Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Alford Feels 'Bittersweet' After His Biggest Iowa Victory

We saw tonight why Bobby Knight wouldn't mind bailing out of Lubbock, Texas, so he could take the Southern California coaching job.

Nobody--certainly not Knight--would want to continue coaching the Texas Tech team that had 10 shots blocked [six by Erek Hansen], committed 21 turnovers and was blown out by 17th-ranked Iowa, 83-53, in Chicago.

Without a doubt, it was Steve Alford's biggest victory in his six season as the Hawkeyes' coach.

But judging by Alford's postgame comments, he didn't enjoy it as much as all of us might think.

"Coaches have many, many players, but players have only one college coach," the AP reported he said. "So I'm happy for the team, I'm happy for the players. But it's a little bittersweet for me.

"I still much more enjoy being on coach Knight's side than going against him."

Knight had been 3-0 against Alford, his former star player at Indiana, but the kid made the old man pay a big-time price tonight.

Actually, I'm kind of surprised Knight didn't get two quick technical fouls so he would've been kicked out of the game by the officials. Then he wouldn't have had to watch the rest of it.

I certainly haven't seen every game Knight has coached at Indiana and Texas Tech, but if this isn't the worst team he's ever had at either school, I wouldn't want to want to be on hand to view a poorer one.

What I can't figure out is what's gone wrong with Knight's recruiting. There was a time in his coaching career when he'd never put up with the lousy talent he has on this Texas Tech team.

Indeed, Knight is in for some long, long days and nights in the Big 12 Conference this winter, folks.

The 30-point loss was his worst at Texas Tech since a 90-50 drubbing No. 1-ranked Kansas gave him March 9, 2002.

"Steve's team, I think they've done a really good job with it," Knight said.

I can't see any way Alford can screw this team up. Now 10-1, the Hawkeyes are headed for a 15-1 record going into their Big Ten showdown Jan. 20 at Illinois.

Illinois, Michigan State and Iowa are clearly the best teams in the conference, and I'm not ready to say they'll finish in that order in the final standings. I feel the Hawkeyes can do better.


For the first time in my memory, Knight came across as looking like just another white-haired old man as he shuffled across the court to congratulate Alford after the game.

And something that really looked ridiculous to me was the O'Reilly Auto Parts logo that Knight was wearing on his sweater.

Talk about a sellout. What's next, Knight or some other coach coming onto the floor wearing a Viagra logo? Hey, if the money's right, they'll do it.


Iowa's women's basketball team had the misfortune of playing Western Illinois on the same night that the Hawkeye men were appearing on ESPN2 against Texas Tech.

The women drew a palty gathering of 3,232 fans in 15,500-seat Carver-Hawkeye Arena at Iowa City despite pushing their record to 10-0.

But don't blame the men's game on TV for that. Iowa's women have been a terrible box office draw all season. They'd been averaging only 3,654 fans per home game going into the Western Illinois game.

The biggest disappointment was that only 4,682 showed up for the Dec. 1 game against Iowa State--an 89-80 Hawkeye victory.

There's a lot of work that must be done by people in the athletic department and the ticket office. Those attendance figures are awful, especially for an unbeaten team in a state that prides itself in being a big-time believer in girls' and women's basketball.


The poor local paper.

It again came up a bridesmaid, not a bride.

The bosses there thought they had a news editor hired, only to find out it was all a dream.

Or a nightmare. Take your pick.

Oh, well. At least no one at 8th and Locust had to spend much time researching whether the new guy’s first name was James or Bob. Or both.

“It took a year to find this guy. I suppose it will take another year to
find someone else,” a former editor and reporter at the local paper said in an e-mail to me.

Here’s s copy of the memo that was distributed inside the newsroom yesterday:

"From: Church, Gage

"Sent: Monday, December 20, 2004 4:19 PM

"Subject: News editor news

"I learned today that Bob Hagerty will not be joining the Register as
news editor. On Friday -- what was to be his last day at the Wall Street Journal--
his editors offered him the opportunity to stay with the Journal, keep his current position and "New York" salary, and live to the Midwest.

"The move to Iowa was a major factor in his seeking a different job, as his elderly parents live in North Dakota. Being able to locate closer to them while keeping a six-figure salary was a no-brainer.

"While I'm disappointed that Bob won't be working with us, there is a
silver lining: I'll be able to work with you good folks as news editor for a while
longer. The search for a permanent news editor will begin anew in January.

"Thanks for your patience, and please let me know if you have

WELL, I'VE got a few. Questions, I mean.

First of all, why did Hagerty think he’d be happy in Des Moines in the first place? I mean, he’s already worked in New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Brussels.

How the hell was he going to survive the excitement on Saturday nights in Des Moines? I mean, you can only watch so many movies at the new mall.

Why – really, why – did he change his mind?

And, finally, what’s the guy’s name – James or Bob?

THIS IS WHAT it says about James or Bob on the Wall Street Journal website:

"James R. [Bob] Hagerty has covered housing and economics for The Wall Street Journal since January 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics and journalism from the University of North Dakota. Since graduating in 1978, he has worked as a reporter and editor for The Wall Street Journal and for its overseas editions in New York, Hong Kong, London, Brussels and Atlanta. He has served as managing editor of The Asian Wall Street Journal and London bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. He also has worked for the International Herald Tribune in Paris and London."

Ho-hum. I’ll bet Mia Bush is laughing somewhere.


Now on to more interesting things.

An eastern Iowa woman e-mailed me to tell me about her son.

He and Bella, his pup, were jogging out by the pond this afternoon,” the woman explained.

“The pup ran out on the ice and went through. She couldn't get out, so my son had to go in after her.

“He’s not much of a swimmer under the best conditions. First he got one of the floating rafts out of the storage bin on the deck and tried to reach it out for the dog to get up on, but it was too slick.

“So, with the raft at his side, he jumped in and rescued her. In the process he lost his telephone.

“He decided it must be at the bottom of the pond. He took another phone out and retraced his steps ringing his cell phone, but never did find it.”


Hardly anything goes on at Southern California--or anywhere else in sports--without former Iowan Al Schallau having an opinion about it.

Recent days have been exciting at USC. Rick Majerus, the portly former basketball coach who was working for ESPN, agreed to coach the Trojans, starting next season.

Then, after thinking about it for a day, he abruptly changed his mind and returned to ESPN.

“When his hiring was announced, my reaction was, ‘Majerus walked out on the Utah basketball team last January with half the regular season and the NCAA tournament remaining,” Schallau said.

“What would stop him from doing the same thing to USC? He can use his seven by-passes and his chronic overweight condition to justify ANYTHING anytime.'

“Hiring [former Iowa State coach] Tim Floyd is not real thrilling. I think he is rather ordinary as a head coach. I would much prefer that USC hire George Karl as its next basketball coach.

“I grew up in Iowa City and graduated from Iowa. We Hawkeye fans were thrilled when George Raveling left Iowa to take the USC job. There are thousands of basketball fans in Iowa who would be equally thrilled if USC lured Steve Alford away from Iowa City.

“One thing I will say on Rick Majerus' behalf: We hardcore basketball fans will be well-served by him serving as a basketball analyst on ESPN. I think he will be excellent in that job.”

Vol. 4, No. 289
Dec. 21, 2004