Friday, April 30, 2010

A Horse of a Different Color.

I can't remember ever looking forward to the Kentucky Derby as much as I am this year.  Iowans love to root for other Iowans, even if the other Iowan is a horse.  Full disclosure, Paddy O'Prado has never set hoof in Iowa, but he's owned by a group of Iowans.

Andy Fales is having more fun at Churchill Downs than Clark W. Griswold did at Wally World.  Expect Andy to miss work the next couple of weeks as he undergoes a plastic surgery procedure to wipe the smile off his face.

Andy reports the odds on Paddy O'Prado have improved throughout the week.  There's at least a couple reasons for that... Paddy will start in the 10th position, which is ideal.  Also, the wet track conditions should favor the horse (his mudder was a mudder).

I survived "The Hangover II," but just barely.  Four days in Vegas for my brother's bachelor party led to antiboitics and eight days of recovery.  But it was worth it.  It might have been the best four days of my life.


Bucket List, Hoiberg Hire, Little Big Dog

  • I'm happy for my friend, Andy Fales. I don't think I've ever seen him look happier on the job than he does this week at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. Andy is covering the Iowa owned horse, Paddy O'Prado. Paddy is 20 to 1, but running from the best position---the 10---and he likes the mud. That could matter, a LOT, Saturday.
  • Kentucky Derby tops Andy's sports bucket list. What's on yours? I'll start with the Masters, Wimbledon, and Notre Dame vs. USC football.
  • Good first day on the job for Fred Hoiberg. I'm sure he had help, but a solid recruit right out of the gate makes already excited Cyclone fans downright giddy.
  • The Hoiberg hire makes more sense to doubters the more they learn about the man and the plan. Still no lock, but then what hire would have been?
  • I can't wait for some sunny weekend weather and an I-Cubs game. Might not be this weekend.
  • My parents just showed up for a long visit. We love having them here. They make our lives easier, and they're fun. Each year it means more.
  • We have a four pound dog, Maggie, who thinks she weighs 40. It's amusing to watch her try and intimidate dogs who could eat as a snack. I think they laugh.
  • Shocker: early reviews for MacGruber are all positive. Several say the movie is hilarious. The movie must improve on the SNL skit. That almost never happens. Ladies Man anyone?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Right Said Fred

  • Fred Hoiberg had a great news conference. No surprise. As Shawn Terrell said, Hoiberg seems like a guy who will succeed at whatever he does.
  • Some of us who remember Fred in high school are shaking our heads that he's now the head coach at Iowa State. Time flies.
  • We had Hoiberg on our radio show. He has a plan. He's confident. He knows why (some) people doubt him. I can't imagine anyone with no head coaching experience having a better shot at working out. Fred Hoiberg is not Clyde Drexler.
  • Jamie Pollard told us every hire is a roll of the dice. (see Chizik, McDermott) Pollard believes Hoiberg is a safer bet than most. He might be right.
  • Pollard sold some season tickets. Cyclone fans haven't been this excited about the basketball program since Larry Eustachy's prime.
  • Johnny Orr, Jim Hallihan, and Gary Thompson all told me they have zero doubts Hoiberg will succeed.
  • Bottom line: The Iowa State basketball program has a much brighter outlook than it did a week ago. It can't get much worse than fan apathy, bottom of the Big 12, and no Hilton Magic. Fans should be excited.

Hoiberg Hire: Inspired or Desperate?

Wow. That didn't take long.

Greg McDermott out. Fred Hoiberg in. Wait, did I just write, Fred Hoiberg in. Yes I did. He's the new men's head basketball coach at Iowa State.

Talk about making a splash. I talked to several Cyclone fans who are so excited, they can't contain it. Fred Hoiberg is a living legend, a Cyclone icon, a reminder of Hilton Magic. What he isn't is a head coach with any experience.

Anyone who says this is a great hire, or an awful one, is just flat out guessing. We don't know, and won't know for years. It's either inspired or desperate, but it's definintely a go for broke reach by Athletics Director Jamie Pollard. He's is either a visionary or short-sighted.

A big part of Pollard's job is to sell tickets, entice donors, and energize the fan base. Hiring Fred Hoiberg will do all three. Eventually, winning must follow. It's like building a new Major League Baseball stadium. For a few seasons, fans will sell it out no matter the product on the field. Sooner or later, if the team's not winning, fans stop coming. Just ask the Orioles.

I like it, but then I like Fred. I figure it can't get worse than the past four seasons. Iowa State's already ahead, and Creighton paid to make it happen.

I think Fred's experience as an NBA player and executive will help with the kind of egos and agendas McDermott could never figure out. It won't hurt that Fred can recruit by saying, "Want to get to the NBA? I know what it takes." Fred's love of Iowa State will help too, but nothing matters more than his staff. Retaining TJ Otzelberger is smart, he can recruit. Jeff Grayer could help too. He can get after players more than people realize. The other spots are key. Nick Nurse is out. Who's in? Hoiberg needs to add an assistant with extensive D1 experience. If he's been a head coach, even better. (A guy like Kirk Speraw, who just joined Fran McCaffery's staff at Iowa.)

The outlook for the 2010-2011 season just improved greatly. The years after that... who knows? Pollard knew from the jump who he wanted. He got him. I can't wait to find out if it works.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Win-Win-Win: Iowa State, McDermott, Creighton.

Cyclone fans aren't exactly celebrating, but I think most feel a sense of relief. For reasons McDermott supporters could never fully explain, Mac's four seasons in Iowa State just didn't work, and there was little reason to believe better days were ahead.

Some Cyclone fans feel jilted because McDermott broke up with Iowa State instead of the other way around. It's like a relationship you're in, you know it's not working, you're starting to not even like your girlfriend, but then she breaks up with you, and even though you wanted that to happen, it hurts. You feel cheated.

Iowa State is a better job than Creighton, even though Creighton is a great landing spot for a coach under fire. If McDermott were fully confident he'd get it done in Ames, I think he would have stayed. Mac never seemed to relate to Big 12 players. Most think they're NBA bound, even though most are not. In the MVC, it's a different mindset. For whatever reason, McDermott did not adjust, in the same way Rick Pitino, John Calipari and Tim Floyd flopped in the NBA despite being great college coaches.

