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