Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Drake's Davis Turning the Corner--His Recruiting Class Is No. 1 In Valley

Now this is more like it.

The people at Drake tell me that Tom Davis and the assistants on his basketball coaching staff there are making some recruiting noise.

I understand that the Bulldogs’ 2005-2006 class has been ranked the best in the Missouri Valley Conference by Hoop Scoop, a national recruiting service based in Louisville, Ky.

Drake’s class was ranked higher than such schools as Gonzaga and Kentucky [which tied for No. 97]; Iowa [No. 128] and Illinois (No. 180].

Hoop Scoop’s Missouri Valley Conference rankings went like this:

83. Drake
93. Southern Illinois
100. Illinois State
120. Creighton
149. Evansville
200. Bradley and Northern Iowa
221. Southwest Missouri State
240. Wichita State
240. Indiana State

Drake’s recruits include 6-7 junior forward A. J. Calvin, a transfer from Butler (Kan.) Community College; 6-8 forward-center Armel Traore dit Nignan, a transfer from Tompkins Cortland [N.Y.] Community College; 6-7 freshman forward Bill Eaddy from Massanutten [Va.] Military Academy; 5-11 junior guard Al Stewart from Des Moines Area Community College, and 6-foot freshman guard Jacob Baryenbruch from River Valley [Wis.] High School.

I hope good things are on the way at Drake.

Davis appears poised to give the university its first winning season since Gary Garner’s 1986-87 team went 17-14.

Davis, the winningest coach in University of Iowa basketball history, has had records of 12-16 and 13-16 at Drake after coming out of retirement. Davis’ contract wasn’t renewed at Iowa, then he stayed out of coaching for four years before being hired at Drake on April 23, 2003.


Gordy Scoles, a coach-turned-author who formerly lived in Iowa and now is in South Carolina, sent me this e-mail:

“Ron, I just read some stuff on the Internet about Ohio State's new athletic director, but this part I really enjoyed: "Lastly, let me say, in my years of coaching at Notre Dame [1977-1981], I never lost to Michigan."

“Besides getting his story wrong, I somehow missed him being the head coach at Notre Dame. Since when do assistants count wins and losses?

“What was Jerry Burns' record at Iowa when he was an assistant? I don't remember reading that he was the guy who got credit for the wins and losses when he was Evy's assistant.”

Scoles was referring to Gene Smith, who was recently named the athletic director in Ohio State’s troubled program. He was the athletic director at Iowa State from 1993-2000, and went to Arizona State in the same capacity after that.

I never had any problems with Smith when he was at Iowa State, but others did. He took a hit for hiring a volleyball coach whose resume said she had a college degree. Actually, she had no degree and was eventually fired.

Besides not doing background checks on his coaches, people said Smith embellished stories and had trouble separating fact from fiction.

Evidently, nothing has changed. Even though he told people at Columbus, Ohio that…..”in my years of coaching at Notre Dame, I never lost to Michigan,” he was totally wrong.

In the years when he was on the Fighting Irish staff, Michigan’s record against Notre Dame was 2-2. Michigan beat Notre Dame, 28-14, in 1978 and won again, 25-7, in 1981. Notre Dame beat Michigan, 12-10, in 1979 and 29-27 in 1980.

Scoles’ mention of Jerry Burns had to do with the fact he was one of Forest Evashevski’s assistants before taking over as Iowa’s head coach in 1961. He was fired after going 1-9 in 1965.


Darryl Sharp, who was on Wayne Morgan’s basketball coaching staff at Iowa State, has resigned.

“I have decided to move back to Minnesota and spend time with my family,” Sharp said. “I have been struggling with this decision for over two years and I felt the time is right to go back home. I really enjoyed my experience at Iowa State and have the utmost respect for Coach Morgan. This decision was even more difficult to me because of the great relationship I have with the players and the coaching staff.”

Sharp came to Iowa State in the summer of 2003 after directing the Minneapolis-area AAU club Howard Pulley. Iowa State went 39-25 and qualified for the postseason in each of Sharp’s two seasons with the Cyclones.

“The basketball family at Iowa State will miss Coach Sharp very much,” Morgan said. “He worked extremely hard to move our program forward. Any success we have had and the success we will have in the future, he will always be a part of. We wish him the very best.”


Both Barry Crist and George Wine have sent me this story:

A business owner in Iowa City was confused about paying an invoice minus the early payment discount, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help.

He called her into his office and said, “You graduated from Iowa State University, and I need some good help. If I were to give you $21,375 minus 12.75%, how much would you take off?”

The secretary thought for a moment, then replied, “Everything but my earrings.”

Vol. 4, No. 347
May 25, 2005

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Reader: 'How Can This Be?' Of Teacher Marrying Ex-Student She Raped

A guy I know who earned his college degree in the United States, now lives in Asia and goes by the handle "Montesquieu" is upset with the marriage of Mary Kay Letourneau to Vili Fualaau.

In an e-mail titled, "U.S. teacher marries boy she raped," the guy writes:

"How can this be? Is this not the worst case of double standards in the world? If a male teacher had sex with a 12-year-old girl, got her pregnant, and got sent to jail twice, he would:

"a. be sent to jail for half his life
"b. labeled a sex offender for life
"c. have all his neighbors -- wherever he lives for his entire life -- notified of his presence
"d. probably be killed in prison anyway

"Where are all the get-tough-on-crime people?
"Where is John Walsh (founder of America's Most Wanted) and other vigilante types?
"Where is the outrage from the family-values crowd?
"Where is Pat Robertson and the 700 Club?
"Where is the White House? Homosexuals cannot marry, but child rapists can marry their former victims?

"I have seen her interviewed on Larry King. I guess Oprah is next.


Unless you've been living on another planet, you know at least something about Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau.

In the ongoing saga, Letourneau, 43, married Fualaau, 22, in Woodinville, Wash., last Friday.

Letourneau was released from prison in August after serving 7 1/2 years for raping a child. Fualaau was either 12 or 13 -- and a student in Letourneau's class -- when the two began a sexual relationship.

She gave birth to their daughter shortly after her 1997 conviction. She served six months and was released on probation, but was ordered to serve her full sentence after she and Fualaau were found together in a van, in violation of a no-contact order.

