July 30, 2004
The Iowa football team has been ranked 12th in the nation by the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll released today. After finishing in the eight spot the last two years on both the AP poll and the coaches’ poll, the preseason honor highlights the Hawkeyes’ long but steady rise to national prominence.
Citing a defense which returns eight seniors, and two of the best linebackers in the country in juniors Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway, the ESPN crew wrote: “The Hawkeyes never get the big love, but they are too good to be ignored.”
Senior defensive back Sean Considine agrees with the assessment.
“We’re still going to have to out-work teams and out-prepare them,” Considine said recently. “I think if we do that this program will keep on having success for years to come, if we don’t lose that edge. Knowing that we’re Iowa, we’re not the most talented and we’re not the most athletic, but if we continue to out-prepare and out-work teams then we should be able to continue to win.”
The highest preseason ranking Iowa’s had was in 1985 when it was ranked fourth by the AP and third in the USA Today pre-season polls. In the ’85 campaign, Hayden Fry led the Hawks to a Big Ten Championship with a 10-2 overall record and a 7-1 league record.
No. 1 running back Jermelle Lewis was confident in a recent interview about the Hawkeyes’ chances this year, but he wasn’t going to say too much.
“The Hawkeyes never get the big love, but they are too good to be ignored.”
“I agree that this is going to be a make-or-break season for us,” he said. “This is going to be a really big year for us as far as our being contenders. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Senior defensive linesman Matt Roth was more vocal than Lewis.
“We’re making a name for ourselves,” Roth said. “I want to win the Big Ten Championship, and I want to be competing for the national championship. I think I’m sick and tired of going to the BCS bowls. I think it’s time we step it up and raise the bar and compete for the national championship.”
The 115th season of Iowa football starts with “The Throwback Game” against Kent State on Sept. 4 inside historic Kinnick Stadium, which is celebrating its 75th year in operation.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com