Friday, September 30, 2011

Cyclone Alert, North Goes South, Fake Dan Beebe Lives


-Less than 24 hours to the big game in Ames.  I'm curious as to why people, even in Ames, seem convinced that the 2005 Longhorns are coming to ISU tomorrow.  Was a big win over a bad UCLA team really that important?  Was nobody watching when an average BYU team blew the game in a 17-16 Texas win at DKR?  Yes Texas is better than last year's 5-7, but it's Texas.  Improving on 5-7 for that program should be as easy as getting out of bed is for any of us.

-Captain Obvious Alert: Iowa State can't get off to another terrible start.  Texas does have the firepower to bury them.  But I think the Cyclones will come out strong.

-Am I being a bit of a homer here when picking a game in which one team has only ONE win ever against another?  Maybe.  But I think ISU has a bit of magic at Jack Trice, and with tough roadies at Baylor and Mizzou looming, this is (stop me if you've heard this before) a must win.  Gimme ISU 34-33.

-Couple of upsets and fantastic finishes in high school ball.  ADM rallying from 17 down to beat Carlisle in our big game was (according to a few in the newsroom) one of the best "big games" we've ever featured.  Marshalltown and record setting QB Blake Gimbel were stymied by visiting Waukee 50-28.  And how about Dowling, minus stud wideout Amara Darboh, knocking off undefeated Ankeny?

-I feel really bad for the kids at North High School.  Lincoln beat the Polar Bears 86-28.  The situation there (and at Hoover) is difficult, and I just don't know how (or if) you can turn it around. 

-There was a thought that the Tampa Bay Rays would be drained after such a tough and emotional climb back into the playoffs.  Drain this: Rays hammer the Rangers in Game 1 9-0.  As my own favorite team showed me in 2007, I'd rather be the team that has to play each game like it's life or death for a month and then go into the playoffs quickly rather than be the team that has had things locked up for a week or more.  Let the adrenaline carry you.

-Touching moment when the son of the fan who died earlier this season at a Rangers game threw out the first pitch to Josh Hamilton. 

-I love David Stern's timing.  Right as baseball has its greatest night in years, it "leaks" that Stern may threaten to cancel the season.  Hey Dave, go right ahead.  NBA is irrelevant until the playoffs.

-Fake Dan Beebe is back to tweeting about life on the unemployment line.  Kind of disappointed.  His rant was the equivalent of hitting a game winning half court shot at the buzzer.  Coming back now is like him trying to hit from full court. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pitt Rolls, Sox Meltdown, Hellboy Celebrates

  • Iowa's win over Pitt looks more impressive after the Panthers beat the snot out of #16 South Florida Thursday night.
  • The Red Sox collapse was as unlikely as it was spectacular. On September third, the Red Sox chance of making the playoffs was 99.6%. (Source: NY Times)
  • Talk the Red Sox should fire Terry Francona is just silly. The guy led the Sox to two World Series championships in the past seven years. When we lose, and it hurts, we want to blame someone right away. (See Bill Buckner or Steve Bartman)
  • Love this picture of Des Moines' Jeremy Hellickson celebrating the Rays improbable wild card
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson (58) gets sprayed with champagne as they celebrate after they won the wildcard at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees 8-7 to win the wildcard playoff spot.
Hellboy shows Iowa smarts by wearing goggles. Champagne stings. (Photo courtesy of Kim Klement, US Presswire)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wild Night, Reyes Weasels, Bartman Praised

  • Absolutely amazing night of baseball. Both wild cards decided in dramatic, improbable fashion. It's too bad most kids were in bed, because this kind of night will make you a fan for life
  • The Red Sox blow a 3-2 ninth inning lead at Baltimore, while the Rays overcome a 7-run deficit against the Yankees. True, it seemed like the Yankees might have the bat boy pitch at some point, but credit the Rays. Wild card to Tampa Bay.
  • The Cardinals blanked the Astros, and the Phillies outlasted the Braves in extra innings. Andy Fales looked more relieved than jubilant. Wild card to St. Louis.
  • The Braves and Red Sox had two of the worst September collapses in baseball history. I've gone to Red Sox games my whole life, and I wanted them in the playoffs, but they didn't deserve to be there. Many people enjoyed the Sox and their huge payroll losing. I understand.
  • Jeremy Hellickson, welcome to the playoffs. It will be fun to watch Hellboy pitch.
  • Jose Reyes should be ashamed himself. Bunting for a hit, then taking himself out of the lineup to win the batting title? Weak. Somewhere, Ted Williams is rolling over in his freezer.
  • The Sports Illustrated story on Walter Payton left me sad and deflated. One of my friends said he thought it humanized Sweetness. By now, we're used to our sports heroes being revealed as flawed, just like the rest of us. I still didn't enjoy the story, though it's well written, and excerpted from Jeff Pearlman's upcoming book.

