The wait is almost over.
Technically the offseason hasn’t quite ended yet, but the annual appearance for every program at Big Ten media days serves as an unofficial kickoff for the season -- and a welcome reminder that football is nearly back. The event opens next Monday in Chicago with the head coach and three players from every team in the league reporting for two days of questions, answers and some predictions sure to go wrong by the time September rolls around.
To help set the scene in advance this week, the Big Ten blog is rolling through a list of the hottest topics each team will be addressing from Chicago. Up next is Iowa, who will bring quarterback C.J. Beathard, cornerback Desmond King and linebacker Josey Jewell, along with head coach Kirk Ferentz.
1. Can they do it again?: This time a year ago, people were debating whether Ferentz was on the hot seat. Absolutely nobody saw a 12-0 regular season, a West Division championship and a Rose Bowl berth coming. So the obvious question this summer is, was that just a fluke or have the Hawkeyes established themselves as a serious Big Ten and College Football Playoff threat? It helps that Iowa is bringing some well-known names with them to Chicago, where they likely will be anointed as preseason West favorites. For sure, there will be a lot more attention on the Hawkeyes this year than there was 12 months ago.
2. What's next for King, Beathard?: The senior cornerback is one of the biggest names among the players in attendance, thanks to his All-America, Thorpe Award-winning performance in 2015. He tied the school record with eight interceptions last season but chose to come back to school rather than enter the NFL draft. Many will want to know why King stayed in school and how he can follow up that historic season. Beathard, meanwhile, had a breakout season in his first go-round as a full-time starter. A good talker with a great back story, Beathard should be a hit with the media in Chicago.
3. Whither the pass rush?: Not getting Drew Ott back for a sixth season hurt, as did the graduation of leading sack man Nate Meier. With those two gone, who will lead a pass rush that became pretty mediocre down the stretch in 2015? Iowa has answers at most positions because of its returning depth, but this is one area that will invite some scrutiny leading into the season.