I've read the stories in the preseason magazines -- read, heck, I've written the stories for one of those national publications -- and I've checked the rankings.
I've consulted with every person masquerading as a football expert -- my doctors, my lawyer, my barber, my sons and daughters-in-law and my six grandchildren.
I've called my dentist, too, but he was on vacation.
I've put all the information from this very unscientific poll into a computer and come up with the same numbers I had a couple of months ago.
Iowa will have a 7-5 regular-season record, win its bowl game to finish 8-5, and Iowa State will go 5-7 (with one of the victories being over Iowa) after playing a 2003 schedule the St. Louis Rams would protest to the NFL office.
Sorry, folks, 7-5 and 5-7 are the best numbers I can do in the second week of August. The coaches and players talk a lot about the lack of respect they think Iowa and Iowa State get every year in football, but my predictions certainly have nothing to do with that.
I tend to be much more on the conservative side every August. I'd much rather forecast 7-5 and 5-7 records during two-a-day practices and be surprised with 9-3 and 8-4 showings in November.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, whose team won a school-record 11 games and finished 8-0 while sharing the Big Ten championship with Ohio State in 2002, said, "Everybody thinks we're going to stink this season—and that's fine.
"I almost think people were more aware of us more last year than this year. There may be a couple of teams that want to get even with us—I don't know.
"For us to ever be ruled as the favorite in the Big Ten, we'd probably have to win about four championships in a row and have 18 or 19 guys coming back. Then people might say, ‘These guys might be the favorites this year.
"That's just the way it is. Chances are, 10 years from now — I'll just predict right now —Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan will be in the top five at that Big Ten preseason luncheon in Chicago."
Iowa State coach Dan McCarney can say the same thing about the Big 12.
Every year Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas State and — most times anyway — Nebraska will be picked to dominate the conference standings.
With quarterback Seneca Wallace gone, most forecasters are figuring Iowa State's fairytale run of 9-3, 7-5 and 7-7 records, plus three straight bowl appearances, is over and the Cyclones will sink below .500.
A number of people connected with the Cyclones' program consider that the old "no respect" thing. The critics have it figured —wrongly or rightly — that it's impossible for Iowa State to be a consistent winner in a conference that, along with perhaps the Southeastern, is the best in America.
The only difference in the Cyclones' brutal schedule over last season is that this year the games against Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado are at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames instead of on the road.
Although Iowa State is the only Big 12 team to finish in the upper half of the North Division of the conference standings in each of the last three seasons, McCarney said, "I saw in one magazine that we're picked to finish fifth this year and everybody else will be going to postseason play but us.
"I don't have to fabricate the lack of respect on the outside — or the lack of notoriety or the lack of faith they have in this program."
My suggestion is that Ferentz and McCarney not worry for one minute about any perceived lack of respect. Instead, use it as a tool. Hayden Fry, who too often felt left out when people talked about the "Big Two and Little Eight (the Big Two being Michigan and Ohio State, the Little Eight being every other team before Penn State joined the Big Ten), got the message across to his players.
Using "no respect" as their game plan many times, Fry's Hawkeyes did all right for themselves and Iowa's fans from 1979-1998.
Schultz's entrance into the hall was the subject of much criticism and ridicule last week as reporters gathered for Iowa's football media day in Coralville and Iowa City. Past and present members of Iowa's athletic department, plus various reporters, agreed that Schultz was one of the worst basketball coaches the Hawkeyes ever had. No one thought he deserved to be in anybody's hall of fame.
Commings, now deceased, was the Iowa football coach who had five straight losing seasons in the 1970s. Although the local paper took a lot of heat for the decision to honor Schultz, let me point out that reporter Andrew Logue doesn't deserve any of the blame. He's a hard worker who did what he was told to do — research and write the story about Schultz.
One guy who was interviewed for the story said he warned Logue, "I've got to work very hard to find anything positive to say about Schultz's career at Iowa."
Vol. 3, No. 38
Aug. 11, 2003
[Ron Maly answers his e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org ]