Sunday, December 28, 2008

Scattershot thoughts over the Christmas break.

  • The NFL rules for a reason. Week 17 rocked, with an early playoff feel.
  • I like Tony Romo, but it's hard not to question if he can win a big game.
  • I like Wade Phillips too, but something has to change in Dallas. How can a team with that much talent miss the playoffs? Maybe the Yankees have the answer.
  • Nice choke job by the Bears.
  • Congrats to long-suffering Vikings fans. The Super Bowl title drought won't end this year either, but the Bears, Packers, and Lions wish they had a division title.
  • Time for Brett Favre to retire. For real this time.
  • The Dolphins just proved even the Chiefs have hope next year. (Though it's hard to imagine right now.)
  • Cutler vs. Rivers should go steel cage.
  • My NFL MVP is Peyton Manning. Andy likes Matt Ryan.
  • Can't wait to see Springsteen at the Super Bowl.
  • The feedback for this blog is often more entertaining than the blog itself.
  • Mediacom just added the History Channel to the HD tier. I didn't care much until I noticed all 10 episodes of "Band of Brothers" back to back this weekend. Television at its absolute best: educational and entertaining, kind of like SoundOff (insert joke bubble over your own head here).
  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is unlike anything I've ever seen. If I had to compare it to something it would be "Forrest Gump", though Gump's a better movie. "Button" is nearly three hours long, but never boring. It also makes you think about what's important in life, never a bad thing.
  • "Bedtime Stories" is exactly what you'd expect from a PG Adam Sandler movie. And I'm okay with that. Kids loved, I liked.
  • Cyclone fans need to be as patient as possible with Greg McDermott. He has everything you'd want in a coach, including the desire to stay in Ames. I don't understand why Iowa State looks so bad at times, but Cyclone fans would be wise to give Mac more time to figure it out. More talent wouldn't hurt either, and it's on the way.
  • It's a chicken or the egg question, but Hawkeye fans are making Steve Alford look right about one thing: Iowa's a football school. The Hawks show promise, and the stands remain half empty. Alford hangover or Lickliter system?
  • Iowa should win the Outback Bowl, but fans seem way too overconfident to me. Iowa looked good in the Big Ten, but Wisconsin did the conference no favors in bowl game 1. South Carolina looked bad at times in the SEC, but it's the SEC. It's also Spurrier.
  • How tragic is it that five former Cyclone football players died within the past five years, all of them way before their times? A sad coincidence that's shaking up the Cyclone Nation.
  • It appears Drake's basketball team won't have the magic carpet ride it had last season, but how could it?
  • Our family spent a day at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom right before Christmas. Even after all these years, the place still casts a spell on kids like no other. We had a blast. I worked there in high school, and as I dropped fries in the fryer, I'd think how just a few yards away people were having the times of their lives.
  • I remember as a kid receiving the video game "Pong". I wouldn't have dreamed of a world with XBox 360 in it. Kids now probably can't believe we were thrilled to have a paddle hit a ball against a wall for hours.
  • As I surveyed the aftermath of Christmas morning in our house, one thought hit me: what recession? It's hard not to spoil your kids.
  • A big group of us went out to celebrate the holidays. Mike Kiernan can't sit still long, so under his direction, we went to Cafe Di Scala, Carl's, Bistro Piano Bar, and the Underground. I think as a City Councilman at large, he feels he needs to show off as much of Des Moines as possible. I'm glad he did.

(Editor's update: Michael Kiernan's attorney informs us that it was Shawn Terrell who demanded all of the location changes as part of Mr. Terrell's never ending quest to meet Mrs. Terrell. Murphy's Law regrets the error.)

(Editor's update #2: Shawn Terrell's publicist would like to point out that Mr. Terrell only requested one venue change Saturday evening, because shawn knew the Grand Piano Bistro would provide "peppier" live music than was being played at the Underground.

Mr. Terrell's publicist would also like to point out that it was Shawn's friends who were looking to find Mrs. Terrell, not Shawn. Mr. Terrell was perfectly happy chewing, drinking, and screaming for more Pearl Jam at a piano bar.

Murphy's Law regrets this latest error.)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dateline Daytona Beach: Murph sounds off on Rhoads hire.

I normally sleep with one of those Sharper Image clock radios---the kind where you can press one of several sound options: tropical rain forest, thunder storm, ocean waves, first day of kindergarten, midnight carjacking, light rain, or New Age music. I go with light rain, but right now our family is staying right on the beach, so Friday night I left the sliding glass door open, and went with actual ocean.

I'm not sure if that's the reason I didn't hear the phone ring around 7:30 a.m. Or 8. But I did hear it at 8:30. Iowa State hired Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads. (Auburn?! )

It's not the home run hire many fans hoped (Gary Patterson), but it's not the bad idea many feared (Mike Stoops? Wrong Stoops. If you can't win big at Arizona, good luck at Iowa State).

Rhoads is not a "sexy" hire, but he's a solid, safe one. The one big negative, and it's a real concern, is the lack of head coaching experience. There's just no way to know except witness the trial by fire and hope for the best. Not all good coordinators and assistants make good head coaches.

Most everything else fits nicely.

Rhoads is an Ankeny native. He wants to be at Iowa State. Unlike Gene Chizik, Rhoads won't use ISU to get what he really wants (well, being a head coach is what he really wants, so the previous sentence is a bit of an oxymoron, but you get my point. He won't use ISU to get what he wants somewhere else). He's invested enough to care what happens to the Cyclone football program after he leaves it. Rhoads' reputation and character suggest he'll keep promises. (Winning back the trust of the burned is never easy, but it can be done. Even Jennifer Aniston seems happy these days.)

Rhoads was an assistant on McCarney's first staff at Iowa State. This is more important than you might think at first blush. It will heal the division in the Cyclone football program. There are hundreds of former Dan McCarney players living in Central Iowa. Since Mac was forced out, most have supported Iowa State football, but not Jamie Pollard. Those players will be firmly behind this hire, and therefore Pollard. For the first time since Mac left, there will be no backroom sniping.

Rhoads is only 41. He's a proven defensive coordinator, and unlike Chizik, he's done it at a place without 5-star athletes at every position (Pitt). Rhoads also specializes in pass defense, which you may have noticed, comes in handy these days in the Big 12. The man Rhoads hires as offensive coordinator is his most important decision.

I don't know if Rhoads will lead Iowa State to championships. Odds are he won't, it's one of the harder jobs in college football, but I do believe he'll immediately return Cyclone football to tolerable viewing, and eventually you'll see Iowa State back in minor bowls. Who knows, if he hires the right staff (not his under-qualified buddies), the Cyclones just may get to that previously unattainable "next level". There's no way of knowing. No head coaching track record to even take an educated guess.

Rhoads first task will be to re-recruit the current players. He'll get it done. Rhoads is a charismatic recruiter to begin with, but those Cyclones don't want to leave, especially when the reality of sitting out a year sinks in. One or two may stray, but the rest will come to realize it's more important to embrace the school and its people than the head coach. The school will always be there, the head coach could start yelling "War Eagle!" at any time.

Those of us who choose to live in Iowa love this place. We even find ways to love the things we hate---like the weather, state fair, and SoundOff. We don't like being used. Rhoads won't have one eye on the door. Iowa is home.

Jamie Pollard tried "sexy". It was a disaster. Time to get back to someone who will roll the sleeves up and go to work. Paul Rhoads will do that. He won't sell tickets on sizzle, so he'll need to look a lot better in his first two years than Chizik did in his. That won't be hard.

If I know Cyclone fans, and I think I do, they're already talking up the positives and downplaying the negatives. Good for them.

Paul Rhoads deserves a chance.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gene Chizik leaves skid marks on Iowa.

We've seen coaches come and go, but rarely has an exit caused an uproar like Gene Chizik's. There are several reasons, but none more compelling than a story as old as time. To paraphrase Dennis Green, he's not who we thought he was.

Chizik played high and mighty during his two years in Ames. He constantly talked values, commitment, and integrity. He had bibles on his desk. He insisted on a team Chaplain. Chizik looked a lot of young men right in the eyes and promised them that together they'd build something special at Iowa State. He asked their mothers and fathers to trust him. He urged fans to believe in the journey, and open their wallets along the way. Then he left broken hearts all over Iowa State University, and skid marks on Ames. Raise your hand if you don't think Chizik actually told people he regretted taking the job?

