Thursday, May 20, 2004

Uncle Bob Is Proud of Big Nate

Uncle Bob started his e-mail to me this way:

“This is a note from a proud uncle.

“My nephew, ‘Big Nate,’ as he was so aptly called (usually connected with swear words in your neck of the woods) is alive and well in Buffalo.”

Big Nate is Nathan Chandler, the quarterback who led Iowa’s football team in total offense last season but never was able to win over the Hawkeyes’ fans.

Uncle Bob is Bob Nicholas of Huntington Beach, Calif.

“I just can’t understand it,” Nicholas wrote. “People with addresses like Super Hawk Fan, etc., punking my nephew. For what? Sure, he had a few rough starts, but a 10-3 record with the first January bowl win in almost 50 years and a final ranking of No. 8 in the nation. Go figure.

“Nate would be the first to say they were team wins, and they were. However, he did his part. Nate’s a class guy. Ask a real fan that I saw give Nate a souvenir Outback Bowl ball to sign with trembling hands in Mr. Chandler’s motel room in Florida.

“That guy knew quality and got to experience it up close and personal. I know his long drive home was easy. But, still, probably not as easy as some turd talking smack on the Net.”

Megan Cross of called attention to Chandler a few days ago.

“With all of the attention and focus on first-round draft pick J. P. Losman and veteran Drew Bledsoe, Bills fans may not have heard too much about free agent quarterback Nathan Chandler,” Cross wrote.

“On April 26, 23-year-old Chandler agreed to terms with the Bills along with 17 other undrafted free agents. While Chandler may have gone undrafted, he stood tall during his collegiate career.

“At 6-6 (and) 257 pounds, Chandler was 165-of-308 for 2,040 yards with 18 touchdowns while leading the Iowa Hawkeyes to a 10-3 record and an eighth overall ranking in 2003.

“’I come from a winning program in Iowa,’ Chandler said. ‘As a quarterback there, I sought toughness, competitiveness and overall winning.’

“As a senior in 2003, Chandler was selected to the team Leadership Council. This is a characteristic that he would like to carry over to the Bills.

“’Hopefully, I can bring an aspect of leadership and also encouragement from my teammates,’ Chandler said. ‘Whatever role I am able to fit into with this team, I just hope it’s one that lifts my teammates up and helps the program improve.’

“Chandler feels that his strength is understanding the game and being able t pick up the offense, a trait that is going to be very important coming into a new system.

“’At this point, it’s a brand new ballgame,’ Chandler said. ‘I’m just trying to adjust to this level. To have the opportunity to watch and learn first-hand from a proven veteran quarterback is more than a rookie can ask for.

“’Being able to learn from a veteran like Drew Bledsoe, who’s been through this process and has been in some big games is great. He’s a big-time quarterback and a great guy to be able to watch….’

At the recent rookie mini-camp, Chandler got a little taste of Buffalo and what it’s all about.

“’I enjoyed being able to participate in mini-camp,’ Chandler said. ‘It was great to see the support that Buffalo gives its team and just the quality of the organization. It was fun to be able to get out there with guys that seem bigger than life on television.’”

Added Bob Nicholas: “I’m glad to see anything positive in print regarding Nate.

“It seemed like most articles and comments in the past really didn’t do him justice (and much of the time were negative, lukewarm or worse….hurtful). (Last) year his dad flew me back to watch the ‘real thing.’ I was at Kinnick Stadium, a few rows back on the 40-yard line behind the Hawk bench at the Michigan game. Wow!
“Now, I’ve been to a Super Bowl (Rams vs. Steelers), a few Rose Bowls and different games of every kind and level. The personal connection combined with the awesome aura of overwhelming Big Ten football (and, I might add, a fantastic win) left all other sports events (of which I am a lover) in distance second place. Wow again!
“I’m very proud of Nate, not just for his athletic accomplishments. Heck, he’s already gotten to live a fantasy that most only dream of, even if his football career ends tomorrow, but more for his on and off-the-field character. His only real problem on the field is trying too hard and thus making some bad choices….Off the field, you’re not going to read about Nate getting into trouble. He is a product of very Christian moral values….”


I’m wondering which Big 12 Conference coach will get fired first—Colorado football coach Gary Barnett or Missouri basketball coach Quin Snyder? Both deserve to get canned, and I hope it happens very soon.


Don’t believe what you read in the local paper, or any other paper, about Tim Floyd--who was recently fired as the New Orleans Hornets’ NBA coach--becoming an unpaid assistant to Larry Eustachy at Southern Mississippi.

The local paper, in its desire to not let facts get in the way of a story, led off its “In the Loop” segment on Page 2 of the sports section Sunday with an item that first appeared in the Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald.

The story said Eustachy “announced last week that Floyd would join him at Southern Mississippi as a non-paid assistant coach.”

Both Floyd and Eustachy, of course, are former Iowa State head coaches.
The editors at the local paper were horribly careless, which isn’t unusual. The story they put in the paper about Eustachy and Floyd came three days after the Associated Press carried a story that said, “Floyd denied a report he would become an unpaid assistant for his friend, Larry Eustachy, at Southern Mississippi.

“’He doesn’t need any help,’ Floyd said. “I told somebody that I would be watching a lot of their practices and games, but I’m going to be watching a lot of teams’ practices and games.’”

My guess is that we’ll soon see Floyd as a collegiate head coach again. That’s where the man belongs.


Moises Alou hit a home run to win a game for the Chicago Cubs last night, then his teammates streamed out of the dugout to congratulate him.

Possibly because of Alou’s recent comments that he urinates on his hands to toughen them for batting purposes, I noticed that no other Cubs were shaking his hand after the home run.

But all of the players—Alou included—began jumping up and down and hugging each other at home plate.

Maybe there’s more to this Cub story than a guy peeing on his hands. It could be there are other problems that none of us knew about.

What’s So Good About Page 2? Very Little

Getting back to Page 2 at the local paper for a minute.

It seems some genius suddenly discovered that Page 2 was important, both in the sports department and the real-news department.

I guess that’s why “10 Questions for Ricky Roundtable” or some such ridiculousness has suddenly become a big deal.

The people editing Page 2 in the sports department tried for several weeks to convince readers to write letters so they’d have something to put in the space. But evidently no one was interested in writing letters. At least none appeared.

My guess is that people have lost interest in writing to the paper and having to wait a week or so to find out how much the letters were edited or if they’d appear at all. In the computer age, sports fans have become too accustomed to getting instant attention by doing their writing in chat rooms.

Consequently, the local paper is one of few in the nation that does not print, or possibly not even receive, letters from readers.

That, my friends, is very embarrassing to someone who recalls the highly-charged letter-writing by readers that went on in the old Opinion Page in the very good sports sections of years gone by.

Vol. 4, No. 234
May 20, 2004