Sunday, July 31, 2005

Book It, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz Has No Interest in Being Governor

Admit it, if Kirk Ferentz wanted to run for a higher

Oh, all right, maybe some of you Cyclone fans don’t agree with that. But stay with me on this.

Right now, Ferentz is enjoying life as Iowa’s football coach, and his teams have won a school-record 38 games over the last four seasons. The Hawkeyes have been especially difficult to beat at home, with 18 straight victories at Kinnick Stadium.

Ferentz has become a fan favorite to the degree of Forest Evashevski, Iowa’s coach from 1952-1960, and Hayden Fry, who brought the Hawkeye program back from the scrap heap from 1979-1998.

That leads to my thought about what kind of game plan Ferentz might have for the future.

It’s not often that a football coach’s name comes up in the same sentence as the word “governor.”

Ferentz and the governor’s office would seem to be an ideal fit.

Until you talk to Ferentz.

Which is what I did.

It started with something George Wine said. Wine is a retired sports information director at Iowa and the man who co-authored the book, “Hayden Fry—A High Porch Picnic” with the former coach.

Wine still keeps his finger on the pulse of Hawkeye athletics.

They used to talk about Forest Evashevski running for governor of the state of Iowa,” Wine said. “Over here [in and around Iowa City], there’s no doubt that Ferentz could run for governor, and probably win overwhelmingly.”

When I told that to Ferentz, he tossed cold water on the thought immediately.

He said, “There are three jobs I definitely don’t want—athletic director, university president and governor. Anything but that. I’m happy being a coach.”

Ferentz told me those things while I was doing research for the second printing of my book, “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines.”

Mike Pearson of my publishing company called one day this past spring with some comments and a question.

“The hard-cover version of your book has been a big seller,” Pearson said. “We’ve either sold, or distributed to bookstores, all or more of the 10,000 copies of the book that were printed. So, with Iowa’s and Kirk Ferentz’s success in recent years, we’d like to publish a soft-cover version of the book, with a 4,000-word addition.

“Are you interested in writing it?”

Pearson’s words were those that every author likes to hear. Anytime the publisher calls to tell you the book has been a best-seller, you’re happy.

“Give me a day to think about it,” I told Pearson.

The next day, I called Pearson and told him I’d write the addition. And, once I got busy with the project, it was fun touching base again with Ferentz, Wine, announcers Gary Dolphin and Bob Brooks and others for the research that was needed.

Ferentz’s on-the-field success and his smoothness with people off the field proves again that Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby made the right decision in hiring him as Fry’s successor.

Of Ferentz, Bowlsby told me, Kirk is “an ideal football coach. He’s very, very thorough. Coaching jobs at places like Iowa aren’t getting any easier. There’s a lot of scrutiny and pressure, but Kirk handles it all in a way that’s first-class.”

Of quarterback Drew Tate, who teamed up with Warren Holloway for a 56-yard scoring pass on the final play of the Capital One Bowl that beat LSU 30-25, Ferentz said, “The next two years could be very special to him. He’s a playmaker. He made some young-player mistakes, but I was impressed with the way he bounced back from those mistakes. That’s a tribute to his mental toughness.”

Said veteran sportscaster Bob Brooks of Cedar Rapids, who has been watching Hawkeye football—including games played by the legendary Nile Kinnick--since the 1930s: “Tate is a Houdini. He’s an escape artist. He wills his way to completing those passes. His legacy will be known when it’s done. Without injury, he’ll be the best Iowa quarterback ever.”

The start of Tate’s junior season isn’t far away. The second printing of “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines” – with the new cover which shows Holloway catching the winning touchdown pass in the Capital One Bowl--is scheduled to be in the stores before the Sept. 3 opener against Ball State.

I’m ready for another big year, and I’m sure Tate and the other Hawkeyes are, too.

Vol. 4, No. 362
July 31, 2005

Saturday, July 30, 2005

And, Now, Still More Examples of 'Covering News On the Cheap'

A reader e-mailed me this morning with another chapter of "How the Local Paper Covers the News On the Cheap."

Here's his message:

"There was a picture from the National Balloon Classic on the front page of the Register today. The cutlines told where the event was held and added, 'For more information on the event go to www.nationalballoonclassiccom or call (515) 961-8415.'

"That was the extent of the coverage.