Chizik did nothing to me. He was the kind of guy you could interview 50 times and feel like you didn't know him at all. Not the real him. In that way, he reminded me of Steve Alford. Alford could forget he met you, 10 minutes after meeting you. Unfortunately, Chizik's players learned first hand just how cold blooded he is. He reportedly spent about two minutes explaining his decision to not see anything through. He talked for more than 30 minutes at his Auburn news conference and never once thanked Iowa State or Jamie Pollard for the opportunity. No apologies either. What would Jesus do? Not that.

Anyone should understand a man taking a better job for more money. Keno Davis did it. And he did it after just one year. But there are many differences. Keno actually accomplished something before leaving. Something like championships. He never held a news conference to delcare his love of Iowa. Or to say he was "firmly entrenched". He just said he was happy and had no plans to leave. Near as I can tell, both were true. Keno also wasn't the face and future of the program.

Jamie Pollard put it all on Chizik. And Chizik knew that. Heck, he took advantage of it. Overpaying assistant coaches, insisting the uniforms, school colors, and logo be changed, taking the names off the back of the uniforms... If Chizik wanted it, he got it. The payoff was promised as championships.

Iowa State was never near a championship. It was only two years, but I saw next to nothing promising greatness. Not all coordinators make good head coaches. Much has been made of Chizik's undefeated teams at Texas and Auburn, but with the athletes those schools attract, winning sure didn't leave when Gene did.

Now that Chizik's gone, it's easy to pile on with criticism we didn't hear before. Some of that makes sense. We learned more about Chizik the man. However, many of us were unimpressed with Chizik the coach. The Cyclones were undisciplined, the sideline chaotic, and Iowa State found ways to lose games it should have won. It would have gotten better, but Chizik realized he was in over his head long before Auburn threw him a lifeline. Someone in the Iowa State athletic department told me two years ago he knew Chizik had no idea what he was getting into there when he talked about winning a national championship at Texas with only two elite players, the rest were role players. Yeah, right. 5-star role players.

Chizik was hired to take Iowa State to the next level, but like Alford at Iowa, that level was down, not up. Chizik recruited a lot of promising talent to Ames, and most of those players will end up staying. They won't want to sit out a year. When you're 19, a year seems like forever.

The irony here is Pollard gets a "do-over". Why he offered Chizik a two year contract extension is beyond my comprehension, but Jamie thought Gene was on his way to big things. I didn't see it.

Cyclone fans should pop corks. Pollard too. Chizik was a phony and never a good fit. He didn't want to be in Iowa, couldn't wait to leave, and now finds himself surrounded by a posse of angry Auburn fans.

Some of the above explains part of our fascination with this story. The rest comes down to one much simpler thought:

Can you believe Auburn hired a guy riding a 10 game losing streak?

They can have him.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chizik quits Iowa State

I still can't believe it. Auburn University, one of the premier football programs in America, just hired a football coach riding a 10-game losing streak.

Anyone can understand why Gene Chizik took a better job for more money, but that doesn't make it right. Chizik broke a lot of promises when he left Ames after just two years to pursue his "dream job" .

I've given my opinion---see "I Think" in the video player---now I want to hear yours. What do you think? Time to sound off with feedback.

Thank you.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Back from paradise, Hawks Headed to Tampa, Facebook holdout.

  • Just back from a great vacation with great friends---and Andy. My wife and I are fortunate that we can take a trip each year without the kids. We take the children to Jellystone and Disney and Clear Lake, which we enjoy, but friends and family members tell me to always find time for just us. It's good advice, and we know we're blessed to have both the support and means to pull it off.

  • This year we went to an all-inclusive in Playa Del Carmen, which I learned is in Mexico. It was breathtakingly beautiful, sunny all the time (well, in the day), and hot, which is nice. All-inclusive means all your food and drinks are part of the deal. For the most part, this is good. You're not working, or driving, or doing crossword puzzles, so it's a good time for letting yourself go a little. However, it's easy for a little to become a lot.

  • You know that feeling you have when you paid $9.95 for the buffet---you better eat your money's worth---it's like that, only worse. "I'm on vacation and the desert's free! I better try all five kinds of cheesecake, and dip 17 different things in the chocolate fountain." The drinking can be even worse. Once you discover you can order any drink, and it feels free, it's time to play hangover chemist. I ate like Charlie Weiss and drank like Charlie Sheen. I put on 7 pounds in five days. That's not easy.

  • The trip back is never easy. First of all, all the security checks and bodily probes make it feel like the terrorists won at least one thing: making travel a nightmare. Then there's the sheer shock of going from 85 degrees to 11 degrees. Somehow in a period of less than a week, you forget just how COLD it gets here. It hits you like Bob Sanders.

  • It's good to be back. That's the best part of vacation, realizing as you return, you're glad to be home. Can't wait to do it again.

  • Tim Tebow seems too good to be true. He also loves to talk about his faith. It's no surprise Tebow attracts the haters, but I think he's real. Plus, Bigfoot took pictures of Tim Tebow. And Tebow can win a game of Connect Four in three moves.

  • Stephon Marbury just made it easier for the haters. While people are being laid off left and right, Marbury won't play basketball despite making $21 million this season.

  • Speaking of layoffs... I'm stunned the Des Moines Register dumped Duffy. I thought he was untouchable, but clearly these days, no one is.

  • It's good to see Lucca Staiger having so much fun playing basketball. The guy showed a lot of patience and loyalty.

  • Where are the Panther football fans? Fewer than 10,000 for a national quarterfinal?Maybe it's another sign of the recession. You won't see that out of Hawkeye fans though. They'll sell a car and cash in a 401k before missing the Outback Bowl.

  • Props to our man, Jon Miller, for calling the Outback a month ago. Jon's chartering a trip too. We'll be on that trip. It's the way to go. Hundreds already signed up but they're still adding more at

  • Nearly 16,000 fans for the Iowa - Iowa State wrestling showdown. Now if we could just get someone to notice outside Iowa. ESPN had that match somewhere below Boston Middle School Dodge Ball championship.

  • Good to see OJ looking so miserable. No joke. It was good to see.

  • The Cavaliers pay Lebron James hundreds of thousands of dollars every game. Is it too much to ask that James not act like he's already in New York?

  • Looking forward to Jim Carrey's new movie, "Yes". I loved it the first time when it was called "Liar Liar".

  • You were right. "Hancock" is fun and promising for 45 minutes and then takes a turn so wrong you'd think Hassel was driving.

  • Am I the only Facebook holdout? Seriously, it's taking over the lives of my friends, family, and co-workers. Even people who vowed to never give in, I won't mention names (Shawn Terrell), have now given in. I continue to fight the good fight.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Remembering Stevie, Greene for Heisman, and no longer laughing at Metrodome scoring.

