Monday, September 20, 2004

An Old-Fashioned Butt-Kickin'

It’s too bad it wasn’t Hayden Fry who was meeting with reporters after the Iowa-Arizona State football game, or football debacle, late Saturday night or early Sunday morning—depending on which time zone you happened to be falling asleep in.

Fry, who coached the Hawkeyes from 1979 through 1998, would have handled the postgame quotes the right way.

First of all, he’d have said, “We took an old-fashioned butt-kickin’.”

Then he’d have gotten into the good stuff.

He’d have blamed Pat Harty of the Iowa City Press-Citizen or Randy Peterson of the local paper for Iowa’s embarrassing 44-7 loss. Maybe he’d have even tossed some blame at Jim Ecker of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, who isn’t even covering the Hawkeyes these days.

He could have said, “Y’all know I don’t read newspapers, but somebody told me those guys wrote articles that wound up on Arizona State’s bulletin board. I’d like y’all to know that I don’t appreciate it when y’all help out the opposition with your articles.”

Maybe Fry could have pulled that old line out of the Football Coaching Handbook about how “No wonder we didn’t fire a shot and took a big thumpin’. Somebody gave Arizona State our game plan last Tuesday.”

The idea, of course, would’ve been to get his players off the floor and into a frenzied mood for this week’s game against Michigan, Iowa’s opening Big Ten Conference rival.

That line of thinking goes like this: “It’s us against the world. Nobody gives us any respect now. We’re falling out of the rankings. We’re big underdogs going to Ann Arbor.”

Fry would have been right about some of that. Michigan is a 13-point favorite over an Iowa team that has slipped to 24th in the coaches’ poll and 28th in the Associated Press sportswriters’ poll.

I’ll tell you how bad things got late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. I fell asleep during the Iowa-Arizona State game.

That was a first. I’ve been in press boxes for some Hawkeye games in past years that I’d like to have fallen asleep at—who can forget UCLA 55, Iowa 18 in 1973 or Southern California 55, Iowa 0 in 1976?—but I’d never dozed off in my own family room during one of Kirk Ferentz’s games.

I’d like to blame it on Ken O’Keefe’s offensive game plan or the lousy defense in the absence of coordinator Norm Parker, who is fighting bigger battles with his health than those he faces on the football field.

Hell, one of my old sportswriting buddies got so upset with the loss at Arizona State that he e-mailed me early Sunday morning to say he doesn’t think Iowa will win another game.

Now, that’s pretty sad.

“It’s hard to remember a worse thrashing than Iowa took Saturday night,” he said. “There obviously have been many, but Iowa out-first downed, 20-2, at one point in the second half and had 38 yards to more than 400 for the Sun Devils at one point.

“I frankly don’t think Iowa can win another game. Northwestern had more than 400 yards against Arizona State, and outgained them. Iowa can’t move the ball against anybody. Obviously, now it looks like they were lucky to beat Iowa State.

"[Quarterback Drew] Tate is running for his life, and the defense can’t withstand having to be out on the field the time…..”

Well, the good news for that guy is that Northwestern isn’t on Iowa’s schedule this fall. Michigan, Purdue, Ohio State, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the rest are enough.

Seriously, I don’t think Iowa has won its last game of 2004. Maybe earlier than all of us think. As long as Lloyd Carr is coaching Michigan, the Hawkeyes have a chance.

Even though I fell asleep in the third quarter of the Arizona State game, thank goodness my editor didn’t. My Editor volunteered to monitor the telecast and radio broadcast in the event I drifted off to dreamland.

“The sun came up in the east Sunday morning even after that embarrassing loss last night,” My Editor said in an e-mail. “I’d have to agree with Hayden [about the “old-fashioned butt-kickin’.] I’m sure there are a lot of Hawkeyes with sore butts now.

“Or, to put it another way, that game stunk. I’m sure the Hawkeyes’ daubers are down now. As always, Ferentz was very gracious in the postgame radio show on the Hawkeye Network, giving all the credit to ASU and blaming himself for the loss.

“He has many concerns: “We couldn’t run the football, and we could do nothing on offense. [Arizona State quarterback Andrew] Walter was very sharp, was never sacked. Our defense is not as good as last year, and theirs is better. Kind of tough to make anything good out of that game.”

My Editor said it was a “pretty short interview. He [Ferentz] did say Bradley did better at punting. You were the smarter one, snoozing until 3:30 a.m. The only thing you missed was seeing the kid whose name begins with ‘B’ score a TD with 18 seconds remaining in a painful game.

“So that’s that, and I know now that you need more excitement to keep you awake.”

[NOTE: The player whose name begins with ‘B’ is Walner Belleus of Immokalee, Fla., a junior transfer from Dodge City, Kan., Community College. Belleus returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game].

Some Iowa players put the loss in rather graphic terms.

I hear that, on John Campbell’s interviews on KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, one of the players said the Hawkeyes “got their asses kicked” and another said they “played piss-poor.”

Back in the old days, some of those words would obviously have been bleeped out on TV. And in the newspapers, the players would be quoted as saying the Hawkeyes “got their a---- kicked” and they “played p--------.”

But I guess when lightning delays the start of a game 38 minutes, anything goes.


Uncle Bob, who sometimes is known as Bob Nicholas, sent this e-mail to me today:


“I guess you saw or know about the Iowa-ASU debacle Saturday. Wow, what an ugly mess! A real test of see if I”ll become a baby or solidify as a real Hawkeye fan.

“Nobody on the team looked very good (including my nephew [tight end Scott Chandler]. Maybe bad food.

“Nathan [Chandler] got a call. I’m not sure how much I can say right now, but I’ll keep you informed after I find out.


Bob Nicholas, aka Still Proud Uncle Bob

[NOTE: I assume Uncle Bob means Nathan Chandler, his nephew and Iowa’s quarterback in 2003, has received a call from an NFL team. Chandler was released by the Buffalo Bills just before the start of this season].

Vol. 4, No. 258
Sept. 20, 2004