Friday, April 08, 2005

'I Was Watching the Final Four on TV, Then I Saw a Negligee' in the Room

Catching up with the e-mail while “The Best of Gannett” and I impatiently await more from Bryce Miller on high school wrestler Montell Marion and the start of the local paper’s four-part series on racial problems at Valley High School:


“A quick note about that 1976 NCAA title game. Our high school band was doing a cross-state tour of Florida. We arrived in Tampa the night of the 1976 title game We slept four to a room, with a room captain having a key. I got our key and dashed upstairs to our room [my roommates couldn't figure out why I would want to watch TV when we were spending this free night away from our parents!] and rushed in and turned on the TV. I watched intensely until the next commercial break, then I noticed the sound of a shower running. I looked around the room and saw a negligee laid out on the bedspread. It then occurred to me that there was someone already in this room who would be very surprised if I stuck around for the rest of the game. I flew out of there and got a new room. I still wonder what the woman thought when she came out of the bathroom and the TV was turned to the NCAA title game [she had to think....I didn't turn this on, did I?]

“Tom Kroeschell”

[RON MALY’S COMMENT: Kroeschell is associate athletic director for media relations at Iowa State. His amusing e-mail was in response to my recent column on NCAA Final Four tournaments. One of the games I zeroed in on was the 1976 all-Big Ten championship game between Johnny Orr’s Michigan team and Bobby Knight’s Indiana team. Indiana won, 86-68, and Orr later went on to coach at Iowa State. He’s still a good friend of Knight [yes, ol’ Bobby does have a few friends], who now is at Texas Tech].



”You may recall that Sports Illustrated labeled the Hawkeye basketball team the ‘Iowa Windsuckers’ in Lute Olson’s last season here, when he let several close games get away, costing Iowa a Big Ten championship.

“I wonder what the magazine will call Arizona after it blew a 15-point lead in the final 4 minutes. The loss to Illinois has got to be the greatest meltdown in the history of the NCAA tournament.

“George Wine”

[RON MALY’S COMMENT: Wine is a former Iowa sports information director, has written books about retired football coach Hayden Fry and other Hawkeye subjects and keeps a close watch on developments at the university. He was in the athletic department when Olson coached at Iowa. Although Olson was generally successful with the Hawkeyes, his teams were occasionally so tightly wound that they let leads slip away and lost games they shouldn’t have lost. Hence the “Iowa Windsuckers” label].


"Hi, Ron,

"As I watched some of the games in round one of the tournament, I found myself thinking, "wouldn't it be nice if the tournament were played with the same rules as the season?" During the season each coach is allowed a certain number of timeouts per half, no more, no less. In the tournament, in addition to those time outs, there are TV timeouts. If I am seeing things correctly, those come every 4 minutes. What difference does this make?

"For the top teams it means they are not allowed to go on a run and take control of the game. The coaches of the weaker teams know, they are safe to take time-outs early in the half because they can count on four or five TV timeouts in addition to the ones they are assigned. It also gives the weaker teams another advantage, you can talk with your players every 2-3 minutes, set up plays and defenses, and they rarely have to do any more than follow your plan. Thinking on their feet, adjusting to changes brought on by the other team that is lost when the clock stops every two-three minutes. I look at the first round, and I wonder, if the rules were the same as in the season, would a Bucknell handle Kansas? Would the top teams win by relatively close margins? Probably not. Would I have to see the same commercials ad-nausium? Definitely not.

"Maybe I don't watch enough college ball during the season, but it sure seems to me like CBS is adding a lot of extra timeouts to the game.

"By the way, I picked 26 of 32 correct in the first round. ESPN's tournament challenge said that put me in the 95th percentile. That's the best I've ever done on a first round. Second round is not starting off so well. But, that's the fun of March Madness.

"David P. Mumm
"Senior Pastor
"The Ministries of Mount Olive
"[Mt. Olive Lutheran Church and School, Open Arms Child Development and Worship Center]"

[RON MALY’S COMMENT: I know one thing. The next time I get into an NCAA tournament pool, I’m going to call Rev. Mumm and ask his advice first].


"Hey, Maly,

"Say what you will about Iowa teams in the Dance, I think Iowa was at the bottom. UNI played a great game against Wisconsin. Iowa State pushed the Big Ten Goffers off the floor, and Iowa didn't come to play. Paper said Bowlsby was mum on Alford's future. We both know he will be back. Let's think about getting rid on both of them...

"Sorry for the fans in the office pools all over the country who are cutting their wrists over Kansas and Syracuse tumbles.

"Alive in Clive"

[RON MALY’S COMMENT: Even though Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby—chairman of the NCAA tournament selection committee--received rave reviews for his work, Alive in Clive remains unimpressed. Maybe he’d feel better about Bowlsby if Iowa would pull the plug on Alford. I know a lot of other people would go for that].


Another e-mail from George Wine was in response to my column on how former Hawkeye and NBA basketball player Matt Bullard was robbed in his attempt to win the “Dream Job” announcing position at ESPN:


“I thought Matt did a pretty good job until he stumbled around on the quick quiz, or whatever they called it. I admired him for not punching the two columnists in the mouth. What jerks.”

Also on the subject of Bullard and the “Dream Job” situation, a West Des Moines reader sent this e-mail:

“I agree that Matt was robbed…..I sure wish Matt would have been selected. I thought the judge were entirely too critical.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENT: The two “jerk” columnists that Wine mentioned were Stephen A. Smith and Woody Paige, who were brutal in their criticism of Bullard on the show. Let’s hope they wind up working for the paper in Indianapolis].


Note from the newsroom:

“Diane Graham’s retirement gift will be an ICE SCULPTURE…..promised never to melt.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENT: Graham is the former newsroom employee at the local paper who had the mysterious title of “managing editor/staff development.” Yesterday was her last day on the job, and people were invited to be in the newsroom to send her off into the sunset. “Ice sculpture…..promised never to melt?” Something tells me there’s a hidden meaning there. By the way, in the event you couldn’t make it to the newsroom gathering for Graham, editor Paul Anger is hosting a party for her in his home at 710 36th Street in West Des Moines from 7-11 p.m. April 16. That is, unless Anger is still too busy responding to complaints about Erin Crawford’s ridiculous Johnny Gosch story, which was published this week and made her and the paper’s editors look silly].


The Poynter Online journalism website has been busy this week fielding complaints from readers about the fiction written by Crawford as well as Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom.

Crawford wrote about Gosch, Rush Limbaugh and other people in her confusing story. Albom wrote about two former Michigan State basketball players who he said were at the NCAA Final Four, but actually weren’t.

Before the e-mailers began ripping Albom – who is a best-selling author when he’s not writing fiction for his newspaper – they trashed Crawford and her editors with these messages to Poynter Online:

From BONNIE BRITT: “What is the point of the Des Moines Register story about James Guckert? Why did this newspaper not require the repoter to pick up the telephone to ask Guckert about his family of origin?

“Rehashing bloggers is not journalism. Repeating 2,200 words of Web gossip in a broadsheet is not journalism.

“How does the Des Moines Register advance this story even one inch? Why is the Register not interested in asking the mom whose child has been missing for 23 years whether she bothered to pick up the telephone to find out whether Guckert is her long-list boy?

“Where’s the reporting. Where’s the journalism?”

Then there was this e-mail to Poynter:

From DENNIS PERSICA: “To pile on to what Bonnie Britt has said, the other strange thing I found is that DMR Gannon/Guckert story was the mention of Rush Limbaugh in the lede. Limbaugh’s only connection to the story was that Gannon’s famous ‘soup lines’ question during a presidential news conference was based on something Rush Limbaugh said that turned out not to be true.

“Hardly a case of long-lost Johnny Gosch possibly being found ‘thanks to Rush Limbaugh,’ as the story says.”

Then this one:

From MICHAEL DAVID SMITH: “Looking at the Gannon/Guckert/Gosch story again, it comes across as though the writer is making fun of a grieving woman for trying to hold onto some hope that her son is still alive. I can’t imagine that that was the intention behind the article, but I do have to question why the Des Moines Register printed something like that.”

And finally this e-mail, headlined: “Let the paperboys rest in peace”

From JEFF JOHNSON, editor, Minnesota Monthly: “The Des Moines Register story suffers from a bad headline and a bad, Limbaugh-name-dropping lede. But it isn’t a story about whether Gannon/Guckert is Johnny Gosch. That’s why the reporter didn’t call Guckert to ask about his family of origin. It’s a story about blogger-fueled nuttiness that happens to center on the Gosch case. It’s underlying assumption is ‘Duh, of course G/G isn’t Gosch’—but then, on a couple of occasions, in what appears to be an attempt at even-handedness, it seems to float the possibility that G/G is Gosch. Maybe. Kinda-sorta-well-who-knows? Perhaps it’s tough to write about group insanity without having it affect your copy.

“Whether it was a good idea even to do the story is a topic well worth debating. Certainly a better headline could have helped. ‘Is he Johnny Gosch?’ seems to set us up for an investigative piece, when what we’re really getting is a social-analysis feature. But the story itself does not purport to be hard news.

“I was a grad student in Iowa when Johnny Gosch disappeared. That was in the days when the tabloid press was full of Elvis sightings. For some people, apparently, real life is not dramatic enough. We must have CIA-engineered sex conspiracies and mystical resurrections and, of course, whacked-out freemasons. At least Elvis was a public figure. Now we’ve got Johnny Gosch sightings and, here in Minnesota, at least one ‘sighting’ of Jacob Wetterling [another young boy who was abducted and ever found]. As a guy who used to deliver the old Minneapolis Star, I say to conspiracy-loving bloggers: Bring back the King. Let the paperboys rest in peace.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENT: The Gosch/Limbaugh/Gannon/Guckert tale obviously belonged in the local free weeklies that can be found blowing around in parking lots all over town. To see it in the local daily paper shows you the state of the newspaper business these days].

Vol. 4, No. 331
April 8, 2005