Miller: Media Day is an Optimist's Paradise

I have said it before and will say it again in October and then again next August; Media Day is an optimists paradise and a pessimists purgatory. Well, I have probably never said it like that before, but you get the picture. On Media Day, everyone has a chance to shock the world.

I recall interviewing Iowa quarterback Scott Mullen in August of 2000, my first ever Media Day experience in Iowa City. He was full of optimism, taking the ‘why not us?' approach.

That team finished with a record of 3-9, but showed signs of life.

Iowa has been to a bowl game in every season since then, winning three of four, including back to back New Year's Day bowls.

Such is life within shouting distance of Melrose Magic.

It was in the mid nineties on Media Day this year, and on the practice field turf near where the interviews were conducted, someone took a temperature reading of 121 degrees.

I can certainly believe that, and when you tune into the next installment of ‘Cy Hawk Talk: State of the Nations' on your Mediacom Connections channel and see some of the interviews that I conducted, I was not doused with a bucket of Gatorade beforehand; I was sweating like it was Arrowhead Stadium, circa 2000 when Iowa was beaten by Kansas State. That still goes down as the hottest, most uncomfortable day of my life; Monday on the practice fields is in my personal Top 10.

That aside, I came out of this event feeling more optimistic about this season.

Hearing Norm Parker and Ron Aiken talk about teaching technique on the defensive line and not backing up one bit when talking about their young charges along the front was encouraging.

I did not expect them to throw those guys under a truck of course, but when your defense has produced three of the top four run stopping numbers in school history over the course of the last four years, cynicism fades away.

When I hear Kirk Ferentz talk about this year's offensive line as being a strength, I take note.

When I see the sculpted bodies of the Iowa players, I am impressed.

When I see the crop of freshmen entering their first round of practices looking at physically developed as any recruiting class I can remember, visions of sugar plums dance in my head.

All of that was there, and more. You will be able to hear numerous players and coaches voice their thoughts here on today and all week long as we upload the audio files. You will read their words as we transcribe them for you this week, and you can see some of their hard work in the weight room with the photo galleries we have uploaded (nearly 60 high quality and professional grade pictures as of late Monday night).

What will this season bring?

Like the players, I am ready for the games to begin…

Here are some other random thoughts and observations from Iowa Football Media Day, version 2005…

Kinnick Stadium's capacity for this season will be 70,585, up from 70,397. Should Iowa indeed average a sellout for the season, it will top last year's school record for average fans in attendance per game. At last check, the only tickets left were for the Ball State game in the season opener…and not many of those are available. If that happens, the record might stand for a long time; Iowa expects its capacity to decrease slightly once the renovations to the press box takes place.

When asked who is faster, Chad Greenway or Ed Miles, Miles said that Greenway would be lying if he didn't cast his vote for #27. "I am faster straight ahead, but Chad probably has me side to side," Miles said.

Miles also views this year as his chance to break out and show everyone the promise we have heard of for the last three years.

This should be Iowa's fastest set of linebackers in school history.

Scott Chandler has dedicated himself to the tight end position and tight ends coach Eric Johnson feels he has made great strides this summer.

"Scott and Coach Doyle got together and made that commitment," Johnson said. "Scott is up to around 250-pounds now."

Johnson went on about how Iowa's tight ends have to be able to catch the ball and block. Chandler was able to do one of those things well last year and needed to improve in the other. It was easy to tell from the eyeball test that Chandler's weight gain did not miss his biceps.

Mike Klinkenborg introduced me to a new player on the roster: MeHumpalandGableman. I could not get him to talk about his own growth and bright prospects for the future…and I tried hard.

One thing is clear; this team has bought into the ‘one game at a time' philosophy. They do not deviate from that, even in media day. When talking about expectations, the first thing out of their mouths was ‘Ball State, September 3rd'.

The coaches have driven that point home to them; the biggest game on the schedule is the next game and that greatness cannot be achieved without week to week focus.

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