Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm John Basedow?! ...and other ramblings.

Are you kidding me?! I'm going to have to be fitness celebrity John Basedow for Halloween SoundOFF?? What exactly is a "fitness celebrity"? (If you somehow don't know who John Basedow is, watch ESPN on Mediacom for at least 15 minutes, you'll quickly learn how to "turn your life around".) It's not too late to change the vote. There's a poll on our sports page. I suppose it's better than being Pedro again.

Andy won't be humiliated. His vote is leaning heavily toward Earl Hickey of "My Name Is Earl". Not only is that a funny look, that's a funny show (even if it should pay royalties to the great "Raising Arizona"). Actually, Earl looks a lot like my Senior picture. Hey, it was 1982. Everybody wanted to look like the Bandit.

Staying with TV shows, NBC is moving Friday Night Lights to a later time in hopes of saving this terrific show. I agree with Chad's comment on this blog last week that the jerky camera movements grow a little tiresome, but the show rings true---especially for those of us who were around high school football in the South, where it means way too much to many people. Monday at 9 this week. Give it a shot.

What's going on with Grey's Anatomy? The past two weeks the show has made Izzie look absolutely ridiculous. Are they trying to remind us it's only a TV show? Last week, in a completely unbelievable plot, Izzie stood outside the hospital in the same spot debating whether to go in---for 12 hours! This past week, she walked around with a crumpled up check for nearly $9 million dollars, and then she pinned it to her fridge! Yeah, that's believable. Find this woman a new storyline, or write her out of the show.

I've given up on ABC's The Nine. Just took too long to develop. I also bailed on NBC's Kidnapping. Not enough revealed each week. 24 is that rare show you know won't tie everything up each week, but enough happens to make it worth your time. It's a tough act to pull off.

I'm hanging with Studio 60, but I think it helps that I work in television. My parents and girlfriend both tried the show, but didn't love it. I love Aaron Sorkin's writing, so I'm hoping he can steer this show back toward the pilot's tone---or his early West Wing years.

My older kids love "Heroes". Against all odds, this has become NBC's biggest new hit (next to Sunday Night Football).

Enough TV, let's do a few quick hitters on sports:

World Series: If you're a Cardinals fan, or Tigers fan, you probably love it. For the rest of us, it's been a dud. No real drama, other than Kenny Rogers got caught cheating but won't admit it. Feels like the Cardinals will win in six, and that will make Andy Fales unbearable for Cubs fans like me.

Cyclone fans calling for a new football coach: Pointless right now. The team has four games left and Jamie Pollard says he won't evaluate anything until after the season. I believe him. I also believe Pollard thinks Dan McCarney is the right man for the job. Pollard knows his history and appreciates what Mac's accomplished at Iowa State. However, Pollard needs to raise $130 million dollars. If too many fans give up on McCarney, Pollard will have to make a change. Iowa State needs to sell more football season tickets, not fewer, and to do that fans need hope. Nothing sells like hope. ISU has missed too many opportunities for that elusive "next step" in the Mac era, and hope is dying fast.

Hawkeye fans want Christensen: It's natural for fans to want the chance of greatness, which they know does not exist with Jason Manson (at least not at quarterback). Manson has looked awful in his two meaningful games, although to be fair, they were both tough road environments (at Iowa State and at Syracuse). I'm with the fans on this one though. Start Christensen. Let him build his confidence against overmatched Northern Illinois.

Tate's Surgery: We broke this story, but could have done better. We had the timeline wrong on Tate's surgery. Two sources in the Iowa football program told us Drew was having surgery on his left thumb Monday. Unbeknownst to them, University Hospitals was unable to fit Tate in until early Tuesday morning. I apologize for the error. We expect 100% accuracy and should have pressed our sources more. I also should have altered the wording to "Drew Tate is scheduled to have surgery". Fortunately, a third source gave us exact details of the surgery several hours before Iowa released or confirmed any information. This allowed us to get to the point we expect all the time: 100% accurate.

