I know it's hard, but I've been there. For the past few years I've fielded those phone calls from the frustrated fans, who knew their team was so close to earning that big win. Saturday's game was an acid test to see how far the Hawks have come under coach Kirk Ferentz. Just remember, if the question coming in was if the Hawks are going to be for real or whether their perceived improvement is a mirage, the question was answered.
The Hawks will be back.
It may not be this year or the next, but your coach is getting things back on track. They had Michigan figured out. The starters, stood toe-to-toe with the now, #4 team in the BCS. Your depth did not.
By now you're aware of the injuries, Michigan had some too, that's were some of the intangibles won the game for Michigan. The Wolverines have a belief in "Honoring the Position." It's a belief that whomever steps on that field, they will live up to the expectations of the position, and not the player. The 77 yd pass to receiver Tyrece Butler was the first catch of his Michigan career. The Wolverines, two weeks ago, manhandled the conference's 2nd best defensive front, Purdue, with a line made up of only guards and centers. Michigan has depth. Iowa begins the rebuilding process with quality starters, depth will follow. The Wolverines have also experienced this type of game before. They have been hated by so many teams. They run into schools like the Hawks, who feel like their season is made, if they can just beat the Wolverines. It takes their toll on them, and many times, Michigan can't fight back, but Saturday they did.
Stranded in the Finkbine parking lot for two hours after the game, talk radio was a great companion. The fans frustration with coach Ferentz is understandable, but not warranted. Coaches take more abuse for losing close games rather than blowouts. If he was such a terrible coach, who was responsible for making Iowa so good against Michigan to begin with?
The McCann-Banks debate was interesting. I agree with the coaches though. They see them everyday throughout the course of the week. They know them best. It's been my experience that you want a senior quarterback in a big game. Tom Brady beat Drew Henson at Michigan, and Joe Germaine showed tremendous improvement his senior year at Ohio State. Did you know that McCann was the Big 10 leader in the QB ratings? What sealed Banks fate was him running out of bounds at the wrong side-line marker on 3rd down. Banks may be your future, but Iowa was playing for today. I don't think the fans wanted anything different.
By the way, the trick play is called "Tiger". Coach Lloyd Carr hasn't used that play since he was at Westland John Glenn High School in the 70's. He warned the officials that this play may be coming and asked about potential penalties from an allignment standpoint. Secondly, the ball was snapped before the players went in motion, so it wasn't illegal procedure.
I talked with a knowlegeable Hawk fan throughout the game. He provided me with good perspective. He told me you don't miss Beutjer. He too was upset with the loss, and I don't blame him. Iowa still hasn't beaten a top ten team in a while, but you know where you stand. Ferentz has taken the team from the bottom, and he is capable of taking the Hawks to the top.
(Special Thanks to Steve Clark of the Wolverine Insider for his thoughts)