"The Register did finally break down and send a reporter to Fort Dodge for a second-day story about a mother killing her two small children and herself. Although at least two Des Moines television stations had crews there for first-day coverage, the Register waited a day."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Ho-hum. Some things never change. The penny-pinchers at Big Daddy parent company Gannett are happy, but you can bet nobody else is--certainly not Jerry Perkins, Dawn Sagario and the summer interns in the newsroom].


Nice going, Valley Tigers. You're some kind of baseball juggernaut.


A note from Mike Mahon at Drake:








PHOENIX, ARIZ. - Jeff Berkshire, who will be a senior on the Drake men's golf team, sank a six-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to post a 1 up victory over Brian Prouty en route to winning the 81st Arizona Amateur Sunday at Southern Dunes Golf Club.

"Words can't explain how I feel," said Berkshire, who finished third in the 2005 Missouri Valley Conference Championships. "This is the state's most prestigious amateur tournament and to win it is just great.

"Last year, he [Brian] beat me in the second round and I had to get back at him. We both played great, I made a lot of putts and I have to credit that for the win."

The two battled all day, with five lead changes and neither able to sustain a 1 up lead for more than two holes.

"I'd rather go down being beaten than losing the match," said Prouty who attends the University of Arizona. "I wasn't going to make it too easy for him. I played 16 or 17 great holes, but missing that short par putt on 12 and leaving my tee shot in the bunker on the [par 3] 17th really hurt me."

The 468-yard par 4 12th hole was the turning point of the match. Berkshire just missed a 15-footer for birdie to even the match, but the result didn't matter with Prouty missing his short par putt.

Heading to the short par four 14th hole, Berkshire, aided a bit by a slight breeze at his back, drove the green with the balling stopping just three feet to the left of the pin converting for an eagle two. Prouty, who was in the right greenside bunker chipped out and watched as it rolled five feet past the hole.

Prouty evened the match on the par 5 16th hole getting up and down from the right greenside bunker for a birdie. His tee shot on 17, came up short, landing in the bunker and proved to be a difficult up and down.

Meanwhile, Berkshire's ball was safely on the green, some 21 feet below the hole and he was able to save par and regain the lead to go 1 up. Both players had 300-plus yard drives on the 463-yard par 4 18th hole. Berkshire stuffed his 160-yard approach shot just seven feet to the left of the flagstick. Prouty answered with a 140-yard shot that ended up about 13 feet past the hole.

With the match on the line, Prouty found the bottom of the cup and Berkshire needed to hole out for the victory. With his calm demeanor and steady play, he nailed the putt without any hesitation to claim the championship.

"I usually hit my long irons really well," he said. "My putting put me over the top."

Clearly recognizing he was beat by the better player at least on this day, Prouty was gracious in defeat. "He played flawless today. He was the better player today and that is all there was too it."


This is a day when Chicago Cubs fans can feel they've died and gone to heaven.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a "person close to" Cubs manager Dusty Baker said he wants to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers if Jim Tracy doesn't return in 2006. The paper said Baker "desperately wants to manage the Dodgers."

More times than not, the "person close to" someone [in this case Baker] is usually the man himself. So I figure Baker is campaigning to get the Dodgers job, and I hope he gets it. Hell, there's no reason for him to wait until next season to put on his Dodgers uniform. Put him on the next plane to L.A. today. And send bench coach Dick Pole--the guy who looks like he hasn't moved a muscle for three weeks and seems asleep every day--along with him.

Baker is wearing thin with all Cubs fans. He's certainly wearing thin with me. And there's no doubt that the Cubs would let him out of the final year of his contract. It's not like he's been coming across as a smart guy either inside or outside the dugout. Ask the guy what a squeeze play is and he thinks it's a terminal illness.


A junior golfer from the hamlet of Lowbanks -- a whistle-stop on the shores of Lake Erie between Port Colborne and Dunnville -- is the Ontario champion.

Matt Graham, unranked by the Golf Association of Ontario, charged from five shots back to win the 72-hole championship at the St. Thomas Golf and Country Club in Union.

London Free Press reported on "Slam! Sports" that Graham, 18, fired a final-round of 71 to finish at 2-over-par 290.

