Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Barnes Is The Real Deal, Hamilton Loves Iowa State, Hassel Up Close

  • Harrison Barnes even stands out at the McDonald's All-America Game. It's the country's best blue chip recruits all on the floor, and Barnes wins co-MVP. He just looked more polished and mature than anyone in the game. It's painful to see another elite recruit leave our state, the recruit, but it's hard to fault Harrison. When Ol Roy and North Carolina come calling, kids pay attention.
  • Shawn Terrell interviewed Justin Hamilton on camera about his surprising decision to transfer out of Iowa State. Hamilton said a few weeks ago he was leaving to be closer to his home in Utah, but his first visit was to a school actuallyy farther from Ames (Virginia). Hamilton told Shawn he loves Iowa State and loves Cyclone fans. Shawn asked why leave then? Hamilton answered, "No comment.".
  • Iowa State wins the Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series. No one noticed. It's who won the football game first, then everything else is a distance second, third, fourth...
  • Shawn Terrell just told me he's never seen "This Is Spinal Tap". I feel like I don't even know Shawn now.
  • I do know Chris Hassel after that Barnstormer story he did Tuesday (it's in our video player). The close-up of Chris allowed us to count his pores and nose hairs.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Football season is here!

Arena football season, that is.  Shawn here...

The Barnstormers were borderline dominant in just their second year of competition in the af2.  I'm concerned, however, that the franchise hasn't updgraded its talent enough to be a force in the AFL.  Iowa kicks off the 2010 season against Chicago on Friday night. 

Friday's game will be televised live on NFL Network.  I'm interested to see if the live telecast has any effect on attendance.  The Barnstormers were 2nd in the af2 in home attendance in 2009, averaging more than 9,000 fans per game.  The broadcast probably won't help attendance, but I don't think it will hurt either. Like most minor league sporting events, the allure lies in the experiencing the event live.  With the exception of a few hundred hard-core fans, most people at arena football games are there for the atmosphere, the people watching, and the excuse to tailgate in April.  Besides, most of the Barnstormers games in 2009 were broadcast locally, and that didn't seem to have a noticeably effect.

Brian Brown is a phenomenal ambassador for the Drake Relays.  Brian is everything a event director should be; personable, available, and creative.  Once again this year, Brown has come up with a few new ideas to spice up the Relays.  If only Brian could guarantee sunshine and 80 degree temperatures for April 22-24.

Both Iowa junior Kachine Alexander and Iowa State senior Alison Lacey were named honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press.  I think Lacey would have had a legitimate shot at making the 2nd team if not for a late season bout with pneumonia.  Lacey returned and played in the NCAA tournament, and tried to down-play her health, but she wasn't close to 100 percent in March.  Still, it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference against UCONN.  By the way, the Huskies only beat Flordia State by 40 to advance to the Final Four.


Monday, March 29, 2010

It's All About Fran the Man

  • Fran McCaffery goes from no-name to household name in one day. Only in Iowa.
  • No red flags from McCaffery's news conference. I was impressed. He knew what needed to be said, and heard.
  • McCaffery will run an up-tempo offense and, at times, pressure defense. This shows Gary Barta listened to the fans (and Bobby Hansen). Fans want to see a return to the style of the 80s and 90s. This is a start. Of course, it only looks really good when it leads to wins.
  • McCaffery has turned three programs around and taken all three to the NCAA tournament. This is different from Todd Lickliter, who took an already good Butler team and made it slightly better (and since Lickliter left, it's only improved more).
  • McCaffery stressed recruiting over and over with reason. This remains the key and great unknown. Without the players, you can't win in the Big Ten. (Well, Tom Izzo could probably take Iowa with last season's players to the Final Four.)
  • Lickliter's players felt no closeness to their coach. McCaffery has players to his house all the time and gives out more hugs than Oprah. Can't hurt. Also nice to see Fran the Man reaching out to former players.
  • McCaffery knows Carver-Hawkeye Arena once rocked, and now snores. He already had a meeting on how to wake the place up. This is key.
  • Winning fixes everything, everywhere.
  • Gary Barta got off a good joke about installing a seat belt at CHA for McCaffery's wife. She was once tossed out of a game for yelling at the refs. Any energy is welcome right now.
  • Six year contract? Why give a coach unproven at this level six years?
  • McCaffery may look like your accountant or dentist, but he doesn't lack swagger. He's had a lot of success, and he'll let you know it.
  • All told, I was impressed by McCaffery. Unlike Lickliter, and especially Gene Chizik at Iowa State, I think McCaffery does understand what he's getting into. That's important.
  • Fans have already passed through the stages of a hiring: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Acceptance.
  • Some nuggets confirmed on the Murph & Andy Show by key search commitee member Bobby Hansen, who knows better than perhaps anyone exactly what Iowa needs in a coach: Bruce Pearl, Lon Kruger, Jamie Dixon were all on the list, but too expensive to even pursue a conversation. Brian Gregory and Doug Wojcik were the other finalists with McCaffery, who was Bobby's top choice. Gary Barta did interview BJ Armstrong, but with no coaching experience, was an outside the box choice.
  • We won't really know how Fran McCaffery worked out for a couple years, but he's off to a good start. That's all you can ask at this point.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's Shawn.

Nothing told me more about the UNI basketball team than the video our photographers captured in the locker room following the loss to Michigan State.  Many of the Panthers were crying their eyes out. Because of that, I have even more respect for this team.  Why?  Despite 30 wins, the MVC regular season and tournament titles, and the trip to the Sweet Sixteen, the Panthers still wanted and expected more.  They weren't happy just to be in St. Louis, they truly expected to leave St. Louis with nets around their necks. And the players were devastated when it didn't happen.  That's the mark of a champion.

Season-ending video of players crying is good for perspective too.  Fans and the media alike often place huge expectations on these players.  We're often quick to criticize when a player doesn't play well, or perform up to a level that we expect... because on the court, these players are phenomenal athletes.  They're men.  But seeing them curled in a ball last night was a reminder... they're just kids.  18-22 year-old kids.

Congratulations to the Panthers on a phenomenal season, and thank you for playing with the heart of a champion.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Panthers run comes to an end

It's Shawn.

What a run for the Panthers.  It's too bad the magic ran out before Indianapolis. A few UNI fans have already emailed to (jokingly, I think) blame the SI cover jinx, but I thought the better team won.

