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