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So as Iowa fans we should expect a great year every now and then, but not consistently? Seems like an "Oh well, we're just Iowa" mindset.
— Wendy BS (@the_wendybs) October 22, 2017
ANSWER: This is one of the most hotly debated topics in our part of the world, especially after a 17-10 overtime loss to Northwestern. What is the baseline expectation for Iowa football? In fact, the answer is as polarizing as the political climate.
Some fans support the program no matter what the record. Some have a minimum expectation of at least a bowl game. Many believe they can tolerate a few 7-5 seasons to achieve a 10-2 season every three or so years. Others expect the Hawkeyes to contend for the Big Ten West Division title every year. A few believe Iowa should compete for a title each season.
The best — and worst — part of this discussion is nobody is wrong. Many fans use coach Kirk Ferentz’s annual $4.5 million annual salary against him and say that money should guarantee championships. Others see it as protection against falling into the Big Ten’s lower tier with teams such as Indiana, Illinois and Purdue. Iowa has played in bowl games in 15 of the last 17 seasons. The Hoosiers, Fighting Illini and Boilermakers have combined for 16 bowl appearances over that span.
Here are a few facts, and then the readers can form their own opinions. Under Hayden Fry, Iowa averaged 7.15 wins per year (20 years, 143 wins). Under Ferentz, Iowa has 139 wins in 19 seasons (7.31 wins). Considering the current season barely is half over, that number should grow. So for a 39-year period, Iowa averages 7.23 wins.
Under Ferentz, Iowa has five top-10 finishes and one top-25 placement. Fry had two top-10 rankings and eight top-25 finishes. In 39 years, Iowa has 16 top-25 finishes, covering about 41 percent of the seasons. The Hawkeyes have finished in the top 10 in 18 percent of the seasons.
In fiscal year 2016, Ferentz received $5.24 million, of which $1 million was in bonuses for a 12-win, top-10 season. Of the 13 public schools in the Big Ten (Northwestern, a private school, does not release salary information), Ferentz earned less in salaries, benefits and bonuses than Ohio State’s Urban Meyer ($6.64 million), Penn State’s James Franklin ($5.9 million) and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh ($5.66 million) that year. The numbers were released by the schools after open-records requests by Land of 10.
Have the Hawkeyes underachieved? Probably in a few seasons under Fry (1989, 1992, 1997). If Iowa had won one more game in each of the 2005, 2010 and 2016 seasons, the Hawkeyes would have ended those season in the top 25. But what’s the baseline expectation for this program? That’s up for each fan to set.
Read more answers about the Iowa Hawkeyes here.
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