Commentary: Iowa's 2014 football season shouldn't surprise anybody


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August seems like such a long time ago, but I'm sure you remember it. Those were optimistic times, talking positivity and possibility about this year's Iowa football team.

The favorable schedule. The returning experience. It all looked so similar to 2009. This was to be the year that Iowa climbed back up the mountain, truly contended for a Big Ten title, and build on the bounce-back year that was 2013.

Fourteen weeks and 12 games later, and those discussions seem as if they happened 40 years ago.

Twelve games later, and we're instead talking about a 7-5 team that's the epitome of inconsistency.

Twelve games later, this team failed to pounce on an opportunity that was arguably served up on a silver platter.

So, what now? What do Iowa fans have to look forward to — or as one reporter worded it, "buy into" — after the team took a pretty big step backward?

"I just kind of addressed the expectation stuff, but we lost five ball games," head coach Kirk Ferentz said after Nebraska beat Iowa, 37-34, on Nov. 28.

"Each one is a different story," he said. "I'm not going to sit here tonight and just dissect it. I'll talk about today's game. But I will say again there's no way to predict this stuff in August how it's going to go.

"You practice as well as you can, you prepare as well as you can, coach as hard, play as hard, and all I know is we came up short last week, we came up short today, against two teams that, I think, are pretty good teams, and I think both teams competed hard last week and this week.

"And that's football."

This season wasn't an aberration. Far from it. History shows this year was more the continuation of middle-of-the-pack football.

Over the last five seasons, Iowa is 34-29 overall, and just 10 of those wins are over Football Bowl Subdivision teams with winning records.

Another fun fact: None of those 10 wins came this season.

But that's football, I guess.

Iowa could learn a couple of things from its rivals from the West. Nebraska won its ninth game of the 2014 season with its overtime victory over the Hawkeyes. This was the seventh-straight season, all under Bo Pelini, that the Huskers have won at least nine games.

And Nebraska Athletics Director Shawn Eichorst responded by firing Pelini because nine wins each year doesn't cut it in Lincoln.

(Can you imagine if Pelini came to Iowa City and won nine games every year? This place would explode.)

Part of why Pelini got the boot, though, is because Nebraska is still searching for a coach who will take the program back to national prominence. The Huskers are allowing the past to dictate their future.

There's a case to be made that the same thing is happening at Iowa. Hayden Fry is held in high regard when it comes to Hawkeye football, but he only won nine or more games in six of his 20 seasons as head coach. Overall, Iowa was 143-89-6 under Fry. That's good, sure, but it's not great.

Ferentz's résumé looks pretty similar. In his 16 seasons, Iowa is 115-84 and won nine or more games in just five of those seasons.

So we can talk all we want about how this season was disappointing and how Iowa failed to capitalize on an advantageous situation, but when it comes down to it, 7-5 shouldn't really surprise anybody.

Follow @codygoodwin on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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