All posts by Griffin Brunk

Will The College Football Playoff Expand?

I think just about everyone loves the new 4 team college football playoff. In its first 2 years it has already produced multiple games that have been thrillers. Including its inaugural 1 vs 4 matchup in which Ohio state upset the title favorites the Alabama Crimson tide. It also produced another thriller last year in the national title game in which the afore mentioned tide beat the Clemson Tigers. It is inevitable that the playoff will expand at some point but how many more teams will be given the opportunity to fight for a national title? 

Ultimately I believe that the college football playoff will expand to 8 teams. However, I believe that we are still at least 10 to 15 years away from that. So for the foreseeable future I see the playoff expanding to 6 teams. This may not make sense to some but let me explain. The number 3 seed would play the 6 seed in the first round and the 4 would play the 5. The number 1 and 2 seeds will be given byes in the “first round.” The number 1 seed will play the highest seed left after the first round, so if the highest seed after round 1 was the 4 seed then they would play the 4 and the number 2 seed would play the number 3. If an upset were to happen in the first round the number 1 could end up playing the number 6 in the second round. I know this seems like a lot of scenarios and numbers but trust me, it’s not that complicated. 

One of the problems people will have with expanding the playoff is the number of games played. They will argue that the wear and tear of more games will cause more physical burden on the athletes. I think that if you were to ask the athletes they would be open to playing more games. Especially when the stakes are that high. Others will argue that if you open the playoff to more teams then the quality of football will go down. That I completely disagree with. No matter if it is 4, 6, or 8 teams every single one of them will have the same goal and that is to be national champions. 

Opening the playoff up to 6 or 8 teams would also give the mid majors a legitimate spot at making the playoff. Now with the 4 team format not even all of the power 5 conference teams can get a team in the playoff. For example the big 12 failed to make an appearance in the first year just as the pac 12 did this past year. Not only would expanding the playoff allow for all power 5 conferences to get a team in the playoff but it would also allow either a mid major team or another viable power 5 team to make the playoff. 

Opening up the college football playoff to 6 and eventually 8 teams is something that WILL happen, it is not a matter of if it is a matter of when. 

Predicting The Top Performers for 2016

2016 looks to be a great year for the Hawkeyes. The Hawkeyes return over half of their starters from offense and defense. Today I will be discussing who I believe the key contributors will be on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

The obvious and really only reasonable choice at quarterback is CJ Beathard. Beathard will be back for his senior season in a Hawkeye uniform, and is looking to build to an already stellar resume which includes an all 2nd team big ten choice last season. I look for Beathard to take another big step forward this year. Beathard will be healthy to start the season and that is huge for Hawkeye fans everywhere. With Beathard healthy that will bring back his great mobility from the quarterback position. If CJ can stay healthy all year I see all of his stats going up, rushing yards, rushing TD’s, passing yards and passing touchdowns. I also expect CJ’s turnover numbers to remain fairly low. There is no doubt that Beathard is the unquestioned leader of the Iowa offense.

CJ Beathard giving a stiff arm to a Minnesota player

At running back, I see a minimum of 3 contributors to the offense. The top 3 would be Leshun Daniels Jr., Akrum Wadley, and Derrick Mitchell, in no particular order. All three of these players had an impact last season. Now with Jordan Canzeri gone, it is up in the air as to who will be the workhorse running back. It will most likely be running back by committee with coach Ferentz and offensive coordinator Greg Davis going with whoever has the hot hand. That being said Leshun Daniels will be the short yardage back, and Mitchell will most likely be the 3rd down back. Last year in Mitchell’s first season as a running back he excelled at picking up blitzes and catching the ball out of the backfield. Then there is Akrum Wadley, everyone in Iowa City knows he has the talent, but will ball security continue to be an issue? I see the coaching staff giving each of these 3 guys every chance to prove themselves.