  • I was in Old Navy Friday, wondering how it's possible with 10,000 pair of jeans on sale for $15, that not one would be a 32x32, when my cell phone rang around 5 p.m. It was Shawn Terrell to tell me Stevie Hicks was dead. I didn't know Stevie well, interviewed him a few times, but like many of you, Hicks' death hit me hard. It's been on my mind all weekend. I think it's one of those things where you just can't get your mind around a guy who looked that strong and healthy being dead and gone forever. One of Stevie's friends told me he was really struggling to find happiness and peace of mind. It's a stark reminder to us all that these guys aren't superheroes or robots. They're real people with real feelings. Rest in peace, Stevie Hicks.
  • No good segue from something so sad. I wasn't surprised Dan McCarney immediately released a statement on Hicks. Not everyone thinks McCarney was a good head coach, but no one questions how much he cared about his players. It was good to see Dan on the Florida sideline Saturday, surrounded by blue chip players and all-americans. I'm sure he wonders what he could have done with talent like that in Ames.
  • Tim Tebow is a stud. The guy once ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one. I don't know what kind of pro Tebow will make, but he is a great college football player, and by all accounts, an even better person.
  • Look for Tebow to place higher at this year's Heisman ceremony than some expect. The Heisman almost always breaks down by regional bias, which makes sense. The more you've seen someone play, the more likely you are to vote for that person. The Big 12 players will all split votes. Bradford or McCoy? Harrell or Crabtree? What about Daniel? Will he get a vote or two? Meantime, Tebow has the south pretty much to himself.
  • I'm waiting until the last minute to vote. Right now, my vote looks like this: 1) Colt McCoy 2) Tebow 3) Shonn Greene. Sam Bradford is the favorite in Las Vegas, but I don't think for a minute he's the "most outstanding college football player in the United States". Bradford might be the MVP, but that's not what the Heisman ballot says. A lot of voters learned this the hard way when they voted for OU's Jason White. Look at the candidates, and put them on a bad football team. Would Bradford be a Heisman candidate quarterbacking Iowa State? No way. However, I'll bet Austen Arnaud could put up some sick numbers at Oklahoma (not Bradford's, but still good ones.) Would Shonn Greene be a candidate running the football at Iowa State? Possibly. You could put Greene on Oklahoma or Texas, and he'd likely be even better (though he might not run the football as much).
  • I think Texas got hosed by the BCS. There's no good way to decide this mess that continues in D1 college football, but head-to-head should come first in the tiebreaker, and Texas beat Oklahoma on a neutral field. Then again, Tech beat Texas...
  • I laughed too when I first heard about the Metrodome sexcapade, but the embarrassed kids and humiliated husband have robbed me of any enjoyment. That, and the fact Iowa punked Minnesota 55-0, and Minnesotans are laughing at us anyway.
  • Gene Chizik firing two coaches (Tony Petersen & Shawn Raney) and demoting two others (Robert McFarland & Wayne Bolt) shows Chizik can make tough calls. It's not easy firing friends. It also shows Chizik realizes just how desperate it's become in Ames. Iowa State needs to get much better sooner, not later. Chizik has already begun the search for two new coordinators.
  • The first 30 minutes of "Role Models" is crudely hilarious. Jenny and I fell out of our seats. It doesn't keep the laughs coming at the starting pace, but a surprisingly sweet story mostly makes up for it. A-
  • Also enjoyed "Bolt" with the little boys, though the 3D added nothing except $6 to our bill. B+
  • Chris Hassel and Shawn Terrell sit in for Jon Miller Monday through Wednesday this week on KXNO from 2 to 4 p.m. That should be fun. Shawn will try to keep Hassel from going off the tracks, though Hassel unhinged might make even better radio.
  • Props to Jon for predicting Outback Bowl from the jump. It's not a done deal yet, but Jon looks smarter each day.
  • It was not an encouraging weekend for college basketball in Iowa. Many of our men's (Iowa, Drake, UNI) and women's teams (Iowa, ISU) finally played good teams, and all were blown out.
  • I need to go do SoundOff, and as I do, I realize something else to add to my Thanksgiving list of "Things I'm Thanks for": hosting this show with Andy Fales each week. At this time a year ago, I thought those days were done, and that perspective makes me appreciate the partnership even more.
  • I spent most of the long weekend on the couch watching TV and movies with the family. This isn't good news for the President's Council on Physical Fitness, but it was glorious for me.
  • You know you have a good friend when she'll housesit, dogsit, and turtlesit. Thanks Heather!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving with a frog, scorpion, and jig saw.

  • I have so much to be thankful for this year. At the top of the list is my wonderful wife and best friend, Jenny, and the six kids we have the privilege of sharing our lives with. I could go on, and often do, but I'll leave it there.

  • I promise not to turn this into another "things I'm thankful for". I've already ended one sentence with a preposition, and I know the grammar police are out there and ready to pounce. I will add a quick "thanks" to all of you who stop by here to read these ramblings. I'm always surprised at the numbers, and appreciate your kindness (and criticisms, though not as much).

  • My one-of-a-kind parents were here for an early Thanksgiving. They left Tuesday to go back to Florida. Jenny and I dropped them at the airport at 9:15 a.m. and received a call from my mom a half hour later at 9:45. Could we come back? I thought their flight had been canceled, but it turns out my dad tried to carry on a jig saw and a belt sander. Where do I start. I'm not sure which is more ridiculous, that in 2008 my father thought he could get through airport security with Bob the Builder's tool kit, or that security thought my dad would be a threat to pull out the jig saw, insert the blade, find an outlet, and threaten to hijack the plane. Or maybe they feared he'd threaten to sand someone's arm until he had an unbearable burn. He could have checked his bag, sander and all, but no way my mom's paying $30 for something that was once free.

  • My favorite Thanksgiving food is either the jello salad with marshmallows so many people don't like, or cranberry sauce. But I prefer the cranberry sauce right out of the can, where you can still see the ridges as it sits in the bowl. For some reason, that's better than homemade to me.

  • The Lions are going to go 0-16. I know they can do it. My father and I went to a number of Bucs games the year they went 0-14 in those Pirates of Penzance uniforms. I loved every minute of it. We saw OJ Simpson play, and he was scary good. He later became just scary. Funny the things you remember about being a kid, but I recall my dad making the best sub sandwiches for our tailgating. He called them hoagies. He'd cut them with a jig saw.

  • Shawn Terrell says I need to stop repeating myself when it comes to Gene Chizik. Shawn says he's heard the following over-and-over: 1) Chizik didn't understand what he was getting into. 2) He deserves more time. Shawn's right, and I don't have much else to add.

  • Shawn also says he's sick of the picture of the Cubs fans in tears that appears over my should during sportscasts. Shawn says he feels it could be him. Exactly. That one continues.

  • When Indiana hired Kelvin Sampson, I used this forum to remind the Hoosiers of the Scorpion and the Frog. Scorpion asks the frog for a ride across the pond, frog worries that the scorpion will kill him, scorpion says he won't do that "because we'd both drown". Frog agrees to the ride, halfway across he feels a sting in his back, and says "why did you do that? Now we'll both die!" Scorpion says, "I could not help myself, it's my nature." Indiana, you're the frog. Sampson's the scorpion. How did that feel?

  • A few weeks ago, I mentioned I was hearing Bill Snyder wanted back in at Kansas State. I took a little heat for that, but the source was correct. It explains why Ron Prince didn't even get three years. Snyder wanted his old job back, and K-State fans have forgotten Snyder was under .500 his final two seasons.

  • Joe Frazier stopped by the SoundOff studio last week, on his way to Prairie Meadows, and he couldn't have been nicer. Joe's in tough shape these days, but he came to life with fans around him (and by fans, I mean B-Ross). Those three fights with Ali will live forever. And to think, in those days, we watched for free on ABC's Wide World of Sports.

  • How much money has Michael Buffer made by yelling, "Let's Get Ready to Rummmmmmmmbllllllllle!" This guy and Vanna White figured it out.

  • Las Vegas oddsmakers still don't have Shonn Greene on the Heisman Trophy betting board. Four of the top five are Big 12 quarterbacks; the other is Tim Tebow. This could be interesting. The Big 12 guys will obviously split a lot of regional votes, not to mention the split between Harrell and Crabtree, and a surging Tim Tebow is again a threat to win. He's going to own his region, and could pick up more support elsewhere with a lights out showing against Alabama. I'm holding my vote until the last minute. I think Greene has proven himself the best running back in the country, and he deserves a seat at the ceremony, but with Iowa unranked, and Greene coming from nowhere, it's going to be tough.

  • Chris Hassel's parody of Marty Tirrell has earned raves from all over, including Marty himself.

  • Thanks to Jon Miller for letting Andy and I sit in in on KXNO a couple times this week. We had a blast, and Andy nearly wet his pants when Chris called in from Vegas as Marty.

  • Happy Thanksgiving. And thanks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hassel slobberknocked, Stillwater tops Ames, and Fear the Tigerhawk.

