Monday, January 31, 2011

Barnstormer Brad, Bad Week for Iowa, Bad Day for ISU, F---!

  • Good move by the Barnstormers signing former Hawkeye quarterback Brad Banks. The 30-year-old Banks---can he be 30?---should be a good fit in the Arena League. Barnstormers better hope so... they don't want to cut an Iowa fan-favorite.
  • I just learned how to say rhabdomyolysis, and I'm already sick of it. I have rhabdo fatigue, just as you do, but that's not to say the local media overdid the story. They did not. 13 Hawkeye football players hospitalized for several days at the same time is an important story by any measure. Thankfully, the U of I now says all 13 are out of hospital, but we still have more questions than answers.
  • Kirk Ferentz and Gary Barta said all the right things in their statements Sunday night. Much criticism could have been avoided had they done that days sooner, especially if the leaders had done it at a news conference, as was needed.
  • Any talk of Ferentz not caring about his players is just plain silly. Ferentz's reputation for caring deeply was formed over more than a decade, not one week of shaky PR decisions.
  • Andy Fales warned Cyclone fans for weeks their basketball team had too little depth and talent to keep up the surprise and promise of the early season once ISU entered Big 12 play. Andy was right. Iowa State now has the same number of conference wins as Iowa. Fred Hoiberg and his players have learned some tough lessons at crunch time. It will serve them well in the future. You have to learn to win, especially close games.
  • I don't care about BracketBuster games any more than other games. It's a nice gimmick for ESPN, but the games bust no brackets. Or make any.
  • Iowa looked the best I've seen the Hawks in a while for one half at Michigan. The second half was a disaster. Guard the 3!
  • The Twins Winter Caravan was postponed by winter. It will stop here next week. Hopefully.
  • No one should be surprised when Iowa wins a wrestling match. I don't care what the rankings are.
  • Iowa State's rare Monday-double is one to forget: suspensions in both top sports on the same day.
  • Allegiant Air's new open seating policy is a disaster. It creates a miserable free-for-all that everyone dreads, including the staff. Enough with the add-on fees.
  • The King's Speech is fantastic entertainment. It's a PG movie except for two scenes that play the F-bomb for laughs in the most memorable way since Steve Martin walked up to the rental car counter in Planes, Trains & Automobiles---a tirade that earned that movie an R too, and was well worth it.
  • Time for the Pro Bowl to go away. Or let them play in flags or lingerie.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Barnes and Blown Leads

It's getting really hard to watch Iowa State in the closing minutes of a game. Against Oklahoma, the Cyclones blew another game they easily could have won. If you're scoring at home, that's four straight losses.

Big week for Harrison Barnes. Iowa's reigning Mr. Basketball hit the game-winning 3-pointer for North Carolina on Wednesday night, and scored a career-high 25 points on Saturday.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Schools of Thought

The national media is now all over this week's Iowa football story.

Two schools of thought... the first from's Pat Forde...

... the second from Fox Sports Ohio's Bruce Hooley...


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This thought occurred to me Wednesday afternoon - Given the events of the last few days, can you imagine the level of outrage/panic/hysteria among hawkeye nation if Iowa hadn't beaten Mizzou in the Insight Bowl?

I said rhabdomyolysis on live television 14 times Wednesday. I think at pronounced it correctly at least twice. Over/under on the number of times I'll say rhabdomyolysis on television Thursday: seven.

When I first heard Iowa had called a press conference Wednesday afternoon, I thought the university was finally treating a story proactively, instead of reactively, as it has countless times in the past. But to call a press conference without Gary Barta, Kirk Ferentz, or Chris Doyle present is inexcusable. Doyle was present at all the workouts that led to the hospitalizations, and the father of an Iowa player told me Tuesday night that Doyle feels terrible about what happened. I don't doubt that, but why not stand up and say that for all to hear? Maybe the university is protecting itself from potential lawsuits, or maybe Ferentz is protecting a member of his staff. I suspect it's probably both.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hawkeyes Hospitalized

12 Iowa football players were hospitalized on Monday, most likely because of intense conditioning drills/weightlifting. Thankfully, it sounds like everyone will be okay. Still, is there any way this story doesn't end with at least one lawsuit and one termination?

I can't imagine exercising to the point of urinating something brown, but that's what reportedly happened to Hawkeye linebacker Shane DiBona. Seriously, how hard to you have to exercise for that to happen? I like to go to the Walnut Creek Y a handful of times a week, and casually lift a few dumbbells while chatting with the regulars and reading gossip magazines between sets. Not that I want kidney damage, but maybe I'm not in as good as shape as I thought 24 hours ago.


Monday, January 24, 2011

DJK and Cutler (heading in opposite directions)


The law works in mysterious ways --- such was the case with Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. A month and a half ago, it looked as if DJK could be headed to jail. Luckily for him, he wasn't the 'big fish'. After being caught with cocaine, prescription drugs (with which he had no prescription for), and marijuana, DJK gets off with a simple 'Mary-J' charge. He'll face no jail time, and if he stays out of trouble, even that charge will be wiped from his record.

I talked to DJK on the phone, Monday afternoon. He was planning to give us an interview about the dropped charges. Instead, he told me that he would rather wait until Tuesday to spill his guts. "I want to get all of my thoughts in order," he said. While he's staying tight-lipped, he isn't staying tight-fingered (as in typing). has been blowing up since he signed on, earlier this month. He's tweeted 738 times, since January 1st. That's roughly 31 tweets, per day. Even the master of Twitter, @murphykeith doesn't approach those numbers. We'll see if he keeps his word, tomorrow. My guess is, he will. The guy thrives on attention.