  • I thought the ESPN documentary "Catching Hell", the story of the Steve Bartman incident, was excellent. Ultimately, it left me disgusted by the mob mentality of thousands of Cubs fans angrily searching for a scapegoat for their team's complete collapse. It also made me appreciate the integrity of Steve Bartman himself. There is no doubt he comes out looking better than anyone else. Guy made an honest mistake, apologized for it, and then showed honor when nearly everyone around him showed none. To this day, Bartman refuses to dance for people. Good for him.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wating to Catch Hell

  • I'm keeping this short. Sitting in my DVR, just waiting for a midnight viewing, "Catching Hell". It's the Bartman story. Even though ESPN didn't score the elusive interview with Steve Bartman himself, I'm eager to watch a documentary on the most ridiculous fan overreaction and misplaced scapegoating in modern sports history.
This guy needs a hug.
  • Rookie Jeremy Hellickson has the poise of a veteran. The Des Moines Hoover alum again pitched clutch when the Rays needed it most. He even got the Yankees' Russell Martin to hit into a triple play that kept Tampa Bay in a game it had to win. The Rays did win. So did the Red Sox. The wild card comes down to game 162. Game deal with the Braves and Cardinals. Maybe baseball can steal headlines from football for one day.
  • Ozzie Guillen is a good kind of crazy.
  • The Hawkeyes should go to their hurry-up offense frequently this season. It's more effective, and it would give other teams an additional worry.
  • Mack Brown can't believe a couple of the plays Steele Jantz made against Iowa. I still can't believe it either. I also can't believe how bad he's been in the first quarter. Better not try that against Texas.
  • I liked the movie "Moneyball" a lot. Brad Pitt carries the movie with his charisma, and he and Jonah Hill deliver Aaron Sorkin's sharp dialogue as intended. It's a little too long, but a thumbs up and a B+ for me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Texas Looks for Revenge, ISU's Fans Beware


Paul Rhoads knows his players want to be ranked in the top 25, and he admits it. I like that. Most coaches would say they don't care about the rankings, and they would coach their players to say the same thing. Not Rhoads, he plays it straight. Why can't we have more coaches like him?

Don't think, for a second, that Texas isn't going to be up for this game. This is a team coming off a 5-7 season, last year. This is TEXAS...the Longhorns don't lose 7 games. Mac Brown called the loss to ISU, the lowest moment in his 14 years at UT. You know he's going to replay the highlights from that game as Iowa State celebrated on their field in Austin. The Horns are favored by 10.5 ... I think that's about right.
Texas players haven't forgotten this.
A lot of Cyclone fans are pulling out the "no respect" card. I think that ISU is getting more respect than they've gotten in a long time. With a win over #17 Texas, they'll be ranked for the first time since 2005. It will be a tall task. But it's not impossible.

One Iowa State fan asked me if this game is a "must-win" because of the brutal schedule the Cyclones have in the Big 12. It's still not out of the realm of possibility that this team doesn't make a bowl game. Five of ISU's 9 Big 12 games are against teams ranked in the top-17. The 4 other games include @Mizz, @TTU, @K-State, and the one "sure" win, versus Kansas. I predicted a 4-win season, before I realized how tough the Big 12 is. I think ISU ends up with 5. That would be heartbreaking.

Tom Nardo is the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week --- Nardo plays for Iowa, in case you didn't know. It was a bad week in the Big Ten.
The 'Nard-Dawg'
The Cardinals missed an opportunity to tie Atlanta for the lead in the Wild Card race. One month ago, St. Louis was 10 1/2 games behind the Braves. With two games to play, they've cut it to 1. I'm ready for this to be over. Andy hogged the TV, so instead of watching Monday Night Football, we watched a game being played at an empty stadium in Houston.

The White Sox made a trade, tonight --- for their manager. Ozzie Guillen is now the manager of the Florida Marlins. The Sox get a couple minor league prospects.

Sideline Thoughts From Iowa City, Beat Texas, Suck Bomb in 'Sota


There's really not much to say about a game like yesterday's 45-17 Iowa win over Lousiania-Monroe.  One of the few things I hate about 1-A is you can play the cupcake games against lower tier teams or 1-AA teams and they really don't matter (unless of course you lose).  In 1-AA if they play a Division 2 or lower school (kind of the equivlent at that level) it still counts as a win on the schedule, but not for playoff consideration, and it does come back to cost quite a few teams postseason.  You think 1-A non-conference schedules would look better if you told them wins over lower tier teams or 1-AA teams DIDN'T count toward bowl eligibility?

Anyhow, the number one thing for me was the no-huddle.  It shows Kirk Ferentz is adapting to the kind of team he has, something fans worried about after the Iowa State loss.  With a defense that is a bit more suspect, and one of the best collections of wide receiver talent in school history (I call them Marvin & The McNutts), winning with their more traditional look would be tough to impossible.

Marcus Coker still doesnt look right.  Step forward for sure, but I need to see it in Big Ten play.  I think the running play in the first where he bounced off a hit and ran for a big gain to set up a score may be a sign things are turning around.  That hit seemed to wake him up from a season-long funk for that moment.

Lot of worries about the defense.  I'm not passing too much judgement from yesterday.  Monroe ran a lot of trick play gimmick stuff (two quarterbacks in the backfield at once), and throttling a team at half I can understand a letdown.  What does concern me is the lack of pressure on quarterbacks.
I am so sick of Texas.  I'm sick of the Longhorn Network.  I'm sick of everything in the Big 12 revolving around them.  I'm sick of the state of Texas thinking it invented football.  I'd love to see Iowa State smack them on Saturday, but I'll settle for another late comeback too.

