Howe: Sucked into Play-Calling Conspiracy

The rumor mill was churning hard after Iowa's 48-7 victory against Northwestern. While battling the urge for sanity, HI Publisher Rob Howe was sucked into speculation as well in this day of fast-moving information. Then, he talked to the coach and came to his senses.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The strides taken by Iowa's offense from one game to the next shocked people. The stark contrast required an explanation beyond simply improving in practice.

Perhaps the debacle at Maryland caused the Hawkeyes to engage in drastic measures, like, I don't know, head coach Kirk Ferentz stripping play-calling responsibilities from offensive coordinator Greg Davis and turning them over to his son, Brian. Really, it's not hard to believe.

I'm joking. It's far fetched. But it's not stopping conspiracy theorists from marching on with that belief, one they've run with since Saturday's 48-7 thumping of Northwestern.

The traction gained by the speculation speaks a lot to the power of social media and other on-line outlets for fans to cook up these things. Once that ball gets rolling down the hill, it rapidly picks up speed.

To be fair, a lot of news breaks through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, message boards, etc., these days. And that feeds into the rumor mill. Separating fact from fiction becomes more difficult by the minute, especially hearsay that's juicy.

Kirk Ferentz putting the much-maligned Davis in the corner was clamored for throughout the last three seasons. Fans lambaste the Texan for Iowa's offensive inadequacies, present company included.

And that makes it more difficult to give the guy credit when he succeeds. Critics search frantically for an alternative reason with an agenda of not admitting they were wrong. We're all guilty to a degree. It's hard copping to faults.

With that in mind, I'll disclose that I didn't completely dismiss what I'll call "The Great Play-Calling Conspiracy." A few people I know that are connected to the program bought in to it. Maybe there was something to it.

The rational, grounded me challenged the saucy plot line. The 16 years being around Kirk Ferentz supported lucid thought, thankfully.

While overly emotional outsiders would kick Davis to the curb, it doesn't fit the even-handed approach of the Hawkeye head man. A step like that would be extremely out of character.

Still, in the interest of dismissing the possibility of him being abducted by aliens who also despise Davis, I asked Ferentz Tuesday if Davis called the plays against Northwestern.

"Yeah, he's called them every since he got here," Ferentz said. "Did you hear something I didn't hear? Was there someone from above calling the plays? A psychic? Rosie the fortune teller? That's good."

I told Ferentz the reason for asking the question was based on a conspiracy theory for lack of anybody of consequence confirming it on record.

"That's wonderful," he said after learning that the rumor was floating around outside the walls of his football complex.

I didn't feel the need to include Brian in the question. It only was pertinent if Kirk said someone other than Davis called the plays.

Ferentz seemed surprised by the question as you can see here. He didn't employ semantics to avoid the question.

I also presented several players with the theory. They laughed almost as hard as their coach.

There will be individuals who claim Ferentz and the people in his program are being untruthful. They're part of an elaborate cover-up. Those folks won't be convinced otherwise.

At this point, I'm comfortable in my position. This is what I think happened:

The Iowa coaches met and formulated a great game plan to attack Northwestern. The players worked on it and carried it out.

Sorry, it's boring, I know. Brian replacing Davis is much more fun, unless, of course, you're Davis. It's just not plausible.

So, I proceed, telling myself I'm not going to be sucked into conjecture again when confronted with it. I'll wait for facts. In this world, that's wishful thinking.


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