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January 18, 2010

Wistful thinking

If you've seen the New York Jets in the NFL playoffs, you know they're happy to have Shonn Greene in their backfield. And Greene has to be delighted he's there because, heck, he's one victory from playing in the Super Bowl.

But if you're an Iowa fan, no one could blame you for engaging in a little wistful thinking as you watched Greene tear through the defensive lines of the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers.

Oh what might have been if he had remained with the Hawkeyes for one more season.

Remember, Greene skipped his senior year at Iowa to enter the NFL draft after a sensational 2008 season.  He rushed for more than 100 yards in every game, was named the Big Ten's offensive player of the year and received the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back.

But Greene already was older than most college juniors (23) and his market value was high. Everyone understood when he decided to move up. The opportunity and potential earnings simply were too tempting.

Just for fun, though, imagine if Greene had been around this past season.

First, redshirt freshman Adam Robinson and true freshman Brandon Wegher did an admirable job splitting time at running back. They combined for 1,575 yards and 13 touchdowns and averaged a respectable 4.6 yards a carry.

But they weren't Shonn Greene -- and they didn't occupy an opponent's attention to the extent Greene would have if he had been carrying the ball. Just think of the pressure he would have taken off quarterback Ricky Stanzi. It's not a stretch to think that if Greene had stayed, the Hawkeyes might have been undefeated.

Even after Stanzi rolled his ankle in the Northwestern game, you've got to figure the Hawkeyes would have held on to win that one if Greene had been around. As for the Ohio State game, the Hawkeyes almost won that one -- maybe should have won it -- with what they had. Now, how much better would they have been with Greene thrown into the equation?

Of course, an undefeated season wouldn't have necessarily put Iowa in the BCS championship game (See Boise State, TCU and Cincinnati). But it certainly would have given the Hawkeyes a chance. And think about how much fun the debate would have been with yet another undefeated team in the BCS mess, er mix.

If only ...

But hey, Iowa ended up having a great season and Greene's pro career is off to a promising start, so everyone has something to celebrate. The season played out the way it did and can't be changed. Still, a little wistful thinking sometimes can't be helped.

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