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