Friday, December 31, 2010

My Favorite Day of the Year

It turns out my favorite day of the year is the first day of the year... I love New Year's Day. Wall to wall college football. And as a Big Ten fan, it doesn't get any better than Saturday, with five games staggered throughout the day. After 11 straight days of work, I fully intend on being a complete vegetable!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cyclone Surprise, Nebraska Nervous, Having a Cow

  • Nice road win for Iowa State Thursday night. Virginia didn't have its leading scorer, but anytime you go to an ACC school and win by 13, you take it. Fred Hoiberg and staff are working wonders with a thin lineup. The Cyclones should start Big 12 play 13-2. Raise your hand if you thought that possible.
  • North Carolina won a wildly entertaining Music City Bowl in double OT over Tennessee. Vol fans can't blame this one on Lane Kiffin. The officials, that's another matter.
  • Kansas State got hosed by a too literal interpretation of excessive celebration. Syracuse takes the Pinstripe.
  • As I type, Nebraska trails Washington by 10. No one wanted this rematch after Nebraska won by 35 in September, but you had to figure Washington would have more incentive.
  • Taylor Martinez cannot pass. In 2010 (and 2011), you have to have that ability to lead your team to a title.
  • I'm a cow owner. That's right. My parents gave us a cow for Christmas. Well, leased us a cow. We have Bonnie for a year. That's her on the right:

Planes, No Trains, Automobiles Still Possible

  • Chris Hassel and Shawn Terrell remain stranded in Memphis, unable to complete their trip to Des Moines. Shawn is Neal Page, Chris is Del Griffith. Wish them luck. And remember, the people train runs out of Stubbville.
  • UNI's defense of the MVC title gets off to a really shaky start with a stunning home loss to Missouri State. The Panthers had won 21 straight games at the McLeod Center.
  • Iowa doesn't have enough talent to win many games in the Big Ten, but at least the Hawkeyes play hard and look like they're having fun. That's an upgrade.
  • Did you see FAMU's uniforms in the Iowa State women's game? My eyes still hurt. Bright orange and green just don't work well together.
  • Even knowing nothing matters more to most fans than winning, I'm still taken aback how much the Insight Bowl made most Hawk fans feel a lot better. I'm glad though. No one needs eight months of bad moods.
  • Brett Favre got off too easy. Bad choice of words.
  • The best show no one watches is Men of a Certain Age on TNT.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hawkeye Gut-Check, Coker Is A Man, The A-Rob Blues

  • What an entertaining Insight Bowl! Wow. Just when it appeared Iowa was powerless to stop Missouri Quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Gabbert got greedy, made a terrible pass, and Iowa's Micah Hyde turned it into an all-time Hawkeye highlight. The pick-six changed everything. Iowa gut-checks, wins the Insight, 27-24.
  • The Hawks were due a break, and they got one when officials overturned a late, key first down catch for the Tigers. I don't think the Missouri receiver had possession, but I didn't think the replay showed conclusive proof, so I was surprised the call was flipped.
  • Great clinching playcall by much maligned offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe. The bootleg pass to tight end Allen Reisner, who then ran and flipped all the way to the one yard line, was another exciting highlight in a game full of them.
  • Marcus Coker is a man. 219 yards and 2 touchdowns as a true freshman on that stage. Coker was so good, Kirk Ferentz even let him talk to the media, rare for a Freshman. Coker runs over some people, and by others. Props to the Iowa O-line too for opening holes Ed Wilson could run through.
  • Ricky Stanzi will be remembered as one of Iowa's all-time top quarterbacks. I think he'll have a shot at an NFL career, but the Insight looked like a future NFL back-up (Stanzi) against a future NFL starter (Gabbert).
  • Classy move by Kirk Ferentz to have Stanzi take a knee at end instead of going Bielema for another six.
  • Nothing heals fans' feelings and concerns like winning. How much better do most Iowa fans feel today?
  • Adam Robinson's citation for marijuana possession hit me hard. I strive for objectivity, but I've gotten to know, and like, Adam over the years. His unexpected success at the U of I was a source of pride for many people in Des Moines, me included. Adam is soft-spoken, thoughtful, and well mannered. A suspension and pot possession charge don't change that, but it does call into question his judgement. Robinson knew Kirk Ferentz put him on notice three weeks ago when he suspended him for violating unspecified team rules. There was absolutely no room for Adam to put himself in a bad position, and it appears he did. He's 21, he made a mistake. I've made more than my share. I hope Adam learns from this wake-up call and goes on to great things. I just wonder if it will be at the University of Iowa. Kirk Ferentz would not discuss it at the post-game news conference.
  • A friend of mine, Leon Emmons, said Joe Webb is like Mike Vick without the dogs. Now Leon is a Vikings homer, so the comment seemed silly, but I have to hand it to Webb--and Leon--for one night, Webb outplayed Vick. The Vikings upset the Eagles in Philadelphia. Who saw that coming? And how many dual Viking/Hawkeye fans had picture-in-picture going late Tuesday night?
  • The Bears, Bears!, still have a shot at the #1 seed.
  • I tried to see "True Grit" on Christmas. Sold out everywhere. Dang.
  • Great job by Chris Hassel and Shawn Terrell at the Insight Bowl. Come home soon, guys. We ordered some snow and rain.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hawk Fans Show Up, Tiger Picks Against Tigers

  • No one should mistake the U of I selling only 6,000 or so tickets to the Insight Bowl with only 6,000 Hawkeye fans being at the game. Insight Bowl officials expect a record crowd of 50,000, in large part, due to all the Hawkeye fans who live in Arizona. If you saw Shawn Terrell's Monday night report from the Hawkeye Huddle, you know Iowa will represent---though not in the usual numbers.
  • The U of I will still have to pay for more than 4,000 tickets. The bowl system is ridiculous. It feels like there's less interest than I can ever remember. Nebraska-Washington II anyone? How 'bout Oklahoma vs UConn? Yes, Auburn-Oregon is a great title game match-up---if you overlook the Newton scandal and Oregon's hideous uniforms---but the rest of the bowl season was better pre-BCS.
  • Hadiah the Tiger at the Phoenix Zoo picks Iowa. When a Tiger picks against her own, it's an omen.
  • I think Missouri wins the Insight. Iowa has lost three straight, and more importantly two big playmakers (A-Rob, DJK). Still, history teaches us it won't be easy for Missouri. Iowa hasn't been blown out in years (see Western Michigan).
  • Did anyone else work Monday? Seems like everyone is off.

Midwest Rules NFL, SoundOff Videos, Shane from Marshalltown

The Vikings game postponed by snow for a third straight week. What a surreal season for the Vikes. They'll play the Eagles Tuesday night at 7. NBC will broadcast the game live on channel 13.

The second half of that game will go against the Insight Bowl on ESPN. Shawn Terrell and Chris Hassel arrived in Tempe Sunday. Look for their reports all week. It's unseasonably chilly in Arizona, but it's hot compared to here.

Nice Sunday for NFL teams around here not named Vikings. Bears move closer to a bye, Packers blow out the Giants, Chiefs clinch the division, Rams play their way to a winner-take-the-title game in Seattle, and the Lions even pull an upset. I guess you can argue it was a good day for the Vikings too because they didn't have to play.

Sunday night we aired some of our favorite moments from the first 14 years of SoundOff (year 15 starts next week). You can find those clips on our SoundOff page (see tab at top).

Since longtime SoundOff emailer Shane from Marshalltown didn't have an outlet for his thoughts this week, I thought I'd put his letter here. I'm told to point out Shane's opinions are his, not mine, or channel 13's, but you already knew that:

The Northern Iowa Panthers beat Steve Alford's New Mexico Lobos 66-60, in something called the "iBN Las Vegas Tournament" Championship Game this week, proving once again that Super Cuts STILL can't beat be careful Steve, losing to the Panthers is where the train started coming off the tracks at that "football school" you helped create and you know what they say about "history"...

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas spent with loved ones and close friends this year, despite the snowfall that tried to ruin everything...Unfortunately, I had to miss out on all of that as I spent the last 72 hours in Marshall County lock-up after a misunderstanding that turned into an altercation that turned into an arrest as I tried to get change back from the K-Mart "Red Kettle" after realizing I had accidentally dropped a 20 in the Wal-Mart "Red Kettle"...apparently there's no "communications network" between the Red Kettles and I had to learn that lesson "the hard way"...but ya know, if you see those volunteers sportin' Nextel 2-ways in 2011, it'll all be worth it! Oh, and hold on while I pour a shot out for my homies still "behind the wall"! PEACE!