She gave birth to their second daughter while in prison.

Letourneau told King on his CNN-TV show last year that their daughters regularly visited her in prison while living with Fualaau's mother. She said her relationship with her four children from her previous marriage was not as close.

Letourneau told King she did not know having a sexual relationship with Fualaau was a felony.

"It just -- I knew it just didn't -- just wasn't normal," she said. "It's not that I wouldn't have still had feelings, or that he wouldn't still have feelings, but ... I don't know how anyone does something knowing something's a felony."

During her October appearance on "Larry King Live" Letourneau said she planned to begin volunteering in a program to aid incarcerated women and said she may look for a paid job as a legal research assistant or a teacher at a community college.

She said Fualaau, who never finished high school, was not working.

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: I agree with Montesquieu about the outrage that would break out if an adult male teacher began having a sexual relationship with one of his female students--whether she was 12 or whether she was 13. The teacher would be sent to the nearest slammer, where he'd have his hands and a few other parts of his body chopped off by either the guards or other inmates. Hey, Montesquieu, nobody said Letourneau had any sense. My guess is that the extent of her knowledge never went beyond being able to know a lot about the back seats of a large number of cars. Now we'll see how long her latest marriage lasts. First of all, though, she's got to find a job so she can support her uneducated and unemployed husband].


Author, newspaper critic and e-mailer George Wine of Coralville sent me his latest messages to columnists at the local paper.

In an e-mail to John Carlson, Wine wrote:

"Hi, John --

"Your Wednesday column expressed indignation about Newsweek using faulty information to print a story that put our troops in Afghanistan in harms way.

"Perhaps you can understand why Americans like me are outraged at a Bush Administration that used faulty information for a war in Iraq that has needlessly taken the lives of thousands of American soldiers and innocent Iraqis, cost billions of dollars, and has no end in sight.

"I understand your position. I hope you can appreciate mine.

"George Wine"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Wine later sent me a copy of Carlson's reply to his first e-mail, then added these thoughts to Carlson in another e-mail:

"John -- Thanks for taking the time to respond to my e-mail. Two letter-writers in today's Register might be on to something. They suggest that supporters of the war in Iraq should encourage their kids, grandkids and friends of military age to enlist in the service. Seems like a reasonable idea.

"I was against going to Iraq without rock-solid justification, which we never had. But once we got there I felt we should finish the mission. Now I'm not so sure. There are some things in life we cannot understand, and militant Islam is one of them.

"Always enjoy your column. . . George"]

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Carlson is a good guy who writes good, sensible stuff. Same with Wine, who somehow survived 19 straight non-winning football seasons when he was Iowa's sports information director. He's a good guy who has strong opinions and doesn't mind going public with them].


Wine also e-mailed columnist Dick Doak:

"Dick --

"I really liked your thoughtful, well-balanced piece on Iraq in Monday's Register. There doesn't seem to be any end in sight over there, and I'm one who didn't think we should go without rock-solid justification.

"George Wine, Coralville"


The No. 1 cause of lung cancer is smoking. But each year thousands of people -- who have never smoked or been exposed to other risk factors -- are diagnosed with the cancer.

That's a report from Tampa, Fla., by Ivanhoe Broadcast News.

Author and artist Tom Cross spends most days in a fantasy world. “There is magic all around us. We see it every day, and in our current society we forget about it, big time.”

But Cross believes in magic and needs it in his life. He had a backache that wouldn’t go away. Three months of tests revealed a surprising diagnosis -- stage 4 lung cancer. “Parents never smoked. I wasn’t around it, didn’t live with smokers,” Cross tells Ivanhoe.

Oncologist George Simon, M.D., says about 5 percent of lung cancer patients have never smoked. He studied this group and found never-smokers live longer than smoking patients and have a different biological disease. “Though we tend to clump all lung cancers together there can be distinct disease entities with their own specific behavior patterns,” says Dr. Simon, from Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.

For example, the drug Iressa (gefitinib) was found not to improve survival in lung cancer patients, but it did in those who never smoked. It’s the treatment Cross is on, and so far, it’s working. He says, “You have the feeling you are riding the crest of a wave, and it’s like yeah, I gotta stay on it.”

To help speed up the research, Cross and several other patients teamed up with Dr. Simon to create an online database of patients who never smoked. Dr. Simon says, “It will help us do studies quicker and finish them quicker so that we can understand more about this disease faster.” Cross hopes that will help doctors treat others like him.

The website for the new patient database is In March, researchers also discovered a genetic mutation involved with never-smokers with lung cancer. They say that may explain the differences in treatment outcomes.

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: I have a very good friend who is interested in the story on lung cancer].

Vol. 4, No. 345
May 23, 2005

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

John Raffensperger Writes That 'It's A Great Day To Be A Little Hawk!'

In the preface to his newly-published book, John Raffensperger writes, “There is truly something special about City High. There is a strong feeling of City High pride that goes beyond winning games.”

Then, in the next 168 pages, Raffensperger tells readers about those strong feelings in his well-written, photo-filled book.

Raffensperger, 64, who coached state championship track and field teams at City High School in Iowa City, is the author of “It’s A Great Day To Be A Little Hawk!—A History of City High Athletics.”

Raffensperger does an excellent job of covering nearly a century of City High athletics in a book that should be required reading for anyone who attended or taught at the school. It’s a treat for those who care about the exploits of such former Little Hawk athletes as Bill Reichardt, Tim Dwight, Jim Sangster, Joey Woody, Mona Schallau, Bob Oldis, Ed Watt, Carl Hargrave, Bill Fenton, Jay and Joel Hilgenberg, Gene Hettrick, Bob “Chug” Wilson, Don Fryauf and many others.

“When I became the head track coach at City High in 1970,” Raffensperger told me, “I did research to establish a top 10 list in every event. I’m a history teacher, so I began researching other sports, too. I never had any intention of writing a book until the last two years.”

Raffensperger’s boys’ track teams at City High won 10 state team titles, and the school has won another one since he retired.

“City High has won 55 state championships—43 since 1990,” he said.

