Iowa has recently launched a PR campaign to show they're more deserving than Cinciannati, BSU, TCU, Oregon, etc.
Bruce Feldman covered some of this in his blog yesterday:
Getting "correct facts on Iowa football":
Hawkeyes sports information director Phil Haddy went on the offensive Monday, sending out an e-mail to many writers comparing the quality of the Hawkeyes' opponents to that of the opponents of Boise State, Cincinnati, Oregon and TCU, although initially it was introduced as "Many have said Iowa doesn't belong on the same board with Florida, Texas, Alabama, Cincinnati, TCU, Oregon or Boise State."
After reviewing the e-mail, I believe the best point Iowa can make is this: The Hawkeyes (along with Oregon) have three wins over teams in the "current top 25." Boise and Cincy have one, which is the same as UF and Bama, and TCU, now that BYU has fallen out of the top 25, has zero.
Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson took issue with the e-mail and raises a strong point in the process:
I don't know about you, but [the e-mail's headline] seems pretty demanding to me. Haddy writes, "It seems popular for national pundits to criticize the University of Iowa football team these days. Many have said Iowa doesn't belong on the same board with Florida, Texas, Alabama, Cincinnati, TCU, Oregon or Boise State."
I have to admit -- I stopped reading right there.
It wasn't because the e-mail was whiny, although it was. It wasn't because I'm not interested in Iowa, because I am. (I can't for the life of me figure out how they're still undefeated.) No, I quit reading because the person who should've received that e-mail instead of me was Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. Just last week he said, "Realistically, I still have a hard time picturing us in the top 10. "
Listen, if the coach of the team has a hard time believing that it belongs in the top 10, much less the national championship conversation, it's going to be difficult for an e-mail from the PR office to sway me. Mr. Haddy might want to get Coach Ferentz on board before he worries any more about the college football media.
I think the whole thing is a two-pronged issue for Iowa. Clearly, the Hawkeyes have beaten some good teams, and one could certainly argue that those teams stack up well against those Texas has had (or will have had) to overcome: a down Oklahoma, a down Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and what figures to be an average Big 12 North team in the title game. But the Horns, like the SEC champ, are getting the benefit of the doubt because they've been perceived as an elite program for the last few years. Whether that's fair or unfair, we all know about the Big Ten's run of futility of late. And it doesn't help the Hawkeyes' cause that they're scrapping by and haven't had those dominant performances, so voters look at them as hanging by a thread. You can get away with that once or twice, but can't do it every week, especially given that the escape against FCS school Northern Iowa in the opener was the first image most people have of this team.
The other element of this issue is this: Whom is Iowa trying to compare itself to? The big three of UF, Texas and Bama, or that next batch of unbeatens from the supposed lesser conferences? The e-mail from Haddy is geared more toward the latter, making you think Iowa is hoping for a slip-up by one of the big three and then can trump, say, TCU, Boise or Cincy. It is quite the mess we've got, provided there aren't a few upsets in the final month of the season.
A reader, Jeff Danbom, raised an interesting point about the Iowa strategy: The Hawkeyes might be best served hoping just to get right behind UT in the human polls. Then -- because the computers love the Hawkeyes and not the Horns -- the BCS formula could get very close depending on how big a gap there might be in the computer third of the formula, if Cincy can be wedged in between the top teams and Texas. This is what he wrote me:You can see why Iowa released a statement comparing themselves to Cincinnati, Oregon, TCU, and Boise, and not comparing them to Texas, Alabama, and Florida. Iowa knows they have no chance of getting ahead of Texas in the human polls, but they also know that if they can slot right behind them at No. 3 by the end of the season, there is a 50/50 chance or possibly greater of overtaking Texas due to the computer poll. Iowa will want all of the aforementioned teams to win out, because that would allow Cincinnati and possibly TCU to get ahead of Texas in the computer polls, which helps them greatly.