"I realized I was in contention when I birdied the ninth hole,'' said Graham, who graduated from high school in Fonthill last June and is headed to Iowa on a golf scholarship. "I took the lead on the 14th hole when I went for it (the green on the par-five) in two and then two-putted for a birdie.''

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Talent Leaves, Paper Crumbles, But Be Glad Marc Hansen Is Still There

We all know the problems.

Well, some of them anyway.

After Gannett bought the Des Moines Register, things went to hell in a hurry. The travel budget dried up. Hell, they wouldn’t even pay for a lunch in Ames when a guy was up there for 10 hours to write about a coach who was being canned. They brought in creeps with names like Townsend and Ryerson. A sports section that once was called the world’s greatest suddenly wouldn’t even send photographers to Iowa and Iowa State football games on the road. A guy who ran the department didn’t have enough sense to assign a reporter to the Valley High School season football opener.

An editor and a managing editor—evidently finding out that they liked going to more places with each other than afternoon news meetings--had already skipped town together, each leaving a spouse behind. Gene Raffensperger, Joan Bunke and Walt Shotwell retired. Bernie Owens went to law school. Newsside reporters broke each other’s ribs while hurrying out the door to jobs at the Chicago Tribune. People in Des Moines did what people everywhere else were doing. They quit buying the paper. Instead, they watched Bachman and Murphy on Channel 13, and they read the Internet.

But Marc Hansen stayed.

That says something about stability in the newspaper business. What it says I’m not sure, but it says something.

Intelligent. Dependable. Fine writer. Nice guy.

That’s Marc Hansen.

Hansen showed up at the Register retirees’ lunch the other day at Baker’s Cafeteria in Windsor Heights, and talked about the newspaper business. He came to the local paper in 1978 when he was 25, and he’s 52 now.

I don’t know if that means he tried to get a lot of other jobs, and failed, or if he likes Des Moines so much that he can’t think of anywhere else he’d rather write columns.

Whatever, it’s good to have him around. I enjoyed his style, his wit and his friendship when I worked with him for more than 20 years, and I still like to get his take on what’s going on in the world around him.

Hansen told the 70- and 80-something retirees [well, at least one of them wasn’t 70 yet!] what they wanted to hear—stuff like, “I sit among all those interns in the office, so it’s really great to be here. I feel like an intern today,” and, “I notice there’s an emergency exit door right behind me here,” meaning he could make a quick getaway if needed.

No getaway was necessary. Hansen did a nice job of summarizing his career and covering what some people who have been out of the loop wanted to know about the Register. He did what he said he’d do—he talked for a few minutes, then fielded questions.

I was particularly happy that he talked a lot about me. And even my desk.

“Looking at Maly’s desk, I often wondered if Johnny Gosch was lost in there,” Hansen said.

Smart-ass comment, yes, but it showed that Hansen was a pretty observant guy.

I think he meant my desk for more than 39 years had the appearance of the city dump. That’s what a hard-working guy’s desk is supposed to look like. What I’d like to know, though, is how the hell Hansen knew what my desk looked like. In those days, he wrote his sports columns at home, and some people thought he was actually Jim Murray’s illegitimate son.

“Turnbull, your desk was the neatest,” Hansen said of Buck Turnbull’s work area, which looked like it belonged in an insurance company that still hadn’t hired any employees.

When Jim Gannon was the paper’s managing editor a number of years ago, one of the two good things he did was ban smoking in the newsroom. For some reason, I can’t think of what the other good thing was.

“I was talking to [columnist] John Carlson the other day,” Hansen said. “Not only was smoking permitted, but you could do anything with your cigarettes. One day Carlson, who was a smoker, was looking for an ashtray.

“Laddie Paul came up to him and ripped the cigarette out of Carlson’s mouth and threw it on the floor, saying, ‘Here’s the ashtray.’”

Laddie Paul is gone now, and so are the cigarettes. Laddie works at the New York Times, where they maybe call him Laurence Paul now.

In the old days, Hansen said Register people even – excuse the expression – drank.

Occasionally, even in the office.

But those who did that had bigger problems than what Hansen talked about.

“When I worked on the sports copy desk, I quickly learned that plugging your meter didn’t mean plugging your meter,” he said.

In other words, plugging your meter sometimes took a couple of hours at places called “The Office” and “T&T.”

Yes, they were bars.