McDermott is a nice man. He has a nice family. I believe he's sincere when he says he wants to coach his son, Doug, who Greg didn't think was a good fit for the Big 12. Like father, like son. This could work out better for nearly everyone: McDermott, his son, Iowa State, Jamie Pollard, Cyclone fans, Creighton, etc.

Who pulled a bigger Houdini: McDermott or Chizik? I'd say Chizik. He parlayed two horribly mismanaged seasons and 10 straight losses into a prime SEC gig. Still, four straight losing basketball seasons and 0 post-season wins into a 10 year contract at a good basketball school isn't bad either.

Pollard has now misfired on two big hires in four years, but he bounced back from the Chizik debacle by hiring a coach who actually wanted to be at Iowa State, Paul Rhoads. Pollard showed McDermott loyalty, some would say too much, and that should help sell the job to someone else. Pollard has been under a lot of pressure, and knows he needs to get this one right.

I feel for Nick Nurse and Jeff Grayer, especially Grayer. Nurse tells me he has several options, including a return to the Iowa Energy. Grayer has wanted to join the Cyclone coaching staff for years. Hopefully the next coach has room for a legend who really wants the job.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Neck Hole, Paddy's Day, McDermott's Decision


I usually enjoy covering I-Cubs games, but today (50-degrees, windy, rainy) wasn't the least bit enjoyable. There were around 500 people in the seats for the 1:00pm start. I was surprised there were even that many. The good news is, every fan that came was able to snatch up a free blue catchers mitt. My best highlight in the 90 minutes I spent in the ballpark was a boy trying to find the neckhole in a poncho.

Iowa-owned Paddy O'Prado is a 25-1 favorite in Saturday's Kentucky Derby. For some perspective, the Cubs have a better chance to win the world series at 22-1. In other words, I wouldn't bet on it. I wouldn't bet on either.

Two more Hawkeyes and another Cyclone will get a shot in the NFL. Iowa WR Trey Stross signed a free-agent deal with the Texans. Hawkeye OL Dace Richardson has been granted a tryout with the Giants. And Cyclone punter Mike Brandtner inks with the Jaguars. As for the draftees...only 4 teams in the country had more than Iowa's six.

Three years ago, Steve Alford was feeling at heat Iowa and bolted for New Mexico. Now, some Cyclone fans believe Greg McDermott may be thinking about jumping ship to Creighton. Personally, I think it would be a good move for him to make. He's entering a lame-duck year at Iowa State. I find it hard to believe that this team is talented enough to post a winning season. The additions of Nurse and Grayer are great, but coaches don't play.

Andy bought a Twix out of the vending machine, today. He was crying about how they're making all the standard sized candy bars smaller. I didn't believe him, until he brought it over. They either shaved two inches off the regular bar, or they enhanced the fun size bar. Either way, Andy is none too happy about it.

45 straight, We need Lightning, Back to Iowa


The 101st edition of the Drake Relays is in the books and, for the 45th consecutive year, the final day was sold out. Lolo Jones ran a fast 100m hurdle race, but her season-best time of12.68 wasn't good enough to beat her friend. Damu Cherry broke Lolo's record in the event. Afterwards, in the post-race press conference, Lolo told Cherry that she wasn't going to let her come back, next season (tongue in cheek of course). We'll get to see Lolo race, again, in late June. That's when Drake hosts the USA Track & Field Championships.

Katie Flood's Drake Relays career might be over, but she'll be back for the state meet in a few weeks. Flood set two more records on Saturday, including the 1,500m, where she bested her previous relays record by 5 seconds.

To be honest, when I came to Des Moines three years ago, I wasn't a big fan of the relays. It seems as if I enjoy them a little more with each passing year. 2010 was the best yet. I was there, on Wednesday, when there were ten's of people in the stands for the beginning of the Heptathlon. It's really neat to see the stadium fill up, and the excitement build, with each passing day.

I returned to the sports office just in time to watch Usain Bolt in the Penn Relays on ESPN2. Drake pulls in its fair share of top-notch talent, but there isn't a track and field athlete in the world that compares to this freak of speed. 54-thousand fans watched Bolt run the anchor leg of a 4x100m relay. Jamaica won and, needless to say, it was a Penn Relays record. If Drake can, somehow, come up with the funds to get Bolt to our Relays...that would sure be something to watch.

For the first time since joining the AFL, the Barnstormers are a winner. Iowa beat Oklahoma City, on Saturday night, 68-60. The 'Stormers are now 1-2 on the year. That's the good news. The bad news is, the crowd of 8,312 was a bit lacking. It had some to do with the Drake Relays, and more to do with the fact that it started at 8:10pm. I know it's Saturday night, but the thing didn't end until 11:00. You could argue that the NFL Network actually hurt the team, Saturday. After all, I think you need to be an employee of the NFL to actually get the NFL Network.

One-fourth of Iowa's starters from a year ago are now in the NFL. In all, six Hawkeyes heard their names called. I'm just glad its over so ESPN can start running promos for next years draft. I didn't watch of a lick of it.

Speaking of not watching, I still haven't seen a single inning of Cubs baseball, this year. I see they're 3-1 since moving Big 'Z' to the bullpen. Problem solved!

The most common headline on over the last two seasons...? Take a guess. If you said "Samardzija to Iowa", you're correct. Here's to hoping the 87th time is a charm, Jeff.