Ferentz fired up: I love it that Kirk stands up for his players. Isn't that what you'd want if you played for him? Or had a son playing for him? This week's news conference was the most interesting of the year. In other words, not boring. And I hope you saw Shawn Terrell's coverage Tuesday night at 10. He did a great job of showing Ferentz Unplugged.

Drake's Dollar Night: Okay, so next to nobody showed up. Still, it was a great idea. Dollar admission, dollar hot dogs, dollar popcorn. The weather was miserable, and so was the game. San Diego steamrolled the Dogs, but this idea should return (the dollars, not the steamrolling). It's a great stadium, nice family atmosphere and pretty good football. More should try it. (Full disclosure: we planned to go Saturday night, walked outside, went right back in and watched a movie. $1 is not a bargain when it's cold and wet.)

Some more things I really like about Des Moines:

Tasty Tacos: Alan suggested this one. Alan's right. These are the best tacos in the world. That's right, the world. I don't even mind standing in a long line. Delicious.

Bauder's Soda Fountain: Also a viewer suggestion, also right on the money. I go for the grilled cheese and vanilla shake. Like going back in time. You expect Marty McFly and Biff to pull up on the stools next to you.

Ed Wilson: I love Ed. People always ask me what Ed's like. He's just like he is on TV: funny, bright and energetic. What doesn't come completely across is how nice he is. Ed would do anything to help a friend, and in my case did. I'll never forget how great Ed and his wife, Angela, were to me during the rough period when I suddenly found myself as a single dad.

Erin & John: I look forward to seeing these two every day. John is the kind of person we'd all like to be. I call him the "king of credibility". He's much more intelligent than I is, but he never makes me feel that way. Also a big sports fan. Gotta like that (and yes, John, I know "gotta" is not a word).

Erin is smart, personable and real. I think the reason so many viewers feel like they know her is she doesn't "act" on TV, she's herself. Fortunately for her, it's hard not to like the real her.

I know, I know... "does he really like the people he works with that much?" Yes. I hope you're just as blessed as I am.

I've been on vacation a few days here and there the past few weeks. I'm prepping for a long run in November, trying to spend as much time as I can with the kids.

Thank you for all the feedback. I always read it, and appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Things I like, in some cases love, about Des Moines...

...but first, some more "SoundOFF 500" party pics arrived:

And now to some of the things I enjoy about Des Moines...

Varsity Theater: Locally owned, in the heart of the Drake campus, and often showing movies not mainstream enough to play in the cookie-cutter multiplexes. The best part is a visit to the concession stand. It's downright jarring to find pop and candy less than half what you pay at Century Theatres or Wynnsong. The prices are actually reasonable. Imagine that. Plus, some selections of stuff you remember from your childhood but don't find anywhere else (Snowcaps!). Bonus points to owner Bev Mahon (a man), for always telling me, "You look taller in person". He's the only one.

Cooney's Tavern: Not quite like being in Ireland, but the next best thing in Des Moines. The bar feels authentic, albeit a little nicer than the actual pubs in Ireland. I'm not quite a "regular"---can't be with kids---but I've been enough that when I found myself surprisingly low on cash---did I mention kids?---owner Brian Cooney told me to get him next time. I brought the money the next day. I hate owing anyone money.

The Irish Shoppe: This place in Valley Junction has some cool stuff, and the place gets bonus points for helping out my parents. They went in and said they wanted to buy a poster for their son that was hanging in the Cooney's bathroom. They weren't sure what it was, but it had something to do with old, dead Irish guys. The nice lady at the Shoppe went over to Cooney's and checked out the poster and special ordered it for mom & dad. It hangs above the computer as I type. It's called "Irish Writers" and shows pictures of 12 of the best along with a few lines of their famous works. For example, Samuel Beckett, "Perhaps my best years are gone... but I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now." Or George Bernard Shaw, "An Irishman's heart is nothing but his imagination." I like that. (Beckett to the left, Shaw below. Tell me there aren't stories in those faces.)

