Aug. 7, 2008
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Big Ten Network is in town this afternoon and if you believe what its experts are saying, it should be quite a football season for the University of Iowa.
BTN analyst Gerry DiNardo, who once coached at Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana, said Iowa “looks great.”
Hampton, Iowa native Mike Hall, host of the show Friday Night Tailgate on the BTN, said the Hawkeyes “will be better than six wins.”
Iowa is in the fourth day of preseason practice and if added depth across the board isn’t enough, there seems to be an added hop in the collective Hawkeye swagger.
“They’re young and I think they’re going to miss their running backs from last year,” Hall said. “But if they can find just one guy who fits in — and I think they will — because their offensive line is going to be stronger, Jake (Christensen) is going to better and smarter as a quarterback and I think all those things will help out. Eight wins is not out of the question.”
Hall was referring to the loss of the two-headed ground game of Albert Young and Damian Sims, who combined to rush for 1,467 yards and nine touchdowns last season when the Hawkeyes finished 6-6 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten Conference. Christensen completed 53.5 percent of his passes for 189 yards a game, but was sacked 46 times.
“He’s personable, friendly and accommodating. All that you don’t necessarily expect from a major college coach. He struck me as a guy who remembers your name and is interested in helping you out. He’s been great.”
Mike Hall of the Big Ten Network on Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz
DiNardo visited the Kenyon Football Practice Facility in the spring and he’s not exactly certain he was looking at the same team Thursday.
“The one thing that jumps out at me is that this looks like an entirely different team than in the spring,” DiNardo said. “That’s true to a different extent with different teams. Iowa is one of those teams, Wisconsin is one of those teams and Purdue is one of those teams that were missing a lot of key components in the spring. I think Iowa looks great. They have depth.”
Hall predicts that Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois and Penn State will fall into the top four spots of the Big Ten Conference standings.
“Then there is a tier of teams,” he said. “It could be Michigan State, it could be Iowa, it could be Michigan. Then I think you have the next level with teams like Northwestern that will probably go to a bowl game but won’t be in the eight-win range.”
This is Hall’s first visit to Iowa City and it didn’t take long for him to formulate an opinion of UI head coach Kirk Ferentz, who enters his 10th season at the Hawkeye helm.
“He’s personable, friendly and accommodating,” Hall said. “All that you don’t necessarily expect from a major college coach. He struck me as a guy who remembers your name and is interested in helping you out. He’s been great.”
Fans of the Hawkeye football team will have an opportunity to experience an inside peek at Thursday’s practice on when the Big Ten Network produces a 90-minute edition of Big Ten Tonight: Football Practice to be aired at 8 p.m. CT tonight.
The Big Ten Network’s lead studio team of DiNardo, Dave Revsine and Howard Griffith will broadcast from Iowa City on Thursday. Guests on the Big Ten Network set include UI offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe, athletics director Gary Barta and strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle. During practice, O’Keefe and defensive coordinator Norm Parker will be `mic’d up’ and Norm Parker and assistant coaches Erik Campbell and Phil Parker will be interviewed.
The tour began Tuesday, Aug. 5, at Ohio State, and following today’s stop at Iowa, continues with Wisconsin (Aug. 9), Minnesota (Aug. 11), Indiana (Aug. 12), Purdue (Aug. 13), Northwestern (Aug. 14), Illinois (Aug. 15), Michigan (Aug. 18), Michigan State (Aug. 19) and Penn State (Aug. 21).
The Big Ten Network will also produce a separate 30-minute football preview show for each Big Ten school. Those programs will premiere throughout the month of August, with Iowa’s show being aired on Tuesday, Aug. 19, beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT.
The network will televise the season openers for seven Big Ten teams, including Iowa’s contest against Maine at Kinnick Stadium, on Saturday, Aug. 30, beginning at 11:05 a.m. CT. Tickets still remain for the Hawkeye’s games against Maine, Florida International, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue.
Iowa completed its fourth day of practice this afternoon.
To view 22 photos available on hawkeyesports.com, click HERE .