By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
This is part two of our series of interviews with the journalists who cover the teams on Iowa State’s 2010 football schedule. Today, a familiar face/voice for central Iowa sports fans stops by to break down the Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State’s Sept. 11 opponent this season. That man is the publisher of HawkeyeNation.com and sports director at WHO-Radio in Des Moines, Jon Miller.
CF: How do the majority of Hawkeye fans view Paul Rhoads as a coach?
JM: I don’t speak for the majority of Hawkeye fans, but those folks that don’t obsess over Iowa State (which is the vast majority of Iowa fans) probably see an Iowa raised guy getting a chance to come home and be where he wants to be and are fine with him. I still believe that resonates with people. I know it resonates with me, and I know I should not assume that what resonates with me is the same for everyone else. But Iowans are different; there is a pull about this state, like some beacon. I felt it when I left and had a family, I wanted to come home. I am sure Paul felt the same, and I know others have. So we can identify with that and feel some sense of kinship. But on September 11th this year, all that goes out the window for a day.
CF: What should scare Iowa the most about this year’s Iowa State team?
JM: Their offense should be exponentially better than it was a year ago, because most everyone returns and they will have had another year learning Tom Herman’s offense that was very successful at Rice. Austen Arnaud is another year older, the offensive line is solid, Alexander Robinson is the best running back in the Big 12 and they have an impressive cadre of receivers. It will be strength versus strength, as Iowa’s defense is one of the best in the land. But ISU will move the ball.
CF: In your mind, are there any glaring mismatches that Iowa will be able to take advantage of in year’s battle for the Cy-Hawk trophy?
JM: If the Iowa offensive line can come together, Iowa should be able to move the ball. But the Iowa offensive line rarely comes together before October. It’s just the way things have been under Kirk Ferentz. September has typically been a white-knuckle month, where the Ferentz teams hit their stride in late October and November. I just don’t see Iowa State’s defense doing all that much in the early going, but I am not sure Iowa will be able to capitalize in game two of the season. However, Iowa has its best collection of skill position talent since 2002.
CF: Do you see Iowa State making another bowl game in 2010?
JM: Yes. I have them finishing 6-6 and going to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York. I have all but one Big 12 team being bowl eligible, and every Texas team, so those schools will probably occupy many of the Texas bowl games.
CF: Complete the following sentence. The 2010 Iowa football season will be a success if ?
JM: If they win at least nine games. Some fans will be disappointed with anything less than 10 wins I am sure, but I just cannot allow myself to go there given the number of times in school history where Iowa has won more than eight games, which is just 12 times in school history. Now, 11 of those instances have happened in the last 27 years and they did it five times in the past decade, so you have to take that into account as well given the significance of a ten year stretch. But nine wins is a pretty darn good year for all but the elite of the elite programs, and Iowa is not on the line with Ohio State, Florida, Texas and that ilk.