The Des Moines Playhouse. Love this place. Cool building, great entertainment, nice people. I always enjoy the way kids respond to live theater when they're used to movies and television. My two little ones, Cade 5 and Colin 2, loved the recent Stinky Cheese Man more than any movie they saw this year. The Graduate is up next (that's nothing like Stinky Cheese Man).

(Hey, look at that! I'm finally putting pictures on my blog. I'm no Erin Kiernan, but it's a start!)

95KGGO Arena: I can't add much to what Andy said in one of his classic What's Bugging Andys. I'm not sure I agree this is the best place to see a game in the state of Iowa, but it's definitely top five. When you go watch the Des Moines Bucs, you are right on top of the ice, and the fans are knowledgeable, and really into it (some, perhaps, have a little too much spirit because they've had a little too much spirits). Colin, who you may recall from a previous paragraph is two years old, starts chanting "Let's Go Bucs!" every time we drive by the Arena.

KXNO: I lived here a long time with no sports radio, really enjoyed the days when we had three choices for stations, and now listen frequently to the last one standing: KXNO.

Des Moines Register Sports: I hear a lot of grumbling about how the Register isn't what it was in the good ol' days, and perhaps that true, but it's still part of daily breakfast for me. I haven't changed since I was a kid. Pour a bowl of cereal, prop the sports section between the bowl and the jug of milk, eat. Repeat. I do miss the Big Peach though.

The Funny Bone: I've really missed the Funny Bone since it closed out the old location a few weeks back. Fortunately, the new one opens soon in West Des Moines and not only will it be a much nicer location and venue, it will be SMOKE FREE! Can't wait. A good laugh is good for the soul.

Newton Drive-In: Closed for the winter, but always a fun night with the family. Feels like stepping back in time. Speaking of that...

Living History Farms: The old fashioned Family Halloween Nights is coming up, and it's a can't miss for us. We did feel a little silly the first time we went because two of the kids had on really scary Friday the 13th type costumes. This isn't that kind of Halloween. We went home and changed. (Full disclosure: Channel 13 is a sponsor of this) . How 'bout another logo... I'm on a roll:

Cityview: It's always good for a city to have an alternative newspaper that doesn't answer to a corporate conglomerate. Sure, some of what passes for "news" is just mean-spirited gossip planted by sources with their own hidden agendas, and often flat our wrong, but Cityview gets a lot right too. The lengthy investigative stories showcase young journalists working really hard.

I often pick up a copy of Cityview. Heck, they're everywhere. You can't swing a dead cat without a hitting a Cityview stand. I especially enjoy the paper's food, movie and TV reviews. I think they're mostly right on target, although I disagree on Friday Night Lights. It's a great show, but give the Cityview critic credit, apparently no one's watching but me. Save this show! Oh yeah, and the "Think You're Funny" picture caption contest. Classic.

More good things about Des Moines next time... Please let me know some of your favorites too.

Monday, October 16, 2006

SoundOFF Party.

Now that was a party!

As you may have heard, or read, we celebrated 500 SoundOFF shows Saturday night at Legends. We had a lot of fun. Maybe too much fun.

I don't think I've ever even tailgated for 11 hours, but that's how long we kept it going. Started at 4, finished at 3. We were fortunate to have a designated driver and a real cool custom conversion van from Jim Jensen's Crescent Chevrolet. For reasons known only to him, salesman Brody volunteered to drive us around (Andy, Round Guy, my mom, Jenny and me) and never have a drink. He's our new favorite guy. Thank you, Brody. And a big shout out to Amanda. She did all the work.