I see Derrell Johnson-Koulianos plans to launch his very own twitter account on 1-1-11...I can almost see that first "tweet" now...@FormerHawkDJK15: RAID! COPS EVERYWHERE! FLUSH THE EVIDENCE! RUN LIKE HELL!...

Los Angeles Lakers coach, Phil Jackson called out the NBA's Jewish Commissioner this past week, questioning why his team always has to play on Christmas Day, one of, if not the most holy of "Christian" holidays...and he brings up an interesting...wait, Christmas is a "Christian Holiday"? As in, "Christ"??? I thought it was a retail holiday created by this country's business sector...hmm, a Christian holiday...I gotta tell ya, I never saw that one coming!

Speaking of the Lakers...don't look now, but Kobe and Company just got pantsed at home on Christmas Day by Ladumbass, D. Wade and Chris Bosh and Company...for everyone who felt so good and happy while pointing at the Heat and laughing as they struggled during the first few weeks of the season, crow season starts next license needed...

As winter weather seems to follow the Minnesota Vikings around the country like I follow Lo Lo Jones, tonight's Vikings game against the Eagles has been pushed back to Tuesday night, which means SoundOFF will start at it's usual 10:35pm spot tonight on WHO-tv13, which means I have about 4 minutes to get my e-mail in and...AH CRAP!

Tyler Sash and Marvin McNutt filed paperwork with the NFL in regards to this year's draft...I'm sure glad they didn't wait until AFTER the bowl game on Dec. 28th! If there's one thing this team needs it's a distraction! And you can't blame the players, as they only had until January 15th to file that paperwork! The fact that they filed now, should tell the NFL these guys aren't ready for the league...

The UConn women's basketball team broke John Wooden and UCLA's record for consecutive wins when they won their 89th in a row this past week...HAHA! JUST KIDDING! Seriously though, congratulations on getting to 89, but if until you start playing against men's teams, you're not breaking "their record"'re setting your own! So embrace that for what it is and ESPN and Title 9'ers, stop trying to make it something it's not!

Shane from Marshalltown

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Scut Farkus Affair

Working Christmas Eve isn't so bad. I've got Ralphie running on loop, and Santa's little helper, Keith Murphy, brought me a nice home-cooked meal for dinner. Plus, there's enough almond bark in the newsroom to turn Jack LaLanne into a diabetic. Merry Christmas everyone.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

NCAA, Alford, and Energy

So the NCAA suspends five Ohio State football players, but the suspensions won't be served until next season. In other words, Pryor and company can play in the Sugar Bowl. Laughable.

Steve Alford has an 86-27 record since taking over at New Mexico in 2007. That's impressive, even in the Mountain West Conference.

The Iowa Energy has the best record in the D-League and, on the outside, appear to be a well-run organization. Still, I've been to dozens of their games, and never seen more than a thousand people in attendance. Any thoughts on why so few care about the team?


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sin City

The NCAA has a long track record of being hypocritical, so it probably shouldn't surprise me that it allows a basketball tournament to be held in a casino. Tournaments have been held in casinos for years, but I never really stopped and thought about the hypocrisy until UNI and Indiana played at the Orleans in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. I've been to the Orleans Arena. I was dragged to a Mannheim Steamroller concert there last December. And when I got up to throw-up and gamble at intermission (never to return), it was only a two minute walk to the black jack table. I don't blame the Panthers or Hoosiers for playing in the tournament. It just seems like an incredibly mixed message considering all the anti-gambling rhetoric the NCAA puts out year after year.

Not to bury the lead, but the Panthers looked strong in their win against Indiana. It's hard to forget how bad they looked in a loss against Iowa, but I still think UNI has a decent shot to get back to the NCAA tournament. The Panthers play ugly a lot of the time, but that's largely forgotten amid all the wins.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tipoff Tuesday

Iowa State's win over Chicago State Tuesday night improves the Cyclones record to 11-2 overall. That's the best start for ISU since 2000-2001. This year's edition of the 'Clones are nowhere near as good as Fizer, Tinsley, and company, but still... Hoiberg is doing a phenomenal job so far.

Iowa has been less impressive comparatively speaking, but at least the team has vital signs this year. And that's a step in the right direction.

What in the world is wrong with Drake? I know the Bulldogs are young, but losing at home to a 3-7 Ivy League team is really discouraging.


Favre Is Back. Wait, Never Mind.

  • When I first heard the news Brett Favre would start for the Vikings on Monday Night Football, I was surprised. Why? Even though Favre hadn't practiced, we should have known he wouldn't miss a game suddenly getting this much attention. Favre didn't last long, but no one should question his toughness. It's easy to say Favre's overstayed his welcome, but I find the NFL more interesting with ol' #4 in it.
  • It was cool to see the Vikings playing outdoors, where they belong, but the forecast of brutal conditions didn't really come true. Sure, it was really cold, but no one will mistake it for the Ice Bowl. Well, maybe Chris Hassel. He was there. Can't wait for his stories about his night watching football on the Arctic Circle.
  • Devin Hester is ridiculous Wow.
  • Congrats to all you Bears fans---Chris and Shawn included. I sure didn't see the Bears winning a division title. I still don't think Chicago is a Super Bowl contender, but compared to the Vikings, the Bears are walking tall.
  • Lisa Bluder just won her 200th game at Iowa. Hard to believe Lisa left Drake that long ago. She took her dream job in 2000 and has won more than people realize. She has her best team this year too. Iowa is #14 and rising.
  • Geno Auriemma is wrong. Most of us don't "hate" UConn breaking UCLA's streak for consecutive wins (88). You know why? Because UConn isn't breaking UCLA's record. Connecticut already owns the women's record. UCLA will continue to have the men's record. They're not the same thing. It's a remarkable accomplishment, just not one I really care about.
  • My son spent $40 at his school fundraiser buying us presents with our own money. It's the thought, and we'll cherish the chipped coffee cup and candle that's missing the wick.

Monday, December 20, 2010

In Like Flynn, Giants Choke, Moose Drool

  • I gave the Packers absolutely no chance to win at New England, but the Pack nearly did. Back-up QB Matt Flynn played with poise---until the two minute drill. Then he was a mess. Still, props to Green Bay for an entertaining game. 
  • Did you see the Patriots Dan Connolly nearly run a kick back for a touchdown?! That was the longest return by an offensive lineman in NFL history. Runaway 313-pound bowling ball.
  •  Sports talk radio in New York will have one topic for a week: the Giants choking.
  • What's with Chris Berman's voice these days. He changes octaves like Jay Leno.
  • SoundOff callers can't get past the bitter disappointment of the Hawkeye football season and the arrest of DJK. It keeps coming up again and again. And again.
  • It takes a smart man to admit when he's made a mistake. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany sounds like he'll reboot the division names, rather than allow more mocking of Legends and Leaders.
  • Why should Royals fans care?
  • Chris Hassel is headed to TCF Bank Stadium to watch his Bears take on the Vikings. Hassel is the all-time cold weather wimp, so I can't imagine how he'll survive the first quarter. Can't wait to hear him whine. It should be entertaining.
  • I went to Mullets for the first time. Place was overrun with cyclists, but they were nice, and the food and drinks were solid. I drank something called Moose Drool. It was better than it sounds. I didn't see the picture of Dalton from the Double Deuce in Mullets, but I know it must be in there.
  • Saturday night I watched the Iowa at Drake basketball game. That was U-G-L-Y. At least it was close.
  • The Fighter is gritty, and great. Like an R-rated Rocky. It may set a movie record for the F-bomb, and it seems so real, in and out of the ring, you feel like you're watching a documentary. Christian Bale is phenomenal.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hawks and Hellboy

The Iowa-Drake game didn't do much for me. It was poorly played and poorly officiated. The Hawkeyes won because they were the lesser of two evils. UNI can technically win the mythical in-state title if it beats Drake twice later in the year. But anyone that gets worked up discussing which school has the best basketball team in the state this year needs to find a hobby.

I met Jeremy Hellickson for the first time Saturday night. He seems pretty easy-going. "Hellboy," as he is allegedly known, dropped the opening puck for the Des Moines Bucs games against Dubuque. I was initially struck at Jeremy's size - he can't be taller than 5'10" or weigh more than 170. But size has never been a great predictor of pitching prowess. Look no further than Greg Maddux.


Friday, December 17, 2010


It's always cool to see a local kid make it big, so kudos to Joel Hanrahan on getting his Norwalk HS baseball jersey retired. Hanrahan is the first Norwalk athlete ever to have his number retired.

