What do you of the attitude of maybe come national media between the Big Ten and the SEC?
It's always a speed versus strength kind of thing. I'm sure that they're going to do that again this year.
But, I'm sure in their eyes, they're just as strong as us. And in our eyes, we're just as fast as them.
It's going to be a battle. It's going to be physical and it's going to be fun.
I get the sense from a lot of the national guys that the SEC is the best conference in the country.
That's what they say. They're probably the deepest conference in the country as far as having good quality teams in the top 5 or 6.
The Big Ten, we have five or six bowl eligible teams. So, we're doing well. There's just more parity in the Big Ten right now. But we're going to give them their fair shares of lumps, too.
Do you like being the underdog?
Always. I'd much rather be the underdog in any situation. If you go in as a 10 point favorite, you have to live up to that. As the underdog, you just keep fighting.
Do you feel like you've kind of been the underdog in your career?
Maybe to start with.
You're the most over rated linebacker in the world, right?
Yeah. I wonder if I'm still that? I don't know.
But coming out of high school I was under rated. Nobody really knew about me coming from where I came from.
I guess last year I didn't really prove myself enough to that certain writer to be rated where I should be. So, I've been overlooked at times. But I've gotten a lot of nice stuff from the people that really matter.
Does that motivate you?
Oh yeah. Just being an athlete, you're going to be motivated by people who say that you can't do this or can't do that. It definitely motivates me.
Do you still have that in your locker?
Yeah. I'll always keep it.
When did you find out about that?
I found out in the summer, early on. My roommate Matt Melloy told me. Later on, my parents picked up the magazine. Then, they ended that subscription.
It's his opinion. I guess he's entitled to that. And I guess I'm entitled to mine, too.
So you don't read the magazine anymore?
No, expect for the that article in my locker. Plus, he only had one player on the all-American team, too. Roth got second team. So, I guess the Sporting News has something against us.
This whole program is kind of under rated, though, isn't it?
Yeah. We've been to three January bowls in a row. We don't really get the respect I think we deserve. I'm not saying that we deserve all of this credit for being a great team.
But if you look at how the media looks at players going on all-American teams and things like that. They're going to the big schools. USC and Florida and Florida State, they're always going to have people on those teams.
Teams like us that have gone to three Jan. 1 bowls should be getting a little more respect than we have been getting. But, we'll play that role. It's been working for us.
Why is Iowa always under rated?
Because it's Iowa. It's in the Midwest. We have a bunch of slow white guys. We're always going to be that way.
Abdul said that even if you guys were two touchdown favorites, you'd still be underdogs. Do you kind of feel that way?
Yeah. We would be. If we were undefeated and LSU had four losses, we'd probably be the underdogs.
If you look back at it, we've been underdogs for nine out of 10 games the last four years. That's a role that we play well. We'll keep doing it if we can keep winning.
Is that part of what makes this team what it is though?
It starts at the top. Coach Ferentz takes that role and takes it well and teaches us to take the underdogs role well. He has shown that it's good to be underdogs. It's good to be the person that's going to sneak up on somebody, which we've done. We'll take that role.
You don't think he's an underdog anymore, do you?
He's definitely not the underdog. But I guess his team is and his program is. He's a geat coach and he should be getting looks from everywhere. He could be a good coach wherever he went.
Do you notice when his name keeps popping up for jobs?
Every program if they win, their coach is going to be in with the other names when a big program pops up. With Notre Dame's coaching job open or Florida's coaching job is open, we figure our coach is going to be on the list just because he has done so well here.
We take that as a compliment. We have confidence in him staying with us. And we have confidence that he's a great coach. It's nice to know that other people know that.
Does he address that every year?
He says a few words about it. He just tells us he's not going anywhere and he's happy here. If he keeps winning, the Hawkeyes should be happy.
Has there ever been any doubt before that he might be leaving?
Nah. Personally, I've never had a doubt that he was going to leave. Maybe other people have. But if he wants to leave, he can leave. That's the deal.