Doing a Texas two step-great timing for A&M and the SEC.  After more than a month of teasing us it became official this week as one of their best football teams ever, a real contender for the national title, whooped up on Oklahoma State.  Wait what? 
This is about the only good thing to come out of Minnesota sports these days
That smell from the north is coming from Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Who dropped a suck bomb on Minnesota sports?  The Vikings only play in the first half of games and are 0-3.  The Gophers lose for the third time in their last five games against a 1-AA team.  The Twins may lose 100 games.  The Wild are tame.  The best development this year is that they may not have to suffer through a Timberwolves season.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hawkeye "Payback", Bernstine is a Bear, 'Little' Ten

The Hawkeyes paid Louisiana Monroe $1-million to come to Kinnick Stadium, but it was Iowa's offense that looked like a million bucks. Kirk Ferentz said the Hawks wouldn't be changing offensive philosophy after coming back to beat Pittsburgh with the no-huddle offense --- he lied. Iowa went no-huddle several times during the game, and when they did, the Hawks put together their best drives of the day. Kudos to the Hawkeye coaching staff for making an adjustment that we've been begging for, for years.

In the last 5+ quarters, James Vandenberg is 38-51, for 490 yards, and 8 total td's. Not coincidentally, that was when Iowa went to the no-huddle shotgun. Let the kid keep making plays. He missed on a couple passes today, but he's only going to get better as the season goes on. This is a Hawkeye team that's going to have to out-score their opponents. The defense has proven that it's just not very good.

One of the lone bright spots on 'D' is Jordan Bernstine. The kid always seems to be making plays around the ball. Whether it's a big kick return, a downed punt inside the 5, or a huge hit to knock the ball loose, he's making an impact. I wouldn't be surprised if he turns a great senior season in a ticket to the NFL.
Marvin McNutt is a video game receiver. He makes it look so easy. If you put the ball in his vicinity, he's going to get a hand on it...and when he gets a hand on it, he catches it.

Marcus Coker looked better than he's looked all season, but he still has a long way to go. He doesn't have breakaway speed, or that quick burst through the hole. We've already received some email from Hawkeye fans wanting to see more of Iowa's backup running backs.

The "Green-out for Greenwood" didn't go as well as I had hoped. I was glad to see a bunch of fans wearing green, but without the University's planning, it's hard to get everyone on the same page. Still, it was a great tribute to Greenwood and his family. His parents were there, and they talked to the team in the after the game. One can only imagine the emotion in that locker room.

ISU needed a bye week...the Cyclones were banged up. The bye-week for the Hawks, however, couldn't come at a worse time. They barely had to exert any effort against ULM. Just when the offense got in a rhythm, they have to sit it out for a week. The game at Penn State will be really big. Even though PSU isn't great, we should be able to find out if Iowa is going to struggle to make a bowl, or if this team can make a run at the Legends Division title.

The Big Ten is really bad. Minnesota lost to North Dakota State (of the MVC), and Indiana got blown out by Dan McCarney's North Texas team that was 0-3. It's so bad, that I think Wisconsin could run the table, and still not play in the BCS Championship game. It's about as bad top-to-bottom as I've ever seen it.

The big one next week is Nebraska at Wisconsin. In my opinion, the winner of this one will go undefeated. Let's just hope it's not the Huskers. 

Gus Johnson has been calling the 6pm games on FX, this season. Iowa State plays Texas at 6pm, on FX, next week. Dear Lord...
I'll be turning down the tv and turning up the radio for that one. I can't wait to see what Iowa State does with two weeks to prepare for Texas.

I always have to spit out my gum when I walk into a public restroom. My gum starts to taste like the smell of the bathroom. I can't stand it.

Dowling Loss, Blackout, SNF Dud

  • Double loss for Dowling Friday night. Maroons fall to Southeast Polk and top recruit Amara Darboh likely out until the playoffs with a separated shoulder.
  • Football players love the new all black uniforms trend... our crack staff of photojournalists, not so much. They love bright colors that pop in HD. Black doesn't stand out, especially against a black sky.
  • This weekend feels like a pause it's what's been an exciting September of college football. ISU off. Iowa all but off.
  • Can't wait to see how much green there is at Kinnick Stadium in support of Brett Greenwood. I think it will be, and should be, substantial.
  • My 7 and 10 year old sons have already seen Moneyball, and I haven't. What's a 7-year old doing at Moneyball? Grandpa.
This is not Grandpa.
  • NBC thought Steelers vs Colts looked like a winner Sunday night. Then Peyton Manning had neck surgery a third time. Maybe they'll at least allow us to start SoundOFF before 11.
Tough sell this week. We'll still watch.
  • Heard a rumor Voice of the Cyclones John Walters may make an appearance on SoundOFF Sunday.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Knope, Debate, Solidarity

  • It's good to have new network TV shows back, isn't it? NBC is even showing a pulse for a change.
  • Knope 2012

  • Good to see Dwight on The Office put planking in its place.
  • I'm so busy this weekend, I won't be able to see Moneyball. Bummer.
  • One Moneyball flaw: The A's really haven't won much. 
  • The Big 12 leaders need to all get on the same page before making statements. All the contradictions Thursday night did not leave an impression of solidarity.
  • If the Big 12 can weather all this, and I've said all along it would, then Iowa State could end up being better off, which would almost make the stress in Cyclone Country worth it. Almost.
  • Is there a worse commercial right now that the guy who's in love with the McDonald's girl?
  • News needed to record the Republican debate in the sports office Thursday night. Wow. There's two hours of my life I can't get back.

  • ESPN stopped just short of going 24/7 with breathless coverage of whether Mike Vick will play Sunday. He will.
  • We're more than halfway done the high school football season. That seems fast.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shawn Johnson Not Chosen, Hawk Fans Want Greenout, REM Calls It A Career

  • Shawn Johnson doesn't make Team USA for the World Championships in Tokyo, but she is an alternate and will travel to the Pan-Am Games. Both are next month. Johnson is hobbled by an injury, but her target all along has been the Olympics in London. It's not going to be easy, but Shawn said on Twitter, "Came up an inch short but you know what, look at the progress Ive made! So I wasnt the best pick for the team...YET! But I will be." Only in gymnastics is it harder at 19 than it was at 15.
  • Speaking of 15 years old, Gabby Douglas does make the World Championships team. Douglas moved to West Des Moines to train under Shawn's coach, Liang Chow. Shawn has also served as a mentor to Gabby.

  • I love the grass roots movement, as Jon Miller called it, to "Wear Green for Greenwood" or the "Greenout". I think Hawk fans will show up strong Sunday at Kinnick Stadium, wearing green shirts in support of Brett Greenwood.
  • Have this many reporters and commentators ever been more wrong about one subject than the Big 12 collapse? Sure, it could still happen one day, but for two straight years, I'm stunned how many people claiming they're in the know, and being used by sources with either ulterior motives or lack of real knowledge, have been dead wrong. And not just about one thing. About many things.
  • Dan Beebe being out as commissioner is a no-brainer. He may be a good guy, and a smart man, I don't know, but the appearance is that he has no vision or control.
  • The Big 12 needs to knock down any talk of 5-year plans. Don't box in vision. Assuming there is some.
  • Iowa State fans are picking a good time to support the football team like never before. The Cyclones will have the biggest three game run of crowds in school history---160,000+---and ISU announced Wednesday it has reached a new all-time high for season tickets sales.
  • Marcus Coker is no longer fumbling, but he's got the running back version of the golfing yips. Coker is running scared---not of tacklers, of fumbling. He's tentative.
  • Chiefs and Vikings fans, can you believe how much this season is going to stink?
  • I hope no one ever again says that Peyton Manning is overrated. How are the Colts doing without him?
  • NFL players, please don't fake injuries. Leave that to soccer.
  • My wife and I enjoy eating at Taqueria Sonora in West Des Moines. Low key atmosphere but authentic Mexican food served at inexpensive prices. Don't tell anyone. Crowds have been small. We like that.    
  • Learned today that Andy has never seen the movie "Se7en". He will now. It's a classic. Creepy, thrilling, and unpredictable.

  • REM is calling it quits. Not surprising after more than 30 years, but the end of an era. I started listening to REM in college in the Murmur days, and like many, I was obsessed with trying to figure out what the crap Michael Stipe was singing. Over many albums, Stipe started enunciating the lyrics, REM continued making some great music, but never fully recovered from the early retirement of drummer Bill Berry for health reasons. Hate knowing I won't see REM in concert again.
REM michael stipe peter buck bill berry mike mills 1986

  • X-Factor is part American Idol, part America's Got Talent, part Voice. It's not original, but it's well done, and good to see Simon Cowell back. It will be a hit.
  • The NFL Redzone is the best $49 I've spent in a while.
  • Photojournalist Brandon McCauley just told me the NBC show "Whitney" is using our Football Friday band music. This could ruin it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pac-12 Sticking, Mtn West Wants ISU, Barnes on 13.3


Great news from the Pac-12, tonight. The league says it will not be expanding beyond 12 teams. Let's hope other conferences follow suit. The idea of four, 16-team conferences, makes me sick. 

The Mountain West Conference wants Iowa State. The MWC Commissioner says that ISU seems to be leaning towards the Big East, if the Big 12 falls apart. At least the Cyclones will have some place to go if things keep heading in this direction --- given the MWC is still around.

Oklahoma says it would consider staying in the Big 12 --- if commish Dan Beebe steps down. That's just one in a long list of demands from OU.

Missouri has reportedly been offered to join the SEC. Word is that Mizzou will wait to see if the Big 12 can be salvaged. If not, the SEC is a pretty darn good landing spot.

Don't expect the Hawks to put James Vandenberg in the shotgun, no-huddle, the rest of the season. Today, the Hawks said they want to get back to "basics". That's basically going to drive Hawkeye fans insane. I really hope they at least mix in a little bit more shotgun. It's obvious Vandenberg feels more comfortable in it, and they have the receiving corps to go wild. Ferentz is one of the longest-tenured coaches in the business (13 years)....that's a long time to go without changing anything. Teams know how to game-plan against the Hawks, and it shows.

Someone calling him/herself 'Anonymous' is really upset that I don't like baseball as much as I like football. I'll give you two reasons, 'Anonymous' ... We live in Iowa, and I'm a Cubs fan.

Channel 13.3 is now your home for ACC Sports. We will have four exclusive (to Central Iowa) games featuring Harrison Barnes, and the North Carolina Tar Heels, this winter. Starting as early as this Saturday, you will be able to find ACC football games, as well.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Realignment Armageddon, Green-Out, Ball Meets Face


Paul Rhoads says he still hasn't talked to his team about the subject everyone else, around the college football world is talking about --- conference realignment. He said, on the Murph n Andy show that he, nor his players, have control of the situation, so he's going to ignore it until Iowa State makes a move (if they do). One report, out of Cincinnati, indicates that ISU is poised to join the Big East, along with Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, and TCU. Another report has Kansas, and K-State, going to the ACC to create a basketball behemoth.

Realignment talk reminds me of the scene from the movie, 'Scream', in which they're watching what they think is live TV, but in actuality, what they're seeing happened 15 seconds in the past. There's no way of knowing if what you're hearing is already out of date.