I wish I could have stayed longer at the Ankeny-Johnston boys game Friday night, but I was only able to catch the first quarter because I had to get back to the studio. Both teams are salty good. The Hawks won the battle of unbeatens in overtime, but something tells me the teams will meet again in March.

Drake vs. Iowa Saturday night... who you got? I say Hawks by double-digits.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gopher Goof

I don't have a problem with the Vikings-Bears game being moved to TCF Bank Stadium. It's just a couple miles from the Metrodome, and the Vikings already lost one premier home game last week... it would be an even bigger financial hit to move a second to Indianapolis or Atlanta. So what if there aren't enough seats? That will give a number of fair weather fans an excuse to stay home.

The biggest problem is that there is no underground heating system for the turf at TCF. How is that possible? How could the University of Minnesota spend 288 million dollars on a stadium and not have heated turf? Gopher home games are regularly scheduled in late November. When Iowa played there three weeks ago, temperatures were in the teens and the footing was terrible. I suspect similar problems Monday night.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Iowa Icon: Bob Feller Relfects on a Great American Life

Bob Feller dying Wednesday night was not a shock, and not entirely sad. At 92 years, Bob Feller lived a full, remarkable life. It's hard to put into words just how amazing that life was, but fortunately for me, and you, Andy Fales did a great job in 2008.

There will be tributes and stories on Feller around the world today. I can't image any better than this one. Andy's storytelling is superb, but it's Feller being Feller that makes it memorable.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

That's It?, Phillie Foursome, Freezing Hassel

  • For 45 minutes, Gary Barta and Kirk Ferentz faced an overflow gathering of media and said --- nothing. Or close to it. Ferentz says no further suspensions expected, and Barta admits players likely figured out how to beat drug tests, but for the most part it, it was a stop the rumors, damage control day. I'd say mission accomplished, mostly.
  • Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels. That's the most ridiculous rotation of my lifetime. Anyone out there old enough to remember when the Orioles had four 20-game winners? Those were different days.
  • The Vikings will play outdoors at the University of Minnesota's stadium Monday night against the Bears. Chris Hassel has tickets, and he's the biggest cold weather wimp I've ever known. He'll be miserable. The stadium holds 13,000 fewer people than the Metrodump, so maybe Chris can get a refund.
  • Brett Favre's consecutive games streak is impressive, I guess, but I just haven't ever cared about it. At all.
  • Can't wait to see "Fighter". This is an opening weekend movie must for me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Iowa's Bad Season Just Keeps Getting Worse


These are the days I dread as a sports fan, and a sports reporter. If I liked covering stories, like the disaster in Iowa City, I would've stayed in the news business (yes I was a radio news reporter for two years). As we await Kirk Ferentz and Gary Barta's Tuesday press conference, Hawkeye fans are hoping that the other shoe has already dropped. But, the worry is that today's news is just the tip of the iceberg.

At this hour (10pm on Monday), here's what we DO know:
- Brandon Wegher has been released from his scholarship
- Jewel Hampton is transferring for undisclosed reasons
- Adam Robinson won't be making the trip to Insight Bowl because, in the words of Ferentz, A-Rob failed to comply with team expectations.
- And the game has been pulled off the board in Las Vegas. No one can place a bet on Iowa-Missouri. Vegas doesn't release any info on why they take a particular game off the board.

I do think some ISU fans (and fans of other schools, as well) are having a little too much fun with this story. That's not to say that Hawkeye fans wouldn't turn around and say the same things to Cyclone fans if the situations were reversed. Interestingly enough, I haven't heard a peep from Nebraska fans. I wonder what good ol' Cooter thinks?

How about something on a lighter note? Have you seen the new Big Ten logo? A four-year-old from Chicago created it in her sleep. Actually, that's not the case, but I probably could have fooled you. It's terrible, but not as bad as the new division names in the conference. Iowa is the "Legends" division, while Ohio State is in the "Leaders" division. Go figure.

Brett Favre finally missed a game. GOOD! I'm tired of the Favre love fest. As a Bears fan, he's one of the first humans I've ever hated...and I'm damn proud of it.

My wife and I have tickets to see the Bears and Vikings, next Monday in Minnesota. I'm not sure if I'd rather drive to Detroit to watch the game, or sit outside at TCF Bank stadium. The forecast calls for 13-degree temps at kickoff.

Shawn Terrell and I will be leaving for Iowa City at 7:30am, Monday. I'll finally know what it's like to get up before noon. We'll see you tomorrow, as long as the Sun comes up.


Sexy on SoundOff, EmBEARassing, Angry Viewers

  • The Cityview sexiest people issue is out this week. I'm told it features someone from SoundOff, and as you might guess, it's not me.
  • If there's anything more miserable than watching a football game in a blizzard, it's watching your team get dominated in a blizzard. Bears fans had to watch the Patriots leave no doubt about who's a Super Bowl contender, and who's not. Tom Brady is in the zone.
  • Entertaining Sunday night game between the Eagles and Cowboys. Mike Vick made mistakes, but he's still better than I ever thought he'd be, and better than he ever was before prison.
  • I know the NFL wants to see Favre's ironman streak continue, but collapsing the Metrodome to give Favre an extra day and a half to heal seems extreme.
  • It was nice to see the Cyclones and Hawkeyes play a fan-friendly, entertaining basketball game Friday night. I thought Iowa would win at home, but Scott Christopherson wasn't having it.
  • SoundOff had an almost angry vibe to it Sunday night. 90% of the callers and emailers wanted to talk DJK, not Cy-Hawk basketball. Most fans fear the bad news isn't over.
  • Andy went off on tins of popcorn as a gift. I kind of like them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is it 1987?

I felt like a kid watching Iowa and Iowa State play basketball on Friday night. For the first time in a long time, the Cyclones and Hawkeyes provided (mostly) 40 minutes of fast-paced, entertaining basketball. Here's hoping Fran and Fred can make this rivalry a big deal again.

How long can Scott Christopherson keep shooting like this? I'm blown away by the guy. He's averaging 3.5 made 3-pointers per game and shooting 59% from beyond the arc this season. 59 percent! At ISU media day back in October, Hoiberg went on at length about how much time Christopherson had spent in the gym during the off-season, but we always hear those kind of stories on media day. I guess it wasn't just lip-service.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hawkeye State, Get Low, Earworm

  • By the time you read this, Bill Fennelly's blood pressure should be back to normal. Maybe. Fennelly nearly came out of his skin as #19 Iowa thumped #16 Iowa State Thursday night. Fennelly says Iowa State won't be the only visitor to take a beating at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season. Lisa Bluder hopes he's right.
  • It still hard to get too fired up about the Cy-Hawk men's game, but at least it's on the upswing of interest. Slightly. I'll take the Hawks at home.
  • Iowa cleaned the floor with UNI at Thursday night's sold out wrestling showdown in Cedar Falls. How can the Hawks be ranked #7? They're the three-time defending champs. That's ridiculous. Find me six NCAA wrestling teams better than Iowa and I'll host SoundOFF in a singlet.
  • On the flight back from Italy, I set my new one-way in-flight record for movies. I watched four: Salt, Get Low, Going The Distance, and Letters for Juliet. All had their moments, but Get Low was the low key charmer of the bunch. Robert Duvall is a recluse who wants to attend his own funeral---while he's alive. The funeral director is Bill Murray. Definite sleeper.
  • Bob Feller had an incredible life. Here's one of my favorite factoids: Feller has been in the Hall of Fame longer than he hasn't. He was elected on the first ballot at age 43; he's now 92.
  • Did anyone really think Peyton Manning would keep playing badly? And why do so many people hate on this guy? I find much to admire and respect.
  • Bud Selig, don't tell me baseball's fair and balanced. Not when only the Red Sox and Yankees can afford to give players ridiculous long term contracts.
  • Do not let your kids play the song, "I Whip My Hair Back and Forth". It's an earworm. An irritating one.

Slide show from my European vacation.

The DJK story continues dominating discussion throughout Iowa. I won't cover that here. I think Shawn Terrell did a nice job Tuesday in our previous blog entry (see below).

Instead, indulge me to go Griswold from my European vacation. Cue the slide show.

My favorite stop was the Colosseum in Rome. Built in 70, not 1570, 70... the Colosseum makes Wrigley Field look young. It also reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Gladiator. The elaborate trapdoors, tunnels, and pulley systems in the floor were hundreds of years ahead of their time.
Looks cool at night. Me, in the hoody (at bottom), not so cool.

Amazing place.

Nearly 2,000 years old.

