IOWA CITY — Just after David Harman’s 47-yard field goal crawled over the south end zone crossbar, the Big Ten Network sideline reporter stared straight ahead and said everything you need to know.
“So, no interviews at all, right?”
No, no postgame interviews on the BTN. Not after this majestic meltdown. The Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black” blared on the Kinnick Stadium speakers. The scoreboard said Central Michigan 32, Iowa 31, but only briefly. That was quickly unplugged and erased, perhaps Iowa’s most coordinated effort Saturday during a time-stamped photo from the abyss.
Players mentioned details. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz talked about representative plays.
The bottom line is in week 4 the Hawkeyes (2-2) are unorganized, undisciplined and lucky to be .500. Some of you will choose to stay with a young team that has a lot of players learning on the job, including senior defensive end Joe Gaglione, whose personal foul penalty moved the Chippewas (2-1) into position for the game-winning field goal.
Some of you will want everyone associated with Iowa football fired. (By the way, Ferentz’s seat is more golden than it is hot, with a $21 million buyout on his contract that runs through 2020.)
Asked if this team was prepared, Ferentz said he didn’t see this coming, the Hawkeyes’ third loss to a Mid-American Conference team under Ferentz. It came with reserve free safety John Lowdermilk desperately trying a lateral after CMU kicked off with three seconds left.
“I don’t want to say the loss is surprising,” Ferentz said. “The way we played based on how we practiced, that’s a contradiction. So, if we had a bad week, I could say I could see this one coming. That wasn’t the case this time.”
Ferentz talked about the veterans CMU lined up across the board, including quarterback Ryan Radcliff, who gutted Iowa’s defense with 26 of 35 passing for 283 yards and two TDs. He said it wasn’t lost on him. That fact never seemed to make it to the defense.
The message was lost in the fourth quarter. First, Iowa was going for it on a fourth-and-6 from CMU’s 29. Then, the field goal unit ran in late. Then, Iowa called timeout. Kicker Mike Meyer bailed Iowa out with a 46-yarder into the wind that gave Iowa a 24-23 lead, but it was mental square dancing.
“I don’t really know what happened there,” said quarterback James Vandenberg, who completed just five passes for 72 yards in the second half. “I was told we were going for it and then I was told we were going to try it [the field goal]. I can’t tell you what really happened there.”
If the Iowa coaches talked about penalties, that message went in one earhole and out the other.
The Hawkeyes had nine penalties for 106 yards. These included six major penalties, four personal fouls and two pass interference calls. The 106 yards against Iowa was the most since 111 in a victory over Northwestern in 2007.
“It was just stupid, stupid football,” senior cornerback Micah Hyde. “We can’t give them easy yards. You can’t do that. You can’t win ballgames giving up 15 yards on any stupid play. Coach tries to prepare us for that. You can’t give up personal fouls. That’s horrible on our part.”
Message sent, message not received. They all wear the colors, but they are far from being in uniform.
“They’re a veteran team, too, and that wasn’t lost on me,” Ferentz said. “Their quarterback has played a lot, he’s done a good job. I think they had 17 or 18 starters back. The other part of the equation is we’ve been — and you can see why now — really focused on our improvement.
“I thought we took a real positive step a week ago. I thought we really improved as a team and then today, that wasn’t the case. It’s going to be like that all season. We’re focused on trying to get ready for an opponent, but also trying to get better as a team. This will be another busy week, for obvious reasons.”
The last time an Iowa running back rushed for more than 200 yards it was Marcus Coker last season in a loss at Minnesota (3-0), which comes into Kinnick next week. Sophomore Mark Weisman’s 217 yards and three TDs Saturday were equally weightless in a loss.
Iowa thought it could win the game with Weisman, Weisman, Weisman. Up eight points with 2:18 left, they had it won. And then they didn’t.
“I don’t think we’re one dimensional,” said Weisman, whose 12-yard run gave Iowa a 31-23 lead with 2:18 left. “I just think we were going with what was working. You’d have to ask the coaches that question.”
Weisman crashed in from the 12-yard and that’s where it all went wrong.
Radcliff drove CMU 64 yards and pulled within a 2-point conversion with a 13-yard TD pass to Titus Davis. The two-point conversion pass sailed into the Kinnick bleachers.
Iowa recovered the first onside kick, but the play was blown dead because of a delay of game penalty. The second skittered past reserve tight end Henry Krieger-Coble, who backed off the ball, and was recovered by CMU’s Jesse Kroll. First down CMU at the Chippewas’ 42.
On the onside kick, “There are guys assigned to blocking and other guys assigned to receiving,” Ferentz said. “We didn’t do a very good job with either one.”
On third-and-6, Gaglione shoved guard Darren Keyton and drew a 15-yard personal foul. CMU moved to Iowa’s 30, a couple of timeouts later and Harman weaved the dagger into Iowa’s chest.
Central Michigan 32, Iowa 31.
Paint it Black.
No BTN interview.