Monday, December 31, 2007

Scattershot Thoughts (including Andy's return)

I love Christmas. There's nothing better than Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with a house full of kids. I loved every minute...

Well, except for the several hours we played Electronic Monopoly. Some games can't be improved by technology. This is one. Running a credit card through an ATM at every transaction makes an already long game unbearable...

The kids didn't want to watch A Christmas Story on the TBS marathon, but got sucked in and loved it. Who doesn't "want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!"..

We all went skating at the new outdoor place in downtown Des Moines. It's a lot of fun, although they need to rethink the inside area. It's a chaotic mess with everyone trying to pay for skates, put them on, take them off, order concession, and warm up all in the same small building. Once we cleared the scrum we had a great time, and if Murphy fell down in front of you, I apologize...

2007 Iowa Sports Story of the Year: Zach Johnson wins the Masters. I agree with our on-line voters. If Shawn Johnson wins Olympic All-Around gold, and she will, I think that's the no doubt story of 2008. Could something happen that would top that?...

Shawn is featured in Sports Illustrated this week in, what else, a cornfield. Is this the only way outsiders see us? Great picture though...

Great move by the NFL Network to put the Patriots quest for perfection on channels most people can actually watch. And boy did we watch. One of the highest rated programs of the year. I can't take my eyes off the Patriots when they're on. I'm not a fan, but I'm fascinated. The Moss drop, followed by the Brady to Moss touchdown bomb was the most electrifying sequence of the season to me. Great theater. The Patriots' coaching staff was caught cheating this season, so the Pats aren't perfect, even if their record is...

Bowl game I'm most looking forward to? Florida vs. Michigan in the Cap One. Rumor is Tebow will play without pads...

Say what you want about Jose Canseco, but the guy was right about a lot. He also played a big part in getting baseball cleaned up...

The Bourne Ultimatum is a great action movie, and the rare third movie in a trilogy that lives up to its predecessors. I don't know how Matt Damon does it, but his face seems to change when he plays Jason Bourne. He's terrific...

Balls of Fury was as silly as I thought it would be. At least I waited for the rental. The title still appeals to my juvenile sense of humor...

The Heartbreak Kid starring Ben Stiller started with a lot of laugh out loud moments. However, the final hour was not funny and Stiller plays a guy impossible to root for. Rent this one only if you love the Farrelly Brothers (There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber) even when they're off their game (Stuck on You). This movie is rated R for many reasons including rough sex (someone reading this just decided to rent it)...

The Des Moines Bucs are a bad hockey team this season, but 95KGGO Arena on game night is still top notch, affordable entertainment...

Jenny and I went to Las Vegas and happened to be on the same Allegiant Air flight as the entire Iowa State basketball team. The Cyclones aren't very good yet, but they are improving, and they have a first class guy running the program in Greg McDermott. He'll get it done...

How 'bout those Bulldogs?! It's just plain good for Des Moines to see this program showing some life after decades of bad basketball. I hope it continues...

And not to bury the lead, but yes, my old partner Andy Fales is coming back to SoundOFF. Andy succeeded in Kansas City, but made the wise and mature decision to follow his heart and return where he's happiest: Des Moines. Life is too short for regrets. Andy will co-host SoundOFF and tell you what's bugging him beginning January 6th. You'll also find his contributions all over our newscasts as he delivers his unique special assignments. Andy is a one-of-a-kind talent, and we're lucky to have him...

I also want to take this time to again thank Heather Burnside for doing such a good job under tough circumstances. Following Andy was not easy. Heather never tried to be anyone but herself. Heather's knowledge of sports was apparent, her sharp wit on display, and her enthusiasm for the opportunity contagious. Heather is also a fan of Andy. She steps aside with no hard feelings and has graciously agreed to make contributions to the show and fill in as guest host. Thank you, Heather...

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Scattershot Thoughts

Dick Vitale out until February with a blown vocal cord? I'm sorry it happened, but it was only a matter of time. That man yells more than Al Pacino. Get well, Dick. You do a lot for college basketball...

I now understand why Elvis shot his television. Have you seen the Bud Light "Dude!" commercials? I saw the same ad 43 times during one NFL game. Dude...

The Iowa Hawkeyes need game-breakers, not law-breakers. Unfortunately, Dominique Douglas was both. He's out of second chances. I'm confident Kirk Ferentz strongly encouraged Douglas to transfer...

There's a cool new local Web site with potential, It allows you to "get all your Iowa sports news in one place". Great idea...

Green Bay Packer fans, cheer for Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo to take their relationship up a notch, or at the very least, stay together. I've seen that look of a man with his mind on other things. The thumb might hurt, but the heart aches...

The Mitchell Report forces all of us to be judge and jury. As more and more guys admit their guilt (always "one time" and "for an injury"), it looks worse for Roger Clemens. The timeline for his stats and alleged steroid use is damning. My verdict, with no proof, is guilty. I see Clemens and Bonds as the faces of the steroid era, but there is a far more detailed trail following Bonds (see "Game of Shadows")...

Dan Fogelberg died. That's sad. Fogelberg had that reputation for being overly sensitive and sentimental, but I always found myself singing along to those sappy songs, like the ridiculous "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". Who takes his mantel? I nominate James Taylor... (Update on 12/20: one of our smart readers points out it was Gordon Lightfoot who sang about a shipwreck, not Fogelberg. Remember Gordon and that porn 'stache? "Leader of the Band" will have to do for our Fogelberg example.)

Do you have a favorite Christmas song? Mine's "Little Drummer Boy" as sung by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. How did that ever work?! I also like Bob Seger's version. Band-Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" never grows old either, thought it should since it's on every few minutes...

Favorite Christmas movie? I want to say "Christmas Story" or "It's a Wonderful Life", those seem like cool answers, and I do love those movies, but the truth is "Christmas Vacation". I laugh out loud every time.

Cousin Eddie: "He's(Snotz) got a little bit of Mississippi leg hound in em... He'll grab a hold of your leg and go to town. Word to the wise if he does grab a hold, just let him finish."
Clark W. Grizwald : "Thanks Eddie... I'll remember that."

Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Scattershot Thoughts

Les Miles saying LSU hasn't "lost in regulation" is true, but pointless. The Tigers lost twice in overtime; you could argue that's even worse...

The Atlanta Falcons probably quit on Bobby Petrino, but he looks far worse after definitely quitting on them, leaving a note, and sneaking off without facing his players like a man. Arkansas must not care what kind of man it hires...

Staying with the Falcons, what kind of knucklehead scores a touchdown and breaks out a "Free Mike Vick" T-shirt? Vick isn't falsely accused, wrongly jailed, or the victim of bad luck. He's in prison paying a price because of his own unthinkable crimes. Free Mike Vick?! Why? Vick's lost his job, reputation, and freedom---not to mention millions---so I think he's paying a sufficient price, but let's not make him the victim...

Michigan hired Rick Rodriguez, not Kirk Ferentz. There was never a minute I thought Ferentz would be anywhere but Iowa next season. However, I do think Michigan had legitimate interest...

Stud quarterback recruit John Wienke de-commits from Michigan and commits to Iowa? In the middle of all these "Michigan interested in Ferentz" rumors? You can't make this stuff up. It's good Iowa will open up the quarterback competition. Better play is a must next season, whether it's Jake or someone else...

As I was writing this, an e-mail just came in from Tim in Des Moines. Tim's a Hawkeye fan and in his letter, he was writing smack about Drake! That's the best sign yet the Bulldogs are for real. Usually everyone treats them like a favorite Uncle or lovable mascot. One win in Iowa City and the Dogs aren't so cute anymore...

Rick Brown's Courtside Seat in Tuesday's Des Moines Register is a must-read for me. Good stuff...

Can't believe the Dolphins blew their perfect season. And how 'bout those Ravens. Were it not for a timeout, the Ravens may have wrecked two seasons with the potential numbers 16 and 0...

Lucca Staiger must really appreciate all the love and support he's getting in Ames. He's staying, even after the NCAA's idiotic ruling that he loses a year of eligibility because someone else didn't follow the rules...

Props to the Cedar Rapids Gazette for this eye-opening nugget: The Cyclone women's basketball team is outdrawing the Hawkeye men...

If I see that Hyundai "Duh" commercial one more time, I'm going to punch the television...

Who you got in the Clash of the Choirs?....