  • I know, I know... I'm a little slow on the update. I'd have been here sooner but I'm putting the last of my savings under the mattress. Thank you for your patience.
  • A lot has happened since we last chatted. Let's review some of it.
  • Gene Chizik came out and denounced a rumor he regretted taking the Iowa State job. This was a questionable move on Chizik's part. 99.9% of the people were not even aware of the rumor, but many of them became aware when Chizik brought it up at a news conference. Chizik felt strongly he needed to shoot it down before the rumor became "fact" on the recruiting trail, and in the whispers of big donors, and it does appear he killed the gossip. File this one under: risky but probably worked.
  • Did you see Chris Hassel plowed at the Penn State-Iowa game? And by plowed, I mean run over, not drunk. A Penn State football player with the license plate "47" slobberknocked Chris into lala land. Chris was okay. The camera was not. #47 escaped with a one point loss.
  • Gary Barta was right to send a note of concern after several arrests and injuries (not counting Chris) , but nothing will change. As long as there are hardcore fans, especially drunk ones, storming the field after a big win will continue.
  • How 'bout that video Shawn Terrell shot of the older lady, a Hawk fan, at the Purdue game wearing a sweatshirt that reads, in big letters, "Iowa F---ing City"? I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.
  • Went to a party for the Iowa Chops at Skybox Lounge. Hockey players, generally, are among the best professional athletes to cover. They're usually nice, polite, and ready with a joke. Not all are handsome, but as Andy noted, it's always fascinating how many attractive women show up when future millionaires are on the loose and unattached.
  • We went from the Chops party to Bucs game. Actually a Bucs game kind of is a party. You can always count on a good time, as long as you're not easily offended and you don't mind the smell of beer. It also helps this season if you don't mind seeing the home team lose. I thought the Bucs would be much better under J.P. Parise, but lately they're just plain bad.
  • Saw "Changeling". Another excellent movie from director Clint Eastwood. Like all his films lately, I walked out saying, "That was really gripping, moving, and heartbreaking. I doubt I'll ever watch it again." If you saw "Million Dollar Baby", you know what I mean.
  • Also saw "Quantum of Solace". I love Daniel Craig as James Bond. I know some fans of the series miss the playboy at the party shagging girls and tossing one-liners, but Craig is going to get to that place one movie at a time, and this one is all about pissed off vengeance. You feel the violence. It's not your father's bond. If you loved Jason Bourne, you'll love this Bond. The comparison is inevitable. The past two Bourne movies are much like this Bond. Though "Solace" isn't as good as "Casino Royale", it's much shorter and filled with non-stop action. I loved it.

  • For you parents out there, or closet animation freaks, "Madagascar 2" is a winner. It passes my test of tolerable for mom & dad. Actually, it's even better than that. The equal of the first one, though not as fresh. Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, and especially Alec Baldwin do great voice work. (If Alec Baldwin's voice was a food, it would be oatmeal.)
  • I sat down with Shawn Johnson for a half hour last week. It's hard to believe how much she's grown up, but that's what happens to teenagers. You go a few months without seeing them, and you can't believe the change. Shawn's had a blast on tour, though I think she's tired. I wouldn't be surprised if she sat out another semester at Valley High School, but Shawn tells me she'll definitely return for her Senior year. She said she misses the "drama" of high school life, but found plenty of similar angst on a bus full of teenage girls. I can imagine.
  • Occasionally when I look at the iconic Hawkeye logo on the side of an Iowa football helmet, I'm reminded that someone had the ridiculous idea to change that logo to a more fierce Hawk (Hawk on crack, some called it). Rank that one right up there with New Coke and Mutt Lange trading in Shania Twain.

  • The Tigerhawk is easily one of the best logos in sports. Instantly identifiable almost anywhere in the United States. Iowa State's Jamie Pollard would be the first to tell you how much that'$ worth.

  • Pat Forde with ESPN calls Ames the worst town in the Big 12? No way. I spent a month in Stillwater one weekend. That place is the armpit of the Big 12. I was by myself, doing play-by-play for ESPN+, and made the mistake of going to see "Leaving Las Vegas". When it was over, it was all I could do to keep from drinking myself to death. Instead I went out to Stillwater's finest restaurant. I always enjoy Sonic.
  • Why do some people come in and start a conversation as you're typing at work? Isn't it obvious you might actually be in the middle of a thought? Does this happen to anyone else? It happens to me at least once a day. That's why this sentence makes no thank you, I just ordered popcorn from my son's Cub Scout fundraiser.
  • I went to the post office in Beaverdale yesterday, and the line was backed WAY up. I tried to figure out why, and then it became apparent. The lady who wants a detailed description of every single price option available to her in North America. Meantime others are burning a hole in the back of her head with their stares, but oblivious, she now wants all the confirmation and insurance options.
  • I appreciate all the DVR suggestions. I'm going to try "11th Hour", "Family Guy", "Wire" (with the help of Netflix), "Prison Break" (more Netflix... must start at season 1), and "Real Housewives of Atlanta". You were right, it's strangely watchable, like the conceited person in a bar who can talk about herself for two straight hours.
  • "Friday Night Lights" was going to be canceled by low ratings, but NBC worked a deal with DirecTV to keep it on the air. DirecTV has exclusive rights in the fall, and then NBC starts airing those episodes in January. I can't wait. I miss the Taylors.
  • Good to see Anthony Edwards back on ER. It was a reminder how good that show used to be. Talk to me Goose.
  • Props to UNI head football coach Mark Farley for kicking Johnny Gray and Victor Williams off the team. It could cost UNI a shot at the national championship, but it's good to know Farley will do the right thing. Most coaches don't. They offer excuses why the kids "deserve another chance", when what they mean is "it will be harder to win without them".
  • It may not be the most important story, but thanks to the Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson for calling out Iowa on that ridiculous streak of "sold out" football games. When an entire section is nearly empty, as was the case a few times, it's not sold out, and there aren't just "single seats". It's no coincidence the streak ended days after the Register exposed Iowa. Iowa has some of the best football fans in America, no exaggeration or stat- padding necessary.
  • If Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter had played the entire game against Iowa, I think the Hawks lose. He marched the Boilers at will.
  • Iowa State fans showed up stronger than expected for the final game. It wasn't quite as cold as Ed expected, and more than 40,000 die-hards turned out anyway. Well, for the first half.
  • Drake looked like a team with a new basketball coach Saturday night. Give the Dogs another month before pressing the panic button.
  • Some people are just funny because they're good story-tellers. In that category, Mike Kiernan. He's funny talking about making instant mac & cheese.
  • My wife gave me an iPod nano for our anniversary. I have no idea how to use it, but I don't plan on sleeping until I figure it out. I haven't been this excited since I got Rock Em Sock Em Robots.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Top Model on SoundOff, Tank the Turtle, and "Official" Cheerleader.

  • Is it just me, or is the "Saved by Zero" song in every commercial break? I can't get it out of my head. Just typing it put the Fixx on a loop in my noggin. I'll try to switch to "One Thing Leads to Another".

  • Actual conversation in the car between my two youngest boys, Colin 4, and Cade 7.

Cade: "What girl sings 'I kissed a girl'"?

Colin: "It's not a girl singing, Cade. It's a BOY!"

Cade: "No it's not Colin. It's a girl."

Colin: "You're wrong, Cade. Why would a girl say she kissed a girl?"

Cade: "I dunno... Dad, why is that girl singing about kissing a girl?"

Dad: "Hey kids, look! An airplane!"

  • Grand View University---congrats on the promotion---volleyball player Jaeda Young will join us Sunday night on SoundOff. Jaeda is good up front for the Vikings, and often leads the team in kills, but let's be honest, she's joining us in large part because she was a finalist on "America's Next Top Model". Jaeda is from Parkersburg, so we have a wide range of topics to discuss: tornadoes, volleyball, football, modeling, and Tyra Banks.

  • Maybe Hawk fans can prove me wrong, but a Blackout in November seems like a bad idea. You have to hope for a unseasonably warm day, or that everyone owns a black coat. The Greenout for students, in honor of Shonn Greene, is a nice idea, but confusing on the same day as the Blackout.

  • The Iowa Chops are holding a fundraiser for The Des Moines Youth Hockey Association Saturday night at Skybox Lounge (formerly Coach's Corner) on 8th Street in West Des Moines. The Chops players and coaches will be there. Admission is $5.

  • I've raved about Jethro's BBQ so much, you'd think I had a stake in the place. I don't, and now I have to write about my first bad experience there. This past Saturday, we all went to watch the Cyclones and Hawkeyes. The HDTV's were fine, but the place was FREEZING. I did tell a manager we were all cold, and he said the temp was set real low because all the people would make it feel 85 degrees in no time. No time never arrived. I asked for the fan above us to be turned off, but it never was. On top of that, we had a nice young lady as a server, but she forgot my order once, brought us the wrong thing twice, and didn't notice my empty glass for more than 20 minutes. Our group finally bailed in the 3rd quarter, mostly because mild hypothermia had set it.

  • It's often too cold in businesses because the people who set the thermostat are running around while the customers are sitting. I worked at a movie theater for three years and we used to set that sucker around 55 degrees. Maybe this was payback.

  • When my dad has one bad experience, he's done with that restaurant. I mean he can go somewhere weekly for 10 years, and one bad night, that's it. Done. I'm not that way, and I've loved Jethro's every other time, so we'll be back. However, they've earned at least one week in the penalty box. So Heather, Jenny, Kahala, Andy and I need some suggestions where to watch Saturday's Cyclone/Hawkeye doubleheader. We'll bring parkas just in case.

  • I'm hearing Bill Snyder wants back in at Kansas State. It's a short term solution, but after what the man did there, he'd be welcomed by most.