As for the other football-related story, here's what I think. Maybe Cutler was too hurt to play the second half, but the way he took in the final 25 minutes of the NFC Championship Game, was despicable. He's supposed to be the leader of the offense. He's supposed to be the franchise quarterback. He's supposed to CARE whether or not the Bears beat the Packers and advance to the freakin' Super Bowl! I'm a huge Bears fan, but I've never been a Jay Cutler fan. Yes, I enjoy what he brings to the quarterback position, and I appreciate his talents, but his attitude drives absolutely nuts. He's a pompous jerk. That's fine when you're winning. That's not fine when you lose like the Bears lost on Sunday.

Side note: GO STEELERS!

Cutler not Quitler, Hoiberg Perfect, Midnight Swinger

  • Jay Cutler is who we thought he was. I'm not talking about being a quitter. I don't question Cutler's toughness---I think we'll learn he was hurt---but I do question Cutler's leadership and body language. He looked defeated in the first half.
  • Aaron Rodgers looked mortal for the first time in weeks, but he still has his team in the Super Bowl. How smart does the Green Bay organization look now for pushing Favre out to start the Rodgers era? It's hard to follow a legend, but Rodgers has done it.
  • The Packers did take their foot off the gas, and it nearly cost them. Don't play not to lose.
  • Bears fans are in for a long couple weeks listening to Packers fans.
  • The Jets-Steelers game also turned out as I expected, which provided needed confidence after not seeing that Patriots loss coming at all. The Jets kept coming too. I thought the game was over went Pittsburgh went up 21, but the Jets made the Steelers sweat.
  • It's hard not being impressed by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin---or noticing how much he looks like Omar Epps.
  • This Super Bowl match-up is a television network's dream come true. Look for the largest audience ever.
  • The Hawkeyes won a Big Ten game, and gave hope they're not the worst basketball team in the Big Ten, but next to no one saw it. The Big Ten Network played this game at 2 p.m., right when the Packers and Bears kicked off.
  • The Cyclones proved Saturday night they can look as bad losing to a good conference team as the Hawks have. Missouri destroyed Iowa State. It's ISU's first beating.
  • Fred Hoiberg is 75 for 75 shooting free throws in the Hoops for Heart contest. In the next round Hoiberg likely faces---wait for it---Steve Alford.
  • Finally saw Social Network. Fascinating story of the unlikely billionaires behind Facebook.
  • The Midnight Swinger is coming to the Funny Bone in West Des Moines. If you haven't seen my buddy, The Swinger, check him out. Highly entertaining show, and a good guy. Plus, what hair!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Polish Sausage.... Mike Ditka

Who didn't see that coming? The Cyclones suffer a bitter loss at Oklahoma State on Wednesday, and then spend the next 24 hours stranded in Stillwater because of an ice storm. They end up getting blown out at 13th ranked Mizzou on Saturday. That was about as predictable as an Aaron Rodgers concussion against the Bears on Sunday.

UNI beats Drake by 20. The Panthers could have won by 40 if they wanted.

The three largest crowds in NBA D-League history have all been for Iowa Energy games at Wells Fargo Arena. Impressive.

Bear Down,


Friday, January 21, 2011

Bear with me.

Much has been made this week regarding how much Bears and Packers fans hate each other, and that's largely true. But as a semi-rabid Bears fan, I hate the Vikings and their fans way more than the Packers, and it's not even close. I'm guessing I'm not alone. I think it depends on where you live, or where you grew up. I was raised in Northwest Iowa, surrounded by idiot Vikings fans. A deep hatred of all things purple was implanted in me during my formative years, and remains to this day. Don't get me wrong... I hate the Packers too, just not as much as the Vikings.

At this point, it will be impossible for the NFC Championship to live up to the hype. I'm okay with that... as long as the Bears win.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bear Hate, Tron Pain, Dang Cold

  • One thing I've learned this week: Bears fans sure can't stand Packers fans.
  • The Bears and Packers meet for the 183rd time Sunday, never in a bigger game. I think the Packers advance to the Super Bowl where they'll play the Steelers.
  • Green Bay and Pittsburgh are small television markets that would create large ratings. With those two storied franchises, I think we'd see the most watched television program in history.
  • I love this final four though. No matter how it winds up we're spared a Ravens or Panthers or Cardinals or Bucs or the like.
  • I saw Tron Legacy. My son Cade wanted to go for his 10th birthday. Kids always love a little one-on-one time. We went to the Merle Hay Cinema, which I love for the huge screen and reasonably priced snacks, but as we walked in we could see every single seat was empty. I improvised and told Cade I rented the theater for his birthday, Elvis-style. He was excited, but when I told him I was kidding, he said, "I know Dad. I'm not 9 anymore."
  • Tron was a long two hours for me. I appreciate the special effects, especially Jeff Bridges appearing 25 years younger throughout, but wow---the story hurt my head. Cade liked it, and that's enough. Barely.
  • Wrestling is such physical chess, it blows my mind when a wrestler is undefeated his entire career---so far---like Roosevelt's John Meeks or Southeast Polk's Cory Clark.
  • Hopefully the Cyclones get over that Stillwater meltdown faster than their fans. Up nine with 3:14 to play you have to finish, but Fred Hoiberg's team is still learning. Learning to win is a big step.
  • Wind chills between -15 and -30 Friday? I may cancel my plans to put a new roof on our house.
  • If you have a chance to watch Andy Fales' story Sunday night at 10 p.m. on an Ames High swimmer, please do. I think it's the best feature work Andy's done (assists from photojournalists Randy Schumacher and Chad Dormer). You can also see the subject of the story featured in Sunday's Des Moines Register. Tommy Birch is the writer.
  • To my surprise, I'm liking the new American Idol judges panel, especially Steven Tyler.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Road Trips

