Thursday, May 27, 2004

Excited About This? I'm Not

So maybe you’re excited about the men’s and women’s basketball doubleheaders Iowa State will be playing in 2005 and 2006 at the Iowa Events Center/Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

I’m not.

Oh, those games beat the kick in the head that Dean Martin kept singing about a few years ago, but Des Moines should demand more.

What we need in the new arena are two Big Four tournaments. That means Iowa State, Iowa, Drake and Northern Iowa would all be playing men’s and women’s games there on successive weekends.

On one weekend, we could have this men’s doubleheader on Friday night: Iowa against Drake and Iowa State against Northern Iowa. On Saturday night, the losers would play the first game, the winners would play the second game.

The winner of the second game would be the tournament champion, the winner of the first game would take third place.

The arena would be full both nights. Fans from all four of the state’s Division I schools would make sure of that.

Hey, let’s make it an event.

The next weekend, those same four schools would also play a women’s doubleheader on Friday night. Let’s match Drake against Iowa State and Iowa against Northern Iowa.

Again, the losers would play Saturday night for third place, the winners would play for the championship.

The following year, the matchups would change. Indeed, change them every season.

It’s a can’t-miss project. A Big Four tournament is something I’ve been proposing since the late Maury John was coaching at Drake more than 35 years ago and before there was ever a Hilton Coliseum or a Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Des Moines and the four universities should make it happen, and it wouldn’t need to alter any of the other scheduling. There’s nothing wrong with Iowa playing Northern Iowa twice in one season, or Drake playing Iowa State twice.

It sure would beat bringing in schools from other parts of the country with hyphenated names and then scrambling to peddle tickets.

The Medal and the Flag

This article was carried in last Saturday’s Cedar Rapids Gazette:

MARENGO – Ervin Koehn’s nephew went halfway around the world to bring
back a battle flag to mark his uncle’s 85th birthday.

Koehn, who now lives in the Rose Haven Nursing Home in Marengo, worked as a combat medic in the Philippines during World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star medal, but never picked it up.

Koehn’s nephew, Lt. Col. Mark Maly of West Des Moines, took the flag along on one of the missions he flew in Iraq. Maly, 43, a United Airlines pilot, has been in and out of Iraq several times with the Iowa Air National Guard.

Koehn treasures the flag, according to his son, Dan Koehn of Cedar Rapids.

He and his family will hold an open house for Koehn’s 85th birthday Sunday at the American Legion Hall in Marengo. The Legion will present Koehn with the medal at that time.

[NOTE: Erv Koehn is my brother-in-law, Mark Maly is my son. It was a great celebration last Sunday in Marengo].

Big Nate Was ‘The Man’

An Iowa fan who goes by the handle “TucsonHawk” on the Internet sports chat lines had some input after Bob Nicholas was critical of those who weren’t happy with Hawkeye quarterback Nate Chandler (Nicholas’ nephew) last fall.

Here’s TucsonHawk’s e-mail:

“Great work on Big Nate.

“I hope those comments made on the Internet boards were early on because he simply got it done as time went on.

“Nate wasn’t the best QB to wear the uniform, but he may have been one of the faster learners. I always felt he was the best man for the job and, of most importance, he helped bring home the goods.

“Following Brad Banks didn’t help matters with regard to the expectation of fans.

“If anyone is still in denial, let’s look once again at the record, the teams we beat in the regular season and the resounding victory over Florida in which we were overmatched at his position we certainly didn’t have a chance to win.

“I’m proud of that kid for hanging in there when it was clear to some naysayers that he just couldn’t get it done.

“Well, he did. I want to let the relative know that by far the majority of Hawk fans appreciate what Nate did for us last season. In fact, I think most fans wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. He was the most experienced and knew the offense.

“He was the man….and Kirk Ferentz stuck with him, to his credit.

Here’s a Movie I Can Pass Up

I don’t go to many movies these days, and now I’m starting to figure out why.

I was scanning the online edition of USA Today earlier this week when I came upon this headline:

Exclusive look: Meet those crazy ‘Fockers’

That tends to get your attention, doesn’t it?

Especially the “F” word.

The article, written by Claudia Puig, went on to say that a movie scheduled to be in theaters Dec. 22 is titled “Meet the Fockers” and is the sequel to the 2000 hit “Meet the Parents.”

[NOTE: I didn’t see “Meet the Parents.” But I’m sure Puig is right in calling it a hit. After all, if it’s in USA Today, it’s got to be right. Just ask Jack Kelley, a former foreign correspondent at the paper, who had a history of fabricating stories].

“Meet the Fockers” has a cast that includes Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, among others.

“Streisand and Hoffman play the Fockers (pronounced Fawkers), the parents of male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller), who is engaged to Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo),” Puig wrote. “In this film, the free-spirited Fockers meet the uptight Jack and Dinah Byrnes, played again by Robert De Niro and Blythe Danner….”

Puig doesn’t bother to explain how a family in the movie got to be named “Fockers” to those of us who haven’t seen a movie since “Miracle.” But, hey, I’m sure glad the family name is pronounced “Fawkers” instead of some other way.

I guess it wasn’t cool for Streisand and Hoffman to be called the Carlsons or the Joneses.

Maybe putting the name “Fockers” in the title will sell a few more tickets, right?

I guess I should ask Jody Crossman about all of this. She always seems to know.

Paying at the Pump

Sarah, not her real name, from Grimes, not her real hometown, sent this e-mail:

“When Ron got home late last night, his wife demanded he take her someplace expensive. So he took her to the gas station.”

Missing the Putt

This golf story comes from George Wine of Solon. I can’t swear how true it is:

A nun was sitting with her Mother Superior, chatting.

“Mother Superior, I used some horrible language this week and feel absolutely terrible about it,” the nun said.

“When did you use this awful language?” asked the elder.

“Well, I was golfing and hit an incredible drive that was going to go 280 yards, but it struck a phone line over the fairway and fell straight to the ground after only 100 yards.”

“And that’s when you swore?”

“No, Mother,” said the nun. “After that, a squirrel ran out of the bushes and grabbed the ball in its mouth and began to run away.”

“And that’s when you swore?” asked the Mother Superior.

“Well, no,” said the nun. “You see, as the squirrel was running, an eagle came down out of the sky, grabbed the squirrel in his talons and began to fly away!”

“Is that when you swore?” asked the amazed elder nun.

“No. As the eagle carried the squirrel away in its claws, it flew near the green and the squirrel dropped my ball.”

“Did you swear then?” asked Mother Superior impatiently.

“No, because the ball fell on a big rock, bounced over the sand trip, rolled onto the green and stopped two feet from the hole.”

The two nuns were silent for a moment.

Mother Superior sighed.

“You missed the goddam putt, didn’t you?” she said.

And Finally…..

An 11-year-old eastern Iowan named Nicholas asked his grandmother to name a word that begins and ends with “e” and has one letter in it.

His grandmother, who normally has all the right answers when it comes to her grandchildren, came up blank this time.

“Envelope,” explained Nicholas.

Vol. 4, No. 235
May 27, 2004