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 www.davidmadow.com 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".