"Stillwater" is the name of the band in my favorite movie. However, Cyclone fans don't exactly have fond memories of Stillwater, OK. Iowa State was on the verge of winning at Oklahoma State for the first time since 1988, but the Clones blew a six point lead with a minute to play and ended up losing in overtime. It's a bitter loss.

I can't figure UNI out. The Panthers have been all over the board this season. UNI picked up a big win at Wichita State Wednesday night. The Shockers were picked in the pre-season to win the Valley this year.

I do have the Hawkeyes figured out. They're flat-out bad, and not because they lost on the road to the top-ranked team in the country. Still waiting for rock-bottom.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big Ten Icons, I'm Sorry Buckeyes, Ten years Later

  • So Nile Kinnick is #7 on the Big Ten Icons list. Who's ahead of Kinnick? Players missing so far that jumps off the page to me include Butkus, Grange, Griffin, Owens, and Johnson. I'm missing at least one. (It's players, not coaches.)
  • I don't think the East High girls will lose a basketball game.
  • There's nothing like high school basketball with hot shooting on a cold night. Shawn Terrell sent me a text from Johnston when the Dragons were shooting the lights out in the first half against Waukee. Shawn wrote, "Crazy Fun Game".
  • Glad to see the Pirates pay Joel Hanrahan. The pitcher from Norwalk seems like a good guy. Hanrahan, Hellickson, Blake... not bad for the Metro.
  • Props to the Buckeye Five for keeping their word. I thought at least one of the suspended players would enter the NFL draft, but none did. Jim Tressel was right. They still shouldn't have played in the Sugar Bowl, but there were force$ that made it happen.
  • Here's how I ranked the quarterbacks in the NFL final four: Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Cutler, Sanchez. Big Ben has the rings, and you can argue he should be #1, but I'm not over the off-season yet, or Rodgers game in Atlanta. Could be a heart, not head pick. You could also argue Sanchez deserves the nod over Cutler since Sanchez has taken his team to the AFC championship two straight years, but that's my order.
  • My son Cade turns ten Wednesday. It seems just yesterday he was born and immediately peed on the nurse. I only laughed because she did. And because I'm a guy, and when is that not funny?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tebow Is Not Rudy

  • Have you seen the new Tebow commercial where supposedly nobody believed in Tebow? The guy was a 5-star recruit.
  • The average ticket for the Packers-Bears NFC championship game is selling for $2066 at StubHub. I can't imagine paying that for a game, any game. Not when I can see it better at home, even if I'm missing the atmosphere. Am I alone on this one?
  • Hawkeye Nation seems divided on whether Kirk Ferentz should eventually consider allowing Adam Robinson back on the team. I don't think it's worth debating much until Robinson proves he can do all the right things. I hope he does.
  • If you're not watching the NBA, give it a shot. It's good again. Any time Blake Griffin's on, I'm watching. Monday night, 47 points, 14 rebounds.
  • Brett Favre filed his retirement papers. Not even Favre's crazy enough to try another year.
  • I can't believe some of what came out of Ricky Gervais' mouth at the Golden Globes. He's never boring.

A-Rob Apologizes, Bear Down, No Shots

  • I think Adam Robinson is sincere about being sorry for making bad choices that hurt him, his family, his teammates, coaches, and fans. However, Adam did make those choices, and now there are consequences. Kirk Ferentz kicked Robinson off the team, and though Adam hopes he can prove by going to class and living clean, he deserves another chance, it's no certainty Ferentz would reinstate him. I hope Adam uses this wake-up call for the good. Even if there's no football at Iowa, you can get a darn good education. No small thing, and it lasts longer.
  • Can't believe the Patriots are OUT. Did not see that coming at all. Props to Rex Ryan and the Jets. They backed up all that talk.
  • Shawn Terrell was at the Bears game, and based on the text I just received, I'd say Shawn is celebrating. He should. He went as a fan, not a reporter.
  • Hassel's a Bears fan too. Could be a long week at the office.
  • How good were the Packers Saturday night.. They didn't punt! Not once. Aaron Rodgers was in the zone. And the zone.
  • The Steelers always seem to be around.
  • Steelers-Packers Super Bowl would be a classic, or at least look like one.
  • Maybe it's time to realize Fred Hoiberg's Iowa State team is better than we think.
  • Is everybody drunk at the Golden Globes?
  • I broke my "no shots" policy at Andy's birthday party. The policy is back in place until Andy's 50th.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hellboy retires a sweatshirt


I witnessed something I have never seen before, Friday night. For the first time, in my life, I saw someones jersey retired, without a jersey. Tampa Rays pitching phenom, Jeremy Hellickson, returned to have his Des Moines Hoover jersey retired after an amazing first season in the majors, only to be given a crumpled up sweatshirt at mid-court.

When I received word that 'Hellboy' would be in the gym for the 'ceremony', I was envisioning a baseball jersey being raised to the rafters in the spotlight, or at least a framed jersey for Jeremy to keep. I guess I've just been spoiled by other jersey retirings. Oh well...

Hellickson told us he was thrilled to be back in his old gym. The 23-year-old was actually a better basketball player, than baseball player, with the Huskies --- at least according to his old baseball coach.

He told us that he hopes to remain on the Rays staff, as a starter, for the entire season. I'd sure hope so, too. The kid was 4-0 with a minuscule ERA, last season. His reward, a demotion to the minors at the end of the year.

I was also surprised by Hellickson's casual attitude. Many big time athletes are too 'bigtime' for local sports interviews. Not Hellickson. He actually thanked us for the interview. He seems like a good kid. And if he stays healthy, he's going to have a great career. Who knows, maybe we'll see him keep warm in the dugout with his new Hoover sweatshirt. I hope he irons it first...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Former Hawkeyes and Bill Self

I don't know Brandon Wegher. If I did, maybe I'd understand why he plans to walk-on at Oklahoma. Because to me, none of the decisions he's made the last six months make any sense.

Now that Adam Robinson has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for possession of marijuana, I suspect he'll look for a new place to play football. ARob nearly went to UNI out of high school and, although I have no insight, I suspect he'll end up there next fall.

I interviewed Kansas coach Bill Self Wednesday night, and was pleasantly surprised by his affability. I'm starting to understand why he's one of the top recruiters in the country.


Johnny X 2, Hawkeye Surprise, Christmas Ends

  • Great to see Johnny Orr the man, and Johnny Orr the statue. I pushed for the "Orr Floor", but after seeing the statue, Iowa State got it right. The statue shows the energy Johnny brought when creating Hilton Magic. A floor can't do that.
  • I found it touching how Fred Hoiberg shows love and affection for Orr. You can debate whether Orr is, as Fred says, the most important sports figure in Iowa State history, but you can't debate Hoiberg believes it.
  • Wednesday night's Hilton Coliseum crowd showed signs of life, and flashes of Magic, but Kansas is just too good. Even in years when Kansas had the better team, Iowa State could once upset KU at home thanks to a player like Hoiberg, Fizer, Tinsley,Willoughby, or Stinson going off, but ISU just doesn't have a player of that caliber. Yet.
  • Iowa started the Big Ten season 0-3, but no shame in losing to three ranked teams. What happened Wednesday night will worry a few Hawkeye fans. Northwestern walked into Carver-Hawkeye Arena and embarrassed Iowa. It was 36-14 at one point. Northwestern couldn't miss, and Iowa couldn't defend. Didn't see that one coming.
  • Tyler Sash is nearly 23. It makes sense, and is not surprising, he's entering the NFL draft. We had RVTV in Oskaloosa this year, and it's hard to put into words how proud that town is of Tyler.
  • Marvin McNutt made the right choice returning for his Senior season. He's go the skills, and NFL body, but needs another year of receiving. He's only in his second year.
  • Just now watching final episode of 24/7 Winter Classic. I didn't know they broke out the Survivor song from Rocky IV!
  • SportsDome on Comedy Central is a spot-on spoof of SportsCenter, though more clever than funny.
  • We took our Christmas tree down. I already miss it.
  • Andy turns 40 Thursday. He really seems bothered by it. I told him I've never been happier. I think he'll be the same. He and his wife have a baby on the way!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Prater Stays, Snowblowing Blues, Cavs Stink

  • Good decision, Shaun Prater. He needs another season at Iowa, and the Hawks can sure use him. Marvin McNutt should return to Iowa too. He needs more reps at receiver. Tyler Sash is older, but if he's not projected as first, second, or third round pick, Sash loves being a Hawkeye too much to play on some NFL team's practice squad.
  • When did Michigan football lose its appeal to coaches? I have no idea if Brady Hoke is ready for that stage, but he can't be a worse fit than Rich Rodriguez.
  • Looking forward to seeing the Johnny Orr statue at Hilton Coliseum, not to mention the man himself. Maybe Johnny can help bring the Magic back for a night. Iowa State will sure need it against #3 Kansas.
  • Ever shovel your sidewalk, then have a neighbor snowblow right over it? Frustrating.
  • As I drove home at 11:30 p.m., the actual temperature was 0. That's crazy.
  • The Cavaliers just lost to the Lakers 112-57, which led to "King James" sending this tweet: "Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!" Stay classy, Lebron.
  • My wife wants to see Black Swan Thursday. I'm scared.

This One's For All the Tostitos. Really?

  • January 11th, and the college football season is finally over. The BCS title game arrived too late, then used every second of the game before deciding a champion.
  • Auburn and Oregon played like two teams that hadn't played in 35 days. It was a sloppy title game, but for the most part, entertaining.
  • Cam Newton made big plays and big mistakes, including short-arming an easy touchdown pass on 4th and goal. Newton ultimately leads Auburn to the 3 point win---the Vegas line---thanks in part to an improbable run by a Freshman running back sure to give Oregon nightmares for years. The officials were right, he was not down.
  • Gene Chizik goes from 10 straight losses at Iowa State to a national championship at Auburn in two years. It's clear many Cyclone fans aren't happy about Chizik's success. On twitter (@MurphyKeith), I was asked repeatedly Monday night why Clone fans are so bitter, and who could blame Chizik for leaving? I think anyone can, and should, understand Chizik's decision. It wasn't the why, it was the way. But Sean Keeler is right, it's time to move on. Bottom line: Gene Chizik is better off, and Iowa State is better off.
  • Chizik made $700,000 in bonus money with the win. (source: CNBC)
  • I had 15 in our Murph & Andy "How many times will Cam Newton's father be shown on camera" pool, but Cecil decided not to attend the game.
  • Right before the game-winning field goal, did Brent Musburger really say, "This one is for all the Tostitos"? That had to be required by the network and sponsor.
  • My favorite halftime moment ever: the troops thought to be in Iraq surprising their families on the field. Awesome.
  • When does Auburn play TCU?