Creighton basketball coach Dana Altman is heading to Oregon. He is expected to be introduced as the new head Duck on Monday. His return flight from Eugene to Omaha is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 6:00am.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Indianapolis Hawkeyes, Good Hires, Rain Go Away

  • The Colts love them some Hawkeyes! Indianapolis takes linebacker Pat Angerer in the second round. Pat wasn't even watching the draft because he didn't expect his phone to ring until at least round four. The Colts know a football player when they see one.
  • Angerer, Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders, Mitch King, Jim Caldwell, Tom Moore... why don't they just change the name to Hawkeyes.
  • If Tony Moeaki stays healthy, the Chiefs stole a potential All-Pro tight end in the third round.
  • The Lions take Iowa corner Amari Spievey in the third round. I guess Spievey was right to leave early. He said he thought he'd go in the first three rounds.
  • Four Hawks in three rounds. Pretty impressive.
  • I love the Fran McCaffery hire of Kirk Speraw. Speraw was the Head Coach at UCF for 17 seasons and led the Knights to four NCAA Tournaments. Speraw's been trying to work his way back to Iowa for years. He played for the Hawkeyes, coached alongside Lute Olson, and knows what Carver-Hawkeye Arena was like when basketball mattered. He'll help.
  • I also like Greg McDermott adding Jeff Grayer to the staff. Johnny Orr has been trying to get an Iowa State coach to add Grayer for years. Arguably the greatest Cyclone player ever, Grayer brings NBA credibility, but more importantly he should help remind players what Hilton Magic once was, and what it could be again (to paraphrase Terrence Mann). Sure, there's PR in this hire, but it's still a good move.
  • Iowa State needs to name the Hilton Coliseum court "Johnny Orr Floor". Grayer's return makes the timing perfect, and we don't know how much longer we'll have Orr around to honor.
  • The Drake Relays is one of the best run events anywhere, but they can't control the weather. I love track and field, but I'm not sitting in the rain. I suspect I'm not alone.
  • Tasty Tacos. Mmm.

Kyle Orton Doesn't Wear Tim Tebow Pajamas

  • The NFL draft has gone from a VFW folding table with men sitting behind helmets and rotary phones to an over-the-top extravaganza that resembles the Golden Globes.
  • I loved the legends being introduced, even though it was a little cheesy. Jim Brown finally looks old, but Barry Sanders looks like he could run for 100 this weekend.
  • The Rams draft Sam Bradford at #1. My friend Paul Burmeister with the NFL Network thinks Bradford's the real deal. We'll find out. The NFL is littered with first round failures at QB.
  • Three of the first four picks were Sooners. Does that mean Big Game Bob Stoops couldn't win a championship the past couple years with an NFL team?
  • The Broncos take Tim Tebow in the FIRST ROUND! Wow. Kyle Orton doesn't wear Tim Tebow pajamas.
  • Right before Tebow picked up the phone, the NFL honored our servicemen and women. Nice moment.
  • Jimmy Klausen falls to the second round. I guess character counts. Dude can play though.
  • Did you see all those Yellow Jackets in the first round... none looked too impressive in the Orange Bowl when the Hawkeyes took their lunch money.
  • I wish I could watch the NFL Network, but since it's not on Mediacom, ESPN had the coverage. The draft has a lot of moving parts and the anchors struggled at times. They stepped all over each and other, and had several moments where they didn't realize their mics were hot. I've been there myself.
  • Word before the draft was Iowa's Bryan Bulaga might slide out of the top 5, or 10, or even 20. Word was right. Bulaga fell to the Packers at 23. Perfect fit. Though Bulaga is not an "Iowa farm boy" as Chris Berman described, Bulaga does look like he'd drive to Lambeau Field on a John Deere tractor. It all worked out in the end.
  • Greg McDermott hiring Nick Nurse as Associate Head Coach makes a lot of sense. Nurse knows how to work with NBA wannabes, he has overseas connections, and he brings new up-tempo ideas. I think it's also a sign no one at Iowa State is thinking McDermott is a lame duck coach.
  • Dowling's Katie Flood makes running 3,000 meters in under 10 minutes look effortless.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Drake Predictions, Night-Hawks, Slugger sent to 'Pen


The 101st edition of Drake Relays gives us something the previous 100 couldn't...a 14-year-old competitor. Prior Lake, Minnesota's Shaina Burns is in 7th grade and she's competing against college and pro athletes in the Heptathlon. Impressive.

A few predictions for this weekends events:

1. Someone by the last name of "Flood" will win a race.
2. Lolo Jones will wear sun-glasses, rain or shine.
3. Andy will be spotted, off-duty, under a tent.
4. Keith will use the term "vapor trail" in a sportcast.
5. Keith will use the term "vapor trail" again...

The Hawkeye football team will play two more regular season night games in 2010. The Sept. 18th road game at Arizona, and the Oct. 2nd home game with Penn State will both be played under the lights. If you're wondering why the home game against Ohio State on November 20th will be played during the day, it's because the Big Ten's TV contract doesn't allow in-conference night games after Nov. 1st. Bogus.

Former Hawkeye offensive tackle, Bryan Bulaga, will go early in Thursday night's NFL Draft. The consensus is, he'll either go 5th to Kansas City, or 9th, to Buffalo. One draft guru has him slipping out of the top 20, but that's not going to happen.

It sounds like Todd Lickliter, did, have a good incoming class for next season. South Dakota native Eric Larson asked out of his letter of intent when Fran McCaffery was hired. Today, he said he would sign with the Gators. Florida is a top-notch program. They've won a pair of national titles in the last 5 years.

Nick Nurse tells the Register he'll talk with Jamie Pollard, on Thursday, about the vacant top-assistant coaching position at ISU. I've heard people say that he would be taking a step down from D-League head coach, to D-I assistant coach. I think it's a lateral move, at worst, and somewhat of a step up. The only concerns I would have, is that he may be out (along with McDermott) after one season.

The Cubs moved Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen. They're now without an opening day starter, and their best hitter.

Big Ben gets a big suspension. Roethlisberger will have to sit out 4-6 games, to begin the 2010 season. Some say he may not be with the Steelers at the end of the week. I'd be surprised if they traded away a 28-year-old two-time Super Bowl MVP. He's a good decision-maker...........on the field.

Keith compared me to George Costanza in yesterday's blog. That's the best compliment I've ever gotten. All I've ever wanted in life is to drape myself in velvet, and naw on a block of cheese the size of a car battery.

New Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly was a finalist for the Iowa State head coaching position, a few years back. Gene Chizik ended up getting the job, and Kelly went to Cincinnati. Today, on the Dan Patrick Show, Kelly said he doesn't want ND to join the Big Ten because he doesn't want to have to take his players to Ames. We now know why Kelly didn't get the ISU job...he thinks the Cyclones are in the Big Ten.

Locust Avenue Vapor Trail, Hassel Costanza, Guilty Pleasure

  • The Grand Blue Mile is another winner for the Drake Relays. I still can't belive a man ran through downtown Des Moines, 5,280 feet of it, in 3 minutes 54 seconds.
  • The forecast for the Relays is a big bummer. Ed hopes he's wrong. Experience tells me he's not. Forecast calls for rain. And Pain.
  • I'm glad we have the Iowa Energy, going to a game is a fun night out, but that was a small crowd for a win or go home game.
  • Did I mention the Cubs aren't very good?
  • MLB suspends Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez 50 games for testing positive for PED's, but since he's already on the DL, he's not playing anyway, yet those missed games count. Pathetic.
  • Vikings at Saints to start the NFL season? I'm in.
  • New shows worth watching: Justified, Parenthood, and Pacific.
  • Guilty pleasure: Glee. Even my wife makes fun of me.
  • Don't miss Chris Hassel in this week's "Juice". He looks like Bagger Vance, and sounds like George Costanza. Jannay Towne is the lovely cover lady.
  • It's a clean sweep... USA Today names Ames Senior Harrison Barnes its boys basketball national high school player of the year. No surprise. Vance Downs is the coach of the year. (Thank you Des Moines Register.)
  • Shawn Terrell is in Las Vegas for his brother's bachelor party. Have you seen the Hangover? This is the sequel.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Weekend in Wrigleyville, Full Moon, Pregnant Marathon Runner

  • Props to the Des Moines Airport. Every time I fly somewhere else, I'm reminded how well run things are run back home.
  • Flew to Chicago Friday. That's an easy flight on United. Took the train to our hotel, checked in, another train to Wrigleyville in plenty of time for lunch at the Cubby Bear, and first pitch at 1:20.
  • Wrigley Field is not a nice ballpark by today's standards, but there's something magical about walking in the place, even when the ivy is still brown.
  • The Cubs aren't very good this season. Alfonso Soriano serves as a microcosm for the the entire team. Great at times, awful at others, overall slightly above mediocre. And expensive.
  • After spending a car payment for an afternoon of baseball, we headed to the Blackhawks playoff game. It was the first NHL playoff game for me. Awesome. 23,000 fans going bonkers, especially during the national anthem. The Blackhawks forgot to show up, but they can afford to add free agents in the off-season with what they charge for tickets, food, and drinks.
  • Even though I know better, and I dressed in layers, I was still cold at Saturday's game. One thing to know about Wrigley in April and May is it can be very cold in the shade, even when it's nice and comfortable in the bleachers. We were behind home plate with the lake wind blowing straight at us. Brr.
  • We ate a week's worth of calories at Gino's East. That deep dish pizza is ridiculous. They warn you when you order it will take 45 minutes to cook, and it's worth it.
  • We hit the wall Saturday night and stayed in to watch a movie. Were we just tired, or is Mel Gibson's Edge of Darkness a convoluted mess?
  • I am thankful for our annual "guys weekend". It's good for the soul to laugh so much. We even set aside five minutes to catch-up on family.
  • Must have been a full moon for SoundOFF Sunday night. The callers were nuttier than squirrel turds.
  • Congratulations to Chris Hassel and Shawn Terrell, Northwest Broadcast News Association Eric Sevareid award winners for outstanding sports reporting. Chris won first place, and Shawn an award of merit.
  • I can't imagine running a marathon, let alone a marathon while I'm six months pregnant. Well, I can't imagine being six months pregnant either. Anyway, an Urbandale woman, Leah Newman, completed the Boston Marathon in 4 hours 21 minutes. She tells the Register's Bryce Miller she would have finished much sooner but she had to stop and pee all the time. Check Bryce's story here:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring "game", Ferentz plays dumb, Rainy Relays


I was in Iowa City on Saturday, but I didn't attend the Hawkeye spring game; no one did. It's not a game, it's a practice...a practice that Ricky Stanzi, DJK, Marvin McNutt, Jewell Hampton, Adrian Clayborn, etc. didn't compete in. That being said, there was a football involved, so 23,500 Iowa fans showed up.

What did we learn? Well, DJK isn't allowed to talk to the media, for now. Big surprise. He's a great sound-bite, because he speaks his mind. That's exactly the reason Iowa doesn't want him to talk.

We also learned that Kirk Ferentz is well aware that the Hawks are pegged as a preseason top-10 team, even though he tries to play dumb. He told us he he happened to see that his team was ranked "somewhere" in the top-10 in SI (the sports mag has them 5th). One sentence later, he made a comment about his team not being the 5th best team in the country. He's crafty, and it works.

Jerome Tiller played better than Austen Arnaud at ISU's spring game. Keep in mind, however, that Tiller played against the extremely young and inexperienced second-team defense.

I'm glad to see that SEP walk-on Jeff Woody is making an impact in the backfield. He's a good, smart, player. However, I will be surprised if he really ends up grabbing the #2 spot on the depth chart as a RS freshman.

Is it me, or can Paul Rhoads grow a full goatee in less than a day?

Drake Relays week 'officially' begins with Monday's Beautiful Bulldog contest. The weather will be great, but the forecast for the main events on Friday and Saturday doesn't look good. Sound familiar?

A day after the Cardinals lost in 20 innings, the Cubs lost in 10. Are they better for only needing half the amount of innings to lose, or does that make them worse? It's going to be a long year on the north side, and for us miserable Cubs fans. Ryne Sandberg may be in Wrigley by next April.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Football and The Hangover - Part Two.

I think I know less about the Iowa and Iowa State football teams than I did 24 hours ago.  Spring games/scrimmages are notoriously bland, and Saturday was no different.  I don't blame Kirk Ferentz and Paul Rhoads for keeping the games vanilla.  Compared with college football's elite teams, depth will always be a probem in Iowa City and Ames.  It doesn't make any sense to risk injuring starters in a game that doesn't count.  I think fans get it...most are just looking to cure their football fix on a nice spring day, and that was certainly accomplished on Saturday.