Ah, Venice.

We walked 500 stairs to see this view in Florence. Love the way the cloud and  mountain meet.

The outside David. The "real" one is inside in Florence.

The view from our patio in Atrani. The room was less than $100 a night.

Christmas tree in Salerno.
Downtown Atrani.
Cathedral in Amalfi.
Beer in vending machine!?
The hallway on the walk to the Sistine Chapel. Photos not allowed in Chapel.
Vatican City.
With Jenny in front of St. Peter's Basilica.
Inside. Words can't do it justice. Incomprehensible size and detail.
We were there as the Pope gives blessing.

Jenny in front of Duomo.

Hiking back to Atrani.
Getting a haircut from a barber who spoke no English. He didn't have much to work with.
Wine tour near Tuscany.
Dinner with friends. I gained 5 pounds in 10 days.

75 year old bottles of wine.

Vacation over.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Derrell Johnson-Koulianos' arrest on drug charges will be remembered as the headline from an incredibly disappointing Iowa football season. Iowa fans have reacted with a range of emotions (anger, disbelief, sadness) on social media and message boards. I've spent the last couple hours trying to pinpoint how I feel, and what's most troubling about the news. And here's what bothers me the most: We got duped. DJK duped us all.

DJK's arrest is a reminder to myself as a reporter, and for fans, that we don't really know these players as much as it feels like we do. I had interviewed DJK countless times, before he was deemed off-limits to the media this season. He was always engaging and articulate, and struck me as a young man that had his "act" together, despite his contentious relationship with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.

From the fans perspective, he was one of the most popular, if not the most popular player on the team. I've heard and read countless stories about DJK going out of his way to connect with fans and sign autographs. He "friended" nearly everyone on Facebook, and had more than 5,000 followers.

What's more, Marc Morehouse of the Cedar Rapids Gazette wrote an incredible article last summer about how DJK was surrounded by drugs and poverty as a young boy in Youngtown, OH. I'm paraphrasing from memory, but the gist of the story was that DJK was adopted by the Koulianos family, and that helped him turn his life around and find the right path.

All the above factors, combined with his play-making skills on the field, made it easy to root for the guy. He was easy to cheer for. We all wanted to see DJK do well.

But I read the Iowa City police report. DJK admitted to using, and tested positive for cocaine, pot, and prescription drugs. That reality makes me, and I'm sure countless others, feel foolish for cheering for the guy. It makes us feel duped.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Dick Nutt, Empty Arenas, Poor Huskers

My new favorite coach is Southeast Missouri State's Dick Nutt. The Nutt is riding a 17-game losing streak, and it's actually an improvement on where the program was before he got there. Last year, in his first season, he snapped a 21-game losing streak in his third game. Give it up for Dick Nutt!

I hope Iowa State never wears Red, at home, again. The new court at Hilton looks fine when the Cyclones are wearing white, but when they're in all red's, the two different shades of red drive me crazy.

I took this pic with 15 mins left
 It seems as if Hilton Coliseum has employed the old Kinnick Stadium ticket counting system. The announced crowd at tonight's game is over 12-thousand. I'd say there may have been half that, if we can count the players --- and ISU's scout team.

Bring your own elephant night
 I'm interested to see what kind of crowd shows up in Iowa City, on Tuesday, for the UNI-Iowa game. All U of I students get in free, but I don't think they're giving out free pizza this year, and that will definitely hurt. I expect a close game, but I think the Panthers will get it done in front of about 80 students, and 10-thousand fans. Hopefully, it doesn't look like this...

Someone told me that Iowa was going to bring back the old Halloween theme song before tip off at Carver, this season. It was just a tease. In case you forgot, every game used to start with this in the 90's

Iowa and Missouri will meet up in Phoenix at the Insight Bowl, December 28th. The last time the Hawks and Tigers played each other on the football field, Arizona wasn't even a state. It was 1910. The only thing I like about *this bowl season, compared to others in the past, is that we don't have to wait 6-8 weeks between games. When Iowa played USC in the Orange Bowl in 2002, there were nearly two months between games. This year, there's just over a month. Still, that's waaaaaaay too long (but apparently it's not long enough to have a playoff).

I can't believe I'm about to type this...but, I actually feel bad for the Huskers. Not only do they have to go back to the Holiday Bowl for the second year in a row, they have to play Washington for the second time, this season (Neb won by 35 in September). And here's the kicker --- they play AGAIN, next season. If they play the Huskies in the Rose Bowl in 2011, they will have played 4 times in 15 months.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

ISU Cagers and Iowa Grapplers

Fred Hoiberg has done a capable job with Iowa State early on, but it's already clear he needs more players. The Cyclones have almost no depth. I was also told by a source today that DeMarcus Phillips' is not long for Ames, and that won't help the depth situation. I've been pleasantly surprised how much improvement Scott Christopherson and Diante Garrett have shown since last season, but they can't do it all by themselves.

There's no question the Iowa wrestling team is down this year, relatively speaking. I thought Iowa State had a legitimate shot to end Iowa's dual winning streak Friday night, but the match wasn't really that close. With the Hawks win over Michigan State Saturday, they've now won 67 duals in a row. It's an amazing streak, but because of Iowa's tradition, most people barely pay attention to it.

Hassel and I host SoundOFF Sunday. We'll see if Cooter Ray shows up.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

The King Returns

Like many sports fans, I watched my first NBA game this season on Thursday night. I have to tip my hat to Lebron James. James thrived (season-high 38 points) in the hostile, hate-filled environment that was Quicken Loans Arena, and that's impressive. I thought James handled "The Decision" poorly, and while I didn't watch every minute of Thursday's game, James appeared to handle a difficult situation with class. Okay... maybe out of respect, he could have skipped his pre-game powder routine, but whatever.

The signs and t-shirts inside the arena were mostly clever and amusing. Still, I'm baffled that grown men and women can be "moved" enough to spend hours stenciling, drawing, and coloring these aforementioned signs. Do they just want to be on TV that bad?


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Purple Pride

We found out Tuesday that Iowa State probably isn't as good as its early season record would indicate. Transversely, UNI is a little better than it's looked early on.

Despite the loss of three starters from last year's Sweet 16 team, I still think the Panthers can contend for their third Valley title in as many years. Why? Because the Panthers play defense. UNI held Iowa State to 54 points Wednesday night. The Cyclones averaged 84 points in their first six games of the season. I would feel better about the Panthers outlook this season if they had a better post presence, but that's so much less important in the college game that it was 15-20 years ago. Not many 7-footers play in the Valley.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hawkeye Hoops

Fran McCaffery promised, if nothing else, his Hawkeyes would be more interesting to watch this year. So far, Iowa has been. Sure, the Hawks blew an 18 point lead and lost in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge (again). But for the first time in a long time, I was entertained watching an Iowa basketball game. Are you not entertained?

Eric May is Vanilla Thunder. That kid can dunk from anywhere on the floor. What an athlete. It's amazing the transformation May has made in his short time under McCaffery.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Underachievers, Iowa vs. Nebraska, Cooter Finds Internet

The Hawkeyes had 11 All-Big Ten performers, this year --- the most of any team in the league. That, right there, tells you all you need to know about this football team. It takes more than just a bunch of good players --- just ask the 9-8 Miami Heat.

Adrian Clayborn (named 1st-Team All-American on Monday) said that the team has "lost it's will to win". Some fans are upset with his comments following the loss to Minnesota, but I think it's refreshing. Would you rather have him lie about it? Sure, it would be nice if the team could stay motivated for a game against a 2-9 football team, but after the expectations this team had, how could you? I think we sometimes forget the human element involved in games played by kids.

Hawkeye Insider, Jon Miller, thinks the Hawks will play Missouri in the Insight Bowl. An even more intriguing possibility is this: ... If Nebraska loses in the Big 12 title game, and ends up playing Iowa in the desert, sign me up. For what it's worth (and I'm no Hawkeye Insider), I think the Hawks will play in the Gator Bowl. Call it a "gut feeling".

We've been hearing whispers that the 5-7 ISU football team could receive a bowl bid out of necessity. There were rumors that there weren't going to be enough 6-win teams to fill every bowl position. I'm not sure if that's true, or not, but I do know ISU isn't preparing for a bowl. A school administrator told me that he hasn't heard anything about it, while a player told me that they began the "off-season" today.