Monday, January 10, 2011

NFL Weekend, BTN Sundays, Christmas in January

  • I love NFL playoff weekends. Three exciting games, and one dud.
  • The Ravens exposed the Chiefs, and that was after the great Dan Gable tried to fire the Chiefs up Friday. Come on Chiefs, you're going to cost our man Dan some motivational speaking gigs.
  • The Packers won at Philly, but many of us saw this coming. Despite all the Vick hype, the Packers actually have the better quarterback. Vick played okay, but teams figured out how to contain him down the stretch.
  • Did Bears fans root for the Packers? Callers to SoundOff claim no, but the Bears have to love hosting the Seahawks next weekend.
  • The BTN needs to re-think basketball games against the NFL on Sunday. The NFL throws a shadow on everything. Maybe it would be different if Hawkeye basketball were more relevant, but I think the game at Purde was an afterthought for most people.
  • I still haven't taken our Christmas tree down. Is that bad?
  • Jim Carrey was funny on SNL Saturday, but I thought he'd be even funnier. Unrealistic expectations I guess.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

College Basketball Saturday

Tough break for the Cyclones in Lincoln Saturday night. ISU was 6.3 seconds away from a gutsy win.

If the ISU women hadn't been so intimidated by Baylor in the first 8 minutes of the game, the Cyclones might have pushed the top-ranked Bears to the brink.

The Iowa women are fun to watch. Saturday, the Hawks finally got that Buckeye monkey off their backs.

If the rest of the NFL playoffs are anything like the opening day, we're in for a treat. Two phenomenal games on Saturday.

The folks at the Iowa Statehouse need to stop talking impeachment and start figuring out a way to keep Roy Williams out of Iowa. Ol' Roy keeps poaching our states' top basketball talent. Linn-Mar's Marcus Paige is the latest Iowan headed to UNC.


Friday, January 07, 2011

Les is More, Coaching Searches, Wrestling Duals.

Good win for Drake Friday Night, although Bradley isn't the same team with Jim Les' new haircut and without Sam Maniscalco.

Thankfully, the Jim Harbaugh Watch only lasted four days... just in time for the Les Miles to Michigan Machine to rev its engine.

I'm glad Fred Hoiberg doesn't try to down-play how much coaching against Nebraska in Lincoln means to him.

The Cubs trade for Matt Garza... meh.

I still can't believe the three-time defending National Duals champion Hawkeyes skipped the National Duals. Seems like the exact opposite of the mentality Tom Brands usually tries to instill in his team.


Chosen One, Harbaugh Mania, The Name is Dalton

  • I just watched ESPN's documentary on Tim Tebow, "Everything In Between". It follows Tebow from final game at Florida to the moment---and I mean moment---he's drafted. I don't know how someone can't be completely impressed with Tebow's character and work ethic. Following professional sports, and the people who play them, invites cynicism, but if Tebow's a phony, I'm fooled. I still don't what kind of NFL starting quarterback he'll make, but I'm more convinced than ever that no one's going to outwork Tebow. If Jay Cutler showed half of Tebow's dedication, he'd be an all-time great.
  • Speaking of young men who appear to take the role model stuff seriously, how about Andrew Luck. A lock as the #1 pick in the NFL draft, he's headed back to Stanford to finish his degree and have more fun. I'm not even sure it makes sense, but I'm glad Luck's smart enough to do what he wants. I guess that does make sense after all.
  • This Harbaugh circus is just too much.
  • The Dolphins should be ashamed of themselves.
  • I've watched a lot of wrestling lately, and I've really come to respect and appreciate the mental chess match that's played out in a physical sense.
  • As I type, I'm watching Beverly Hills Cop. Remember when Eddie Murphy was the funniest man on the planet?
  • Is every high school "Dalton" named after Swayze in Road House?
  • Greatest backwards buzzer-beater of all-time:

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Homeless No More, Twitter Race, Go Daddy

  • This page wouldn't load up all night, and now it's 2:10 a.m., so I apologize, but I'm going to make it brief.
  • The story of the homeless guy with the golden voice is just remarkable, and proof that social media can turn a person's life upside down, and in this case for the good, overnight. It only makes sense a guy named Ted Williams would now work in sports (Cavs or NFL Films), though not baseball. Yet.
  • So Michigan delayed the firing of Rich Rodriguez 24 hours for what reason? The U went out of its way to make some of the media appear premature in saying the decision had been made to boot Rich-Rod, but no evidence to the contrary now.
  • The new twitter-inspired race to be first with breaking news is growing more and more reckless. The reality is no one remembers who broke a story, but no one forgets who got one wrong.
  • Go bowl Thursday night. Who's playing?
  • I hope you didn't buy your Little League playing-son a composite bat for Christmas.
  • The Baseball Hall of Fame has a mess on its hands. Voters are playing judge and jury with anyone who even appears like he may have been on the juice. Jeff Bagwell has HOF numbers, and no link to steroids, but voters don't think he passes the eye test.
  • I've heard from people who hate Black Swan, and people who love it. I think I'll wait for video.
  • Good night.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Suspended Five, Hawks Hustle, Marion Returns