No wonder the school’s athletic department was named the best in Iowa in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated.

The name Raffensperger has been in bold-face type in and around the state of Iowa for many years.

There’s plenty of coaching and writing ability in John Raffensperger’s family.

His father, Leonard Raffensperger, was Iowa’s head football coach in 1950 and 1951 after a highly-successful career at East Waterloo High School.

Leonard even did some writing himself. In my 2003 book, “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines,” I detailed how he covered the Big Ten Conference football opener played by Nile Kinnick and Iowa’s 1939 Ironmen for the Waterloo Courier.

In a segment headlined, “Coach Covered Big Ten Opener,” I wrote:

“When Iowa played Indiana on October 7 to start its Big Ten schedule in 1939, the man who covered the game for the Waterloo (Ia.) Courier was Leonard Raffensperger.

Raffensperger wasn’t an employee of the newspaper, but he was an outstanding coach at East Waterloo High School. He later was Iowa’s coach in 1950 and 1951.

“The Waterloo Courier sports editor in 1939 was a guy named Ed Moore, and he was a good friend of my dad,” said Gene Raffensperger, Leonard’s son and a man who is a former sports editor of the Des Moines Register. He asked my dad if he’d cover the game.

“I don’t know what caused Moore to do it, but he made a decision that he was going to go to Cedar Falls and cover the game Iowa State Teachers College [now Northern Iowa] played. Moore felt Iowa had been such a poor team the year before that nobody gave them a chance to do anything in 1939.

“I was only 9 years old, but sat in the press box with my dad, who earlier in his life had toyed with the idea of being a journalist.

“Leonard had a lot to write about on that hot afternoon. Iowa beat Indiana, 32-29.”

In the acknowledgments in his book, Gene Raffensperger is one of the people John Raffensperger writes about:

“Thanks to my brother, Gene, a career writer for the Des Moines Register and the real writer in our family. Gene gave me much advice, encouragement and guidance to get me started and to finish my book.”

John also wrote, “Special thanks to my wife, Sharon, for the many hours of typing, encouragement and support needed to complete this book.”

John and Sharon are pictured on the back cover, where it says, “John Raffensperger coached high school athletics for 41 years, 36 of those at City High. At his side for all those years has been his wife, Sharon, as chief statistician, typist and ‘mom’ to hundreds of Little Hawk athletes. Over these years, John has coached football, basketball, baseball, golf, swimming and track and field.

“His success in track and field brought 10 State titles to City High, the only coach in Iowa history to accomplish this feat, election to the Iowa Track Coaches Hall of Fame and the naming of the City High track in his honor.

“It was his love of athletics and the athletes he coached that inspired him to research and write this book.”

Raffensperger points out that it was during Iowa’s 1950 football season – a team coached by his dad – that there were four backs on the squad who attended City High.

“They were quarterback Jim Sangster, fullback Bill Reichardt and halfbacks Bob ‘Chug’ Wilson and Don Fryauf,” Raffensperger said. “An all-City High backfield might have played for Iowa, but Sangster tells me that never happened. Before he passed away, Reichardt told me it did happen.”

Oh, well, Reichardt sometimes never let facts get in the way of a good story. I found that out when I interviewed him a couple of times for my own book.

On Page 6 of Raffensperger's book, Reichardt is pictured giving a stiff-arm that knocks the helmet off an opposing player in a 1947 City High game.

On the same page, Raffensperger quotes Sangster as saying this about Reichardt: “Bill was not too shy about his own abilities, and he asked me, after a particularly good game by Bill, if there was a hyphen in All-State. The next game, after a not-so-outstanding game, I said to Bill that I know there’s no hyphen in Honorable Mention.”

On the book’s back cover, 1971 City High graduate Dan McCarney, now the football coach at Iowa State, says: “I will always cherish my years and my memories from my Little Hawk career,”

In addition to coaching at City High, Raffensperger has spent time working with the sports information staff at the University of Iowa during Hawkeye athletic events.

“I’ve worked in the football press box since 1968,” he said. “The last seven or eight years I’ve handled the press box public address responsibilities. I’ve also handled the shot chart for the basketball statistics staff at Hawkeye basketball games.”

Raffensperger has also been involved with duties at Iowa’s home track and field meets.

He has done recent book signings, and points out that he has “sold more than 300 books at my own house. The book is available in two bookstores, and both have asked for more copies.”

The book, priced at $17.50, is published by Tru Art

Vol. 4, No. 344
May 18, 2005

Monday, May 16, 2005

Inwood Bureau Chief Leaving, But There's Some Good News, Too

This is all newspaper stuff.

News, notes and comment from and about the local paper:


From: Essex, Randy
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2005 2:43 p.m.
Subject: J.D. Lee

I'm sad to report that Inwood Bureau Chief Jennifer Dukes Lee is resigning from the Register effective Wednesday, May 18.

We've been lucky to have Jennifer working two days a week from far northwest Iowa -and we will continue to benefit from occasional freelance pieces.

Jennifer has a long and distinguished history with the Register, starting with her term as an intern while she attended Iowa State University. After a post-graduate stint at the Omaha World-Herald, she returned home to work in the Ames Bureau and, later, work as our lead political writer.

She's done a great deal of great work for us, including "The Tattered Countryside," which won the top writing award in Gannett for work published in 2000. She also was a Chuck Capaldo award winner as the top staff writer that year.

Wish her well from afar; she's got too busy a life to make it in anytime soon for cake.

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: It's good to see that there's still some humor left on the 4th floor. I mean, "Inwood Bureau Chief" and all that! Adios, Jennifer. You did a good job, and you'll be missed].


From: Perkins, Jerry
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 5:49 p.m.
Subject: Don Muhm

Don Muhm is home after 37 days in the hospital, his wife, Joann, said. He is very grateful for the cards and prayers from all of us at the Register, she said.

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: It's great to hear that you're on the road to recovery, Don. I'll bet it won't be long before you're writing another book!]


Dawn Sagario continues to write outstanding stories.

I mean, she displayed her versatility in the last couple of days by authoring a story headlined "Back Home Again" in the Iowa Life section, then showed up with a superb "workbytes" entry that was headlined "Throw rejection to the wind and try again" in "Business & Career."

