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