Our favorite Husker fan somehow gained access to the Internet. You can follow him on Twitter at @CooterRayCorn ... We knew he wasn't a smooth talker, but it also turns out he's not such a good speller. Here's his first status update:

This could be the worst match up in Monday Night Football history. The 3-7 49ers vs. the 3-7 Cardinals. The sad thing is, the winner of this game will only be one game out of first in the horrid NFC West.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hawkeye Fallout

Iowa's loss to Minnesota was by far the most disappointing loss (in the most disappointing season) that I can remember... and here's why: The Gophers had more heart than the Hawkeyes. They wanted it more than the Hawkeyes. They out-hustled the Hawkeyes. Think about that. The 2-9 team playing for nothing but pride (and Floyd) played with more passion than the team trying to lock up an invite to the Outback Bowl.

Remarkably, Iowa is still very much in contention for an invitation to Tampa. But based on the 50 emails we've received from Hawkeye fans since early this evening, I don't think the black and gold faithful are real keen on the idea of traveling 2,000 miles to watch this team play another game.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Bowling, Born Free, Black Friday

  • I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Mine could only have been better if my mom and sister were here with me. Well, I could add more names to that wish list, but all told, a blessed day. We had a breakfast fit for a king, overate so much we skipped lunch, and then had a dinner so delicious even the kids raved, and they're not easily impressed. All credit to my wife, Jenny. My dad ate his weight.
  • I  later earned my keep with solid football analysis from my manchair. First we watched the Patriots and Lions. The Patriots wore their throwbacks, so I instantly felt like a kid. Lions wore throwbacks too, but they're almost the same. Just a great game for uniforms. Uniforms are my only fashion care.
  • Tom Brady is in the zone. He put on a passing clinic against the Lions. There is no one alive throwing the football better.
  • Did you catch Kid Rock's performance at halftime? His Bob Seger sound-alike, Born Free, is a good song, and the entire God Bless America production was like something Ricky Stanzi would direct.
  • Next up, Saints at Cowboys. We watched this one from the bowling alley. Yes, a tradition like no other... bowling. We had a blast at Plaza Lanes while the Saints ran up a big lead on the resurgent Cowboys. By the time I finished my 260, the Cowboys were showing life. (And by 260, I mean two games.) Dallas nearly won its third straight, but a Roy Williams fumble opened the door, and Drew Brees passed right through it. Great game.
  • Jets-Bengals... couldn't see it. I have Mediacom. Mediacom, I'm barely hanging on. Need the NFL Network! I'm loyal because of MC22's devotion to local sports, but need that NFL Network! Sounds like the game was a dog anyway.
  • Cyclone women won in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Hawkeyes in Mexico. I'll bet it was warmer.
  • Andy Fales looked frozen at Jordan Creek Town Center. Wind chill of 10 and thousands of people are lined up for Black Friday doorbusters. That's nuts. I can never, ever see myself doing that. I realize some do it because they need the savings, and some turn it to sport, but I just don't get it.
  • My wife and I are going on a trip and needed a few overlooked items. Wal-Mart was open on Thanksgiving. Selfishly, I'm glad, it helped, but come on, give everybody the day off! Shoppers, including absentminded me, can wait.
  • Uh oh. I need to be up at 6 a.m., but Old School just came on HBO. I'm hooked.
  • I'm thankful you indulge me with these scatter-shot thoughts. Thank you for stopping by. Please be nice to Shawn and Chris. They're good guys.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hoiberg's Perfect, Miller Flips, Unstoppable Stopped

  • Fred Hoiberg remains perfect as a head coach. The Cyclones are now 5-0. They haven't really beaten a good team, so the record isn't a shock, but what's most impressive is the way the team is playing. The Cyclones are having fun again.
  • As I type, I'm watching one of my favorite comic commentators, Dennis Miller. It's fascinating to see his act go from the left to the right. He used to skewer what he now embraces, and vice-versa. He's funny in any ideology.
  • I've been called out on the comments section for Tuesday's review of the movie Unstoppable.
Not Philip31972 said...

Murph your an idiot. How can you give "Unstoppable" an A-? There are some great action sequences, but aside from that, the movie is one tired cliche. From the big bad corporate execs motivated only by profit to the co-workers and Hooters patrons watching the coverage on TV while cheering on our heroes, we've seen it all before. And once the train is stopped - all broken relationships are repaired! C'mon, Murph! I know you've watched enough movies to know better.

I responded....

Everything you write is true, but I still enjoyed myself. It's been a bad year for action movies, so maybe I'm too generous. I also got to see it with my dad, which is a treat, so my mood was good going in.

All told, I like Unstoppable a lot.


The Idiot

Upon further reflection, A- is too high, but I didn't expect The Hurt Locker or Social Network. I expected a runaway train wreaking havoc for 90 minutes, and Unstoppable delivered top notch action. Plus, it wasn't animated.
  • Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have the opportunity to spend time with friends and family.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Unstoppable, Idiot, Thanksgiving

  • Saw "Unstoppable" with my dad. Great action movie. 90 minutes of runaway train. Two thumbs up from the Murphy boys. A-
  • The Hawkeyes have bounced back faster than their fans. They seemed fine at their weekly media interviews Tuesday. Lynn Melling said on the 9 p.m. news tonight, "The Hawkeyes could sleep on the field and still beat the Gophers." Lynn's from Minnesota.
  • I had a Nebraska fan call me out on twitter. Philip31972 says, "murphy your an idiot". The grammar police asked Philip to change it to, "Murphy, you're an idiot".
  • Joe Paterno turns 84 next month. He says he'll return for his 62nd season at Penn State. JoePa was coaching the Lions before they even realized they were playing football.
  • Doesn't Thanksgiving get better and more meaningful with age?

No TV, A-Rob Rocked, Bo Knows Tantrums

  • It's crazy the Iowa State - Creighton game wasn't on TV. All but the 10,000 at Wells Fargo Arena missed an early season classic. Jamie Vanderbeken's last second 3 was late, but it was still an incredible Laettner-like shot, aided in large part by an overlooked strike by Scott Christopherson. Had the game been on TV, Vanderbeken's shot would have been waved off, but that equals overtime, not an Iowa State loss. Who knows what happens then.
  • Greg McDermott entered and exited with class. Bad fit at Iowa State. He'll win at Creighton.
  • I'm worried about Adam Robinson. He looked knocked out after an uncalled illegal hit by Ohio State. That's A-Rob's second concussion in a month, and as Shawn Terrell reported Monday night, once you've had one concussion, you're five times more likely to have another. Robinson won't play against Minnesota, and I trust Iowa will take every precaution before running him in a bowl.
  • Great teams find a way to win. Iowa is now finding a way to lose. It's just not Iowa's year. Offense, Defense, Special Teams, and Coaches all would like do-overs at critical times. That's football.
  • Over-reacting Hawkeye fans need to realize Iowa doesn't have the talent or depth some elite programs have, and never will. It's a thin margin between wins and losses. Iowa was on the right side of it last year; this year, it's going the other way.
  • I picked Iowa to go 9-3, and Iowa State 6-6. Turns out I thought too much of both teams.
  • ISU's 0 points isn't all on Jerome Tiller, but the Cyclones need a QB to push Tiller, not just hand him the job. Iowa State also needs to go find a Seneca, Persa, Daniel, Tate or Reesing somewhere. An overlooked short guy who can really run the spread.
  • Hawkeye and Cyclone fans, aren't you glad Bo Pelini isn't your coach? The guy is embarrassing. Erin Kiernan loves Nebraska, but she's had enough of Pelini's temper tantrums. She's not alone.
  • The Vikings waited too long to fire Childress. He lost the team a long time ago. It's a lost season now.
  • If you get a chance, check out the Iowa Energy. It's an entertaining night.
  • The Event on NBC started with promise, but it's losing me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dubious Debate and Donuts

I used the drive back from Kinnick tonight to debate (with myself) whether or not this is the most disappointing Iowa season, based on expectations, in my lifetime. The candidates are: 1997, 2005, or 2010. In '97 and '05, the Hawks began the season with Rose Bowl aspirations, but stumbled to 7-5 finishes, punctuated by losses in bowl games. At this point, '97 has the edge, but if this year's team fails to win at Minnesota or in the bowl game, it earns the dubious distinction.