What's frustrating about the loss... the Panthers didn't play up to their capabilities... not even close.  Throughout the season, UNI won countless games by limiting turnovers and being clutch at the free throw line, but that was not the case Friday night.  Granted Michigan St. had a lot to do with the number of Panther turnovers.  The Spartans length, quickness, and atheticism was a notch above what the Panthers faced most of the season.

Tom Izzo again proved why he's one of the best coaches in the game.  That must have been some halftime speech.  The Spartans halftime adjustments might have been the difference.  Jordan Eglseder was a big reason why the Panthers led by seven at the break, but Eglseder was a non-factor the final 20 minutes.

I could break it down 10 different ways, but here's the bottom line... it's hard to win any game without making a field goal in the final 10 minutes.  The Spartans shut down the Panthers down the stretch.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jeering Wes, UNI Favored, A Real Cubs Collapse

  • I won't name names, but not all Cyclone fans are over "face of the program" Wesley Johnson bolting Iowa State for Syracuse. I work with two diehards who were openly cheering for Butler to upset the Orange, and they left no doubt why. Wes won't make the Final Four, but no one can say going to the 'Cuse was a bad move. The guy is now a first team All-American and future NBA lottery pick.
  • As Butler upset Syracuse, I wondered if he regretted leaving the perfect fit for his coaching abilities and limitations. It's easy to say he wiped his tears with hundred dollar bills, but I know a lot of people who were happier before they were wealthy.
  • Greg McDermott is proud of his friend, Ben Jacobson, but I also wonder if Mac watches UNI and wonders.
  • Some Vegas oddsmakers now favor UNI against Michigan State, and 6 of 8 ESPN analysts are now picking the Panthers. Don't you think Tom Izzo loves the way this is setting up?
  • Hoover's Cassondra Boston plays in the DII national championship game Friday night. Boston led Emporia State to the 'ship. Nice going, Cassondra.
  • Dwight Gooden was arrested for DUI while driving his 5 year old son to school. Sad.
  • Bad sign for the Cubs. Derrek Lee hurt his back when a chair collapsed. He's going to be okay, but my goodness.,230255
  • I was supposed to be at the Black Eyed Peas with my wife and two of our older kids. It's a birthday present concert. UNI's run changed our sports schedule, so I'm here, and Jenny is there, sending me constant text pics of Fergie,, and flying neon motorcycles with messages like, "I can't believe how incredible this concert is!". She's like the Gus Johnson of texting.
  • March 26th, or as it will forever be known, the day Hot Tub Time Machine was released. I hope the movie lives up to the title in a way that Snakes On A Plane did not.

UNI & Jacobson both smart, No Pearl at Iowa, Hot Tub Time Machine

  • Ben Jacobson got paid. And secure. UNI A-D Troy Dannen wisely locks up Jacobson for 10 years. No, it won't keep Coach Jake from leaving if he wants to go, but it's a smart preemptive strike. No way Jacobson goes anywhere this year, not after Dannen made the announcement at a pep rally in front of UNI's most faithful.
  • The deal is $450,000 a year with a $25,000 bump every year (none of it from tax dollars, UNI emphasized). A man can live comfortably in the Cedar Valley with $5 million over a decade.
  • There is little doubt Jacobson could pursue bigger paying gigs in BCS conferences. He saw his best friend Greg McDermott do that. Do you think Mac seems happier? More successful? Secure?
  • McDermott deserves a nod for the recruiting class of Eglseder, Ehelegbe, Koch, and Dunham. Those guys worked out pretty well.
  • Ali Farokhmanesh gets the Sports Pickle treatment.Among the quotes: Farokhmanesh is listed at 6'0", 190 pounds, but he stands closer to 5'9". The three-inch difference meant Farokhmanesh was not recruited coming out of high school, and it also makes Kansas' lost to Northern Iowa three inches more hilarious.
  • The Des Moines Register's Rick Brown, one of our state's best and most respected sportswriters, tells me you can scratch Keno Davis, Bruce Pearl, and Ben Jacobson off Iowa's list of coaching candidates. None appears interested.
  • The Iowa job is a good job, but not a great job, not right now. The hire will follow a predictable course. Some fans start by thinking every coach in America would love to come to Iowa. Reality starts to set in, and expectations are lowered, especially as coaches previously described by fans as beneath Iowa, show no interest. Iowa eventually does hire someone. Initial reaction is outrage, "We hired this guy?", but then turns to acceptance as the positives are talked up, negatives down. There are plenty of good candidates out there.
  • Urban Meyer acted like a bully when lecturing a reporter for quoting one of  his Gators accurately. Wasn't the reporter's fault someone said something that came across as a small shot at Tim Tebow. It's good Meyer stands up for his players, but he could have, and should have, handled it better. No wonder he's so stressed. I hope he mans up and apologizes. I bet he does.
  • Paging Tony Robbins. Bill Fennelly has his hands full making his Cyclones believe they can beat UConn. I'm not even sure it's possible to make them believe it. Not only has UConn won 74 straight games, the Huskies won the first two games of the tourney by a combined 110 points. Iowa State could play its best game of the season and still lose by 20. That's how big the gap is. The Cyclones have nothing to lose, and need to play loose, or they'll be the third straight team to lose by 50+. Comparisons to UNI vs KU don't apply. Connecticut is a monster. I'm not into moral victories, but I just hope Iowa State avoids what Temple experienced Sunday. By the way, this is Fennelly's greatest coaching job. (Don't miss his locker room speech at ) Back-to-back Sweet Sixteens.
  • American Idol is having a bad season.
  • Two days until Hot Tub Time Machine!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ali on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and this time it's not Muhammad

Also, here are two videos video of Hitler reacting to UNI's upset win over Kansas (warning: some profane language in subtitles.)

Don't Sleep on the Cats

  • It's surreal. The entire nation is still talking about the UNI Panthers. Monday, Ali Farokhmanesh was on the Dan Patrick Show, Jim Rome interviewed Ben Jacobson, David Letterman told jokes---at KU's expense. "The whole state of Kansas lost to a part of Iowa." UNI Sports Information Director Colin McDonough told me it's been non-stop national media requests since the Panthers shocked the Jayhawks.
  • Love how the Panthers are not buying into the whole Cinderella concept. They really thought they could beat Kansas, and they don't look at it as some miracle.
  • It was no fluke, UNI outplayed Kansas, but Jayhawk fans will spend the off-season wondering why KU didn't press sooner. The players can reflect on their lack of urgency and how they looked past the Panthers. Big mistake. Don't sleep on these Cats.
  • The Stanford women are killing us. Last year they ended Iowa State's season. This year, Iowa. Both times it was over before the half.
  • Parity may have arrived in NCAA men's basketball, but it is nowhere to be found in the women's game. The #1 seeds always dominate the early rounds, and no one is going to beat UConn.
  • Props to CBS for saying no to the ridiculous five minute interview with Tiger Woods. It's like speed dating, only it's speed interviews. You know what we learned from the five minute interviews by the Golf Channel and ESPN? Absolutely nothing, other than the fact Woods remains a robotic control freak. I don't care either. I just want to see him play golf.
  • The Pacific on HBO is terrific, as expected. I can't fathom what some of those men endured.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, I think I'm in for Hot Tub Time Machine. It looks ridiculous, and funny.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Still in Shock, 'Clones roll, UNI is done....