  • As the Sugar Bowl started, I was surprised to find how disgusted I was to see Ohio State's Suspended Five in the line-up. I knew they were going to play, but something about actually seeing players who clearly and knowingly violated major NCAA rules being given a pass in the name of winning, greed, and ratings just made me sick. Naturally, four of the five went on to make the biggest plays of Ohio State's narrow win over Arkansas. Is there anyone who thinks the Buckeyes would have won without the Suspended Five?
  • Letting these guys play in the Sugar Bowl then suspending them for games next season is like a parent allowing a child who breaks a serious rule to still have his friends over for a big party on the weekend, then he's grounded. Just a sad, embarrassing day for all involved.
  • Give Terrelle Pryor credit for again apologizing on a big stage. He had a heck of a first half too. I don't see Pryor being an effective NFL QB anytime soon, so a half-season at Ohio State might be a good idea.
  • Despite the stench, the Sugar Bowl was a highly entertaining game.
  • Meantime back in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes made the #2 ranked Buckeyes sweat the outcome of a basketball game for the first time this season. Iowa needs players, but the coaching and effort are there.
  • You knew there was no way UNI would start the season 0-3.
  • The U of I says it's allowing Des Moines' Montell Marion back on the Hawkeye wrestling squad, though he's not competing yet. I like that Marion showed contrition in his statement. In the past, he's had excuses and didn't strike me as someone taking responsibility for his mistakes. I hope he's good to his word.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Ferentz Boots A-Rob, Hoiberg's Hot Start, A Must Read on NCAA Charade

  • Not surprised Kirk Ferentz kicked Adam Robinson off the team. Would have been surprised if Ferentz didn't. Ferentz put Adam on notice to clean up his act, and he didn't. He needed to be smarter than that, and now he'll pay a price for his bad decisions. I hope A-Rob can learn from this and start fresh. It's a wake-up call.
  • I know Marcus Coker running wild over Missouri is still fresh in the minds of Hawkeye fans, but anyone who thinks losing Robinson is not a blow needs to check himself. Before the concussions, A-Rob was having an All-Big Ten caliber season. And if Hawk fans learned anything this season, it should be you can never have too much depth at running back. Three sophomores started the season competing for the starting job. All three are gone.
  • Iowa State played a weak non-conference basketball schedule, but 13-2 with this team? Nice job, Fred.
  • If 18 year old Jordan Railey was drinking or drunk before falling asleep and crashing his car early Saturday morning (the Sheriff tells the Register alcohol is suspected), the suspension from the ISU basketball team needs to be more than one game. Railey is lucky he's alive or not seriously injured. The car had $15,000 worth of damage.
  • Does anyone in the world have more leverage right now than Jim Harbaugh?
  • Andrew Luck is a lock to be the #1 pick if he comes out early. He sure looked ready in the Orange Bowl.
  • From the "We knew this was coming department", the Brett Favre lawsuits have begun.
  • When you have time, check out the must-read below:
Pryor’s acts expose charade of college athletics

By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports

Terrelle “The Truth” Pryor is my favorite college football player and it isn’t just the way the Ohio State quarterback can shred defenses.

Pryor is a godsend to anyone who believes the business of college athletics is little more than a smoke-and-mirror show of situational ethics, selective enforcement and tightly controlled public relations designed to dodge taxes and make millionaires out of administrators.

Perhaps no player has ever exposed the system and its handlers more clearly than Pryor leading into Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. He may not have consciously planned to do what he’s doing – although I suspect he has a clue – but he’s become a WikiLeaks in shoulder pads; a “30 For 30” special in real time.

Every time Terrelle Pryor says something, the system responds in some embarrassing way that only makes things worse.

When he isn’t violating some NCAA rule, he’s shining a light on the absurdity of how the sport’s power players managed to rewrite said rule so its cash flow could continue unabated. Each Pryor quote seems to prompt the system to respond in some bumbling, embarrassing way that only makes things worse.

Consider The Truth’s last two weeks and the suits constant scramble to clean everything up.

On Dec. 22, Fox 28 in Columbus reported Ohio State was dealing with a compliance issue involving a number of players receiving tattoos from an area parlor in exchange for signed memorabilia.

The move sent Buckeye Nation into a panic as rumors swirled of potential mass suspensions for the bowl game.

Pryor took to his Twitter account and boldly declared: “I paid for my tattoos,” a seemingly innocent man putting speculation to rest. OK, everything was cool.

At least until the next day when Pryor and four teammates would be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling gifts and memorabilia. In Pryor’s case, he netted $1,250 for dealing his 2008 Big Ten ring, his 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award and his 2008 Gold Pants.

So that might be where he got the money for the tattoos. The tweet was deleted, naturally.

We’ll use this moment to remind readers of our longstanding opinion that most of these rules are ridiculous and players such as Pryor, who earn millions for their schools, deserve a better compensation model than just tuition, room and board. This isn’t an argument justifying the NCAA. If it’s going to have rules, though, shouldn’t it enforce them? And, yes, Ohio State’s creative defense would be employed by nearly every other school.

