Monday, November 29, 2004

No Happy Ending Yet to Drake's 'Feel-Good' Story

The way I had it figured, this would be the year for it finally to happen.

A Drake basketball victory over Iowa, I mean.

Setting the scene…..

Tom Davis is in his second season of coaching the Bulldogs after being dumped by Iowa because he was getting old, not recruiting particularly well, losing talented players from this state [surely you recall Kansas’ Raef LaFrentz, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich] and not doing much at the Big Ten or national level.

Suddenly, after noticing that Davis had played lots of golf and stayed away from lots of basketball arenas for four years, I started wondering if he might be interested in returning to coaching. He has a great basketball mind, and I figured he’d be an excellent fit for the right kind of team.

Fortunately, Drake athletic director Dave Blank agreed. He called Davis, who somewhat surprisingly, decided to abandon the easy retirement life in Iowa City and take the job.

It was a feel-good story. The gray-haired coach, who always seemed to make ordinary players better and won some games he shouldn’t win, would end Iowa’s 25-game winning streak over Drake before a packed Knapp Center on a snowy, emotional Tuesday night in November, 2004.

But not every story ends the way the storyteller thinks it will end. Iowa went to the Maui Invitational last week, upset Louisville and Texas in the first two rounds, then was overmatched against North Carolina in the championship game.

Suddenly, it’s clearly obvious this will be, or at least should be, Steve Alford’s best Hawkeye team. He has some guys—Greg Brunner, Pierre Pierce and Jeff Horner--who can play the game the way it should be played. They are game-breakers.

He’s got a 6-11 shot-blocker in Erek Hansen and he’s got some folks on the bench like Mike Henderson, Carlton Reed and Doug Thomas who could start for a lot of teams.

“I was surprised Iowa wasn’t rated near the top of the Big Ten in the preseason, based on their returning talent,” Davis said today, marveling at the Hawkeye players.

After seeing them on the tube in Maui, I’m marveling, too.

But it’s taken the rest of America a long time to marvel. Former boy wonder Alford, with the slicked-back hair and the GQ apparel, at times seems to be pedaling uphill these days.

He’s been victimized by player defections and questionable recruiting. He rarely gets any credit for his coaching ability. Far too often, he appears to be in over his head when matched against the Roy Williamses and Bobby Knights of the world.

He appears to be a direct opposite to Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz. Ferentz’s teams get better as the season goes on, Alford’s teams get worse.

As far as I’m concerned, it would be good for the major-college basketball scene in the state of Iowa if Drake could beat Iowa in tonight’s game at the Knapp Center. The Hawkeyes have won 25 straight games in the series—including the last 12 in Des Moines.

Some of Iowa’s victories have been by embarrassingly large margins. That’s not good for any rivalry.

But, as much as I’d like to see a more competitive Division I atmosphere in this state, I don’t see much chance of the Bulldogs pulling off the big upset tomorrow night. Iowa has far too many weapons.

I expect the Hawkeyes to win by 12 points. Something like Iowa 87, Drake 75.

It’s going to take a couple more recruiting classes for Davis to be able to match up with the place that thanked him by showing him the door after he became the school’s all-time winningest coach.


Tom Davis reacted to my question about his feelings concerning the “Big Four” series of games involving, Drake, Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa the way I thought he would.

After his Iowa State team clobbered Drake, 73-46, last week at Ames, coach Wayne Morgan seemed to be a bit confused.

First he indicated he might like to make some changes in the future regarding games against the other Division I schools in the state.

Then Morgan changed his stance the next day, saying his remarks were “misinterpreted” and that fans from all four schools “love to see the games.”

Drake will always have two games against Northern Iowa every season in the Missouri Valley Conference, and Davis said the games against Iowa and Iowa State are “great” for his team.

“Whatever [coaching] chair you sit in. you might look at it differently,” Davis said. “Obviously for Drake, they’re terrific games because your players want to get tested by the best and they want to get tested by Big 12 teams and Big Ten teams and see if they can play up to that level.

“Of course, there’s so little expense involved in terms of travel and you don’t miss class time. I hope those games have also helped develop basketball in our state and I hope the fans at all four institutions feel the same way about the games…..

“Drake has certainly been the weak sister among the four schools, but we’re going to do our best to be more competitive in those games.”

The in-state rivalries must stay the same. There’s nothing better in November and December than Iowa playing Drake, Iowa State playing Drake, Northern Iowa playing Iowa State, Northern Iowa playing Iowa and Iowa State playing Iowa.

Anyone who says Howard and Wagner against Iowa State and Western Illinois against Iowa are better games should be living on another planet.


Something very good is happening on Iowa State’s future football schedules. The Cyclones will play a game against Army at West Point, N.Y., Sept. 24, 2005. Sign me up for that one. I want to be there. And that’s not all. Army will be Iowa State’s season-opening opponent Sept. 2, 2006 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. The Black Knights no longer are mentioned in the same breath with Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, their “Mr. Inside” and “Mr. Outside” of the powerful Army teams in the 1940s [the team was 27-0-1 in their three seasons together], but Iowa State scheduling the military academy sure beats playing Northern Illinois and Troy State. Bobby Ross, who coached such teams as Maryland, Georgia Tech, the San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions, is now drawing up the X’s and O’s at Army.


Be honest now, Cyclone fans. You really don’t want to go back to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport again, do you? On the other hand, be glad the Big 12 Conference no longer has a tie-in with that bowl game in Boise, Idaho. The game in Boise, as well as the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, put the old coaches’ belief that “there’s no such thing as a bad bowl” to a severe test.


Am I the only guy who thinks Jared Homan has already played 10 seasons for Iowa State’s basketball team?


Maybe Bret Bielema, Wisconsin’s first-year defensive coordinator, isn’t ready for college football’s prime-time yet. In other words, I guess the former Iowa player and assistant needs a few more years before becoming a head coach. The Badgers gave up 82 points while winning their first nine games this season, then surrendered 79 to Michigan State and Iowa in their last two. The so-so Spartans socked them, 49-14, and Iowa belted them, 30-7. Coach Barry Alvarez got a lot out of his Badgers before their Rose Bowl ambitions were rudely halted in November.

Vol. 4, No. 280
Nov. 29, 2004

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Advice to Wayne Morgan: Leave the In-State Games Alone

I guess coaching genius Wayne Morgan knows more about major-college basketball in this state than I know.

Morgan joined Iowa State’s staff as an assistant coach in July, 2002, after a 13-17 record got him fired as Long Beach State’s head coach following the 2001-2002 season.

Morgan was hired as the Cyclones’ head coach May 14, 2003 after Larry Eustachy admitted he couldn’t control his drinking and was dismissed.

It seemed like everybody but the student manager and the team ballboy were interviewed for the job, and Morgan seemed to be the fourth of fifth choice when they finally told him he could have Eustachy’s chair.