SoundOFF receives thousands of E-mails a year, but many names become familiar. We also have regular callers. It was really fun to see the faces behind the words. For instance, Shane in Marshalltown is a writing pro. He's a big Hawkeye fan, and writes some of the cleverest stuff in Iowa, only he's not paid. Andy and I both pictured him far different than he is. Then again, he said the same about us, and he's watched us on TV for years (with me, people usually say I look younger, better, and shorter than they expected. This is not necessarily good news when you make your living on TV, but I take it as a compliment)

I think the Hawkeyes stunning loss at Indiana kept a few Hawk fans from the party, ISU fans expected the Cyclones to lose, but we were thrilled with the hundreds of people who did show during the 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. stretch. We did meet a viewer who looks just like Jeff Horner meets Jim Carrey in the Cable Guy, another twin for Woody Harrelson in Natural Born Killers, and it was good to finally meet Madonna. I was surprised she doesn't drink.

As the night progressed, Andy and I noticed more and more TV people showing up. We're like vampires apparently. You can see pictures of Erin, Courtney, Jeriann, Meisenheimer, Round Guy, Heather, and some of our friends from KCCI, on Erin's blog. What you won't see is a picture of Andy. He's notoriously camera shy. It was nice to have our co-workers and colleagues stop by. Also making the rounds: The Cotman, Shawn Terrell, Jon Cahill, Jannay Towne, Todd Bailey, B.Ross, Jon Miller and Bryce Miller---lot of Millers. Most of them were Lite, and empty.

Anyway, it was fun. Big thank you to Jenny for having the patience of Job. I did a lot of talking and very little of it was with her. Understanding goes a long way in a relationship.

I appreciate all your nice comments the past week. Not sure if I'll make it to 600, but someone will. I hope to be at that party too.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Celebrating 10 years of SoundOFF.

One of my loyal readers has threatened me with bodily harm if I don't write about something other than Iowa and Iowa State football, so... here's to my health!

SoundOFF 500: As first revealed here, we're throwing a party Saturday night (10/14) at the original Legends in West Des Moines (60th & Ashworth); you're invited. We're giving away a lot of cool door prizes including the limited edition SoundOFF T-shirts from Tailgate. We've had to assign a security guard to these at work, but so far not one has walked away. Admission to the party is free. It runs from 6 to close. Arrive early for a good seat. Chris from Green Bay will not be attending.

Ten years ago, when SoundOFF started, it seemed like such a novel idea. The hosts giving strong opinions and viewers having a voice. There were skeptics from the start but the ratings (number of people watching) far exceeded all expectations right away and the audience is now bigger than ever. I sincerely thank you for that (I'm hoping you watch. If not, just pass that "thank you" to someone who does). SoundOFF seemed somewhat unique a decade ago, but now ESPN, FSN, Mediacom and many others do similar shows.

The biggest change we ever had was Andy Fales taking over as co-host for Round Guy. Andy used to work behind the scenes on SoundOFF, but all night long he would complain about whatever was bugging him. He never smiled, but he sure made us laugh. That's how "What's Bugging Andy?" came about. I just said to Andy, "Save some of your material for the viewers. We're putting you on each week for two minutes. We'll call it 'What's Bugging Andy?'." It was a huge hit from the start. Some loved it, some hated it, but no one ignored it. The reason What's Bugging Andy is so good, I think, is that Andy's not trying to be anyone else. He might dial it up a little, but that's him. If you've been around Andy, you know that's him. I've been accused of overdoing my laugh, providing Andy with his own Ed McMahon, but I'm not acting. Some of what he says is flat out hilarious. He's also poignant and insightful at times. I don't agree with all of what comes out of Andy's piehole, but we're lucky to have someone in this market telling it like he thinks it is. It's appointment television for a lot of people.