Leshun Daniels (29) Akrum Wadley (25)

I’m grouping the receivers and tide ends together. We know what we have in George Kittle and Matt the meerkat Vandeberg. But outside of those two many questions surround who CJB will be throwing the ball to in 2016. I look for two young guys to step up at the receiver position in 2016. Those two guys being Jerminic Smith who showed great flashes in 2015 as a true freshman. And the other being redshirt sophomore Jay Scheel. You can make the case the Scheel is the most athletic guy on the team. Scheel, who is a former high school quarterback, I look for him to burst onto the scene as a big play receiver in 2016. Jameer Outsey is listed as the second tide end on the two deeps although he was mainly used in blocking situations last year. I think Dowling Catholic alum Jon Wisnieski will get a fair amount of playing time this year. He has all the talent and potential but health has been a problem for Wisnieski since he stepped on campus.

Jerminic Smith catching a ball against Illinois

The offensive line faces two departures of the five starters from 2015 in Austin Blythe and Jordan Walsh. However, I do not see the offensive line being an issue in 2016. All five starters listed on the early season two deeps saw a substantial amount of playing time in 2015. With only one senior (Cole Croston) this is a group that will be solid for years to come.

On the defensive side of the ball you have work horses in Jaleel Johnson, Josey Jewel, and Desmond King, these guys also have a pretty good supporting cast. Who else will step up on the defensive side of the ball in 2016? I look at a guy in outside linebacker Aaron Mends to have a huge year. Mends started seeing his playing time increase later in the season last year when Iowa used their “Raider Package” defense. I think Mends is the type of player that can reek havoc in the opponent’s backfield. Parker Hesse stepped up big last year in the absence of Drew Ott, I look for him to improve even more this year. Matt or Anthony Nelson will also have to take steps forward to see their production increase this year. The Hawkeyes are solid at the linebacker and corner back positions with the likes of Desmond King, Greg Mabin, Ben Niemann, Josey Jewel, and Aaron Mends. Miles Taylor will be back for his second season at the starting strong safety position, I only see positive progress with him. As for the strong safety position Brandon Snyder looks to be the starter. If he can just hold his ground, I see this Hawkeye defense being one of the tops in the Big Ten and the entire country.

Mends chasing down Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong

The hawks have all the pieces to succeed in the 2016 season, the only question is whether or not they can put the pieces together. I believe that if the Hawks can stay fairly healthy in 2016 they will do great things for a second year in a row.

 

 

2017 Recruiting Class

Kirk Ferentz has been turning 2 and 3 star recruits into NFL caliber players during his entire 17-year tenure at the University of Iowa. So usually I don’t bat an eye when I see that Iowa has the 11th or 12th best recruiting class in the big ten. So when I see that the 2017 Iowa football recruiting class is 11th in the NATION. I would say that’s a pretty big deal. Ferentz has proven he can turn guys without All-American talent into all Big Ten caliber players. So what will Kirk be able to do with the likes of Eno Benjamin, Tristan Wirfs, and AJ Epenesa?

Eno Benjamin making a cut in a high school game

Chad Greenway is the prime example of an unheralded recruit that coach Ferentz got the most out of. Greenway was wait for it, an unrated recruit coming out of high school. Greenway went from unrated recruit to first round pick in the NFL draft. Greenway has continued his success in the NFL as 2 time pro bowler.

Greenway in the probowl

Ferentz has proven that he can get the most out of middle of the pack recruits as well. Especially the offensive lineman. Brandon Scherff for example was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school. Coach Ferentz turned Scherff into an all American player and a top 5 NFL draft pick. Ferentz has proven time and again that he’s got what it takes to produce elite NFL caliber talent out of his offensive lineman. Marshall Yanda is widely regarded as the best offensive guard in the NFL. Yanda, Riley Rieff, Scherff, Brian Bulaga, and Robert gallery are just a few other NFL offensive lineman that coach Kirk has produced. I think that Tristan Wirfs of Mt. Vernon will follow in these lineman’s successful footsteps.