Chris here....

I'm still having a hard time coming to grips with what I witnessed, on Saturday. We (photog Brandon Bingham and I) did a story, Friday, about how UNI was ready to show the country what it was made of. Honestly, I didn't know if they really believed they could do it. Any team can say they're ready to take on the big boys, but Northern Iowa meant it. College basketball games are 40 minutes, and the Panthers led the Jayhawks for 39 of them.

Before I left, last Tuesday, for Oklahoma City, I DVR'ed UNI's game with UNLV. When I watched the final Ali 3, I noticed a bunch of fans in royal blue, cheering for UNI. Kind of ironic, don't you think?

One of the funniest moments of the game was when Kansas found itself down 5 with a few minutes left, and a call went the way of the Panthers. I looked to my left, and saw a fellow media member (tv reporter from Kansas) jumping out of his chair to scream at the officials. I think he already had his hotel rooms in St. Louis, and Indianapolis, booked.

I picked UNI to lose to UNLV...and they won. I picked them to lose to Kansas...and they won. You can probably guess what going to pick them to do against Michigan State. Gotta stick with what works.

Michigan State may be without its best player, Kalin Lucas. MSU head coach Tom Izzo thinks Lucas tore his ACL. If that's the case, he's done. Lucas averaged 15 points a game for the co-Big Ten champs, this season.

In case you're wondering. UNI would get the winner of #2 Ohio State vs. #6 Tennessee, if they can get past the Spartans.

The ISU women made quick work of Lehigh, Sunday night, in Ames. When I saw the score for the first time, Lehigh had 3 points. That was with 10 minutes left in the 1st half. Bill Fennelly, still, wasn't happy. They get UW-Green Bay in round two on Tuesday night. If they win, which shouldn't be a problem, they get UCONN in Dayton. OUCH!

My favorite part of SoundOFF was when some guy started yelling at Andy during his live shot from Hilton Coliseum. Between that, a woman breaking down, on the air, when talking UNI hoops...and a caller telling me that he hates my Gary Dolphin impression more than anything in the world...I'd say we had a pretty memorable show. The one thing we'll never know, is what the guy that called in to talk about Grand View women's golf was actually going to say about their spring break trip down south. Keith had a quick trigger finger on that one.

I, also, really enjoyed the piece that Shawn put together, for SoundOFF from the NCAA wrestling championships. Those guys aren't afraid to say exactly what's on their mind. Wrestlers are of a different breed. It's pure gold for a sports reporter.

Northern Iowa's basketball season is over...for the women. The Panthers lost big to #1-seed Nebraska.

I'll be off work, Monday, for the first time in 2 weeks. I'm planning on sleeping until 5:30pm, when the wife gets off work. Daytime TV is depressing...never more so than the Monday following the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We're Iowa. Deal with it America.

  • What an amazing day of sports in our state. UNI takes down the #1 team in America, Kansas. The Hawkeye women knock off the winningest coach in Iowa history, Vivian Stringer, and Rutgers. Iowa wins its 23rd national wrestling title, with three individual champions, Iowa State finishes third and crowns two champs. One for the books.
  • Nothing tops the biggest day in the history of UNI sports. I expected Northern Iowa to hang with the tourney's top seed, but not to win. I felt bad UNI got such a bad draw because the Panthers earned better than a 9 seed, and I thought they could beat a number of high seeds, just not KU. Wrong. UNI earned that W. The Cats led throughout and were not intimidated in the least.
  • Talk about playing to win... Ali Farokhmanesh showed Volkswagen sized stones with that pull-up three, leading by one, and 30 seconds to go on the shot clock, 37 in the game! Swish. That's the moment of the tourney. Farokhmanesh is now a Panther legend. First the three to beat UNLV, now this.
  • Ali wanted to play at Iowa, but Iowa showed no interest. Bad move.
  • Steve Alford had a great season. He's a finalist for national coach of the year. But enough with the shots at Iowa. After 11 seed Washington blew out Alford's 3rd-seeded New Mexico team, I half expected Alford to blame it on all the resources he didn't have at the U of I.
  • If Hawkeye fans are now interested in Ben Jacobson, they won't be alone. Jacobson's stock just shot through the roof. He'll have more than one offer.
  • Iowa's dominance at the NCAA wrestling championships was inevitable from the moment the Hawks scowled during last year's trophy presentation. From no individual champions to three. Iowa State did well too, with two.
  • Allow me a moment of pride. Shawn Terrell and Chris Hassel (and photojournalists James Searles and Brandon Bingham) did a great job of reporting all week. I know how much work it is on the road, and they did it up right. I hope they found time for some fun too.
  • Final thought: my bracket will now end up embarrassingly bad, but UNI's thrilling win was worth it. Thank you, Panthers. You made us proud.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hawkeyes Dominate, #1 and #2, Tombstone in Justified

  • It's already over. The Iowa Hawkeyes have been cranky since winning last year's wrestling national championship. No individual champions diminished the team title in the eyes of Iowa. This year, five Hawks made it to the finals. Wanna bet a few win it all?
  • Iowa's absolute dominance overshadows a nice comeback by Iowa State. The Cyclones had a miserable first session, but they've been rolling since. Iowa State could finish second, albeit a distant second.
  • Tom Brands told Shawn Terrell he likes to relax with a chainsaw. I'm not sure what it means, but it sounds right. Love Brands.
  • I just drove home and the roads were terrible. How can it be 65 and sunny Thursday, 25 and snowing Friday? Iowa.
  • It's also snowing in Oklahoma City. It's snowing so much Chris Hassel and the boys are worried about making it back in time for SoundOFF Sunday night. No one thinks of an extra night in Oklahoma City as a vacation. Props to the Ford Center though. Nice place.
  • My dad went back to Florida today. I already miss him. He's a good soul, and keeps us laughing.
  • I'm anchoring Saturday because Shawn's in Omaha and Chris OKC. I realize you're not stopping by to check my schedule, but if I write it, I'm less likely to forget to show up for work.
  • Those I-Cubs commercials have me ready for baseball.
  • A local sanitation and septic company has a great slogan. "We're #1, and #2."
  • UNI is built for a run in the tourney, so did it have to be Kansas already?
  • Watching "Justified" as I type. Another winner for FX. Any series based on an Elmore Leonard character that shows a Tombstone poster in the first 10 minutes is destined for good things.