What a weird day in major league baseball.  The Rockies Ubaldo Jimenez walks six batters but still manages to throw the first no-hitter in franchise history.  And as I write this, they're about to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the 3rd time at Busch Stadium.  The Cardinals and Mets are in the 20th inning.  My Cubs play a four-game series with the Mets starting Monday, so I'm glad to see NY's bullpen get taxed.

I'm off to Vegas for my brother's bachelor party tomorrow.  Needless to say, it should be a fun week.  I hope I don't run into Mike Tyson.


Friday, April 16, 2010

The Barnstormers go to Milwaukee looking for a little revenge against Bob Landsee, but come home with a loss.  Iowa is now 0-2 on the season.

Ted Lilly pitched so well for the I-Cubs that he'll drop down to Single "A" Peoria for his final rehab start.  Seems like a good approach.  Next time I have a bad sportscast, I will attend an audio/visual class at Valley High School to get my confidence up.

Dallas Clark receives the Ray Pillar of Character Award, and he's deserving.  Other than one minor incident at a high school basketball game a few years back, Dallas has always set a positive example.

Austen Arnaud will be the face of the Iowa State football team in 2010.  What's encouraging for cyclone fans... Paul Rhoads says Arnaud is his most improved player this spring.

Spring football practice wraps up with games/public scrimmages in Ames, Iowa City and at Drake on Saturday.  I doubt any will be very exciting, but in April, fans are looking for any kind of football fix.


Pollard Says Colvin Exit Part of a Larger Problem

  • A source told me weeks ago Iowa State basketball player Chris Colvin was telling teammates and friends he'd made up his mind to transfer. At the same time, Cyclone head coach Greg McDermott felt Colvin had reassured him he was not leaving. Thursday, Iowa State confirmed what Cyclone fans had come to expect: Colvin is indeed gone.
  • Colvin told our Shawn Terrell he just doesn't like McDermott's style of play, and wants to go somewhere he can run and gun. I'm not sure how McDermott's offensive strategy escaped Colvin during his recruitment, but Colvin never seemed happy at Iowa State. McDermott suspended Colvin for walking out of a team meeting, then made the questionable decision of reinstating him early due, in part, to Iowa State's depleted roster. Colvin showed flashes on the court, but mostly disappointed. He had bad body language, and never seemed to put the team first. 
  • Cyclone fans run the spectrum from concerned to angry. Iowa State is proud of its basketball history, but it's been a bad five years. I can't overstate how much Greg McDermott is liked and respected throughout the Iowa State athletic offices, not to mention the coaching fraternity. I also know there's not a fan anywhere more frustrated or disappointed than McDermott himself, but Mac's record in Ames is getting harder to defend, and the defections are arming critics with more ammo.
  • The Wesley Johnson transfer blindsided McDermott two years ago, Lucca Staiger was the mid-season surprise, Justin Hamilton the post. There have been many other departures, which Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard sees as more of a generational trend than an indictment of McDermott. Pollard remains a strong supporter of McDermott, and I believe Pollard is convinced McDermott is the right man for the job, but needs more time and better luck. Here's what Pollard is writing to Cyclone fans concerned about the defections:
Certainly we share your frustration, disappointment and even anger about the transfers in our men's and now even our women's basketball programs (women have now lost all four of their recruits from last year despite having Elite 8 and Sweet 16 teams). I can assure you both Coach McDermott and Coach Fennelly are concerned and trying to figure out how best to combat it. Part of Coach McDermott having two coaching vacancies is a direct result of his wanting to try and address the issue.

However, it also helps to keep our transfers in perspective. My peers and I continually discuss the epidemic around the country in the sport of basketball. In the past two years over 500 men's basketball players have transferred from a Division I team to another program. That number is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately if a kid's world is not absolutely perfect (in their mind), they run from the problem rather than deal with it. Makes you wonder if it is the first signs of our society's change in our early education program (no longer give kids grades - everybody passes; can't keep score, everybody has to win; if you do not like something, have mom or dad complain on your behalf). Personally I wonder how that generation is going to survive in the real world when mom or dad or AAU coach are not there for them during their first job interview or first job evaluation. The bottom line is life is not a video game, you can't just hit reset if you do not like your initial score.

Here are several links that clearly help put our transfers in perspective. Doesn't solve the issue but perspective on this issue is important.

First Link (SEC Transfers)

Second Link (List of over 300 transfers in 2008)

Third Link (more on 2008 transfers)

Thanks again for your support. One way or the other, we will get basketball fixed.

Go Cyclones!

Jamie Pollard
  • McDermott is fortunate to have a boss who  has his back the way Pollard does. And Pollard is right, players are transferring everywhere, they are more entitled than ever, and the reset culture is troubling, but I doubt this makes Cyclone fans feel better. All coaches and schools are dealing with this reality; however, most aren't struggling the way Iowa State is. Successful coaches in the power conferences have to massage egos, recover from inevitable defections, and get everyone working toward the same goal. In that way, the college game is becoming more like the NBA.
  • Greg McDermott and Todd Lickliter both proved a long time ago they can coach, but at a different level. Remember succesfull college coaches John Calipari, Rick Pitino, and Tim Floyd all failed miserably when they tried the NBA. In 2010 you have to find a way to relate to all your players, and for reasons I don't understand, that's where McDermott and Lickliter apparently struggle.
  • I like Greg. I sincerely hope he finds a way to make it work in year five. It's hard to imagine right now, but it would make for a hell of a story.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lilly's Temporary Pad, Minnesota Rain, UFO's Over Iowa

  • Ted Lilly looked solid for Iowa Wednesday night. He's headed back to Chicago Thursday.
  • Another perfect April night for I-Cubs baseball. Between Ryno managing, and this unbelievable weather, Iowa should make a run at the attendance record.
  • The big Cubs won with a sweet comeback. Won't be long before the faithful start believing again.
  • Did you see Twins fans trying to figure out what that wet stuff was falling down during the game? It's worth it to be out of the awful dome.
  • Drake Relays Director Brian Brown went hard after Usain Bolt. Didn't land the big fish, but how cool would that have been. Keep trying, Brian.
  • Our phones exploded during the newcast with viewers reporting bright lights they saw streaking across the sky. A logical explanation usually follows, but we're still waiting. I'm going home to watch Close Encounters.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Norm, The Ridgemont, and the Lilly Pad.

