Jan. 4, 2010
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MIAMI — Anthony Herron played football for the two most successful coaches in University of Iowa history. He lettered for the Hawkeyes in 1997 and ’98 for Hayden Fry and in 1999 and 2000 for Kirk Ferentz.
Herron, now a broadcaster for the Big Ten Network, showed up at a few Hawkeye practices over the weekend at Barry University in Miami Shores. He observes several “fun matchups” for Tuesday’s FedEx Orange bowl between No. 10 Iowa and No. 9 Georgia Tech.
“The coaches are what pop out at me,” said Herron, a native of Bolingbrook, Ill., who played on the defensive line at the UI. “Kirk Ferentz and Paul Johnson are two guys with a system that’s in place that they commit to. You see some coaches kind of waffle about what they want to do offensively, defensively, schematic differences that they change up when things don’t go well. These are two coaches who know exactly how they want to run their programs and the system they have in place has been consistent.”
Iowa and Georgia Tech will meet for the first time in history Jan. 5 inside Land Shark Stadium with a 7 p.m. kickoff (Iowa time).
Herron sees other intriguing angles that make the FedEx Orange Bowl interesting: Iowa offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, one of the best in the nation, going against Georgia Tech All-American defensive end Derrick Morgan, who has 18 tackles for loss this season. There is Norm Parker’s Hawkeye defense, ranked 11th in the nation in total defense, against a Yellow Jacket offense that is second in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 307.2 rushing yards per game.
“Still, it will come down to who makes the least mistakes,” Herron said.
During the regular season, Iowa (10-2 overall) had 26 turnovers; Georgia Tech (11-2) had 17 — nine fewer despite playing one more game.
With all the big names featured in contest — Ricky Stanzi, Adrian Clayborn, Pat Angerer for the Hawkeyes; Josh Nesbitt, Jonathan Dwyer, Demaryius Thomas for the Yellow Jackets, Herron said he wouldn’t be surprised if the outcome is decided by a relative national unknown.
“It could end up being a guy like Paki O’Meara from Iowa who makes a big play on special teams that swings the momentum of the game. It’s such a weird thing when you have the bowl season. It could end up being one of the backup guys that ends up making a play that swings the whole contest.”
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“It could end up being a guy like Paki O’Meara from Iowa who makes a big play on special teams that swings the momentum of the game,” Herron said. “It’s such a weird thing when you have the bowl season. It could end up being one of the backup guys that ends up making a play that swings the whole contest.”
Herron was a member of the 1997 Hawkeye team that went 7-4 in the regular season and lost to Arizona State, 17-7, in the Norwest Sun Bowl. During his final three seasons, Iowa was 7-27.
“When I was playing ball at Iowa, I had no plans of being a broadcaster,” Herron said. “I was going to play in the NFL for 15 years, make tens of millions of dollars and retire to a yacht somewhere. That didn’t happen, but I’ve gotten support from folks at the University of Iowa from the day I walked out that door.”
In the “off-season” from March to August, Herron is line coach for the Alabama Vipers of the Arena Football League. The rest of the time he is a broadcaster.
“I’m avoiding the real world is what I like to tell everybody,” Herron said. “Because for me, it’s not work because it’s fun, I enjoy it and it’s the game I love.”
Herron will provide reports for the Big Ten Network at Tuesday’s FedEx Orange Bowl. Objectivity is a must for any sports journalist, but Herron isn’t afraid to reveal his black and gold side.
“I’m biased, it’s Iowa,” he said. “I love Iowa and I’ll admit that openly,”