James Vandenberg was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. Big surprise. He was absolutely lights out in those final four drives.

The Hawkeyes are calling for a "Green-out for Greenwood" on Saturday, against Louisiana Monroe. Former Hawk, Brett Greenwood, reportedly remains in critical condition, in a coma, at University Hospitals in Iowa City. There's not a lot to get excited about for a team like ULM, but this would certainly give me reason to go and show support for a kid that's fighting for his life.

I've seen a lot of games from this exact spot in the end zone...but I've never been hit in the face by a football like this poor dude. I wonder what he did to Michael Boley to deserve this:

Fred Hoiberg lands another big-time recruit, in Sherron Dorsey-Walker. The Detroit shooting guard committed to ISU, Monday night. ranks him 90 on a scale of 100, in the class of 2012. He also had offers from Boston College, Michigan, and Temple.

Just when I had completely forgotten about baseball, the Cardinals have somehow climbed back into the race. The Marlins came back to beat Atlanta in the bottom of the 9th, and STL is now within 2.5 games of the Braves in the wildcard race. Please, make it stop.

There's some piece of space junk headed towards earth. It's apparently the size of a bus, and it will hit earth somewhere between Antarctica, and the North Pole --- what?! That's not really narrowing it down much, is it? There's a 1-in-121 trillion chance you'll be hit. Be careful out there.

I'm going to give NBC's new 'Playboy Club' a shot. I also think the ABC show, 'Pan Am' on the 1960's airline industry a try. It's a transition time for me and my DVR. 'Curb', 'True Blood', and 'Entourage', just ended. 'The Office', 'Modern Family', 'Family Guy', 'Boardwalk Empire', and 'Dexter', are about to begin. Who says there's nothing good on TV, anymore?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thoughts From The Iowa City Sideline


Chris said it all pretty well, but just gonna throw in my two cents from a wild Saturday on the sidelines in Iowa City.

-When Iowa pulled to within 3, it felt like the game was over.  Kinnick was electric and Pitt looked stunned and scared.  After so many closes losses the last two years, about time the Hawks get the breaks.
-Stanzi used to be the Manzi, so does this mean Vandy is the Mandy (crap I just gave someone an excuse to play the Manilow song)?  He'd looked lost since the end of the first quarter at Jack Trice last week.  He played better in the up-tempo no-huddle, and Iowa may need to rethink their offensive philosophy going forward.
-The game may have started to turn in the third on Keenan Davis circus catch near the sideline.  Pumped life into a crowd ready to hit the exits.  Marvin McNutt is the headliner, but that group of receivers (including Kevonte Martin-Manley) puts on quite a show.
-Nice to see Iowa try to bring the tight ends, Zach Derby and Brad Hermann, back into the passing game.  They'd been non-existent the first two weeks.  Figure out how to make them a consistent part of the passing game and the Hawks are that much more dangerous.
-Only problem:  this is a one dimensional team.  Marcus Coker runs tentatively and has fumbles on the brain.  Kirk Ferentz played the preseason injury card after, saying it had slowed Coker down a bit.  Maybe, but they've got two more weeks before things get real in the Big 10.  They've got to get some kind of running game going.
-Defense looked better.  Did a good job against the nation's leading rusher, Ray Graham.  Mobile quarterbacks still kill them, but Tino Sunseri was nothing special.  Step forward but beware, as I said above, it gets real in the Big 10 very soon.
-As a football fan, you can't ask for a better run of games than we have the last three weeks.  UNI/ISU in the opener, CyHawk last week, and Pitt/Iowa and UCONN/ISU this week.  I don't know if we're in store for more of this come conference play.  What I do know is there probably won't be much drama next week with the Cyclones off and Iowa playing something called Louisiana-Monroe.

Kinnick Comeback, Free JVB, Cy Sidelined

There are comebacks, and then there are comebacks like we saw, on Saturday, at Kinnick Stadium.No one (and don't give me that crap about how you were the only one to keep the faith) thought the Hawkeyes, could erase a 21-point deficit in less than 20 minutes. The offense had scored 3 points in its first 12 possessions. But as soon as Ferentz and O'Keefe took the chains off James Vandenberg, the 1st-year starter became a first-class quarterback.

Check out these stats on the final four offensive possessions, for JVB: 17-19, 220 yards, 3 TD's (oh, and he added 18 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown). Now that's just silly.

In the end, it was the biggest comeback in Hawkeye football history, and a 31-27 stunner. But Hawkeye fans aren't only elated --- they're aggravated. They want to know (and so do I) why it took a 21-point deficit to let Vandenberg do what he does it to his big guns, out of the shotgun. He's not the kind of quarterback that likes to nibble down the field with passes to tight ends. He wants to air it out, and when he's been given the opportunity, he excels.

And why shouldn't Vandenberg air it out? The Hawkeyes have (arguably) the best wide receiving corps in program history. It's about the only unit that is living up to its potential. Not to mention, the passing game would open up some badly needed holes for Marcus Coker to run through. Forget "Free DJK", "Free JVB"!

The Cyclones had to overcome quite a bit of adversity to beat UConn, Friday...and I'm not talking about Steele's 3 INT's. Cy, ISU's mascot, fell down and broke his arm/wing. The poor guy inside the suit has to have surgery, in Omaha, on Sunday. Yeah, it's been that kind of year for the Cyclones...but you can't keep 'em down.

