STILL NO DECISION RELEASED ON DREW OTT
I thought today would be the day but it looks like another day will pass without a final decison being released on the status of Iowa defensive Drew Ott's request for a fifth year of eligibility. He has submitted a medical waiver pleading for an extra season in college. The case is a difficult one. On one hand, he's a four-year guy, not a five-year one. He didn't use a standard redshirt, even. On the other hand, he did play in 6 of the 14 games. That tells me it could go either way but there has been more positive chatter than negative in the past week. I think there could be good news coming on this front for the Hawkeyes.
The secret came out today at media availability inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena that there indeed was a players-only meeting conducted following the loss to Penn State. Some players chose to side-step the question, like Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury. Some briefly generalized on the topic, like Dom Uhl. Nicholas Baer was the one that let the cat out of the bag. But it was a positive discussion, not a panicked one. They wanted to get back to the basics and get everyone re-focused according to sophomore Dom Uhl. So it wasn't the usual players-only meeting demanding change and accountability. It was one to get this thing back on the path it was leading up until the past week or two.
LOT OF RESPECT FOR WISCONSIN
Iowa showed all the signs today of a team that thoroughly respets Wednesday night's opponent. And they should. The Badgers are one of the hottest teams in the league, if not the country. They've won 8 of their last 9 conference games. They erased a 13-point deficit against Illinois Sunday to win rather comfortably. Fran McCaffery raved about the play of Ethan Happ, Bronson Koenig, and Nigel Hayes. Especially Hayes. He'll be a tough match-up for the Hawkeyes and is one of those rare breeds that actually has the length, tools, and athleticism necessary to defend Jarrod Uthoff with a lot of effectiveness. The players know they're playing a talented foe in a couple of days and head coach Fran McCaffery even mentioned the winning forumula the Badgers have employed under Bo Ryan and still exists under new head coach Greg Gard.
FATIGUE NOT SETTING IN
Fran McCaffery re-iterated today that he didn't think fatigue was playing a factor in the skid of the past week or two. He said following the Nittany Lions that they just needed to get back to work, not rest. He further stated that everyone may be tired this time of year, every team in America. But his isn't any more fatigued than the others. They got back to work. Iowa did get a day or two off, though.
HOPING THAT REST CAME AT THE RIGHT TIME
McCaffery did admit at his planned press conference that he hoped the week off came at the right time. They are in the middle of a heated Big Ten race in which they are tied for first with Indiana and only a game ahead of Maryland. But the final four contests for the Hawkeyes come against some of the league's best in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio State, and Michigan. Wisconsin is hot. Ohio State is hot. Indiana is tied for first. Michigan is tough at home. That will be quite a slate for Iowa.
EYE ON THE ENEMIES
I know there wasn't much of a drop-off and it wasnt for all that long, but Wisconsin is going to be back to being a huge contender again, like in the days of Bret Bielema. Gary Andersen had that thing off track a bit during his reign. That is no longer as I love what Paul Chryst is doing. They're competing for the prospects in Florida. They're competing for the prospects in various parts of the midwest. They're back to getting great offensive lineman. They're landing some blue-chip prospects. And they're taking care of their home turf again. They didn't do well at home the last cycle because Gary Andersen neglected it. That's one of the reasons why Nate Stanley left for Iowa. But they've landed some good ones already in 2017 like offensive lineman Alex Fenton, a teammate of Nate Stanley's. They also landed valued in-state target Aaron Vopal and still await some others like Tyler Beach and Logan Bruss.
The Jameel McKay soap opera continued for Iowa State. He came back but then sat out last Saturday's game due to a "coach's decison". He is expected to play in tonight's matchup against West Virginia. The Cyclones did defeat TCU comfortably but are not favored tonight against the Mountaineers.