Monday, April 19, 2004

Dead Heat at Quarterback

During 14 of the 15 days that Iowa State spent in spring football practice, redshirt freshman Bret Meyer was the talk of the quarterback picture.

On day No. 15, which happened to be Saturday, the picture became out of focus.

So much so that this morning – less than 48 hours after the Cyclones’ final intrasquad scrimmage of the spring – Coach Dan McCarney said Meyer and Austin Flynn are “on the same line.”

In football terminology, that means Flynn has caught up with Meyer and will go into practice in August in a dead heat with him on the depth chart. On April 5, more than halfway through spring practice, Meyer was listed No. 1, Flynn No. 2.

“May the best man win the competition between now and our season opener Sept. 4 against Northern Iowa,” McCarney said.

Flynn, a 6-1, 185-pound redshirt sophomore from Deer Park, Texas, started seven games last season for an Iowa State team that took a number of huge steps backward with records of 2-10 overall and 0-8 in the Big 12 Conference.

Iowa State was obviously hoping one of the quarterbacks (senior-to-be Chris Love was yet another possibility) would take charge in spring practice. But it didn’t happen.

Meyer, a 6-3, 205-pounder from Atlantic, completed only 12 of 27 passes for 121 yards in Saturday’s scrimmage. Flynn completed six of 11 for 97 yards and ran for 53 yards in 10 carries.

“Meyer is a redshirt freshman who has never played. We had a tremendous crowd (5,000) on a beautiful day. It was the first time he was out there, and I’m sure that impacted him.

“He has a great future. The good news is that Bret has four years, Flynn has three.”

Could Hicks Be the Next 1,000-Yard Rusher?

Iowa State has gone two straight seasons without having a 1,000-yard rusher. Before that, McCarney had seven consecutive years in which three tailbacks reached the 1,000-yard plateau—Troy Davis in 1995 and 1996, his brother Darren in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and Ennis Haywood in 2000 and 2001.

Could Stevie Hicks, who led the Cyclones with 471 last season and reached 164 in Saturday’s scrimmage, be the next 1,000-yard rusher?

“We think he has a chance to be a really fine player,” McCarney said. “He had some injuries last year. He wasn’t 100 percent all season. He has a chance to be pretty special.”

McCarney is obviously counting on Barney Cotton, Iowa State’s new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, to bring some improvement to everything.

“There are some changes, and hopefully the first change is that we’ll be a heck of a lot better than we were last year offensively,” McCarney said. “We had a real good tradition of moving the football and running the football.

“I think it was seven years in a row that Texas, Wisconsin and Iowa State were the only three teams that had 1,000-yard rushers. We sure got away from that. We need to get back to where our opponents know we have a good, solid, sound rushing game, and Barney has done a real nice job of that so far.”

It’s Time to End Veishea

It’s a good thing Iowa State’s football players and coaches turned in an all-right show at the spring game.

Many of the people who took part in the school’s Veishea celebration over the weekend sure didn’t.

Indeed, the happenings at Veishea were embarrassing to the university’s administration, the students who weren’t involved and the entire state.

When police, state troopers and sheriff’s department personnel have to spend their time making arrests at something known as the largest student-run celebration in the nation, it’s time for something to be done.

And that something, as far as I’m concerned, would be to end Veishea once and for all.

I mean stop it. Kill it. Never let it be held again.

For years and years in my earlier working life, I’d cover an Iowa State spring football scrimmage on Saturday, then hear about all the ugly things that went on in other parts of town after the game.

They’d have to call Johnny Orr, Jim Walden or whoever else was doing the coaching to try to calm the students over a loud-speaker system.

Sometimes it worked. Most of the time it didn’t.

What Iowa State needs is a president with the balls to finally end Veishea.

[MEMO: This message is from Ron Maly’s editor. The last time I inserted a paragraph into one of his columns was just before the Super Bowl, when he wrote about retsina wine and beignets as though everyone had been to New Orleans and enjoyed the wine that tastes like paint thinner and the distinctive pastry. I tried to tell Ron that maybe he shouldn’t be referring to the Iowa State’s president’s balls in a column that is widely read by men and women of various age groups. Maybe, I said, we should substitute the word “guts” for “balls.” But he won this argument. He obviously has some strong ideas about what went on at Ames over the weekend. Ron said the newspapers wouldn’t be allowed to say anything about Iowa State president Gregory Geoffroy’s balls, so he thought he should.]

Veishea has outworn its welcome, and it’s time for it to go.

And, speaking of taking action, someone should take action very quickly with Cyclone basketball player Jared Homan, who was in the middle of the Ames violence and was arrested.

Homan has had a history of arrests while he has been an Iowa State student, and he obviously needs help from someone very soon.

Eustachy Bringing His Team to Iowa City

Well, we haven’t seen the last of Larry Eustachy around here.

Eustachy will bring his Southern Mississippi basketball team to Iowa City for the Hawkeye Challenge next December.

I’m sure they’ll find a way to get Eustachy’s team matched up against Iowa somewhere in the ol’ Challenge.