  • Lucca Staiger has shown Iowa State loyalty beyond reason. I hope his faith pays off. The guy can flat out shoot.

  • Is there anybody you'd rather have coaching your college football team than Mike Leach? The guy is smart, fun, and knows how to do more with less. What a gutsy call to go for the win. It helps to have a quarterback and receiver that can back up those stones. You make that call at Iowa or Iowa State, Texas stops the play.

  • Kyle Orton out a month? Not with that beard. He's tough. He'll be back sooner.

  • How does Dick Jacobson have millions to donate every year? I'm proud when we can give $20 to our church.

  • Pete Carroll needs to stop whining about the BCS and start beating Oregon State. Besides, the BCS is going nowhere.

  • If you appreciate hockey at all, don't miss your chance to see Bobby Ryan play for the Chops. One day soon, you'll be glad you did.

  • Is there any doubt Drake's Josh Young is the biggest basketball star in the state of Iowa?

  • No matter who you voted for Tuesday, I hope you stayed up late enough to see one of those seminal moments that will live forever. Shortly after 10 p.m., when NBC called the presidential election for Barack Obama, and started cutting to cameras all over the world, the reactions showed the depth of history being made more than any commentator ever could. As a white male, hearing I could one day be whatever I wanted always made sense, so I can't imagine how that long awaited moment felt to millions. Politics aside, it was riveting and moving.

  • On my DVR series recordings right now: Law & Order, The Mentalist, The Office, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, HBO's Real Sports, Entourage, House, Life, Crusoe, SoundOff (record for my parents), Channel 13 News at 10 (ditto), Clone Wars (kids) and Desperate Housewives of Atlanta (wife, honest!). What am I missing?

  • Dropped from series recordings: Grey's Anatomy (too soapy), My Own Worst Enemy (too silly), and Life on Mars (too much time travel).

  • My wife just got one of our boys a turtle for his birthday. His name is Tank (the turtle, not the kid). Boys all love him, everybody's happy, then I read the papers from Petco. Tank's life expectancy is 50+ years! Kid goes to college, I'm stuck with Tank, but then I die of old age, and I have to give Tank back to the kid, who now has his own kids.

  • The most played video of the week on is the chain gang worker at the Dowling game who jumps up and down celebrating a Dowling touchdown. He even hugs players as they exit the field. Dowling's AD says the man in question won't work future games, and that's probably the right call---at least for a while---but I can't rough him up. He's a volunteer who loves his Maroons and he got caught up in the moment. It looks bad, and you can't allow it to happen, but let's find this guy a nice place in the stands. Sports needs that kind of passion, just, as Erin said, "not while wearing stripes".

  • I think Valley wins again Friday, but this series needs a Dowling win. It's starting to feel like Iowa-Iowa State in the nineties.

  • One more reminder: Where's a great place to watch football on TV with a group? We need Iowa State on one screen and Iowa on the other. HD is a must.



p.s. I still don't like candy corn.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cyclone frustration, January Hawkeyes, and crappy candy corn.

  • It's too soon to panic in Ames, but I completely understand football fans being disappointed and frustrated. Iowa State finished last season like a team going somewhere, and a couple wins against over-matched opponents to start this year looked promising. It was a mirage. Iowa State is the worst team in the Big 12, and it's increasingly clear there's no cheating a five year plan.
  • I believed early on that Gene Chizik didn't really understand what he was getting into. He thought he did, but when you come from Texas and Auburn, you just aren't prepared for the talent drop-off in Ames. You think you are, but you aren't. Yes, Chizik and staff need to make smarter adjustments to do more with less, but at the end of the day, it's almost always about talent. Iowa State needs better players. Chizik needs more time. It's going to take a lot of both.
  • I sat in the upper deck of Jack Trice Stadium Saturday night, dressed like an Alaskan, and pretty much unrecognized, which was nice. It gave me an opportunity to overhear what fans are thinking. In a word: frustration. No major college football program has more patient fans than Iowa State, but they're getting worried. Don't. Not yet. It's too soon. See Pinkel and Mangino.
  • Is it just me, or can you subtract 15 degrees from the forecast when you're going to Jack Trice Stadium in October or November? No wonder Jim Walden tried the ill-advised triple option. It is a wind tunnel.
  • If Iowa State's going to win another game, it will be at Colorado.
  • This just in: There's an Aggie receiver wide open across the middle.
  • The new AP poll shows 0 votes for the Iowa Hawkeyes, yet Iowa remains very much alive for a New Year's Day bowl. The fans are the 12th man. Iowa has to win at Illinois Saturday to keep that January vibe alive. Chris Hassel will begin reporting from the U of Illinois campus Friday, if he's not attacked by an offended Illini fan.
  • I thought I had reached the age where I'm too old to pretend I could still be a Major Leaguer, but I haven't. Thank you Jamie Moyer.
  • Sooner or later Andy Samberg has to make another funny digital short. He struck gold with the Chronicles of Narnia rap, "Lazy Sunday", and the immortal love song, "D--- in a Box", but lately Samberg's videos are more stupid-stupid than stupid-funny.
  • Shawn Terrell texted me from Metallica and said "these guys can really play". Shawn hopes to have his hearing back by the time he returns to work Tuesday.
  • Andy doesn't think he looks anything like Dwight Schrute on the Office. I think he does. If the online vote holds, we'll find out Sunday on our Halloween show. I don't care what wins for me as long as it's not a Wheaties box.
  • Why does anyone hand out candy corn? Do you like it? Do you know anybody who likes the taste of candy corn? There's a reason this crap is only served up once a year.
  • The Iowa Chops fight more than the Brands brothers. I like that.
  • I just filled up my Explorer for $41. That, after once spending $79. We deserved some kind of break this year.
  • Who the heck is Spencer Pratt? Chris wants to punch him in the forehead, but I don't even know who Pratt is.
  • Only one more week of political ads that assume we're all stupid!


Monday, October 20, 2008

The Greene Machine, Cyclones in reverse, the rap on Palin.

A month ago, I said it appeared the state of Iowa had two FBS programs headed in opposite directions. I got the statement right, the teams wrong.

Since then, Iowa has looked great, crushing a bad Indiana team on the road, and thumping below average Wisconsin at home. Exactly what a good team does. We still don't know where Iowa's headed, but the smart money says it's to a bowl game.

Meantime, Iowa State has played uninspired, bad fundamental football in back-to-back games. Iowa State made Baylor look like a good team, which it isn't, and made Nebraska look like it's 1998, which it isn't. Nebraska fans walked away like they're great again, but in reality it was just their third Big 12 win in two seasons, and two of those three wins came against Iowa State (that's an ugly sentence).

I'm not shocked Iowa State is still struggling, it's one of the toughest places to win in college football. Don't take my word for it, just look up the past 100 years. The thing that does surprise me is how sloppy the Cyclones play. If I didn't know Gene Chizik's background, and hadn't heard ringing endorsements from so many respected people, I would say Iowa State plays like a team that's not well coached. If it continues, I will say that. For now, Chizik gets the benefit of the doubt.

It's still too early. Chizik deserves more time and needs much more talent. If there's no progress after three seasons, it's likely not going to turn.

I said when Chizik was hired that I didn't think he truly understood the magnitude of the difference between Texas and Iowa State, but I think he's on his way. Iowa State will always be at a talent disadvantage with most of the Big 12. That makes it absolutely crucial that the Cyclones have better execution, fewer penalties and turnovers, more imaginative play-calling and daring defense, and more desire than the team on the other side of the ball. None of those things is happening right now.

Iowa State needs a win over Texas A&M to keep the fans engaged during November. A flop Saturday, and it's going to get ugly. Especially in this economy.

Back to Iowa. How 'bout Shonn Greene. That guy is a pleasure to watch. He's not going to win the Heisman (paging Colt McCoy), but Greene deserves consideration. Talk about an MVP, where is Iowa without Greene? I'm not sure any player means more to his team. Greene needed a signature game and a signature highlight. He had both against Wisconsin.

Think Bret Bielema's feeling heat yet? They're used to winning in Wisconsin, and now they're wondering if Bielema won inside the Alvarez buffer zone. More than one person has compared Bielema to Steve Alford, and in this case, that's not a compliment. Like Alford, I think success came a little too easily for Bielema, and the cockiness wore a few people out. Bielema may be a former Hawkeye, but not all in those Iowa football offices speak fondly of him behind closed doors.

