Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scattershot thoughts from Keith Murphy

Another dark week for the Hawkeye football program. It's fortunate for the University of Iowa that Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield were sent packing back in December, but it doesn't change the fact the alleged sexual assault happened while they were members of the Hawkeye football team. (In fact, the incident took place the morning after Iowa upset Illinois.) Everson and Satterfield are accused of an awful crime, by far the most serious in a long list of arrested Hawkeyes. 16 football players in one year is way beyond an aberration, it's a cultural problem. Many of these charges were not for public intox. They were far more troublesome.
I like and respect Kirk Ferentz. I think he was slow to accept just how bad and embarrassing it had gotten, but the past six months he's booted several players and toughened expectations. That's a great start. You can't stop all players from being knuckleheads. Take a group of 125 college students and someone is going to screw up, but Iowa has gone way beyond that, and I personally know several hardcore fans who are sick and tired of it.
I think the best thing Iowa has going for it next football season is a relatively easy schedule. Schools like Iowa and Iowa State have next to no margin for error when it comes to quality depth, and there's just no way to unexpectedly lose several starters the way Iowa has and not have it make a big impact. Look for it to show up more in 2009. This year, Iowa can be below mediocre and still win 6 games.
Jamie Pollard and Greg McDermott made Wesley Johnson sweat for ten days, but they're right to release him from his scholarship. You can't have it both ways, and like all schools, Iowa State also benefits from transfers. Pollard and McDermott did not give Johnson an unconditional release. He can't go to a Big 12 school, and he can't go to a school on ISU's schedule. They're right to dish some tough love. Johnson's explanation has all kinds of holes in it, and there's no excusing the fact he had just re-upped with ISU a few weeks ago. Don't look for Iowa State to approve Johnson's transfer to Kentucky, should he ask.
Shawn Terrell loves Office Space, which makes me think more of Shawn Terrell. However, all of us here at channel 13 owe actor Ron Livingston an apology. Shawn tried, but when Ron played Glen Oaks Wednesday, Shawn just couldn't stop himself from peppering "Peter" with Office Space references. How sick of this do you think Ron Livingston is?

It's not that I'm lazy; it's that I just don't care.

Or this classic exchange:

Bob: Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately.
Peter: I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob!

Sorry Ron! Livingston is also great in Band of Brothers. If for some reason you haven't seen this yet, go rent it, and say goodbye to everybody for a week. It's that good.
Erin Kiernan is finally over the fact her girlhood crush, Rob Lowe, did not return to kill one or our state birds this year. Erin thinks Jason Taylor filled the hunk void nicely. I personally don't like a man who's rich, famous, handsome, and can also dance.
I'm sorry to say I was disappointed in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It was great to see Harrison Ford back in the fedora, and the man looks amazing for 65, but the story and stunts grew increasingly ridiculous as the movie went on. I can't get into it without spoiling the movie for the 17 people who haven't seen it yet, but I wish they could re-think that silly second hour. B- because watching it made me happy anyway.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

McDermott vs. Johnson...

--Early rounds to Johnson, but McDermott battles back like a cagey veteran and takes a commanding lead in the PR fight.

--McDermott had a great day Wednesday. The Johnson bombshell shook the confidence of many fans in Cyclone Nation. McDermott needed to discredit Johnson's timeline and logic. He did.

--McDermott is already a beloved figure within the athletic department at Iowa State. I wasn't surprised at the show of support, and that includes Jamie Pollard who sent us an e-mail from Colorado saying he thinks more of McDermott than ever. Don't think McDermott's coaching for his job next season. He's not.

--Fans are right to wonder why there's so much turnover in the Cyclone basketball program. Some fans suspect McDermott's style of play, others wonder if he's too hard on the players. I don't think it's any one thing, but a lot of little things: losing taking its toll, outside influences, players thinking they're NBA bound when they're not, athletes who've been coddled for so long looking for strokes every day, McDermott being tough with kids who can't take it, etc.