The initial reaction was that a five-game suspension for selling trinkets seemed rather harsh. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples noted the irony of selling a “sportsmanship” award from the Fiesta Bowl, which is currently facing a grand jury probe for violating federal and state campaign finance laws.

The strange part, though, was that Pryor and the others would remain eligible for the Sugar Bowl, effectively pushing their suspensions back. That allowed most of them the choice of avoiding any penalty by simply turning pro.

Ohio State and the NCAA cited an obscure rules interpretation that claimed a suspension could be postponed to preserve a “unique opportunity.” They then decided a bowl game was such an opportunity. Ohio State further claimed Pryor and the others hadn’t been properly educated on the rules, an excuse that caused laughter across college athletics.

It isn't easy to focus on the Sugar Bowl with all the off-field stuff about Terrelle Pryor.

After all, we’ve seen entire NCAA basketball tournaments stripped from the record books for such acts. And what about the “unique opportunity” two seasons of Southern California players can’t have because Reggie Bush once took money from agents? Or as Rich Brooks, who spent 25 years as a head coach before retiring from Kentucky last year, tweeted: “You are kidding that players at Ohio State did not know it was illegal to sell their rings and awards!! Can play in bowl game?? Crazy!!”

And while a bumbling compliance staff is always an easy scapegoat, the Ohio State student newspaper, The Lantern, quoted former Buckeye Thaddeus Gibson (2007-09), who claimed players were repeatedly told not to sell items.

“Oh yeah, they [OSU athletic director Gene Smith and the coaches] talked about it a lot,” Gibson told the paper.


AD Smith promptly declared that the issue with memorabilia sales and free tattoos was “isolated.” That led to former Buckeye Antonio Pittman to tweet to the contrary: “cats been getting hookups on tatts since back in 01.”

Then reported the tattoo parlor’s owner had pictures of all sorts of Ohio State player memorabilia, including some from Pryor, on his Facebook page. The website also reported Gibson, among nine Buckeyes, got tattoos to the same tattoo parlor.

Every OSU fan message board became filled with tales of signed stuff hanging on the walls of area restaurants, bars and car dealerships.

Conspiracy theories on why the players were eligible for the Sugar Bowl emerged immediately. They ranged from the Big Ten fearing another possible ugly loss to the SEC to the need for the Sugar Bowl to produce a reasonable television rating in the face of sagging numbers for bowls overall. Plus Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and OSU president E. Gordon Gee are the chief defenders of the BCS.

Then there’s the general cronyism that exists between bowl games and the college administrators who keep them financially alive. On Dec. 30, PlayoffPAC revealed that the Orange Bowl provided a free, five-day Caribbean cruise in 2010 to 40 athletic directors, conference officials and their wives, in violation, the group alleges, of IRS rules.

On Dec, 29, the NCAA responded to the backlash by issuing a rare statement declaring: “the notion that the NCAA is selective with its eligibility decisions and rules enforcement is another myth with no basis in fact … Money is not a motivator or factor.”

Within hours Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan had blown that out of the water when he confirmed everyone’s suspicions and said that not only did he lobby hard for Pryor and the others to get a reprieve but also that the powers that be listened to him.

“I made the point that anything that could be done to preserve the integrity of this year’s game, we would greatly appreciate it,” Hoolahan told the Columbus Dispatch. “That appeal did not fall on deaf ears.”


Hoolahan went on to deem Ohio State fan concerns about their school putting the integrity of a bowl game in front of the integrity of Woody Hayes’ program as “Midwestern values.”

By this point, the usual rally around the player and/or program had fallen apart. While some Buckeye fans still defended Pryor and Ohio State, there was a huge negative backlash on message boards, talk radio shows and in letters to the state newspapers. Not even fans were buying the circular excuses.

Then Pryor showed up at the Sugar Bowl and proceeded to cast doubt on the promise supposedly made by the suspended players that they’d return for next season (a supposed condition on their bowl eligibility). Later he appeared to hack at Ohio State’s claim the players didn’t know the rules in the first place.

“I already knew what I shouldn’t have done back two years ago,” he said.

He even responded to criticism by former Buckeye quarterback and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit by mocking, “Has he beat Michigan?” (OSU went 0-4-1 against UM during Herbstreit’s career). The positive for enraged Buckeye fans: Pryor may sell the gold pants given to him for beating Michigan, but he obviously does consider it a measuring stick.

Just as things were quieting down, the Dispatch reported on Jan. 2 that Pryor had been pulled over by police three times in the last three years driving “loaner” cars from a local used car dealer, Auto Direct. Pryor told the paper he only borrowed the cars when his own car (currently a Dodge Charger) was in the shop with repairs.

Terrelle Pryor, left, and Dan Herron are among the suspended players.

Ohio State said it was aware of two of the incidents and would look into the third. If we’re led to believe the borrowing of cars were again isolated incidents, then Pryor has some bad luck with local cops. He seemingly gets pulled over every time he receives a nice loaner. Either that or he drives them all the time, of course.

The car dealer did tell the newspaper that he also allowed Pryor, in 2008, to drive a Dodge SUV back to Pryor’s home in Pennsylvania. “I wanted advice from some of my family and friends I trusted to see if it would be a good vehicle for me to maybe buy,” Pryor said.

Unsupervised, out-of-state test drivers of used cars are common practice, correct?