To put a new spin on an old Seinfield line, "What's the deal with guys named Norm?"  Every Norm I know is colorful, charasmatic, and a little on the portly side.  Norm Parker has all three of those characteristics.  Iowa's defensive coordinator only speaks with the media two or three times a year, but it's always a treat.  Norm is 69 and continues to battle complications from diabetes so, when he does meet the media, he's inevitably asked how long he plans to keep coaching.  The answer is generally always the same, but Norm always finds a way to put a new spin on it.  Tuesday's retort: "I'll probably croak right on the field someday, you know?  I hope we're ahead when I do it."  Classic Norm.

Now that former Iowa State forward Justin Hamilton has transferred to a school (LSU) closer to to his home in Utah, we can move on.  That's good for me, because everytime I hear the name "Hamilton" I'm reminded of Judge Reinhold's character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Brad Hamilton.  "Hamilton!  You're going over there as a representative of 'Captain Hook Fish and Chips.'  Part of our image, part of our appeal is that uniform.  You know that."  I wish Justin well in Baton Rouge, and I hope he pays a little more attention in his geography class at LSU than he did at ISU.

Due to schedule conflicts (and Keith's month-long vacation) I have yet to catch an I-Cubs game this season.  That changes on Wednesday.  Ted Lilly (pad) is scheduled to make a rehab start after getting scratched last Friday and on Sunday.  I can't wait.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Fire Marshall Bill, Twins Heaven, Hawkeye Worries

  • Back from a quick vacation in Belize, and my nose may fall off. I wore SPF 70, like the Irishman that I am, but a day at sea snorkeling has turned me into Fire Marshall Bill.

  • This was the view off our deck. (I should have spent more time there.)

  • I vowed to unplug for five days, and I really did. No email, texts, TV, Facebook, Twitter, radio, Blackberry or newspapers. I did it, and highly recommend it, though I'm glad to have all my toys back. It's only good to be oblivious for so long. (Insert joke here.)

  • Congratulations to the Des Moines Register and photographer Mary Chind. The above River Rescue photo won a Pulitzer Prize.

  • The Minnesota Twins no longer have to play in the worst baseball stadium in the history of the world. Congrats Twins fans. Target Field looks awesome.

  • Wesley Johnson didn't last long at Syracuse either. The move sure worked well for him though.
  • I know it's easy for Hawkeye fans to worry about another Iowa recruit backing out, but this almost always happens. Players generally commit to coaches, not schools. Fran McCaffery deserves time and patience. It can't get worse.
  • I need to go apply more aloe.

We're not just watching TV


Continuing with Shawn's theme of a "glimpse behind the curtain", I'd like to dispel a common belief that all sports anchors do is watch TV. While we, often, do work with as many 5 TV's on in the background, we are rarely able to sit down and enjoy, say...The Masters.

On Sunday I anchored the 5pm and 9pm sportscasts. I arrived at the station at noon, set my rundown, and headed over to Principal Park for the I-Cubs game. Yes, we shoot our own video as well. Unless its a big, meaningful, game we don't stay for all 9 innings. Thankfully, Jason Dubois hit a homer, and a girl in front of me was eating a huge pickle. Those two shots, along with a strikeout, here and there, were good enough for me.

I then returned to the sports office to edit and write the I-Cubs video, including a couple of other local and national stories. By 4pm, I was in good shape...and then I had to leave, again.

The Energy played at home in a deciding 1st-round playoff game. I shot the first half of the first quarter and high-tailed it back to the sports office. As I walked in Andy, who had just arrived, was screaming over a shot Phil Mickelson had just made, and I had just missed.

After anchoring the 5, there was nothing more to shoot. I spent the majority of the rest of the night helping Mr. Fales put together his Tiger Nike ad spoof. By 11:15pm I was home playing my new Tiger Woods '10 ps3 game. When I was done playing, I went to bed. That was at 4am.

Another glorious day as a sports reporter.

Happy Monday,

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What's a gelding?

My thoroughbred racing knowledge is pretty limited, but it's pretty cool that a colt owned by a group of Central Iowans will run in the Kentucky Derby.  Congratulations to Donegal Racing, and Paddy O'Prado.  I've already volunteered to go to Churchill Downs to cover the race.

Saturday's 3rd round of The Masters was the second-most entertaining round of golf I've ever watched.  It's hard to top the final round at Augusta in 2004 when Lefty caught Ernie Els.  If I remember correctly, there was also a hole-in-one down the stretch in '04 as well.

Nick Nurse sounds interested in joining Greg McDermott's staff (see video at  I know Nurse can coach, and I know he can shoot. But Nurse hasn't been around the college game in more than a decade, so he seems like a risky hire.

The Ryne Sandberg era is off to a great start, if you don't take into account the I-Cubs record.

And yes, I know what a gelding is. 


Friday, April 09, 2010

Frenetic Friday

One of the questions I often get from both friends and strangers alike... "Who decides what stories you put in the sportscast?"  Answer:  99 percent of the time, Keith, Chris and I do. Whoever is anchoring on a given day has a three minute canvas... we get to paint it any way we choose.

Most days, we have a pretty good idea how we're going to fill that three minutes before we ever get to work at 2 p.m. We have a calendar in the sports office that we use to keep tabs on games, news conferences, etc.  On top of that, we read the paper, watch TV, listen to the radio, and check the internet in the a.m. to find out what else is happening in the world of sports.

