Iowa vs. Iowa State in the rearview mirror. Here are some of my thoughts looking back on the big weekend, as my 2-year old son Colin watches his Bob the Builder DVD for the 23rd time this week (Bob's building a soccer field today!).
Tailgating: Insane. This started about 6 p.m. the night before the game. It was obvious many of the people who wandered by our live location Saturday morning had not slept at all. The 11 a.m. kick-off put many of the partiers in the quandary of waking up at 5 a.m. or just going all night. Many chose all night.
It's no secret gorging on food and alcohol has long been a game day tradition for many fans, but when you're sober and working, as I was, it really strikes you how, in some ways, the party is now bigger than the game. Make no mistake about it, the game gets in the way for more than a few.
I was live on the air all morning on Today in Iowa Saturday, which by the way is a really entertaining two hours. Courtney Greene and Dan Winters do a great job of being informative and fun. I digress. I was working and so many nice people came up and talked to me. Most were drunk, or on their way. All looked 21 and none were driving. As long as you're not ruining my fun, and not driving a car where you endanger lives including your own... enjoy the party!
However, one thing that happened on the show brings up an interesting discussion, and it's been kicked around the newsroom all week. Shawn Terrell was at a tailgate during our coverage, and an Iowa student celebrating her 21st birthday drank a beer funnel on camera (sometimes known as a beer bong. It transports the alcohol down your throat in seconds). The moment I saw it, I knew we'd get calls. Show people drinking on TV, especially in the morning and to excess, and someone's offended. I understand and appreciate that. As a dad myself, I'd use the opportunity to talk about it with a curious kid. On the other hand, I appreciate that it makes drinking look like a lot of fun, which it can be.
Drinking and partying is a HUGE part of the Iowa - Iowa State game day atmosphere. Not everyone of age drinks, but most do. Is it our job to sanitize the news and pretend it doesn't go on? Or is it okay to show drinking, but only if it's subdued? Should we not show it at all? Or should we show it all, including the wild scenes we stayed away from? I don't think there's an easy answer. My inclination would be to try and avoid the binge drinking, look for more moderate tailgates, and also find the occasional dry party, but make no mistake about it: the party is all around, and most of the people I saw were above college age. (Please post your view on the discussion board.)
No Alchohol Hypocrisy: Here's where it gets ridiculous. You can't drink inside Kinnick Stadium or Jack Trice Stadium... unless you donate a bunch of money, then you can have whatever you like, mixed drinks, beer, wine. Rent a luxury box for tens of thousands of dollars and suddenly the "no drinking at a college game" doesn't apply---not that it completely does anyway. I've seen some creative ways to sneak alcohol: binoculars, flasks, even watched a Cyclone fan at Oklahoma drink out of a football. The fan was dressed as the Heisman Trophy in honor of Seneca Wallace. "Heisman" would just tip that ball up whenever he needed a hit. Wallace had such an awful game, he went from front-runner to no votes, but that fan didn't feel any pain. Until the next day.
Game Day Traffic: Ridiculous. Took us nearly two hours to travel two miles. We were like that guy in Office Space, being passed by elderly people with walkers. I know there's construction---there's always construction---but why is it so bad? And now fans tell me there's no place to park either. I should thank Iowa for the nice parking pass. Sounds like we'd be in Coralville without it.
Kinnick Stadium: Looks great. This was my first game since they renovated the place, and it's better than ever. The entire atmosphere in Iowa City is fantastic, except for the traffic lines.
Speaking of traffic, I thought they put in a bunch of bathrooms?! Must have been for the women because I waited 15 minutes for a urinal. It was downright claustrophobic.
Oh yeah, the Game: I picked Iowa by 11, and it ended up being 10, but it was closer than that, and closer than I expected. ISU had Iowa in trouble in the second quarter. The home crowd was all but out of it, but Drew Tate found his rhythm and led that all-important drive before the half. Iowa State then sat on the ball. Wrong message. I know the thinking was "take the 14-10 lead on the road and get to the locker room", but I think it left Iowa with all the momentum.