I was very surprised that ISU won the game. It just wasn't a game the Cyclones usually win. I picked UConn to win because I just couldn't see this team winning its first game of the season, on the road. I was wrong, and so was Vegas. The odds-makers picked ISU to win 3 games, this season. As long as the 'Clones win 1 of their last 9 games, they'll exceed expectations.

I still don't see three sure-wins on that schedule. Six wins still seems like a great season for Iowa State. I can't wait to see what they do against 3-0 Texas, after the bye-week. Jack Trice Stadium will probably be raucous as ever. And ISU will have the entire state to itself. The Hawks are off that week.

The only way this college football weekend could've been any better is if Nebraska would've blown it against Washington. The Huskers might be unbeaten, but the vaunted 'Blackshirts' are being beaten like a drum. The Nebraska 'D' has given up 67 points in its last two games.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hellboy Stops Sox, Butter Braids, Football Friday

  • Just watched Charlie Sheen on Leno. I'll say this, Sheen's never boring.
  • How 'bout Des Moines' Jeremy Hellickson just shutting down the Red Sox at Fenway Park?!
  • Moneyball, the movie, looks good. Bratt Pitt as an MLB GM? Why not.

  • Overheard from one of the coaches at my son's fifth grade football practice, "Quit acting like you're in a pizza line! No pizza gettin' served here.This is the get your butt in gear line!" I love it. And the coach is doing a great job.
  • Cade's fundraiser was Butter Braid Pastries. I don't know what these are, but we now have a freezer full of them. I hope they're good.
Butter Braid cinnamon braided pastry
  • Is there a bigger non-story than ESPN's Tedy Bruschi criticizing Chad Ochocinco's praise-the-Patriots tweet? No. There's not.
  • Here's where the Iowa State football team can really impress me: beat UConn. The more we move away from the Cyclones thrilling win over Iowa, the more ISU's long history of flopping at moments like this affects my expectations. Monday, I thought Iowa State would win. Now as Thursday turns to Friday, I wonder.
  • My, "we really are watching something special" moment from Saturday's game was when I received a text from Erin Kiernan. I won't repeat it here, but she was pretty excited!
  • I'm sure the Iowa High School Athletic Association doesn't like Friday night college football games. No doubt Iowa State playing on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. will hurt gates.
  • Did anyone see the Bucky Larson movie? I want confirmation that the movie is as awful as the previews looked.

  • Netflix, you lose.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

McCaffery Lands Prize, ISU Goes White-on-White, Andy Survives Buzz

  • Big "get" for Fran McCaffery and the Iowa basketball program. I don't follow Sioux City East enough to know if Adam Woodbury is a difference-maker, but 7-1 athletic centers don't come along often, and I'm glad to see a top 50 recruit stay in our state for a change. Roy Williams needs to hear "no" once every other decade. Don't worry, Ol' Roy will be back.
  • Mariano Rivera reaching 600 saves is amazing, I guess. I don't doubt Rivera's greatness, but there are few stats more worthless than the save.
  • Iowa State will wear white football jerseys and pants for the first time in five years Friday night. The Cyclones will wear cardinal helmets, which won't look as cool as white helmets. I take grief for this, but generally speaking, the best looking football uniforms have helmets and pants with matching colors. Iowa and the Steelers are exceptions that work because they have a big bold black stripe down the pants that brings the helmet into a match. Hey, what can I say, I really care about uniforms. Anyway, Clone Chronicles shows how all white would look better (if you're going all white, which I wouldn't recommend more than once a season):

  • Saw a good sports movie Monday night, Warrior. If you like MMA, you'll love it. I have trouble watching MMA---seems like a brutal street fight that needs breaking up---but I still enjoyed Warrior. It's more a family drama, brother vs brother, brothers vs estranged father, than sports movie. Nick Nolte is great as the dad seeking redemption who wears on his face a near lifetime of being a drunk and bad father. Warrior feels like the first Rocky, but again, if you're turned off by the fighting, stay away.
  • Kyle Orton wanted no part of Tim Tebow questions this week. Who can blame him? Doubt there's a happy ending in Denver for Orton though.
  • Rob Howe of has every right to ask Kirk Ferentz for comment after DJK-- Iowa's all-time leading receiver--accused Ferentz of blackballing him from the NFL. Ferentz said he did not blackball DJK, and I believe him. I doubt Ferentz lobbied for DJK either (and who could blame him?).
  • Ferentz saying Howe's question is "irrelevant" is not accurate. It's a fair question in context, though one must consider the source of the accusation.  Sometimes a reporter asking a question that's not welcome makes for a tense scene because the two parties have different agendas and jobs.
  • Bottom line, if an NFL GM thought Derrell Johnson-Koulianos could make his team better, DJK would have a job (see Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Michael Vick, Sebastian Janikowski, Donte Stallworth, and many others). Kirk Ferentz could help DJK, but after four years of headaches, I doubt Ferentz is going out of his way, putting his good name on the line, for a guy kicked off Iowa's football team following a drug-house raid.
  • Sorry to see AK O'Connors in Beaverdale is closing. AK's had the most underrated breakfast special in Des Moines. Cool bar too.
  • Andy Fales looks pretty good with a buzz cut. Dang.
  • I still can't believe what I saw Saturday. Most entertaining game, start to finish, I've ever seen in person. It was a privilege.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Woodbury to Decide, Green for Greenwood, DJK Speaks


Tomorrow could be the biggest day in the history of the Fran McCaffery era, in Iowa City. Prized recruit Adam Woodbury, of Sioux City East, plans on making his college decision on Wednesday night, at 7:00. Rumor has it that Woodbury may pick Iowa over North Carolina, and Ohio State. The 7-foot-1 center is considered by some to be a top-ten recruit in the class of 2012. After all the noise Fred Hoiberg has made, on the recruiting trail from Ames...McCaffery needs Woodbury.