A 20-13 break-in record that included a loss to Rutgers in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York evidently has given Morgan the idea that he has more decision-making powers than his Iowa State bosses.

He sounds like he wants to tell people in this state that Iowa State maybe shouldn’t be cluttering up his schedule with Drake, Northern Iowa and Iowa every season.

At least that’s how it sounded the other night after the Cyclones pounded Drake, 73-46, at Hilton Coliseum.

Morgan indicated Iowa State wouldn’t mind scheduling some opponents that would get the team on TV beyond the city limits of Council Bluffs and Davenport.

ESPN and ESPN2, of course, are the TV basketball darlings these days, so I thought Morgan was saying that Iowa State would like to work with officials of the networks to schedule schools other than Drake, Iowa and Northern Iowa.

Actually, I couldn’t quite figure out what Morgan was trying to say. Especially when he admitted the fans look forward to games against Drake, Iowa and Northern Iowa.

So who doesn’t look forward to them then?

It sounds like Morgan to me.

But now the guy seems to be changing his posture on this whole matter. The day after the Drake game, Morgan issued a statement saying he didn’t mean to imply that he was considering dropping games with in-state rivals.

Naturally, he said he was “misinterpreted.”

I guess that means he thinks reporters didn’t hear him correctly.

You know the drill. When cornered, blame the reporters.

That’s the way it goes these days. People are either thinking their comments are “misinterpreted” or they say their words were “taken out of context.”

Morgan’s statement in an Associated Press story said he wanted to “affirm that we understand that the contests between the intrastate Division I schools are strong traditional rivalries.”

Hopefully, someone at Iowa State pointed out to Morgan that what he said right after the Drake game was dumb.

And, hopefully, it was someone who remembers the 1968-69 season when coach Maury John’s Bulldogs pummeled Iowa State twice—81-71 at Iowa State and 94-71 at Drake.

Hopefully, it was someone who recalled that the John’s 1969-70 Drake team crushed Iowa State, 86-62.

Hopefully, it was someone who recalled that John’s 1970-71 team blitzed Iowa State, 87-63, at Ames.

Glen Anderson was Iowa State’s coach then.

Nice guy, bad coach.

How embarrassing it was in those years at the old Armory--where Iowa State played its games then--that Drake fans outnumbered Cyclone fans and chanted, “Hang it up, Andy! Hang it up!” from the rafters of a building that looked like it needed to be bulldozed.

If anybody should have been talking about canceling out of a series then, it was Drake.

Iowa State was hopelessly overmatched in the series. It was so bad that the Cyclone brass had to hire John away from Drake just to get the Bulldogs from continuing to blast them on the court.

In those days, Drake coaches and fans might have snickered about Iowa State’s horrible program over coffee, but at least they were smart enough to not say anything publicly.

Morgan seemed to be trying to stage some sort of power play on the scheduling matter after the Drake game.

It’s a good thing his naïve comments didn’t go any further than they did. If it had gotten to the point where he and Iowa State specifically indicated they’d like to quit playing Iowa every season, then you’d have had a horrible situation.

Don’t forget, it took 43 years – from 1934 to 1977 – for those two schools to resume a football rivalry that ended stupidly.

A sudden Iowa State decision, made by a coach who hasn’t done his homework, to interrupt a rivalry with Iowa – or Drake or UNI – would be ridiculous.

Before Morgan should start saying anything about maybe dropping Drake, Iowa or UNI from his schedule, he should look at what’s on his plate this season.

He’s got Northern Colorado, Bucknell and Stephen F. Austin coming into Ames for a tournament this weekend. He’s got Howard, Wagner and Tennessee State coming in later.

Give me a break. He’s going to dump games with Iowa, Drake and UNI to schedule more garbage like that in the future?

A couple of coaches have made lame attempts at changing the intrastate games in this state before.

One year, Lute Olson – who, understandably, is God’s gift to coaching – threatened to quit putting Drake on his Iowa schedules because Bulldog fans shouted obscenities at his wife and daughter in a game at Veterans Memorial Auditorium here.

Nothing happened.

Iowa still plays Drake, and should continue playing Drake. The series should never end.

Another time, George Raveling – another coaching giant at Iowa – for some reason couldn’t work a game against Drake into his 1984-85 schedule. I guess it was because the Hawkeyes had to play basketball powerhouses George Mason and Illinois Wesleyan.

After realizing his mistake, Raveling made sure the next two games against the Bulldogs were played in Des Moines—even though he had been replaced as the Hawkeyes’ coach by Tom Davis.

My advice to Wayne Morgan is this: You do the coaching, let somebody else do the scheduling. By all means, leave the games against Iowa, Drake and UNI alone.

Actually, Morgan should be standing outside Hilton Coliseum, trying to sell tickets to his games instead of second-guessing who Iowa State is playing.

Cyclone attendance has been on a free-fall ever since Johnny Orr was the coach. The Drake game was Iowa State’s season opener, and all it drew was a crowd of 10,426 in 14,092-seat Hilton Coliseum.

Now I can’t wait for those games against Howard and Wagner. I’ll bet they really pack ‘em in up there at Hilton for those.

Vol. 4, No. 279
Nov. 25, 2004

Friday, November 19, 2004

Something Tells Me They're Not Having Fun at Ohio State

At first, I was starting to wonder if Woody Hayes is rolling over in his grave because of the latest football mess at Ohio State.

But then I remembered that Hayes was fired as the Buckeyes’ football coach in 1978 because, in a fit of anger, he punched a Clemson linebacker named Charlie Bauman in the Gator Bowl.

So Woody obviously was no model of discipline and would have been of no help in what’s going on at Columbus now.

At the center of the controversy is Maurice Clarett, who played one year of football for the Buckeyes and has been a headache for coach Jim Tressel and athletic director Andy Geiger ever since.

Clarett has said he was provided loaner cars by Tressel, was given phony jobs by boosters and phony grades by professors.

The Ohio State case may or may not be an isolated one.

Officials and boosters at other universities, of course, are hesitant to be critical of what may be going on in the Buckeyes’ program for fear it may be going on at their places, too.

Buy a game-day program on any campus and chances are you’ll see the dealers named and pictured who provide loaner cars to coaches, athletic directors and athletic department personnel.

It’s something that’s allowed under NCAA rules.

I know colleges wine and dine car dealers because I saw it happen.

Twenty and 30 years ago I flew on a number of chartered flights that carried Iowa State’s players and coaches to road games. One trip each season was always set aside as the “car dealers’ trip.” A favorite for that was the game against Colorado at Boulder.

If there wasn’t a game at Boulder, another attractive trip – maybe New Mexico, Utah or Arkansas – would be chosen for the car dealers.