“Raff, you remember this one,” Hansen said to Gene Raffensperger, a multi-talented, longtime Register employee who included sports editor, city editor and Eastern Iowa Bureau chief among the jobs he held.

Raff wasn’t sure he wanted to remember what Hansen had to say.

“Raff thought it was a good idea when he was sports editor to see what was going on with the copy desk at night,” Hansen explained. “Everyone on the desk liked that. Raff would come in and help us all out.

“Then, after the first edition closed, there would be a break and we would go to lunch.”

[Lots of laughs among the retirees now. Lunch meant the liquid variety. In those days, pastrami-on-rye often was spelled and tasted like Bud Light].

“When we’d go to The Office or T&T, I don’t think Raff ever came back,” Hansen said. “Other people from the desk kept going over there, but never returned. Finally, Bernie Owens, who was the sports news editor that night, was the only one left to put out the paper.

“Bernie was upset, but we said, ‘Hey, the boss is here.’

“I doubt that would happen these days.”

No wonder Owens became a lawyer.

Hansen’s appearance was only the second such retirees’ meeting I have attended. The first was in January, 2002, when local paper publisher Mary P. Stier spoke.

It was then that Stier admitted there were problem areas in the newsroom. Among them were the business and sports departments.

“With all due respect to Dave Elbert, I think our business section is weak,” Stier said. “I think it doesn’t have a mission. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. That’s part of the issue there.”

Elbert was called the business editor then, and is still called the business editor, He also writes columns, but I hear that he is no longer involved in editorial decisions. Figure that one out. Whether the business page has more of a mission now than it did when Stier talked to the retirees, I’m not sure. Actually, I doubt it.

“I think we can beef up sports,” Stier told the retirees in 2002.

One of the reasons she made that comment was because the sports section occasionally went to press without stories on some of the local high school football games. That was pretty embarrassing stuff, especially when the bosses were ready to put on a big push to publish new sections that included the “West Des Moines Register” so they could try to sell a few papers in the suburbs.

Sadly, the “beefing up of sports” that Stier said needed to happen still hasn’t. Randy Brubaker, who was out of touch with what was going on at both the local and national levels, was dumped as the paper’s sports editor a few months ago. So it’s obvious the bosses still aren’t happy with a department that continues to have the appearance of a sinking ship.

Losing Hansen as the No. 1 sports columnist sure didn’t help matters.

Since moving from the sports copy desk and writing sports columns, Hansen now writes for the Metro & Iowa section of the paper. He has made the transition smoothly to newsside columnist.

So smoothly that he said he finished No. 1 in a readership survey of those who read the paper’s columnists.

“You were named the No. 1 columnist,” Buck Turnbull blurted during the retirees’ question-and-answer session. “Did you get a raise out of that?”

Said Hansen: “Buck, would you repeat that question! Yes, I was the No. 1-read columnist in a readership survey. A number of editors told me that. The upper echelon would rather I forget it. I’m not quite sure if I got a raise out of that. Maybe I’ll put it on my headstone.”

Hansen was asked if he sometimes regrets moving from sports columnist to newsside columnist.

“I sometimes miss the camaraderie of sports,” he said. “But I don’t miss those Tuesday press conferences [during the football season at Iowa and Iowa State]. I get kind of antsy during the football season and the NCAA basketball tournament. That’s when I miss sports. But I enjoy what I’m doing.

“In sports, I thought my knowledge was as good as anybody’s. Ron and Raff, you know that [about yourselves]. Now every time I write something, somebody calls. A respiratory therapist calls to say he knows more about what I’m writing about than I do. People will say, ‘You didn’t consider this or that.’ I say, ‘Why didn’t you call me before I wrote it?’”

Hansen was writing his columns when the husband-and-wife team of Rob Borsellino and Rekha Basu were hired a second time by the paper a few years ago. Borsellino is now slowed by the horrible effects of Lou Gehrig Disease, and he has cut back on his writing to one, or no, columns per week because of it.

I asked Hansen if he and the other columnists have been asked by their bosses to handle some of Borsellino’s responsibilities.

“No, they haven’t said a word about it,” Hansen said. “I was doing a notes column on Saturdays before Rob came back, and I was doing a damn poor job with it. I didn’t care about how the TV anchors were wearing their hair. I know some people do. I was glad to relinquish that notes column to Rob, but now he doesn’t do it, either. I think he was glad to drop it.”

