Saturday, October 30, 2010

Everyone Wins

I still can't believe how badly Iowa dominated Michigan State. No one saw that coming. Saturday's game showed why so many Hawkeye fans were thinking national title at the beginning of the year. This is Kirk Ferentz's most talented team... too bad it wasn't sharp in big games until Saturday.

The improvement Ricky Stanzi has show from his junior year to his senior year has been more dramatic than I anticipated. Ferentz has said countless times than no player prepares harder than Stanzi, and the proof is in the numbers. Stanzi now has 19 TD passes and just two interceptions this season (one of which wasn't his fault). Hands down, he's the best Iowa quarterback since Chuck Long.

It's not surprising that, coming off the monumental win in Austin, the Cyclones started slowly against Kansas. What's most encouraging is that Iowa State was mentally and physically tough enough to pull it together and handily defeat the Jayhawks. At the beginning of the season, I said the Cyclones would find a way to scratch together six wins and get back to a bowl game, despite the brutal schedule. I was basing that projection mostly on the coaching prowess of Paul Rhoads, and Rhoads hasn't disappointed.


Friday, October 29, 2010


  • The Hawekeyes problems in their two losses won't be helped by the return of Norm Parker---he's not coaching special teams---but it can't hurt. Besides that, it's just good to have Norm back. He'll coach from the press box.
  • I could see Iowa winning this game by 14, or losing. I just don't have a good feel. The Vegas line seems crazy, Iowa by 7? I'll take Michigan State to cover, but the Hawks to win.
  • Iowa State, at last report, is a 20 point favorite vs. Kansas. I think the Jayhawks have quit on Turner Gill, but 20? That also seems crazy. These are still the Jayhawks who beat Georgia Tech and the Cyclones who lost by 52 to Oklahoma. I'll take KU to cover, and the Cyclones to win.
  • Iowa State's longest Big 12 drought: Oklahoma. #2 Kansas. Surprised? Paul Rhoads was.
  • I still can't believe Mark Dantonio reinstated Chris L. Rucker to play as Rucker was leaving jail. Even worse, Dantonio said he'd leave the decision whether to travel to Iowa to Rucker. Yes, good idea. A guy arrested for assault and drunk driving should make the decision, not the head coach.
  • Michigan State sports information confirmed to Shawn Terrell Rucker made the trip. Of course he did.
  • I hope Oregon hangs 50 on Lane Kiffin and company.
  • I'm now a believer. The Chiefs are for real.
  • I'm still not a believer. The Bears are not.
  • Chris Hassel has taken out an attack ad on Andy Fales. It airs Sunday night on SoundOFF.
  • Andy Fales has taken out an attack ad on Chris Hassel. It airs Sunday night on SoundOFF.
  • Can't wait for Vikings vs. Patriots.
  • Of course Brett Favre will start.
  • Happy Halloween!

Stay classy Florida, Michigan State, Notre Dame

  • Matt Gatens must be a fast healer. In 24 hours he's gone from "out indefinitely" to "hopes to play in Iowa's season opener". That's great news for Hawkeye fans---and Fran McCaffery. Gatens is Iowa's best returning player. He had surgery Thursday for a torn tendon in his non-shooting hand. Gatens is a gamer.
  • Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio says he has a "zero tolerance policy". Thursday, Dantonio reinstated cornerback Chris L. Rucker on the same day Rucker was released from jail. In less than one year, Police arrested Rucker for both assault and drunk driving (though a plea agreement reduced charge to reckless driving). Dantonio says Rucker can make the trip to Iowa if he wants. Do you think he'll want? I'm not sure which is more insulting, Dantonio reinstating Rucker so quickly, or Dantonio defending his zero tolerance policy.
  • Not to be outdone, Florida coach Urban Meyer reinstates receiver Chris Rainey despite a September arrest for felony stalking. Among other things, Rainey sent a text to a former girlfriend which read, "Time to die, b---". Stay classy, Florida. 
  • How in the world could Notre Dame have a student-manager shooting video of practice on a lift 30 feet in the air while winds were gusting up to 50+miles an hour? The death of Declan Sullivan is tragic and senseless. And perhaps negligent.
  • All told, what a shameful week for the win at all costs mentality of college football. I feel like I need shower.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Urbandale did what?!