Went to the Nova---home of the movie ticket, pop and popcorn for $6---to see Alvin and the Chipmunks. Apparently everyone in Des Moines had the same idea. We zipped across town and made it to Cobblestone, which was much less of a mob scene. Here's the shocker, I enjoyed Alvin. The kids loved it, no surprise, but Jenny and I liked it too. Big surprise. A- for kids. B- for adults...

Just saw Murderball on DVD. If you haven't rented this yet, give it a shot. It's a fascinating documentary on quad rugby. It's educational, but that makes it sound boring. It's not. You'll be on the edge of your seat at the Olympics...

Rescue Dawn is another winner on DVD. Christian Bale amazes, as usual, and the usually funny Steve Zahn proves he can play it straight. It's a true story of a POW escape during the Vietnam War...

This writer's strike is going to stink. Life and House were turning it up a notch, and Friday Night Lights found its feet after an early season stumble. At least we have American Gladiators...

Sorry 48 hours took 100. That Mitchell Report turned my world upside down. To answer a few questions on the report:

-Yes, I believe most, if not all, in the report cheated and/or used illegal performance enhancers.
-Especially Roger Clemens
-I'm surprised names were named based primarily on hearsay, but I still believe it
-I think it was the tip of the iceberg

Thank you for stopping by (San Diego)...

Monday, December 10, 2007


I receive hundreds of e-mails a week from viewers, and I love it. (Well, most of the time.) SoundOFF invites opinions, and I'm never without, including many about our station, newscasts, and me personally.

Here are a few recent ones I'll share:

After watching the first half of the show tonight all that you seemed to talk about was the good side of Iowa. No mention of Iowa State winning the Cy-Hawk Championship or how they beat Iowa. It seems like WHO stands for World Hawkeye Organization
Chad, Ankeny

Actually we did mention Iowa State dominating the Cy-Hawk series this year, but I wanted to show this one just because WHO, World Hawkeye Organization, always makes me laugh.

Here's another one:

You guys at whotv need to quit acting like you remotely care about the Cyclone nation--it's always been obviously that whotv is Black and Gold. Stop embarrassing us ISU grads with your silly Cyclone daily report on the 6 o'clock news that every time predicts ISU loosing. What kind of support is that? You guys need to just stick with predicting the Squakeyes loosing season. Keith you also need to take better acting classes, and just stick with ranting and rumbling about your true blood of Black and Gold. You make me sick whotv.

What? A much better writer sent this one last week:

Speaking of great people, how about Kirk Ferentz....Highest paid coach in the conference, 6-7, 6-6, 17 arrests, former player dealing cocaine in Iowa City, son lives in free housing, sexual assault about to explode = Michigan offer. Amazing, what's next, Lickliter to the Lakers? I haven't seen a guy control the media like this since Tim Floyd was writing for the Register. I know you think this is sour grapes, but why would I want Ferentz to you think there is a chance that Iowa, which is a much better job, would ever hire a coach that would lose 6 of 9 to ISU? They may even hire a great coach, like McCarney. By the way, McCarney's last two seasons = 13 losses and fired. Ferentz last two seasons, 13 losses and Michigan candidate. You can't make this stuff up. Brad Z./Ames

Wow. Brad brings it, and scores a few points.

Shane from Marshalltown has many random thoughts including:

Ok, let's figure this out so far. UNI beats Iowa State, Iowa beats UNI, Drake beats Iowa State and Iowa State beats Iowa...if the train leaves Chicago at 5:00am and travels west at 55mph and another train leaves Denver at 3:00am and travels east at....ah crap, what the hell was I talking about???

Did you guys see the eclipse this past week??? Oh wait, that was Barry Bonds getting out of his car to go into the court house...I also love the standard issue lawyer statement, "We are eager to prove "insert name here"'s innocence!" Translation: We cannot wait to plea bargain down!

Hard to believe, but it's been about 16 years since Tom Harkin was portrayed as a goofball for suggesting that if everyone switched to energy efficient lightbulbs, we'd all be better off in the long run, while running for the Democratic presidential nomination...yeah, what a goofball...

At what point did "let millions of illegal immigrants in and millions of jobs out" become a good idea for our country??? Just wondering...

When NBC got "Football Night In America" I thought "COOL!!" But now we're in our 2nd season of SoundOFF starting at 11:15 and lasting 20 minutes and it's just not cool anymore...Thanks NBC!!!

I'd like to thank Iowa and Iowa State's football and basketball teams for rekindling everyone's love of college wrestling...

To everyone who complains about not having the NFL Network, if you've ever heard Bryant Gumbel do a game, you'd realize you're not missing much...

Ryan in Clive wrote this after Hawkeye basketball player Dan Bohall was arrested for public intox:

While I always take pleasure in Hawkeye arrests, you can't call the cops on a guy who's passed out in the bathroom. You write on him, TP him, etc. but you don't call the cops. That's just lame.

Never a dull day. Keep them coming:

I'll be back with some scatterthoughts in the next 48 hours.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Scattershot thoughts:

-Bad news for Iowa State football: Bo Pelini can't be worse than Bill Callahan. You really have to work at being mediocre with all the advantages that program has in Lincoln.

-I really like what I see from UNI's Mark Farley. He choked up when talking about the fan support, and feeling like he let those fans down. He didn't. UNI gave us something to feel good about this football season.

-I think Michigan had real interest in Kirk Ferentz, but we'll never know what really happened. One thing is certain: people in other places appreciate what Ferentz has done at Iowa more than some people who live right here. It's not an easy place to win big.

-Among the big-name coaches who went 6-6 this year: Spurrier, Saban, Ferentz. It happens.

-Keeping Cael Sanderson at Iowa State is Jamie Pollard's best proven move to date. It's remarkable what Cael's done already. A win at #1 Minnesota? He's for real, and so are the Cyclones.

-It's going to be a long season for Todd Lickliter. He can coach, and I think he's a good man, but he just flat out doesn't have much to work with. In the end, it's mostly about talent. It's no coincidence the best basketball team in our state the past twenty years had 3 future NBA players. (2000 Iowa State Cyclones, and yes, I'm counting the author, Paul Shirley.)

-I can't belive Central played playoff football in the snow, ice, and sleet. Props to the fans who sat in the stands for that one. It had to be miserable. The outcome didn't help. Great season for the Dutch, who play for love of the game.

-The Heisman Trophy should go to the nation's outstanding college football player. Not the offensive MVP on the best team (see Jason White), or the guy with the eye-popping stats (see Andre Ware). It frustrates me no defensive player has any chance. I voted for Tim Tebow this season. I don't think he'll be the best pro, but I do think he was the best college football player this year. I have Darren McFadden a close second.

-Is the NFL MVP Tom Brady, Brett Favre, or maybe Randy Moss? Moss is the main reason Brady is playing video game football. I'd still vote for Tom. Without a great quarterback, Moss disappears.

-I'm not used to the Des Moines Register's new Web site yet. I miss the old one.

-Have you been to this place "Pump it Up"? It's like kids' paradise. The energy in that place could power the cars of an entire NBA team. Brilliant idea, well run and fun, so of course it work$.

-Saw "Enchanted". Loved most of it, though the ridiculous dragon bit at the end nearly ruined it for me. Still, I'll give it a B. Amy Adams is brilliant, and Dr. McDreamy does a nice job, though Patrick Dempsey careered out in Can't Buy Me Love. Love that silly movie.

-Did I just see Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in a commercial? Is nothing sacred?

Stay warm,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Most jobs are harder than they look. (Even this one.) I was reminded of that as my friend Chris did some carpentry around the house. Chris knocked down a wall and turned two tiny closets into one large walk-in. He made it look easy. I'm sure to Chris, it is, but I'm the guy who tries to assemble an entertainment center, and doesn't realize until the end that I have a board upside down and backwards. Point being, when people are good at what they do, they make it look effortless, even though it's not.

With this in mind, I tried to listen with an open mind as Wayne Morgan provided color commentary for the Big Ten Network (an Iowa game, no less). Morgan never said much of anything interesting in his years of news conferences and coaches shows at Iowa State, but you never know. Dan Marino: boring interview as a player, good commentator. Joe Montana: interesting player, dull commentator.

Morgan fell into the trap many analysts do, especially beginners, pointing out the obvious. (Yes, we know, a team down ten with a minute to go needs to score.) I say this with full knowledge that what John Walters and Gary Dolphin do is harder than most people realize. I worked play-by-play a little here at channel 13, and a lot at my former station. I wanted to be good, studied hard, and on a good night I was okay, but I knew I'd never excel. I don't have the right skills. So I'm always surprised how many people think it's easy. It's not, and it's nothing like doing it in your driveway.