But there are also days like Friday when unexpected stories pop up.  These are the fun days (sarcasm).  For example, at 5:15 on Friday, The University of Iowa sent out a news release confirming that Aaron Fuller was transferring and that incoming recruit Cody Larson had been granted a release from his letter of intent.  Also around that time, a Houston television station reported on its website that ISU assistant basketball coach Daniyal Robinson had accepted a similar position at the University of Houston.  At 5:30, I got a phone call from Charles Zanders confirming a tip I received last week... that he would be named the new head men's basketball coach at Simpson College.   Needless to say, I had to re-shuffle my sportscast.  All three stories were more newsworthy than anything else I planned on putting in the sportscast.  So the challenge becomes figuring out a way to make all these new "pieces" fit into our three minute "puzzle."  It's actually fun... in a weird sort of way.  Long story short, when I went on the air at 6:20, my sportscast looked nothing like I thought it would at 5:20.

Another glimpse behind the curtain...


Thursday, April 08, 2010

It's complicated.

I've always had a hard time explaining exactly how I feel about Tiger Woods, and the shenanigans that have come to light over the last five months only complicate my feelings.  Part of me despises the guy, while part of me can't help but cheer for him. 

I've never met Tiger Woods, so my opinion of him is completely based on his behavior on the golf course and during interviews.  And his behavior has always bugged the crap out of me.  First of all, the guy has always acted like a whiner and an entitled brat on the course... whether it's swearing, slamming clubs, or scowling after a bad shot. Tiger has always left me with the impression that he thinks it's the fault of the ball, the club, the lie, or the spike mark when a shot doesn't end up in the fairway, on the green, or in the hole.  He could never accept that it was (sarcastic gasp) his fault.  His defenders will point to his extreme competitive nature.  That's a cop out.  Other golfers are just as competitive, and the most don't behave that way.  Other Wood's apologists will imply that because the camera follows his every move, his outbursts stand out more compared to less notable golfers.  Again, I don't buy it.  On Monday, Tiger vowed to tone down his on-course antics, but I didn't see a noticable improvement during the first round of the Masters.

As for Tiger's recent off the course exploits, they bother me. But not for the reasons they bother most.  I'm not a moralist.  I'm not going to judge the way others live their life.  On top of that, I've covered sports long enough to know that a large percentage of professional athletes, if not a majority, cheat on their wives and girlfriends. What bothered me most about Tiger's sex scandal was the hypocracy of it all.  Tiger worked very hard to cultivate an imaged that portrayed himself as buttoned-down, morally-sound family man.  He was the exact opposite.  He was a phony. And I don't buy that he's a sex addict.  Again I'll preface, I don't know the man.  But I think Tiger sought sex rehabilitation mostly to expediate the rebuilding of his image.  It's much easier for the public to forgive someone that claims to be an addict.  Addiction implies the subject can't control his/her actions.  And it sounds better p.r.-wise compared to the alternative conclusion... that Tiger is just another sex-crazed male with power.  Chris Rock said it best... a man is basically as faithful as his options.

I'll give Tiger this... he's paid a steep price.  He's acted genuinely remorseful and appears to accept responsibility for his actions.  Still, the reception Tiger received at Augusta on Thursday was a little too warm for my taste.  He was applauded not just warmly, but as loudly as ever.  I wish it would have been a little more icier, if you will. I didn't want, or expect, people to jeer or boo.  But it just seemed like he eased right back into his comfort zone amongst the fans a little too easy.  It wasn't much of a pennance, considering the huge distraction he's become for the game of golf.

But here's the strange part.  Having said all that, I root for the guy on the course.  I can't help but be amazed when he hits a great shot.  I couldn't wait to see Tiger's first tee shot at Augusta.  Maybe it's just because I like to see golf played well, and tournaments are so much more interesting when Tiger is in contention.

Like I said, it's complicated.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Best Week Ever 2


Shawn's post about the best sports week got me all fired up. I'm the biggest college football fan out there, but Capital One Bowl Week isn't a's a season! The thing lasts about 23 that's out.

On the national scene, it's hard to beat a week featuring the NCAA title game, MLB opening day, and The Masters. But there's nothing local about that, unless we're talking I-Cubs.

The best day of the year, is the Thursday opening round of the NCAA tournament. But, the best week of the year, is the first week in September. Nothing beats the start of college football. Bowl games are fun, but lets be honest, most of them are meaningless. Get back to me when they rename it Capital One Playoff Week.

We're without the best sport on earth for 8 long months. The good news is, we only have 5 months left to kill.


Best Week Ever?

It's Shawn.

Hopefully, VHI won't order "Murphy's Law" to cease and desist for copyright infringement.  The point being, this week is a great week for sports fans.  The Final Four, opening day in Major League Baseball, and The Masters.  It's the convergence of three great sports.  While I always enjoy this week, it's not my favorite week of the sports year.  Many of my friends and collegues disagree.

First, I love the Final Four.  But for me, it doesn't compare to the excitement and wall to wall basketball that accompanies the first two days of the NCAA tournament.  Opening Day in MLB is a great day, but I never get truly excited about baseball until at least Memorial Day.  And while I love golf, and The Masters is my favorite golf tournament, I refuse to get caught up in the four day drool-a-thon over Amen Corner and Butler Cabin.

Give me Capital One Bowl Week any week of the year.  Is it college football season yet?


Sunday, April 04, 2010

"Let's Be Mad Again"?, Barnstormers Wide Awake, Dragon Training.