  • Nobody's perfect. Can't believe the Giants knocked the Rangers Cliff Lee out of the game. Easy to tell the country is not gripped with World Series fever, but I for one am glad to see some new blood in there. Sloppy game 1, but still fun.
  • Friday it felt like spring, Wednesday winter. Come on old man, let us ramp up to the misery. the high school football playoffs were COLD.
  • The mostly unneeded round one had a couple of upsets proponents will point to for years: 3-6 Urbandale stunned 9-0 Council Bluffs Abe Lincoln, and 3-6 Waukee surprised 8-1 Ft. Dodge.
  • I loved watching the Celtics beat the Heat on opening night.
  • Matt Gatens tearing a tendon in his non-shooting hand won't ruin Iowa's season---it's a transitional year anyway---but Gatens is a hard worker who always looked like he belonged in the Big Ten, even when others in the Lickliter years did not. Tough bounce for Gatens, I hope he's back soon.
  • I watched Masterpiece Theater this week on PBS. That's a sentence I never thought I'd type. The update of Sherlock Holmes was entertaining.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Boise Blowouts, NCAA Tourney Town, Lights Out for Anchor

King James made his regular season debut, tonight, for the Heat --- and I didn't watch. I thought I would care, because of the story lines, but I just don't. I'll tune in at playoff time.

The truth is, it's 8pm, and I'm watching the Boise State game. Right now Boise is tied at 7 with Louisiana Tech. I'm assuming the Broncos will win by 40, but if this team wants to challenge for a bid to the title game, they need to start beating these teams by 60 and 70. I'm of the belief that Boise could be any team, on any given day. But, I'm also of the belief that if they played in the SEC, Big Ten, PAC 10, or Big 12, they'd struggle to win week in and week out.

I'd love to see an Auburn-Oregon title game, but I don't think it will happen. I still think Alabama has a better chance, than anyone, to win it all. I think the Tide will beat Auburn and face Oregon in the big one.

The MVC preseason poll was released, today. Wichita State is the overwhelming favorite to win the conference. Two-time defending champion UNI is picked 3rd, with Drake coming in at 8th. The Bulldogs are young, but I don't see them finishing that far down the standings.

The NCAA basketball tourney is coming to Wells Fargo Arena --- the women's tourney, that is. Iowa State was awarded the 2012 1st and 2nd rounds, while UNI will host the 2012 regionals at WFA. Let's hope that attendance is, once again, off the charts. That's the only way Des Moines is going to be able to convince the NCAA to bring the men's tourney into town. That, and more bars within walking distance, and a few more seats in the arena.

And now, your news blooper of the day. Maybe it's fake...maybe it's not...


Turn out the lights, the party is over

  • The Cowboys are done. Can't believe they have just one win. Has there ever been a more overrated team going into the season?
  • Who is the NFC's best team? It's wide open with mediocrity right now.
  • It's hard to take one's eyes off Brett Favre right now---it's a tragicomedy with occasional glimpses of glory. Favre looked 51, not 41, while limping off the field Sunday night. With two fractures in his ankle, who knows when/if we'll see him again, but I hope we do. Love him, hate him, it's always a great show.
  • How 'bout Iowa State's Jake Lattimer. In his first career start, he's the Big 12 defensive player of the week. Where can he go from here...
  • Lost in Saturday's clock mismanagement debate is another terrific outing by Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi. He's actually underrated this season, which almost doesn't seem possible.
  • Former Iowa quarterback Paul Burmeister of the NFL Network is a straight shooter, and Monday he told me Hawkeye fans could not have a better coach in Kirk Ferentz, and that Ferentz is a 10 out of a possible 10. Paul says Iowa could not have a better coach, and fans need to remember that---especially after tough losses.
  • I think the Rangers will win the World Series.
  • KXnO's new morning team should prove entertaining. Travis Justice will tell you exactly how he feels about anything, and Tim Fisher is a pro looking for the right show; this could be it. It always comes down to chemistry, but I'll be rooting for TNT.
  • I'm watching HBO's Boardwalk Empire, and for a few seconds, it suddenly went porno on me. Wow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rhoads Rules, Hawkeye Heartbreak

  • I've never been more surprised by a team winning than Iowa State at Texas Saturday. Absolute shocker. After giving up 120 points the past two weeks, the Cyclones held Texas without a touchdown for more than three quarters in front of 100,000 Longhorn fans. The win was no fluke either. The Cyclones flat out punched Texas in the mouth.
  • I've said the past two weeks, Paul Rhoads had his toughest coaching assignment just keeping the Cyclones focused and believing. Rhoads overachieved. Texas has far more talent, Iowa State far more heart. The resources available to each program make any win against Texas a major upset, but to do it in Austin, a week after losing by 52? Wow.
  • Iowa and Wisconsin played an exciting football game. The Badgers won, but it was back-and-forth all game. There's widespread overreaction from Hawkeye fans right now because Iowa could have won, but failed to execute special teams and clock management. With great expectations often comes crushing disappointment. There's still a lot out there for Iowa. A win over #5 Michigan State Saturday will make fans feel a lot better. I think it happens.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cyclone Stunner and Hawkeye Heartbreak

Let's start with the good and work our way to the bad, shall we?