As far as I know, everything was on the up-and-up. I saw no hint that anyone other than coaches and other designated athletic department people were using the cars. If the star tailback was getting the keys to the ignition of a Buick V-8 [those were big 20 and 30 years ago], I certainly wasn’t aware of it.

But I have no idea what goes on at Ohio State, where 64 dealers provide cars to the athletic department and get good deals on season ticket prices in return, or anywhere else. Clarett may be telling the truth or he may not be telling the truth when he says he got loaner cars.

He’s been loose with the facts before. Only the NCAA will be able to decide if he’s lying this time.

Regardless, this has all the makings of something that could rock the shaky world of intercollegiate athletics even more.


Oh, yes. One other thing.

Jim O’Brien sued Ohio State the other day for $3.4 million.

O’Brien is the Buckeyes’ former men’s basketball coach. He says his dismissal violated terms of his contract.

O’Brien was fired after he admitted giving $6,000 to a recruit.

I wonder what Woody would think of that?

Oh, never mind.


Imagine this. Jeff Merron of doesn’t think much of the Telephone Trophy.

What’s that, you say you don’t know anything about the famous Telephone Trophy?

Well, let me tell you about it.

In the 2004 Iowa State football media guide, it says:

“When the field phones were tested prior to the Iowa State-Missouri game of 1959, it was found that both teams could hear each other. The problem was solved by game time, but not without considerable worry on the part of the coaches. The Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. of Ames had a trophy made and presented it to Iowa State to be awarded each year to the team winning the game. An odd sidelight to the whole affair was that the same thing happened to Missouri later in the year in a game played at Columbia.”

Merron has the Telephone Trophy No. 4 on his list of the most bizarre college football trophies.

“Whenever my Web-based phone service goes kaflooey due to interference between my Bluetooth mouse, my Airport network, my cordless phones and the radio receivers the CIA secretly implanted in my fillings, I long for the good old days of simple, reliable land lines,” Merron writes.

The Telephone Trophy will be up for grabs, of course, when Missouri plays at Iowa State on Nov. 27.

By the way, Merron said Floyd of Rosedale—the bronze pig that’s awarded to the Iowa-Minnesota winner every year—also “received votes” in the bizarre category.

That’s where I draw the line. Nothing bizarre about Floyd. Or the trophy.

Vol. 4, No. 278
Nov. 19, 2004

Monday, November 15, 2004

Take It From Floyd--This is Ferentz's Best Coaching Job

I finally got through to Floyd today.

Floyd of Rosedale, I mean.

Floyd, as you know, is the bronze pig that’s awarded to the winner of the Iowa-Minnesota football game every season.

After the Hawkeyes’ 29-27 victory last Saturday, Floyd and I are both happy he’ll call Iowa City home for another year.

He’s had a couple of days to rest after his weekend trip to Minneapolis.

“Nice place to visit, not a good place to spend the winter,” Floyd told me by cell phone this afternoon.

Cell phone?

“Hey, Ronnie boy, I’ve moved up in the world!” Floyd explained. “Ever since you wrote that column a year ago after interviewing me on the field at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, I’ve been getting offers and endorsement opportunities from all over the place—and not just from the pig barn.

“Heck, there’s one rumor going around that I’m going to be in a Bud Light commercial any day now.”

“Well, good for you, Floyd,” I answered. “The reason I called was to get your take on this 2004 season for the Hawkeyes. You’ve been spending a lot of time around the football offices at Iowa City lately, and now you’ll be spending another year there.

“So I figured you’d have a pretty good handle on this guy Kirk Ferentz.”

Time-out, Floyd said.

"I'm in the middle of my favorite mid-afternoon snack of ground corn, soybean meal and mineral," he told me. "Kirk just brought it into me.

“I don't know if you're aware of it or not, but the coach and I have gotten to be big buddies. He gives me the game plan on the Thursday of every week. First, he has the equipment guy run over to Bruegger’s in Coralville to get us each a big cup of their flavored coffee.

“Then Kirk runs over the game plan. He tells me stuff he doesn’t even tell the radio guys on his pregame show. He knows he can trust me. I never—and I mean NEVER—give away the game plan.”

“Good for you, Floyd. Now tell me this. What do you think of the job Ferentz has done this season? You know, a few people might’ve jumped off the bandwagon after the Hawks got clobbered at Arizona State and lost their Big Ten opener at Michigan.”

“Hey, Ronnie boy, they’re back on the ol’ bandwagon now,” Floyd said. “As usual, Kirk’s team is finishing the season strongly. In fact, I’m saying right now that Kirk is doing the best coaching job this season that he’s ever done.

“The guy is amazing. His team has won six straight games despite setting college football back about 75 years with its running game this season. Can you believe it that the Hawks ran for only 6 yards against Minnesota? And it only took ‘em 27 attempts to get those 6 yards!”

“Well, that’s what happens when all the backs get hurt,” I pointed out. “I think the waterboy is the next back on the depth chart. But as long as we’ve got Drew Tate at quarterback, I think we can beat anybody.

By the way, how do you look at Saturday’s regular-season finale against Wisconsin?”

“Don’t forget, Ronnie boy, the Hawks never lose at home anymore. Count on ‘em to lay a big-time trap for the Badgers. Barry’s boys won’t know what hit ‘em. I’ll find out what the game plan is Thursday. I’d like to let you know what it is, but my mouth—or is it my snout?—is pursed. So mum’s the word.”

“Good talking to you again, Floyd,” I said. “Just one other thing. I watched the Minnesota game on TV and noticed that Jimmy Dykes, the sideline reporter for ESPN, kissed you when the cameras were on him.

“What’s the deal with that Jimmy?”

“Aw, don’t worry about Jimmy,” Floyd said. “He’s from Arkansas, and that’s where the football fans wear plastic pig hats during games and holler, ‘So-o-o-o-o-w-e-e-e-e-e!’ a lot.

“So Jimmy Dykes can kiss me anytime he wants to. Goodbye for a few days, Ronnie boy. I’m calling my travel agent. I need to get to Florida for the holidays. The Hawks are going to be a big bowl game down there, you know.”


Iowa State athletic department officials today said Will Blalock will miss the Cyclones' season-opening basketball game against Drake on Nov. 23.

Blalock will be serving a one-game penalty for participating in a non-certified summer league game when he was home in August.

After discovering Blalock’s participation in the game, Iowa State reported the violation and imposed a one-game suspension. The NCAA has accepted the university's report, and considers the matter closed.


Hey, Bill Callahan. Welcome to the Big 12 Conference.

Nebraska’s first-year football coach, who has already gone a long way this fall to prove that he’s in over his head, said today he “used a poor choice of words” while directing profanity at some Oklahoma fans Saturday.