  • The Eagles trade Donovan McNabb. Saw that coming. But they traded McNabb to the Redkins! Bold. McNabb will try to make the 'Skins pay twice a season, and Mike Shanahan now has the quarterback he needs.
  • "Let's Be Mad Again"? Nice effort. Bad idea. Anytime you have to explain a slogan, the slogan doesn't work.
  • I can't remember a Final Four with less buzz. I still think it has a lot to do with busted brackets. When fringe fans no longer have a rooting interest, they need a contending office pool bracket to keep them engaged. Most of us were out when UNI punked KU. What will happen to office pools when the NCAA Tournament expands to 96 teams. Two sheets? First round byes? If people don't play pools, it will impact interest from the casual fan.
  • I'd love to see Butler win, but can't see it happening. Prove me wrong, Bulldogs!
  • Butler reaching the championship game does provide new hope for Hawkeye fans. Maybe Iowa can also play for a title three years after Lickliter leaves.
  • Surreal to see the President on TV, he only mentions one winning team from the NCAA tourney, and it's UNI.
  • UConn vs Stanford in the NCAA Women's basketball final. Who saw that coming? Oh yeah, right, everybody.
  • Great to see baseball back. The Yankees & Red Sox started it off with a good, see-saw game. Growing up in New England, I'm always happy when the season starts with a Red Sox win, and a Yankees loss.
  •  I can't believe ESPN picked the Yanks & Sox. Shocking.
  • Former Hawkeye QB and KWWL sports anchor Paul Burmeister is a great success story. He's now a major player at the NFL Network, and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
  • Boy, the Barnstormers got a wake-up call. This isn't af2.
  • I loved "How To Train Your Dragon". It's a great movie for kids, or anyone who was ever a kid. I went with my two boys, and it was good for bonding. Fun.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Butler did it

It's Shawn.

I'm sure every newspaper in America will adopt that pun-induced headline on Tuesday if the Bulldogs can pull off the upset against Duke.  While the Butler-Michigan St. slugfest did make me long for the up-tempo days when teams like Loyola-Marymount and UNLV would regularly eclipse the century mark, I am pulling for the Bulldogs.

The West Virginia-Duke semifinal was a dog, although I was taken aback twice while watching the game.  First, I learned Bob Huggins was twice an Academic All-American during his playing days at West Virginia. That's not what most would expect, considering Huggins' track record of recruiting poor students during his tenure at Cincinnati.  Although to be fair, Huggins roster at WV features some players that are very good students.  I digress. The other surreal moment occured when Huggins came to the aid of injured player Da'Sean Butler.  Huggins got down on the floor and straddled Butler for what seemed like an hour, and whisperered to his player.  Huggins face was literally two centimeters from Butler's face.  I honestly thought he was going to kiss him.  I understand how close the bond can be between players and coaches, but Huggins took it to another level.  Weird.

Until next time..


Friday, April 02, 2010

Barnstormers, Twins, and it's all about the benjamins.

It's Shawn.

Everything about the Barnstormers return to the AFL was electric... except the team's play on the field.  Actually, Iowa didn't play that bad.  But falling behind 17-0 in the AFL is akin to falling behind 35-0 in the NFL, and the Barnstormers don't have Frank Reich on their roster.

Speaking of the Barnstormers roster, it might benefit from a few free agent signings.  I blogged earlier in the week that the lack of AFL-caliber talent concerns me, and Friday's game did nothing to change my mind.  To be fair, Chicago is expected to be one of the top teams in the league.  But I don't think the Iowa will make the playoffs with the roster it has right now.

The Twins opened up Target Field with an exhibition loss to the Cardinals on Friday.  I only caught a couple innings of the game, so don't ask me for a rundown of Target Field's sweet amenities.  But anything is better than baseball in the Metrodome.

With a new stadium in tow, I'm a little confused why Major League Baseball would schedule the Twins to play their first seven games of the season on the road.  Wouldn't it be better for the Twins to show off their new digs on opening day?  Then again, MLB might have been playing the percentages.  Target Field does not have a retractable roof.  On average, I'm guessing the second week of April in Minneapolis is warmer than the first.

I have yet to hear anyone (friends, collegues, or members of the media) applaud the idea of expanding the NCAA tournament to 96 teams.  The only people that seem to be in favor of expansion are the NCAA talking heads.  It's obvious the proposed expansion is all about money which, on the surface, seems selfish.  But consider this... According to a recent USA Today article, only 14 Division I schools (including Iowa) had self-sufficient athletic departements last year.... meaning more than 300 Division I schools rely, in part, on tax dollars and student fees.  As more and more pressure is put on institutions to stop using tax dollars to support college athletics, maybe generating more television revenue for more schools isn't a bad idea. 

I just wish the NCAA would call a spade a spade.  Don't patronize us by selling the 96 team tournament as a way to enrich the athletic experience for more student-athletes.  Just come out and say the bigger tournament is all about money.   Remember, this is the same institution with the same conference commissioners that continue to shoot down an eight team playoff for college football because it would have a negative affect on football players classroom attendance.  But in college basketball, it's okay for student-athletes to (hypothetically, worst-case scenario) miss three straight weeks of class?  BS.  A 96 team field in college basketball and the current college football bowl system are the best way to maximize ticket sales and television revenue.  And as I indicated above, that's not my biggest issue.  My biggest problem is with the NCAA's sales pitch.  We're not fools.

I feel much better.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

No Barnes, Bracket Busted for Good, Packers of the AFL

  • Nice job raising money for Coaches vs. Cancer. The First Annual Senior All-Star showcased many of the CIML's best basketball players, though there was one notable absence: the top recruit in the nation, Ames Senior Harrison Barnes. Have to cut Barnes a break though, he was in the McDonald's All-America game the night before.
  • The WNBA invites its first Cyclone to the draft. Congrats Alison Lacey. Lacey didn't dream that big while growing up in Australia.
  • Ali Farokhmanesh couldn't find the magic in the 3-point shooting contest either. That's okay. He'll always have Kansas. And UNLV.
  • I'll still watch the Final Four, but it's a lot less interesting when my bracket's been completely blown up. I'll bet I'm not alone, and the NCAA should think about that before going through with the obvious cash grab of expanding the tourney. How many fewer brackets will people fill out when it's two sheets and 96 teams?
  • Nice article on Marshalltown's Jeff Clement in USA Today. Jeff's one of the good guys. I had forgotten for a moment he's now a Pirate.
  • The weekend means making good on my promise: "How To Train Your Dragon". Anyone see this?
  • The Barnstormers are the Packers of the AFL. Look for a record crowd Friday night. If you're not on Mediacom, and you get the NFL Network, you can watch and hear former Hawkeye QB Paul Burmeister on play-by-play.