How about those Cyclones?! If you saw a this one coming, you deserve your own daytime cable show. After being outscored 120-27, by Utah and Oklahoma, the 'Clones just flat out punk Texas right in their own stadium, 28-21. I absolutely love the way Paul Rhoads coached this one: onside kicks, 4th down conversions, flea-flickers. This is exactly why he's the right man for Iowa State. Most of the time Iowa State loses, big, against the big boys --- but he's 1-0 against Nebraska, and 1-0 against Texas (BOTH on the road).

We knew the Cyclones were going to need to win a game (like Nebraska in 2009) to reach the 6-win plateau, and make a bowl game. This may be that game. ISU should reach 5 wins against a really bad Kansas team, at home, next weekend. Rhoads would be one win away from back-to-back bowl appearances with games @Colorado and vs Nebraska/Missouri. They've put themselves in position, once again.

AS FOR THE BAD...well....I could go on all night.

Iowa didn't deserve to beat the Badgers. The Hawks were out-played, out-smarted, and out-coached. Once more, Ferentz is being blamed for his poor clock management, and I'm one of them. Time and time again, Ferentz has shown a lack of game awareness in tight ballgames, in the final minute, and once again it costs his team. Was it the reason Iowa lost? No ---  but it was one of them.

I like to say "I told you so", so here's a quote from myself on this very blog from Tuesday:
"The kicking game will rear its ugly head at some point, this season."
Little did I know, it would be this week. And it's not just the kicking game, either. It's hard for me to believe that a Ferentz coached team is THIS bad in all phases of special teams play.

And what about the defense? Wow --- for a unit that was expected to be one of the best in the nation, they've sure let the Hawks down, this year. First, they let Arizona march all over them for a game-winning score, then Michigan nearly erases a 21-point 4th quarter deficit, and now Wisconsin runs it down their throat for 31, and another game-winning TD.

If Iowa wants to get back into the Big Ten race, they better figure it out, and figure it out quick. I expected a lot more from the Hawkeyes, this season. I still believe they have a better team than they had a year ago, but they aren't exactly showing it on the field.

Who would've thought that the Hawkeyes would lose, at home, Iowa State would be the team returning home with a win? It certainly was a wild day in the world of college football, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

If you're a Cyclone fan, enjoy the win --- it's a big one. If you're a Hawkeye fan, sulk in your disappointment, and get back up for next week. The season is far from over.


Polar Bears, Dodgers, Rangers

  • Congratulations to the North Polar Bears. North won its first football game since 2008. That's a long drought but it's not because the kids don't work hard or sacrifice just as much as the players on winning teams. Actually, you can argue it's harder because losing takes a mental toll. Sorry the win had to come at Hoover's expense, another team looking for its first win of the season. Tip of the cap to all the Seniors in Iowa who played their final game.
  • Classy move by the PCM. The school gave up part of its gate from the showdown with Bondurant-Farrar to the family of former Bluejay Chris Norton. Norton broke his neck while playing for Luther against Central last week.
  • How 'bout those Dodgers. Fort Dodge won at Valley for the first time. It was a last minute 15-12 classic too.
  • If you're not a Yankees fan, then you probably enjoyed seeing the Yankees lose to the Rangers. The Texas Rangers in the World Series... now there's something I thought I'd never see.
  • Peyton Manning must be in the fetal position. Dallas Clark is out for the season.
  • I'll take Iowa by 10 over Wisconsin and Texas by 28 over Iowa State. If I'm wrong, it's here to remind me.
  • KXnO will announce it's new morning show Monday. No, I don't know who it is. If you do, please let me know.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shawn, Dallas, and Norm

The BBC will spend the next two years following one Olympic hopeful from every sport. For women's gymnastics, it's Shawn Johnson. The first feature on Shawn aired Thursday. There was nothing earth-shattering about the piece, but I found it refreshing that Shawn is able to acknowledge she's a long-shot for London. Shawn said the hardest part is "not knowing if I'm gonna make it or not."

Colts tight end Dallas Clark needs wrist surgery and is out indefinitely. No one is more disappointed that Peyton Manning.

Thanks to a grass roots effort from hawkeye fans (isn't it funny that a modern day grass roots effort usually involves facebook and twitter?) The University of Iowa has pledged support for "Norm" chants during Saturday's game against Wisconsin.... well, sort of. Iowa fans were pushing for Norm chants on every Badger third down. Iowa officials are requesting that the chants takes place on first down. Saturday's game could feel like an episode of "Cheers."

Oregon's uniforms are butt-ugly.