Ali Wins, Ka-Boom! Down Goes UNLV

  • Ali Farokhmanesh hit one of the biggest shots in UNI history. Who knows, maybe it's #1. (No, still Maurice Newby of Des Moines East vs. Missouri in 1990.)
  • Nice of UNI to give most of us a rooting interest, and it's hard not to root for these guys. They're impressive on and off the court. It's hard not to think of Drake two years ago. Except the Panthers made it to the second round. (Ouch. Sorry, Andy. I know that hurt, and I didn't enjoy it.)
  • My dad turned to me in the second half, and said, "This team is a lot more fun to watch than Iowa or Iowa State." He's right.
  • Chris Hassel said the UNI locker room was not overly celebratory. The Panthers treated this like a business trip. Too bad Kansas comes next, but you never know, the Panthers are good, and fear no team.
  • Ben Jacobson's stock just went up.
  • What a great first day of the tourney. This is why the NCAA should resist the cash grab and leave it the way it is: perfect.
  • Steve Alford is one of four finalists for national coach of the year. Hawkeye fans still don't want him.
  • Iowa has already locked up a third straight NCAA wrestling championship. The Hawks are dominating. My favorite moment of Thursday night was when Shawn Terrell asked Tom Brands if he was ready to say it's over. Brands stared a hole right through Shawn. Great moment.
  • I thought the Cyclones would show up stronger.
  • Shawn says the thousands of fans at the sold out Qwest Center in Omaha are paying no attention to the basketball tourney. They're focused--- like Brands.
  • I had a great time at the St. Patrick's Day parade. The Friendly Sons couldn't have been better to my family, and my father had one of the great days of his life. We did it up right without overdoing it. (photo by Nuzum Photo)
  • My youngest boys thought riding on a car was cool, but they would have rather been standing on the side with a big bag to collect candy.
  • Catching up on new additions to my DVR. The Pacific is off to a great start. It may do the impossible: live up to Band of Brothers. Parenthood is good and getting better. The Marriage Ref would make a decent half hour, but it's spread way too thin over 60 minutes. Plus, why is the show open about baseball? Baseball has umpires, not refs. Parks & Recreation has improved so much from its nearly fatal rookie season that I've added it to my series recordings. Southland just had its best episode ever (what was NBC thinking?!), the excellent Men of a Certain Age already wrapped, Celebrity Apprentic remains my guilty pleasure, I love Ellen on American Idol, though the talent has been underwhelming, and I'm looking forward to Justified. Best thing I did was listen to your advice, Modern Family is terrific.
  • Notice I didn't give you any details about my NCAA bracket? No one wants to hear about anyone else's bracket. No one. Trust me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March Mayhem begins

It's Shawn... and to be clear, the title of this entry is not a reference to my St. Patrick's Day plans.  On Tuesday, Chris Hassel accompanied the UNI basketball team on its charter flight to Oklahoma City.  Chris claims he used to be scared of flying, but no longer is.  No one in the sports office believes him.  Is it really possible to out-grow a phobia?  I sat next to Chris on a flight back from the Outback Bowl last year... He popped three quaaludes from taxi until take-off.  Okay I'm kidding, but he seemed very uneasy.  Anyway, the point of this little diatribe is that we're in the midst of a very fun, yet hectic week in the sports office.  Look for Chris' reports on the Panthers throughout the week.  I'm heading to Omaha to cover NCAA wrestling.

As I write this, Iowa has not yet hired a new basketball coach.  I don't expect Gary Barta to make an announcement for at least a week, probably longer.  24 hours into the search, there has been plenty of speculation, but no confirmation on any of the candidates Barta is targeting.  Why does it feel like Barta is going to have a hard time selling this job to his top three or four choices?  Probably because the job isn't nearly as attractive as it was when Barta hired Todd Lickliter three years ago.  Hawkeye fans expecting a home run hire are being delusional.  Speaking of Lickliter, how long will he bite his tongue?  To my knowledge, no media outlet has been successful getting him "on the record."  The longer he stays silent, the bigger story that will become.

So I've added "renew driver's license" to my list of uncomfortable experiences that adult males must endure every five years (you might be able to guess some of the other experiences on that list).  My trip to the DMV on Tuesday was every bit as brutal as I thought it would be.  One positive... good people watching for the hour(s) spent waiting.  Not as good as the State Fair or Iowa Speedway, but what is?  As a former sports reporter at Channel 13 once remarked... "Are there any normal people that drive?"

Happy St. Patrick's Day.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Lickliter Gone, So Is Chris, Jeriann Could Sing Lead for Poison