I was stunned that Iowa State didn't fire a shot against Mizzou, especially considering what was on the line. The Tigers have upgraded their defense considerably, but there's no way ISU's offense should get shutout on Senior Night with bowl eligibility on the line.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Wrigley Debacle, Pearl of No Wisdom, Blue Steel

  • What an embarrassing day for the Big Ten. How could you get all the way to the day before kickoff before realizing you don't want Northwestern and Illinois football players running into the Wrigley Field wall?
  • Bruce Pearl was the overwhelming choice of Hawkeye fans after Gary Barta fired Todd Lickliter. Be careful what you wish for. The SEC suspends Pearl for eight games. Pearl knowingly committed NCAA violations, then lied about it. One Iowa fan told me today, he doesn't care. He'd take Pearl and probation in exchange for some winning. I think more fans feel that way than you'd think. Meantime, Illinois fans of a certain age have a good laugh.
  • The bar is so high in Madrid, the Tigers are disappointed at a 13-1 football season. It was a title or bust season for a school that's enough of finishing second (1-7 in championship games). Boys, take it from me and many other football players who never even made it to the playoffs: you had a great run.
  • Is the 4-A title game halftime show over yet? That was longer than Avatar, though it was good to see Tim Dwight. I just wish they'd have interviewed TD about his love of the movie Zoolander. Tim could have hit everybody with some Blue Steel.
  • Bucs finally lose Friday night. Winning streak ends at six. Regg Simon has the boys playing (and fighting).
  • Harrison Barnes shot 0-13 Friday night. That's a rough night for a pre-season All-America, but he is still a freshman.
  • Xavier beat Iowa in the Paradise Jam. That's going to happen to the Hawks a lot this season. Fran McCaffery doesn't have enough talent for his system, or any system. It will take time, and it starts with recruiting. McCaffery can coach.
  • I have a hard time predicting what this Iowa football team will do. I think Ohio State wins Saturday, but this season, who knows. Which Iowa team will show?
  • I don't see any way Iowa State beats Missouri. Prove me wrong Clones.
  • Iowa Energy start the season with an easy win at home. Energy at home Saturday once Dane Cook clears out of The Well. The Energy is under-rated entertainment. Cook? I'm not sure.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bear Nap, Eastside Pride, Going Griswold

  • Sounds like it was a good night to NOT have the NFL Network. Even Bears fans saying the game at Miami was an absolutely snoozer, but it was a Bears win. Bears now 7-3. Could be the worst 7-3 team in memory, but they're a contender. Heavy lifting ahead. As Cutler goes, so go the Bears. Defense will do its part.
  • Major props to Eastside Pride. Four African-American honor roll students signing D1 basketball scholarships. Not surprising, the Scarlets are #1 in the first girls basketball poll.
  • I spent $650 on new tires today. Is there anything less exciting than spending that kind of cash on tires. No one notices, no one cares, but you have to have them. I felt the same about a new roof. That was much more expensive.
  • We had Iowa State's Scott Christopherson on the Murph & Andy Show. He was fun, and said he still hadn't missed a shot after going 11 for 11 against Drake. He knew that would change once he got back in the gym, unless he moved to Pleasantville and didn't know it. (The one in the movie, not Iowa.)
  • I've seen several of the Harry Potter movies for the kids, and while they were entertaining, I'm sure it's not the same if you haven't read the books, and I haven't. Never even considered it.
  • I just can't back Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young award. It's not his fault his team was awful, but he was 13-12 and never pitched in pressure games. Again, not his fault, but numbers aren't everything.
  • We ate at Red on Ingersoll for the first time. Highly recommended. Nice place.
  • We shot our Christmas promo for the news team today. I got tangled in some lights like Clark Griswold. I hope that's left on the cutting room floor. I fear it won't be.

First Margarito vs Paquiao, Now Drake vs ISU

  • Iowa State and Drake have played basketball 170 times and Wednesday night the Cyclones won by 48, their largest margin of victory in the series ever. How many people thought a team picked for 12th in the Big 12 would more than double the score on a young & talented Bulldog team? Not me.
  • I think most Cyclone fans are realistic about the quality of competition in Iowa State's impressive 3-0 start. Still, Fred Hoiberg's team has outscored opponents 243-154.
  • It's early, and there will be some rough nights for Iowa State, but it's hard to imagine the season starting with more promise. Hoiberg was smart enough to surround himself with a great staff, the players are clearly buying into the new system, and a year thought disposable may provide a thrill here and there. Already did.
  • Scott Christopherson 11 for 11...  That's hard to do in the driveway with no defenders. When Christopherson left the game, he had outscored Drake 29-28.
  • What in the world happened to Drake. Props to Mark Phelps for his candor. That was a good, old fashion whipping. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

White Magic Wins, Arnaud Really Done, iTunes Adds Who?

  • That's one win for Fran "White Magic" McCaffery. The Hawkeyes still look like they're trying too hard, and there are going to be some rough, ugly nights, but at least McCaffery gets after it, and so do his players.
  • Why don't more people support Iowa women's basketball? Lisa Bluder has the team in the tourney and competing for Big Ten titles, but compared to Iowa State, it's apathy in Hawkeye country. Why?
  • Nice to see several of the Hawkeye football players admitting to Chris Hassel that they too are disappointed with not meeting their expectations this season. Many teams would love to have Iowa's current season, but Iowa is not one of them.
  • Worst fears realized for Cyclone quarterback Austen Arnaud, torn ACL&MCL in his left knee. Paul Rhoads says Austen will have surgery after Thanksgiving. The Senior should expect a huge ovation Saturday on Senior Night---well, as much noise as the crowd can make. I'll be pleasantly surprised if attendance reaches 40,000.
  • iTunes exciting, game-changing announcement is adding the Beatles?! Is there anyone out there who wants these songs who doesn't already have them? Well, at least Paul McCartney can finally make some money.
  • My wife and I just bought new luggage. It's exciting to think where it might go. I just hope it does.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vick Dazzles, Fennelly 500, Thanksgiving Rules

  • Michael Vick put on one of the all-time great shows on Monday Night Football. I'm not sure a quarterback has ever played a better all-around game. 4 TD passing, 2 running?! It's staggering how much better Vick has gotten in the pocket. He's now a pass first, run second guy, and he's doing both at the highest level. It was 28-0 Eagles at Washington after one quarter. I haven't forgotten the horrible things Vick did to dogs, but he did his time, and he's making the most of his second act. I'm not cheering Vick, but I am in awe of his talent.
  • Congratulations to Bill Fennelly on his 500th win. That's a number I wouldn't thought possible when Fennelly arrived at Iowa State, and the Cyclones didn't win or draw fans. I've said it many times, it's the most remarkable turnaround in women's basketball.
  • The quality of the video in Monday night's MC22 broadcast of the Drake vs ISU game was much improved. Props to Mediacom for working to fix the problem.
  • Hawkeye fans will feel a lot better if Iowa upsets Ohio State. The players must bounce back quicker than the fans have.
  • It's going to be a cold night at Jack Trice Stadium for the Cyclones and #15 Missouri. We'll find out who the real fans are.
  • Anyone see "Unstoppable"? Looks good to me.
  • I just ate an entire bag of chocolate pretzels even though I'm not hungry. Seriously, how good are those?
  • Can't wait for Thanksgiving. I love this holiday, and it moves up the charts as I get older.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hawkeye Meltdown, Cyclone Letdown

  • With great expectations come great disappointments---sometimes. And this is one of those times for Hawkeye fans. You should see our SoundOff emails. Wow. Hawkeye fans are TICKED, at least some of them are, and they're taking it out on their keyboards. "Fire O'Keefe... Ferentz is overpaid... Defense is Overrated... What's wrong with Stanzi?... The team is out of shape... We're too predictable... We never make adjustments... Time for serious changes... etc." It's brutal. Iowa is 7-3! May go 9-3, 8-4 at worst. Fans thought this could be the dream season, and it sure started with that potential, but great teams find a way to win, not lose.
  • Perspective is needed. Iowa once had 18 straight losing seasons. Now 8-4 and a January bowl is a disappointment.
  • It's easy to see why Kirk Ferentz doesn't like talking about his enormous salary. Frustrated fans go to the overpaid card quickly.  The money has gotten ridiculous, but Ferentz is making market value. Some Hawkeye fans don't understand, and never will, it's much harder to win at Iowa than it is Ohio State, Michigan, or Penn State. Iowa has several top ten finishes the past decade. That's impressive.  Plus, Ferentz and Hawkeye football make the U of I, and Iowa City, a fortune.
  • Still, I do understand the frustration. Iowa wasn't ready to play at Northwestern, and with all it had on the line, that's inexcusable. Fans can complain about how predictable Iowa is, but so were Lombardi's Packers. That's Ferentz's style, and he's not going to change.
  • Complain all you want about Ken O'Keefe, he's not doing anything without Ferentz's blessing.
  • Iowa State had a disappointing Saturday too. The Cyclones were flat, sloppy, and manhandled by a bad Colorado team. The Cyclones were favored, but learned something they should have already known: they're not good enough to come with anything less than maximum effort.
  • Paul Rhoads is easy for fans to love, and media to respect, but it's been a mixed season for ISU. Great program wins against Texas Tech and Texas, a near upset of #7 Nebraska. But there's also an embarrassing home thumping at the hands of Utah, a 52-0 loss at Oklahoma, a beat-down at Iowa, and a loss at Colorado with bowl eligibility on the line. Much work ahead and it starts with an upgrade in talent, especially speed.
  • At least UNI won. Another conference title for the Panthers.
  • I tried to watch a little basketball Sunday, not ready, but it's time. Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg still hasn't lost as a coach. Fran McCaffery still looking for his first win at Iowa. Hawks lost to South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits. Not a good start. It will be a season of transition at both places.
  • It's 1:47 a.m.  NBC's Sunday Night Football pushed SoundOFF to an 11:30 p.m. start, a near record. Since the Patriots ripped the Steelers, I almost didn't mind --- until the post game show went on... and on... and on.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The reality is, the Hawkeyes are good, but not they're not a great football team. Great defenses don't allow teams to march 80 or 90 yards down the field and score a touchdown with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. That's happened to Iowa three times this season (four, if not for a drop by Indiana). Great offenses aren't held under 20 points by pedestrian defenses, which is what's happened to Ricky Stanzi and company in back to back games. And while Iowa's special teams have improved, see Arizona and Wisconsin for a commentary on those units.