James Harrison is full of crap

  • In the history of foolish posturing, Pittsburgh's James Harrison pretending he might retire because he can't deal with the NFL's clamp down on helmet-to-helmet tackles ranks near the top. Harrison finished several credits shy of a general studies degree at Kent State, so his career options for jobs that pay $51 million could be somewhat limited.  (Thursday morning update: James Harrison is full of crap. He's back with the Steelers already. Tough job market out there.)
  • As usual, the MLB league championship series' have been terrific, especially the Giants-Phillies. I understand why Fox and MLB want Yankees-Phillies II, but Rangers-Giants interests me more. The Rangers feature Josh Hamilton, a fascinating study of redemption and the best player in the American League. The Giants just flat out look like they're having fun.
  • If Iowa runs the table, will the 11-1 Hawkeyes play for the BCS title? I don't think so, but it would be fun finding out. At worst that run leads to the Rose Bowl, not a bad consolation. Of course, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State may have something to say first.
  • If Iowa keeps winning, Ricky Stanzi will end up in the Heisman Trophy conversation. Don't believe it? See Brad Banks, 2002. And Stanzi is better than Banks.
  • I think Iowa State is smart to offer $40 fan ticket packs for the KU and Missouri football games. The $10 ticket gets you a hillside seat, soda, and hot dog (minimum 4 tickets). It's a great deal, and the Cyclones need to avoid a half-empty stadium at all costs. 
  • Thanks for encouraging me to watch Modern Family. It's now appointment television. No other sitcom on TV comes close. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cubs Choke, Bielema's Tattoo, Hawkeye Holes

The Cubs should've hired Ryne Sandberg. I'm too mad about it to type anything more.

As you may know, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema has a Tiger Hawk tattoo on his leg. At the Big Ten Media Day, in August, I asked him if he's ever considered having it removed. Bielema laughed and said a few Badger fans have offered to do it for free, but he wants to keep it. He says it was, and always will be, a part of him. I'm not a huge Bielema fan, but you have to respect that.

I believe this Hawkeye team could be the best I've seen in my lifetime (started watching in 1990), but there are a few glaring holes that should be of concern going forward:

1. They're one Adam Robinson injury away from losing their entire running game. I also find it hard to believe that A-Rob will be able to run effectively against Wisconsin, MSU, and OSU, unless he gets some help from Coker or another backup.

2. The kicking game will rear its ugly head at some point, this season. Michael Myers has been shaky, at best, this season. He was barley clearing the Michigan line on a few of his PAT attempts --- but he did hit a pressure packed FG late in the game

3. Micah Hyde. If you saw the 4th quarter of the Michigan game, you don't need an explanation.

Unlike Keith, I haven't given up on Iowa's national title hopes, either. Yes, it's a long shot, but it's still a shot. But I don't think the argument carries much weight until Iowa gets past Wisconsin and Michigan State. We'll revisit the subject if they can win both of those games.


Monday, October 18, 2010

MLB vs NFL, Iowa vs Wisconsin, Bud Light vs Wheat

  • The TV ratings aren't out yet, but for one night, it feels like MLB finally beat the NFL head-to-head. Cliff Lee made the Yankees look silly as the Rangers spanked the Yanks, 8-0. Meantime, Monday Night Football was a complete no-interest dog with the Titans whipping the Jaguars. The NFL is king, but if baseball didn't win this night, it never will.
  • The Big Ten names Ricky Stanzi offensive player of the week. Stanzi earned it at Michigan, but the award could have just as easily gone to Iowa's Adam Robinson or Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.
  • The road to the Rose Bowl now goes through Kinnick Stadium. I'll try not to write that, or say it, too often the next few weeks, but it's true. The Big Ten's remaining big games are all in Iowa City. First up, Wisconsin. The Badgers all but ruined Ohio State's season Saturday night. Most Buckeye fans are in the mindset of title game or bust. Ohio State now needs others to lose just to win another Big Ten title. It's five straight and counting. How spoiled is that.
  • I don't see any way the Cyclones can't be dealing with shaken confidence right now. Iowa State has given up 158 points in three weeks, and the past seven quarters the Cyclones haven't been competitive. They've been blown away on both sides of the ball. And now... Texas.
  • I get why Iowa State said no to Fox College Sports for the Kansas game. First of all, next to no one gets FCS. Secondly, the network would pay ISU 0 dollars. Thirdly, it's late October, a night game, or even a morning kick would draw a smaller crowd. ISU needs the fans, and the money. There was no exposure to be had anyway.
  • I've never seen two strong Heisman candidates benched the same say. Nebraska's Bo Pelini made a terrible decision to sit Taylor Martinez---wasn't Martinez's fault receivers wore oven mitts---and now his confidence in big games is sure to be shaky. Michigan's Rich Rod can say Denard Robinson was hurt, but it was clear the coach wanted to stay with Tate Forcier---and with reason. If Robinson stayed in, Iowa wins by 20.
  • Good to see the UNI Panther basketball team again Monday. I still can't believe the Cats took down #1 Kansas in the NCAA tournament, but that was glorious.
  • I'm watching the Blind Side again. I know I'm being manipulated, the movie plays more like an After School Special on second viewing, but it's still highly entertaining.
  • How weird is the commercial of the Bud Light bottle making out with the shock of wheat?!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

