ponder this statistic about Kansas State.
In nine games, the Wildcats have scored 111 points off turnovers and allowed zero. I don't care what league you play in, that's championship football.
Contact the writer: