Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bravo Iowa, ESPN Slog, Biff Hammer

  • Nice job by the University of Iowa taking its time and talking to the Tumilson family before deciding how to honor the fallen hero. The heartbreaking picture of slain Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson's flag covered casket and his loyal dog, Hawkeye, lying dutifully nearby moved millions. A former Iowa football player, Jon Lazar, had the idea to have the dog lead the Hawks onto the field at Kinnick. It could happen, but it won't be soon. Gary Barta says Iowa wants to make sure the family has more time to grieve, and discussions continue about how to use Tumilsons dog. Barta also notes, and the Tumilsons insist, all of Iowa's fallen heroes be honored, not just one. It will happen at a home game in November, sometime around Veterans Day.
  • Bryan LaHair has been a memorable bright spot in a season to forget for the Cubs. LaHair hit his franchise record 38th homer for Iowa Tuesday night. LaHair had good timing, as usual. It was Bryan LaHair jersey night, and the I-Cubs named LaHair MVP before the game.
  • As Thinking Man's Fan (@ThinkingMansFan) noted, the Miami Dolphins failed plan to recognize the Gators national championship team while Tim Tebow and the Broncos are in town was a shameless ploy to sell tickets and an insult to all local Miami Hurricanes fans, assuming a few remain.  "Let's Be Mad Again" and Drake's "D+" campaigns think the Dolphins had a bad idea.
  • I finally finished the ESPN book. It was nearly 800 pages, and a slog. It has interesting stories sprinkled throughout, but definitely for industry insiders and hardcore ESPN fanatics only. It's also eye-opening how every business, no matter how successful, has people who feel under-appreciated, underpaid, and completely unaware how ridiculously seriously they take themselves. Thankfully, one of my favorite people, Dan Patrick, comes off looking good in the book. Many people don't (Chris Berman, Mike Tirico, Keith Olbermann to name three, though Olbermann is constantly referred to as a "genius".)

  • ESPN sending coaches back to their high schools is a brilliant idea. The series has made for good, often moving, television.
  • Chris Hassel, with tongue in cheek, asking the Hawks how bad Tennessee Tech is, was funny. The players said all the right things, but there's no reason the media has to play along with the notion that a completely over-matched Tech team is anything Iowa should worry about.
  • There's a new sports blogger in town worth keeping an eye on. His name is Biff Hammer, and I can already see I won't agree with ol Biff some of the time, but he's not vanilla. @BiffHammer on twitter

Monday, August 29, 2011

ISU Should Thump UNI, Soft Hawkeye Schedule, Car Periscope


Iowa State is an 11-point favorite over UNI, this Saturday. I actually thought that seemed a little low, but several people I've talked to think the Panthers will cover. I think UNI has a chance to make it a game, but it's still an FCS team playing at a Big 12 stadium. ISU needs to win, and needs to win convincingly.

BTN analyst, Gerry DiNardo, says Iowa's schedule is "the most favorable schedule in the B1G by far". I agree. However, this season, there isn't much difference between the toughest B1G schedule, and the easiest B1G schedule. The conference is way down. I'd argue that 3 of the 4 big powers in the conference (Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State), aren't expected to do what their fans have become accustomed to. Some teams are up, like Wisconsin and Michigan State, but any time three of your top schools are down, the conference as a whole will be down.

I've already heard several people talk about the possibility of Nebraska coming into the Big Ten, and rolling up 4 conference titles in 5 years. I just don't see it happening. I do think the Huskers could win it this year, but when Ohio State and Michigan recover, it's going to be a dog fight to even get to the title game. And I don't want to hear anyone say "See, the Big 12 is better than the Big Ten," if Nebraska wins it this year.

Ankeny kicker, Cole Netten, has verbally committed to Iowa State. That program takes its special teams seriously, and it pays off.

Bryan LaHair doesn't sound like a man that's very confident he'll get a shot in the Major's, next season. He's a really good hitter, but he's in his late 20's, and he's a first baseman. He reminds me of Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir. The Cubs can develop power-hitters, but they don't seem to be 'Big League' material. That being said, I'd love to see LaHair get a shot.

I slept through my fantasy football draft, last weekend. My good friends in the league stuck me with 10, (count 'em) TEN tight ends! That'll teach me...

I still can't believe NFL teams are going to kick off from the 35-yd line. If they move it up any further, teams might as well start kicking an onside every time...they wouldn't have much field position to lose.

I'm assuming you all saw Sunday's episode of 'Curb'. I really hope car periscopes aren't too far away.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Game Week, Glory Days Of A 12 Year Old, MTV VMA's


Well we are now officially in game week for all area college football teams.  This week will consist of Kirk Ferentz telling us something to the effect of Tennessee Tech being a "good football team" even though we all know it will probably be a 56-3 type of game.  The Screaming Eagles (actually they're Golden Eagles if you give a crap) have played four 1-A teams in the last two years (2009-Georgia and Kansas State.  2010-TCU and Arkansas).  They lost all four games by a combined score of 193-17.  We'll try and get a comment from Screaming Eagles coach Hayden Fox about that later in the week.
Always Wanted To See The Battle Of The Haydens' (Fry and Fox)
A lot of people yawn when the 1-AA teams (I refuse to call them FCS on this blog) come in for a game.  There are basically two kinds of 1-AA teams.  One half are a group of teams that aren't well funded (to the point they don't have a full compliment of scholarships), usually aren't competitive, and would probably be better off in Division 2 (IE Tennessee Tech).  But there are a few teams (Appalachian State, Villanova, Montana, Cal Poly, North Dakota State) that are well funded and probably could compete at the 1-A level (obviously not in a BCS league but stick them in a Mountain West or Conference USA and they'd probably do fine).  The talent is getting better in 1-AA, and that's why we've seen a few more 1-AA's upset 1-A's recently.
At least that one can be blamed on the Chiz
Northern Iowa certainly belongs in that category.  Though they have been financially challenged, Mark Farley and his bunch are seldom ever a pushover for big schools anymore.  It's just Iowa State's luck that, in a year where their schedule is already as brutal as ever, they can't even get a cupcake for the opener.  Tirrell Rinnie will be much more composed than he was last year in their 27-0 loss, and with ISU starting a new QB under center, I think this one will be close ala the 2006 and 2007 games.  Though Paul Rhoads will have these Clones better prepared than any team in Gene Chizik's nightmare tenure (which included the 24-13 loss to UNI in 07).     

California won the Little League World Series.  Seems like a cool experience, but I really hope the highlight of a person's life doesn't come when they're 12 years old.  I remember that ESPN 30-for-30 on one of the LLWS teams that was complete with stories of guys who grew up and got into trouble and, long story short, pine for the glory days of the LLWS. 

These days parents are even more out of control.  I swear I heard that some of these moms went to stylists just so they'd be ready if they made it on TV.  Yeah, like you're really going to parlay four or five seconds of facetime into the acting career that never materialized when you were 22.

MTV held their Music Video  Awards tonight.  I don't get it.  How can you give out awards when pretty much all the music these days sucks?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Big 12 May Finally Act, Arnaud Back in School


The NFL preseason is awful. Week 3 is as good as it gets....and it's still bad.

I'm a Bears fan, and I don't think they'll win more than 8 games. I think the Packers make it back to the Super Bowl, but I don't think they'll win it all.

The Big 12 reportedly wants to get back to 12 teams. The conference is about 14 months too late. When Colorado and Nebraska left, they said they'd be content with 10. Four of the teams the Big 12 is interested in include: Notre Dame (no way), Arkansas (why would they want to leave SEC?), BYU (I can see it), and Pittsburgh (what?!). Texas A&M is expected to announce its intention to leave for the SEC, sometime next week.

Steele Jantz doesn't seem to enjoy talking about his name. Then again, why should he? I'm sure he's been asked about it each and every day since he was old enough to talk.

Austen Arnaud is roaming the sidelines at Ames High, again. The former Cyclone (and Little Cyclone) is an assistant coach for the football team. After Ames lost at Ankeny, 45-7, he tried to decline an interview with me. That's not like Austen. The guy used to love the camera. Finally, he came to his senses and granted us a quick little talk. He seems happy to be back in Ames, but he also has the look of a 23-year-old with an uncertain future --- like just about every other 23-year-old in the world.

SoundOFF won't be going back to an hour until next week. Sorry for the confusion. I find it kind of ironic that it's 30 minutes when it begins at 10:35pm, and it's an hour when it begins after 11:00pm. Thanks Sunday Night Football Post-game Show.

Friday Night Lights Blowouts, 1 Week To Go, Minor League Season From Hell


Last night was not a good night for a number of CIML teams in or around the metro.  Urbandale beat Hoover 54-8, Southeast Polk beat Roosevelt 49-0, Marshalltown beat North 60-0.  It'll probably be a rough season for those three, but I admit that I admire the kids on all three who will stick it out the whole season.  It takes a lot of heart and strength to fight through nights like that, and though it may not translate to many wins on the field, the attitude to persevere when times are tough will serve them well beyond high school.

Ankeny told Chris Hassel they thought they got off to a slow start.  They beat Ames 45-7.  They looked like they barely broke a sweat doing it and are now 2-0.  So what would a fast start for them be?
One more week till nights like this....
We are one week away from the start of the college football season.  Has it seemed like this season has taken longer than any other to get here or is it just me?

Iowa is set at starting QB with James Vandenburg but still trying to decide on the backup between AJ Derby and John Weinke.  If there's one thing I fear about the Hawks going into the season it's depth.  Last year they had a slew of injuries (especially at RB), but seemed to have backups with some experience or, in Marcus Coker's case, guys who stepped up.  I'm not sure they have that this year.  Had Ricky Stanzi gone down it would have been a blow, but there was confidence in Vandenburg after this performance in 2009.  If Vandy goes down, though, it's kind of a black hole now.

Speaking of Stanzi, he had a pretty good game for Kansas City.  He was 8-14 for 121 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown pass (the only TD the Chiefs scored) in KC's 14-10 loss to St. Louis.  Stanzi was the third QB last night but moved the offense better than Tyler Palko.  My money is on the Manzi to be Matt Cassel's backup.

We in Des Moines are lucky in that we get to see some pretty good quality baseball from our minor league team, the Iowa Cubs.  It's easy to forget just how bad baseball in the minors can be, or how rough life is for those that play it.  One thing to be in affiliated ball, at least there you have a shot to try and get to the bigs.  If you're in independent ball, though, it's another story.
If this team ever offers you a contract head for the hills

With that, I present the story of the Lake County Fielders, quite possibly the worst organization in all of professional baseball.  They're season has been so comically bad it could (and probably will) be made into a movie.  Ironically, the team is partially owned by Kevin Costner.

Lake County plays in the Chicagoland area in Zion.  Their season was off to a bad start before a pitch was thrown.  They were originally supposed to play in the independent Northern League, but that league folded after the 2010 season, forcing them to move to a North American League which included teams in Arizona and Hawaii.  For independent teams that operate on peanuts for a budget, that's not the kind of travel they can afford.

Making matters worse, the team tried to get a tax payer funded stadium, but their attempts had failed, so the team needed to build a temporary stadium, forcing them to start the season on a 32-game road trip.  On July 9 the team's manager, former big leaguer Tim Johnson, resigned claiming that he and the team hadn't been paid.  11 players also refused to play in support of Johnson.  The team named (surprise surprise) a former Chicago Cub interim manager, Pete LaCock (seriously).
If it's bizarre it has to involve this guy
But it gets better.  Lake County was playing a Yuma team coached by Jose Canseco.  Yeah, that Jose Canseco.  LaCock filled out a lineup in which all the position players were actually pitchers, and all the guys who pitched were all position players.  Deciding he couldn't be topped in weirdness, Canseco started himself at pitcher.  He worked six scoreless innings and Yuma won 8-3.  The next day LaCock quit and the Fielders traded nine players and released 14 more. 

And then it gets nuttier.  A few days later, during his broadcast, radio play-by-play announcer Qumar Zaman quit (maybe to go with Harold to White Castle?), which you can listen to below.

Moral to the story?  It could always be worse Cub fans.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hellboy, Steele, Raygun

  • What a cool day in baseball. Des Moines' Jeremy Hellickson strikes out four batters in one inning, and the New York Yankees hit three grand slams in one game. Which is rarer? The slams. It's the first time in MLB history. Hellickson is the third pitcher this season to strike out four in an inning.
  • Danica Patrick came to her NASCAR news conference dressed in a way that had to please her Go Daddy sponsor. Danica also confirmed she'll drive a full Nationwide schedule, and try to work in 10 Cup races too.

  • Police seized 49 pairs of athletic shoes from LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson's apartment. The shoes raised eyebrows beyond the investigation into a bar fight. 49 pairs? However, one thing I learned Thursday is that many guys say they collect sneakers the way some women keep buying black shoes that all look similar to me.
  • Even John Bachman enjoys saying the name STEELE JANTZ.
  • The climb from low to high expectations continues for the Iowa football team. Kirk Herbstreit just picked the Hawks to win the Legends division.
  • Dunkin Donuts is coming to Des Moines? This is welcome news---if I practice self control.
  • Leave it to Raygun to come up with this re-imagining for the Cy-Hawk trophy. (I wonder if it's coming to a T-shirt near you.)

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    More NFL, Damned United, Legendary Z

    • Glad to hear Mediacom is finally adding NFL Network and RedZone, though I haven't heard yet when it will be part of the must-have HD tier. It will start, at minimum, in standard def by the first NFL game that counts.
    • Before you flood me with, "How can you call yourself a sports fan and not have Directv?!" emails, please know I tried, several times, but we have too many trees. I was willing to cut a few down, but Jenny said no. For now.
    • I must say Mediacom has stepped it up with the HD channels. However, you know what that mean$. Just as we have an anti-clutter house rule that if we buy a pair of shoes, we have to send one to Goodwill, we also have a rule that to add NFL Network, I need to drop something else. So long HBO. I'll miss you.

    • I don't care if the Colts sign Kerry Collins, Brett Favre, and Bob Griese, until I see otherwise, I expect Peyton Manning behind center for game one.
    • Danica Patrick will announce Thursday that she'll race NASCAR full-time in 2012 and not win in a stock car instead of not winning in an Indy car.

    • I owe a big thank you to Dr. Blaine Brunsen at the Vision Clinic on Beaver Ave. Tuesday night, I scratched my eye with a contact lens. Thursday morning, I woke up with my left eye swollen badly and more bloodshot than Kid Rock returning from a booze cruise. Dr. Brunsen gave me several different kinds of drops and ointments. By the 6 p.m. news, you could hardly tell that only hours before I looked like Rocky Balboa.
    • Two different people have dropped off sketches for me of what they think the Cy-Hawk trophy should look like. Please cut out the middleman. Go to
    • Sean Keeler recommended a little known sports movie called the Damned  United. It's a true story about soccer, so that will scare some of you off, but the movie is good. Michael Sheen is phenomenal. Isn't he always?

    • Happy 90th birthday to my friend, WHO's Jim Zabel. The Z is truly a legend.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Power to the People

    • I think we've all reached the point of Cy-Hawk trophy fatigue---passed it really. Let me just briefly give kudos to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, as well as Iowa State and Iowa, for admitting they missed the mark, that the fans didn't approve, and that those same fans would have a say in the re-design. It's not easy for smart, powerful people to admit when they're wrong, it's easier to dig in. They didn't. Bravo. Goodwill follows.
    • A new trophy can't be ready by September 10th, so an "interim trophy" will be used. I suggest they give the first Cy-Hawk trophy one final day in the sun---a farewell from fans, players, and coaches. I guarantee the old eyesore would have a welcome reception like never before.

    • We'd also be happy to take the Cy-Hawk trophy with us on RVTV. Give people a chance to say goodbye, let the old wooden box pose for a picture of two. It's now more appreciated than ever.
    • New trophy? I still like the late legends Nile Kinnick and Jack Trice walking out of Field of Dreams like corn and onto a football field. Everyone knows corn in Iowa brings legends back to life if there's a game to be played, and football is now our state's pastime. Then again, as one fan noted, can you have a Cy-Hawk trophy without Cy and Herky? You can, but maybe you shouldn't.  One listener who called our radio show suggested Herky and Cy swinging haymakers about to hit, like at the end of Rocky III. Not bad. However, unlike Kinnick and Trice, Cy and Herky tend change over the years, the two legends are frozen in time. Either trophy will make most people happy, and after Precious Moments farm family, even the naysayers will take it.
    • If you have an idea for the next new trophy, Mindy with Iowa Corn asks that you send it here:
    • I can't believe how much attention we all gave to a trophy. In the end, who wins the game will be all that matters.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Decision Day for Iowa Corn

    The Iowa Corn Growers Association has called a 2pm news conference for Tuesday, in Johnston. This is the press release they sent at 5:15pm, Monday evening:

    "Iowa Corn representatives along with University of Iowa and Iowa State University officials will be hosting a press conference with regard to the recently unveiled Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk trophy."

    Since they won't say whether or not they're going to redo the trophy, let's read between the lines a bit.

    - I found it telling that they referred to the "recently unveiled" trophy, rather than the "new" trophy.
    - Some people think that since Iowa and ISU reps will be there, Iowa Corn isn't going to give in. I think they're just coming to show support for a newer trophy.
    - What in the world would they be holding a press conference for, if they weren't announcing that they made a mistake? I don't see it happening...but if it does, things are going to get even uglier for Iowa Corn.
    - @iowa_corn is back on Twitter. The company locked its account after being bombarded by angry tweeters, over the weekend. They must be preparing for good would hope.

    Andy Fales tried to get Iowa Corn PR's Mindy Williamson to secretly tell us what the press conference was about. He asked her to cough if the announcement will be about a new trophy, and to sneeze if it's not. She laughed. Then's nearly impossible to sneeze on command.

    We should've known Iowa Corn couldn't be trusted in coming up with a trophy. Just look at its mascot.

    Kyle Orton has taken down Superman. Orton was named the starter, in Denver, and Tim Tebow may fall all the way to third string. The Broncos still say they want to develop Tebow as a QB --- bad decision.

    I hope the Hawks don't fall into the same trap with A.J. Derby. He's not a QB...he's a linebacker or maybe even a defensive end. Obviously the kid doesn't want to switch positions, but he shouldn't have a say.

    Letter To Iowa Corn Growers from Thinking Man's Fan

    An open letter to Iowa Corn,

    You’ve paid a lot of money to sponsor the Iowa State-Iowa Cy-Hawk series and you’re entitled to promote your organization, but not at the expense of the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Cyclone and Hawkeye fans. You put yourself ahead of the game – a big mistake, which you’re now surely aware of.

    But all is not lost. This can be fixed. You can still turn a negative into a positive. All it takes is a new trophy. How hard is that?

    It’s a trophy. You tried one design, it didn’t work, so try again.

    Acknowledge that you’ve received the feedback, that you’ve listened to what everyone had to say, and based on this, you’re going to design a new trophy. The fans, who are also your consumers, get what they want, and you still come away from this looking pretty good. Everybody wins!

    The Iowa State-Iowa game is much bigger than a football game or a title sponsor. It doesn’t belong to Iowa Corn or Iowa State University or the University of Iowa. It belongs to the people of Iowa, and they’ve spoken. Are you listening?

    Thinking Man’s Fan

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Cy-Hawk Hate, I-State Catches On, Twitter Viruses


    Well if you thought people would be warming to the new Cy-Hawk trophy after a couple of days, I present James from Des Moines email tonight:

    "The new Cy-Hawk trophy makes me want to hate myself."

    Hopefully that was in jest because a lot of people are going over the top with this.  I don't think this trophy was designed with the intent to piss off 96 percent of the state.  There is some superb craftsmanship as well.  Would look great in an art gallery.  And why, if people are so up in arms over this, aren't we hearing more blame placed on the athletic departments?  They signed off on it and, one would think, had to have some idea/input on the design of this thing.
    Memo To Iowa Corn Growers-KEEP IT SIMPLE!
    But it's not a football trophy.  It's too cluttered, it's too big, and there's nothing about it that says football.  Not that the last part is a sin.  There are plenty of rivalry trophies out there that don't have a specific football tie.  But the best ones are trophys that are simple and can have their own moniker.  "The Old Oaken Bucket", "The Bronze Boot", "Paul Bunyan's Axe".  Hell, even the "Floyd of Rosedale" is quirky enough to work.  What do you call this thing?  "The Hearth"?  "Cornheads"?

    Keith has hit the nail on the head in saying the Iowa Corn Growers Association folks have a chance for golden PR if they change the trophy.  And frankly I think even a small change would be acceptable: replace the corn that the dad is handing to the son with a football.  Keep the basket of corn in the photo to satisfy the corporate deal.  Would it still be a big honking trophy?  Yes, but at least it would make some football sense and maybe even represent a tradition of sorts in Iowa (and across the country): a father introducing a son to football.

    Problem is I just don't think Iowa Corn Growers will make this or any other change.  They seemed to have gone to Defcon 1 lockdown.  They let their money do the talking and, as another emailer pointed out, they could do what they want:

    "If my company put up the money for the sponsorship, I'd have a life size pewter replica of my rear end.  Then if people didn't like it, well they could just kiss it!"

    Perhaps one of the faces of football in Iowa, Hayden Fry, said it best to the Des Moines Register:

    "It's a nice-looking trophy. And the farmer, family and corn is all wonderful," said Fry, pausing, "but I don't really get the relationship to a football game."

    Iowa State held their fanfest today and had a great turnout.  One thing that surprises me is how quickly the "I-State" logo and branding has caught on.  I really didn't see anybody there who had the old logos.  Surprises me a bit that it's been so embraced, especially since it came about thanks to one of the all time ISU villains, Gene Chizik.  A win for the marketing department at Iowa State I guess.  I personally always liked the bird in the tornado more.  And ISU beat the Hawks five games in a row at one point with that logo.  Their winless with the new one (the win in 07 was actually in throwback unis, as if any of this matters).

    My twitter got hit with a phishing virus today, so rest assured I don't have some photo of you that I'm ROFL'ing over.  If I could ever get a hold of the the zit-faced kid who creates these stupid viruses out of frustration for never having gotten laid I would KHSA (hint, first word is KICK)......

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    ISU's Man Of Steele, Shawn & Gabby, Tebow Falls From Grace


    The Iowa Corn Growers Association would (we think) like to thank Paul Rhoads for getting them and the hideous new Cy-Hawk trophy out of the headlines.

    That Steele Jantz was named the starter is not that big a surprise.  He was clearly the fans choice.  So just how good is he?  Wish I could tell you.  Jantz had a rough spring game, but that counts for nothing since he basically had just arrived on campus and was still learning the system.  ISU closes all but one of their practices during fall camp.

    I didn't think Jantz would get the job and I was wrong.  In talking with him I think I mistook confidence for sheepishness.  Maybe he will be the next Seneca Wallace.  That said, for as many JUCO guys as there are like Wallace, Jeremiah Masoli and Cam Newton (though lord knows those two have more baggage with them then the Murphy family on vacation), there seems to be twice as many who come up from JUCO and disappear.

    The shocker here is that Jerome Tiller is academically ineligible and will not be available this season.  There really had been no hint of this coming.  Paul said that Jantz would have won the competition anyway, but this still hurts.  The Cyclones don't have a quarterback with any D1 game experience.  No matter how good a guy looks in practice it's out the window come gameday.  That said, if they are thinking about moving Tiller to another position (as Rhoads said they are), then maybe it's not a big deal.

    Rhoads said he'd be more worried about the experience if not for Jared Barnett's emergence.  If there was any clue that the staff might have felt Tiller would be unavailable it might have been the fact Rhoads was singing the praises of Barnett at the start of camp after we heard nothing in spring ball.  I can't speak to Barnett's talent, but he passes the eye test.  With only 2 quarterbacks I don't think it's a stretch to say we'll see him at some point.
    Couldn't sit down and watch the performances of Shawn Johnson and Gabrielle Douglas thanks to all the Cyclone craziness.  Johnson finished 16th, Douglas 7th.  Shawn didn't compete in all the events as she recovers from injury, but this had to be a big win of a weekend for her.  If she does medal next year in London it might be more special to her than Beijing for as far as she has had to come to come back.

    That Kyle Orton is better right now than Tim Tebow is no stunner.  The fact Tebow only attempted TWO passes in their preseason game last night is.  Oh by the way, that preseason game was AT HOME in front of seemingly the only people who think Tebow should be starting, Bronco fans.  Then again, can you have a fall from grace when you've never really had a graceful moment in Denver?

    I've never understood why Bronco fans love this guy.  I get his charisma and accomplishments at the college levels, and having lived in Colorado, I can tell you Bronco fans keep expecting every QB they get to be John Elway 2.0 (before Tebow it was Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, and Jay Cutler) and won't settle for anything less.  But one thing still escapes me; how can Tebow be so beloved when he was the crown jewel in the rebuilding plan of Josh McDaniels?  The most hated coach in Denver history.  The coach whose every move seemed to go wrong.  It's like going to Taco Bell and thinking that you won't have to spend a painful couple of minutes on the porcelain throne later even though it happens every other time you go.

    New Cy-Hawk Trophy Has People Talking, Tweeting, Cursing

    New CyHawk trophy reflects Iowa values

    Sports Illustrated's popular Hot Clicks asked Friday if the new Cy-Hawk trophy is "the worst trophy ever"? Believe it or not, there are harsher reviews.

    I've never seen so much anger and hate aimed at an inanimate object. Twitter and Facebook were on fire with fan backlash. A poll found 95% of voters hate the new trophy. SoundOFF emails flooded our inbox without a single vote of support for the new pewter hardware. We did find a few people at the fair who said they liked it, but once questions were asked outside the Iowa Corn Growers Association tent, it again turned ugly. (No one wants to be rude.) On a positive note, disdain for the trophy did bring Hawkeye and Cyclone fans together, not to mention Republicans and Democrats.

    I'm confident the fine folks at the Iowa Corn Growers Association did not see this coming. They're nice people who had good intentions, along with an agenda. Iowa and Iowa State both signed off on the trophy, along with the big checks. Still, all parties involved knew thousands of fans disliked the previous Cy-Hawk trophy, which looked like it was built by an 8th grade shop class, and they thought the new look would go over well. It did not.

    People don't like change, even when they say they want it. Some fans will warm to the trophy in time. However, the most frequent criticisms, that the farm family looks like it's from the 1930s, and the trophy has nothing to do with football, won't change.

    Many other rivalry game trophies have no obvious link to football, but that axe or bucket or pig came about organically, not by sponsor-driven design.

    I do think the artist shows great craftsmanship. The trophy is beautiful, it  just doesn't fit. It would look at home many places---most of them with elderly people---but not a football sideline.

    Have you seen one of these pictures?

    I wouldn't be surprised to see someone photoshop this:

    It is just a trophy. A real water cooler topic for a day or two, but time will pass, and most of us will forget, and we'll only care who won or lost the football game. 

    In the meantime, we have our  be careful what you wish for New Coke moment.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Shawn's Back, Football's Back, (A New) Cy-Hawk Trophy's Back


    Shawn Johnson bristled and showed her feisty side when questioned about her rough return to competition last month at the Cover Girl Classic in Chicago.  She said people who ripped her performance didn't understand the sport. 

    Looks like she might have been right based on her performance tonight at the Visa Championships in Chicago.  Johnson herself called it a test run.  She finished 16th overall (though only because she skipped an event), including a third place tie for vault.  If that's the test, Saturday's final should be interesting....

    After the event Shawn once again defended her right to defend herself.  When I spoke to her a few weeks back I was impressed with that attitude.  She's more than proven herself already, but is still driven to make another run at the Olympics.  If she wins gold again next year it may be more satisfying to her than the first medals.

    Ladies and Gentleman.  Football is back.
    Okay, I get that for some of you the real kickoff isn't until the college or NFL season starts, but as a sports nut and lover of all things football, it was AWESOME to be back on the sidelines shooting the high school football Gilbert-Unity Christian game in Fort Dodge last night.  Paul Rhoads son Jake, a junior defensive back/wideout, looked good for Gilbert, but the Tigers fell 35-22.

    Friday night the fun starts in earnest with a bunch of CIML games, including the big one at Drake Stadium, Valley vs. Dowling.  Ten years ago the Maroons entered the 2001 season as state champions after a perfect 2000 campaign with a 13-game winning streak.  They would end that year with another perfect record and state title.  Ten years later the Maroons are defending champs again after a perfect season.  That would be quite the ten year anniversary for that program.

    Valley has other ideas.  Dowling lost some talent, and the Tigers nearly knocked off the Maroons in last year's playoffs.  Valley has lost three straight in the series, and when I asked senior linebacker Tarin Phillips how he'd handle going back to class on Wednesday and facing the rest of the students if they lost a fourth straight, he said "No that is not going to happen.  We are going to win." (To hear it yourself in our preview piece, click here:

    I hope that, whether they go on to college ball or not, the seniors playing this year really have fun and savor their last season.  It's been ten years since I played my last down of high school ball at Loveland High in Colorado.  Sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday.  The memories of the games themselves can fade, but the bonds you build on the field and the moments you share with your friends last a lifetime.

    Apparently the University of Northern Iowa football team wants to join the Big Ten.  Today they announced that they will open the 2012 season at Wisconsin.  Two weeks after that they play at Iowa.  Though they gave the Hawks all they could handle a few years ago, that's a stretch that will probably have the purple and gold turning black and blue.  But they'll be well compensated for it-combined they'll rake in about a million dollars to play the two games.

    Tomorrow morning at 9 AM we get our first look at the brand new Cy-Hawk trophy at the state fair.  I have this odd feeling it's going to be a giant golden ear of corn.
    If It's A Big Ear Of Corn, This Guy Might Present It To The Winning Team

    Look up the definition of sad and pathetic in the dictionary, and you'll see Nevin Shapiro.  This 40 year old guy is nothing but a wannabe football player who probably got stuffed into lockers back in high school, and thought he'd live his dream by cozying up to the players when he got rich.  The reason he's coming out now with this, according to him, is that he felt betrayed by the "family" he thought he was a part of at Miami.  Uh, Nevin, newsflash!  They didn't like you, they liked the money, booze and hookers.
    At least the Hurricanes actually WON when the guy from 2 Live Crew bankrolled things
    Every school has guys like this lurking, but if Miami let this go on they deserve everything they're going to get.  They have always loved the renegade image that the program started in the 80s.  Well, what happens to most renegades?  Sooner or later they face the music, and it usually don't end well for the renegade.

    Oh, and if you think the NCAA might hand out the death penalty, dream on.  The NCAA has neither the stones nor the integrity to come down on one of it's biggest (and most $$ profitable) brands.  They'll get a two or three year bowl ban.  Yawn.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    The U and all that Ying Yang

    • Still shaking my head---though not using SMH---over the Yahoo! investigation into the Miami football program. One person not surprised, Andy Fales. Andy said, "It's Miami. I just assumed there were parties, strippers, and piles of cash."
    • There's no way to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but major college football faces so much widespread corruption, something needs done soon. I just haven't heard a great solution. I do know the risk of pain has to outweigh the buzz of pleasure.
    • Dear University of Miami, Thank you. Sincerely, THE Ohio State University.
    • Miami should let new coach Al Golden leave right now. Golden says the U didn't warn him about any of this when he was interviewed. That's just wrong.
    • In the arms race chase for cash, smart people do stupid things. No other way to explain the administrators at Miami allowing go-anywhere access to a weasel like Nevin Shapiro.
    • I wish I could have seen the looks on unsuspecting faces of innocent fairgoers who wandered into the Ying-Yang Twins concert Wednesday night. On second thought...

    Miami Vice, Barnstormers New Boss, Chris from Green Bay

    • The University of Miami football program could be in BIG trouble. The Yahoo! investigative report from Charles Robinson contains allegations that make Ohio State, USC, and even SMU look well-behaved by comparison. It's got it all: prostitutes, parties, cash payments, player bounties, jewelry, tickets, clothes, even an abortion.
    • ESPN's Blueprint for Change or reform or whatever it's called might be well intended, but give me a break. Nick Saban and Bob Stoops sitting around talking about their grave concerns that others are trying to exploit and profit from student-athletes. This from two guys making $5 million a year coaching amateur athletics with the full knowledge most of the players they're recruiting are not coming to school for the free education.
    • Sports Illustrated puts Alabama #1 and Oklahoma #2, reversing the coaches poll. SI makes more sense. The SEC wins the national championship annually these days.

    • Stat of the day from Coaches By The Numbers: Since 2001, Bob Stoops has more "Major Upset Losses" (defined at 20+ point favorite) than any other active FBS head coach with four. What happened to Big Game Bob?
    • Jim Thome never seemed like a first ballot hall-of-famer to me, but he is. 600 homers is no joke.
    • I'm not sure if Mike Hohensee can coach the Barnstormers back to the playoffs, but I do know he's going to entertain us with his passion. The guy would hold two-a-days tomorrow if he could.
    • The Iowa Corn Growers will unveil the new Cy-Hawk trophy at the state fair Friday morning. I'm told it's made of pewter and will honor Iowa farming.
    • NFL Network's Paul Burmeister hinted on our radio show Tuesday that Mediacom will soon add the NFL Network. I hope so. It will definitely save Mediacom some cancellations. Satellite providers won't like the news as much.
    • Chris from Green Bay demands an apology from Paul because Paul didn't pick the Packers to win the Super Bowl. Here's a recent picture of Chris. I'm scared of how he got this ring.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Guest Blogger

    Since the blog's purpose is to give you all a little peek behind the curtains of the Channel 13 Sports office, we thought it would be appropriate to introduce you to our native son --- photographer, Brandon McCauley. A lot of the highlights you see on the sportscast are shot by this young man. He was a sports intern for us, in 2008, and he's never left. So without further ado, here's BMC.

    Straw Poll Hangover
    Anyone else tired of politics?  It’s great to have the spotlight on Iowa, but I think we’ve all had enough for now.  I spent almost 12 hours at the Straw Poll in Ames on Saturday.  Let’s get these guys and gals out of here and start paying attention to football on the weekends.  It will still be here waiting for us after football season-- the Iowa Caucuses take place the day after the Super Bowl. 

    Game Week 
    Its Week 0 of High School Football, can you believe it?  The 2011 season kicks off on Thursday night.  Yes Thursday night, with one game (Gilbert and Unity Christian, 7pm at Fort Dodge High School).  Everyone else hits the field Friday night, including Chris Hassel.  Football Friday’s Big Game starts out with one of the biggest rivalries of the season:  Valley vs. Dowling. Hopefully we can pause the weather DVR long enough to squeeze out a few nice nights of Football Fridays this fall.

    RVTV Countdown
    We are now just 20 days away from RVTV 2011, and 25 days from the Cy-Hawk showdown in Ames.  I’ll be along for the entire ride from Pleasantville to Ames (with stops in Adel, Madrid, and Nevada in between).  Full disclosure, I grew up in Nevada, but have lived in Des Moines for a few years.   RVTV for me is always a reality check that I do not live in a small town anymore.   The guys at the Subway on 31st and Ingersoll could make 100 subs in the time it takes a small town Subway to pull a hoagie out of the oven.   That said, however, small towns always know how to throw a party.  Joe Milledge and the guys down in Albia went all out to be (I’ll say it) the best stop ever.  Live music, a football field in the middle of the town square, and a 10pm pep rally are among the things that put that town over the top.  I can’t wait to see what the towns along the RVTV route have to offer us this year.   I’ll be there…behind the camera. 

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    SEC in Control, Z losing $$$$, Straw Poll Insanity

    It's clear Texas A&M wants to leave the Big 12, for the SEC...but does the SEC want Texas A&M? SEC presidents will get together and vote on the matter, Sunday. Some presidents are saying that it's close to 50/50 on whether or not the Aggies will be given permission to join the conference. The main roadblock in A&M's possible realignment will be the fact that the SEC will likely need to add at least one more team. Although, an uneven number didn't stop the Big Ten from having 11 teams for nearly 20 years. And the NL Central is the only division with 6 teams in Major League Baseball.

    The Big 12 finally released a statement about the developments, late Saturday night:

    "The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors conducted a teleconference meeting today to discuss the future of the Conference given recent developments regarding Texas A&M University. The Board strongly conveyed to Texas A&M its unanimous desire that it remain a Big 12 member, and acknowledged its value to the Conference. The Board noted that Texas A&M expressed concerns about institutional networks and that the athletics directors worked together and took actions, which the Board has approved, to adequately address those concerns. The other nine members reaffirmed their long term, unconditional and unequivocal commitments made to each other and the Conference last summer. Although the Board hopes Texas A&M remains in the Conference, the Board is prepared to aggressively move forward to explore expansion opportunities. In doing so, the Board recognizes the strength of the Big 12 Conference national brand and the opportunity to capitalize on it."

    Big 12 AD's don't want to lose Texas A&M. It will only make the conference weaker, and less prominent. Dan Beebe needs to stop reacting, and start acting. The Big 12 needs to actively seek someone to replace A&M. Even if the Aggies don't get enough votes to join the SEC, you better believe this is going to be a recurring battle until they find a new home.

    How in the world does Dan Beebe still have a job?
    Carlos Zambrano will lose over $1.5m, thanks to his explosion after being tossed, Friday night. The Cubs put him on the DL --- the Disqualified List. He isn't allowed to participate in any team activities, or receive a paycheck, for 30 days. the Cubs a favor and just retire. You'll save them about $25m.

    It's a sad night at the Indiana State Fair. A gust of wind claimed the lives of at least three people as a stage where the country band 'Sugarland' was about to perform

    I've been watching quite a big of preseason football --- only because I have to. It's brutal. The one guy that looked like he was in mid-season form was Aaron Rodgers. He's just scary.

    I'm not sure I've ever seen an uglier 54-hole leaderboard at a major than the one at this year's PGA Championship. The top-3 trio of Brendan Steele, Jason Dufner, and Keegan Bradley would look good on a country music billboard, but not a PGA leaderboard.