As he walked to the Nebraska locker room after Oklahoma’s 30-3 victory, Callahan looked into the stands and called some of the Sooners’ fans “[expletive] hillbillies.”

I’ll give you one guess what the expletive was.

“I’m an emotional guy and I’m a competitive coach,” Callahan said on the Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “On the field, I stuck up for my players.” I don’t think any team should be subjected to the type of treatment we were subjected to in that particular contest.”

Callahan said he was upset because hecklers were allowed close to his players during warm-ups, and oranges were thrown onto the field late in the game. The oranges were thrown because Oklahoma hopes to play for the national championship in the Orange Bowl at Miami.

Callahan said he couldn’t comment on what Nebraska called a “collision” between a player and an Oklahoma student fan. Callahan, who coached the Oakland Raiders before going to Nebraska, said he didn’t see the incident.

The Daily Oklahoman of Oklahoma City said Nebraska reserve offensive lineman Darren DeLone assaulted a member of the Oklahoma student spirit group, the Ruf/Neks, during warm-ups. Adam Merritt was taken to a hospital after having several teeth knocked out and sustaining facial cuts.


By the way, Oklahoma remained second in today’s Bowl Championship Series standings. Southern California is No. 1, Auburn is No. 3, Iowa is No. 18 and Wisconsin—the Hawkeyes’ opponent Saturday in Iowa City—is No. 13.


There’s more fallout from the charges Maurice Clarett has leveled against the Ohio State football program he once was a part of.

The Columbus Dispatch did some enterprise reporting to find out that 64 car dealers are enrolled in a program to give free cars to Ohio State coaches and athletic staff members in exchange for choice season ticket seats and other perks.

The NCAA allows free car programs at Division I universities, leaving it up to the schools to monitor them.

Clarett, a former Ohio State running back, told ESPN the Magazine that he and other players got help for passing grades, money for bogus summer jobs and thousands of dollars.

Clarett said he got a free loaner car from recommended by coach Jim Tressel, who gets his cars through a program now and when he was an assistant in the 1980s.

There are car programs at most other major colleges, including Iowa and Iowa State.

The Associated Press says the University of Wisconsin eliminated 30 staff members from its free car program last year, saying it wasn’t fair that academic deans didn’t get the perk. The program is now limited to coaches and assistants in football, hockey and men’s and women’s basketball.

At Ohio State, dealers provide 85 cars for coaches, assistants, department workers and the wives of two coaches and athletic director Andy Geiger, the Dispatch said.

“That’s a healthy program,” said Steve Malchow, Wisconsin’s associate athletic director. Malchow surveyed the programs a few years ago, and said Ohio State’s was among the largest.

Malchow is a former sports information assistant at the University of Iowa.


Hats off to the sports staff at the local paper for finally getting the story about the breakup of Larry Eustachy’s marriage in the paper.

They were only several days late in reading Andy Katz’s story on, two days late in reading my version on my Internet website and a couple of nights late after seeing the story on WHO-TV.

When the local paper gets blown out of the water on a story like that by three other media outlets, the usual practice is for the sports editor to wander back to where the reporters are working.

The reporters see the guy coming, and immediately put their heads down.

“The sports editor will look at a one guy and say, “You got anything going?”

“I’m swamped,” the guy will say.

Then the sports editor will turn to another guy, who has six or seven stories in front of him that he’s working on.

“Can I see you for a second,” the editor will say.

Hey, man, I’ve got a dozen phone calls placed on a number of stories,” the reporter will say.

“That can wait,” the editor will say. “I’d like to see you.”

So the editor will say, “I’d like to have our own story on this Eustachy thing, Can you get hold of Larry or Stacy?”

[Stacy is the woman he married in 1987. She and Larry’s two sons still live in Ames].

Larry won’t return any calls to this place,” the reporter will say. “And we sure as hell ain’t going to get Stacy to call us back on something like this.”

So everybody goes back to work. No new story on Eustachy. Piss-poor way for the local paper to handle that situation. So what else is new?


Speaking of piss-poor, how about that headline on Page 1 of the Sunday sports section:

It read:


The word TILL is what I’m having trouble with. My Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary says it’s supposed to be ‘Til or Till. I prefer ‘Til.

Vol. 4, No. 277
Nov. 15, 2004

Friday, November 12, 2004

Eustachy In Mississippi, But His Family Remains In Ames

We're all looking for a happy ending to the Larry Eustachy saga.

But already there's a snag.

Rebuilding his life and re-entering the basketball coaching profession didn’t come without a hefty price tag for Eustachy.

It cost him his marriage.

That fact was revealed by Andy Katz of, who interviewed Eustachy at Southern Mississippi University in Hattiesburg.

Eustachy took the Southern Mississippi job after a one-year layoff following his dismissal at Iowa State after five seasons.

Eustachy declared himself an alcoholic after being photographed in 2003 while drinking with college-age women at a party following an Iowa State-Missouri game in Columbia, Mo. The photos were published in the Des Moines Register.

It appeared that Eustachy’s wife, Stacy, who married him Aug. 8, 1987, was supportive during the time he was having problems at Iowa State and when he was hired at Southern Mississippi.

She appeared with him at Ames when he went public in an effort to save his job, and she was with him in Hattiesburg the day he accepted the Southern Mississippi job.

“His wife was in Hattiesburg for the news conference announcing his hiring on March 25, 2004,” Katz wrote. “But, according to Eustachy, the family never moved.”

Katz said Eustachy “hasn’t had a drink in 18 months. He said he’s as comfortable in his own skin as ever. But his marriage is over. His two sons [12-year-old Hayden and 10-year-old Evan] are still in Ames, Ia., near the school that fired Eustachy…..”

Explained Eustachy: “I thought in taking this job that everything would work out for me, but things went wrong. I didn’t want it to happen. The boys are the most important things in my life. I try not to go 10 days without seeing them. I’ve got all the flights mapped out. You deal with life on life’s terms. That’s what you do.

“I’d rather have my boys with me. I miss them dearly, but I find that I communicate with them more now than when I was there. I really wasn’t there when I look at it now. I go to the laundry mat. I have to handle my insurance and all that. It sounds crazy. But I wouldn’t change anything. This is what has been dealt me and I’m a better person for it. I treat people better.”

Eustachy talked openly to Katz about his prior drinking habits.

“When you drink, the whole world revolves around you and the next place,” Eustachy said. “I’m an alcoholic. What is abnormal appears normal to you. There was so much hypocrisy with me telling these [players] that they have to get some sleep and take care of their body. I wasn’t going to play, but I wasn’t well rested. I’m a lot more rested now. I get more sleep. I can fly. The thing that I thought helped me fly [drinking] hurt me from flying. The alcohol would bring on anxiety.”