Someone asked Hansen why he and business editor Dave Elbert “look so much alike.”

Hansen was stunned. Somehow, I don’t think he cared for the “separated-at-birth” question.

“Dave Elbert?” he said. “I think you’re thinking of that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie when he was twins with Danny DeVito. Is that what you’re talking about? I never heard that before. Some people tell me I look like [New England Patriots coach] Bill Belichick.”

I asked Hansen if he misses the 7 p.m. deadlines on Saturdays.

That was an inside joke because three of us from the local paper—me along with Hansen, and Dave Stockdale—were covering an Iowa-Michigan football game at Ann Arbor, Mich., a few years ago that began at 11 a.m. [Central Time]. It finished at about 3 p.m., which meant Hansen had 4 hours or so to produce a column.

He didn’t.

“That was the only deadline I ever missed,” he said. “That was really bad. It was plain awful.”

Perfectionist that he is, Hansen kept writing, editing, rewriting, editing, adding to, editing the column to the point where he blew the deadline on one of the biggest collegiate games of the entire season. Not until the second edition was there a Hansen column.

Asked if he gets “hate mail” these days, he said he does.

“I also get ‘hate’ phone calls,” Hansen said. Sometimes they’re at 3 o’clock in the morning—like I’m going to be there at 3 in the morning! But we have caller-ID, so I know who’s making those calls.”

I asked Hansen if he thought he and others would eventually be asked to write more for the Internet version of the paper. Newspaper executives, with their worried eyes on dwindling circulation, are scared to death of competition from the Internet. Consequently, they’re doing what they can to bolster what they put on the Internet themselves.

“I think that might be coming,” Hansen said. “More and more papers have bloggers who write every day. The Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn was among the first to do that. It’s picking up steam. Still, there’s not near the readers on the website as with the paper. But they’re finding that the website can be very profitable.”

Blogs? That’s a term used for “web logs.” To me, it’s strange that people at the local paper are giving any thought to blogs. It sounds like a case of “follow the leader” to me.

Imagine this. Some guy who has just finished lunch, and still has mustard on his face, walks into the building and says, “Hey, I think we need a blog.” The editor he’s talking to in the elevator says, “Yeah, let’s have a blog! That’ll solve all of our problems. Maybe then the business section will have a mission, the sports section will be beefed up and Mary Stier won’t be pissed off so often!”

Asked if putting the paper on the web for free is hurting circulation of the printed version, Hansen said, “I doubt [the bosses] will admit it. But common sense tells me that if you’re going to get something for free, you’re not going to pay for it. But I think—and I might be in the minority—that reading a newspaper online is work. You can’t turn pages and you can’t take a computer into the men’s room.”

At least not a desk-top computer.

A laptop? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Asked if he thinks the weekly “Juice” publication will take the place of “Datebook,” Hansen said, "It sure looks that way. Probably not many people in this room relate to ‘Juice.’"

Just then, someone asked, “What is ‘Juice?'"

“They’ll be happy to hear that,” Hansen said with a laugh. “Don’t take offense, but you may not be in the target audience [for ‘Juice’]. ‘Juice’ is a publication for 18-to-34-year-olds. When you get to be 35, there’s nothing for you.”

Hansen talked about the heavyweight stuff in “Juice,” a free tabloid.

“A recent 'Question of the Week' was, 'What kind of condiment should I use?'" he said. [Hey, maybe they’d have been better off using, “What kind of condom should I use?” instead. After all, a recent front cover to “Juice” had this message: “Suck for a Buck.” Now, if "Suck for a Buck" doesn't attract that 18-to-34 crowd to "Juice," nothing will].

“Ken Fuson [the paper’s new once-a-week humor columnist] says we spend too much time asking what young people want to do,” Hansen said. “People who buy the paper are you [older] guys. Fuson thinks we should put out a publication called ‘Prune Juice.’”

[Laughs, lots of ‘em, after that Hansen line].

Maybe they should also put out a publication listing where all the departed editors and reporters are now. Another editor just bailed out. Paul Anger, who had been at the paper just three years or so, is moving to godawful Detroit. Try to call that an upgrade and I'll commit you to the nearest funny farm. No new editor has yet been named in Des Moines. That shows you how bad things have gotten at a once-proud Iowa paper.