The reality is, life isn't always fair. Austen Arnaud is the definition of a Cyclone football player, but I'll be shocked if he's able to run out of the tunnel on Senior Day against Missouri. That's not fair. Nothing is official until Arnaud is examined/tested by a doctor back in Ames, but I think his college career ended in Boulder. Paul Rhoads said as much in his post-game interview.

One of the few bright spots of Saturday was UNI. The Panthers are headed back to the playoffs after clinching the conference title against Missouri State. The reality is, UNI is the most consistent football program in the state of Iowa year in and year out.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Ankeny-Dowling = Lethal Weapon 2

  • Ankeny-Dowling 2, "The Rematch" proves a sequel can surpass the original (see Godfather II).  How can a team that lost 42-0 in October, nearly pull off an upset and lose 24-21 in November? They're kids. They have short memories. Congrats to Dowling on advancing to the title game. It's not easy being #1. Three close calls but the Maroons are still standing and still unbeaten.
  • I hope Madrid wins the title. The Tigers have a reserved spot for their bus at the Dome, they're in the playoffs every year, but they often come up just short, kind of like the Atlanta Braves.
  • Since I'm on a roll with predictions, I'll state with confidence Iowa beats Northwestern by double digits--- 14 sounds right. Teams often take on the personality of their coaches, and this is particularly true at Iowa. Kirk Ferentz seems tired of losing to Northwestern, the same way he was once tired of losing bowls, and losing to Iowa State. When he has that look, his teams respond.
  • Teams who have fired their coaches, often play better. This scares a few Cyclone fans as Iowa State goes to Colorado. I don't think it should. ISU is not talented enough to win without playing hard, but I think the Clones will. ISU by 7.
  • I took my mom to the new movie "Morning Glory". It's about network morning shows, and while it's no "Broadcast News", it's breezy and fun. Harrison Ford does his best work in years. He anchors the news in a growl---very unBachmanlike.
  • Kevin love of the Timberwolves scored 31 points and pulled down 31 rebounds vs. the Knicks Friday night. First NBA 30/30 since Moses Malone in 1982.
  • The Heat are good for the NBA. I enjoyed the Celtics win Thursday night way more than I should in November.
  • A big welcome to Alisa Link. She's a channel 13 intern hall of famer who is now a full time employee working right here at  Good for us, good for you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

11-11-11, Big East BS, sCam Newton

Don't look now, but we're just one year away from 11-11-11, and 2 years, 1 month, and 1 day away from 12-12-12. Thank GOODNESS there won't be a 13-13-13.

It would be nice if we could enjoy Thursday night NFL games --- the problem is, the majority of people can't see them because they're on the NFL Network. Instead, I'm stuck watching the Little East game of the week featuring Pitt and UConn. It amazes me that this conference is still considered a "power conference" by the BCS. There's no way any of the teams in the Big East deserve to play in a BCS game. That's part of the problem with NCAA football.

They're calling for cold weather and rain, on Saturday, in Chicago. That may bode well for the Hawks against Northwestern's heavy passing attack, but it sure as heck doesn't bode well for the fans (and me). It's hard to imagine worse weather than the torrential downpour at the Iowa-Ball State game --- but this could be worse.

Think of all the coaches that have been fired (in any sport) in the middle of the season. Then think of how many times those teams went on to win the very next game. It seems to happen all the time. On Sunday, I was picking the Cyclones to beat the Buffs, but after Dan Hawkins' firing, I'm going with Colorado. I'm worried ISU may run into a buzz saw, in Boulder. Hopefully I'm dead wrong.

Gene Chizik said, earlier this week, that Cam Newton would start vs. Georgia, this Saturday, PERIOD. Well, begs to differ;_ylt=AniF1d1MiE7Yrix0DvPDHQwcvrYF?slug=cr-newtonnext11110

What ever the NCAA decides, I hope they do it soon. It wouldn't be fair to the Heisman voters, or the teams competing against Auburn, if it takes months for the NCAA to rule Newton ineligible. It also wouldn't be fair, to Newton, if this cloud of controversy engulfs his entire season, and costs him the Heisman, a championship, and possibly more, if he's innocent.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hawkins Fired, Hawkeyes Fired Up

  • I think Saturday's game just got more challenging for the Cyclones. The Buffaloes quit on Dan Hawkins a long time ago, so Iowa State should expect a better effort with Hawkins fired.
  • What an awkward Senior Day for quarterback Cody Hawkins. At least his dad has the day off.
  • Iowa will not underestimate Northwestern again. Kirk Ferentz will have the Hawks ready for a reversal of fortune against the Wildcats.
  • Either there is an organized smear campaign against Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, or his past is catching up to him. Until the latter is proven, he still has my Heisman vote (provided he keeps outplaying everyone else).
  • I have one of those tweener colds.  Not bad enough to stay in bed, too sick to be of much good to anyone.
  • Can anyone beat Ankeny at state volleyball? I doubt it.
  • Looking forward to watching the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Marcus Dupree. Dupree was the all-time "can't miss" prospect who missed. He played for Oklahoma in the 80s, so who knows what we'll learn in this one.
  • Kurt Warner was voted off Dancing with the Stars. I like Kurt, but I couldn't bring myself to watch.
  • Andy and Chris will likely show up at work Wednesday having not gone to bed. Why? Call of Duty: Black Ops is released Tuesday.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Rhoads' Onions, A-Rob Missed, Megamind Control

  • I love that Paul Rhoads plays to win. I'd rather he played to win with someone other than a back-up punter throwing a pressure pass in OT against the #7 team in the nation, but I'll take aggressive over playing not to lose anytime. Dare to be great.
  •  I didn't have a problem with Rhoads not taking a few shots down field with 40 seconds to play in regulation. Needed at least 40 yards for a field goal, kicker had already missed two, and quarterback Austen Arnaud had thrown a pick-six.
  • I couldn't believe how many Cyclone fans had sold their tickets and parking passes to Nebraska fans.
  • After Cooter Ray makes an appearance on SoundOFF, we always get several emails from Cornhusker fans who don't get how intentionally silly and over the top it all is. Fans are basically the same---good and bad, smart and stupid----anywhere.
  • Iowa caught a break. John Bachman told me Iowa at Indiana would be closer than anyone expected. John was right. Iowa is fortunate to leave Bloomington with a win. As I said here last week, Iowa's challenge would be overcoming the complete lack of energy in the stadium.
  • Marcus Coker proved a capable back-up, but Adam Robinson was missed, especially in the red zone where he's invaluable coming out of the backfield.
  • Ricky Stanzi missed too many red zone throws, but he was clutch on winning drive.
  • Congrats to Kirk Ferentz on 100 wins. Only 300 more to catch Joe Paterno!
  • How in the world did TCU beat Utah at Utah by 35? Horned Frogs must be the real deal.
  • I still can't believe the Browns blew out the Patriots.
  • Say what you will about Brett Favre, that was a hall of fame comeback against the Cardinals.
  • Is Brad Childress a buffoon, or did he just lose his mind in the post-game?
  • Jerry Jones had no choice. The Cowboys quit, and you can't fire the players.
  • It's good to see Iowa and Iowa State scoring in the hundreds again on the basketball court---I don't care who the opponent.
  • If only Zenyatta had known how long the race was.
  • Megamind was good. Great voice work by Will Ferrell and Tina Fey.
  • Jerry Jones had no choice.
  • I already have my first winter cold. What is up with that?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