--I do believe McDermott needs to take a long, hard look at his approach, and see if there are any ways he can do a better job relating to present day, big conference, college basketball players. There's been far too much turnover to completely absolve McDermott of any responsibility. We can all improve.

--McDermott was smart to open up to the media. Todd Lickliter chose not to. I think that was kind of smart too. Different circumstances. Clearly, McDermott did not want to lose Johnson, while Lickliter shed no tears about Tony Freeman's exit; heck, he might have encouraged it.

--I think both Lickliter and McDermott want to bring their programs back the right way. No cheating, no empty promises, no sucking up to elite athletes. I think fans should show more patience because it's a lot harder to do it the right way.

--College basketball is a mess. Players committing in the 8th grade; Freshmen taking online classes for one year before going to the NBA; AAU coaches, agents and overzealous family members all seeing prospects as potential ATM machines; graduation rates that are a complete disgrace; players transferring even more in search of playing time and a pro career. The game lost its innocence a long time ago, and it's getting worse.

--Doesn't all this make you appreciate even more the season Drake had? Those elite three Seniors just graduated too. We need more of that.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Scattershot Thoughts

-I can't get that Subway jingle about "5... 5 dollar foot long" out of my mind. I wish I could.

-Shawn Johnson's favorite TV show is, So you think you can dance?. Have you seen this? I've never watched that or Dancing with the Stars. My sister, Barbara, plans her nights around Stars. Other than that, she's quite normal.

-One of my favorite stories in recent years is former Negro Leagues star Ernie "Schoolboy" Johnson of Des Moines talking to Raccoon Valley Little Leaguers, who wear the Negro League uniforms in tribute, about what it was really like in those days. Hard to fathom it wasn't that long ago. The story by Shawn Terrell is still in our video player on the sports page, and I urge you to watch it, if you haven't already. It's living history. (Kudos to Raccoon Valley Little League for teaching more than just baseball.)

-O.J. Mayo allegedly took money? I'd be more shocked if he didn't. Most of these one and done guys make a mockery of the NCAA's insistence on referring to college basketball players as "student-athletes". Give me a break, and change the rule. It's hypocritical and foolish to force a year of college on "students" who don't want it.

-The hockey artists formerly known as Iowa Stars should have given fans more of a say in naming the team. This is the first real widespread passion I've seen for the AHL in Central Iowa. Start selling season tickets, give one nickname vote to each person who buys a seat.

-When Scrubs was on its A-game, it was brilliant, but that final episode was unwatchable. I know they were going for Moonlighting's famous Taming of the Shrew but it was more like drunk college fraternity room puts on a skit at 3 a.m. I hope ABC picks the show up just so it can finish in worthy fashion.

-Gotta love Daniel McLemore. He's the Barnstormer who dances his way through every game, not to mention SoundOff. The NFL would never let a guy enjoy himself like that.

-Speaking of the No Fun League, I think the Patriots got off easy. No one, and I mean no one, honestly believes Bill Belichick didn't realize he was cheating. I can't believe Belichick won't miss a single game for widespread, chronic CHEATING! $500,000 fine meant nothing. He got a huge new contract, and I'd guess that exact figure was added. I have no idea how much the Patriots benefited from spying, but it didn't hurt, and it definitely taints their legacy, especially Belichick's.

-Barbara Walters, I know you're selling a lot of books, but at what cost to your dignity and reputation?

-Todd Lickliter didn't do what we wanted, but it was smart to not comment on the Freeman mess. There is no immediate upside to this story, so why ignite it with more fuel? In a year, both sides may be happier. And forget Freeman going to Iowa State. That's a bad fit too.

-Congrats to Mary Pink at ISU. Mary heads up marketing for Cyclone athletics and her recent promotion is much deserved. Iowa State set several season ticket records on her watch. Plus, anyone who decides the music on game day, and has to put up with the complaints, deserves a bump. I'm okay with Sweet Caroline.

-All the panic over Arizona State dropping wrestling is warranted. It's a really bad sign for the future of NCAA wrestling. Before too long, it could be down to the Big Ten and half the Big 12.