Katz said, “Eustachy used to cavalierly say that he would need a few drinks to get on a plane. He usually drove because he said he was afraid to fly. When Iowa State played at Boston College two years ago, Eustachy drove to Massachusetts and back.”

Said Eustachy: “The first speaking engagement after we lost to Hampton [in the 2001 NCAA tournament in Boise, Idaho], I got up in front of hundreds of people at Iowa State and I told them that I stopped at every bar along the way from Boise to Ames. People laughed.”

Was it true?

“Just about,” he said.

Eustachy’s road to recovery and to Hattiesburg was filled with a 12-step program, counseling and good friends offering support.

Eustachy said he still goes to meetings three or four times a week to continue controlling what he calls a “disease.”

“Eustachy’s openness about his alcoholism actually helped him get the Southern Mississippi job,” Katz wrote. “Southern Miss athletic director Richard Giannini had to make a splash with the hire. He wanted and called around to do his homework. He talked to Chuck Bell, Eustachy’s former athletic director at Utah State, and got rave reviews about the five years he had in Logan.

“He talked to Tim Floyd [a close friend of Eustachy who preceded him in the Iowa State coaching job] and got a glowing opinion. So he met with Eustachy in New Orleans and the two hit it off immediately. He knew Eustachy, who had coached as an assistant at Mississippi State, loves to fish and is fond of schools that aren’t exactly in a metropolis [Idaho, Utah State, Iowa State]……

“When Eustachy had team meetings with his new players and while he was recruiting the newcomers, he was honest with them about his past. Senior Dante Stiggers said Eustachy didn’t hide anything and told the players that he ‘messed up.’

“’He told us he made a major mistake, but he wasn’t going to run from it,’ said junior college transfer Solomon Brown. ‘He took full responsibility for what he did. I felt like he took a chance on me. I had somewhat of a checkered past myself. This isn’t a last chance for us, but more like a second or third chance for some of us.’

Rashaad Carruth probably needed Eustachy as much as he needed him. Carruth, a rare McDonald’s all-American at Southern Miss, played one season at Kentucky before being pushed out of Lexington. He went to Oklahoma and couldn’t last for Kelvin Sampson. He declined to say why he couldn’t cut it with Sampson, but said he regretted not being able to play for him after failing to make it through a redshirt season. He ended up at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa.

“’This is my last time and everyone knows it,’ Carruth said. ‘Coach Eustachy told me the truth, not just what I wanted to hear. He was very open about how he turned his life around. We’ve both been through some hard times.’”

Eustachy succeeded James Green, a former Iowa State assistant coach, in what had become a floundering program at Southern Mississippi.

“James Green was a good solid coach and a good disciplinarian, but we had our worst ticket gross here in 17 years,” Giannini told Katz.

Southern Mississippi has a top 25 football program and is nationally recognized in baseball. But the basketball team hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since its only two appearances in 1990 and 1991. Giannini told Katz that “schools like Cincinnati and Louisville can make millions in basketball while the Golden Eagles make only about $700,000…..The upside here is huge and that’s why this was a critical hire for us…..”

Eustachy said he “doesn’t have any regrets or bitterness toward Iowa State. He said he stood up for everything he did and isn’t looking for an excuse to explain his past behavior. [Southern Mississippi] is a place where the people want to see their coach, and I’m out in the community a lot. I go home a lot earlier now. The thing that got me to that party [at Missouri] was I thought of myself as a normal guy.”

After his interview with Eustachy, Katz said the coach was “still quick-witted, but without the edge. The anger is gone. There’s almost a sense of tranquility when you’re in his presence.”

Tim Floyd continues to be a presence in Eustachy’s life.

Katz said there is a photo on the wall in Eustachy’s office. It’s a framed plaque of Lee Floyd—Tim’s father—who was Southern Mississippi’s coach in the 1960s.

“If it weren’t for Tim’s recommendation, Eustachy might not be here,” Katz said. “Floyd’s mother still lives in Hattiesburg. Tim lives about halfway between here and New Orleans. He comes often to practice. Eustachy and Floyd talk nearly every day. He is probably an unofficial member of Eustachy’s therapy team.”


A guy who used to work at the local paper is wondering why the bosses moved so quickly in naming a news editor.

"It took less than a year," he points out with his tongue firmly in his cheek.

Anyway, here's the announcement that has been sent to the newsroom staff by Gage Church:

"I am very pleased to announce that James (Bob) Hagerty will join The Des Moines Register as news editor, a position that has been open since Mia Bush's departure last December.

"Bob is an editor and reporter at the Wall Street Journal in New York, where he covers housing and economics. Before moving to New York, he was the London bureau chief and the Atlanta deputy bureau chief for the Journal in Hong Kong, he held several positions at different times for the Asian Wall Street Journal: managing editor, news editor, deputy news editor and copy editor. He also has been a reporter and editor with the International Herald Tribune in London and Paris.

"The move will bring Bob closer to family in his native North Dakota. He, his wife, Lorraine, and their two boys will arrive in Des Moines in late December or early January."

Well, let's all give a warm Des Moines welcome to James, Bob or whatever the hell his name is.

I'm sure he'll find that this is a much nicer place to work than New York, Hong Kong, London and Paris. And the night life? No doubt it'll be a lot better here, too. Wait'll he sees the new mall.

Vol. 4, No. 276
Nov. 12, 2004

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Young Bulldogs Want to Go Dancin' to an NCAA Beat

Drake hasn’t had a winning basketball record since the 1986-87 season and hasn’t appeared in an NCAA tournament in 34 years.

So you’re probably guessing the Bulldogs can only hope for a slow, steady climb back to the Big Dance—otherwise known as the NCAA tournament.

Guess again.

“The goal of this team is to get into the NCAA tournament,” Davis told fans today at the men’s basketball luncheon at Christopher’s Restaurant in Beaverdale.

I marched up to Davis after the lunch to see if I heard him correctly.

“Exactly,” he said. “That kind of thinking [by my players] is absolutely all right with me. You want to encourage that kind of thinking.”

Davis, who is in his second season at Drake, knows all about taking teams to the Big Dance.

He’s the all-time winningest coach at the University of Iowa with a 269-140 record in 13 seasons, and nine of those teams played in the NCAA tournament and two were in the National Invitation Tournament.

Davis stressed that it’s his new players who have designs on making it to the NCAA tournament.

“My older guys—the seniors—maybe don’t think we can do it, but the new guys think we can,” Davis said.

To realize their dreams, Davis said the Bulldogs must get off to a good start in both the non-conference and Missouri Valley Conference schedules.

Both will be challenging.

Indeed, Davis’ son, Keno, an assistant coach at Drake, said he figures the schedule after the first five games will be rated among the 10 or 20 toughest in major-college basketball.