College Football Saturday

I thought if the Hawkeyes played well in Ann Arbor, they'd beat Michigan by double digits. They did. And they did. However, the game didn't play out like I thought it would. If you would have told me on Friday that the Hawks would be plus-four in turnovers and block a kick, I would have said Iowa would win by three touchdowns. Michigan hung around late, despite its self-inflicted wounds. That shows just how difficult it is for Iowa to win in the Big House.
I thought the Hawks got a little conservative on offense for a couple series in the second half, but stayed aggressive for the most part. It was great to see the slant pass calls to Marvin McNutt, DJK, and the screens to Adam Robinson late in the game. I like the aggressiveness, relatively speaking.
I expected Oklahoma to blow out Iowa State, but I never imagined it would be 52-0. The Cyclones brought a knife to a gun fight, which is one way of saying they didn't even get a shot off. There's no shame in a loss to a top ten team on the road, but Iowa State wasn't even competitive. That's disconcerting. I wish I could break down the game more, but to be honest, I quit watching in the second quarter. I couldn't take any more.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

McCaffery Mad, Kansas Punked, Trump in HD

  • Let's Be Mad Again. Or  not. The slogan doesn't work, but the intent does: get Iowa back to the NCAA tournament (March Madness... Mad... get it? I know. A reach that doesn't work. Anyway...) Fran McCaffery is a proven winner at a few stops, so I do think he'll get Iowa back to the tourney, just not this season. He's a coach, not a miracle worker. However, Hawkeye fans will enjoy this season more than any in many years because Iowa will break, dunk, and score---even in losses. Losses will be more fun to watch than most wins under Todd Lickliter.
  • If a coach could be fired his first two months on the job, Turner Gill might be that coach. Kansas was embarrassed again. This time, it really hurts because rival K-State did the embarrassing, 59-7. Remember, Nebraska just punked K-State in its own place. Mark Mangino could run for 100 yards on this Kansas defense.
  • HD is not good for everyone. Have you seen Donald Trump up close on the Apprentice? Based on recent ratings, I'd say you haven't.
  • Andy and Chris are headed to the Big House. Not sure what they have planned to be noticed alongside 113,000 people.
  • The weekend is here! Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Favre's Elbow, Secretatiat, 30 for 30

  • Does Brett Favre need more attention?! Favre is saying if his elbow doesn't improve, he might not play against the Cowboys. There is 0% chance of Favre not playing --- at least not because his elbow hurts. (And yes, I know tendinitis in the elbow lends itself to numerous jokes. It's low-hanging fruit. Strike that.)
  • Reggie Bush read Sports Illustrated's cover story on agents paying players and asked for his Heisman Trophy to be shipped back. Many more players than anyone wants to believe have taken money from agents for years. Make it decades.
  • "Secretariat" is predictable---we know what's going to happen---and at times it's corny, even formulaic, but it's rousing family entertainment. I loved it, and so did my kids. I still can't believe the Belmont in '73. 31 lengths!
  • It's surreal seeing Fred Hoiberg as the head coach of Iowa State, partly because he looks mostly the same as he did in his playing days.
  • Shawn Johnson will sign autographs at the celebration of the the Chow's Gymnastics expansion Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m.
  • It's easy to knock ESPN---ESPN Hollywood anyone?---but the 30 for 30 documentaries have been outstanding. Once Brothers this week was one of the best.
  • 11:40 p.m. I promised myself I'd leave the station by 11. I have a Boardwalk Empire to watch.  I shouldn't lie to myself.
  • Until next time...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

D-Rob, A-Rob, and A-gents

Kirk Ferentz is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the country --- but when it comes to close games, he's one of the worst. crunched the numbers and, over the last 5 years, Iowa is 11-15 in games decided by 8 points or less. That ranks last among all 27 teams that have competed in BCS games since 2005. Cincinnati is first.

The Hawkeyes are tired of talking about Denard Robinson. Let's just hope that, come Saturday, they don't get tired of chasing him. The Michigan QB is averaging 3 touchdowns a game, while the Hawks haven't allowed a touchdown since the Arizona game. Michigan State handled the Wolverines, with relative ease, last week. That doesn't mean Iowa fans shouldn't be worried about going into "The Big House". It's still Michigan, they're still 5-1, with the Heisman Trophy front-runner, and the Hawks have only one win in Ann Arbor since 1990. I think Iowa returns with a win, but it won't be easy.

