I can't believe all the talk from ISU fans and media members after Saturday's loss to Baylor. Yes, there were some bad calls. Yes, it might have made a difference in the outcome. However, the so-called "Cyclone bias" is something I can't seem to wrap my head around. Why would officials be out to get Iowa State...especially in a game against Baylor? What would officials from the Big 12 have against ISU? Hating Iowa State would be like hating hating a puppy for being sluggish and cute. What is there not to like?
Actually, I might have an answer. Paul Rhoads didn't make his players available to be interviewed after the game. That doesn't sound like a big deal, to fans, but it's a huge deal for the media. We often make decisions on which games to cover based on interview availability. For instance, it may serve Channel 13's viewers more, if we sent a reporter to cover ISU's game at Missouri, instead of Iowa's game against Northwestern. We will be able to get highlights of the game, even though it's not on TV. But if we go to Missouri, we'll also give our viewers a chance to hear from the Cyclones. The Hawks game won't end until 9pm, so there's no way we could get post-game interviews on for 10pm.
In light of what happened in Waco, however, we probably won't go to Missouri. What if Rhoads decides, once again, to keep his players off-limits? It wouldn't be worth the time and money to go down there if we can't do our jobs. We haven't heard back from Iowa State as to what the reason actually was. Maybe Rhoads had a legitimate excuse. We'll see. The reason it makes me scratch my head, is because Iowa State has often been upset with us (or another tv station/newspaper) for not covering a game when ISU registered a huge win (i.e. ISU @ Nebraska 2009...we were covering Iowa's last-second win at Michigan State). This kind of move does not encourage the media to cover an athletic program that is always fighting for more coverage.
I would like to point out, however, that Iowa State is usually a pleasure to cover. The coaches are more approachable than those at Iowa. The SID's understand what they're getting paid to do, unlike Iowa. This is one of the few head-scratchers in the 5+ years I've been covering Iowa State athletics.
The Hawkeyes haven't beaten Northwestern at Kinnick, since 2002. The 'Cats have won the last three games in Iowa City. They have more wins at Kinnick over that span, than any other team in the country. If Ferentz doesn't find a way to break the curse of the Fitzgerald, this weekend, Hawkeye fans are going to come after Ferentz like never before. Northwestern is a bad team, this year. This isn't the NW team that averaged 8 wins a season over the last 3 years.
There seems to be a perception that Kirk Ferentz continuously helps the Hawkeyes overachieve. That's just not the case. Kirk Ferentz is 26-23 in Big Ten games since the Big Ten championship season of 2004. I don't think fans that are ready for a change at the head coaching position are as crazy as some people think. The fact is, over the past 6+ seasons, on average, Iowa is an average team at best. That's hard to take when you look around the Big Ten and see teams like Wisconsin (a team that is supposed to be a mirror image of Iowa) growing by leaps and bounds.
I'll withhold judgement of Ferentz's performance, this season, until later on in the year. With the extremely soft schedule, there's still a chance for this team to win 8 games.
It was a must-win for the Bears at Detroit, tonight. A loss would put Chicago 3-games behind the Packers and the Lions in the NFC North. And a loss is exactly what it looks like they're going to get. With the NBA season on ice, I guess Chicago fans will have to make due with the Blackhawks all winter.
Mark Phelps still hasn't decided how many games Rayvonte Rice, and Kurt Alexander, will miss after being charged with 5th-degree theft in September. It's a tough call for Phelps, who is coaching for his job this season. Drake isn't expected to do much at all this season. Without Rice, they have no chance.