I'll give Morgan another chance, but you'll learn much more listening to Todd Lickliter or Greg McDermott's post-game shows. These guys know basketball. Now if they could just get better players...

Some scattershots:

-"Frank TV" was a huge letdown. The guy can do spot-on impressions, but the show is not funny.

-I can't get enough of watching the Patriots. That's the best NFL team I've ever seen.

-Bill Belichick doesn't care that you think he's a jerk. In fact, he just tried to score again.

-Craig Brackins is fun to watch. If he learns to rebound and play defense, he's a potential All-American.

-It's fun watching the Hawkeye basketball team play like Norman Dale's Hoosiers. There's not much Big Ten talent on that team, but they'll win some games on smarts and effort.

-Nick Saban not only lies, he's insensitive. There's no excuse for comparing Alabama's embarrassing loss to what America went through on 9-11. None.

-Next time a Cyclone football player makes the cover of Sports Illustrated, Gene Chizik hopes it's not being burned by a Kansas Jayhawk. Nice picture though, and nice for KU--- a program "I-State" should emulate.

-Can you believe the snow already hit us hard?! It did get me out of Disney's High School Musical on Ice though.

-Speaking of Disney, they're making the boats bigger on the Small World ride because we're getting so fat, the boats are scraping bottom. Unbelievable. (Pointless note: I worked in the restaurant above Small World in high school. Yes, the song drove us crazy.)

-Is there a more foolish myth than the media driving Lute Olson out of Iowa? Lute left for warmer weather and a better shot at winning a national championship, among other reasons. There is no gentler media anywhere than Iowa.

-Congrats Oak Leafs.

-Don Cheadle is amazing in the movie Talk to Me. It's rated R for many reasons, but if you're looking for a mostly true story about the guy who changed, if not started, talk radio, this movie is worth your time.

-Happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 11, 2007

What we need for record feedback is a good Andy Fales rumor...

Good gosh. I guess what we need for record feedback is a good Andy Fales rumor. Wow. Thank you for all the input, questions, and conspiracy theories. I enjoyed them all, some more than others.

I'm glad to tell you what I think, or what I know, but nothing more. In this case, I think Andy wants to work at channel 13 again. I know my boss wants Andy here, as do I.

A local talk radio host urged Shawn Terrell and Chris Hassel to get their resumes in order, because one of them is sure to be fired if/when Andy returns, but that simply is not true. Shawn and Chris aren't going anywhere regardless---they're both doing a great job---and Heather Burnside will continue to be a part of the channel 13 sports team, as well as SoundOFF.

As for Heidi Soliday, I wish her well. Sometimes people mistakenly think we must be enemies, but Heidi has always been nice to me, and we shared many laughs and late nights covering teams on the road over the years. I also remember being really sick with a cold in Dallas and having Heidi bring me medicine. Best wishes to Heidi. Enjoy not working nights.

I remember the '72 Dolphins. I loved that team. But these guys are getting old with their yearly celebration of the final undefeated team falling. Now Don Shula wants an asterisk if the Patriots run the table?! The Patriots got caught cheating, but it has nothing to do with the way they're destroying teams. The Patriots could show teams their game plan and still win by 20. Shula is now backpeddling and doing a damage control. He should. (By the way, I think the Pats go 19-0).

I'm glad the Iowa Barnstormers are back. I'm not sure there's enough money to go around in Des Moines for the Stormers, Stars, Energy, Bucs, and all the college and high school teams, but I hope so. I love entertainment options. I used to lenjoy taking the kids to Barnstormer games. It's perfect for the short-attention span generation. It's like a video game come to life.

I do hope head coach John Gregory slipped when he said how much he loved Des Moinez (pronounce the "s"). Gregory was here for the glory years, so he knows better. He's not like those flight attendants: "We're now making our initial descent into Dess Moinez. We should be on the ground in 15 minutes."

Good move by the Barnstormers hanging on to the basic logo and look. It's classic. If arena football can be "classic".

Iowa Stars and Barnstormers look to Iowa State for a lesson in how to sell tickets. Besides shrewd marketing---which is no small factor---Jamie Pollard has the good sense to price season tickets so low, families have trouble not buying. The result: record total for football followed by a new record for men's basketball. $99 for season tickets? To quote Sean Connery in the Untouchables: "Here endeth the lesson."

Finally saw a few movies. Bee Movie is fun, and great for kids. For adults, it's nice to hear Jerry Seindfeld's voice again. This is no classic like Shrek or Toy Story, but Bee Movie earns a grade of, what else, B.

Michael Clayton is an old fashioned drama like they used to make in the 70's. It takes its time, but it all pays off. George Clooney is terrific. The man is rich, good looking, and talented. I hate him. B+

Jenny and I went to see American Gangster Saturday night. We had to sit in the front row at the Century. Normally I know better, since I've had neck surgery, but I really wanted to see this. Even though I was in pain, and the actors looked blurry and distorted from my vantage point, it's a terrific movie. Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in the same movie? You can't beat that. (note: do you know their first on screen teaming? Virtuosity. Not good.) A-

A sad farewell to the Sierra theaters in West Des Moines. I'll miss this place. My son, Cade, saw his first movie there at age 1 week (with Pat and Sally Dix). It was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Cade never made a peep; he crouched and hid. I was proud right away. Another time, my mother and I went and they warned us the heat wasn't working, we put on gloves and hats, bought hot cocoa and watched In America. It's a good memory. The Sierra will be missed.

Great job by Steve Loney at Drake. He stepped in at the last minute, and did a good job coaching the Bulldogs. He's not interested in more than one year---the man has coached in the NFL---and he'll be missed.

I've been watching Entourage on DVD. Man, is it funny. Jeremy Piven is priceless. Didn't he go to Drake?

Ed Wilson can flat out tailgate.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scattershot thoughts

>With A-Rod, it's always about the money, but how many tropical islands does one man need?

>Heather Burnside was a hilarious Britney Spears for Halloween. If Britney hadn't already checked into rehab, watching SoundOFF might do it.

>I promise no more tank tops. First John Basedow, now K-Fed. How do I end up looking this ridiculous each year? (Don't answer)

>John Bachman's promo as me as John Bachman was funny. He's a good sport. If that makes sense, you saw it. If it doesn't, you didn't.

>I'm never comfortable at costume parties or class reunions. Both make me want to stay home, though I usually have a good time if I'll just overcome my insecurities.

>I'll admit, I beat this dead horse too much, but I can't believe how ugly Iowa State's road football uniforms are. Thank goodness they're changing next year.

>The Cyclones were competitive in back-to-back weeks against top 15 teams. When's the last time that's happened? It's the most hopeful sign of the Chizik Era. Don't sell your coins yet.

>Anyone hear any rumors about Andy Fales?

>Pella Christian's Jerry Staton is not only a heck of a football coach, he's a really thoughtful person. He recently wrote a nice letter letting us off the hook for forgetting his name (on-air) and thanking us for covering his Eagles. That's class.

>Kirk Ferentz and staff outcoached Michigan State something fierce. That game looked over at halftime. The Hawks adjusted, the Spartans didn't. Ferentz critics should think about what this man has done in nine seasons. It's harder in Iowa City than you realize.

>How foolish is Dominique Douglas? Time to give this guy the boot. I'm willing to forgive a guy who steals a few DVDs, but not when he's already suspended for allegedly using a stolen credit card.

>The NCAA ruling that takes away a year of eligibility from Lucca Staiger is stupid, unfair, and hypocritical. Punish Staiger because others did something wrong? Idiotic.

>Are you as tired of Kobe Bryant's whining as I am?

>KXNO's coverage of high school football is terrific.

>Smart move by the Iowa Energy signing Jeff Horner. In fact, the Energy has made one shrewd move after another. I'm still not sure NBDL will work here, but having local owners who "get it" sure makes a difference.

>Shawn Terrell is one of the best local sports reporters in the country. We're lucky to have him.

>Chris Hassel always does or says something to make me laugh everytime I see him. He's also a bigtime talent. And nuts.

>I still haven't finished that John Grisham book, Playing for Pizza. I think I read The Firm in one night.

>Love him, hate him, Kid Rock's new album is a blast.

>Can we just call Sunday's game between the Patriots and Colts the Super Bowl? I know the Colts love being overlooked, but I'll still take the Pats on the road.