The Bulldogs open Nov. 19 against Akron at the Knapp Center, then play at Iowa State on Nov. 23, against Iowa at the Knapp Center Nov. 30, play at Colorado State on Dec. 4, then open their Valley schedule Dec. 8 at home against Wichita State.

“Iowa, Iowa State and Wichita State played in postseason tournaments last year,” Davis said. “Playing at Colorado State won’t be any picnic either.”

The Bulldogs play their first exhibition game Saturday at the Knapp Center against North Dakota State at 4:05 p.m., then meet Robert Morris in another exhibition at 7:05 p.m. Monday at the Knapp Center.

I asked Davis to name some players who have stood out in practice, and the first name he mentioned was that of Chaun Brooks, a 6-2 junior guard from San Antonio, Texas.

“I think Chaun would be the one guy who has improved the most in the off-season,” Davis said. “He’s very solid and very stable. He’s both an off-guard and a point guard. He’s a good rebounder and also a good defensive guard.

Klayton Korver [a 6-6 sophomore forward from Pella] has improved, too,” Davis said. "His passing is really good. And Pete Eggers [a 6-4 senior forward from Dubuque] has definitely improved. Pete came here as a walk-on, made the top eight or nine last season, suddenly became a starter, then was elected an honorary captain by his teammates at the end of the season.”


Longtime WHO-radio and TV sportscaster Jim Zabel attended the lunch, and Davis said some nice things about him.

Davis said he wanted to tell a story about himself and Zabel, but refrained from doing it.

“I didn’t know how it would go over with the audience,” Davis told me later.

So what was the story?

“Zabel and I were both let go by the University of Iowa, but both of us are still working,” Davis said with a chuckle.


Speaking of Iowa, it was interesting that Ed Crowley, who was the Hawkeyes’ head football trainer for 31 years, was the team’s honorary captain for last week’s game against Purdue.

Crowley was moved to a non-football job before the 2004 season for reasons that have never been explained.

Ironically, this has been one of the worst years in memory for season-ending knee injuries at Iowa. Coach Kirk Ferentz is now down to his fifth-team running back – walk-on Sam Brownlee – because of the injuries.

You’ve got to wonder if Crowley’s presence on the training staff might have made a difference.


After writing some thoughts a few days ago about a few idiot fans at Iowa State who risk their lives and the lives of others by jumping on the goal posts and crossbars at Jack Trice Stadium after big victories, I heard from Tom Kroeschell.

Kroeschell is Iowa State’s associate athletic director in charge of media relations.

I said Iowa State should think about replacing the present goal posts with those that can be collapsed immediately by athletic department officials. Collapsing the posts obviously prevents fans from climbing on them.

Kroeschell e-mailed these comments to me:

“Since 1998, we have employed steel goal posts which NEVER come down. They are not cheap. We did it after the students carried the goal posts out of the stadium after a game in 1997 [a much easier thing at Jack Trice Stadium with wide entry gates than at Kinnick Stadium]. When I was at Northwestern, the students took the downed goal posts and threw them over the side of Ryan Field from the upper deck. Someone could have been killed. In 1992, after the game in which quarterback Marv Seiler led Iowa State to a victory over Nebraska, we had a serious injury when the goal post collapsed on a person. Even collapsed goal posts can be very lethal."

“When we [ISU] were thinking of buying these steel goal posts [the company] showed a video of a game during Northwestern’s 1995 Rose Bowl season when the students stormed the field. They tried everything, but the posts would not come down.”

[I appreciate Kroeschell’s comments. The bottom line is that I’d like to eliminate the danger of any fan being injured by climbing on goal posts or crossbars or being hurt by posts that fall or are falling. The best way to prevent it from happening would be to keep people off the field after games, but apparently there aren’t enough police and other security people in Ames, Iowa City and a million other places around the world to make that happen].


A sharp central Iowa TV guy sent this thought to me in an e-mail:

“Wouldn’t it be interesting if somehow the BCS found a way to match Oklahoma and Wisconsin in one of their bowls if they both remain unbeaten? Alvarez vs. Stoops…..Bielema [defense] vs. Long [offense]. Hayden Fry could do the coin toss!!!!!

[The TV guy was referring to former Iowa coach Hayden Fry and some of his former players and assistant coaches who are coaching at highly-rated Oklahoma and Wisconsin. Bob Stoops is Oklahoma’s coach, Barry Alvarez is Wisconsin’s coach, Bret Bielema is Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator and Chuck Long is Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator. Sounds like a great bowl matchup to me].


A reader sent this e-mail:

“My opinion of Kirk Ferentz leaving Iowa is this: He is not going anywhere until Drew Tate is gone. But what do I know?”

[You probably know quite a bit. I’m pretty sure Ferentz thinks it’s a pretty good idea to hang onto the Iowa coaching job until sophomore quarterback Drew Tate has completed his eligibility. No one can accuse Ferentz of having lost his senses. There will always be another NFL job open when Tate has played his final game for the Hawkeyes].

Vol. 4, No. 275
Nov. 10, 2004

Sunday, November 07, 2004

McCarney Deserves Big 12 Coach of the Year Honor

Wrapping up the weekend and thinking that Iowa State’s Dan McCarney deserves to be named Coach of the Year in the Big 12 Conference:

For me, yesterday started at 4:30 a.m. I had the alarm clock set for 5 a.m., but my body alarm was wired for a half-hour earlier.

It somehow reminded me of my working days.

That was my earlier writing life.

I’m glad Saturday’s “work” consisted of a round-trip to Iowa City, half of a basketball scrimmage, a review of the Hawkeye marching band’s drumroll, and a more exciting Iowa-Purdue football game than I expected.

The best thing about it was that my son did all the driving and my daughter-in-law and grandson got to make the trip, too. They saw the same basketball scrimmage, the same drumline and the same football game that I saw.

That’s when I knew for sure that this wasn’t work.

It continues to amaze me that Kirk Ferentz keeps winning game after game at Iowa with not a hint of a rushing offense.

The Hawkeyes ran for just 43 yards in 34 attempts in their 23-21 victory over Purdue.

Iowa fans know their team can’t run, Iowa’s opponents know Iowa can’t run and Iowa’s coaches probably know Iowa can’t run.

But all the 19th-ranked Hawkeyes do is win.

Just think, this the same Kirk Ferentz who had a 1-10 record in 1999 and was 3-9 in 2000.

People thought he couldn’t coach, had a bad staff and would be gone after three seasons.

Some of those people were sportswriters or had been sportswriters. Heck, maybe there was even a sportscaster or two in the bunch.

Seven-and-2 heading into a game Saturday at Minnesota and 17 straight victories at Kinnick Stadium show people what they know.

Ferentz isn’t that far from being Coach of the Year material in the Big Ten.

He’ll deserve that honor if he can somehow figure out a way to win at Minnesota and beat Wisconsin in the Nov. 20 showdown at Kinnick Stadium.