It's a shame the Buckeyes and the Spartans don't play each other, this season. I highly doubt both teams will go unbeaten, but a perfect season isn't out of the question for Michigan State. Sparty's toughest game is in Iowa City on October 30th. MSU's other five games are against Illinois, Northwestern, Minnesota, Purdue, and Penn State.

Chris Williams, of Cyclonefanatic fame, reports that Alexander Robinson practiced (without pads) for ISU, Tuesday. The 'Clones are a 24 point underdog at #6 Oklahoma, Saturday night. I think you'd be hard pressed to find many Cyclone fans giving their team a chance, in Norman. But, let's not forget, the last time Iowa State got whipped this bad, at home, was in 2007 (56-3 to Texas). The following week, #4 OU came to Jack Trice, ISU darn near pulled the upset. Don't hold your breath.

The Rays and Rangers are playing game 5 of the ALDS, as I type, but I can't watch. There's nothing worse than trying to watch a game being played in a dungeon with weird horn sounds and catwalks effecting routine fly balls.

If you're a sports fan, you'll probably find this article interesting.

News blooper of the day

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bad Favre Good Favre, Stay Classy Bielema, SoundOFF

  • Well, say this for Brett Favre, he's never boring. The Monday Night Football game had it all. First, a 45 minute delay for lightning, which left several noticeably uncomfortable ESPN personalities even more time to discuss the NFL's investigation into Favre's cell phone habits. Then once play starts, Favre looks terrible for most of three quarters. Bad Favre. Before you can say, "he's lost it", Favre suddenly looks 30 again. He throws three gorgeous touchdown passes. Good Favre. Just when Vikings fans believe, pick 6. Bad Favre. The ol' gunslinger did play in obvious pain, and it was great theater. Jets 29, Vikings 20.
  • The Vikings and Cowboys have two wins between them.
  • Crazy stat of the night: the Braves have played nine playoff elimination games at Turner Field in Atlanta, and they've lost all nine. Ouch.
  • Tim Lincecum vs Roy Halladay in game 1 of the NLCS? I'm in.
  • Bret Bielema's going for 2 against Minnesota up 25 with 6 minutes to play showed little class. Tim Brewster will likely lose his job soon, but at least he stood up to Bielema for that low-rent move. The card said go for 2? Ignore the card, use your head.
  • Bielema knows midfield confrontations. This is the guy who as a Hawkeye player, told Iowa State head coach Jim Walden, "I've enjoyed kicking your a-- the past five years". Nice.
  • NBC's Football Night in America show again pushed SoundOFF so late, many of you have asked where you can watch the show on You can't see the show in its entirety each week, but will you find show staples like "I Think", "What's Bugging Andy?" and "FaceOFF" under the SoundOFF dropdown menu. Also, here's a link to the new Hassel spoof:

49ers? Fast Utes, Deflated Big House

  • NBC had a dog game Sunday night, but at least it turned out competitive with the Eagles keeping the 49ers winless.
  • One week after one of Iowa State's most exciting football wins, the Cyclones have one of their most deflating losses. Utah flat out dominated ISU. The Utes scored 68, and could have scored more. There was a glaring difference in team speed. Iowa State learned it has a long way to go, and it starts with recruiting. Recruiting speed.
  • Around half the fans at Jack Trice Stadium didn't return after halftime, and this week, you can't blame them. Utah led 41-14, and somehow it wasn't that close.
  • Paul Rhoads is a good motivator and leader. He'll use all his skills to try and keep the Cyclones moving forward as they run through the Utah/Oklahoma/Texas gauntlet. It won't be easy. Much of sports---like much of life---is about confidence.
  • Iowa will play in front of 110,000 people Saturday, but it won't be an electric atmosphere---not after Michigan State punked Michigan again. The Spartans brought Blue back to earth, and put the Heisman trophy race back in play. Iowa can follow Sparty's blueprint to neutralize Denard Robinson, but I think Iowa could figure it out anyway.
  • Andy Fales and Chris Hassel are headed to the Big House. I think they'll see another Iowa win. I was there in 2002, and it was one of the more spirited on-field celebrations by a Hawkeye football team.
  • Jane Lynch elevated all the material on Saturday Night Live. She should return as host soon. She's reason enough to watch Glee, even if you don't want your friends knowing.
  • Has anyone seen Secretariat? I'm going Tuesday and really looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

That.... was.... UGLY. It's hard to know where to start with the Cyclones. Utah came to Ames and ran circles around ISU. I didn't see that coming. After last week's big win, and Paul Rhoads comment that his team "might have turned a corner," I really thought the Clones could hang with the Utes for four quarters. Boy, was I wrong.