>If you know anyone from Boston, and I know many people, you know how superior to us they already feel. It's getting worse: Red Sox, Patriots, BC, Celtics hype. Please make it stop.

>Dan Winters' story on local residents "redshirting" their small children was solid journalism and slightly disturbing.

>Great decision by KXNO's Jon Miller to put sports aside and report continuously on the chemical plant fire. Keeping people safe and informed ranks somewhere ahead of Ken O'Keefe's play-calling skills.

>Shows on my TiVo: House, Life, Chuck, Grey's Anatomy, The Office, 30 Rock, Friday Night Lights, Saturday Night Live, Scrubs, Heroes, The Channel 13 News at 6 & 10, SoundOFF (just being honest), and E60 (the new ESPN Real Sports knockoff). Looking at that list, there is no doubt I'm showing NBC a lot of loyalty, but it's hard to be objective.

>Tuesdays with Morrie at the Des Moines Playhouse is solid, but nothing beats reading the book. It's the kind of story---if you buy this sort of thing, and I do---that requires reflection at your own pace.

>Ankeny at Southeast Polk again? Are you kidding me? This is our Colts-Patriots. I think this Monday is the night Ankeny finally breaks through Polk's kryptonite.

>I haven't watched an NBA regular season game from start to finish since Jordan retired. If I had to pick one team to end that drought, it would be the Suns.

>I'm not sure I'm even making sense. My son Colin has had a high temperature and the stomach flu for the past four days. I've slept less than Thomas Edison.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Does anybody believe Gene Chizik and the Cyclones didn't walk away from the Oklahoma game with a "moral victory"? Of course they did. When you were thumped by 53 the week before, there's nothing too wrong with a positive loss. I was surprised and impressed..

Can you believe Michigan State will likely start two players who were just arrested and charged with felony robbery? Mark Dantonio should be ashamed of himself. Of course, he plays the "let the legal process run its course" card, but this all about winning. Playing college football isn't a right, it's a privilege. Say what you will about all Iowa's arrests, and I've said plenty, but at least Kirk Ferentz suspends or boots the players...

Monday, October 15, 2007

I've got whiplash from keeping up with Hawkeye fans. Last week, Iowa might not win another game, and Kirk Ferentz needed firing; this week, the Hawks could win out, go to a good bowl, and tee up a championship season next year.

Just goes to show what we already know: winning cures everything.

What can I say about Iowa State? Seriously, what can I say? I felt like I time-traveled to 1994. A good, but not great, Texas team exposed the Cyclones as slow, nonathletic, and uninspired. I know there's a talent gap---there always is and always will be---but that still doesn't completely explain what happened Saturday. Mack Brown did everything he could to keep the score down, short of telling his third string players to run plays in the wrong direction.

Many coaches have started successful careers with miserable first seasons so it's far too early to give up on Gene Chizik, but I sure thought Iowa State would look better than this. The Cyclones seem to be regressing instead of progressing.

We left after the third quarter and got in a traffic jam! That's when you know it's bad. Some of those fans paid $60 for tickets. They deserve refunds.

The UNI Panthers are the #1 ranked team in the country. It's FCS (div. IAA), but that's still really cool...

What happened to the Bulldogs at San Diego? I didn't think Drake would take a beating like that with Steve Loney on the sideline, not against another non-scholarship team.

Good news... The Reds hired Dusty Baker. That means Dusty's leaving the broadcast booth! Managers who know they're going back to work, like Baker, never say anything interesting. Sample insight, "The team with the better pitching has a good chance of winning this series." Duh, really?

Numbers for The Final Season are out, and they're not good. They're worse than the reviews, which weren't good either. In fact, so few people paid to see the movie nationwide, there's a chance it's already in a DVD bargain bin by the time you read this. Still, I loved it. Yes, it's corny, cliched, and predictable, but I can't imagine Iowans won't enjoy this movie. It's an incredible story, and for the most part, the filmmakers didn't embellish too much. There's a couple of plots that didn't happen (see Tom Arnold storyline), including the obligatory romance (see Sean Astin's flirting), but enough is real to inspire your sense of state pride, not to mention your love of baseball (if you love baseball, and how can you not?).

I was also surprised The Final Season is a scathing indictment of school consolidation. It hammers home its point that folding smaller schools into bigger ones takes opportunities away from kids and economic stability away from small towns.

I give the movie a B. I think the biggest reason for all the negative publicity is that sports movies like this all follow the same formula, which is why there's a spoof out Friday called Comebacks.

Talk about formula... I also saw Disney's Game Plan starring The Rock. Not a lot of surprises in this movie, but it's still entertaining, especially if you have a young daughter, which I do not. I went with a young son, and he loved it because there's lots of football and a bulldog in a tutu. Whatever "it" is, The Rock's got it. He's a star. B for Game Plan.

One more B. This one to The Kingdom. It's a history lesson of America's involvement in Saudi Arabia (i.e. oil is worth a lot of money). It turns into an action movie with a lot of gun fights and solid acting by Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx (not his real name), the underrated Chris Cooper and a breakout performance by Jason Bateman. I liked it, but less than expected.

Are you watching Friday Night Lights yet? I hope so. Yes, there's been one shocking turn this season that doesn't seem true to the show's emphasis on reality, but it's still great, and no family on TV seems more "real" than the Taylors. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton amaze.

My favorite new show is Life. It's a little odd, like me, and I'm hooked. Damian Lewis is the man. (If you haven't seen the entire Band of Brothers series, make it a priority to start renting the DVDs immediately. You'll thank me.)

Just read Jason Stark's The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History. This book is sure to fire people up, which is the intent. Most overrated right-handed pitcher of all time? Nolan Ryan. Most underrated? Bob Feller. Discuss.

Also read Tim Kurkjian's Is This a Great Game, or What? Kurkjian's love of baseball comes through on every page, and he has some good stories. I'm sure he doesn't reveal all, since he's still working the ESPN beat every day, but baseball fans will find something to love here.

Still reading John Grisham's Playing for Pizza. Obviously it's not a page-turner.

Latest health book across my desk: Impress the World with Your Body in Seven Days by Dr. David Madow. Madow comes across as a nice guy who wants to help people have a better life. The book doesn't break ground, but it's a user-friendly guide to taking one step a day toward a better, healthier life (e.g. stretch, walk, eat right, strength train, drink water, etc.). If you're overwhelmed and looking for a place to start, Madow's advice is solid, and he obviously practices what he preaches, including walking an hour a day. (?!) (I'm happy when I squeeze in 30 minutes). (10/16 update: somehow Madow read this. He invites you to visit and he'll answer questions personally.)

In my CD player right now: Bruce Springsteen's Magic (love), Kanye West's Graduation (like album, love "Stronger"), Maroon 5's It Won't Be Soon Before Long (dumb title, but the kids and I all like it), Best of Van Halen (never liked this when it was popular, but I'm warming up to it), My Generation: The Very Best of the Who, and U2 18 The singles. Classic.

The Red Sox and Indians series is terrific, but the pace is so slow. You can watch Dances with Wolves in the time it takes them to play 9 innings. I went to a lot of Red Sox games as a kid, but I'm pulling for Indianola's Casey Blake too.

Be sure to vote for our Halloween costumes on SoundOFF. I don't have to be John Basedow this year, so I'm looking forward to whoever wins (as long as it's not Bachman. I don't want to make him mad). I think Heather hopes she doesn't have to be Britney Spears, which is why I voted for... "Britney Spears".

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

No matter how many e-mails I open, I still can't believe it when I see Hawkeye fans calling for Kirk Ferentz fired.

This is the same Ferentz many of those same fans panicked about losing just three years ago. It's gone from the former Iowa AD (Bowlsbly) opening up the bank vault to keep Kirk, to the current one (Barta) giving Ferentz a vote of confidence.

I understand both sides. Ferentz defenders---and I'm one---realize just how hard it is to win at Iowa. You are in a low population state fighting another D1 school for Iowa recruits and trying to steal an occasional guy from the surrounding states, all of which have their own Big Ten or Big 12 schools. Furthermore, Iowa needs the overlooked "diamonds in the rough" (e.g. Bob Sanders) and overlooked walk-ons with chips on their shoulders (e.g. Dallas Clark). Sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle where everything comes together, including good fortune, and sometimes it all goes the other way. Welcome to 2007.

