BTN announcer says Hawkeyes will be in the title mix

July 27, 2009

Video interview with Wayne Larrivee | Big Ten Media Days photo gallery

CHICAGO — Wayne Larrivee knows that the University of Iowa plays one of the most grueling football schedules in the conference in 2009. Still, the Big Ten Network play-by-play announcer envisions the Hawkeyes as a contender.

“What we’ve seen under Kirk Ferentz is just a tremendous program in terms of being solid in everything they do,” said Larrivee at the Big Ten Football Media Days on Monday at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. “They have a great quarterback coming back in Ricky Stanzi — he’s only going to get better. I know the defense lost the two interior tackles and that will be tough to replace. But overall that defense has a tremendous amount of experience coming back. They are so well-coached that Iowa will contend this year even though they are playing probably the toughest schedule of the contenders in the Big Ten.”

As a play-by-play announcer, Larrivee is trained to be impartial. Still, he has a strong Hawkeye connection.

“I have a soft spot in my heart for Iowa,” Larrivee said. “My first job out of college was in Davenport, Iowa, at KSTT radio and I did the play-by-play for Iowa football back before the network days when each market seemed to have their own broadcast team.”

Larrivee recalls his first season — 1977 — and his first game was a 24-0 Hawkeye victory against Northwestern. Iowa won three of its first five games that season under head coach Bob Commings, including a 12-10 win over Iowa State and an 18-6 victory against Minnesota.

Iowa is one of several Big Ten teams poised for a strong season, according to Larrivee.

“I see a conference that will be much-improved because so many teams have so many people back from last year,” he said. “I think at this level, experience is huge and most of the Big Ten teams have a lot of experience. If it’s not offense, it’s skill-position players, it’s on the offensive line or it’s on defense. Maybe it’s like Illinois and loaded with skill-position players on offense. I think it’s going to be a tremendous year in the Big Ten.”

The Hawkeyes return 16 starters from a team that finished 9-4 last season and won the Outback Bowl, 31-10, against South Carolina.

According to a vote of media members, Ohio State is the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, followed by Penn State and Michigan State. The Hawkeyes play all three of those teams and all three games are on the road.

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones is the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

2009 Iowa Football Season Ticket Application (v3a)