It doesn't get much better than that.

I've got to admit that "workbytes" didn't grab me when it first began appearing in "Business & Career" a while back, but the reason may have been the guy who shared the "workbytes" spot with Sagario.

I hear that he did everyone a favor by taking another writing job somewhere.

These days, I'll climb over the Monday morning humor columns by my friend Ken Fuson, the golf columns by my friend Rick Brown and the list of bankruptcies to get to Sagario's "workbytes." I'll get to Kenny, Brownie and the bankruptcies on my second and third cups of coffee.

One other thing. I found out the other day that Sagario has been writing good stuff for some time.

I was scanning the Internet and ran across something Sagario -- or at least someone who looks like her and spells her name the same way -- wrote when she was an intern for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 1999.

I liked what she wrote, and I'm sure you will, too. Here it is:

The Goddess Speaks

By Dawn Sagario
Tuesday, July 20, 1999

A pure and simple fact of life

SOMETIMES I feel like a four-eyed monster that's emerged from the woodwork when I tell people that at 22, I have yet to be "intimate" with someone else.

Immediate physical responses include eyes rolling toward the ceiling, smirks forming at the corners of mouths and heads slowly bobbing in patronizing fashion. Verbal reactions range from praise for "upholding such moralistic values," to exclamations of disbelief.

The latter disturbs me. I think I would remember if I had had sex with someone. Yet individuals will insist, upon discovering my virginal status, that I'm the hugest liar in the world. "You???!!" they yelp. "Right, Dawn, and I'm one too," they say with a wink.

In the realm of collegiate society, there is an unwritten list of taboos that a senior such as myself is assumed to have broken as a rite of passage into adulthood. By now, I apparently am supposed to have made a fool out of myself while drunk, experimented with some type of illicit drug and prayed to the porcelain god after a night of partying. By the ripe old age of 18, it's almost a given that one has already had sexual intercourse. More often than not, the activity falls into the high school, "Top 10 Been-There-Done-Thats."

REMARKABLY, a question as personal as that of virginity does come up in general conversation. When it does, some will look strangely at me -- as if I had a pimple on my nose -- when I tell them I am "one of those." Inevitably they ask, "Why?"

People want to know if I had a traumatic sexual experience as a child, while others will wonder if I'm a religious fanatic who believes that sleeping with someone before I marry will grant me eternal damnation in a fiery hell.

Several of my peers simply believe it is physically impossible to have been around for so long without getting it on. I remember telling one guy I had never "been with someone," and for the rest of our conversation he just looked at me as if I were a creature he had never seen before. At that point, I truly felt like a freak.

My choice to remain a virgin does not have to do with an obscure childhood experience or extreme dogmatic belief. Rather, I've heard too many tales from friends of pregnancy scares, possibilities of sexually transmitted diseases and just plain old heartache, to want to risk physical involvement with someone. Honestly, I don't think my conscience would let me get away with it either.

Having sex is easy enough, people tell me. It's not hard to find someone who wants to do it. But I believe (and you can call me a hopeless romantic or an impractical, idiotic fool -- I don't care) that waiting for that right person and getting married before having sex makes all the sense in the world.

It's not just about gratifying a physical need. It's about the love behind the act and taking on all of the stuff that comes with it (good and bad). Traditionalist, old-fashioned or archaic, call it what you want and pin the label on me.

Young people so often forget that with the act comes consequences. Being a busy college student on the cusp of graduation and anxious of what awaits me in the "real world" is stressful enough. The last thing I need is to be worrying about whether or not that little pregnancy test strip is going to come out with a plus or a minus.

What's the rush anyway? I've waited this long, why break the streak?

Dawn Sagario is an intern at the Star-Bulletin.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday and is a column by and about women, our strengths, weaknesses, quirks and quandaries. If you have something to say, write it and send it to: The Goddess Speaks, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802, or send e-mail to

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bakersfield College Withdraws Coaching Offer to Rudy Washington

Santa Maria Times

Hancock College may be in the market for a new men's head basketball coach.

Pending approval by the Kern County College District Board of Trustees, Rich Hughes, who coached Hancock last season, will become the Bakersfield College men's basketball team's head coach, The Bakersfield Californian reported.

"Rich informed us that he had interviewed for and been hired by Bakersfield," pending approval by the Kern County College District Board of Trustees, Hancock College Athletic Director Scott Cathcart said in a phone interview.

"This is an exciting time for Rich. We wish him well - except for the first game." Hancock and Bakersfield open the 2005-2006 season against each other.

Last season was Hughes' first as Hancock's coach. The Bulldogs finished 6-6 in the Western State Conference and 13-15 overall.

Hughes was a Hancock assistant to Bob White for eight seasons. White, who holds the school's all-time men's basketball coaching career wins record, took a sabbatical last season.

Hughes played basketball at Bakersfield West High School as a sophomore and junior. He moved during his senior year to Huntington Beach.

His younger brother Jeff is a former Bakersfield head coach. His father Rex is a former assistant coach at Cal State Bakersfield.

The Californian reported that Bakersfield withdrew its men's basketball head coaching offer to former Drake coach Rudy Washington, and that Bakersfield athletic director Jan Stuebbe refused to elaborate on why the job offer to Washington was rescinded.

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: These are tough times for poor ol' Rudy. The guy just can't get a break anymore. Sooner or later, though, it catches up with all guys who don't have a clue about coaching].

Friday, May 13, 2005

E-Mailers Write About Alford, Fainting Irish, Showboat Joe, Local Paper

My intelligent e-mail friends make this another very easy column to write.

The e-mailers came in out of Iowa's rain--and there's been plenty of it lately--and California's sunshine to write me about such subjects as Steve Alford (again!), the local paper (again!), Showboat Joe Ferguson, Notre Dame's Fainting Irish (again!) and Marquette's ever-changing nickname.

So thanks, guys. Here we go, leading off with everybody's favorite basketball coach.....


"Thanks for the great write-up on Alford on April 25. He successfully saved his hide from being canned by the late-season run, but he is not fooling anyone. This arrogant Hoosier needs to go home. We didn't win one Big Ten title with Tom Davis, but at least he was all class.

