Uncertainties surround the Republicans and Hawkeyes


Mt. Pleasant News

We will elect a president in less than a year.

That?s not news, particularly in Iowa, where seemingly, we have been in election mode for three years now. But what a boom it has been to the state, particularly urban centers. Merchants and retailers love elections telling the candidates to come and spend their money anytime.

While the Democratic nomination has been decided, the GOP nominee is far from being decided (or it it?).

I am registered non-party. I did that for a couple of reasons. First of all, I never have voted a straight ticket or anything close to a straight ticket in my life. Secondly, I thought that if I registered non-party, I would not be bombarded with political mail. Wrong. Now instead of getting mail from just one party, I get it from both parties, and e-mail too.

Back to the Republican presidential field. Is it just me, or are most of the GOP candidates less than inspiring? I can?t get excited about any of them and it appears (through various reports) party faithful can?t either. First, they wanted Rick Perry to run, saying he was the one to place the saddle on. After Perry announced, it didn?t take long for Republicans to find chinks in his armor.

So, they moved to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. He was the one, surely. Thanks, but no thanks, Christie said.

Nearly every Republican, save for Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have led a poll at one time or another. That is not a good thing. It signals the lack of unification and possibly, a lack of energy among the base.

The White House is there for the taking, but at this point, the election elicits memories of 2008. The Republicans will nominate a candidate, but like John McCain three years ago, the nominee will not inspire the troops and we will have four more years of Obama.

Speaking of trouble, the Hawkeye football season is slowly slipping away. Expectations did not mirror 2010 but even the most pessimistic fans expected a win over Minnesota, called one of the worst Division I teams in 20 years.

I don?t have as much of a problem with this year?s team as I do with the immediate future. Shades of Tom Lickliter?s basketball program keep running through my mind.

No, I am not calling for the removal of the coach, but I wouldn?t be sorry if Kirk Ferentz took an NFL job the next time the league came calling. Over the past several seasons, I have detected a certain smugness and arrogance from Captain Kirk. I guess when you are the state?s highest paid employee, you can be arrogant, or as Ferentz would say, ?that?s life.?

My major complaint doesn?t have anything to do with gridiron performance. I have problems with his lack of taking responsibility. For instance, when he was asked about the onside kickoff that was turned into a winning touchdown by Minnesota, Ferentz said after the game that the kick was not a total surprise but if he would have had his onside team in the game and Minnesota had kicked deep, the Hawks may have received the ball at the 15-yard line. Duh, I would have taken the ball at the 15 any day rather than giving Minnesota the ball at the Iowa-40.

Asked again about it during his Tuesday press conference, Ferentz said he had given the onside kick some thought and had a referee standing beside him during the kick. He continued by saying something to the effect that he could have called timeout but didn?t, concluding by saying, ?that?s the way it goes.?

One of the Hawks on the front line during the kick was asked if the team was prepared for an onside kick, and the player said no.

Remarks like those aren?t comforting from a $4-million a year coach. Never once during last season?s debacle did I hear him stand up and say the coaches are partially to blame. It is always about execution. Who is largely responsible for that preparation and execution?

Ferentz is the fifth highest paid coach in the country and the only one among the top five without a national title. His winning percentage at Iowa is .599 and he is 55-45 in Big Ten games during his 13 years at Iowa.

I don?t blame him for the salary. Somebody had to offer him the money, and I don?t know any employees who would refuse money.

A final telling stat is that over the last six seasons Iowa is 19-9 in games where it is favored by two touchdowns or more. The rest of the Big Ten is 155-12 during that span. Hmm. Makes you wonder if we are getting our bang for the buck. Oh, well, that is football.

Judging from the past, though, it would not surprise me if Iowa won a game or two during November?s ?murderer?s row.? The only thing predictable about the Hawkeyes under Captain Kirk is that they are unpredictable.