  • Well, that didn't take long. I've been certain since the post-game news conference following Iowa's loss at the Big Ten tournament that the Hawkeyes would have a new head basketball coach next season. Todd Lickliter looked like he knew what was coming, and Athletics Director Gary Barta left no doubt when he praised the players, but not the coach.
  • Barta said he didn't decide to fire Lickliter until Monday, but there must be a technicality in that statement. He had to know where this was headed after he met with players, and certainly as he was raising the money needed for a buyout.
  • I don't think it's fun to see a good man lose his job, but Barta really had no choice. Iowa hasn't just been bad, it's been historically bad. Making a bad situation worse was the tell-tale sign down the stretch that several key players were not buying the "Butler Way". The threat of more transfers forced Barta's hand. It's the one thing Iowa could not have. There is some good, young talent on this team, but it's still the same players who were often blown out in the Big Ten, and losing even one player would hurt.
  • Lickliter can coach---you don't take Butler to a Sweet 16 otherwise---but not every mid-major coach makes a successful jump to BCS conferences. Lickliter failed, Greg Mcdermott has yet to have a winning season. Mid-majors rely more on coaching. In the Big Ten, you can't grind through an 18 game conference schedule and beat more talented teams with a "system". You need players. The team with the best players usually wins.
  • Iowa prides itself on not firing coaches. Remember, Tom Davis finished his contract, Steve Alford left ahead of the posse. So you know this was bad. Carver-Hawkeye Arena two-thirds empty, and fans unwilling to donate more money, speak even louder than the losses.
  • Much will be made of Iowa pushing out Davis, Alford, and Lickliter---three successful coaches, but the U of I can still attract a top candidate. Barta has the money, even with the buyout and practice facility, and it's a sleeping giant.
  • Fans want up-tempo basketball again. No more Hoosiers, no more Butler Way. Bring back the 80s and 90s.
  • Did it just get better or worse for Jamie Pollard and Greg McDermott?
  • It's unfortunate the women's teams were bigfooted by the Lickliter story Monday. Congrats to Iowa State, Iowa and UNI on making the NCAA tournament. Proud year for a proud state.
  • Chris Hassel is gone. He begins reporting from Oklahoma City, with the Panthers, Tuesday.
  • Shawn Terrell begins reporting from Omaha, with the grappling Cyclones, Hawkeyes, and Panthers, Thursday.
  • Andy Fales begins reporting from Ames with the Lady Cyclones Sunday.
  • I begin reporting from the St. Patrick's Day Parade Wednesday.
  • I still haven't seen part one of HBO's The Pacific, but I have it on the DVR, and I can't wait.
  • Is there a guiltier pleasure than Celebrity Apprentice. What a silly show. But where else can you learn Poison's Bret Michaels is smaller than Jeriann Ritter?

Committee gets it right, Lick's days are numbered

Christopher here...

When the day began, I thought UNI would be a 7 or 8 seed, in the NCAA tournament. I was wrong. They're a 9. At first, I thought the committee was way off. A team that went 28-4, and won the Valley tournament, will be an underdog in the opening round? No way! Way...and here's why.

Not only has UNI not beaten a ranked team, this year, they haven't even played one. Their opponent, 8th-seeded UNLV, played 6 games vs. the top-25. They won four of them.

UNLV lost 7 games, to UNI's 4, but the Panthers had 3 losses that were worse than any of UNLV's. The worst team the Rebel's lost to, was Utah.

UNI got what it deserved, in seeding. It's just too bad they'll have to play overall #1 Kansas in the second round. KU looks like a team that is going to roll to a national title.

Couple quick facts:
- UNI has lost all four of its NCAA tournament games, this decade, by 5 points.
- The last time Kansas was in Oklahoma City, they were a 3 seed. They played 14th-seeded Bucknell, in the opening round, and lost.

I'll be heading down to Oklahoma City with photographer Brandon Bingham. Look for reports on Northern Iowa, beginning Tuesday night.

The UNI women clinched a berth in the tournament for the first time in school history. They join Iowa State in the 65-team field. Iowa should sneak in, as well. The selection show is Monday.

After a quiet weekend, expect the Todd Lickliter saga to reach new heights, in the coming days. Gary Barta was in Indianapolis, for the Big Ten tournament, all weekend. I, like most of you, think he's done.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Freddy Krueger visits Channel 13

It's Shawn again...

Most sports anchors will tell you they have at least one re-occurring nightmare... not making it to the set on time.  In the nine years I've been working in television, I've literally had that dream, in some variation, dozens of times.  It nearly came to fruition Saturday night.

First, a little background information.  Forget what you've seen in "Anchorman" and other movies about broadcast news. Most sports anchors in markets like Des Moines are responsible for writing, producing, and editing the video in our sportscasts.  It's a lot of multi-tasking.  And with games often ending seconds before we go on the air, it's not uncommon for us to get to the set 5 seconds before we "pop up" on camera.

Cut to Saturday night... The 4A state championship game between Ames and SE Polk wraps up about 9:55.  Chris Hassel is over at Wells Fargo Arena busting his butt to get the highlights/celebration shot, edited, and "fed" via internet to the station right up to the last minute.  It can be a somewhat lengthy process.  On Saturday, I put the highlights in our computer server to play on the air about 20 seconds before sports started.  Unfortunately, it's a 30 second trip from the computer in the sports office to our set.  About the time the last commercial before sports ended, I was hurdling Brett McIntyre in the weather lab.  We were in "black" for a few seconds as I struggled to sit down, straighten my tie, and put my mic on.   And of course at this point, I'm completely out of breath.  Dave Price clued the viewers into what had just happened, as I struggled to not hyper-ventilate.  So if I looked and sounded a little off Saturday night, that's why. 

I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining.  One of the things I love about my job is the rush it provides on an almost daily basis.  It's been my experience that viewers sometimes enjoy hearing stories about what happens behind the scenes at Channel 13, so I thought I would share.

And the next time I'm late to the set, I hope I wake up in my bed.


Friday, March 12, 2010

It's Shawn...

Iowa and Iowa State continue "one-upping" attempts to see which basketball program can become more of an embarrassment.  The latest... two more Cyclones announce they will transfer, including Justin Hamilton.  The number of McDermott-recruited players that have transferred out of the program the last four years is startling.  I haven't kept a running total, but it's at least a dozen, and that's probably being generous.

I left work Thursday night believing that by Friday afternoon something woud break regarding Todd Lickliter's future at Iowa.  That didn't happen, but I still believe Lickliter is finished as the Hawkeyes' head coach.  At the end of last season, an Iowa player told me that most of the players on Iowa's team didn't believe in Lickliter's system, or his vision for Iowa basketball.  I sense that hasn't changed over the last 12 months.

Ames and Southeast Polk meet in the 4A title game Saturday night.  I was in Altoona when the Little Cyclones beat the horns off the Rams in the regular season.  I expect Ames to run away with the game again Saturday night... but I also expected Linn-Mar to easily handle SE Polk in the semifinals on Friday.  So proceed with caution.  Rams Head Coach BJ Windhorst said the controversy surrounding suspended starter Tony Sandquist has galvanized his team.  Sandquist's suspension ended Friday, so he will be able to play in the championship game.  It will be interesting to see if that changes the dynamic.

