Friday, February 11, 2005

Flanagan of WOI-TV Asks: Have Athletes Changed?

Chris Flanagan called a few days ago to tell me about his plan.

Flanagan, who is the co-anchor with Lisa Carponelli on WOI-TV’s 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts, is dipping into his sports background to tackle a timely project.

“We’re doing a piece on college athletes nowadays and how they’ve changed, or if they’ve changed, from a generation ago,” Flanagan explained. “We thought it would be appropriate after what’s happened to Pierre Pierce.”

Flanagan said he “tossed the idea for the project around with news director Scott Frederick” and decided to go with it.

“The shows will run during the 10 p.m. newscasts Tuesday and Wednesday,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan was kind enough to invite me to appear on the show, and came to my home today with a Channel 5 photographer to put my thoughts about the topic on videotape.

“In addition to you, we’ve talked with Drake basketball coach Tom Davis, Troy Skinner and Scott Helverson,” Flanagan said. “We’ll also interview Jeff Hornacek and Jeff Grayer. So we’ll have a good mix of people.”

Skinner is a former University of Iowa basketball player, Helverson played football at Iowa and now is a Big Ten football official. Hornacek and Grayer are former Iowa State basketball standouts.

Flanagan has been at WOI-TV for 3 ½ months. He came to the station after being at KNTV in San Francisco.

“I was a sports anchor and reporter for a number of years,” he said. “That’s how I got my start in TV.”

Channel 5 has been an aggressive player in the Pierce saga. The station had a number of excellent stories last week, and obviously plans to follow with another strong package when it puts the finishing touches to the “college athletes—have they changed?” shows.


I've been following collegiate basketball for more than a half-century, and thought I'd seen it all.

Then I heard why Lonnie Randolph didn't start Drake's game this afternoon against Southwest Missouri State at Springfield, Mo.

Mike Mahon of Drake wrote to say that Randolph, a senior guard, didn't arrive at the arena for the 1:05 p.m. game until there were nearly 6 1/2 minutes gone in the first half.

The reason?

He was taking a law school entrance exam.

"Randolph, the team's second-leading scorer with a 10.7 average, didn't arrive at the Hammons Student Center arena until there was 13:36 left in the first half," Mahon explained. "Randolph spent the entire morning taking his Law School entrance exam on the Southwest Missouri campus along with senior teammate Nate Richie."

That, folks, is a first for me.

I know Maury John, the coach of Drake's 1969 Final Four team, will undoubtedly be rolling over in his grave once he gets this information.

If nothing else, it certainly emphasizes how much value Drake puts on academics these days.

If anyone out there has heard of a stranger way for a player to be late for a game, let me know at

The tardiness of Randolph and Richie wasn't Drake's only problem. Klayton Korver, the Bulldogs' leading three-point shooter, had missed the previous three days of practice because of an injury and made only a token appearance in the game.

He shot two free throws with 7:13 left in the first half after starting Drake's previous 21 games.

Randolph wound up playing 20 minutes and scoring 10 points in the Bulldogs' 85-78 loss. Drake's records sank to 4-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference and 8-14 overall. Richie played one minute and didn't score.

Paul Morrison, Drake's 87-year-old athletic department historian, told me Sunday that he'd never heard of an incident such as the one that happened at Springfield.

"I've heard of players being penalized because they were late for the team bus, or something like that," said Morrison, who was on hand for the Drake-Southwest Missouri State game. "In those situations, maybe those guys would be held out of the lineup for a minute or two. But this was a new one to me."


Iowa coach Steve Alford didn't say it, but it seems obvious to me that 6-8 Doug Thomas is in his doghouse.

Thomas grabbed a lot of pine time during the Hawkeyes' victory tonight over Northwestern.

"Doug Thomas did not log a minute--did not get off the bench. What can you tell us about that situation?" play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin of the Iowa radio network asked Alford after the game.

"Well, I think we wanted to give Seth [Gorney] some minutes, and we gave Seth a look," Alford answered. "I really like what Seth done. I think Doug will have a chance to get in there, but he's behind Erek [Hansen] and Seth off the bench.

"So that presents some problems for him getting playing time. Those things are going to have to be addressed in practice. In our meetings and things, he's going to have to show that he's deserving of those minutes over Erek and Seth."

Vol. 4, No. 308
Feb. 12, 2005