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