Got your goad

Hawkeye fans: silent treatment is the only solution to Cowherd's persistent jabs

AP Photo Iowa's Akrum Wadley runs the ball against Purdue in Lafayette, Ind. last season.

As Iowa football fans fired another round of angry calls, e-mails, texts and tweets in Colin Cowherd’s direction this past week, the Fox Sports personality continued to laugh all the way to the bank.

Cowherd has devoted quite a bit of time over the last two years to poking and prodding the Hawkeyes for their soft non-conference schedule. He went back to the well again last Wednesday when Iowa announced it had added Middle Tennessee State to its future grid schedule.

Some Hawk supporters were irate. Others, indignant. And reputable journalists even went as far as to break Cowherd’s hypothesis down, point by point.

Is Cowherd wrong? Mostly. Does Cowherd care? Hardly. He exaggerates the storyline to rile up Iowa backers, and their collective ears perk up every time.

Hook, line and sinker.

Cowherd doesn’t make $6 million annually — that’s a six with six zeroes after it — by going the conventional route. He’s controversial when he needs to be, and if an opportunity emerges to spike ratings, he’ll take advantage. Rational thoughts don’t grab headlines. Hyperbolic statements do.

A football team is typically as ”good” as its schedule. Were the Hawkeyes the equivalent of their 12-0 regular-season in 2015? That question is relative, and also, irrelevant. The fact of the matter is, that particular record earned them a spot in the Big Ten championship game and the Rose Bowl.

Yes, Iowa has struggled in its last five postseason appearances. Yes, the Big Ten’s divisional split has weakened its overall schedule by taking Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State out of the annual equation. Yes, head coach Kirk Ferentz has gone a somewhat softer route with non-conference opponents during his tenure.

Point being? The Hawkeyes are contending for Western division championships and warm bowl destinations year in and year out. They’ve won at least eight games nine times in the last 15 years after doing it just four times in the 15 seasons prior. How is that a bad thing?

In the aftermath of Cowherd’s latest taunting session, suggestions began to surface that Iowa should even consider discontinuing its series with Iowa State in order to free up that Saturday for a tougher opponent. Canceling one of state’s best sports days for what reason, exactly? To pacify a trolling critic? Or make the Hawkeyes more relevant nationally — and only in theory — by diluting their presence in our own backyard? Come on.

Let it go, Iowa fans. When Cowherd tweeted last week that Hawkeye football was ”the gift that keeps on giving,” the comment was directed more toward your responses than the program itself. He knows that during slow news cycles, Herky is always standing by with bated breath, ready to go a few more rounds and inadvertently boost his ratings in the process.

What you see is what you get under Ferentz. The veteran coach is comfortable enough in its own skin to realize what the Hawks are, what they aren’t, what works and what doesn’t.

If the fans would just follows his lead, Cowherd would go away. And even if he didn’t, who cares? Given the scandals and struggles that tend to dog college football teams across the country — look at Notre Dame, Oregon, Michigan State and Baylor in 2016 alone — being singled out by one overzealous pundit as a pretender on the national scene should be nothing more than a blip on the radar.

As long as you’re responding, he’s winning. Ignore Cowherd’s incessant jabs and remember this: it’s only fool’s gold if you’ve been fooled into believing this guy has anything other than ratings gold on his mind.

Eric Pratt is Sports Editor at The Messenger. He may be reached afternoons and evenings at 1-800-622-6613, or by e-mail at