After Andy hit big, my boss, Mark Ginther, decided we needed to make Andy the co-host. Good for Andy, good for the station, and good for the viewers. But what would Round Guy think after playing a big part in a successful show for seven years? I dreaded having to tell him because he's always been so good to me and everyone else at channel 13, not to mention the fact he had to put up with countless callers over the years coming up with schoolyard bully gems like, "Hey Round Guy, you're fat". The news of no longer hosting each week disappointed RG, but he understood, and he handled it with grace and class. In fact, Round Guy (Steve Pilchen) went out of his way to make Andy feel okay about it, as well as the audience. I'm indebted to him for that. I'll make sure he drinks and eats from Saturday night. I'm lucky to have Steve as a friend.

Looking back over 500 shows, I think the comment I hear most frequently from people is, "You do a good job of putting up with those crazy callers"... or some variation. Yes, many of the calls are wacky, but that's part of what makes for a good show. And those people are our friends, neighbors and rivals. Most of our viewers are intelligent, but if they call in, they're quickly forgotten. It's the nutjobs we all remember most. Just like Ed gets the forecast right most of the time, but we dwell on the misses.

SoundOFF is such a blessing for our sports department because we have immediate feedback whenever anything happens. Iowa State wasn't even off the field Saturday night when e-mails started coming in about the need for a coaching change. We're well aware that people who are angry, disillusioned or disappointed are more likely to write or call than people feeling blissful, and we take that into account. For instance, ISU loses to Nebraska while Iowa pummels Purdue and the Cyclone e-mailers and callers outnumber the Hawkeyes 10 to 1.

We have a big microphone on that show, and I've always tried to use it fairly. I never shy away from giving my opinion, but I try to never make it personal. Sometimes we realize we're being critical of people who try very hard and care very much about what they're doing. If you lose the SoundOFF audience, you're in trouble.

We've had many guests and substitute co-hosts over the years. Here are my impressions on a few:

Tim Dwight: One of my favorite guys. Never gives you the tired answers or dull opinions. TD will tell you just what he thinks. He's an adrenaline junkie who's trying to squeeze every ounce of fun out of life. We should all be more like that. Great guy. Loves the movie Zoolander. He can quote every line and hit you with Blue Steel or Magnum.

Kirk Ferentz: Called in every time we've ever asked. Just as willing to do it during the great seasons as he was when losing in the early years. Kirk is the real deal. I've written about my high opinion of him many times, so I won't get carried away, but Hawkeye fans should hope this guy never leaves, and not just because he's winning.

Governor Tom Vilsack: Loves sports. He doesn't come by to campaign, he just really wants to talk about his Steelers (and woeful Pirates). He's also up for poking fun at himself, and makes no demands or requests whatsoever. Smarter people than me can decide what kind of Governor he's been, but as a regular guy talking sports, I really like him.

Jamie Pollard: Down to earth, and very smart. He's the kind of guy you immediately feel comfortable talking to, something that was always a problem for his predecessor Bruce Van De Velde.

Pollard has created endless excitement and buzz since he took over at ISU. I'm not sure he'll find all the money he needs in Cyclone country, but I think he's right to Think Big.

When he was on SoundOFF, I got overly protective and talked too much. Anytime a caller said something slightly rude or asked a sarcastic question, I jumped in. Pollard can speak for himself; he doesn't need me to do it. My heart was in the right place. I always want our guests to have a pleasant experience, but people watching wanted to hear more from him, and less from me.

Kurt Warner: Never felt like I knew Kurt very well, though he was always friendly. He went from asking to come by to talk about his try-out with the Packers to being unreachable after winning back-to-back MVPs, but that was just the fame comet Kurt was on. I doubt his people ever even let him know little ol' Des Moines was trying to get in touch. To this day, anytime we see Kurt, he's always nice.

Reggie Roby: What a good guy. I was so sad when he died young. Reggie brought us Cookies that he was selling nationwide, and Round Guy ate up all the profits. I used to love watching Reggie punt. He somehow had his kicking foot way over his head, but the other foot would stay grounded. And man could he boom a football. Wore a wristwatch in games.

