Monday, August 30, 2004

Experimenting Isn't McCarney's Style

Playing Iowa at Kinnick Stadium is difficult enough. Iowa State coach Dan McCarney wants no part of participating in any experiments, too.

McCarney explained his feelings today on why he and his Cyclones won’t help the Big Ten Conference experiment with instant replay.

Non-conference coaches were given the option for games against Big Ten teams. Iowa State plays at Iowa on Sept. 11, and the Cyclones could have had a role in determining whether or not instant replay is a good thing for college football.

The Big Ten experiment will last for only the 2004 season. If the decision-makers think it’s a good idea, instant replay could become a tool in college football in the future. McCarney is one of four non-Big Ten coaches who have decided to not help with the experiment.

“I talked to a number of people, visited with the officials in our conference and I talked to other coaches,” McCarney said on the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference today.

“It wasn’t a snap decision. No. 1, coaches don’t get a chance to challenge any call that’s made. There’s a Big Ten observer who is going to have the final say in everything. A game of this magnitude—a Big 12-Big Ten matchup—I just don’t feel real comfortable experimenting with something.

“So I declined. There has to be an agreement between both schools to do it, and I’m glad it didn’t work out. I’m glad we’re not going to have it for our game. I may feel different once it’s up and running for a few months or years, or we get a chance to do it.”

McCarney’s Cyclones saw their five-game winning streak over Iowa end with a 40-21 loss last season in Ames.

Before Iowa State’s five victories, Iowa had won 15 consecutive games in the hotly-contested series.

The instant replay experiment figures to add more time to games, and that’s something of concern to McCarney.

“The thing we’re all concerned about is the length of games,” he explained. “We’re all conscious of that with all the television exposure. Then you get into challenges and appeals for certain calls… much longer are games going to go.”


Anyone waiting for the return of defensive standout Jason Berryman to Iowa State’s roster had better have plenty of patience.

McCarney said the 225-pound sophomore end from Houston—regarded as the Cyclones’ best defender--won’t play this season.

“He won’t be with our football team this fall at all,” McCarney said.

Berryman is in the Story County jail on robbery charges, and no one has come forward to bail him out.


McCarney admitted he’s “a little apprehensive” about Iowa State’s quarterback picture in Saturday’s game against Northern Iowa.

“[Starter] Bret Meyer hasn’t played at all,” McCarney said. “He’s a redshirt freshman and was just on our scout team last year. Northern Iowa’s quarterback, Tom Petrie, has had a tremendous career.

“He’s a fifth-year senior who has all kinds of experience. He’s thrown for all kinds of yards and touchdowns, and our guy hasn’t even played one down yet.”

McCarney said Meyer “has made a lot of progress, but we’re definitely going to play Austin Flynn—definitely in the first half.

“Whether we look like it or not Saturday, I think our quarterback position is in better hands and looks better than at any time last year.”


Tom Davis will find out in a hurry how good his Drake basketball team is in the upcoming season.

After opening with a home game against Akron on Nov. 19, the Bulldogs play at Iowa State on Nov. 23, then collide with Iowa in a much-anticipated game Nov. 30 at the Knapp Center.

Davis, of course, is the winningest coach in University of Iowa history. His Bulldogs lost to the Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City last season.

Drake plays 16 home games and starts its Missouri Valley Conference schedule in on a rather early Dec. 8 at the Knapp Center.

For the second straight season, the Bulldogs will play in the NCAA Bracket Buster against an opponent to be named Feb. 1. The game will be played Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Knapp Center.


Nov. 13--North Dakota State, 4:05 (exhibition); 15--Rob ert Morris, 7:05 (exhibition);19—Akron, 7:05; 23—at Iowa State, 7:05; 30—Iowa, 7:05

Dec. 4—at Colorado State., TBA; 8—Wichita State, 7:05; 11—Western Illinois, 7:05; 20—at Southern Utah, 8:35; 23—Wagner, 7:05; 30—at Indiana State, 6:05.