This is the third trip to Florida. What do you take from the two previous trips?
We learned from the Orange Bowl. We just take what we did last year and try to implement it into this season. Same day. Same situation. Only an hour and a half apart.
We're just going to go down there and try to take the same approach. Stay away from getting in trouble like a lot of teams do dowm when they go to their bowl games. And really just work for this win because we know the season is really fruitless if we don't win this game.
Is it hard to focus on football? You guys are going to every amusement park in a 600 mile radius.
I don't think it's that hard to focus on football. When you're 21 or 22, there are some 18 year olds on the team, they're going to have their fun, too. But the guys that have been in this situation before they're going to be playing a game. They really could care less about going to amusement parks.
Yeah, it's going to be fun. It's a good chance for the team to go out and bond. But the guys that really are on their focus are going to play the game. I don't think they're going to be thinking about the Tuesday trip to Disney Land and hugging Mickey.
What's the best part of the bowl trip, and what's the worst part of the bowl trip?
The worst part of the bowl trip is going there so early. I would like to go there about two days before the game and play the game. That's the way that I'd do it.
But to make it a bowl trip and make it good for the guys, you go down early and see other things and spend some time down there.
The best part of the bowl trip is just the game. It's such a good atmosphere, especially with our fans that travel so well. And you get a chance to play a great team.
The focus is obviously the bowl game, but have you thought about the potential on this team with Drew coming back and just what you guys can do in the future here?
You have to be pretty excited about the future at Iowa. I only have one year left, so next year is going to be pretty important for me. We have a chance to be ranked pretty high next year and hopefully have a chance to play with the big boys at the end of the year.
Is this an important game in terms of how you guys are looked at nationally?
If we can win this game, it's going to make us have a lot of confidence for next year. That's probably going to be the biggest win for us.
If we lose this game, our team is going to lack confidence going into next season, especially of we lose the way that we did at the Orange Bowl.
When did the state of Iowa get cable TV?
I guess it was just before Ben Roethlisberger came.
No. That was fun to do with Kenny Mayne. He's a good guy. And those were all scripted lines, if you couldn't tell. I'm not much of an actor
What's he like as a guy? Roth was saying that he's like Steve Martin.
Everything that he says seems to come out as sarcasm. It seems like he's telling a joke in everything that he says. But he was really nice and seemed like a pretty down to earth guy.
So, does South Dakota have cable yet?
I'm sure the person that invented cable is from South Dakota. I'm guessing.
What went wrong on that trip to Miami?
Our team wasn't focused on what it needed to do. We went down there like fat cats from getting all of the awards and people being gone from practice for so long. It's a great thing for the program, but at the same time, when you're not here practicing and doing the things that you need to do to win, in January you're going to get beat, especially when you're playing against a quality opponent.
USC, at that time of the year, was arguably the best team in the country. We were playing well, too. It's just that one team prepared and one team didn't.
What were the practices like last year?
You could just tell. They were so much more intense, so much more focused, less mistakes and people getting after each other. You need to do that because you've been off for so long.
We're practicing now, but it's just not the same as that week preceeding a game. You have the anticipation of the game coming up. We were really looking forward to it. You need to have very physical, crisp practices in that week prior to the game.
Did it seem like everybody was into that?
Yeah. Everybody got into that whole deal in Miami with distractions. But last year, Tampa was almost a better setting for our team.
The practices last year were so rough. Do you really like that in the heat?
I like it. You need to practice hard in the heat to get used to it for the game. I look at every practice like I'm going to go out and kill myself just so I can prepare myself for the game.
Is LSU as fast as any team you've played this season?
They've got a lot of speed and a lot of guys that can make a lot of big plays. They're going to be a fast team.
I compare them to Michigan the most in terms of people we've played just because of the talent level. But last time I checked, we're a pretty good team, too, and pretty fast.
I'm sure they're probably not going to respect our speed and will just concentrate on how physical we can be. We're going to surprise them a little bit when we go down there.