Having said that, or more accurately, written it, I do understand fans complaining. It has gotten very expensive to follow the Iowa Hawkeyes. In fact, some families are priced out as donation levels and tickets costs continue to escalate out of control. Those fans see a man making more money in one week then they'll make in a year. They expect results, not bad football. You're supposed to get what you pay for. (Although Ferentz makes millions because of what he's already done, including paving a gold road for Kinnick renovation.)

My unsolicited advice: more patience. Ferentz led Iowa to four January bowl games, three top ten finishes, and two co-Big Ten titles. That's harder than most realize at Iowa, and Hawkeye fans are definitely guilty of often expecting too much. That's not the case this season---Iowa shouldn't be this bad---but Kirk deserves time to figure it out and make changes. A few less injuries and suspensions might help too.

The Hawkeye meltdown has been great for Iowa State's Gene Chizik. It's overshadowed the fact, to date, the Cyclones are having a dud of a season in Chizik's first year. Educated football fans didn't expect a bowl game, but they did expect a better organized and executed effort than Iowa State has shown in all but a few quarters. I'll say it again, Chizik needs more time and talent, but he also may need to adjust his game plan for the kind of players he's going to have at Iowa State. You still go after the 4 and 5 star guys, but the reality is, Iowa State isn't Texas or Auburn, and 99 times out of 100, those blue chippers are going elsewhere---probably to a team Iowa State or Iowa plays on Saturdays.

Chizik's smarter than me, but I still believe you must run an offense and defense that's imaginative and daring---one that's hard to prepare for and gives ISU a puncher's chance. You'll probably still lose to Texas and Oklahoma 8 out of 10 times, but that's better than 10 out of 10, and once in awhile, the whole season could break just right. A realist doesn't expect the Cyclones to be a perennial power, but a conference championship, or at least a division title, once a decade isn't asking too much.

Look at all the talent Iowa had when the Hawks went 8-0 in 2002. A lot of those guys are playing on Sundays now. For whatever reason, Iowa has dropped way off that level, and now is in a situation similar to Iowa State's: not talented enough to beat bigger, better, faster teams with old fashioned football.

Thank God for UNI.

Take care.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Warning: No sports ahead. I'm taking one blog off, or trying to, after days of nothing but negative energy coming through the inbox. You can guess why..

Are you watching any of NBC's new shows? I always root for them; we need a few more hits.

Here's my take so far:

Journeyman: Compelling lead actor, well made, but I just have trouble watching anyone not named Marty McFly go back and forth in time (though if you know a woman who loves sentimental, romantic stories, you can't go wrong with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in Somewhere in Time). I'll give Journeyman another go, but I'm not sure I'll last...

Life: After the incomparable Band of Brothers, I'd watch Damian Lewis in a Ramen noodles commercial. This is a quirky show, and needs a better title, but I'm all in for Life...

Bionic Woman: good reviews, big hit, so I wanted to like it, but just couldn't get into it. As a kid, I watched the Bionics in wide-eyed amazement, but now I just roll my eyes. I miss Lindsay Wagner and Lee Majors...

Chuck: If you can suspend all disbelief, this is a very entertaining show. Anytime you have a guy managing the "Nerd Herd" at "Buy More", and he suddenly downloads all the government's top secrets into his brain, you're in for a wild ride. It's better than it sounds...

That's it. Only four new shows. I like that strategy better than throwing a bunch of crap at the wall to see what sticks, which is what NBC used to do. Oh yeah, Friday Night Lights and 30 Rock start this week. If you're one of the "dozens and dozens" of people already watching, thank you. If not, get on board. These shows make me believe in the power of television to both inspire and make us laugh...

I'm currently reading John Grisham's Playing for Pizza. It's no Firm, but so far I like it. It's the story of an NFL football player so humiliated by his post-season choke-job, he moves to Parma and plays for an Italian team with a bunch of guys who live up to the title of the book. Anytime someone relearns love of the game, I'm a sucker. It's one reason Jerry Maguire is so high on my movie list...

Interesting health book came my way recently titled "Eat Stop Eat". The author is a respected nutritionist who says losing weight is easy, and you don't have to give up any of your favorite foods. His answer: fasting one day a week. He makes a compelling argument with many documented health benefits, but it's not for me. I believe it would work, but I need my daily feedings every day. If you're interested, there's an online version at

Just picked up Bruce Springsteen's Magic. I walked into the store during an Ed Wilson verified downpour, but nothing was stopping me on release day. Reviews are beyond good. USA Today gives Magic 4 stars on a 4 star scale, Rolling Stone 5 out of 5, Entertainment Weekly grades it an A and uses the M-word: Masterpiece. I've only played it once, but it took me back to high school. It's classic Springsteen along with a fully engaged E Street Band...

Just watched The Insider again. What a phenomenal, yet somehow mostly overlooked movie. Russell Crowe and Al Pacino couldn't be better. This belongs along side All The President's Men...

I bought We Are Marshall on DVD. I liked it even more on second viewing. My father finds Matthew McConaughey really annoying, but even dad liked him in this. I'll bet Bobby Bowden loves this movie, and after seeing it, you'll love Bowden---or at least respect him...

My father and I went to see In the Valley of Elah at the theater. Riveting. You bible readers know the title comes from where David battled Goliath. This is not an action movie, it's more like a murder mystery and commentary on the mental and moral price some soldiers pay for going to war in Iraq. Tommy Lee Jones is the best he's ever been, and that's saying something (see: Fugitive or Lonesome Dove). Charlize Theron is unrecognizable, but proves again the Oscar was no fluke. The gal can act. A-

Did you make it to the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus this year? You know how they claimed it was all new and improved? They were right. Big upgrade. Kids loved it, especially those nutbars in the motorcycle sphere...

Another hit with the kids: Charlotte's Web at the Des Moines Playhouse. If you have a kid 10 & under, you can't go wrong. Plus, if your kids are like mine, they could use a few minutes away from the computer and video games, to see something that's actually live!...

If there's a nicer guy working in the Major Leagues than Tim McClelland, I haven't met him... (oops, that was kind of sports. I better stop now. I can't contain myself.)

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

These are not necessarily my opinions...

...but I'm happy to give others a chance to "sound off".

I often receive lengthy letters we don't have time for on SoundOFF, and to pick a sentence or two takes them out of context.

Here's three recent letters in all their glory or shame. You decide:

Brian M. Kaldenberg writes this "memo" about the Kirk Ferentz era. And apparently Brian reads a lot of business books:

Analyzing Ferentz as (CEO), Iowa Football as a (Brand), and the Big 10 as an (Industry)…. And the 2005 Blue Print

College Football in essence is a business. I am going to put into perspective my opinion on why Ferentz was successful and is now faltering as a CEO of Iowa Football… in the competitive and rapidly changing Big Ten industry. Then my opinionated recommendation will conclude.

Ferentz entered as CEO in 1999. Ferentz’ point of differentiation was offensive line expertise combined with zone blocking, which was a rather new blocking scheme in college football at the time. Ferentz also put emphasis on tough, hard nosed run defense, and solid special teams… all core competencies of competitive Big 10 Industry.

After analyzing what he believed was needed for success in the Big Ten industry, Ferentz orchestrated and put together an excellent management team. He hired Philbin to manage the offensive line units. In 1999 the Big 10 industry was dominated by traditional power offenses so Ferentz went out and hired a defensive coordinator named Norm Parker. Parker had a proven track record at MSU, and was a great fit for a rebuilding the Iowa defense.

Ferentz then proceeded with the hiring of Ken O’Keefe. O’keefe was known as a creative offensive coordinator who was great at mixing the run and the pass, and used the play action. Ken O’keefe’s offense wasn’t greatly complex so the system could be learned quickly by the players.

First 2 seasons. Ferentz struggled out of the gate as CEO of Iowa Football, but he had a plan and he stuck to it. He and his management went out and recruited employees that fit and bought into the system. Many of these employees were not recruited heavily by the blue chip Big Ten companies so these employees were just happy to be with a Big Ten company and they bought into was their CEO was selling.

In Ferentz’ third year as CEO the Iowa Football team started to get things headed in the right direction. Iowa’s competitors were still doing what they did in the past because it had worked against Iowa in the past, but in year 3 Ferentz’s Vision was finally starting to take shape. Ferentz out performed half of his competitors in the Big 10 in his third year.

Ferentz next three years as CEO of Iowa were excellent. All of his planning, management and company culture came together wonderfully. Iowa matched up very well with the other major players in the Big 10 Industry. Ferentz was named Big 10 CEO of the year, and his company was right up there at the top with the other blue chip Big Ten companies.

