This is the second installment of our monthly feature Inside Iowa Athletics with Bob Bowlsby. We meet with the Hawkeye athletics director once every 30 days or so and provide you with topical information from the view of the man in charge. Here is the August edition:
(AP) - The Big Ten has taken a step toward using instant replay in football games with a pilot program to determine whether to use it for real in the future. Commissioner Jim Delany said Thursday (Aug. 14) the conference would use a test program for a few games this season to determine the effects of replay. It will be based on the NFL's system of limited challenges and won't disrupt play on the field. An independent person hired by the conference will decide which plays should be challenged based on game situations. To use replay in games, the Big Ten would need a waiver from the NCAA. Delany said before that happens he would seek approval from university presidents because of the multimillion-dollar cost of replay.
What are the chances of instant replay making it in the Big Ten?
There are some ways that we're taking a look at it. Right now it's not very close to having enough votes to vote it in (at last count, it was three schools for replay and 8 against, Bowlsby said). Plus, the expense on it is about $300,000 per school. It's a very expensive proposition. And unlike the NFL, where you have 7-10 camera angles, every game, week in and week out, we don't have that. We have one game that's not televised every week. So, you don't have the same environment. When ABC is in, you might do a 9-camera setup. When ESPN2 is in, you might have a 5-camera setup. When you're a game that's not in there, you might not have any camera that you can go to. We've got some variability that doesn't allow a real good replay environment.
There are some scaled-downed versions that we've looked at as a possibility. But I don't look for it to happen anytime soon.
What are the advantages of replay?
There are lot of examples. The fumble down near the goal line in the Penn State Iowa game last year may have put us ahead 30-0. Instead of being up 24-7 or whatever it was. There was a fumble in the Illinois-Michigan game two years ago.
But I think our officials do a terrific job. Are they flawless? No, they make mistakes like everybody does. Unfortunately some of them occur in critical junctures. But, one thing that replay has shown in the NFL is that they don't always get them right even with the replay. There's a lot of expense and there's a lot of planning and work that goes into it for what to me what would appear to be a fairly marginal gain. I don't see it happening anytime soon. But then anytime we have a hot controversey, it comes up as a topic again.
It sounds like you're not a proponent of instant replay. Is that right?
Kirk and I have talked about it a lot. I think we're pretty much in the same place on it. I think we're traditionalists. But something could change. One thing about it is that we haven't been the sorry recipient of a call that changed the outcome of a game.
If there's one reason in my mind to have replay, it's that you have the opportunity to correct a mistake that impacts so many kids. They work their tails off. They spend themselves in the worthy cause of being as good as they can be. Then, at a critical juncture, a human error causes one team to win and another team to lose. And if it isn't the right team winning and the right team losing, you wish that you could fix it. And sometimes after the fact, whether you're the one that won and shouldn't have or the one that lost and shouldn't have, if you talk to those people, they say, "We'd change it if we could." It's tough to argue with the idea of the getting it right philosophy. On the other hand, between the idea and the reality, there's a pretty good shadow in there as to just exactly how to do it.
Are you and Kirk involved in the decision-making process if or when that comes up for vote?
Because it has a big financial impact and because it has a lot to do with how our product is presented, obviously I'm going to be involved. But because it has an awful lot to do with how the game is conducted on the field, I want to make sure that Kirk is weighing in primarily on it, too. This would be the kind of thing we would spend a lot of time on if we got close. But right now, there are a couple of out-spoken advocates, but we're not really close among the directors. The directors are the ones that actually cast the ballot.
Is the proposed plan anything like the NFL?
What they've contemplated is going to be done a little differently. They'll be quicker to charge timeouts. There not going to allow you to pull the bean bag out. I don't think we'll ever get to an NFL style replay. We've been working for five years to get the games shorter. This isn't going to make them shorter, that's for sure.
The football schedule goes back to 11 games next season, do you think people will push for a 12th contest?
There's some talk about a 12th game. Coaches are against it. At the AFCA meeting, I don't think there was a single vote in favor of it. Presidents also are pretty much opposed to it, although there are ones thinking about it. (Iowa Athletic Administrators) did a pretty good job with this. We didn't allow any of the dollars for the 12th game to go to the bottom line in the budget. We used them for special purposes, retirement of projects and some of that kind of stuff. So, we don't have that in our base budget. I'm glad and proud that we don't have it there.
There are a lot of people who had escalating expenses and they went ahead and spent them. Now, they're going to have to cut a million dollars out of the budget.
We may get to a 12th game year in and year out. I think what we would like to advocate in the Big Ten is that you either have a postseason playoff or you have the 12th game, but you don't have both. That might have a chance of passing. We'll see.
Were you close to playing in any of the recent preseason classics that are going away?
We had an opportunity. Somebody wanted, I can't remember which game it was, they wanted us to go play somebody that was really good on their home field. We didn't think that we really wanted to do that (laughing). I guess we would have probably agreed to host one.
Have you added any nonconference football opponents past 2006?
We have North Texas and Missouri (with Iowa St.) in '08. We don't have anything in '09 or '10 yet. We are working on a home and home in '09 and '10 with Pittsburgh. But that's been quite awhile ago. I haven't heard anything about that recently. Maybe they'll be in the Big Ten by then. I wouldn't count on it though.
After the uneasyness of the NFL coming after your football coach last year, do you feel comfortable that he's happy here?
His new contract has about the same number of dollars in it as it did before. The incentives are about the same. There are some places where we ramped it up a little bit. There are a few new categories that are captureable. But the biggest change was that we changed how quickly he can achieve some of the incentives. It was something that was important to him. And it's important to us to have him feel good about what we're doing for him.
The other things that we've done is invested in the practice field and building a new training table area and the athletic learning center, which will benefit football as well as everybody else. Some of the other things that we've done, renovating their offices and some of that kind of stuff, those are just investments that you make regardless of who the coach is. Kirk is a very easy guy to work hard for though because he's such a good guy to work with. He's a good friend in addition to being a good colleague. You don't mind working hard for him because he works so hard for us. He'll never ask you to do anything that he wouldn't do himself. He always works at least as hard if not harder than you are. That's a great situation.
The nature of the business is that the better job you do the more likely it is that there is somebody at the door. But I think Kirk and his family are very happy at Iowa. He likes the university. He likes the town. He likes what's going on with his football team. I think that we have every opportunity to keep him here. Having said that, if the right pro job comes along where they're offering $3-5 million a year, if you're the head coach, you've got to take a look at it. I certainly don't begrudge him that.
I hope is team is good enough every year that people want to knock on his door (laughing). We will be having a lot of fun if that's the case. That's the problem with prosperity.
Is there any chance that you guys would build a basketball practice facility away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena?
The one thing that makes us a little different than places that have facilities like Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio State, is that those (arenas), they're not run by the athletics department. In teh case of Illinois, they don't practice in their arena. We have only three primary tenants in our arena - volleyball, and men's and women's basketball. They can get as much practice time as they want on our basketball floor. We don't have that many outside events that they really have to compete. It's not like the Schottenstein Center (Ohio State) or the Kohl Center (Wisconsin) or Assembly Hall (Illinois) or even Hilton (Iowa State), where they're doing outside events all of the time. The need for a practice facility is not the same as it is at some other institutions.
A lot of the reason for those (practice) buildings is for recruiting purposes, and probably we have as much of a need in that regard as anybody does. But from a pure usage standpoint, it's much different than it is at other places just because we don't compete with recreational activities or outside concerts and entertainment events. And our people, for the most part, practice in our facility all of the time all year. In terms of real need, there really isn't much real need.