That may have been the first mention of basketball, in a September blog, in the history of Murphy's Law.

Former Hawkeye, Brett Greenwood remains in a medically induced coma, after collapsing while working out in Bettendorf, last week. Doctor's say they may try to wake Greenwood by the end of the week. Wednesday is Greenwood's 24th birthday. His friends and family are asking everyone to wear green in support of the former Hawkeye. I had the privilege of covering Brett, in high school at Pleasant Valley, when I worked in the Quad-Cities. Believe it, or not, he was actually a better basketball player than football player, in high school. He led PV to the 4A state championship game, in 2006....a game Greenwood and Pleasant Valley lost to Des Moines Hoover. We certainly wish him all the best in his long road to recovery. He's a great guy.

It was an interesting day at Hawkeye media day in Iowa City, Tuesday. Check out this exchange between Kirk Ferentz, and's Rob Howe. Ferentz wasn't happy that Howe asked him if he tried to sway NFL personnel away from taking a chance on Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.

Shortly after the exchange, I contacted DJK to get his reaction. This is what he told me:

"I will say this. Multiple NFL personnel sources have confirmed that I didn't get great reviews from Iowa. Whether that's true, or not, I don't know. I do know that had I not got into trouble, none of this discussion would be of existence. I also was told from someone of great power, who I won't reveal the name, told me if I caused any more headaches, they would make sure the NFL knew about it. That was said to me, face-to-face, prior to my arrest. You do the math. Furthermore, I would like you to know I want nothing but the absolute best for head coach Kirk Ferentz, and everything Iowa. I move forward in hopes to have learned from the situation, and i want all parties involved to know i mean that. I have endeavours that I'm plenty excited and passionate about. While I want nothing but to get back on the field, I'm afraid those chances are no more." - Derrell Johnson-Koulianos

It was a very well-thought-out statement by DJK. I appreciated the fact that he, once again, took responsibility for his actions, and wished the Hawks nothing but the best. He knows it's ultimately his fault that he didn't get a chance to make an NFL squad, but I think he's also hurt that Iowa (the school he holds the all-time receiving record at) may have had a hand in his inability to get a chance.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hawkeye fans have surprised me

I'm actually impressed with the amount of Hawkeye fans I've heard from that admit Iowa State out-played the Hawks on Saturday. It was obviously clear to an objective fan that ISU should've won by double-digits, in regulation. But, I'm surprised Iowa fans saw that through their black and gold tinted glasses.

I absolutely love the emotion Paul Rhoads shows after winning a big game. He wears his emotions on his sleeve...Kirk Ferentz, quite frankly, has no emotion.

ISU is a 4.5 point underdog...the Hawks are 3.5 point favorites against Pittsburgh.

The Cyclones need to take this win, and run with it. Too often we've seen ISU completely lay an egg after previous huge victories. If Steele Jantz plays half as good as he played against Iowa, the Cyclones will beat UConn. But, I'm afraid Jantz is going to come back down to earth in his first road game.

I, honestly, don't know what to think about the Hawks. I'd like to think Saturday was more about Steele Jantz's greatness, and less about Iowa's porous defense, but who knows. With a loss, the Hawks would fall below .500 for the first time since that awful 2007 season.

Kirk Ferentz is respected by most Hawkeye fans, but I understand why so many get so frustrated with him. There isn't a coach in the country that's more conservative than Ferentz. It makes it extremely tough to watch, especially when the riverboat gambling Paul Rhoads is on the other sideline.

I've talked to a few people who were surprised Andy didn't take a Bic razor to his head. The guy has too much hair to look to bad with a butch cut. By next Sunday, you probably won't even notice that he lost the bet.

I've been watching SoundOFF for 5 years, now...and I'm confident Sunday's show was the very best I've seen. Even the callers were halfway decent!

RVTV 2012 is only 51 weeks away. I guess we should start planning our route pretty soon.

I'm so fed up with college football realignment talk. It's a shame.

CyHawk 2011-Simply The Best


It took a few days for all of the WHO sports team to recover from an epic Iowa vs. Iowa State game and RVTV.  Lot of work, but a great week with great people at the stops, and the capper on Saturday was beyond anyone's expectations.

I've heard it called the best game in the CyHawk series and there aren't many people arguing that.  Sure, the 2002 game might have featured better players, and maybe it's a little more special to ISU fans in that it happened at Kinnick.

For my own two cents, it's the best college football game I've ever been at in person.  Save a bit of a sloppy start with fumbles, both teams played at a high level.  I'm always going to marvel at so many unbelievable plays that were made on both sides (though mostly by one Steele Jantz).

Speaking of Jantz, I'll take my medicine here.  Granted I wasn't around when Seneca was doing his thing, but I've never been a great fan of bringing in JUCO quarterbacks.  Seems like for every great one there are two who just disappear or are never a factor.  ISU got themselves a special one.  In two games Jantz has made more pressure plays (especially on 4th down) than most quarterbacks will make in an entire season.

