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.