"Alford doesn't understand that Iowans are hard-working, self-deprecating and relatively humble people. Kirk Ferentz may not be a native Iowan, but he figured this out a long time ago and has used the 'aw, shucks' attitude to win over everyone who comes his way.

"Please keep the heat on Alford during 2005-2006. Besides, Pierre Pierce himself, I can't think of one person IOWANS can't stand more.

"Best Wishes,

"Ed Wallace
"West Des Moines"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Ed's e-mail referred to my column about Alford after he appeared at a banquet in Indiana. The banquet came across as a love-in between the Iowa coach and Bobby Knight, who coached him with the Hoosiers. Alford continues to be unpopular with many Hawkeye fans, and the fact that he must coach in the same athletic department as the extremely likable Kirk Ferentz, the highly-successful football coach, doesn't help him. Alford also didn't do his situation any good this week when he wasn't able to convince Jason Bohannon of nearby Linn-Mar of Marion to choose Iowa as his major-college destination. The fact that Bohannon chose Big Ten rival Wisconsin over Iowa makes it even more embarrassing for Alford, who is certainly not getting any rave reviews as a recruiter. After all, Bohannon's dad, Gordy, was a quarterback for Hayden Fry's football team at Iowa].


"Hi Ron:

"I recall a basketball player from Ottumwa from years ago whom we called Showboat Joe Ferguson. Late 60's? I recall he took them to the championship game.

"We have a thread going about Ottumwa, as I was born there, so I have an interest.

"I noted that a Joe Ferguson from Ottumwa was inducted in the Iowa Coaches Girls Hall of Fame...or something like an official in 1993. That is all I've been able to find on the web.

"Also, if memory serves, there were rumors and talk that Joe passed away. Car accident?

"I know he was one helluva ballplayer. Do you recall Joe?

"Thanks for your help.

"Mark Robinson"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: I recall the name Showboat Joe Ferguson--and I sure like the name--but that's all. If anyone has information on him, let me know].


"To the Editor, D.M. Register,

"Your Randy Evans makes a persuasive argument that the Register should have same-day access to information it requests from state agencies.

"Here's my request -- will you please give me the news in my next-day Register, not the one that arrives two or thee days later? I'd really like to read about a Tuesday night baseball or basketball game in the Wednesday Register. Is that asking too much?

"George Wine
Coralville, IA"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: I don't think my friend George is making any ridiculous request by wanting the results of a baseball or basketball game in the next day's paper. When the Chicago Tribune can get a paper into the Iowa City-Coralville area with more sports results than the local paper from Des Moines, all kinds of readers have reason to think they're getting robbed. Actually, no newspaper can keep up with what the Internet can do. If a sports fan really wants to know what's going on in the world, he or she can go to sites such as and and get information on games 10 minutes after they're over. The truth is, the local paper's bosses don't want to put a better paper into Iowa City because the parent Gannett Co. already has a paper [the Press-Citizen] in Iowa City and doesn't want to hurt its circulation. Meanwhile, newspaper circulation continues in a horrible free fall].


"Dear Ron,

"I really enjoyed your mailing of today with all the comments about Notre Dame
and the Fainting Irish game of 1953. But I cannot agree with your own comment
that Evy's criticism of Frank Leahy and Notre Dame caused the Iowa-Notre
Dame home and home contract to be discontinued after the 1968 game.

"If anything, Evy's criticism and the huge volleys of newspaper criticisms of
Coach Leahy's faked injuries strategy, caused Leahy to be fired as head coach at Notre Dame.

"Please remember this: After that Fainting Irish game on Saturday, Nov. 21,
1953, Frank Leahy NEVER COACHED ANOTHER GAME FOR NOTRE DAME. The next Saturday,
Notre Dame played USC at Los Angeles. Leahy did not accompany the team to Los
Angeles [reportedly for health reasons]. Then after the 1953 season, Leahy
'retired' [reportedly for health reasons], and Terry Brennan became the Notre Dame
head coach.

"But in the years since 1953, it has been widely reported that Frank
Leahy was ushered out the door as head football coach because Notre Dame's
higher powers were so ashamed of the Fainting Irish incident.

"I am more inclined to believe that the termination of the Iowa and Notre
Dame home and home contract after the 1968 game was simply an economic decision caused by unacceptable terms demanded by Notre Dame.

"USC and Notre Dame have had a home-and-home contract ever since Knute Rockne
and Howard Jones were the head coaches. The terms that Notre Dame extracts
from USC amount to one arm and one leg, and three fingers off the other arm.
When Notre Dame plays at Los Angeles, many USC season ticket-holders are
moved to the farthest reaches of the Coliseum because USC is required to provide
thousands of choice seats to Notre Dame.


"Al Schallau"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: I know Iowa's schedule-makers won't agree with me, Al, but I'd prefer to see the Hawkeyes play an occasional game against Notre Dame [the Fighting or Fainting Irish haven't been on Iowa's schedule since 1968] instead of the ho-hum matchups with such powerhouse outfits as Kent State. Akron and Miami of Ohio].


"Hi, Ron,

"I heard something interesting on the news yesterday, Marquette University is without a nickname, logo, or mascot. As you know, the 'Warriors' gave in to political correctness and became the 'Golden Eagles' about 10 years ago. That name has never been popular among the Marquette faithful. Now, it appears the university in its infinite wisdom chose to change the name to simply the 'Gold.' That flew like a lead balloon. So, according to the report I heard, the university is going to have a vote, with ten different choices as to what the mascot and nickname will be in the future. It will be interesting to see if the Marquette Warriors/Golden Eagles/Gold/nothing end up being Warriors once again.

"David P. Mumm
"Senior Pastor
"The Ministries of Mount Olive"

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: The Marquette Gold? You've got to be kidding! And I'll bet Al McGuire is rolling over in his grave. He hopes they're kidding, too].

Vol. 4, No. 343
May 13, 2005

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

More Fame for Bryson--Redford, 67, Will Be in His Movie Role

John Harlow and John Elliott
The Australian
May 11, 2005

One of the most popular acting partnerships in Hollywood history, Robert Redford and Paul Newman, is planning to reunite for one last movie.