The Utes rolled up 600 yards of offense, and hundreds more on kickoff, punt, and interception returns. ISU was 0-11 on 3rd down. But the most disappointing number might have been the attendance... 43,195.

The outlook from the outside has changed drastically in the last 24 hours, especially with road games at Oklahoma and Texas on the horizon.


How 'bout this weather!

  • Week 7 of the high school football season. Man, the weeks are flying by.
  • Can't believe it's going to be 80 degrees on October 9th. Perfect day for tailgating. If Iowa State can't pull 50,000+ fans for #10 Utah in this weather, it will never happen past September.
  • No baseball crowd beats the fans at Fenway Park, but on TV, Pac Bell comes close.
  • My son Colin, who's six, just reached that point where generic sneakers from Target are no longer cool. Dang. He wanted Nikes. I blame the older brothers. He's still young enough to think a new pair of kicks makes you faster. He was zooming up and down the street today.
  • Enjoy this beautiful weather. We'll miss it soon enough.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Go Big Red, Yankees>Twins, Big Game Warning

  • Please welcome Nebraska to the national championship chase. The Cornhuskers announced their presence with authority by embarrassing K-State in the Little Apple, 48-13. Let's also welcome quarterback Taylor Martinez to the Heisman Trophy watch. Martinez rushed for 242 yards and 4 touchdowns. That's nuts. He's not Denard Robinson, but he's close.
  • The Yankees just flat out own the Twins. If one thing goes wrong, the Twins get psyched, and can't handle it. We keep seeing the same show over-and-over. It's like watching TBS.
  • The Rangers won more playoff games in 24 hours than in the rest of their franchise history.
  • Shawn Terrell's story on what the Hawks do during their bye weekend was interesting. Popular answers: eat mom's cooking and sleep.
  • A warning to anyone going to Norwalk vs. Carlisle football game: Chris Hassel will be there. If the first six weeks are an indicator, that means this game will be a blowout.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I'm Your Huckleberry

  • Say "Doc Holliday", and most people picture Val Kilmer in the immortal Tombstone, one of the great guy movies of all time. I'd like to think women appreciate the genius of Tombstone too. Please let me know. (Update: Erin Kiernan just informed me she loves Tombstone) Anyway, we have another Doc who's our huckleberry, Roy Halladay. Different spelling, same steal-the-show result. (A "huckleberry" is a person perfect for the job. That's both Docs.)  Halladay put a much needed jolt into day one of the MLB playoffs by no-hitting the Reds, and it was his first post-season appearance. Halladay already has a perfect game this season.
  • Twins and Yankees follow the same ol' script. Twins take the lead, Yankees come back and win. At least Target Field looks great; first outdoor playoff game in the Twin Cities in forty years. Hassel is there. Hopefully he's not singing the Stivers jingle or doing Dolph impressions.
  •  The Rays are a popular pick to win it all. Sure didn't look hat way in game one. Cliff Lee and the Rangers dominated. I'd like to make an out of the box pick, but I said on our radio show "Phillies", and with that pitching, I'll stick with it.
  • Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker is as tough as they come. He's battling diabetes daily. Parker already lost several toes on his left foot, and two weeks ago, doctors amputated Parker's right foot. Parker's personality is missed daily by the Hawkeyes, not to mention his defensive genius. Here's hoping for a speedy return.
  • Nothing heals like time. Vikings fans had their fill of Randy Moss by the end of his first run in Minnesota, but now they welcome Moss with open arms. They should too. Moss gives Brett Favre a deep threat, and immediately makes Minnesota a much better team. It's back on for Vikings fans. Moss will eventually implode, but he never does when first arriving. He'll be good, if not great, this season.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

NFL Talk

As a Bears fan, I hated the Kyle Orton- Jay Cutler trade from Day 1, and it looks more and more lopsided with each passing week. Orton leads the NFL in passing yardage, averaging more than 350 yards per game. Cutler continues to struggle with subpar receivers and an aging offensive line, and there's no help on the way, because the Bears gave Denver all their draft picks to get Cutler.

Is Randy Moss headed back to Minnesota? I think it will happen, assuming Moss' contract demands aren't... well, too demanding. The Vikings have shown a willingness to mortage their future for a shot at this year's Super Bowl, and I think the Patriots are eager to unload the aging and tirade-prone Moss before he has another podium meltdown.