Finally, for those of you who may have missed it, Pearl Jam annouced its U.S. tour schedule on Thursday.  If you have the means, I highly recommend checking them out.  They are so choice.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lickliter Speculation Runs Wild

  • My day started with more buzz that Todd Lickliter could be on his way out at Iowa. No stretch to imagine since Lickliter has led Iowa to its three losingest seasons ever. However, it was all hearsay, since no connected sources were willing to go on the record. The sparks turned to flames when an Iowa City radio station, which I'm not familiar with, reported on its Facebook page that Lickliter would resign for health reasons. Iowa Sports Information Director Phil Haddy denied anything regarding the future of the basketball program had been decided, and called all internet stories "inaccurate". (Denials like this should always add the words "at this time".
  • So what does all this mean? We don't know, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who watched Lickliter's post-game news conference who doesn't think there's something to it. Lickliter said it wasn't up to him whether he returns. He also made it a point to say he's "healthy". Barta had the chance to provide a vote of confidence and definitely passed. There's $2.5 million owed, so nothing is said without careful thought and consideration. 
  • A month ago, I was confident Lickliter would be back, but the past two weeks have been a disaster. He's lost the team. The body language is awful. The players lost by record margins at Wisconsin and Minnesota. If they could have had thought bubbles over their heads, they would have read, "Can we please get this season over." Even the quotes have been telling; a lot of honest emotion, especially from Matt Gatens, about how much losing just flat out sucks.
  • We won't know until we know, but I think it's over. Do you know anyone who doesn't?
  • Should it be over? Yes. In year three, Lickliter had his worst season (and Iowa its worst season ever). The fans don't like the style of play, and neither do the players. They say the right things to reporters, but privately, they want a change. Lickliter can coach, but not in the Big Ten.
  • I really don't enjoy stories like this. It's such negative energy, and there are real people involved.
  • Meantime in Ames, Iowa State has to sell a program that just lost its two best players while going 4 and 13 in the Big 12.
  • It's a good time to be a UNI basketball fan.

Chuck Norris Can Slam A Revolving Door

  • Well, at least the Cyclones went down swinging.
  • Chris Hassel reports from KC that Greg McDermott said after the game the NCAA has denied Marquis Gilstrap's appeal for another year. No surprise. The hypocritical NCAA nearly always makes the wrong choice when faced with a chance to show its siding with a student-athlete's welfare.
  • Craig Brackins says he hasn't made up his mind yet---he'll announce within a week---but he's as good as gone. Iowa State's best two players will leave after a season where the Cyclones won four conference games. Yikes.
  • Will Iowa at least show up for the game against Michigan?
  • The Cyclone women at the Big 12 tourney are far less interesting with Alison Lacey out.
  • Chuck Norris is 70? I thought time waited for no man. Except Chuck Norris.
  • Southeast Polk plays without second leading scorer Tony Sandquist, still finds a way to beat Dowling Catholic in OT. Sandquist had his suspension for attending an underage party with alcohol reduced to two games. I think that's fair, considering no one's accusing Sandquist of drinking and he maintains he was unaware of the booze. He'll now play one final game. Will it be the championship or the consolation?
  • Head coach B.J. Windhorst gave a strong interview to Shawn Terrell after the game. B.J. says with all the controversy surrounding Sandquist, some people forgot there was a game, but not his players. They stayed focused.
  • No one's going to beat Ames.
  • As soon as Andy seeds Thursday's Datebook, it will be a long day for me.
  • RIP Corey Haim. He made three good movies---Lucas, The Lost Boys, Murphy's Romance---and a lot of bad ones.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Barnes & The Clones = Jordan & The Bulls

  • You know who's had a long week? Anyone dealing with this mess over at Southeast Polk High School. If you know a teacher, or an administrator, you know most---not all---most are in the business of education because they really want to see good things happen for kids. Well, bet the farm that at sportscentric Southeast Polk, no one wants Tony Sandquist to miss the state tournament, but a rule is a rule, and as long as it's the rule, you have to uphold it. Sandquist will, and should, sit.
  • I understand why some Hoover parents and supporters think Southeast Polk should forfeit, but it's not going to happen. It's essentially a disciplinary suspension, not one of eligibility (grades, transfers, etc.).
  • Long before Southeast Polk plays Dowling Catholic, Ames will win its 51st straight game. That's staggering. I don't think anyone will come within 10 points of Ames. The Little Cyclones are good enough to make it to state without Harrison Barnes. To win it though, they'll need him.
  • When Barnes and the Little Cyclones show up, it's like a high school version of Michael Jordan and the Bulls in 90's. They attract a crowd, and everyone wants a look.
  • NASCAR wasn't kidding when it said it wants more aggresive driving. Carl Edwards is not suspended? That's crazy, and I like Edwards. He was one of the nicest drivers at last year's Nationwide race in Newton. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if Edwards didn't intend for Brad Keselowski's accident to be so scary and dangerous. When you intentionally wreck someone at 190 mph, you just don't know what will happen. Now, drivers all know they have a green light to race rough. Could be good for ratings though, right?
  • T-O and Ochocinco on the same team? Could happen. That wouldn't work, but it wouldn't be dull either.
  • Hate to hear Twins closer Joe Nathan is likely out for the season. Twins fans deserve a contender in that sweet new stadium.
  • So much for the post-Olympic hockey bump. The NHL on NBC actually had a smaller audience this past weekend.
  • Watched "Sugar" last night on HBO. It's the story of a pitcher from the Dominican Republic and his transition to America. Much of it takes place in Iowa (Quad City). Interesting, and makes you see players from other countries in a different light of adjustment. It also leaves the lasting impression that for every Sosa, there are 100,000 Sugars.
  • Somehow overlooked my favorite moment of the Oscars in Monday's blog, the tribute to John Hughes and Brat Pack reunion. I was reminded how great those Hughes movies were in the 80s. Timeless. Kids today would even enjoy them.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Mac's Back, Hawks Look Weary, The Pacific