I'm neutral in this fight (the only way I'd ever openly root against any Iowa school is if they played my alma mater), but I got to admit that I feel great for Paul Rhoads and the Iowa State community.  It's been a rough couple of years and offseason (especially with the Big 12's fractures) and there are still many tough battles ahead in Big 12 play.  The passion Rhoads has for this program is infectious and he has really changed the culture in Ames.  On my twitter page I (somewhat) jokingly said Iowa State should start working on a lifetime contract extension for Rhoads.  If he wins 6-8 games with this schedule that might be warranted.

And the game itself gave the series a shot in the arm at a time when some Hawkeye fans (wrongly so in my opinion) were using the last couple of CyHawk blowouts, along with ISU's conference uncertainty and scheduling issues, to question whether they should continue playing the series.  Any question now?

All that said, the UCONN game Friday may end up being bigger than the Iowa game.  The Hawkeye win should be a springboard, not the highlight of the season.  The Cyclones can't afford to go out and lay an egg.  A 3-0 start with the tough non-conference gets them halfway to bowl eligibility.  Texas comes to town and the Longhorns have been a mess of late.  With a bye week to prepare, 4-0 looks like a realistic possibility.

They mentioned it in postgame, and the Hawkeyes have not been a good tackling team.  Tennessee Tech's little QB gave them fits all game.  Jantz killed them because he could actually pass too.  Looked a lot like last year with Persa and Pryor, and it's clear this D-Line doesn't have the kind of NFL talent we've been used the last few years right now.

I don't agree with any Hawk fan who says Iowa gave it away.  For all their flaws at times, Jantz made play after play every time he was called upon.

The only thing that leaves me puzzled is the final drive in regulation.  1:17 left and two timeouts and they play for overtime.  I keep hearing over and over again that it's "Kirk Ferentz Football".  I get it, and normally I can see the logic in playing for overtime with a first time starter at QB on the road.  But the problem is that James Vandenberg has been nearly flawless.  I can't really remember many bad throws or balls that nearly were picked.  Plus Mike Meyer had been automatic all game, hitting from as far out as 50 yards.  Throw a couple of safe outs or slants, get in that 45-55 yard field goal range, and take a shot.

Iowa State upsets Iowa, Andy loses bet. Buzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Andy in the chair after Iowa State football practice, preparing for the buzzzzzzzzzz.
Major General Tim Orr, head of the Iowa National Guard, is on hand to ensure the buzz cut meets military specs. Four-year ISU starter Leonard Johnson is the Cyclones team barber, and part-time stand-up comic.
Leonard wanted to give Andy a "fade", but Andy being uncool, didn't know what that was. It's a 1-guard all the way around.
Major General Orr, a big Cyclone fan, gives the cut a thumbs up as Leonard admires his work. Andy looks a little stunned, though truth be told, he looks pretty good with a buzz. Next time we better insist on a shaved head. Our thanks to Major General Orr and barber Johnson for their help.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Murph's RVTV Photo Album: Day 5 Ames

Our friends at Fareway came and grilled out for us live at 5 and 6. Jamie Pollard ate a steak sandwich in one commercial break. Fareway meat is good.

The Ghostbusters wouldn't paint their car these colors, but we appreciate them pulling up for the 10 p.m. live and making a lot of noise. 
 The fire truck makes its fifth appearance at RVTV.
The ISU marching band also showed up for our Football Friday finale. Disappointingly, they didn't ask us to play. I wonder if they missed our promos. We love to jam.
 The batons on fire were fun until one landed on our camera cable. It didn't quite burn through the wire, and we managed to finish up with a flare.
The Iowa State ROTC ran the game ball from Iowa City to Ames. They timed it to arrive during the newscast at 18 hundred hours. Naturally, being military, they were right on time. We appreciate how welcome ISU has made us feel on RVTV.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Murph's RVTV Photo Album: Day 4 Nevada (*Note: for other days, see below.)

Nevada rolled out the red carpet like few towns in RVTV tour history. It was nice to see all the channel 13 personalities getting a shout-out. I learned they love Erin here. A lot.

I walked to the bucket for a live shot in the 6 p.m. news. I'll confess I wanted to turn around about halfway up the ladder, but so many people were watching, I continued the climb. The Nevada firefighter who went with me couldn't have been nicer. Respect. It sure seemed higher than it looks in this picture.

Cy showed up, along with the ISU cheerleaders and the 2-0 Nevada football team, the marching band, and the Cubs cheer squad.

Chris thought UNI showed up, but after the Nevada boosters gave him a Cubs T-shirt, he knew Nevada's colors. Side note: The Chamber of Commerce provided a great workspace.

One of the few RVTV tour stops where Cyclone fans outnumbered Hawkeye fans, but Iowa showed up strong considering how close Nevada is to Ames.

Early vote: One of the three best RVTV towns ever.

Murph's RVTV Photo Album: Day 3 Madrid

More perfect weather as we reach Madrid. The deck at the Flat Tire, overlooking the bike trail, was a tough place to leave.
Murph & Andy Show live on the deck. No, I 'm not a Brewers fan, but that old school logo is sweet. Brewers should go back to it immediately and for good.

When you think Madrid, you think football. The logical place for the RVTV tour stop was the football field, and to our surprise, the folks in Madrid let us park and play right by the field, less than 48 hours to kickoff.

Only one person has cheesy smile. I'm just realizing I later met woman over my right shoulder at the Tiger Bowl. She's a Hawkeye fan who works at Iowa State. Wait, what?!
This gentleman told me he once won a car on WHO TV 13's Let's Go Bowling with Jim Zabel.

The Trestle Bridge lives up to the hype. Breathtaking in person.