When Bielema played for Iowa, he told Iowa State head coach Jim Walden at midfield, "Coach, you've been a real (expletive) the last five years. I've enjoyed beating you." Walden replied, "I'm glad you enjoyed it." Under the circumstances, not a bad comeback.

The Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series? The Rays? The Cubs can't buy their way in, but the Rays play their way in? It's just getting worse. At least I don't work at the Fox network. Rays and Phillies. Look for ratings right around the level of the Des Moines City Council weekly meeting on channel 7.

I'm hearing good reviews from fans who have taken in an early Iowa Chops game. I haven't made it to one yet, but it appears the new group listened to the fans and made the atmosphere much better and more fun. Cheaper tickets help too.

We had head coach Gord Dineen on SoundOff this week. Nice guy and funny. Andy was trying to get used to sitting next to the guy he used to "play" on video games. Andy liked being Gord because he'd, "drop the gloves and make somebody's head bleed." Nice. I think I saw that on Swingers.

DirecTV is using that dead child star from Poltergeist in its latest ad. That locks up the "bad taste" award for advertising in 2008.

ABC5 has a tough choice between Iowa at Illinois and Iowa State at Oklahoma State next weekend. Actually, it's not that tough. They've got to go with Iowa at Illinois. I'm sure ABC/ESPN will find a way to get both games on anyway.

If you were one of the hundreds of people who signed up for all those prizes at Lolo Jones Homecoming at Jordan Creek Town Center, you can find the winners on our sports page. Click on the cleverly named "Lolo's Homecoming Winners". Some nice prizes from Lolo's sponsors.

Crusoe is a surprisingly good adventure the entire family can watch. It probably has no chance.

While you were watching the NFL, I was watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It wasn't half bad either, as talking dog movies go. It's the kind where you know going in, you'll hear Right Said Fred's I'm Too Sexy, and you do.

Through a family friend, I got a sneak peak, sneak eat really, at Skybox. It's formerly Coaches Corner or Fratellos. Skybox looks really cool inside, and it's marketed toward sports fans who want to watch games in HD while eating and drinking in a little more upscale place than your average sports bar. I give it a good initial review. The food was delicious, and the beer ice cold and tasty. Skybox should open later this week.

Saturday Night Live just had its highest rating in 14 years, and I don't think it was because Mark Wahlberg talked to a donkey. The opening Sarah Palin sketch was the weakest yet, even with her in it, but the Amy Poehler rap, with Palin on set, saved the show. You can watch it at

I'll be glad when the election's over. The divisive hate-talk is everywhere, It's exhausting and depressing.

On my way to buy Black Ice.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Hawkeye Hammer, Cyclone Enigma, plus ET and divorce.

-Nothing, and I mean nothing, heals what ails like winning.

The Iowa Hawkeyes did just what they needed, they beat the snot out of a bad Indiana team. Suddenly, most in Hawkeye Nation feel a lot better. After three winnable losses, Iowa fans needed to just see their Hawks throttle someone, and once Kellen Lewis exited for Indiana, it was on. With or without Lewis, Iowa wins easily, but without him, Indiana is the Big Ten's worst team by far. Maybe even with Lewis.

We'll know a lot more after Saturday. If Iowa is going to make this a season to remember, of any kind, the Hawks must beat Wisconsin at home. Wisconsin is 0-3 in the Big Ten. The Badgers blew it against the worst Michigan team in decades, lost a close game to Ohio State in Madison, and stayed at home for an ugly beat-down by title contender Penn State. Iowa wins, a good bowl game is still possible. Lose, and no bowl is still possible.

-I can't figure Iowa State. I'm one of those guys that buys into what Gene Chizik is doing, but I'm completely puzzled by the contradiction on the field.

Chizik oozes discipline and structure, yet the Cyclones keep making stupid mistakes and self-destructing. Yes, they're very young, but it's too late for that excuse mid-season.

Chizik also appears like an inspiring motivator, yet time and time again, Iowa State comes out flat. I just don't get it.

There is no excusing that embarrassing effort at Baylor. I know Phillip Bates quit (yes, quit). I know the coaches didn't see it coming. I know Bates was well-liked and the news hit some of his teammates hard. It's still Baylor! Bates didn't play a down, and he wouldn't have if he and his dad didn't take their ball and go home.

One thing is for sure. It's always been hard to win in Ames, and it always will be. Chizik deserves more patience and time, but somewhere Dan McCarney is smiling. He knows how hard it was just to get to a minor bowl game, and now suddenly that's doesn't look so bad.

-Most amazing stat I've heard in a while: Since November 2001, only two of the 65 BCS football teams have failed to beat a team inside the AP Top 20 (ranked 19th or higher): Duke and Nebraska. Nebraska! The Huskers are 0-19 against top 19 teams. That is amazing when you consider the resources and tradition in Lincoln. (Thanks to Ryan Lund for this nugget.)

-Lolo Jones is one of my all-time favorite athletes. Heck, she's one of my all-time favorite people. Lolo's energy is contagious. I had the privilege of hanging around Lolo at her surprise visit to Roosevelt High School's pep rally, as well as her homecoming at Jordan Creek Town Center. In both places, she made everyone she possibly could feel special, and she inspired all who listened to get back up when life knocks them down.

People came from all over Iowa to tell Lolo how proud they were of the way she handled heartbreak in Beijing. I don't think a gold medal would have won her as many fans as showing class did.

-Lolo on Friday, Special Olympics Iowa Gold Medal Gala on Saturday. That's a good weekend of putting sports in their proper perspective. The athletes at the Gala were so positive and inspiring, you couldn't help but want to be a better person. My wife was signing up to volunteer for Special Olympics the next day.

-I'm hearing raves by those who went to the Iowa Chops home opener. Better atmosphere, better music, better hockey. That's a great start. Plus, many people tell me the uniqueness of the Chops nickname is growing on them, and they no longer want to check me into the boards. At least not for that.

-Manny Ramirez is the best post-season hitter I've ever seen.

-I'm still not over the Cubs losing without putting up any fight at all. I'm better off than my friends Heather Burnside and Shawn Terrell. I think Heather's in denial, and Shawn was so down for days, his friends worried about him. We should all know better.

-In entertainment ramblings, the recent episode of Entourage with the guys at the Joshua Tree was the low point in the series. It was awful at times.

-I was disappointed in Chris Rock's new HBO special, Kill The Messenger. As you'd expect, some big laughs, but also relentless profanity and borderline misogynistic sexual crudity. I'm not someone offended by swearing or sex, and Rock has made me laugh many times with jokes involving a lot of both, but for me, this was one of his weaker efforts. Then again, how can anyone follow the classic, Bring the Pain.

-Watched ET with my son, Cade, last week. Like all classic movies, it can speak to you differently depending on what point in life you see it. I hadn't watched ET in many years, and I had never realized how much it's about the loneliness of divorce, for both kids and parents. (Spielberg is child of divorce.) Great movie, even now. Hard to believe it was made in 1982. I'll never forget my grandmother going to see it and hating it. Gram's been gone for years now, but we still joke about knowing the one person who hated ET.

-Jethro's is a sweet place to watch a college football game. Andy's wife had to drag him out of there Saturday because we were caught up in the Texas vs. Oklahoma game, and they were late for a fundraiser.

-By the way, Andy now knows who Montgomery Gentry is. We gave away concert tickets on SoundOff, and he said, "Who?". Hundreds of emails later, Andy may not know the songs, but he knows the fans.

-No craving hits me harder than Tasty Taco. When I have to have one, I can't be stopped.

I have to have one.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ferentz vs. Fans, ISU vs. Mediocrity, Biden vs. Palin

-When Kirk Ferentz had the Hawkeyes in the top ten three straight years, Iowa was 6-0 in games decided by three points or fewer. Since the Tate to Holloway magic, Iowa has lost 8 straight close games.

Did Ferentz and staff suddenly forget how to coach? Did they catch lightning in a bottle during those 10 win seasons? Is this just a run of bad luck? Discuss.

-Ricky Stanzi looks to me like he can be an effective Big Ten quarterback (once he starts hanging onto the ball). I don't see "All-Big Ten" in his future, but he's serviceable.

-Iowa needs to run Shonn Greene until he wears out his cleats, then get him a new pair, and run him some more. He's great.

-I've heard far too many Cyclone fans discussing the positives and upside of Iowa State's close loss to #16 Kansas. Iowa State should have won that game, and until everybody in Cyclone Nation, from players to fans, is mad and won't in any way accept a meltdown like that, the mediocrity and close calls will continue in Ames.