It was against Iowa that Eustachy closed his Iowa State coaching career. The Hawkeyes hung a 55-54 loss on the Cyclones in an NIT game at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

The rest is history. Eustachy was later forced out of the Iowa State job and he said he didn’t want his final game as a coach to be “a loss to the Hawks.”

See you at Carver-Hawkeye, Larry.

Bonds Takes Ford for a Drive

Ben Ford isn’t headed to Cooperstown, but he did his part in getting another player into baseball’s Hall of Fame recently.

And the former Iowa Cub won’t be known as just another guy named Ford from Cedar Rapids when he goes back to his hometown.

The Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune says Ford, a 6-7, 225-pound pitcher, was in his ninth game for the Milwaukee Brewers when he threw a one-ball, two-strike pitch to San Francisco’s Barry Bonds a few nights ago.

Bonds’ next swing produced the 661st home run of his career—moving him to third place on baseball’s all-time home run list behind Henry Aaron and Babe Ruth.

Ford had a 6-11 record and a 4.88 earned-run average for the Iowa Cubs in 2002. He was born in Cedar Rapids on Aug. 15, 1975. He was drafted in 1994 by the New York Yankees and was 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA for them in 2000.

Now he’s got something to tell his grandchildren.

Challender Has 9 Tackles for Courage

I hear that Mary Challender, a talented reporter for the local paper, had nine tackles and a pass interception in the first home exhibition football game played by the Des Moines Courage women’s team Saturday.

Unfortunately, Challender’s strong performance didn’t keep the Courage from losing. They were steamrolled by the Memphis Matrix, 30-0. But there is every indication the Courage could turn into a juggernaut before too long.

Rob Brooks Joins Iowa Football Radio Team

Rob Brooks of Cedar Rapids will be the sideline announcer on Iowa football radio broadcasts next season.

Rob, the son of longtime Hawkeye announcer Bob Brooks, has been the broadcast producer for Iowa games in recent years. He replaces Mark Allen, who will continue as the play-by-play announcer for Iowa’s women’s basketball games.

Brent Balbinot, who broadcasts Iowa baseball games, will be the new football broadcast producer.

6-5 Anthony Davis Will Attend Iowa State

Anthony Davis, a two-time first-team all-conference junior college basketball player, has signed a letter of intent to attend Iowa State next fall.

Davis is a 6-5, 210 swingman from Compton, Calif. He played at Centennial/Long Beach State/Los Angeles City College. The word is he picked Iowa State over Pittsburgh, Kansas State and Minnesota.

Davis joins three players who signed letters of intent last fall. The early signees were prep school players Rahshon Clark of Queens, N.Y, and Tasheed Carr of Philadelphia, and Aaron Agnew of Bellaire, Ohio.

Bob Feller Knows About Opening Day

Opening day in the major league baseball season was a couple of weeks ago, and in connection with it was the memory of something that hasn’t happened for a while.

It concerns our own Bob Feller, who had quite an opening day on April 16, 1940.

It was on that day that Feller pitched the last opening day no-hitter in major league history.

Feller, of Van Meter, was a fireballing young pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. He was matched against the Chicago White Sox at old Comiskey Park in Chicago.

“It was a cold, gray day and I got the bases full and struck out some hitter with two out,” Feller, now 85, told the Chicago Sun-Times of his shaky start.

“After the second inning, I went along pretty good. I think I retired everybody until there were two out in the ninth, and I walked [Luke] Appling on purpose. He fouled off a whole bunch of balls, and I walked him on purpose. He was fouling them off pretty good.

“That brought up Taffy Wright, who hit me pretty good. He hit a hard-hit ball to Ray Mack at second. He knocked it down, grabbed it barehanded and whirled around and threw to [Hal] Trosky at first. I thought for a moment it was going to be a hit. But he nailed him by about a step at first base.

I did not have no-hit stuff that day. I had no-hit stuff many a day. I had great stuff in Yankee Stadium in 1946 [his second no-hitter].”

Feller won both games, 1-0.

The Sun-Times reported that Feller’s mother, Lena, braved more than the elements on the April afternoon of Feller’s no-hitter. The last time she had been to Comiskey to see her son pitch was Mother’s Day in 1939.

In that May 14 game, Marv Owen lined a foul ball into the seats along the first base line where she was sitting. The ball knocked her unconscious.

For opening day in 1940, she returned undaunted.

How undaunted?

“She was in the same seat,” Feller said.

[NOTE: The player named Hal Trosky who was mentioned above was born Harold Arthur Trojovsky in Norway, Ia., in 1912 and died in Cedar Rapids in 1979. As Hal Trosky, he played for the Cleveland Indians from 1933-1941 and finished his career in 1946 with the White Sox].

Season Ticket Swap? No Deal

This comes from Al Schallau:

Sarah was reading a newspaper while her husband was engrossed in a magazine.
Suddenly, she burst out laughing.

“Listen to this,” she said. “There’s a classified ad here where a guy is offering to swap his wife for a season ticket to the stadium.”

“Hmmm,” he husband said, not looking up from his magazine.

Teasing him, Sarah said, “Would you swap me for a season ticket?”

“Absolutely not,” he said.

“How sweet,” Sarah said. “Tell me why not.”

“The season is more than half over,” he said.

Vol. 4, No. 230
April 19, 2004