All in all, though, Hansen's appearance made for a very entertaining lunch meeting. And he didn’t have to use the emergency exit when he left.

It was great to see you, coach. Come back soon, and come to those Wednesday lunches at the Chinese place with us, too. By the way, my desk at home looks like the city dump, too.

Vol. 4, No. 359
Aug. 5, 2005

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Things Come Up 'Big' for Bielema--He Called Walden a 'Big Prick,' Now Gets Big Badger Break


Bret Bielema, a former Hawkeye player and assistant coach, will succeed Barry Alvarez, another former Hawkeye assistant, as Wisconsin's head football coach in 2006. This is a tremendous break for the 35-year-old Beliema, who was a hard-nosed player under Hayden Fry at Iowa before becoming a Hawkeye assistant, then a staff member under Bill Snyder at Kansas State.


Bielema made statewide news after an Iowa victory over Iowa State at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. During the postgame handshakes at midfield, Bielema--then a senior--confronted Cyclone coach Jim Walden and said, "You're a big prick. I enjoyed kicking your ass for five years (including his redshirt year)." Hawkeye fans loved it, Cyclone fans hated it. Walden? He was confused, as usual.

Hell, he was confused throughout the entire series. He didn't win any of the Big Games. He recovered enough by the following Monday to joke at a Cyclone Club luncheon in Des Moines about what he'd been called by Beliema on the 50-yard line two days earlier. "My wife wants to know how that guy Bielema knows so much about my anatomy," Walden said of being called a "big prick."

Bielema later was ordered by Iowa officials to apologize to Walden and Iowa State for what he said, but didn't do it in the normal way. He sent a telegram--which some of us interpreted as a backhanded way of saying he was sorry. In other words, maybe Beliema wasn't sorry at all, and the only reason he apologized was because he was told to do so.

In those days--when Iowa was in the process of winning 15 consecutive games from Iowa State--Beliema and other Hawkeye players got particular joy out of beating Walden, whose silly, smart-ass comments got under their skin and did nothing but provide bulletin-board material in Iowa City. Walden's act would have been funny had he been able to back it up with an occasional victory, but he couldn't do it. Fry had his number in a big-time way.


Iowa State boosters can now relax with the news that Beliema will become Wisconsin's head coach in 2006. Cyclone fans have long feared that McCarney, a former defensive coordinator at Wisconsin under Alvarez, would someday return to Madison to coach the Badgers. McCarney is a native of Iowa City, played for Fry at Iowa and was on Hayden's coaching staff there along with Alvarez. It could be that McCarney will now become a "lifer" at Iowa State. As far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing. The Cyclones could do a lot worse. McCarney has done an excellent job of injecting life into an Iowa State program that was left for dead when Walden, Jim Criner and Donnie Duncan were coaching there. Iowa State is my favorite to win the Big 12 North in the upcoming season.


Bielema has played and worked at good places. He's been taught well. If I cared anything about Wisconsin football, I'd be somewhat concerned that he has no head coaching experience, but in time I think he'll be able to get the job done. It depends on how patient Alvarez and Badger fans are. All in all, there are lots of people who would gladly trade places with Beliema. As one guy told me, "It's a hell of an opportunity for a 35-year-old bachelor."

Friday, July 22, 2005

D.M. Man Overwhelmed By Gartner's Offer of Free Water at No-Name Ballpark [Sorry About That, Sec]

"A story about the weather in the Register today said that if it gets too hot at the state high school baseball tournament, the Iowa Cubs' concession stands will be offering free water," Bud Appleby of Des Moines tells me in an e-mail.

"Apparently there is no limit to Mike Gartner's generosity."

I assume those $5.75 beers that are sold at No-Name Local Ballpark [Sorry About That, Sec] won't be available during the high school tournament. The kids will have to bring in their own coolers of Bud Light. Then, again, who knows. Anything to make a buck or six. That's the motto at No-Name Local Ballpark [Sorry Again, Sec].

Whatever, I figure the $5.75 beers will cost $6.75 at the local ballclub's next home homestand to cover the expense of the free water at the high school tournament.


Speaking of baseball and the local paper, it says on the front page of today's sports section that Jeff Suppan, with a 9-7 record and a 4.22 earned-run average, will pitch against Jeff Suppan, with a 9-7 record and 4.22 earned-run average, in Sunday night's Chicago-St. Louis series.