2005 Enter Big 10 Industry Changing / Competitors Attack Ferentz in New Ways.

During Ferentz’ glory years everything he had planned for worked out as planned. Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois all remained pretty much traditional in their offensive schemes, and their defenses basic for the most part. Ferentz’ management style defeated most of these competitors regularly. Some of the contests were close, but Ferentz almost always ended up negotiating a better deal. The one competitor Ferentz struggled with was Purdue and Iowa State. Ferentz was able to win most of his battles with these competitors, but the competition with these other two companies was sometimes painfully close. It just seemed like sometimes Ferentz schemes didn’t always work as well against the “new spread offense” and “blitzing defenses” type teams. Some of the board members (fans) sometimes wondered why Iowa Football always had employees line 8 yards off the line of scrimmage when guarding WR’s. Why doesn’t Iowa blitz?

Iowa Football price per share fell in 2005, but not anything to write home about. Iowa was recruiting better employees, the media was still loving them, and some were predicting Iowa to be the company of the year in 2006. Everything was O.K., and the board members (fans) wrote 2005 off as just a slow year because of the ECONOMY. Ferentz was given a salary raise to roughly $3M per year.

Well in 2005 the ECONOMY wasn’t slow… it was a year when the Big Ten Industry started to change. Indiana had a new CEO in Hoepner, and Illinois had their new CEO with Mr. Ron Zook. Both of these coaches run the spread offense… and played Iowa closer in 2005 than the score may have indicated. Oh, and Iowa’s long time foe still had their spread offense, blitzing CEO in Dan McCarney. McCarney dominated Iowa that year and had pretty much owned Ferentz since Ferentz was named CEO of Iowa in 1999. Northwestern also was becoming a well oiled spread offense machine. They also upset Kirk Ferentz Hawkeyes. And a blue chipper, the Ohio State University had recently changed to a spread attack. They absolutely embarrassed Iowa in 2005. Iowa’s offense also had seemed to become more predictable. It just seemed like things weren’t clicking like they used to.

Iowa fans didn’t see it coming, but the rest of the Big 10 industry did. The other Big 10 CEO’s knew how Ferentz had become so successful, but they also had evidence and a BLUE PRINT now for attacking Iowa. Ferentz was in a bad situation because almost half of the Big 10 did not fit the mold for his master plan. Half of the Big 10 had changed, half of the Big 10 had Adapted.

In 2006 the competitors officially rolled out the blue print. Iowa had its worst year in years. Iowa struggled again against this “NEW BRAND” of football. There were several teams that ran this new brand (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, NW, Ohio State). Iowa’s offense also seemed to be getting worse again. Some CEO’s and employees of other companies actually started to laugh at Iowa’s “Brand”. They said how simple it was to just follow the blue print.

After the 2006 debacle, the board members (fans) started to scratch their heads. Half of the fans were getting restless, while half were still behind Ferentz 100%. Ferentz promised change in 2007. Ferentz said this is not acceptable at Iowa Football. The fans who backed Ferentz tried to blame the head employee because they said he showed too much emotion. The fans tried to say that the employees were young. Yet, Iowa had just put together arguable its best stretch of employee recruiting in years… Fans tried to blame the management (KOK, NORM). What the fans don’t realize is that the management has to operate within the CEO’s direction.

Well now we are here in 2007. MN ousted their head coach for a spread option CEO. The Big 10 is now officially a totally different animal than what it was when Ferentz entered. IOWA’s “BRAND” of football is stale. It’s outdated. It’s not successful anymore.

2007 has shown very little change. Iowa Football has upgraded employee talent (DJK, ect.), but still management still chooses to go elsewhere for labor. Iowa never fires an employee for performance related reasons. Once a worker, always a worker no matter how you perform. The only way you get fired is for legal issues or injuries. Younger players don’t buy into the system anymore, and some of them have left or transferred. Employee turnover is at an all time high.

Recommendation. For those board members who are calling for new management (offensive, defensive coord).. does this mean hire new ones with the same philosophies?

My recommendation is that Mr. CEO Ferentz has to get an offensive coordinator who runs the spread option and a defensive coordinator who knows how to defend the spread option. This isn’t some fad offense…... This is what college football is moving towards and eventually will largely become. The days of QB under center and smash mouth football are coming to an end. The days of tier two teams winning without mobile quarterbacks who can rack up rushing yards is over. Football is going through what the wishbone/triple option went through two decades ago. Teams with less talent on average have to differentiate themselves. You can’t try to sell SUV’s when that’s what the blue chip companies are selling. You have to find a niche and attack the markets weakness. Hiring new management with the same overall philosophies as our current ones won’t do anything. We need new management for the “new era” of college football that is looming, and is already half way here. If Ferentz refuses to do this, he needs to be fired as CEO.

My take: Ferentz has earned more time and patience, but changes are needed.

Next up, Huxley Fire and Rescue sent this one in following the Iowa at Iowa State football game:

As an emergency responder (firefighter, EMT) I was frustrated and then extremely offended to learn that fans from the game, ordered down highway 69, were giving the finger to law enforcement officers and medical personnel. I realize, that traveling a two lane highway delayed further fan celebration and slowed returning home. I also realize, this can be very frustrating. What was lost in this frustration was that four people had died.
These fans actions were disrespectful to law enforcement, EMS, firefighters, victims and their families. They optimize the belief that such inconveniences are intolerable and unacceptable. How dare you ruin our day?

Yet, these fans inconvenience, when compared to the suffering of the families, and the sacrifices of all emergency responders, was the smallest price paid, and in the grand scheme of things, fades to insignificance.

It seems appropriate these fans should be burdened by shame, equivalent, to the amount of grief the families are feeling. If only for a moment, to give them pause and reflection. Perhaps, in this moment of clarity, they will find, in their cold black hearts, some level of compassion and understanding.

So sit on the highway, and be thankful it wasn't you, or better yet, say a prayer for a grieving family, and realize that a slight delay, even if it were hours, has cost you nothing. Sit there and thank God that emergency responders and law enforcement officers will go above and beyond, if it were you in need of help. Don't curse us or make gestures at us. Realize that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we are there for you also.

My take: thank God for fire and rescue workers.

The guys with sent me this after Jamie Pollard unveiled Iowa State's new football uniforms and identity:

1. We believe the majority of Cyclone Nation wants to keep Cy on the helmet or at least have him as a choice. Responses to requests to sign our petition (which is now over 1,600 signatures) reflect this with over 90% of those asked to sign actually signing.

2. This was billed as a helmet logo change when in fact it was an Athletics identity change. Cyclone Nation was not aware of this fact when they were made aware of the three logo choices and we don't feel that is fair.

3. To say that Cy is not going away is laughable. No one that we know ever believed that we would no longer be called the Cyclones or that the mascot squad would stop dressing up as Cy at public events and has never suggested that. The fact of the matter is that everywhere you currently see the Cy logo you will be instead see the I-State logo if this change is made, so the mascot squad dressing up as Cy will be the only place you will see our mascot. At best this is a dramatic downplaying of Cy, at worst it is a complete removal of Cy from the ISU Athletics identity.

4. All of the arguments for making this logo change as presented by the Athletic Department are refuted on Log on for yourself to see the other side of the issue and to sign the petition.

My take: I appreciate the passion, but the new look is sharp.

Let these guys know how you feel. I know you will.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Thank goodness Dale Earnhardt Junior picked #88. Now I just need to add an 8 to my existing tattoo. I won't have to involve a laser...

Rick Ankiel isn't chasing down baseball's most hallowed record, like Barry Bonds, but I'd still say Ankiel got off easy in the court of public opinion after his alleged ties to HGH. Why the double standard? At best, Ankiel was a feel good story nobody wanted to spoil. At worst, the media single out those we don't like. Hey, at least Bonds is real. He never pretends to be anything but a jerk...

My favorite story of the week, the NFL no longer wants cheerleaders warming up in front of the opposing teams players because it's too big of a distraction. Hey, that's strategy!...

My mother recently filled in for me at the Des Moines Playhouse production of Cats. I was in an RV, mom was in my theater seat. She loved it. She even called me at intermission to go on-and-on about how good Cats was. I can't imagine I'd share her passion for people in cat costumes dancing, and she did say the second half wasn't quite as good, but if people in feline make-up make mom happy, I'm all for it...