More than 30 years after they last worked together, Redford is negotiating for the rights to Bill Bryson's book "A Walk in the Woods."

Redford, 67, would take the role of the author, who in the book attempts to shake off a midlife crisis by hiking across the American wilderness. Newman, 80, would play his doughnut-addicted companion, Bryson's friend Stephen Katz.

Newman recently said that they have been looking for an "unexpected" film to follow up the barnstorming success of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in 1969 and "The Sting" in 1973.

"I hate to talk about anything until the papers are drawn up, but we've been looking for something like 20 years and now we are looking harder," says Newman. "I want to make one final film for good luck and I would like it to be with Bob."

The matinee idol-turned racing car driver-turned organic food magnate has already been limbering up for the role. Earlier this year, after attending the wedding of his daughter Nell in south Wales, he reportedly took off for a hike at the Mumbles, the local beauty spot, with his actor wife Joanne Woodward.

[Bryson grew up in Des Moines. He's the son of the late Bill Bryson, a longtime sportswriter at the local paper, and Mary Bryson, who also was a reporter at the paper.

[Ron Maly recalls young Bill Bryson, wearing a baseball uniform, accompanying his dad into the newspaper office after night games at the local ballpark.

[Maly thought young Bill would someday follow his dad's footsteps and become a baseball reporter. It's obvious he has gone in a different writing direction].

Redford, a noted environmentalist, has been a fan of Bryson's comic saga since it was published in 1998. The story chronicles the duo's misadventures during a hike along the 3380km Appalachian Trail.

Redford said he hopes that "A Walk in the Woods" could be their swan song. "That might be something for Paul Newman and me, if we're not too old. That's if Paul can hang on long enough and we can get him on the Appalachian Trail before he gets into a wheelchair," he recently joked about his famously fit friend.

Newman and Redford still have pulling power. When Newman discussed his plans at the recent Tribeca Film Festival in New York, Julia Roberts said she would love to take the cameo role of Bryson's British wife Cynthia.

She would even settle for a smaller role. "I want to be in it and I mean to be in it," said the 37-year-old superstar.

The Appalachian Trail, a range of mountains running from Georgia in the deep south to Maine near the Canadian border, is a rite of passage for Americans who regard themselves as outdoors types.

Bryson, after living in north Yorkshire for nearly two decades researching his best-selling books such as "Notes From a Small Island," decided to "reacquaint" himself with his American heritage by walking the trail in bursts. He relished snubbing much of the professional walking gear, opting instead for plastic sheeting purchased in hardware shops.

He avoided some of the tough and tedious terrain by taking cab journeys and broke from the trail to return to his family in New England for "tender living care" when it all got too grim.

Even then, after several months of harsh walking, the ill-prepared writer was unable to finish more than half the trail. "It defeated me, as it does most, although I still feel I have completed the trail in spirit," he said later. "And it's still there if I want to fill in the gaps."

Katz, Bryson's old school friend from his native Iowa, added some light relief for part of the trek: Bryson wrote that, due to unspecified past drug habits, Katz has to keep on eating doughnuts or else risk "brain seizure".

Bryson, 53, who was recently appointed chancellor of the University of Durham and is applying for British citizenship, has seen "Notes From a Small Island" turned into a TV documentary, but it remains uncertain how closely a Hollywood film would stick to his original book.

A source close to Redford said last week that it might need to be "rethought a little", perhaps to remove the midlife crisis and also to expand Newman's role.

"And Paul, who takes his food seriously - as his Newman organic range has proven - might not be too happy to have to down dozens of doughnuts for the camera," said the source.

However, it was hoped to keep the carnival of odd characters encountered by Bryson and Katz, including a troupe of incompetent scouts and a perpetually lost hiker called Chicken John.

Redford was offered the role of the Sundance Kid only after Jack Lemmon fell ill and Steve McQueen refused to accept second billing after Newman. The duo did all their own stunts in the film and Newman also did the bicycle tricks after his stand-in stuntman revealed that he could not ride a bike.

Now his biggest challenge will be to look like a man who is fit enough to walk 3380km, even if he is fuelled by doughnuts.

The Sunday Times

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Day Babe Decided Lute Olson Was 'An Arrogant SOB'

Among the columns I've written recently concern Babe Bisignano's death and Notre Dame football--which, come to think of it, might also be classified as death.

Babe and the Fighting Irish are among the subjects my e-mail friends are covering today:

Everyone has a story about Babe, and a high-profile Iowan I know is no exception. Here's his:

"The story I remember best regards Lute Olson, which Babe must have told me five or six times over the years.

"After Lute attained rock-star celebrity status in Iowa, Babe and some of his pals were over here [in Iowa City] for the Amana VIP golf tournament. Babe spotted Lute [who was playing in the tourney] approaching in his cart.

"'Let me introduce you to Lute,' Babe told his pals. Babe waved to Lute as he drove by with his nose in the air, never looking at Babe. 'You've got an arrogant son-of-a-bitch coaching your basketball team,' he told me. He never forgave Lute for stiffing him in front of his friends.

"[Former Iowa football coach] Forest Evashevski once told me, 'Babe's a great fan of the Hawkeyes until the day we play Notre Dame.' And Evy's teams played the Irish every year."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Unfortunately, Iowa and Notre Dame haven't played a football game since Oct. 5, 1968. As far as I'm concerned, there have been far too many years separating games in the rivalry. The teams first played in 1921--the year Howard Jones' Hawkeyes were in the process of winning 20 consecutive games. The Fighting Irish were victim No. 5 in that streak, 10-7, at Iowa City on Oct. 8, 1921. The teams didn't play again until Nov. 11, 1939 when Nile Kinnick and the Iowa juggernaut called the Ironmen slipped past Notre Dame, 7-6, in Iowa City. That game was a huge factor in Kinnick becoming Iowa's only Heisman Trophy winner. As for Babe and Lute Olson, The Greatest Basketball Coach Who Ever Lived? Well, many people shared Bisignano's feelings].