  • You just never know at boys state basketball. Undefeated, #1 ranked Des Moines Christian loses in the first round to a team with 11 losses, Kuemper Catholic. It's not unprecedented, but it doesn't happen much. Des Moines Christian ends the season 26-1.
  • The 2-A shocker followed a 1-A day with no close games.
  • Mike Holmgren always liked Seneca Wallace in Seattle. Holmgren's now in Cleveland, and Seneca's on his way. Holmgren trades for the former Cyclone, and hopefully Seneca gets a real shot at starting.
  • I've said many times Greg McDermott was in no danger of losing his job---not yet---and Jamie Pollard publicly confirms that with a letter to Cyclone fans. The letter made a lot of points Cyclone fans know about what a solid citizen and all around good guy Mac is, but if he doesn't win more soon, it won't matter. Pollard knows that. McDermott knows that. You know that.
  • Give Pollard the good timing award for sending the letter 36 hours after Iowa State had its most impressive win in the McDermott era, an OT shocker at #5 K-State. Nostradamus didn't see that one coming. It's too late to impact the season in any way, but it ends that ugly losing streak to ranked teams.
  • The most impressive point from the upset is that the Cyclones haven't quit.
  • Have the Hawkeyes quit? Their body language at Wisconsin and Minnesota looked like the Hawks just want this season out of its misery. Historic losses in both places.
  • Three seasons in for Todd Lickliter, four for McDermott. There aren't signs of a turnaround in either place, though Iowa State isn't outright embarrassed on the road like Iowa has been several times.
  • I watched a preview of HBO's The Pacific. It's from the same people who brought us the greatest miniseries in television history, Band of Brothers. (Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg --- who also teamed up for Saving Private Ryan, which was victim of the worst best picture decision in Oscar history. It lost to Shakespeare In Love. I know. Awful.) The Pacific is about the Pacific theater of World War II.
  • I watched the Academy Awards. Things I liked: Alec Baldwin & Steve Martin hosting, George Clooney's scowl, Sandra Bullock's speech, Jeff Bridges' joy, Kathryn Bigelow's directing win (this woman is 59?!), Hurt Locker beating Avatar, Ben Stiller as one of the blue people...  Things I didn't like: The length, the pacing, WAY too much dancing, the hurried ending, Tom Hanks reading the best picture winner before we were ready, and putting Patrick Swayze first in the Memoriam (people were caught off guard and couldn't clap enough for Road House).
  • My back hurts from driving through all the potholes on the way to work.
  • Tana Goertz is writing a sharp blog here on as the new Celebrity Apprentice begins. You can check out her first entry at

Championship Sunday

Northern Iowa is the best team in the Valley, and it's not even close. The Panthers won all three MVC tournament games by 15 or more points. They're heading to the NCAA tournament for the 5th time in 7 years. So far, they're 0-4. Unlike the other 4 times, they will likely be a 1st-round favorite, this year. Expect them to grab a seed somewhere between 6 and 8.

By the way, UNI won its 28th game today. Iowa and Iowa state have combined to win 25.

Iowa followed up its worst loss, ever, to Wisconsin (27 points), with its worst loss, ever, to Minnesota (35 points). Sunday's 88-53 loss is Iowa's worst defeat since 1990, and 6th worst defeat of all time. In case you're wondering, the Hawks have played 2,503 games in their history. A 102-49 loss in 1975 to Indiana ranks #1.

Todd Lickliter will likely see Iowa's season end the same way it has ended the previous two seasons...with a Thursday loss to Michigan in the 1st round of the Big Ten tourney.

The Iowa women blew a 16-point 2nd-half lead to 10th ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. They're still going to be dancing, however. Quite impressive, considering they began the Big Ten season 1-6.

Iowa State will need another major upset if they want to keep their season going. The Clones get a slumping, but very talented, Texas team on Wednesday night at the Big 12 tourney. The women play a team to be determined, on Friday.

The boys state basketball tournament begins with 1A play at 10:30am on Monday. Ames plays on Wednesday. They won't be challeneged until the title game, and even that may be a stretch.

Hawkeye wrestling fans aren't happy. Sure, they're team won the Big Ten title by 37 points, but Brent Metcalf is all they can think about. The 149-lb senior was 100-1 in his previous 101 matches (only loss coming in the 2009 national final) ... but on Sunday, Ohio State's Lance Palmer took it Metcalf in the final minute. Metcalf ran home from Ann Arbor, Michigan to punish himself.

Keith just bought a new pair of Nike glasses...and I'm not talking sun glasses. He's pretty proud of them.

Happy Monday...

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Cue up the Phil Collins

It's Shawn.

Against all odds, the Cyclones win at Kansas State.  That's a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for a couple reasons.  First, Iowa State didn't have anything to play for except pride.  The Clones were locked into the 11 seed at the Big 12 tournament before the game.  So the fact that ISU went to Manhattan and won tells me the team hasn't quit on Greg McDermott.  Second, the win snaps a 21-game losing streak against ranked opponents.  Media types like myself no longer have to point out Greg McDermott has never beat a ranked team at ISU every time the Cyclones play a ranked team.

I'll admit, I haven't paid attention to the Iowa women in about 17 years.  But I've really enjoyed following Bluder's Bunch at the Big Ten Tournament.  The Hawks are spunky, scrappy, and play with a lot of enthusiasm.   On top of that, they've perservered through countless injuries and illnesses this season.  And Iowa is incredibly young, meaning the Hawks should contend for the Big Ten title in years to come.

Do Valley fans root for Wichita State in the MVC title game tomorrow?  UNI is a lock for an at-large berth in the Big Dance no matter what happens Sunday in St. Louis.  The Shockers, on the other hand, are not.  A Wichita St. win would give the conference two teams in the field of 65 and help the conference's credibility.  I'll be rooting for the Panthers... I love this team.

I can't remember a better Girls State Basketball Tournament.  Countless thrilling finishes, with three of the four title games going down to the final horn.  Here's hoping the boys tournament is just as entertaining.

Talk to you soon,


Friday, March 05, 2010

So I have these warts...

Bet that got your attention.  Shawn here...

What a day a the Girls State Tournament.  Four games all decided by five points or less.   The highlight was Exira's thrilling win over Mount Ayr in the 1A title game.  Let's be honest, it's not easy for an NBA team, let along a 1A girls team, to go the length of the court and score in 4.6 seconds.  But that's exactly what the Vikettes were able to accomplish.  Ann Walker's shot fell through the net just as the horn sounded.  As Chris Hassel correctly pointed out, Walker will never have to pay for a meal in Exira the rest of her life.

I think UNI was a lock for the NCAA tournament before the Panthers went to St. Louis, but it's immaterial now.  The Panthers prevented Drake from making a field goal for 21 minutes.  Not 21 minutes in real time... 21 minutes on the game clock.  There's cold, and then there's liquid nitrogen cold.  A side note here, I'm really going to miss covering the Bulldogs' Josh Young.  Young always greets everyone with a smile, and he represents all that is good about college athletics.

The Iowa women's basketball team was hit so hard by injuries and illness this season that Lisa Bluder had to add two players from the general student population to the team just so the Hawkeyes could scrimmage.  Still, after starting 1-6 in conference play, the Hawks have fought their way onto the NCAA tournament bubble.  Now that's a turnaround.