3:10 to Yuma...that's more like it for me. What a great Western. Russell Crowe gives a wild, charismatic performance, and Christian Bale is even better as a dirt poor rancher who's willing to die if it means being a good father and a good man. The climax delivers the goods. I give it an A. Fans of westerns should not miss this one. My dad loved it too..

I'm watching the Black Donnellys on DVD. How did this Sopranos lite not work? It's good...

I'm glad the new TV season is finally here, though a sub par season of Rescue Me got me through the summer. The best buzz here at NBC is for Chuck. I'll give it a shot and report back...

Big thanks to the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau. These folks now how to make visitors welcome, hence the name, I guess...

Friday, September 21, 2007

I would have written sooner, but opening, not answering, opening the e-mail after an Iowa-Iowa State football game is a full-time job. Let me summarize:

-ISU fan: It's a Cyclone State! Deal with it you overrated choke-eyes. That's 7 of 10. Who's the little brother now?!

-Iowa fan: Same story. ISU was up for its Super Bowl, and Iowa didn't really care. The better team didn't win, just the one that wanted it more. The Cyclowns season is complete, while Iowa will now win games that actually matter.

It's just plain obnoxious. Here's what's real:

-ISU does have more to gain by winning, and the past ten years, the Cyclones have played with more emotion.
-If Iowa doesn't care, and it's ISU's Super Bowl, how did the Hawks win 15 in a row?
-No matter what happens from here, nothing changes the scoreboard. Yes, Iowa had the better team and season in 2002, but no matter how much some Iowa fans tried, nothing changed that one loss to ISU. Scoreboard trumps all in this one argument.

Several fans forwarded the following column from Paul Clark at

I am putting this post here so anyone and everyone can read it. This will crush one fallacy that is prevalent with Iowa fans and - more importantly - misinformed media people, regarding the Iowa State vs. Iowa game and in particular, the wins that ISU has posted in the last decade or so.

The fallacy is that ISU somehow musters a David-like performance to slay Iowa as Goliath. And it is, pure fiction and fantasy. Let me show you.

1998 - Iowa was indeed a huge favorite coming into the game. But Iowa wasn't very good, it was just that nobody realized it yet. Both teams went 3-8 and ISU won the head-to-head game. Superhuman effort? No, just one 3-8 team beating another.

1999 - Iowa went 1-10 and was a bad 1-10. Iowa State went 4-7 and was a good 4-7. This one is easy, the much better team won. Superhuman effort? No.

2000 - Iowa went 3-8 and Iowa State went 9-3. This one is beyond easy. The much, much, much better team won. Superhuman effort ? No.

2001 - Played at the end of the year, the teams came in with identical 6-4 records. Neither had done anything throughout the year to distinguish itself from the other. It was a ridiculously even match-up that ISU won by three at home. Three points, as in the standard home field advantage. Superhuman effort? No, just one 6-4 team beating another.

2002 - Based on entire seasons, yes, Iowa was the better team. At the time of the game, it wasn't so clear. ISU went 6-1 and reached #9 in the country before tanking. Iowa State was better against Fla. State, Nebraska and Texas Tech than it was against Iowa. Superhuman effort? It really wasn't, but I will concede this one only based on final records of 7-7 vs. 10-2.

2005 - Iowa was rated no. 8 and a big favorite, but it shouldn't have been. As the seasons played out, Iowa State went 7-4 and Iowa went 7-4. So the teams were pretty even and ISU won at home, with a final margin bloated by being +4 on turnovers. Super human effort? No, just one 7-4 team beating another.

2007 - See 1998 and 2005. We thought we knew how good these teams were based on two weeks. Could be right, could be wrong, we'll see how the respective seasons unfold.

The factual reality is: only Iowa State's win in 2002 can be considered to fit the mold of an ISU team beating an Iowa team it shouldn't beat. And in context, even that one has asterisk qualities to it. In 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2005, Iowa State was AS GOOD AS or BETTER THAN Iowa. Period and no one can make an intelligent argument against that statement.

Interesting. Do you agree? The bottom line on the ISU upsets for me is that most of those years (not 2002) Iowa came in overrated.

Another e-mail I've received from a few dozen people is this one:

Hawkeyes Announce 2008 Schedule
September 17, 2007
Iowa City, Iowa

The University of Iowa Athletic Department has released the 2008 football schedule, and it was a surprise to see Iowa will only play 3 teams next year.

Aug 30 - Bye
Sept 6 - Bye
Sept 13 - Bye
Sept 20 - Bye
Sept 27 - Bye
Oct 4 - @ Ohio State
Oct 11 - Bye
Oct 18 - Bye
Oct 25 - @ Michigan
Nov 1 - Bye
Nov 8 - Penn State
Nov 15 - Bye
Nov 22 - Bye

Gary Barta announced the change after the Hawkeyes lost, again, to in-state rivals, the Iowa State Cyclones. Barta, "Our great fans demanded that the Cyclones be removed from future schedules because the Hawkeyes had nothing to gain in national prominence by playing [the Cyclones]."

Barta went on to explain that after looking over the schedule there really weren't many teams that did give the Hawkeyes a chance to gain respect nationally. Iowa will only continue to play Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan.

After being questioned about past losses to struggling Big 10 programs such as Indiana, Northwestern, and Minnesota, Barta explained that [the Hawkeyes] couldn't win those games because [Iowa] is every teams' "Super Bowl" and that those games don't mean as much to Iowa.

In related news.....Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State look to end their series with Iowa as those schools have nothing to gain and everything to lose in national respect by playing the Hawkeyes.

Now that's funny. It should be noted the Hawkeye players and coaches, unlike many fans, did give the Cyclones credit for winning and did not make excuses, other than poor execution on Iowa's part.

I love the rivalry, and it's fun to not have a dog in the fight. Our second night in the RV, the sweetest lady you can imagine, and her daughter, brought us this huge gift basket full of goodies; everything from aspirin to blankets to beer. As she left, this Cyclone fan handed me a deck of Hawkeye cards and said, "I got these for you because I know you're a Hawk fan."

Last night at our channel 13 client party at the Science Center (which was fun, by the way), I had two Hawk fans corner me and just grill me about being a "Cyclone".

Basically, passion runs so high in this state, if you're not obviously for one side, you must be for the other.

Back soon with something other than this game. I'm sure you're tired of it too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Drop the curtain on RVTV.

I'm finally home. I feel like I played a football game. I'm sore, sick, and exhausted, but I had a week I'll never forget.

RVTV reminded me how nice most people are. I need that because a lot of SoundOFF e-mails tend to be negative and nasty; not toward me, just in general. It stuns me how many folks dropped by the RV just to say "hi", and in many cases, to give us food, drinks, or a gift, expecting nothing in return. I wish I had time to thank everyone. (The food was appreciated. Looking back, we ate exactly one mean outside the RV. Everything else was at the table while working on the computer or editor---all seen by Web cam, not to mention Shawn's Magnum PI sleeping poses.)

I also loved male-bonding. Nothing beats being a dad, but every once in a while, it's good to hang out withe fellas, quote movies, make sophomoric jokes, and see who can smell the worst (Chris).

I'm blessed to work with guys like Shawn and Chris. They worked their butts off all week and turned in some memorable stories, many of them funny. Check out Chris as a heckling Hawkeye fan on ISU's campus or Shawn visiting Story County's Hawkeye Hideout by visiting the video player. I'm proud of those guys, and they were fun to hang with.

I want to be mad at the ISU Marching Band, and Channel 13 reporter Jon Cahill, but I just can't. Punking us into staying up late and then blowing us out of bed at 6 a.m. with music turned up to 11 is funny. Can't be mad if it passes the "got ya, and it's funny" test. Can't believe how many people have asked me if that was staged. The answer: heck no. I wouldn't allow myself to be seen with that many eye boogers. Did you see Chris? He couldn't function.

I loved when Jenny and the boys came to visit. They spent most of the day in our Hot Springs Spa hot tub and had a blast. The kids ate all the cookies and cakes we never got around to. I missed them so much during the week (the kids, not the cookies and cakes); it was the blast I needed to make it to the finish line (especially after that wake-up call).

Jamie Pollard delivered. He put my face on a coin. I vowed not to leave until it happened---especially since Gene Chizik and I started the week with the same number of career head coaching wins, but Gene's one up on me now. (Big thanks to Pollard and ISU for hosting us all week. We had everything we needed, within reason.)