-Good to see Austen Arnaud finally take all snaps. He's still young and erratic (see Ricky Stanzi), but when Arnaud's on, he's good.

-I have nothing to add about the Cubs. It was predictable and painful.

-The Express is an inspiring movie. The Ernie Davis story is long overdue, and it's fascinating. It's still hard to imagine and believe this level of racism and hatred existed in society in general, and college football in particular, but it's a good reminder of how far we've come. My kids liked the movie a lot and asked many questions. Rob Brown is good as Ernie Davis, and Dennis Quaid even better as Davis' coach. A little too long, and a little too much like Remember the Titans (and not as good), but worth seeing. B

-When did movie tickets reach $9 in Des Moines? I usually hit matinees, so I was in shock. Once you pay more than $50 just to get the family in the door, the last thing you want to see is people repeatedly opening their glowing cell phones, but that's what we put up with. I wish I had more of that nerve that some people do where you go down and ask someone to keep his phone closed, but I don't.

-As much as I hated seeing the Cubs swept, I'm happy for Joe Torre. He deserves the last laugh after the Yankees offered him a pay cut to stay and then left him out of the closing ceremonies for Yankee Stadium. He led the Yankees to the playoffs every season and won four World Series'. No wonder they wanted to make a change. How's that working out?

-Saturday Night Live started with 10 minutes of genius, "Biden vs. Palin", and then slipped back to sub par again, but when it's that good from the jump, it's worth watching. I knew Tina Fey would be hilarious as Sarah Palin, but didn't imagine a lot of laughs at Joe Biden's expense. They pulled it off. You can watch at

-We're excited to help throw a homecoming party for Lolo Jones. She'll be at Jordan Creek Town Center from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday night. Lolo will have prizes and surprises, but most of all she'll be herself, and that's always entertaining. She'll sign autographs and pose for pictures. Please come out if you get the chance.

-Kyle Orton looked great against the Lions. Granted, Southeast Polk could give the Lions a game about now, but Orton's confidence is on the rise.

-I'm honored to host the Special Olympics Gold Medal Gala Saturday night in West Des Moines. Shawn Johnson was scheduled to join me, but there's an unavoidable conflict with her post-Olympics tour. Find more info on Gala tickets here:

Have a good week.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Cubs misery, Eck's mustache, and Walking with Dinosaurs.

-Maybe the Cubs are trying to help their fans and just get the disappointment out of the way early. That's what they did last year. Fans of many teams would rather get to the NLCS or the World Series before taking a kick in the stones, but not Cubs fans... they've been kicked so much, in so many ways, it's better to see it coming.

-My friends Heather Burnside and Shawn Terrell were at Wrigley for game one. For four innings, I received all kinds of texts with cool pictures and lots of exclamation points. Since the 5th inning, nothing. I understand. Then again, how can you not have fun in Wrigleyville.

-Hey Dennis Eckersly, 1982 called. It wants its mustache back. Seriously, that guy looks my high school Senior picture, and that is a source of endless embarrassment to me. That TBS crew is a sight. Eck looks ready for a plaid sports coat and Cal Ripken is suddenly Steve Wilkos.

-Good to see Casey Blake driving in runs for the Dodgers. Casey's a good guy. He's wearing the beard from my Freshman year of college. Another bad idea for me that ruined a semester's worth of picture memories.

-Twins fans should feel ripped off. They won the regular season series against the White Sox and, at the very least, that should have been worth hosting the one game playoff. However, it will be fun to hear Ozzie for at least another week.

-I know Chase Utley likes endorsement dollars as much as the next guy, but does he really expect us to attribute his baseball success to skin care? "I could be a Major Leaguer too, if I just moisturize more often!"

-Congrats to I-Cubs GM Sam Bernabe on being the PCL executive of the year. Sam's a winner.

-The American League home run leader had 37. 37! Who was it that said steroids don't help you hit a baseball farther?

-NFL bust Tony Mandarich now admits he was on 'roids? I'm shocked. What's next, NBA players smoke a lot of weed.

-The late Wally Hilgenberg was born in Marshalltown, but he grew up in Wilton. Thank you to the viewers who gently corrected me.

-Good to hear the Chinese gymnasts were cleared, even though several, as Andy famously said, needed car seats. No way the IOC was going to embarrass China after the Beijing Olympics were such a runaway success.

-95KGGO Arena is now Buccaneer Arena. I think that means if you want to sponsor the arena, you can have your name on it. "Shane From Marshalltown Arena" anyone...

-I hear Rusty Wallace wants to drive Sprint Cup next year for DEI, but ABC/ESPN won't allow it. He's under contract as a broadcaster, and the contract says no racing.

-Walking with Dinosaurs at Wells Fargo Arena is a rare combination of entertaining and educational. Kids love it, but there are more than a few saucer-eyed adults. I had to drag Andy Fales out of there.

-The Mentalist is the best new show I've seen on TV, but there was a big dropoff in quality from show 1 to show 2.

-Can't wait to see The Express. It looks predictable, but the story is so good, they don't need to embellish. My wife doesn't know about the big Ernie Davis plot twist, so she won't see it coming like those of us who follow college football closely.

-The new Roosevelt mascot is fantastic. It's a 13 foot tall Teddy Roosevelt carrying a big stick. You can see video at My buddy Todd Bailey shot the footage.

-The Blue Moon piano bar brought Andy a case of water today. Andy called the place out for charging $2 for a glass of water, even when you're just trying to hydrate or sober up.

-I think it's going to be another tough weekend of D1 college football around here. The Hawkeye meltdown should continue after a visit to East Lansing, and Kansas should win in Ames, and we're not talking about basketball. If KU can reach the next level, why not ISU? The Cyclones have never been there.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again soon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Guest blogger time.

Today's guest blogger: Shane from Marshalltown.

After last week's hangover induced, lackluster performance, I have made a concerted effort to step my game up...

Congratulations to Andy and Kahala!! It was obvious when I met her, that Andy has great taste in women...too bad Kahala's taste in men is apparently below average...

Iowa didn't lose the game because of Ken O'Keefe...unless he called for 5 turnovers...and if he did, he's a jerk and needs to be fired...

Hank Steinbrenner basically declared that the Yankees should be in the playoffs, even though they're not that good...which is funny, since most baseball fans would like to see them NOT make the playoffs, even when they're awesome...

Blazing Saddles would be the funniest movie ever, if they'd lop off the last 10 minutes...Seriously, it's like making out with Jessica Alba, then just as you're really starting to get into it, she unleashes a chili burp in your mouth...not cool Jessica...not cool at all...

America lost a legend this weekend when Paul Newman passed away...With the way Hollywood has wussified itself over the years, it seems we're down to just Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Harrison Ford, in the "man's man" catagory...

Matt Millen was fired by the Detroit Lions this week, leaving their fans with nothing to look forward to for the rest of the season...

After meeting KCCI's Andy Garman and John Meyer and WOI's Eric Murphy, during Andy's bachelor party, I'm left wondering "how can I possibly hate "the competition" now!?!?" So I'd like to take this time to apologize to both stations for the rash of "dog poop in a bag, on fire" pranks, that took place during a 3 year stretch, spanning from 2006 thru...the hours leading up to Andy's bachelor party...

I don't know what Jethro's is planning on serving up as "The Cot-Man's Sandwich" but it should be bland enough to bore your taste buds to sleep, while giving you diarrhea of the mouth...

Hey Keith, you know what they say about that Old Spice commercial that gives you nightmares, right!?!? Good looking guy...but a horse's ass...

Can someone please tell Carlos Zambrano that the season didn't end with his no-hitter!?!? Thanks...

The SoundOFF poll about booing left off the 3 choices I would consider voting for...The opposition...when the refs blow a call...and Notre Dame...

If Lou Holtz were to ever say, "Let me tell you shomething Shane from Marshalltown..." would I be correct in assuming he thinks my name is Sane from Marsalltown???

Why is our government putting together a 700 billion dollar bailout for a bunch of morons??? Let 'em suffer so the next group of idiots will think twice about how they do business!!! Screw it, I'd like to declare that I'm running for president and when elected, I will make stupidity illegal...well, except for mine of course...

Shane from Marshalltown

Shane's views are Shane's, and Shane's alone. Unless you agree, then they're yours and Shane's. Let Shane know what you think on feedback, and if you're interested in providing a guest blog, please send it to unless it really stinks, then send it to

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How Ferentz can win back fans' confidence.