Until tomorrow,


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Forever Young

  • Good for Josh Young. Drake's all-time leading scorer, and all-around good guy, hits a jumper with 1 second to play in the Arch Madness opener down in St. Louis. Drake beats Southern Illinois three times in one season. Young's career lasts at least one more day. (picture by Doug DeVoe)
  • Look for long lunch hours Friday. Drake plays top seed UNI at noon. I think the Panthers already punched their ticket to The Dance, but a surprising loss might put them on the bubble.
  • You'll see tumbleweeds rolling across Waukee and Des Moines East High School tomorrow afternoon. The Warriors and Scarlets play at girls state. Tip off around 1:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena. East is undefeated, Waukee has just one loss; it's to East---by one point.
  • Tiger Woods best friend, Caddie Steve Williams claims he had no idea Tiger was fooling around? Give me a break.
  • I agree with Jack. Tiger will play the Masters.
  • Ryan Miller cheered in Pittsburgh, while Penguins hero Sidney Crosby is booed... that's awesome.
  • Is it St. Patrick's Day yet?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Storm brewing at SE Polk, Hawks don't show, Grandpa is Yoda

  • A high school basketball player is suspended by his school right before a big game. The player's family goes to a judge and gets an injunction blocking the suspension. The player scores 8 points as his team advances to state. The district prepares to fight the judge's ruling. Sound like a mess? It is. And it's an important topic moving forward. The school is Southeast Polk, the player is Senior starter Tony Sandquist. The Des Moines Register's Tom Witosky will have an in-depth story on the front page of Friday's Des Moines Register. Important implications.
  • The Iowa men's basketball team set a new program record for losses in a season Wednesday night, and the Hawks did it in grand fashion, they stunk up the joint. Iowa looked awful at Wisconsin. Most troubling, the Hawks body language looked like they wanted to be somewhere else from the jump. It was another step back.
  • I'm not sure who's more frustrated right now, Hawkeye or Cyclone fans. Hard to believe these programs are this down at the same time, with no good hope in site. I don't envy Gary Barta or Jamie Pollard. Both men hired and think highly of their coaches. Both coaches do things the right way in a sport corrupted by shady characters, but the bottom line with fans, no matter what they say, is winning. And there is next to no winning going on, and none that matters.
  • My son Colin turned six today. We gave him a Yoda for his birthday. He says Yoda looks like Grandpa. What do you think?

Birthday in the Facebook era, More Pain for Cyclone Fans, Thumbs Up for Ebert

  • Sorry. I'm writing late tonight because I ate so much birthday cheesecake, I made myself sick. Lesson learned. Well, until next year.
  • I had a great birthday. The older I get, the more I admit how much it means to hear from friends and family on the one day so many people sincerely hope we feel special. Thanks, in part, to Facebook, I've never felt more warmth.
  • Andy Fales gave me both Guinness and Harp. I'm not sure what that says about him, or me, but I appreciate it.
  • I learned today that I share a birthday with Chris Martin (Coldplay), Dr. Seuss, Eddie Money,  Karen Carpenter, and Jon Bon Jovi.
  • Another kick to the stones for Cyclone fans, though they had to know it was coming. A losing culture has worked its way into the men's basketball program. When the Clones led Missouri late, I wondered aloud, "How will Iowa State blow it?". When ISU threw the ball away in OT and Missouri had 5.9 seconds to go the length of the court, I texted my Cyclone buddy courtside and told him to, "Cover up. Here it comes." Seconds later, Missouri hit a shot at the buzzer to win. Everyone watching knew it was coming. Missouri was bad Tuesday night. Iowa State was worse. A one game microcosm of the entire season.
  • The Ames High boys roll into State with 50 straight wins. The Little Cyclones will be the main attraction. In fact, they'll probably outdraw the big Cyclones.
  • A lesson in supply and demand. As the University of Iowa continues slashing prices on men's basketball tickets, it raises the cost of seeing a Hawkeye football game. It's the first increase in three years, and it's only $3 a game. With the expectations for next season, not to mention a great home schedule, the U of I could have jacked the price up even more and still sold out the season.
  • I was stunned by Roger Ebert's appearance on Oprah. He's lost much of his lower face from numerous cancer surgeries. Ebert's mind remains so sharp and distinctive, we're reminded how we look isn't who we are. Thumbs up, Mr. Ebert.
  • I haven't watched Parenthood yet, but I have it on the DVR. I hope it's as good as the reviews. NBC needs a good hour long drama/comedy.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Alford Slapped On Wrist, Leno's Back, Girls State Mythbuster

  • The Mountain West Conference publicly reprimands Steve Alford for calling a BYU player (Mormon?) an A--hole. Alford says his competive nature got the best of him. I don't think this is a huge deal, but he's the coach, not the student-athlete. He knows better, and has to rise above those impulses. (I can relate to this because on occasion, I've reprimanded myself after a thought bubble appeared over my head that reads, "Come on, Keith. You're the parent. Act like it.")
  • The Mountain West Conference did not reprimand Alford for still having a zipper hairdo in 2010. (I know. At least he has all his hair.)
  • Jay Leno returned tonight and immediately launched this joke: "No one goes downhill faster than Lindsey Vonn... except NBC." Jay, you helped with that weeknights from 9 to 10. NBC's been pretty good to you, all things considered. Maybe hold back on the NBC bashing for at least a week.
  • The Marriage Ref is taking a beating in some circles. I had low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed it, though Alec Baldwin won't be on every week. I thought 30 minutes was perfect, so I'm interested to see if the show holds up over Thursday night's 60 minutes.
  • I already miss the Winter Olympics. I'll bet NBC does too.
  • It's been 36 hours and I'm still amped from that gold medal hockey game. One of the top 10 sporting events of my lifetime. Maybe top five.
  • When Zach Parise tied it with 25 seconds to play, my wife, my parents, and I all went BONKERS!
  • ESPN's Erin Andrews has been frustrated by not being taken seriously in some circles. She understandably wants to be seen as more than sexy eye candy, but I'm not sure the barely there outfits she'll be wearing on Dancing With The Stars is the best way to journalistic credibility. I'm guessing she has more than sideline reporting in mind for the future. One things for sure, she won't hurt DWTS's ratings.
  • Mythbuster: Girls State Basketball Tournament begins, weather improves.
  • If you're looking for SoundOFF videos, and based on the emails, a number of you are, you'll find them in the video player under the "SoundOFF with Keith Murphy" tab on the sports page. The sports page video player will have updated local stories and highlights every night. Some people at 13 are working hard to improve the experience, which I appreciate.
  • Joke of the night from Jimmy Fallon: "Gatorade is ending its relationship with Tiger Woods. Apparently they made the decision after they checked his cell phone and found texts from Powerade and Vitamin Water."