According to the Stats...

Aug. 28, 2006

Here are some statistics to ponder.

In the last four football seasons, Iowa’s record in September is 10-6.

In all the other months combined the Hawkeyes are 28-6.

That’s right, in the past four years Iowa lost as many games in September as it lost in October, November, December and January combined.

The winning percentage in September is .625 while in all the other months it’s .824. Not all that bad in September games, off the charts in the other contests.

These statistics fuel the notion that Kirk Ferentz and his coaching staff are very good at developing talent and his teams get stronger as the season gets longer. There is no doubt that Kirk’s clubs are always better in November than they are in September, but why so much better?

Yes, the Iowa coaches are in the early stages of putting together a football team in September, but so are opposing coaches. And September schedules, with a non-conference patsy here and there, are generally softer than later months when Big Ten and bowl opponents are on the slate.

The winning percentage in September is .625 while in all the other months it’s .824. Not all that bad in September games, off the charts in the other contests.

Most puzzling of all, why does Iowa play its worst games in September? Last year, with a veteran offense returning, the Hawkeyes failed to score a touchdown at Iowa State and Ohio State. In their next eight games, they averaged 31.3 points.

Two years ago Iowa played an awful game in a 44-7 loss at Arizona State. Then, after losing at Michigan on the last Saturday of September, they ran the table, finishing with eight straight wins, a share of the Big Ten title and an improbable victory over LSU in the Capitol One Bowl.

And who can forget – hard as we try – the 2002 Iowa State game? The Hawkeyes led by 17 points at halftime and lost 36-31. That collapse cost them a perfect regular season and possible shot at the national championship.

Nobody is more aware of the September potholes that have knocked the Hawkeyes off course than Kirk Ferentz. When asked about it on press day, he smiled and said, “We need to take a good look at that and hopefully rectify the problem.”

He didn’t say how he would solve the problem because like the rest of us, he probably doesn’t know what the solution is. If he did, the recent September record would be better.

But make no mistake, Kirk’s Hawkeyes have had their share of September pitfalls. To heighten the anxiety this season, five games are on the September slate. After the opener with Montana, Iowa plays Syracuse, Iowa State, Illinois and Ohio State.

The Hawkeyes should easily dispatch the Grizzlies this Saturday. After that, I see red flags everywhere, even at Syracuse and Illinois, which had weak ball clubs last year.

It’s going to be an interesting month. Let’s hope Ferentz and his staff are able to correct Iowa’s September woes. If they do, it could be quite a season.


There is something for everyone in college football’s pre-season forecasts.

If you’re an optimist, you’ll like what ESPN says. The national cable network selects the l2 teams that will be eligible for BCS bowls and puts them in a mock bracket, much like a basketball tournament. Iowa is included and makes it all the way to the Final Four, where it loses to Southern California, which loses to Ohio State in the national championship game.

If you’re a pessimist, go with the Des Moines Register, which predicts Iowa State will beat the Hawkeyes 14-10. The newspaper thinks Iowa will also lose at Kinnick Stadium to Ohio State and Wisconsin (whatever happened to home-field advantage?) and cap a 9-4 season by beating Florida in the Outback Bowl (do we have to play the Gators there every year?).

Sports Illustrated has a very strange forecast. The magazine does not include the Hawkeyes among the Top 20 teams in college football, but says they’ll have a 10-2 record. Can anyone think of a team that won 10 games and didn’t finish in the Top 10?


– Two former Iowa coaches – Lute Olson and Bill Snyder — have written autobiographies. Olson was Iowa’s basketball coach for nine years (1974-83). The Hawkeyes shared the Big Ten title in 1979, went to the Final Four in 1980, and finished second in the league the next three seasons. Under Olson, Iowa basketball became a statewide television phenomenon, sometimes capturing up to 80 percent of the state’s TV audience.

Olson pushed hard for a new arena and finally got it, but only coached in Carver-Hawkeye for one Big Ten season before going to Arizona, where he won a national championship and still coaches. A full-page ad in the Iowa Alumni Review says Olson’s book will be out Oct. 3 “wherever books are sold.”

Bill Snyder came to Iowa with Hayden Fry in 1979 and was offensive coordinator during the 1980s, the most successful decade in Iowa football history. During one seven-year stretch (1981-l987) the Hawkeyes had the best record in the Big Ten and won two conference titles. Snyder became the head coach at