-I think the next to biggest thing Kirk Ferentz can do to regain the confidence of many Hawkeye fans is to take down the wall of defensiveness and admit when his hunches are wrong. He doesn't have to apologize for following his "gut feeling", he just needs to be accountable for it. (I still think Ferentz was sending Stanzi a message for defying Ken O'Keefe late in the first half.)

What's that? Oh yeah, the biggest thing Ferentz can do to regain confidence is have Iowa win six of the next eight games. I think four is more likely.

-The Hawkeyes can beat anyone remaining on their schedule, and they can lose to anyone.

-Shonn Greene needed more touches in the fourth quarter at Pitt, but eventually Iowa has to come up with some offense from someone else or defenses will dare Iowa to pass---if they're not already.

-Is DJK overrated, or just in need of a better quarterback?

-Jake Christensen was a great high school quarterback, but he is below average in college. I root for the guy---I think he tries hard, and has been blamed for too much---but Jake and Iowa are a bad match. For whatever reason, he hasn't developed at all at Iowa.

-Rick Stanzi is no Chuck Long. He's no Drew Tate for that matter, but it's not hard to see Stanzi's teammates think he should be the guy, and at this point, Iowa needs to ride the roller coaster. He'll look great one game (see FIU) and shaky the next (see Iowa State), but he deserves a chance to play without looking over his shoulder. Jake's had his chance.

-Chigozie Ejiasi is a promising hire as Iowa's Director of Player Development. A guy who grew up in Cedar Rapids, and played for two Big Ten championship teams at Iowa should have an idea of what life is like for a Hawkeye football player.

-I'm not surprised Iowa State is 2-2, but I'm shocked why the Clones are 2-2: a complete lack of on-field discipline. Iowa State is young, very young, but there's no excusing 14 personal foul penalties. That's embarrassing, and partly on the coaches.

-Also on the coaches, Iowa State not being ready to play at UNLV. Much like Iowa needing to win at Pitt, a win at UNLV has the potential to be a swing game for ISU...perhaps the difference between no bowl and a bowl, so how could the Cyclones come out so flat and unprepared? There is absolutely no excuse. It's on the players too.

-Time to stop pretending there's a quarterback competition at Iowa State. Austen Arnaud earned the job, and if he's not hurt, he should be out there. He is a better quarterback than Phillip Bates. As noted before, Gene Chizik needs to find another way for Bates to play (receiver, punt returns, kick returns---something) and get him on board. If Arnaud gets hurt, Bates can go back to QB.

-Leonard Johnson is young and talented, but he should start the Kansas game on the bench after that cheap shot at UNLV. He was deservedly ejected, but Johnson needs to play under control. When he does, he'll be a good one.

-I watched the Hawkeye game at home in glorious HD, while I saw the Cyclone game at Jethro's. Also on hand, Andy Fales, Willie Farrell, Shane in Marshalltown, Eddie Berlin, Joe Woodley, JT the Nutt, Andy Garman and Jon Miller wearing his Drake basketball shirt. The place was packed in the first half, but nearly everyone cleared out at halftime. We stayed for the thrilling finish---and by that, I mean Andy's exit. (It was his bachelor party.) The last second Arnaud TD pass was good too.

-Jon Miller does cheer the Cyclones. I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears.

-Does anyone run the football harder than Marion Barber?

-Laura Linney did win the Emmy for John Adams. Since I was right, I don't have to watch an HGTV marathon.

-My four year old, Colin, just discovered Michael Jackson's music, which is all he needs to know for now. Hearing some of those old songs, I was reminded what a great talent Jackson was before he went all weird, white, and reclusive. Just try not to tap your feet along with Dirty Diana, Beat It, or Billie Jean.

-I loved that the Yankees left Roger Clemens out of the Yankee Stadium celebration, but there's no excuse for not including Joe Torre.

-The Ryder Cup was riveting television, like watching a great night of the Olympics. I love feeling patriotic, especially during a rough year like this one. Bonus props to Boo Weekley for watching Happy Gilmore as many times as the rest of us.

-I like the Chiefs, but they should not be shown on local television again unless there's no other option.

-How fun was it watching the Dolphins run all over the Patriots with the Single Wing? That was awesome. (Apologies to Patriots fans. You've had a great run. We have to gloat over your misery because we're jealous.)

-Are any of these new TV shows any good?

-Tina Fey's brilliant, spot-on impression of Sarah Palin did a great job of disguising what has been an otherwise lackluster start to SNL.

-Chris Hassel's "gut feeling" about what to wear during his sportscast hit the nail on the head for Hawk fans. Funny too.

-Baby Mama was less funny and more sweet than expected. One laugh out loud scene (wheeling Amy Poehler into the hospital). B-

-Congrats to Andy and Kahala! (and Lisa and Jeff)


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Can Iowa win a title? What's wrong with ISU? What's wrong with Righteous Kill?

-It's good to be back home. But I do miss the Doctor Salami sandwiches in Oskaloosa. Good stuff.

-True story: I gained seven pounds during RVTV.

-The best way to watch the Iowa-Iowa State football game had to be in HD. The rain looks the same, but you don't get wet.

I thought it was, for the most part, a rather dull game saved by the fourth quarter fireworks. Iowa was the better team and deserved to win. Iowa, especially Kirk Ferentz, wanted to win in the worst way, and I think the Hawks showed more fire and chemistry than we saw last year. Iowa's defense looks like the real deal up front, Shonn Greene is a man, and Andy Brodell only needs more touches to make more plays.

But... let's not get carried away. Did I really read in several places that Iowa could compete for the Big Ten title? Not the Iowa team I saw. Not even with Iowa's soft schedule. I don't doubt seven wins, but Iowa has trouble at quarterback. Rick Stanzi looked great in two controlled scrimmages, but he was lost against Iowa State's disguised defenses and blitz packages. Jake Christensen has experience and doesn't turn the ball over, but he has an erratic arm and appears to have lost the confidence of many in Iowa City.

Iowa's a better team than last year, and let's not forget they still won six games a season ago, but the Hawkeyes looked better than they are because the competition hasn't been good. If they beat a slightly above average Pitt team, January is possible.

-Iowa State was a big disappointment. I was stunned how undisciplined the Cyclones looked at times. ISU has all kinds of exciting young talent, but it doesn't matter if the team is killing itself with stupid penalties, horrible clock management, and head-scratching play-calls inside the red zone. I did not think I would see a Gene Chizik team look this self-destructive. It gave many a Cyclone fan flashbacks, and not good ones.

We'll know a lot more about Iowa State and Iowa after Saturday.

-Lolo Jones is the best. She gets off a plane in Des Moines, comes to the studio for SoundOff, and takes the time to make every employee at WHO-TV feel like a friend. We put Lolo in our Hall of Fame for three reasons: 1) She's a world champion. 2) She always has time for Iowa. 3) Lolo is a great interview. Insightful, charming, and funny. She could be a motivational speaker.

-How creepy is that body wash commercial where the man in the shower is half horse. Who thought that would help sell product? It makes me want to avoid it.

-Bernard Goldberg's story on HBO's Real Sports showing underage children in India stitching soccer balls for pennies a day was heartbreaking. It was also journalism at its best.

-On the other end of the spectrum, I can't believe I'm still watching America's Got Talent. Especially after the middle weeks when the judges constantly went with the cruel deception of, "I'm very sorry to have inform you that...YOU'RE GOING TO THE NEXT ROUND!" I only fell for it 11 or 12 times.

-The Vikings finally figured out you can't go to the Super Bowl without passing the football. It's too late.

-How bad are the Chiefs? I like the Chiefs, and I can't watch.

-How good was that Eagles-Cowboys game Monday night?! My wife even watched it with me because she feels like she knows the Cowboys after Hard Knocks.

-Erin Kiernan just blogged me out of seeing Righteous Kill. I'll take her advice and watch Heat again.

-As noted in the RVTV blog, we all watched Wedding Crashers the night before the Big Game. If football had a Hoosiers, we might have watched that. Anyway, Vince Vaughn is really funny in Crashers.

-I still can't believe how exciting and scary it is to go 150 miles an hour in a car. If you have the chance to take a few laps at the Iowa Speedway, it's worth the $40, but I guarantee it's much more intense than you expect. You'll walk away with a new respect and appreciation for race car drivers.

-I'll watch the Ryder Cup even without Tiger. Unless something else is on.

-Good to have House back.

-And Entourage.