Tristan Wirfs of Mt. Vernon

Eno Benjamin, a 4-star running back out of Texas and AJ Epenesa, a 5-star defensive end out of Illinois are both regarded as two of the highest ranked recruits that Ferentz has ever had in Iowa city. So should Kirk coach these guys any different? The simple answer to that question, no. If any of these highly coveted recruits are not ready to play right away, then they should be red shirted. I am not saying that they will not be ready. I am saying that if they are not then redshirt them and save them another year of eligibility. The bottom line is Kirk knows how to coach, no matter the personality or the talent Kirk will get any player to buy into the system and play for the team.

AJ Epenesa

The 2017 recruiting class will benefit the Iowa Hawkeye football program exponentially. When Kirk gets that kind of talent and then instills them with the hard nosed Hawkeye work ethic, only good things can come from that combination. All you have to do is look at the track record of what Kirk has done with the talent he has had. It can only get better. The product on the field can only get better with more talent and continued good coaching. The 2017 recruiting class will be the first of many classes to come that are lined with prized 4 and 5 star recruits at the University of Iowa.

 

Can Iowa live up to lofty expectations in 2016?

In many ways the 2015 season was one of the, if not the, greatest season in Iowa Hawkeye football history. 2015 was the first time in the Hawks’ storied history that a team had finished the regular season undefeated. They were a 9 minute Michigan State drive away from crashing the college football playoff party. The Hawks return 14 starters in 2016 including cornerstones in Desmond King on the defensive side and C.J. “sunshine” Beathard at quarterback. The question Hawkeye fans everywhere are asking, can Iowa repeat its success from 2015?

Many early pre season polls have the Hawks ranked anywhere between 15-20 but I don’t pay to much attention to that. If you take a look at the 2016 schedule for the Hawks all of their toughest games are at Kinnick stadium. Those games include: Wisconsin, Michigan, and the fighting Harbaugh’s of Michigan. Home field advantage should pay dividends in these games. However, the Hawks still need to show up ready to play in these crucial games because their opposition will be ready to pounce on the Hawks if they are not. A prime example of that would be the rose bowl, from the very beginning I thought Iowa came out flat and the Stanford Cardinal and standout running back Christian Mccaffrey made the Hawks pay from the get go.

Mccaffrey running through Iowa would be tacklers in the Rose Bowl

One home game that I’m going to put Iowa on upset alert will be the Iowa state game. Upset alert is a game that the Hawks should win but could lose. Iowa State’s new coach Matt Campbell will be looking to make a statement early in his career and nothing would do that more than a road win at their arch rival Iowa Hawkeyes. If Iowa simply plays up to their potential there is only one game that I can see the Hawks losing, and that would be to Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines. This November night game will be a classic hard hitting Big Ten brawl. The Michigan Wolverines have more talent than just about anyone in the Big Ten and in the country. Jim Haurbaugh’s arrival has resurrected the program from mediocrity. Almost the same as “New Kirk” has for Iowa.

I have the Hawks winning the Big Ten West once again this year and going back to the Big Ten Championship where they will meet back up against Michigan and avenge their only blemish on the season. From there, it’s a toss up. With that resume at 12-1 and Big Ten Champs I would think that the College Football Playoff Committee would have no reasons to keep Iowa out of the four team party.

The answer to the question I asked before is yes. The Hawks will live up to the hype in 2016 and it is something many players are embracing. Desmond King’s decision to forgo the NFL draft and come back for his senior season will prove to be huge for this bunch. King is the first EVER Jim Thorpe award winner to come back to school, all other winners of this award have either graduated or chosen to declare for the NFL draft. This Iowa team knows that the target will be on it’s back this year, I believe it is something that they will embrace. They can’t play the underdog role as they did last year but they don’t need to. 2015 proved to the players and fans that the Hawks have what it takes to succeed. The confidence built last season will boil over into this year, while these Hawks will still be hungry and strive to better themselves after the way the 2015 season ended.