Until then, Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez [9-0 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten] is my Coach of the Year.

Speaking of coaches, how long is it going to be before Wisconsin defensive coordinator Bret Bielema and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Chuck Long [both former players and assistants at Iowa] become head coaches somewhere?

Long would seem to be a good fit to replace the soon-to-be-gone Ron Turner at Illinois. Bielema will fit in at anyplace that needs a tough-guy coaching mentality to take over for an undisciplined program.

There are people [Al Schallau being one of them] who think Mike Price would be an excellent replacement for Turner at Illinois.

In answer to that, one guy said it would be a bad fit.

“There aren’t enough strip joints in Champaign, Ill., to suit Price,” he explained.

Price is the coach who was fired before ever drawing X’s and O’s for a game at Alabama. He was dumped after spending more time with some strippers than his playbook one night.

He now is doing a good job of rebuilding what had been a sick program at Texas-El Paso.

As impressive as Iowa State’s 34-27 victory over Nebraska was, I can’t figure out why there weren’t more than 45,022 fans at Jack Trice Stadium for the game.

The 2002 Iowa State-Nebraska game – won by the Cyclones, 36-14 – attracted 51,888 fans.

It’s obvious that Nebraska’s fans aren’t that excited about their team at this stage, but Iowa State fans owed it to McCarney and his players to fill up the stadium and the hillsides.

McCarney is my choice for Big 12 Coach of the Year because his team is on the verge of qualifying for a bowl game after the 2003 Cyclones lost their last 10 games and finished 2-10.

The Big 12 North may be a sad-sack division, but anytime Iowa State has a chance to finish higher than Nebraska, Kansas State, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas in anything tells me the coach is doing a tremendous job.

How long are we going to have to look at photos of idiots hanging off the goalposts at Jack Trice Stadium after a big Iowa State victory?

Before someone gets killed at Ames, school administrators should replace those posts with goalposts that can be lowered [like at Iowa] when the game ends.

It’s bad enough that fans are storming the field at both Iowa State and Iowa following games. Jumping on the goalposts and crossbar adds to the ridiculousness.

Iowa has a more athletic basketball team than it’s had in recent seasons under Coach Steve Alford.

Whether that means the Hawkeyes will win more games remains to be seen.

Fans oohed and aahed yesterday when players showed off their personal skills before the Black and Gold scrimmage at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

But those same fans were strangely silent during the first few minutes of the game, which was won by the Gold Shirt squad, 69-62, over the Black Shirts.

It took the turnout of 6,532 a long time to get into the game. Of course, that’s happened a lot when the season has started for real during the Alford years.

Pierre Pierce scored 33 points for the Gold Shirts, but made only 14 of 29 shots and was 2-for-9 on three-pointers. Carlton Reed led the Black Shirts with 19 points.

Doug Thomas scored 14 points and had 18 rebounds for the Black Shirts. That guy can play.

After I got home last night, I saw a strange game on TV.

It was No. 1-ranked Southern California at Oregon State.

In the fog.

Had it been baseball, they’d have suspended the game. No batter in his right mind would have wanted to face a pitcher who was throwing the ball 100 miles per hour in the fog.

But the football game went on.

And on.

USC won, 28-20, much to the displeasure of teams such as Oklahoma, Auburn and Wisconsin—which follow the Trojans in the polls.

The late-night sports news talked of how the Cubs might trade Sammy Sosa to the Dodgers for Shawn Green.

Me? I’d settle for a Sosa-for-Dodgers batboy trade.

Get Sammy out of there! Any guy who can’t hang around for the Cubs’ final game of the season deserves the $87,400 fine he got and the embarrassment that went with it.

I think he’ll look real good in right field at Dodger Stadium.

Vol. 4, No. 274
Nov. 7, 2004

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Here Are Some Things I've Always Wanted to Know

I found out something the other day that I’ve wanted to know for a couple of years.

I’d been meaning to ask Aliou Keita what his name would be if he were a pro wrestler, but always seemed to forget about it every time I got around the big guy.

But now my research on that subject has ended, thanks to Mike Mahon.

Keita says he’d be “Lou Lou” in the wrestling ring.

And that’s not all. I also found out that if Leonard Houston were on “Survivor,” his luxury item would be, “Play Station 2.”

Then there’s Brent Heemskerk. Asked what his dream job would be, Heemskerk said, “An anchor on ESPN Sports Center.”

I discovered all that stuff because Mahon had it written down when I went over to see some of the young players Drake will have on its basketball team this season.

Mahon is the school’s sports information director, and always likes to go the extra mile in an effort to help out the folks who will be writing and talking about the Bulldogs.

He handed out questionnaires to newcomers to the program, and got some interesting answers.

I mean, I’ll bet you didn’t know Heemskerk’s favorite home-cooked meal is shepherd’s pie.

I’ve been trying to stick to salmon and vegetable soup lately, so I wasn’t familiar with shepherd’s pie until I looked it up on the Internet.

There it was on Google. I’m sure Gayle Heemskerk, Brent’s mother, has her favorite shepherd’s pie recipe, but “Diana’s Kitchen” provided me with what it called “a tasty shepherd’s pie made with ground beef, mashed potatoes and seasonings.”

Some of the other ingredients were butter, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, onions, ketchup, beef broth, heavy cream, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.

Heemskerk, a 6-8, 225-pound Drake freshman forward from Grand Rapids, Mich., will also be happy to know that “Diana’s Kitchen” also has recipes for shepherd’s pie made with leftover beef.

However, as much as Heemskerk likes shepherd’s pie at home, he said his actual favorite food is Chinese.

That being the case, he’ll be right at home in Des Moines. I think we’ve got just as many Oriental restaurants here as there are in Shanghai.

Heemskerk’s favorite athlete is a football player—Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre. Interesting, huh? Maybe it’s because of the names--Brett and Brent sound a lot alike.

Heemskerk’s answer to the question about what his name would be as a pro wrestler was, “The Big Aristotle.”

Asked what the best advice he has ever been given, he said, “The more you complain, the more you find to complain about. The more you give thanks, the more you find things to be thankful for.”

When he was a little kid, Heemskerk said he pretended to be basketball’s Larry Bird. And not many people know it, but he says he loves to play croquet.

Heemskerk got on the right side of his coach when he said he said he chose Drake because, “It has excellent academics, and I wanted to play for Dr. Tom Davis.”

Keita is a 6-8, 260-pound Drake sophomore center from Dakar, Senegal. He played for Regina High School in Iowa City and transferred to Drake from Tulsa.

In answer to Mahon’s question about who he pretended to be when he was a little kid, he said, “A soccer player, kicking in the dirt in front of my house.”

Asked what the best advice he has been given, he said, “Be kind and respectful to everybody.”