Pryor didn’t buy the car, of course. Ohio State, quite naturally, declared everything on the up and up. How? Well, they just did. This wasn’t a violation of NCAA rules.

It is apparently just a coincidence that the dealership, according to the Dispatch, has more than two dozen autographed Buckeye jerseys on display, including ones from Pryor and a couple of the other “suspended” players. Or that there are player autographs all over the walls of the showroom.

It’s also just a coincidence that the used car loaner system Pryor enjoyed is eerily similar to the one former Buckeye Maurice Clarett detailed to ESPN the Magazine back in 2004. “When you’re hot in Columbus, you just go,” Clarett told the Magazine. “Somebody’s going to recognize your face. You say, ‘I need to use a car.’ ‘OK, here you go.’”

Yep, here you go.

While Pryor has received most of the criticism, you can only blame him so much for either breaking or putting himself in danger of breaking NCAA rules that the very administrators he earns huge salaries appear to care little about. A rule is only as strong as the consequences and from his school, to his conference, to his bowl game, to the NCAA itself, there’s no lack of positioning to avoid real penalties.

If the adults don’t take the rules seriously, why should the players?

At this point, Pryor is set to play Tuesday but miss nearly half of next season. (Ohio State is appealing, of course). Meanwhile the entire absurdity of his situation churns on. The school wants its star player on the field. The bowl wants its money. ESPN wants its TV rating. The league wants a victory over the SEC.

Perhaps only Gordon Gee, Jim Delany a few assorted BCS reps believe Terrelle Pryor is an actual eligible student-athlete at this point. At least if you applied the NCAA rules as they previously had been enforced for decades.

Everyone else is expected to play pretend, ignore the man behind the curtain and eagerly await the next chapter of the Terrelle “The Truth” Pryor Show. First he gets to run and throw, then, hopefully, he gets to keep talking.

We’ll gladly loan him our car all next season if he’ll stick around and continue exposing this charade. Let the unwitting whistle-blower play on and on and on.

complete link:

Monday, January 03, 2011

Bad Football, True Grit, Wedding Party

  • The Seahawks vs Rams took NBC by surprise too. Faith Hill didn't say either team's name in the opening song to Football Night in America.
  • Neither team is good, but it's the 7-9 Seahawks headed to the playoffs---and hosting! The much better Saints have to travel to Seattle to pick up their first win of the playoffs.
  • The Chiefs looked awful Sunday. Still, they're hosting a playoff game. Who saw that coming?
  • Bears-Packers was no classic, but I'm glad to see Green Bay make it in. That's a wild card team that could play its way to Dallas too.
  • Saturday was a dark day for the Big Ten. 0-5, including a couple absolutely ugly beatings. The Big Ten's most consistent bowl winner the past three years: Iowa. Hands down.
  • Big Ten flaks are now all in on hoping Ohio State wins Sugar Bowl---even with five suspended players who should not be eligible.
  • Can you believe it's more than another week until the BCS championship game is played?
  • The Cyclones will be 13-2 after Monday night.
  • I saw True Grit Saturday. Loved it. Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, and especially whoever played the 14 year old girl, were all terrific. I couldn't believe how much emotion I felt in the movie's final 15 minutes.
  • Went to my first dual wedding reception/New Year's Eve party. I thought it might be a little much, but it was actually perfect. I loved it. We all had a great time, it wasn't too crowded, and no one drove after drinking.
  • Happy New Year.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Playoffs?!?!? Definitely...


I know I'm beating a mutilated horse but, after what I saw in the Rose Bowl, I think we need to beat it a bit harder. For the third straight year, a team that goes undefeated will not have an opportunity to play for the National Championship. In '08, it was Utah. Last year, it was Boise State. This year, it's TCU --- and I'm eating me own words about the Horned Frogs, tonight.

Sure, I thought TCU was a really good team, but I didn't think they could beat one of the hottest teams in the country. I still don't believe that TCU or Boise would go undefeated in a big time conference, but I do believe that they can beat any team, on any given day.

I'm all for tradition, but I really enjoyed the non-traditional match-up. I just wish it was a national semi-final, instead of the end of the road. How great would it be if the winner of next week's Auburn-Oregon game played TCU for the national title? And, when you think about it, it's absurd that they won't get that chance.

In no other NCAA sport can you go undefeated, and not be given an opportunity to play for the title. Whether you play basketball, baseball, field hockey, tennis, or badminton, you can win your way to the title. But in the biggest sport of all, all are not equal.

Here's my plan for football. Let's call it the Hassel Playoff System:

- Top 8 teams in the BCS standings make the BCS playoffs (have someone sponsor the playoffs and make a TON of money off of it).
- The first four games take play at home sites. For instance, #1 Auburn would host #8 Arkansas.
- The semifinals will take place at current BCS bowls in a rotating fashion. If the Rose and Fiesta hosted the semi's this year, the Orange and Sugar would host next year.
- The 1st-round losers in the BCS playoff will play ANOTHER game and fill out the remaining two BCS spots. If Rose and Fiesta are the semifinals, then the Orange and Sugar would play host to all the 1st-round losers.
- Keep the rest of the bowls

Now what's so %& #$ hard about that?!

The national champion would only play two more games than it does right now, every bowl still gets it's game, and we get a true champion.

Some will argue that it's going to be just as hard to decide between the 8th and 9th best team in the country. I don't argue that it will be difficult, but I can guarantee you that no undefeated team will be ranked 9th and left out.