The Friday night ten p.m. news was a blast. Cyclone fans finally started showing spirit after a relatively flat week. Next to no one gave ISU a chance---including me---and look what happened. The ISU people at the RV rally started believing a little as the game approached.
They've seen ISU stun Iowa more than once.

We learned Iowa's not great. Turns out Northern Illinois and Syracuse are both awful. Iowa's schedule will make sure Iowa wins no fewer than six games, and probably eight, but the Hawkeyes have a lot of room for improvement. Can you believe Kirk Ferentz is 3-6 against ISU?

How did ISU get so much better from week two to week three? I have no idea. The Cyclones were a disorganized, mistake-prone mess those first two games. What a difference a confident, poised Bret Meyer makes, not to mention the game's star, Bret Culbertson. I couldn't be happier for a student-athlete. Every time Bret missed a big kick, he faced the media, accepted responsibility and never let it define who he is as a man. This guy deserved a moment, and boy did he have one against Iowa... all 15 points, and the game-winner. Culbertson told Shawn and me he thought about stopping by the RV several times. Good thing he didn't. Whatever Culbertson did worked, and it's nice to see a good guy from Des Moines Lincoln find redemption.

I cleaned out the RV, chugged some Red Bull, and headed back to Des Moines about an hour ago. I'm writing this from home. The nice folks at Great Outdoors RV Store were nice enough to pick up our now "slightly used" rig. They better bring Lysol.

I'm so tired my thoughts are all over the place, and likely somewhat incoherent, but I just mainly wanted to thank all of you who watched, read, or visited RVTV. You made it a fun experience, and we really appreciate it.

See you on SoundOFF... if I get my voice back (cold, not hoarse).


Monday, September 10, 2007

RVTV is back. We may not have picked the best week for a comeback, spirit is running on fumes in Ames, but we didn't know that when we green-lighted this craziness two weeks ago.

Thanks to Iowa State for allowing us to take up a bunch of space with our huge Great Outdoor RV Store RV (this is not Cousin Eddie's RV), channel 13 live truck, Hot Springs Spa hot tub, and my Explorer full of Casey's General Store food & beverages. Is that a record for plugs in one sentence, or what? I feel like Al Michaels.

Speaking of Al, thank you NBC for running the world's longest and most pointless post-game show. I realize the network has bills to pay, but do we really need separate segments for the Horse Trailer Award, Andrea Kreamer interview, and Al & John's final thoughts?

Okay, I'm just bitter because SoundOFF didn't start until 11 p.m. Sunday.

Back to the RV. This is my first outing with the new crew, and it's taken me all of one day to figure out something: Chris Hassel aint all there. This guy has more theories than Oliver Stone, and they're just as wacky. Not even this blog is a place for his thoughts on porta-potties.

Shawn Terrell is on the Shawn Johnson watch at the Des Moines International Airport. I wonder how many people on her plane realize that they're sitting near the world's greatest female gymnast. Johnson is tiny, but even the football players at her school---West Des Moines Valley---will look up to her after she wins gold in Beijing next summer.

So Shawn's not here. The other Shawn. The one who's 6'2" and doesn't smile as much. He'll join us later, which will be fun. It really is nice to bond with these guys. I get to live like a single slob with no responsibilities, or as Shawn and Chris call it, Monday.

Jamie Pollard will join us live at 10. I'll ask him about the ticket sales for Saturday, as well as what he thinks about the 0-2 start.

We'll keep writing. We hope you'll keep reading.

(*note: this is also posted on the RVTV blog, and updates the rest of the week will appear there)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Someone always scolds me in public when I make this blog just "sports"---this time it happened at Walgreen's. I promise to mix it up this week. I don't want to be called out at Kum & Go...

Hawkeye fans travel like no other. Well, slight exaggeration, but the bumblebees took over Chicago last weekend. It was like a September bowl game. Wrigley Field on Friday, Soldier Field on Saturday, what's not to like?! That was a home game for Northern Illinois in name only. Hawk fans stole the stadium...

So what do we know about the Iowa football team now? Next to nothing. We know the Hawks aren't bad, and they're not really good. We'll find out which direction they go from here. Last year, they went from good to bad. This year, I like Iowa's chances of going from pretty good to very good...

Best thing to happen to quarterback Jake Christensen: he's been no better than solid. Iowa fans have a history of anointing young quarterbacks as the next Chuck Long before they've earned it . ("Beutjer is the future" anyone?) Christensen will get better, and most importantly, he doesn't turn the ball over. That's an underrated part of being an effective quarterback, avoiding mistakes...

Right. Time for something non-sports.

I went to see Superbad in Kansas City with Jenny. As were deciding between a car payment and popcorn, I looked to my left and whispered to Jenny out of the side of my mouth, "Hey, standing next to me... it's George Brett." I've interviewed a lot of famous people, but I still turn into a kid when I see one of my boyhood sports heroes...

Brett and his family followed us into Superbad. To give you an idea of just how raunchy and profane this movie is, Brett's wife led two kids out of the theater within five minutes. Good move. Eventually Superbad is all heart, but along the way, we are subjected to every swear word and penis reference you can imagine. I pray teens don't actually act or talk as depicted in the movie, but I realize I'm sounding like my parents. Bottom line: the movie is a little too long but very funny if you're not easily offended. I'm 43 and I could never watch this with my parents. B from me. George seemed to like it too... (After first writing this review, Shawn Terrell took his girlfriend to Superbad. She described the experience as being "blindsided". Shawn has to go see the Nanny Diaries as punishment. That's harsh, but I'm sure he deserves it. Anyway, exercise caution when going to Superbad. It could be rated NC-17 for language alone.)

I just received Premonition from Netflix. That's 94 minutes of my life I can't get back. What the heck was that? It makes less sense than Miss Teen South Carolina. A grade of C because Sandra Bullock is still interesting to watch, even when she's in a plot written by people who must have been baked...

I'm always stunned how many Iowa people go to Chiefs games. We were surrounded by Central Iowans during out tailgate. They were nice people too, but you knew that. Arrowhead Stadium is even loud during those meaningless, overpriced preseason games. Can't wait to go back...

Thanks to KXNO's Jon Miller for filling in for Heather this week on SoundOFF. He did a great job---the man knows his college football---and Heather made every minute count in Chicago. Cubs game, Hawks game, Cubs game, Cubs game...

Big congrats to Hoover's football team. You deserve it guys...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cyclone fans, the sky is not falling. It is a little less blue.

We should have known better, but the hype machine at Iowa State has been so relentless that it was easy to ignore logic and start believing Gene Chizik could work miracles. He can't. Even if he does have his own coin.

I think time will prove Chizik a good coach, and a good hire. I know as a defensive coordinator, Chizik hardly ever lost at Texas or Auburn, but those players didn't come with him to Ames. It still comes down to talent, and Iowa State needs more. We also must give these guys more time to learn a new system. As Chizik said, this season will be a roller coaster. However, a Big 12 team, even one in transition, should never lose at home to a MAC team. Ever.

Iowa State better sack up and get ready for Northern Iowa. If ISU wants to see disappointment turn to despondence 2 games into a guy's head coaching career, then lose to UNI.

Other thoughts from ISU's first game:

-I was wrong, the gold pants did not help the uniforms. The Cyclones still look like Happy Meals on legs.
-Brett Culbertson is a good guy, but what a shaky start to his Senior season. I hope he bounces back. He always does.
-Quarterback Bret Meyer never looked comfortable in the new offense. That's not good. Kent State is not Kansas State.
-J.J. Bass won't give the job back. He's real.
-The defense has potential. The offensive line looked better.
-The opening game crowd was the largest and most energetic I've ever seen at Iowa State. The fans did their part.
-I still maintain you must run a creative offense to win important Big 12 games at ISU. The Cyclones will never have the talent of Texas, Oklahoma or Nebraska. Iowa State needs to get creative. It was only game one, but it was vanilla vs. the Golden Flashes.
-Ben Bruns is a pleasure to listen to on the Cyclone radio broadcasts because he's not the usual cheerleader. He calls them like he sees them, an increasingly rare trait these days as more and more announcers fear they'll lose their jobs if they don't keep everything positive, and they're probably right. That's a shame. Listeners and viewers deserve better...

Before I check out, a standing ovation for Steve Loney. Drake goes to #7 Illinois State and the non-scholarship Bulldogs stun the Redbirds and all their free ride players. Wow. One of the biggest upsets in our state's history. Drake may want more than year out of Loney...