Friday, December 31, 2010

My Favorite Day of the Year

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


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cyclone Surprise, Nebraska Nervous, Having a Cow

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

Planes, No Trains, Automobiles Still Possible

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

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

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hawk Fans Show Up, Tiger Picks Against Tigers

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

Midwest Rules NFL, SoundOff Videos, Shane from Marshalltown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shane from Marshalltown

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Scut Farkus Affair

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


Thursday, December 23, 2010

NCAA, Alford, and Energy

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

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

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


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sin City

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

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


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tipoff Tuesday

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

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

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


Favre Is Back. Wait, Never Mind.

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

In Like Flynn, Giants Choke, Moose Drool

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hawks and Hellboy

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

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


Friday, December 17, 2010


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

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

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


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gopher Goof

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

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


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Iowa Icon: Bob Feller Relfects on a Great American Life

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

That's It?, Phillie Foursome, Freezing Hassel

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

Iowa's Bad Season Just Keeps Getting Worse


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sexy on SoundOff, EmBEARassing, Angry Viewers

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

Is it 1987?

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

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


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Hawkeye State, Get Low, Earworm

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

Slide show from my European vacation.

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

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

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

Amazing place.

Nearly 2,000 years old.

Ah, Venice.

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

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

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

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

Jenny in front of Duomo.

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

75 year old bottles of wine.

Vacation over.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, December 06, 2010

Dick Nutt, Empty Arenas, Poor Huskers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, December 04, 2010

ISU Cagers and Iowa Grapplers

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

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

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


Thursday, December 02, 2010

The King Returns

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

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


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Purple Pride

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

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