Iowa’s complete 2016 schedule

The Effects of Social Media on Student Athletes

Griffin Brunk

 

It is August of 2015, just two weeks before the University of Iowa football team opens their season at Kinnick Stadium with a game against The Illinois State Redbirds. So, why is this important? Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz has just issued a team wide ban of social media until the conclusion of the season. Why would coach Ferentz do this, to prevent players from getting themselves into trouble, or just to make sure that the players are not reading all of the articles written about them? Either way, coach Ferentz obviously has a method to his madness as his Hawkeyes finished the 2015-16 campaign as Big Ten West Champions, as well as participants in the historic Rose Bowl Game, and his Hawks also set a school record for most victories with 12.

Kirk Ferentz Speaking at a Rose Bowl Presser

 

This topic is very relevant in today’s day in age. With social media usage being as high as it has ever been, yet still continuing to grow. Almost all athletes whether professional or amateur have some form of social media account. According to Christy Kingan of PIVOT Physical Therapy Blog, “A study done in 2014 by Chris Symeon from CKSyme Media Group measured social media use for Division I and Division II NACAA athletes. On average, only 26% of these athletes has protected Twitter accounts, around 61.5% did not know all of their followers, and 14% had been a victim of online harassment such as unsolicited inappropriate material, account impersonation, angry fans messaging, or cyberbullying.” So, should Kirk Ferentz’ policy become more widely adopted among the college and high school ranks? Could Ferentz’ policy be adopted by professional athletes as well? It is tough to say now, but coach Kirk has some great results to say the least.

 

What is the impact of social media usage on collegiate, amateur, and professional athletes? It would be very hard to get the input of professional athletes. I would do my research on the University of Iowa Football team and Men’s Basketball team.

 

One theory that applies to my question is the theory of social influence. Social influence is something that is very common. It is applied to my topic this way. If an athlete has a good game, he may get lots of positive tweets telling him how great he is. The athlete does not necessarily have to believe everything that the people are saying about him but the odds are that he will. The fact of the matter is the more and more people tell somebody something the more the athlete will believe it.

 

However, this is not always a positive. If an athlete has a poor game, then social media users will let him know. If an athlete has 100 notifications after his game in which he played poorly in, around 90 or so of those notifications are going to be people telling him that he sucks and how he should not even be on scholarship. This can be very damaging to the athletes’ self confidence as well as the athletes’ mental health. It is easy to just tell the person to not believe what everyone else says. Social influence can be very strong especially in situations such as this one, the player may start to believe all of the negative things that people are saying about him. There is one more outcome when it comes to the theory of social influence in this situation. If an athlete sees nothing but negative things posted about him he does not have to believe it. Some of the players that are more mentally strong than others will set out to prove all of his naysayers’ wrong. Meaning, he will work much harder to perform better in his next game and show all of the social media haters that they were wrong about him.

I would do my research on the University of Iowa’s men’s basketball and football teams. My study would go through both of their regular seasons as well as any post season play that either would be involved in.  For my research I would give the players one week intervals. One week they would be granted access to social media, the next week they would not. These one week intervals would continue until the season had come to a conclusion. My first way of analyzing my data would be to view the player’s performances on weeks that they did or did not have social media and see if the social media or lack there of made them perform any better or worse.

 

I would also interview some of the star players on both teams during the weeks that they used social media. I would ask them about their mindset. I would also ask that if the things said about them were negative how they would respond to that. If they would use it as motivation or if they would let it get to them. Based on all the research I would complete, I am almost positive that I would be able to get a solid answer to my question of what the impact of social media is on student athletes.

 

The two main methods used in my research would be content analysis as well as experimenting. The experiments would be the games. The content analysis would be analyzing the performances of the players during the weeks with and without social media. In the end I would find that none or limited social media use would benefit the athletes more than using social media their normal amount of time.

 

The student athletes should be able to use social media. However, they should not be able to have access to social media while their sport is in season and going on. There are far too many distractions on social media for athletes, the safe bet would be to ban social media during the season and let the athletes use it all they want in their offseason as long as they are smart with their decisions while using it.