He was asked who the two people would be in history that he could have dinner with, and he said, “Malcolm X and Louis Pasteur.”

Keita said not many people know it, but “I do NOT like to be in the water.”

Houston is a 6-3 freshman guard from Holland, Mich. He says his favorite food is fried chicken, his favorite musician is Jay-Z, his favorite actor is Martin Lawrence, his favorite pro team is the Detroit Pistons, his favorite pro athlete is Steve Francis and his favorite TV show is “Martin.”

Houston said that if he wins the lottery, he’ll buy a Bentley. Not a bad choice. I looked up the prices of a new Bentley Arnage, and they ranged from $199,990 to $256,990.

The person Houston would like to have a conversation with is Halle Berry, but the two people in history he’d like to have dinner with are Frederick Douglas and Michael Jordan.

Asked to name the one moment in history he wishes he could have seen, Houston said, “The civil rights movements.”

Iowa Sports Connection
Nov. 4, 2004

Monday, November 01, 2004

McCarney: Talk of 'Weak' Big 12 North Is Getting Old

Dan McCarney agrees.

“Yes, it does get kind of old,” Iowa State’s football coach said today.

McCarney was referring to persistent talk that the North Division of the Big 12 football race is weak.

Although McCarney’s Cyclones have only a 2-3 conference record and stand 4-4 overall, they can claim at least a share of the Big 12 North lead by beating Nebraska in a 1 p.m. game Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

Not a day – would you believe hour? – goes by without some self-appointed know-it-all poking fun at the North standings.

Nebraska leads with a 3-2 record, followed by Iowa State and Missouri at 2-3 and Colorado, Kansas and Kansas State at 1-4.

Nebraska is the only team with an overall record above .500. In the Big 12 South, however, five of the six teams—Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech—are above .500.

McCarney said he understands some of the talk about the records in the Big 12 North, “but we’ve got our own world we live in, getting our team ready to play and focusing on our next opponent,” he said.

I have respect for the coaches and players and staffs of the teams in the North. It’s just human nature to blow up a little bit when you hear [talk about how weak the teams are]. I’m just speaking for myself, not the other coaches.”


McCarney said he certainly won’t be making any apologies if the Cyclones should happen to win the Big 12 North title.

“No team in the Big 12 has to make any apologies for anything,” he said. “The neat thing about the North division is that all six teams are in the race.”

A game at Kansas State on Nov. 20 and a home game against Missouri on Nov. 27 follow the Nebraska game on Iowa State’s schedule. It’s certainly feasible for the Cyclones to win the Big 12 North title and go into the conference playoff game against , say, unbeaten Oklahoma with a 6-5 overall record.

That brought up another question for McCarney on this morning’s Big 12 coaches’ teleconference.

A reporter projected that the Big 12 North representative would be 6-6 after a loss to the Sooners.

“I guess the league would have to get an NCAA waiver [so the 6-6 team could get a bowl bid],” the writer suggested.

“You threw a lot at me,” McCarney answered. “I’m an Iowa graduate. You got me stumped with that. I’d love to be in that position. One of my dreams is playing in the [Big 12] title game.”

Asked if the playoff game should count as part of the regular season, McCarney said, “I haven’t thought about it. I just hope that, one of these days, the Cyclones will be in the mix and have a chance to do something like that.”

The reporter then said to McCarney, “It was a typical sportswriter’s question. I apologize, Dan.”

Said McCarney: “I get confused easily.”


This e-mail was sent to sportswriters by Iowa State athletic media relations director Tom Kroeschell:

Iowa State offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Barney Cotton has respectfully declined to do interviews this week as the coaching staff prepares to play Nebraska Saturday in Ames. He thanks all of you for respecting his decision.”

Cotton is in his first season on McCarney’s staff after being on Nebraska’s staff.

Asked today if it would be a case of the Cyclones trying to “win one for Barney” because he was fired at Nebraska, McCarney said, “No, that doesn’t have anything to do with it.

“Barney was in charge of our scouting report on Nebraska yesterday. It wasn’t mentioned that he was let go or fired by Nebraska. I don’t sense it as a ‘win one for Barney’ thing. I’m glad I’ve got Barney on my staff, and this is ‘trying to win one for the Cyclones.’”


Got $60 you don’t know what to do with? Well, there are still reserved seats left at that price for the Iowa State-Nebraska game, which won’t be televised. For $35, you can get hillside seating at Jack Trice Stadium.

It’s hard to believe there are still Iowa State-Nebraska tickets available the week of the game. But that illustrates there are even limits to what Husker fans will spend their money on these days.


In three weeks, Kyle Orton has gone from being the favorite for the Heisman Trophy to just another journeyman quarterback.

Orton, the former Southeast Polk High School player, will start for the Boilermakers in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against Iowa at Kinnick Stadium—providing he’s healthy.

Coach Joe Tiller told the Lafayette Journal and Courier that Orton will be in the lineup against the Hawkeyes, even though he was benched in last week’s 13-10 loss at Northwestern.

“If he’s healthy and feels like he can throw the ball, and we see it in him about midweek on, then Kyle Orton will be the starter,” Tiller said.

Orton suffered a hip pointer Oct. 23 against Michigan, then hurt the hip again in the first half against Northwestern.

Orton predicts he’ll be ready Saturday.

“I’m just trying to get healthy and play through some pain,” he said. “I certainly don’t want to be hurting the team by being in there if I can’t go. But also I’m just trying to play through some pain and help my team win.”

Purdue has gone from a team with a 5-0 record to one that’s 5-3 after losses to Wisconsin, Michigan and Northwestern. During the losing streak, Orton has averaged only 197 yards a game passing, with three touchdown passes and three interceptions. He also has lost three critical fumbles.

“That’s all on me,” Orton said. “I make a nice play to get the first down, then don’t secure the football. That’s freshman stuff. I’ve got to get over that.”


Another future Iowa opponent that’s slipped down the drain is Minnesota, which has gone from being unbeaten and ranked No. 13 nationally to 6-3.

A few weeks ago, the Gophers envisioned going to the Rose Bowl. Now it’s predicted they’re headed to the bowl game no team wants to go to—the Motor City in Detroit.

It’s gotten so bad at Minneapolis that Glen Mason, the former Iowa State assistant who coaches the Gophers, “offered a blunt self-evaluation,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

“I need to do a better job,” Mason said. “I am not getting the job done. Coach Mason is not getting the job done.”

The paper said Mason’s comments “were meant to take the heat off his team in the wake of an embarrassing 30-21 loss to Indiana that left the Gophers’ bowl game prospects in peril and brought another round of frustration to an already maddening season.”

Regardless of the purpose of Mason’s comments, you can make sure his bosses will remember what he said when it comes to renewing his contract.

Vol. 4, No. 273
Nov. 1, 2004