Mike Nurse: Came in right after ISU lost to Michigan State in the Elite 8. Nurse was always a good interview and he didn't disappoint on SoundOFF. Funny stories all night. Nurse said everyone knew whoever won that game with MSU would win the national championship. He was right.

Steve Deace: Filled in many times. Steve is so smart it's hard to believe he didn't finish college. He has a memory for details like Jim Zabel. I often disagree with Steve, especially on religion and politics, but I always appreciate and respect a person not afraid to give his opinions. Steve doesn't fake it. He speaks from the heart. He's not ranting for ratings. Well, he is, but only because he believes what he's saying.

Marc Hansen: Marc wrote a nice column about his appearance on SoundOFF. It's been years, but I remember he couldn't believe how people were more concerned with his appearance than what he actually said. Welcome to television. Talk to Erin Kiernan about some of the e-mails and calls she receives. "Comb your hair" was one of the comments Marc heard on the air. "You look like you need sleep" was another. What can I say, it's a shallow, cosmetic business at times, but anyone who looks like Luke Skywalker shouldn't worry about that.

I think Sean Keeler is really coming into his own at the Register. I always read Sean; he's doing a good job, but like many people, I miss Marc's sports columns. He was appointment reading for all Iowa and Iowa State sports fans. And Marc said he always got the same thing I do: Cyclone fans accused him of being a Hawkeye and Hawkeye fans accused him of being a Cyclone.

Marty Tirrell: Very entertaining. I always stop what I'm doing to listen to Marty (and Miller) because you just never know what Marty will say next. He asked if he could be on SoundOFF before he moved back East, and he did not disappoint. Some of his takes were off, "Kirk Ferentz will never be accepted at Iowa because he won't escape Bob Stoops' shadow", but some were dead-on, "Kurt Warner is like a tire with no tread left. He's worn out and won't come close to another MVP". (Warner has since been benched by three teams). And don't let this out, but Marty is actually a nice guy. Not mean at all. He just knows listeners don't like fence-sitting wafflers.

Dan McCarney: Called in when we asked him to after ISU finally beat Iowa. He agreed even though "The Dan McCarney Show" was on a different channel at the same time. For that reason, I've tried not to put him in that tough spot again. McCarney is well aware of what's being said on SoundOFF---it's like a townhall meeting, so it makes sense to keep up on it.

I like Dan and think he's done more for ISU football than any person ever. However, all those players who would run through a wall for him and all those assistant coaches who want to pay him back for his loyalty better step up and stop underachieving or Dan's in trouble. True, the team is 3-3, just what I expected, but the Cyclones are 3 plays from 0-6 and they've looked sloppy, predictable and, at times, overmatched. At ISU, you must overachieve. So far, these Cyclones look like underachievers. Not good with record crowds watching. And no more silly spin (Last week's "One of only 54 teams undefeated at home", etc. Needed that ten years ago. Now many fans find it insulting.)

Sorry. This is supposed to be about SoundOFF.

Ross Verba: Funny guy with a lot of good stories from Green Bay. I thought Ross would be a Hall-of-Famer. Didn't work out that way, but he could be good on TV if he ever wanted to try something else.

Chris from Green Bay: We don't hear from Chris much anymore, but boy could he rile people up. He actually only called every month or so, but his putdowns were so memorable, it seemed everybody thought he was on all the time. I'd constanly hear comments like, "How come Chris can get in every week when I've been calling for months and all I ever hear is a busy signal?". Here's a secret: we eventually gave Chris a backdoor number. When your calls are that lively, you need to be heard.

I knew Chris when he lived in Des Moines. He's actually one of the most thoughtful people I know, but he always wanted to be a WWF villain, and SoundOFF gave him a chance to come close. Man, was he good. Or bad. Depending how you look at it.

Holden Kushner: Do you remember this guy? He was on local sports radio. Very talented. Only co-hosted once but he was the favorite of our crew. Why? Because they get really tired of lame calls, and Holden said things like, "That's a really stupid call. What are you, an idiot?". He left Des Moines and I always expect to hear him on a national show.