    I think the Ames Straw Poll is one of the most ridiculous events I've ever heard of. The candidates pay the participants for their votes? Absolutely insane.

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    Big 12 in Big Trouble

    The Big 12 has a Texas-sized problem. It appears as though A&M is going to bolt for the SEC. The Texas Board of Regents is going to discuss the matter on Monday afternoon. The Aggies are upset that the Longhorns have monopolized the Big 12 revenue stream and they want out.

    If A&M gets out, that could set off a domino effect that may put last years wheeling and dealings to shame. You would assume the SEC would want to even out the numbers, meaning they'd have to add 1, 3, or even 5 teams. They will have to poach the other team(s) from other power conferences and alignment as we know it may be a thing of the past.

    I hate to see what greed is doing to college athletics. I'm afraid we could be headed upwards a constant "musical chairs" scenario. Conferences could end up bidding for teams each off-season like major free-agents. For the second time in 14 months, Iowa State fans are wondering where the Cyclones may end up. Will the Big 12 move forward with 9 teams? Will it add lower level teams like Houston or TCU? Will te conference even exist in 5 years? These are all hypothetical questions, but they're all questions sports fans are pondering.

    Iowa fans should be concerned, as well. If the SEC adds a couple powerhouse programs, Jim Delany will likely try to do the same. I think the Hawks are safe in the Big Ten but what would fans think about a 16-team conference with Missouri, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Cincinnati? Yikes.

    The good news is, nothing will affect this season. We're a mere 3 weeks from kickoff Saturday, and excitement is ratcheting up --- especially in Iowa City. If you checked Twitter, this afternoon, it would've been hard to miss the gloating Iowa fans were doing following BTN's trip to this afternoons practice. Gerry DiNardo tweeted that James Vandenberg might be the beat "pure passer" in the Big Ten. Hawk fans went through the roof. Some have probably forgotten the fact that the analysts cash check with the B1G's logo on them. They'll never say the defensive line looked shaky or the kickers missed 7-10 PAT's. Take it with a grain on salt.

    Awe heck, who am I kiddin? People are giddy for football and I can't blame them one bit. This is better than Christmas.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Lolo's Hurdle, RVTV's Schedule, ISU's Tour

    • Major props to the Des Moines Register for no longer allowing the anonymous, mean-spirited vitriol and hate of cowards who won't put their name on their opinions. Bravo.
    • Lolo Jones likes to talk about life putting hurdles in front of us. Well, Lolo had a big one Thursday: microsurgery on her spine to relieve sciatic nerve pain. Lolo's sister Angelia sent me a text saying doctors think the surgery went perfectly. Lolo expects a return to training by 2012, and a gold medal in London. Get well, Lolo.

    • Buzz is building that Texas A&M will jump to the SEC. The Aggies are tired of the Big 12 revolving around Texas. There's a lot of smoke with this one, but I'll believe it when I see it. Texas A&M has found it difficult being relevant in football in the Big 12. What do the Aggies expect in the more competitive SEC?
    • Many people know the best way to get what you feel you deserve at your current job is to have another job offer that you're willing to take. Texas played this card with the Pac 10 last year. Is that what A&M's doing with the SEC? Doesn't mean the Aggies won't jump. This tactic only works if you're willing to walk.
    • The RVTV schedule for 2011 is out: Pleasantville, Adel, Madrid, Nevada, Ames. You can find more information, and check in here:!/event.php?eid=243290662371413
    • Tim Tebow played well vs the Cowboys, though a penalty wiped out a bad INT. Kyle Orton played just one series and looked good too. Nothing changed much. Broncos fans, most of them, will still want Orton.
    • What lockout?
    • The Cyclones won big in their first game in Italy. Plus, I'll bet they had a really good pre-game meal.

    • It's only pre-season. Come on NFL, move kickoffs back to the 30. No one wants to see the end of returns. This is no time to make games less exciting.

    Dolph Fights, Aggies Bluff, Fair Wins

    • Gary Dolphin will fight. The Voice of the Hawkeyes has prostate cancer. Dolph says doctors caught the cancer early, and he's ready for aggressive radiation. Dolph expects he'll miss no Iowa games. We should hear, "Touchdown Iowa!" in less than a month.
    • Dolph's cancer hit me hard, as I'm sure it did many people. He learned of it not long after we spent a weekend laughing at Wedding Crashers lines and Chris Hassel "Ask Gary" skits. No one ever knows when cancer will come calling, but it seems it gets close to all of us sooner or later.
    •  Get well soon, Dolph. You can send Gary your well wishes online. Here's where:!/hawkeyesports?sk=wall

    • Can't remember a more perfect day for baseball than Wednesday's day game at Principal Park. It was hard to leave.
    • Sean Keeler is terrific on the radio. Someone should get this guy a show, though not from 2-4 p.m.
    • Pat Angerer will start at linebacker for the Colts. Anyone who saw Pat play at Bettendorf or Iowa is not surprised.
    • Has there ever been a more unlikely hitting streak than the one by Dan Uggla?
    • Nice of the Cubs to add a Ron Santo statue. Too bad it happened after Santo died. He would have loved it. I miss hearing Santo agonize or rejoice over the Cubs. He always sounded like a diehard fan, which I guess he was.
    Santo was a member of the Cubs organization for the better part of five decades.

    • Texas A&M isn't going to join the SEC, but the Aggies will try make us think they will just to make a point about how annoying Texas is in the new Big 12.
    • I like the state fair. My wife would rather rearrange a sock drawer. We're going. The socks will stay a mess.