Jan. 2—at Southern Illinois, 2:05 (MVC-TV); 5—Creighton, 7:05; 8—Bradley, 7:05; 10—Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7:05; at Illinois State 4:05; 19—at Creighton, 7:05; 22—Southwest Missouri State, 1:05; 26—at Wichita State, 7:05; 29—Northern Iowa, 7:05 (Fox TV).

Feb. 1—Illinois State, 7:05; 5—at Evansville, 7:05; 7—Southern Illinois, 7:05; 12—at Southwest Missouri State, 7:05; 16—at Northern Iowa, 7:05; 19—Bracket Buster, TBA; 22—Indiana State (MVC-TV); 26—Evansville, TBA; 28—at Bradley, TBA.

Vol. 4, No. 250
Aug. 30, 2004

Thursday, August 26, 2004

What About the Price of My Groceries?

I hope this doesn’t mean the price of my pepper turkey and rye bread at Hy-Vee on 35th Street is suddenly going to shoot up.

All I can tell you so far is that a bunch of smiley faces out at Hy-Vee’s corporate headquarters in West Des Moines went public today with a neat idea to further reward athletic competition – and maybe even competition in the classroom – between Iowa and Iowa State.

“We’re not doing this to get free tickets,” Ric Jurgens, CEO and president of Hy-Vee, said in an attempt to make sure everyone knew the huge company with 104 supermarkets and 25 Drug Towns in the state was interested only in promoting healthy Hawkeye-Cyclone competition.

“Hy-Vee is proud to be directly involved in one of the most spirited rivalries in college sports,” Jurgens said at mid-day inside the spacious Hy-Vee Conference Center on the company’s park-like grounds.

“Promoting athletic competition between Iowa and Iowa State is fun, good for the state’s economy and will enhance the national reputations of our two premier universities.”

With the Sept. 11 Iowa-Iowa State football game leading the way, men’s and women’s competition throughout the school year will provide various numbers of points en route to deciding a winner.

The football winner will get three points, and the winner of the Oct. 31 soccer game, the Dec. 1 women’s basketball game, the Dec. 4 women’s swimming and diving meet, the Dec. 5 wrestling meet, the Dec. 10 men’s basketball game, the Jan. 28 and Feb. 19 women’s gymnastics meets and the April 19 softball game will get two points each.

In addition, if a school’s athletes surpass the national average, according to the annual graduation rate report issued by the NCAA, two more points will be awarded.

I asked Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby if any other states have similar competitions, and he said yes. It happens between Oregon and Oregon State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and Duke and North Carolina. In addition, Michigan and Michigan State are considering it.

Coca-Cola and Kraft are also involved in the sponsorship. The four-year agreement is expected to generate nearly $1.5 million between Iowa and Iowa State.

Hy-Vee pointed out that the Cy-Hawk Series and trophy are not affiliated with the Cy-Hawk Trophy that was created by the Des Moines Athletic Club and is awarded to the winner of annual Iowa-Iowa State football game.

The Hawkeyes and Cyclones are under contract to play football through 2011, but it’s expected that the series will never end. Any athletic director who threatened in the future to do that to the popular rivalry would be risking his job and maybe both legs.

The game regularly draws sellout crowds at both Iowa City and Ames, and has become competitive again in recent seasons.

Everyone pointed out that a feature of the Cy-Hawk Series is that it should add interest to so-called non-revenue sports such as swimming, gymnastics, softball and wrestling.

“We are pleased to be associated with a great Iowa company like Hy-Vee,” Iowa State athletic director Bruce Van De Velde said. “The Iowa State-Iowa (football) series attracts the year-round enthusiasm, interest and support of nearly every citizen in the state and thousands of alumni and fans nationwide.”

Said Bowlsby: “We are very excited about the potential this program has to provide a positive impact on all of the athletic competitions between the two institutions and, specifically, those events that aren’t routinely staged for the enjoyment of standing-room-only crowds.”