-Like Bar-B-Que? Try Jethro's sports bar in the Drake neighborhood. Nice place, friendly people, and delicious food. Andy ordered seconds.



Monday, May 12, 2008

Haunted by Hassel

"Haunted by Hassel", that could be the name of my new book. The latest unshakable experience happened as Chris Hassel played the part of "naked guy" in this week's What's Bugging Andy? If you haven't seen it, it's on the video player at's sports page. Proceed with caution.

After SoundOff Sunday night, our friend and colleague, Jon Miller, wrote an email of appreciation for Andy's observations about gym etiquette. Jon also attached a column he wrote a few years ago on the clueless people who often frequent fitness facilities. I've included most of it here:

Today's Topic: The Towel Belongs Around Your Waist When You Are Naked

Being that I have only been in the men's locker room, I cannot say for sure if this is a gender specific phenomena, or if it pertains to just the men.

But here are a few observations and questions I have made through the years, with most of them being recent.


Why, when you need to be naked in the locker room, do you walk to the shower with the towel over your shoulder, flip flops on to avoid fungus, and let it all hang out? None of us wants to see that. This does not just pertain to men who are in excellent shape. Men of all shapes and sizes do this. Why? Cover up, bro.


Why don't you cover up when you walk from your locker to the sink area to grab some gel, put on some deodorant or other sink and mirror related issues? This is not your personal bathroom. That is fine at home, and the wife might actually like that from time to time, but the rest of us men really don't care for it. Or at least I don't think they do.


I enjoy a good soak in the hot tub after a workout. There are not many things that are as relaxing as that, though the sign says to not wade into a hot tub after a workout. (Why the hell have a hot tub in the men's locker room if you are not supposed to get in it after a workout?) If you are going to enter the hot tub, could you PLEASE have some sort of swim trunks on your person? The towel around the waist, two steps into the water and off comes the towel is more than a bit unnerving for this man. This isn't Vail and your wife is not in the room. Please, have something that forms some sort of barrier, just for the peace of mind of others.

Now, should you encounter this person, the proper etiquette is to not just stand up and leave immediately. You probably need to wait at least one minute before moving on to the shower, as a courtesy. I know it's hard, but it's the right thing to do. And if this person should strike up a conversation, one word answers will do just fine, in your deepest voice.


If your health club or YMCA has individual shower stalls like they do at Prairie Life, and they have curtains on the stalls, those curtains are there to be used. What is up with going in and showering, lathering up and doing the 360 rinse off for all to see with the curtain drawn? Shut the curtain, man! Shut the curtain! If you club has the high school group shower column thingy, then it's understandable and certainly acceptable.


Is there anything more unnerving or frightening than when you are lacing up your shoes, getting ready to work out, and Towel Over the Shoulder Guy comes over to you and strikes up a conversation when you are sitting down? Why does one even have to address this as being wrong?

Listen, I am a social person, and I really do enjoy talking to complete strangers. Honestly. But I am probably not going to be too long winded when Johnson is at eye level and very much inside the Ring of Courtesy Space that I like to have when a naked dude is in the room.

Also, there is a widely known technique to put on one's underpants while at the same time sparing the rest of the room the moon shot…your towel is wrapped around your waist, you put on your undies, and then you drop the towel. It's not being shy about what you have, it's just a good practice to follow.

What can exacerbate the uneasiness when you encounter any one of these circumstances is when Spandau Ballet's 'True' comes on the radio, or Josh Groban starts to croon one of his toons on the piped in music.

It would be much better if they had on 'Arena Rock'in the men's locker room as opposed to some of the stuff I have heard.

I know that some of you might be thinking, 'Man Jon, what is your hang up here?'

To me, it's just about etiquette. Some friends and I have recently shared some of these stories, and we feel the same way.
I am not hating on anyone here, and if you happen to be one of the guys from any of the categories I have listed above (and I am sure there are others), I don't dislike you.

But if I tie my laces a bit faster, or if I slowly slide over in the spa, it's nothing personal. It's just me.

Jon Miller

Thanks, Jon. Next time send this in before SoundOff so we can steal some of your ideas.