Rob Borsellino: He also asked to come on the show before he and his family moved to Florida. Rob told me his sons would think it's pretty cool if he were on SoundOFF. Rob told great stories about growing up in New York City and living for the Yankees.

I miss Rob. And I know I'm not alone.

Jon Miller: Multi-media star of the 21st century. Jon's doing a little bit of everything and doing it all well. The Des Moines market improved when Jon came to town.

Jim Zabel: Z wore a headset so he'd feel more comfortable. Actually, it was a gag we set up, but Jim will go along with anything for a laugh. Jim is a giant in broadcasting. I mean that. Poke fun at his Hawkeye homerism and self-promoting tendencies all you want, he's interviewed more legends than anyone in Iowa sports history (and worked alongside Ronald Reagan). Z has also taught me a lot about energy. He just loves working and he never takes it personally when someone yells a putdown at him. He's just glad they're paying attention. I've also seen him pick up the check! Yes, I'm the one.

That's a long enough trip down memory lane. I doubt many people make it this far, but I got on a roll. Lot of memories in ten years.

I'm humbled by the hundreds of people who come up to me each year and tell me they love SoundOFF. My favorite comment that I get a lot is from people who say they don't really like sports, but they're hooked on the show. I can think of no bigger compliment. Thank you.

And a special thank you to all the people behind the scenes who work just as hard as Andy and I, but get none of the credit. B.Ross, Chad, Jen, J.T., Angry Intern,---to name a few---Thank you.

Hope to see you Saturday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Murph: ISU's Escape, Iowa Fans Not Enough.

Thoughts on the weekend that was...

ISU escapes: Wow. I didn't think it was possible the most talked about college football game of the weekend would end up being UNI at Iowa State. That's what happens when the Cyclones have to pull a Houdini to beat a 1AA team in front of a record crowd. Cyclones fans felt relief, not jubilation, and the next night on SoundOFF, they sounded like ISU had lost, not won.

First of all, props to UNI. As I've said many times, the Panthers have one of the best 1AA programs in America. But even a great 1AA team should NEVER beat a good division 1 team. Now we know: Iowa State isn't good. Not yet. 1AA teams, like UNI, have a much smaller budget, inferior facilities, far fewer scholarships, and smaller, slower players; that's not a knock on UNI, it's just reality. Cyclone fans had flashbacks to the 90s, and there's no doubt they thought the days of sweating the Panthers were over.

Nancy Clark's column: The Des Moines Register writer basically said if Iowa State had lost, Dan McCarney would soon need a new job. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but I respect Nancy for having an opinion and getting it out there. She might be right too. The record crowd proves Jamie Pollard and his staff can get people in the seats, but if Cyclone Nation loses faith in the football program, all the plans requiring big dollars die on the vine. Pollard can't have that. And I can promise you, a loss to UNI would have caused a full-scale Cyclone meltdown. It nearly did anyway, and ISU won.

Iowa fans: Take a bow. That was an impressive weekend of showing just how much Hawkeye football means to tens of thousands in our state. ESPN's College Football Gameday has never seen anything like the reception Hawk fans provided.

As I watched the game on ABC, I got goosebumps. The gold clad fans provided an astonishing atmosphere for a college football game. When the blimp took one of those overhead shots, it made Iowa City look like the center of the college football universe. And then they played...

The fans couldn't have done more. They provided Iowa with a great home field advantage, but that's only worth so much... maybe a touchdown. Sometimes it comes down to the team with better players, and Ohio State was dominant. If Iowa played perfectly, which it didn't, and Ohio State made a bunch of mistakes, which it didn't, the Hawks could win. Otherwise, it's a mismatch.

I think we learned both the Hawks and Clones aren't as good as we hoped. But the fans, now that's another story...