Before any of you think we have this much pull, I was fortunate enough to coach basketball with Paul back in the mid-90's when we both lived in Iowa City. We were in our first year of coaching and the school put us in charge of the "B" squads, but didn't allow us to make cuts. Therefore Paul and I each had 30 kids on our teams and were forced to share one half of a gym. We quickly learned that 20 minutes of lay-up lines followed by 90 minutes of scrimmaging each other was the best practice plan.
After his playing days at Iowa, he came back to school looking to pursue an AD position, but as you'll see below, his career path took him to the NFL Network, where he currently host College Football Now, amongst other shows. Paul was kind enough (actually I cashed in a favor for letting his teams win all those scrimmages) to answer some of our questions about the upcoming season, bowls vs. playoffs, his Hawkeye homerism and watching USC's practice in person.
Do you prefer the current bowl system or would you rather see a playoff?
I’m one of the few who’s not beating the drum for a playoff system. I’d like to make three changes: 1) Eliminate conference title games. 2) Fewer bowl games. 32 is just way too many. Cut it back to 20 or less; make having a “bowl season” mean something again. A 6-6 or 7-5 season shouldn’t automatically lead to a bowl bid. 3) Add a “plus-one” system after the bowls are finished.
Do you think the Big Ten needs to expand to a 12th team?
No. But I would like to see them play a round-robin conference schedule, like the Pac 10 does. Each team could play two non-conference games, then play every team in the conference. That would be fun, and it would allow for a true conference champion WITHOUT playing a title game in December.
There are the obvious 3 front runners for the Heisman this year, but do you have a couple of names that could sneak into the race?
Keep an eye out for Jevan Snead, QB Ole Miss. The Rebs could win 10 games, and if that happens, he will become a household name and a dark horse for the Heisman.
Is there a B10 team you think will surprise people this year, whether with good play or poor?
I’m an Iowa City native, former Hawkeye QB and graduate of The University of Iowa. Go Hawks!
What do you think of Ohio State's chances of returning to a BCS game?
It wouldn’t surprise me. There are plenty of holes to fill after NFL teams once again backed their proverbial trucks up to the OSU program during the draft. However, there is always talent waiting in the wings in Columbus, and the sky’s the limit for Terelle Pryor. Another BCS appearance would irk many outside The Big Ten, but it shouldn’t shock anyone.
Is RichRod going to turn things around this year or is he still a couple years away?
That’s a team that wasn’t even close to being good last year. They somehow managed to make the trip from very good to very poor in a very short period of time. They may improve to average this year, but I think good is a couple years away.
Do you see Iowa in the top 3 of the conference this year?
I think it’s a realistic goal. It’s a team that should win eight games, with 9 or 10 a possibility.
Do you get a chance to visit USC's practices and what is the difference from other programs?
Yes, and two things come to mind: Tempo and talent. They have an incredible pace and energy with which they practice, and they join Florida as the only teams to lay claim to having more talent than Ohio State the past few years. It’s a treat to watch that team practice.
When did you switch from wanting to become an AD to being a broadcaster and how did you hook up the NFL Network gig?
Got lucky in ’96 and ’97 to get a spot in the booth for a couple of Iowa games on ESPN Plus. That turned into an opportunity to learn the ropes of local tv at KCRG in Cedar Rapids. Three years there led to a three year stint at KWWL in Waterloo, and from there I got my break at NFL Network. I would call it a combination of finding something that I really enjoyed doing with getting a fortunate break. There are lots of talented people working at the local level who never get their tape seen by the right person at the right time. I was one of the lucky ones who did.