The local paper has a guy wandering around Athens, trying to cover the Olympics. With him, it’s been largely a hit-and-miss kind of deal.

Mostly miss.

But someone who isn’t at the Olympics to write for a newspaper is doing plenty of outstanding writing.

He’s Mike Mahon, Drake’s veteran sports information director who is in Athens as an Olympic press officer.

With his pen name of Mike Papadoklis, here’s what Mahon cranked out this week under the heading, “From Your Ace Correspondent in Athens:”

Greetings from the city that never sleeps and its citizens who never shower:

Tuesday was the final morning session of track and field. So that means, starting Wednesday, we just have evening sessions, which typically start at 7 p.m., through Sunday. It also means I can start trying to sleep in.

You can tell some reporters are starting to hit the wall, already thinking about going home. People flying commercial have been told to report to the airport six hours before their flights. Thank God I’ll be taking a USOC chartered plane to Frankfurt, Germany.

I’ve made all the key contacts with our Drake Relays favorites like Perdita Felicien and Kip Lagat, who hopefully will bring home the gold tonight. I’ve also gotten to know agent Ray Flynn, who has sent us several Drake Relays athletes over the years like Paul McMullen and Amy Accuf. Flynn has had three athletes get medals in a two-day period; Lauryn Williams, women’s 100; Deena Kastor, women’s marathon, and Matt Hemmingway, men’s high jump.

What about Drake Relays Hall of Famer Merlene Ottey, who at 44, is still running and has said she isn’t even thinking about retirement? It also was fun speaking with Marty Liquori from NBC to hear him say that he had told Allen Webb earlier to call and get advice from Steve Scott and Jim Ryun about their Olympic experience.

It is interesting to see all the basketball writers covering track and field at the stadium here….Bob Ryan covering the men’s race walk….Stephen F. Smith covering the 400. In fact, I bailed out Stephen F. Smith last night, so I told him he owed me a favor, which he said he would gladly do.

I’ve covered a couple items not to eat here at the stadium, including cheese pies and hot dogs. The coed bathrooms are interesting, too.

The Greek Mike Henderson offered me some coffee. Being polite, I accepted, but it tasted like cold cigarette ashes.

With our recent success in track and field the last two nights, I’ve been getting home at 3 a.m. because of the interview requests. Of course, I was then coaxed into going out to eat, which was a big mistake. But one night I enjoyed seeing German fans interact with Jamaicans who had their country’s flag draped around them.
The Germans said their favorite movie was “Cool Runnings,” about the Jamaica bobsled team, so that led to a 30-minute comedy act. Last night I ended up in a restaurant where we were surrounded by some unruly British journalists who were complaining about this or that.

Unbelievable is about the best way to describe Monday night’s men’s 400 final. Then it was a thrill when I ran into Michael Johnson and escorted him to a press conference in the stadium for our three U.S. medalists. I also discovered at that time that Greek police are disguised as photographers wearing photo bids around the track for security reasons.

I also escorted Clyde Hart, the Baylor track coach, who coaches 400 gold medalist Jeremy Wariner, to the Main Press Center for another 12:30 a.m. press conference. It sounds like Wariner, who would be a junior at Baylor this fall, will probably turn pro. He is supposed to meet with Clyde Hart and Michael Johnson to discuss his future.

Finally, someone interviewed the manager of a giant store inside the Athletes Village, asking him what all the athletes were buying. His response:
“The first week, energy and power bars were very popular. But now condoms are the biggest selling hot item.”

This is Mike Papadoklis.

Vol. 4, No. 249
Aug. 26, 2004

Monday, August 16, 2004

Scales and Other Weighty Issues

Some of the things I’ve been thinking about since collegiate football teams began practice:

Following the progress of Iowa State tailback Jason Scales will be interesting.

Scales, who led Valley of West Des Moines to two consecutive Class 4-A state
championships, passed up his final semester of high school so he could enroll at
Iowa State last January.