Barry Crist had this to say about Iowa and Notre Dame:

"A great Saturday in the fall is when Iowa wins and Notre Dame loses."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Lots of people feel that way. As I wrote in the column, when it comes to football, people either love Notre Dame or they hate Notre Dame].

Gordy Scoles had these thoughts on Notre Dame:

"Ron, I enjoyed your Notre Dame column very much. My dad, who died in 1962, saw Knute Rockne when "The Rock" coached Notre Dame track at the 1922 or 1923 Drake
Relays. It was the only reason my dad said he even went to the Relays. Then,
after the Fainting Irish incident, we never mentioned the words Notre Dame or
Fighting Irish after what they did to Evy and the Hawkeyes. Thanks for reminding
my why I don't like Notre Dame."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Scoles' reference to Notre Dame's "Fainting Irish" concerned the Nov. 21, 1953 game at South Bend, Ind., when some of coach Frank Leahy's Notre Dame players collapsed while faking injuries so they could stop the clock in the final seconds of each half. The "fainting" enabled the Irish to tie the game, and I feel that Evashevski's criticism of Leahy and his team afterward is one reason the Iowa-Notre Dame rivalry has never been renewed].

After an e-mail exchange with Scoles, who lives in South Carolina, he sent this message:

"I never realized the Notre Dame fixation or "mystique" [I hate to use that word with Notre Dame] until we moved to the south almost 20 years ago. Although there are thousands more Catholics down here now than when we moved here, Notre Dame has a following among all the rest of the religious denominations that still amazes me. I found it out first-hand when I tried to explain the 'Fainting Irish' incident to a non-Catholic friend, and he didn't see the problem at all. I guess he didn't understand how much of a devout Hawkeye fan I was....."

A reader from eastern Iowa isn't surprised that there was a large amount of commercial advertising in the Notre Dame spring football guide, and that the university still sold the guide to fans for $3:

"Don't forget, it's a Catholic school!" the reader wrote.

Al Schallau covers a lot of BS while having baseball box scores on his mind:

"Some of us hard-core baseball fans have been studiously reading the major
league box scores for many years. It is amazing to read the 1950 box scores and
see all of the statistics that they did NOT have back then.

"But in 2005, for the first time, major league box scores now officially
recognize BS.

"[A recent box score] told us that Trevor Hoffman recorded his second BS of
the season; and Troy Percival recorded his first BS of 2005.

"[Later] box scores were loaded with BS, as Rick White of Pittsburgh, Randy Flores
of St. Louis, and Octavio Dotel of Oakland all recorded their first BS of the season, and Tom Gordon of the Yankees recorded his second BS of 2005.

"In Monday's box scores, only Paul Quantrill of the Yankees recorded any BS
[his first of 2005].

"This brand new box score statistic is the Blown Save. Clearly, for relief
pitchers, less BS is better. Eric Gagne holds the all time record. He
went to the mound 84 consecutive times in 2003 and 2004 with no BS

"Reading about all the BS in major league baseball reminds me of a line
uttered by Barbara Mandrell. She said, 'I love my name, but I hate my

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: It's another first for you, Al. I knew someone would get around to writing about all that BS].

From Richard Hayman:

"Hi, Mr. Maly,

"I must admit that I pulled a few ardent football fans aside [mostly Virginia
Tech fans in this neck of the woods], at the end of last season, and told
them that in two, maybe three, years we [Iowa] would challenge for the national
championship. I think this year is a little too early and I actually am a
bit concerned about the expectations because we don't want to burn our
future trying to reach too far today.

"It's nice to be considered in high regard...and we've earned it. It's just critically important that we as fans hold onto the same values of fun, effort, and sportsmanship that kept us interested during decades of losing seasons...that the players remember there's always someone else, trying to out-work you, and that while very important, football is just a game...and that coaches continue to value
development of young men, on and off the field. I think we're poised to be
a legitimate and perennial national championship-caliber program in a few
years. There's a lot of work and a lot of luck between now and then. Until
then, let's just enjoy the ride along the path we do get to experience.

"For no other reason than my confidence in the decision-makers at Iowa, I
will hold my peace on the Alford situation. It doesn't change my apathy
and, unless Iowa men's basketball can come up with a season that ignites the
imagination of the state, I think I will be joined by many more. I hope
Steve Alford will remember this part -- where the university supports him
during a really difficult and developmental time - when his success
ultimately comes.

"I would like to see him succeed at Iowa but I haven't seen much evidence that he'sgoing to do so. And so, I'll dispassionately observe box scores next season,refusing to get emotionally involved with a program that has so consistently underachieved. To get emotionally involved is to demand that Steve Alford voluntarily leave because he places the experience of the young men under his chargehigher than he places himself. But, for all, there is redemption, and I wish the best in the coming season to our coach.

"And, since we're talking about major sports, let me say my preliminary two
cents about our wrestling program. I feel like I've been extraordinarily
patient. We all know that Dan Gable doesn't come along every day. Unfortunately, we're witnessing our free-fall from national prominence. I don't know what's going on in the wrestling program, but I do know there are coaches on the national landscape who can get it done and who would be hungry for an opportunity to restore Iowa wrestling to national prominence. We need a strong season.

"Finally, in all of this criticism and praise, it's not so much about winning
and losing as it is about how we play the game. We Iowans are over-achievers, almost by birth, and it's difficult to abide under-achievement, regardless of win-loss record.

"Always a pleasure to hear from you, Mr. Maly. Have a terrific day. Sorry
to have "talked" your ear off in this note."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: You've covered the waterfront, Richard. Thanks for your opinions].

And finally.....From an eastern Iowan:

"A Cyclone family of football supporters head out one Saturday to do their Christmas shopping. While in the sports shop the son picks up an Iowa jersey and says to his older sister, 'I've decided to become a Hawkeye fan and I would like this for Christmas.' His big sister is outraged by this and promptly whacks him round the head and says, 'Go talk to your mother.'

"Off goes the little lad with the Hawkeye jersey in hand and finds his mother. 'Mom?' 'Yes son?' 'I've decided I'm going to be a Hawkeye fan and I would like this jersey for Christmas.' The mother is outraged at this, promptly whacks him around the head and says, 'Go talk to your father!' Off he goes with the Hawkeye jersey in hand and finds his father.