You Make The Call

I loved the call. To quote Herm Edwards, "You play to win the game!" and I love that mentality. That fact that Daniel Kuehl's pass fell incomplete doesn't change my opinion of Paul Rhoads' decision to go for two.
90 percent of the SoundOFF email we've received in the hours since the game share the same opinion of the call. And the 10 percent that disagree with the call admit they didn't like it only because it didn't work.
A week ago I praised Ricky Stanzi's prowess, so it's only fair to point out that Stanzi didn't play very well at Indiana. His final numbers weren't too shabby, but I thought the Rickster missed several throws in the red zone, which forced Iowa to settle for field goals. I should point out that Stanzi was clutch at crunch time, as he has been in most games throughout his career.
Can you imagine the meltdown Hawkeye nation would be experiencing had DeMario Belcher hung on to that last-second pass? Had Belcher made the catch, I'd would have received 40 angry Ken O'Keefe-related emails since the end of the game... As it turns out, I've only received one. It just goes to show how a close win vs. a close loss leaves people with wildly different perspectives. It had felt like karma wasn't on Iowa's side all season, until Belcher's drop.
The League is my favorite show on TV right now. The quirky humor is akin to Seinfeld, albeit cruder. And the backdrop is a group of guys in a fantasy football league, as opposed to a coffee shop.
Pearl Jam rocks.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hoiberg's Nervous, Marv's Run, Chizik's Headache

  • Great to see Hilton Coliseum open for business. Props to the folks who worked around the clock to get the place ready in time for the first basketball game.
  • Fred Hoiberg told me he's getting butterflies and spending sleepless nights as his first game as Iowa State head coach approaches. Fred leads the Clones for the first time Friday night.
  • Nebraska at ISU is sold out except for the hillsides. That's a lot of cash at 90 dollars a seat.
  • The Paul Rhoads locker room speech is an indelible image from the mostly one-sided ISU-Nebraska series, but my favorite moment is Marvelous Marv Seiler's improbable run to lock-up the stunning upset in 1992. Marv will join Andy and me in the KXnO studio Friday at 2:30 p.m.
  • Where there's smoke is there fire at Auburn? and the NY Times both report Heisman front-runner Cam Newton was offered by a middle-man to schools for around $200,0000. Ruh-roh. Former Iowa State coach Gene Chizik said on his radio show Thursday night, "I will  say very loud and very clear: Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University, period. End of story''. I doubt it. 
  •  Iowa can still win a Big Ten title, and if Wisconsin loses, go to the Rose Bowl, which is what makes the complete lack of buzz in the Iowa-Indiana game surprising, but somewhat understandable. It's hard to get up for a game in Bloomington, where the Hoosier fans don't even care. That's one of the challenges facing the players. There won't be much energy to feed off.
  • I hope Adam Robinson doesn't play unless he's 100% after the reported concussion (Hawkeye, and I trust Kirk Ferentz will make the right call.
  • Nice job by good guy Doug McDermott, scoring 18 points in his Creighton debut.
  • Wrestling is back, and that means interviews with Iowa's Tom Brands. Didn't take him long at media day to drop another, "I don't know if they're going to poop their pants" when talking about his young Hawks. Inexperienced or not, Iowa being ranked 7th is crazy. Come on, three time defending NCAA champs.
  • I'll take Dowling over Ames, but I'm less sure about Ankeny-Urbandale. The Jayhawks are the hottest team in the state right now, but I'll go with Ankeny in a toss-up.
  • I'm ready for the weekend. You?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Garnett vs Villanueva, Hoiberg vs Keno, Democrat vs Republican

  • The Vikings cut Randy Moss because he turned out to be... Randy Moss. How did this organization become such a joke? What a mess. Only one team even bothered to claim Moss on waivers---the Titans---which tells you a lot about how this talented receiver is regarded throughout the league. He's just not worth the headache anymore.
  • Charlie Villanueva, who has a condition that prevents him from growing hair, says NBA trash-talker extraordinaire Kevin Garnett called him a "cancer patient". Garnett now claims he said, "You are a cancer to your team and to the league". Who do you believe? Me too. One rings a lot truer than the other.
  • Fred Hoiberg, who has had open-heart surgery, will join 63 other D1 coaches in a free throw shooting tournament for the American Heart Association. Not only does Hoiberg have personal experience on his side, he was a world class shooter not too long ago. Fred's first round opponent is Keno Davis. If Hoiberg keeps winning, and he should, he could face Steve Alford, a guy who could also fill it up back in the day, and loves to compete. (Ben Jacobson and Greg McDermott are both in the bracket as well.)
  • Fran McCaffery--White Magic--is not. McCaffery did spend time in his media talk Wednesday saying how terrific Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore were when they used his luxury box. McCaffery said they did nothing wrong, and simply posed for a few pictures with anyone who asked. Any story involving Hollywood celebrities gets blown out of proportion. This was no different. The story, first reported by The Shovel, the Des Moines Register's Tom Witosky, went international.
  • I'm watching more NBA than I have in years.
  • Happy birthday to the nicest man I know, my dad.
  • Derek Jeter will reportedly marry Minka Kelly next weekend. Sorry guys.
  • I'm proud of my colleagues at channel 13. I thought the election night coverage was the best I've seen. I also wonder why more people on opposite sides of the aisle can't have thoughtful, respectful, civil discourse like our political insiders, Mike Mahaffey and Jerry Crawford. They proved all night it doesn't have to be an angry yelling match. Bravo.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

HB at NC, Posting the Vote, 400 vs 100

  • Here's an interesting question: If Ames' Harrison Barnes had picked Iowa State, not North Carolina, would he still have been the AP's first freshman voted to the pre-season All-America team? I'd say no. Either way, Barnes wouldn't have played a minute of college basketball yet, and in both scenarios he would have been equally impressive in high school, AAU, and all summer against big time competition, but the perception of recruits tends to go up or down based on the school they choose.  One can argue Barnes will be a better player when surrounded by more talent at North Carolina, but this vote takes place before we even know.
  • Yes, I voted on election Tuesday. I think it's now law to say that in a blog, or facebook, or twitter --- if that gets more people out, I'm all for it. My favorite voting quote comes from Churchill: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
  • I respect anyone who puts it out there and runs for elected office. I can't imagine doing it.
  • No more attack ads!
  • Joe Paterno will soon win his 400th game. For perspective, Kirk Ferentz will soon win his 100th. Think about that.
  • Bummer Iowa linebacker Tyler Nielsen is likely out the rest of the regular season with a neck injury. Nielsen is a gamer.
  • Baseball still has a pulse on TV. The World Series beat Monday Night Football in the ratings.
  • Our thanks to the guys at They just sent a Ferentz, Stanzi, and Hoiberg. If your school needs a fundraiser, the guys have some good ideas.
  • I hear Cooter Ray is back on SoundOFF Sunday night. Hide the women and children.

Toss Moss, Demigate, HB Hype

  • What in the wide world of sports is going on in the Vikings front office? Trade a third round draft pick to New England for Randy Moss mid-season, then cut him? Moss is a strange guy, and it was surreal hearing him talk about the Patriots like an old girlfriend he suddenly appreciated, but whatever's ailing the Vikings, I doubt dumping Moss is the cure. It's just a dysfunctional mess. I keep thinking the Vikes will find a way to make the playoffs, but I'm starting to wonder.
  • Somewhere Bill Belichick is laughing a mad genius maniacal laugh.
  • Glad the NCAA did the right thing, which was nothing, over Demigate. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher didn't intend Iowa any harm by posing for pictures with recruits, but they did do something unthinkable for years: put Iowa basketball on the national media radar. The story was everywhere, which ironically, does end up helping recruiting.
  • Ames' Harrison Barnes is the first ever Freshman named to the AP pre-season All-America team. Think about that... he hasn't played a minute of college ball, and he's already considered one of the five best players in America. No wonder Cyclone fans wanted to believe so badly he'd pick Iowa State.
  • The Giants are World Series champions. The Giants!? Meantime, Cubs fans wait. And wait. And wait...
  • Monday, my son Cade and I went to U of I Hospitals & Clinics and had a great day. We celebrated the only way you should when you're in Iowa City and feeling good: a trip to Steak n Shake!