What do you think? Are these observations fair? Or did Jon and Andy miss a few people that drive you a little crazy at the gym?

If you'd like, leave some thoughts in the feedback section. Who knows, maybe some of these folks will get a clue, and if nothing else, getting it off your chest can't hurt, as long as you're wearing a towel.


Monday, May 05, 2008

Iron Man should take over the world.

-Iron Man rocks. This is a terrific movie with surprising depth. Robert Downey Jr. is absolutely perfect in this story of redemption, and Downey's own trials and tribulations add layers and laughs. Gwyneth Paltrow brings intelligence and really high heels to what could have been a thankless role. Even if you don't love superhero movies, you might like Iron Man. It's that good. The grade is A.

-Staying with superheroes, I just saw My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Who is the target audience for this movie? The heroics are cartoon silly, while the sex for laughs is completely inappropriate for kids who might like the other stuff. Don't they spend millions on test-marketing and focus groups?

-Congrats to KGGO's Lou Sipolt for ending his dryspell at the races. Lou won in the, what else, 95 truck Friday night at the Fairgrounds. Does he look happy to you?

-I can't remember a coach asking his returning leading scorer "if he ever thought about tranferring", but if Tony Freeman was truthful with the Register, Todd Lickliter feels that strongly about players doing it his way. I don't think anyone looks too good or too bad in all this. I respect Lickliter for going with "team" over talent, but it's unfortunate Freeman can't finish his career where he started it. Seems like something could have been worked out, but Lickliter feels he already gave it a season and didn't get through.

-The Wonderdogs aren't done yet. Klayton Korver, Adam Emmenecker, and Leonard Houston back together again! They're out to make money and help schools raise money with the "Elite 3 Tour" (not exactly the modest name you'd expect from this trio, but maybe it was someone else's idea). They'll add Jason Bauer and Mike O'Neil and play Friday 7 p.m. at Des Moines Christian, Saturday 7 p.m. at Van Meter, and Sunday 6 p.m. at Southeast Polk. Tickets are $5 with the schools and trio splitting the proceeds. Go to if you're interested in booking the Bulldogs.

-The Kentucky Derby (in HD) had me jumping up and down, and then thoroughly bummed. No race should end in death. (See 2001 Daytona 500.)

-How much do you think Roger Clemens wishes he could jump into his DeLorean and travel back in time to 2006, and stay retired?

-Renaming the franchise formerly known as the Iowa Stars has set off a wildfire of e-mails and phone calls on SoundOff. We think we know several of the names being considered, and you can bet the management and ownership will check our online poll, so please vote.

I don't believe "Des Moines" has any chance, so count on "Iowa". With that in mind, I like "Iowa Chops". You've got your karate chop, your tomahawk chop, and of course, the world famous Iowa pork chop. It's unique, it's catchy, and I think you'd sell merchandise beyond our borders.

Andy likes "Corndogs", which is also uniquely Iowa. The others we think are under consideration include:

>Dukes (after John Wayne). Terrible.
>Strykers. Not bad, but doesn't really mean anything.
>Hammers. Okay, but again, not memorable.
>Dragoons. Suggested by the Register's Tom Witosky. Clever, with double meaning. The Dragoon Trail, as well as "Goons" for short. A name many fans will love, and a few will hate.
>Thunder. The early choice by the franchise, but not a done deal. I don't mind it. Andy hates it.
>Storm. Nearly the same as Thunder, and we have the Simpson Storm nearby.

-Congratulations to our Chris Hassel. He won a bunch of IBNA awards for his play-by-play work on the radio. (After much discussion, we're allowing this self-serving "congratulations" since we technically aren't patting him on the back for something he did here.)

-Speaking of radio, Andy and I subbed for Ken Miller and teamed up with Marty Tirrell Friday. We had fun, and mostly stayed out of trouble.

-Ending on a sad note, I'm sure by now you've heard and read how sweet and thoughtful the late Michelle Parker was. It's all true. All of us who knew her have a heavy heart this week, and send our condolences to all Michelle's friends and family, including her extended family at KCCI. We will miss her.