"'Dad?' 'Yes son?' 'I've decided I'm going to be a Hawkeye fan and I would like this jersey for Christmas.' The father is outraged and promptly whacks his son around the head and says, 'No son of mine is ever going to be seen in THAT!' About half an hour later they're all back in the car and heading towards home. The father turns to his son and says 'Son, I hope you've learned something today?' The son says, 'Yes, Dad, I have.' 'Good son, what is it?' The son replies, 'I've only been a Hawkeye fan for an hour and I already hate you Cyclone bastards.'"

Vol. 4, No. 342
May 10, 2005

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Bring Up the Name Notre Dame to Me, And I Get Emotional

I checked my mail box the other day, and the big envelope caught my eye immediately.

I saw that it was from Notre Dame.

Whenever I get mail from Notre Dame, I know it’s important.

I tore open the envelope. Inside was my very own “2005 Spring Football Guide” put out by Notre Dame.

Down in the right-hand corner of the book, it says $3. I got mine free, I guess, because I’m a dues-paying member of the Football Writers Association of America.

Bring up the name Notre Dame to me, and I get emotional.

People have been telling me for years that men and women in this country fall into two categories:

They either love Notre Dame or they hate Notre Dame.

I don’t love Notre Dame, so I guess that tells you where I fit in.

But please don’t say that I “hate” Notre Dame. I’d never use that word, especially when it comes to a college or a football team.

Even though I don’t watch every minute of every Notre Dame game on the tube, I know something about the football tradition there.

I’ve been in the press box, the locker rooms and the interview rooms a number of times.

When they paid me to go to games, I made sure I went to a pep rally at Notre Dame because I had heard about them so many times.

I’ve heard about – but, unfortunately, didn’t get to see – Rockne and The Gipper. [Wait a minute, I did see a former WHO-radio announcer named Reagan play the role of The Gipper in a movie, so maybe that counts].

The closest I ever got to Rockne was an ESPN Classics show a few years ago when some old black-and-white film showed the coach being transported up and down the sideline while sitting in a wheelchair. He either had phlebitis or a hangover.

I’ve seen the movie “Rudy” several times. I thought it was good.

I’ve been close to the Golden Dome. I’ve walked through the campus when Notre Dame students were throwing footballs around two hours before a game. Heck, maybe Charlie Weis was one of them.

Charlie, the new coach of the Fighting Irish, is a 1978 graduate of Notre Dame. He didn’t play football, which may help him in his new job.

I remember the names Lujack and Hornung. I’ve even interviewed both of them. I talked to Johnny Lujack, a former Notre Dame quarterback who used to sell cars in Davenport, for my Internet columnizing a couple of years ago when I wanted to know if he thought the Fighting Irish should be playing Iowa.

Lujack told me he doesn’t make Notre Dame’s schedules.

I interviewed Paul Hornung a number of years ago. He won the Heisman Trophy while playing for a Notre Dame team with a losing record. I tried to compare his situation with that of Troy Davis of Iowa State. Davis’ teams didn’t win, and he didn’t get the Heisman.

Things like that happen only at Notre Dame, I guess.

Both Lujack and Hornung were nice to me on the phone. I was nice to them, too.

I remember Leahy and Parseghian. They both coached at Notre Dame. So did Bob Davie. You remember Bob, don’t you? He’s on TV now.

I heard a lot about Leahy on the radio and from former Iowa players. I covered some of Parseghian’s games when he was Notre Dame’s coach. I think he spoke at the pep rally I attended on a Friday night.

Leahy was Notre Dame’s coach when Iowa’s Forest Evashevski branded his team the “Fainting Irish.” Evashevski and the Hawkeyes thought Leahy’s players faked injuries late in both halves of a 1953 game at South Bend, Ind., that ended in a 14-14 tie.

When Evashevski returned to Iowa City, he spoke at a gathering. When Evashevski spoke, everybody listened. He drew a roar from fans with this remodeled Grantland Rice poem:

“When the one Great Scorer
Comes to write against our name,
He won’t ask that we won or lost,
But how we got gypped at Notre Dame”

I’m sure Charlie Weis wouldn’t do something like that.

I have faith in everybody these days.

Charlie says it’s his job to “raise the expectations” [that’s what I’m told on Page 5 of my “Notre Dame Spring Football Guide”] at the school, which had a 6-6 record in 2004 under Ty Willingham.

It may not be all that easy to raise the expectations. My “Notre Dame Spring Football Guide” says the Fighting Irish play four of their first five games away from home.

They’re at Pittsburgh and Michigan, play Michigan State at home, then play at Washington [where Willingham is now the coach] and Purdue.

I wonder what Rockne and Leahy would say about that.

I know what I’d say:

I’d say, “Fire the schedule-maker.”

Before I deliver my last rousing cheer on high to spring football at Notre Dame, I’d like to mention that Chick-fil-A sponsored the cover of my “Spring Guide.”

It says so on the left-hand corner of the book. After “Chick-fil-A,” it says, “We Didn’t Invent The Chicken, Just The Chicken Sandwich.”


On the cover, it also says, “Blue-Gold Spring Football Festival Presented by Chick-fil-A.

Page 2 of the cover has ads from Papa Vino’s Italian Kitchen at 5110 Edison Lakes Parkway in Mishawaka and Chili’s Grill & Bar in Michigan City and Mishawaka, Ind., and St. Joseph, Mich.

Page 4 has an ad for “Legends of Notre Dame, a restaurant and ale house pub on Notre Dame’s campus.”

There’s an ad for Notre Dame Federal Credit Union on Page 30. Ideal Consolidated, Inc. is on Page 31. An attorney has his ad on Page 32 and 1st Source Bank is on Page 33.

Fifteen guys, all with either initials M.D., D.O. or DPM, are lined up to appear in an ad for South Bend Orthopaedics on the back cover.

Lots of ads. Lots of support for the Fighting Irish.

And, just think, this is amateur football!

I wonder why they charge $3 for the “2005 Spring Football Guide?”

Vol. 4, No. 341
May 3, 2005