Not only did he amass a whopping 6,050 yards and 78 touchdowns in his final two
seasons for the Tigers, he was a member of the National Honor Society and on the
academic honor roll.

Scales is a solid No. 2 behind Stevie Hicks on Iowa State’s depth chart at running
back, and isn’t second-guessing his decision to cut his high school days short so he
could start studying architecture in college.

“The game in college moves faster and the people are bigger,” Scales told me. “But
I’m excited about this season and the opportunity I have. I didn’t get a chance to
run on Valley’s track team in the spring—something I wanted to do—but, in the end,
it was a good decision to come to Iowa State early.”

Scales is listed as a 200-pounder on the Cyclones’ roster, but said he weighs 187.

“I weighed 190 in my senior season at Valley,” he said.

There are more questions than answers surrounding the recent departure of Ed Crowley as Iowa’s head football trainer.

Crowley, 60, was Iowa’s trainer for 30 years until being replaced by Paul Federici,
who had been the head trainer for the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL for five years.

Crowley, a member of Purdue’s 1967 Rose Bowl champions and a roommate of former
Boilermaker quarterback standout Bob Griese, has been moved to the staff of Iowa’s
department of rehabilitation therapies—a non-athletic department position.

The announcement was made Aug. 9 by Dr. Annunziato “Ned” Amendola, Iowa’s team

A man who knows a lot about the inner workings of the Iowa athletic department is
still scratching his head, wondering what Crowley did wrong to be replaced as the
head football trainer.

That same man also points out that Kirk Ferentz, Iowa’s highly-respected football
coach, “had to sign off” on Crowley’s job switch. Crowley was, of course, Iowa’s
head trainer during all of Hayden Fry’s 20 seasons as the Hawkeyes’ coach.

Keep in mind that Dan McCarney had his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek when he made this comment to reporters:

“Anybody who keeps writing and talking about this program being in a downward
spiral, do me a favor and please keep doing that. Please keep doing that. You’re
helping my job.”

McCarney’s Cyclones sank to records of 2-10 overall and 0-8 in the Big 12 last
season after going to bowl games the previous three years.

“We’ve taken the program to places it’s never been,” McCarney said. “We had a
temporary setback last year, and that’s no fun for any of us….I haven’t seen any
mass exodus of fans.”

Something that’s hard for me to figure out: Why wasn’t Bruce Van De Velde, Iowa State’s athletic director, in the auditorium when McCarney held his press conferencelast week?

McCarney has been trying his damnedest to build a strong program at a school that
has had no football tradition, and Van De Velde should be in attendance at all of
Mac’s press conferences so he can hear what the coach has on his mind.

Van De Velde’s absence last week makes me wonder how long he’ll last in his job.

It was fun watching more than a dozen news photographers—both the TV and newspaper variety—participate in the staging of photos of Iowa’s top two quarterbacks, Drew Tate and Jason Manson, on the practice field.

Tate and Manson each had a football when a photographer would say, “One, two,
three!” to them while setting up the photo.

It reminded me of the old days when photographers would stage shots of players for
preseason magazines. The photos were something readers eagerly anticipated when the
magazines came on the newsstands in July.

It’s too bad Dennis Ryerson wasn’t there, making an idiot of himself by accusing
the photographers of staging pictures again so he’d have something to write about
for the front page of whatever shopper he’s working for these days.

It tells you something about the seriousness of non-conference scheduling these days when people are talking more about the uniforms the players will be wearing than the teams in the Sept. 4 Iowa-Kent State game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

In the game, the players from both teams will wear “throwback” uniforms. Iowa’s will
resemble the uniforms worn in 1939.

The Hawkeyes, of course, are big favorites to win in what figures to be a ho-hum

Speaking of the “throwback” game, reporters who attended Iowa’s media day got more
than a free lunch. They also were offered gifts.

