Sunday, September 12, 2004

Cheer Up, Things May Get Better

Iowa City, Ia. – All right, so Iowa didn’t look like Forest Evashevski’s 1958 Hawkeye team or Kirk Ferentz’s 2002 Hawkeye team.

Heck, Iowa probably didn’t even look like what most of us thought Ferentz’s 2004 team should look in The Big Game.

But at least the Hawkeyes didn’t lose any ground in the today’s collegiate football rankings.

Despite escaping Iowa State, 17-10, in Saturday’s game at Kinnick Stadium, 24 ½-point favorite Iowa is still ranked No. 12 in the coaches’ poll and No. 16 in the Associated Press sportswriters’ poll.

Hey, look at it this way. The Hawkeyes probably aren’t the team most of us expected. Yet. And Iowa State is probably better than most of us thought.

Things change. Teams change. Both Iowa and Iowa State could get better as the season progresses.

I think only in the short term. So, next Saturday, I see Iowa winning at Arizona State and Iowa State beating Northern Illinois at Ames.


I’ve seen every one of the Iowa-Iowa State football games since the series was resumed in 1977 following a 43-year lapse.

In that ’77 game, Hawkeye quarterback Bobby Commings – the son of coach Bob Commings – helped Iowa to a 12-10 victory.

That was the game in which Iowa State coach Earle Bruce got the Hawkeyes aroused immediately by sending his players onto the field with the words “BEAT IOWA” on the front of their jerseys.

Anyway, I thought Saturday’s 70,397 Iowa and Iowa State fans, as well as people who were there just to tailgate before, during and after the game, were as well-behaved as any crowd in any previous game in the modern-day series.

Nice going, Iowans.


I know Iowa State coach Dan McCarney pretty well, and I’m 100 percent that his team’s 2-10 record last season nagged at him in a big-time way from late last November to when two-a-day practices ended last month.

We all know McCarney doesn’t believe in moral victories and we all know he wasn’t happy to lose yesterday by a touchdown on a field where he played and was an assistant coach for Iowa, but I think the Cyclones are going to have a much better season in 2004.

They’re picked to finish last in the Big 12 North by everyone, but does anyone want to bet right now that they don’t have a chance to beat Northern Illinois, Texas A&M, Baylor, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri?


I guess last week was when people were supposed to write and say that the Cy-Hawk Trophy is either ugly or unworthy of the Iowa-Iowa State football series.

It must have been a slow news week.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette and the local paper both took shots at the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

But George Lewis of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., No. 50 in your Iowa program, didn’t think the ol’ Cy-Hawk was ugly when he picked it up, held it high over his head and lugged it to midfield after Iowa’s victory yesterday.

And the rest of those Iowa players who couldn’t wait to get their hands on the Cy-Hawk didn’t complain about it being ugly when they leaped skyward so they could touch the trophy.

Neither did any of the Hawkeye fans who tried to get their hands on the trophy.

So enough of this crap about the Cy-Hawk Trophy being a poor second cousin to Floyd of Rosedale.

I stood next to the Cy-Hawk for several minutes late in yesterday’s game. I expected it to look like something that came out of Jay Busby’s woodwork class at old Wilson High School in Cedar Rapids.

I thought maybe it would resemble something my brother-in-law, Doug Benyshek, put together in his shop in Mesa, AZ on a Saturday morning.

But, hey, there’s nothing at all wrong with the Cy-Hawk. It’s going to sit proudly in a case inside the Iowa football offices for another year.

Nobody thought it was ugly in Iowa City when it sat in those offices for 15 years from 1983 through 1997. And nobody thought it was ugly in Ames when the trophy sat in a case for five straight years when Iowa State beat Iowa from 1998 through 2002.

Case closed.


I’ve always thought it rather strange that collegiate football coaches needed uniformed security officers around them before, during and after games.

If my memory serves me correctly, Hayden Fry [who was at Iowa from 1979-1998] was the first football coach in this state to think he needed such protection.

When Fry first showed up with a uniformed officer on the sideline during a Hawkeye game, I thought he was copying the practice of coaches from the south such as Bear Bryant of Alabama.

I think Fry secretly envied Bryant, and wanted to do anything he could to try to be like the Bear. Having a guy in a sheriff’s uniform at his side was one of those things.

I always wondered why Fry, a good-sized former football player, thought he needed such protection. Fry seemed fully capable of beating the pulp out of anyone who threatened him.

It made me laugh when I thought about former Iowa coach Forest Evashevski, whose 1958, 1956 and 1960 teams were the best the school ever had. Evashevski got along just fine on the sidelines without the assistance of a cop. He, too, could’ve flattened anyone who challenged him.

Indeed, he had a lot of protection anyway.

I recall a story in which a Minnesota fan came out of the stands during a game in Minneapolis, and acted as though he was looking for trouble.

Bill Quinby of Cedar Rapids, then an Iowa student manager and later a Big Ten and National Football League official, spotted the intruder and knocked him halfway to Mankato.

Another reason it amazes me that a coach thinks he needs a guy in uniform to protect him is that there are always a dozen or more assistant coaches, equipment guys, trainers, linesmen and student managers on hand to provide help.

Then, of course, a coach has his entire team of well-conditioned 200- and 300-pound-plus players in pads who should be able to throw a few punches if they’re needed.


One comment about the Saturday story in the Register about the state trooper who is being paid $5,000 to protect Dan McCarney.

The trooper should also have been assigned to do the copy editing work on Tom Witosky’s story. Witosky’s lead paragraph said, “After eight seasons at the helm of the Iowa State University football team, Dan McCarney has decided he needs game-day police protection…..”


This is McCarney’s 10th season as Iowa State’s coach.


Dave Elbert writes in the local paper that UNI is upset because it’s being left out of the Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series between Iowa and Iowa State.

Please tell me why UNI should be included when it plays—and beats—Minnesota State of Mankato before 7,068 fans yesterday?

Minnesota State, formerly known as Mankato State, plays Concordia College of St. Paul next week. Concordia may want into the Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series, too.

Vol. 4, No. 255
Sept. 12, 2004