For similar reasons, I agree with going for it on 4th and 10. McCarney's right. It's likely Iowa would have run the clock out. ISU's defense was worn down. Remember, ISU only missed by a couple feet. Bret Meyer probably should have taken the tackler on, but he must have thought he could get it by diving. He didn't.
The better team won. And the best player on the field was, hands down, Drew Tate. As I've said before, there may be a better college football player, but none more valuable. As he goes, so goes Iowa. If Tate plays the game of his life, Iowa could upset Ohio State. If he doesn't, it won't be close.
Iowa at Illinois: This would be the perfect game to rest Tate. The Illini are horrible.
ISU at Texas: Iowa State played its best game in the Dan McCarney era last year at Texas A&M in front of 80,000+, which is encouraging, but this aint Texas A&M (try to read that last one with a Texas drawl... kind of like Will Ferrell as President Bush). Texas by 24.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Phenomenal. Written by Aaron Sorkin. This is NBC's best show since... well, Aaron Sorkin wrote the West Wing. Once he left, so did the magic. Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry have incredible chemistry and timing, both of which are needed to make Sorkin's words dance. This is the guy who wrote the incomparable "A Few Good Men". ("You can't handle the truth!"... "I have no responsibilities whatsoever"... "Is the colonel's underwear a matter of national security? ... "You don't need a patch on your arm to have honor"... "Does Aunt Ginny have a barn? Maybe we could hold the trial there. I'll sew the costumes and maybe Uncle Goober can be the judge"... "I get sick when I fly because I'm afraid of crashing into a large mountain, I don't think Dramamine'll help"... "Joanne, I'd like you to leave the room so we can talk about you behind your back")
Truly must-see TV. The grade is A.
Kidnapping: Great cast, interesting premise, 24 like pacing... too soon to tell. A B+ for the first show though.
Biggest Loser: We needed more Round Guy! I watched this for two hours and had to look for Round Guy like you look for the ghost kid in Three Men and a Baby. C for Can't watch without Round Guy.
Iowa Speedway: Other than the absolutely inexplicable decision to debut the track the weekend of the Iowa State - Iowa football game, this was a rousing success. Looks BIGTIME on TV and in person. Would have 937% more media coverage, if it hadn't been the week of Iowa's biggest sporting event, by far.
SoundOFF 500th Show Party: Don't forget, October 14th at Legends in West Des Moines. Andy will buy you a drink.
Blog feedback: Thank you for the comments.
Mike, I agree the UNLV coach let his emotions get the best of him. I talked to some colleagues in Vegas, and they say he's a good guy. He just knew what a benchmark win it would be for his program. And as we saw this past weekend at Oregon, officiating is terrible at times. communication must improve. That was the big problem in Ames.
Stouts, hope to see you at Legends.
As for the squabble about whether I'm a Cyclone or Hawkeye fan, the truth is my life is better when they both do well. I'm human, so I usually end up rooting one way or another when they play each other, despite my best intentions. Andy always says I root for whatever will make the best story, and he's probably right. However, there are exceptions. This past Saturday I found myself pulling for Iowa because a couple of Cyclone fans made rude comments to me for picking Iowa to win. The score was 14-3 ISU when they let me have it. I just smiled, but it's a long game. Don't boast too soon.
Similarly, in 2002, I picked ISU to win at Iowa. The score was, I think, 24-7 at the half. I had drunk, angry Hawkeye fans cursing at me with gems like "Look at the scoreboard Murph! Why don't you f------ choke on that, d-------". I brushed it off, Andy could not. As ISU came back to win, 36-31, Andy recorded video of all the people who had yelled obscenities at me for picking against their team (and believe it or not, there were several). Andy showed some of those faces on his poignant What's Bugging Andy about taking things personally and your team too seriously. It was a protective and thoughtful thing for Andy to do, although I did feel sorry for some of the folks who just let their emotions---and beer---get the best of them.
Bob's done building the soccer field. Gotta go...