The Name Is Woodhead

  • How can you not love Danny Woodhead. The little guy from Chadron State College in ErinKiernanville, Nebraska made you root for him in HBO's Hard Knocks, but the Jets cut Woodhead. The rival Patriots picked him up, and for the second straight week, Woodhead turned it out. The Patriots embarrassed the Dolphins in Miami, 41-14 (after trailing 7-6 at halftime).

  • Ed says Saturday night will be as good as it gets for October weather in Iowa. Just one more reason Cyclone fans need to rally one of their biggest crowds for #10 Utah at Iowa State. After hanging 52 points on Texas Tech, the Clones deserve it.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Hawks Rock, Cy Shootout, Cutler Sacked

  • What an absolutely awesome weekend for the Big Two football programs in our state. The Kinnick Stadium crowd looked amazing on television---the place was rocking---and Iowa dominated Penn State in deliberate, methodical fashion. That defense is ridiculous.
  • Christian Ballard made one of the all time great goal line plays. I still can't believe he found a way to keep Penn State's QB out of the end zone, when it looked like he was a lock to cross the plane.
  • I know Hawk fans---and football fans period---wanted to see Iowa keeps passing, and keep scoring, but that's not Ferentz football. He's conservative, and it works. Plus, no way he tries to embarrass Joe Paterno.
  • Iowa State had the second biggest win of the Rhoads era, and though not as surprising as winning at Nebraska, outscoring Texas Tech in a shootout is something most of us did not see coming. 52 points!?
  • Paul Rhoads called the win a potential turning point. With ISU's schedule, we'll find out.
  • I'm happy for Austen Arnaud. Not only did Arnaud show why he's the starter, but he played hurt, and played the game of his life. Arnaud is so well liked and respected, no one likes criticising him, and this week, no one should.
  • With Iowa off, and great weather expected, there is no reason Iowa State shouldn't have the biggest crowd in Jack Trice Stadium history (new configuration) for #10 Utah. Cyclone fans, local football fans, it's time to show up.
  • Colorado Buffs fans stormed the field after beating 1-4 Georgia. The standards have fallen in Boulder.
  • New AP college football poll has no USC, Penn State, Texas, or Notre Dame. (Iowa is #15.)
  • The Bears-Giants game Sunday night was AWFUL. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Jay Cutler was mugged (and held on to the football too long).
  • Eagles fans, good job giving McNabb an ovation. He deserved it. I knew you'd surprise people.
  • Falcons,  you should go back to wearing those red helmets every week.
  • Why doesn't Des Moines have a Steak N Shake?!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Owning JoePa, Turning a Corner, and Ryders on the Storm

That's just a good, solid Big Ten win for the Hawkeyes. The game epitomized Kirk Ferentz's coaching blueprint - methodical offense, STOUT defense, and mistake-free special teams. Was it a little bland? Sure. White rice. But no one should complain with the end result. Iowa has now won eight of its last nine games against Joe Paterno and Penn State. That's nothing to sneeze at.

Next to last year's win at Nebraska, Saturday's win against Texas Tech is the biggest of the Paul Rhoads era. The Cyclones won the type of game they've lost countless times in the past. Iowa State blew a 24 point lead, but still had enough composure and fortitude to wrestle the momentum back in its favor and win the game. Rhoads said in his post-game news conference "we might have turned a corner tonight." Coming from a straight-shooter like Rhoads, that's a big statement.

I love the Ryder Cup, but hate that it's played right in the heart of football season. I'd love to see the event moved to July or August, so the Ryder could get the attention it deserves.


TV Nirvana, Inflated Heroes, Buc Beers

  • It is a glorious weekend for sports addicts. You can start watching college football Saturday morning, continue all afternoon, have the Cyclones on one set and the Hawkeyes on the other at night, catch a west coast game past midnight, take a 2 hour nap, pick up Ryder Cup coverage beginning on channel 13 at 3 a.m., follow that until noon, switch to NFL game 1, followed at 3:15 by game 2, then it's time for Sunday Night Football, Bears-Giants, then cap off the night with SoundOFF. Seek professional help.
  • Temps in Iowa City and Ames will dip into the forties by the second half. Brr. Not ready.
  • The lasting impression of Ken Burns' terrific "Tenth Inning" is just how juiced baseball was for 15 years. The images of McGwire & Sosa in 1998 make me feel duped. The sight of Barry Bonds physical transformation from Bruce Banner to Hulk is ridiculous. At least Bonds knows we didn't enjoy his assault on baseball's cherished home run records.
  • Good to see Regg Simon back leading the Bucs. Place was rocking again Friday night. Buc beer night helped.
  • Johnston's Nathan Depenning scored 10 touchdowns in two weeks. I called that a career.
  • The local community lost a good man in Paul Lane. The Funny Bone owner provided years of laughs for tens of thousands, and he was as nice as they come. I already miss him.