Most of those who accepted the gifts quickly stuck them in their cars before
Ferentz’s press conference began so no one would see that they were accepting free
stuff from the team they were covering.

One gift was a gold T-shirt that, on the front said in black letters, “Throwback
Game. Kent State versus Iowa. Kinnick Stadium. Sept. 4th, 2004.”

The other gift to reporters from Iowa’s athletic department was a black felt-and-
plastic hat, complete with a feather. On the right side was a sign stuck in the brim

that said: “Press. Throwback Game. Kent State versus Iowa. Kinnick Stadium. Sept.
4th, 2004.”

Phil Haddy, Iowa’s sports information, told reporters, “We expect all of you wear
those T-shirts and hats to the game.”

Just kidding, of course.

It would be fun, though, to have everyone in the press box on Sept. 4 wearing those gold T-shirts and black hats. What a picture that would be!

It’s too bad Al Grady is no longer with us. He would’ve looked pretty damn
distinguished in that shirt and hat.

Years ago, I wanted to talk all reporters and photographers attending one of Hayden
Fry’s Tuesday press conferences into wearing sunglasses. That would have made a
great photo, too.

I never was able to pull off that one, though.

Speaking of Fry, Mark Robinson, a transplanted Iowan now living in California, sent this e-mail:

“Apparently there was a ceremony in which Hayden Fry and Jerry LeVias were
officially inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. They deserve it. But
make no mistakes.

“LeVias was not the first American of African heritage to play football in
the Southwest Conference. LeVias most certainly was the first recruited black
athlete to play in that conference, but (African-American) Rev. John Westbrook took
the field a week earlier for Baylor.

Westbrook’s career didn’t amount to much because he blew out his knee that season.

“He became a pastor at a church in Houston and died about 18 years ago.

“Why don’t we hear more about John Westbrook?”

This e-mail is also from Mark Robinson:

“Since I don’t get what you call ‘the local paper’ nowadays, I rely upon
their website for news about Hawkeye sports. Yes, it’s sad. Even when I lived in
Boston in 1973-74, I subscribed. Although they usually arrived three or four days
later, I read the paper from cover to cover.

“(Didn’t) Hayden Fry go into the College Football Hall of Fame? The Iowa
City Press-Citizen ran at least four stories and a biopic series.

“I haven’t seen anything from your local paper. Am I wrong about this?”

[NOTE: Unless I’m mistaken, Mark is talking about the Des Moines Register as
being what is sometimes loosely referred to as the local paper. And he’s right about
the local paper virtually ignoring Fry’s induction into football’s Hall of Fame.

It was almost as though Fry and the Hall of Fame never existed. The Press-Citizen,
meanwhile, did an outstanding job of covering Fry’s induction. Sad days, indeed, at
the local paper].

Off the football beat:

Matt Woodley has quit as one of Terry Carroll’s basketball assistants at the
University of Denver. Carroll, a former Iowa State assistant who has had successive
winning seasons at Denver, said Woodley left “to pursue other opportunities.”

Woodley, a standout at Valley High School in West Des Moines, is the son of
Mike Woodley, a former Valley football coach and Iowa State assistant.

Vol. 4, No. 248
Aug. 16. 2004

Thursday, August 05, 2004

A Dumb Idea If I Ever Saw One

Principal Park?

You’ve got to be kidding.

Renaming the ballpark that has been called Sec Taylor Stadium since 1969 is the dumbest thing that’s ever happened in Des Moines baseball history.

It’s the move of owners who continue to urge fans of the Iowa Cubs to “come closer so we can get our hands in every one of your pockets.”

The I-Cubs’ cheapskate owners, whose philosophy is to spend money only as long as it’s someone else’s, are already charging big-league prices for beer, hot dogs and popcorn, and now they even want an insurance company to start paying some of their Triple-A bills.

Changing the name of Sec Taylor Stadium to Principal Park is as stupid as it would be to change the name of Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City to Casey’s General Stores Stadium and Jack Trice Stadium in Ames to Blue Cross-Blue Shield Stadium.

Whenever I go to an I-Cubs’ game, I feel like I’m being held up every way possible—starting with the $4 parking fee. That’s why I limit my trips to the park to whenever my grandchildren want to go, which, thank goodness, is once or twice a year.

Sec Taylor, longtime sports editor at the local paper, wasn’t the kind of man who would have wanted a ballpark named after him in the first place. But it was nice that it happened, and I’m sure ol’ Sec was feeling pretty darned good up there in heaven when someone told him that the Triple-A club was playing ball in a place called Sec Taylor Stadium.

Now, though, I’m sure Sec is rolling over, wondering what in hell he did wrong to be replaced by something called Principal.

Sec Taylor was a classy man. What the owners of the ballclub are doing is totally classless.


Bryce Miller—surely you remember him, don’t you?—will be the reporter covering the Olympics in Athens for the local paper.

If you think that’s an odd staffing move, you’re not alone. When Miller came to the paper a few years ago, he took a job that involved more editing than writing.
Maury White and Marc Hansen, both of whom were lead sports columnists for the paper, were assigned to cover previous Summer Olympics. You’d think it would follow that Sean Keeler, who is supposed to be the paper’s No. 1 sports columnist now, would cover the 2004 Games.

But that’s not the case.

It would appear that Keeler is still being punished for whatever it was he did last winter to get suspended. Keeler was abruptly pulled off the Super Bowl coverage and was out of the paper for several weeks early in 2004.

One report circulating through the newsroom at the time was that he had been fired and had cleaned out his desk.


I was disappointed with how the local paper handled the news that Sec Taylor Stadium is being renamed Principal Park. The paper swallowed the owners’ story hook, line and sinker. No news-side editorial, no sports opinion piece. Shame on the editors and writers at 8th and Locust for not raising hell with the owners of the ballclub for what they did to Sec Taylor’s memory.


I received this e-mail the other day from my friend Gary Snell of Des Moines:

“Years ago, I followed the Register’s circulation. I had not looked at it for at least 10 years, but I think it was running about 190,000 for the daily. Although many of the losses were not significant, I seem to recall that their circulation had declined every year for approximately 20 years. Recently I heard Steve Deace say that they were now requiring employees to subscribe so they could get the circulation up!

“Is my recollection of the history correct? What about what Steve Deace said?”

[NOTE: Gary Snell is right about circulation at the paper steadily declining for 20 years or more. Sadly, that’s been the case with most of the nation’s daily papers, which have been victimized by TV and the Internet. Young people have all but abandoned newspapers as their source for news. I don’t doubt that Steve Deace, now of sports-talk radio station KXNO and a former Register sports department part-timer, is correct when he says the paper is requiring employees to subscribe. Deace still has friends who work there. In recent years, the paper has tried just about every phony trick possible to raise its circulation totals. That includes giving away the Sunday paper on Tuesdas, giving away the paper at the Iowa-Iowa State football game and giving away the paper when people buy gas at a convenience store. Pitiful stuff, really].


Sandy Madden is a frequent contributor to this column. Here’s her latest e-mail:

“Ron, I would like you to settle a discussion that my son-in-law and I had. He is a football coach, so far be it for me to question his motives. But I say that you build a football team around your quarterback, and he says you build it around the line. Now, my reasoning is this: If you have a good quarterback that can zig and zag like Seneca Wallace, they can beat the line most of the time. He says you need a good line to protect the quarterback. What do you think? Thanks.”

[NOTE: Well, Sandy, every football team needs both a quarterback and a line. One can’t succeed without the other. Seneca Wallace, the former standout quarterback at Iowa State, wouldn’t have been the standout threat he was without a talented offensive line, and the Cyclones wouldn’t have won as many games without Wallace at the controls. So you and your son-in-law are both right. By the way, Sandy’s son-in-law is the varsity football coach at Webster City].

Vol. 4, No. 247
Aug. 5, 2004