I guess that's another example of a guy playing with himself, which is what a lot of people think baseball players do anyway.

To straighten out what the local paper was trying to say, Jeff Suppan of the Cardinals will pitch against Mark Prior of the Cubs in Sunday's 7 p.m. game, which will be televised by ESPN. Prior's record is 7-3 and his earned-run average is 3.15.


Frankly, I can fully understand the latest screw-up in the local paper. The bosses were spending all their time making sure there was another story about the Des Moines Menace in the paper.

I can't get enough news about the Menace.


From e-mailer John Cavanaugh:

"Ron, the Register quoted Jackie Sherrill, the head coach of Texas A&M, today. Not much football research there!"

Sherrill is the FORMER head coach at Texas A&M, as well as a FORMER assistant at Iowa State. I'm pretty sure reporter Randy Peterson knows that, and it's how he intended to make it look in the paper. Cavanaugh might have missed the word "former."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Give Me a Holler If You Know What Planet Brad Lohaus Is On Now

If anybody knows what planet Brad Lohaus is on these days, please call [515-225-3047] or e-mail [] me.

Sometimes I think about the good old days.

I wonder what kind of pill bottle the big guy got into in the years after TV announcer Don Criqui said, “Lohaus has white man’s disease” on the air during an Iowa basketball game.


Memo to Corey Patterson:

The Cubs swung a trade with, of all the teams, Cleveland, for, of all players, a journeyman outfielder.

The new guy’s name is Jody Gerut. Not exactly someone mentioned in the same breath with Derrek Lee and Albert Pujols.

The thing is, Corey, Gerut is with the Cubs. You’re in Des Moines.

His salary is $356,200. Yours is $2.8 million.

Enjoy those $5.75 beers at No-Name Ballpark [Sorry About That, Sec].


Hey, I was glad to be able to help out the local paper on yet another story—this one about Drake football.

You may recall that I wrote a column last month, saying that the Bulldogs probably wouldn’t be able to play any of their 2005 “home” games at Drake Stadium because it’s being renovated.

I told about how Drake historian Paul Morrison informed me that plans were being made for three games to be played at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines and one at the Waukee High School stadium.

It was good to see that the folks at the local paper always read what I write—as they’re probably told to do by their bosses. They scrambled around for a few days and finally got a story on the Drake football situation in print.

Oh, well, at least they didn’t try to fool their editors and everyone else by calling what they produced “Breaking News” like they did when I beat ‘em on the Fred Hoiberg story. That was pretty high schoolish stuff.

Before I get off the subject, I should point out to the guys at 8th and Locust that they probably shouldn’t overlook those Rudy Washington, Lewis Lloyd and Veda Ponikvar columns I have on the web page now.

They’re damn good ones, too, about people and happenings they should have in the paper.


Speaking of $5.75 beers, which I did a few lines back, what’s the deal about that guy in the local paper bitching about $5 and $6 beers at the local arena?

What concession stand has he been hanging around?

This ain’t the Little League park in Lake Mills, coach.


Speaking again about the local arena, they’re really packing ‘em in there, aren’t they?

Eighty-five hundred for some lousy music in a 17,000-seat joint.

They won’t be getting my money.


How many times has Jennifer Dukes Lee retired from the local paper? I’ve lost count.

All I know is that she looked pretty happy in that family picture they ran Sunday.

Everybody looks happy, I guess, when they get out of the newsroom and in the field.

The newsroom tends to do that to people.


With or without Dukes Lee or Lee Dukes, take my word for it—the local paper will be all right.

As long as Dawn Sagario is writing, they’ve got the waterfront covered.

I can’t wait for her next “Workbytes" column.


More good stuff in the paper by Jerry Perkins, too.

Count on ol’ Perk to keep cranking it out big-time with the hogs and sheep starting their countdown to the State Fair.


When I’d go shopping for a refrigerator or a washer, I always felt good when the salesman showed me a Maytag.

You know, that stuff about Newton and all the hard-nosed Iowans who work there.

It’s a hell of a note to hear now that the Chinese might buy the place.

I just know they’ll probably move the factory to Mexico.


I’ve gotten some nice e-mails from Gordy Scoles, the former Iowan who now lives in South Carolina.

Scoles has authored the book, “Best in the Land--The First-Half Century of Nashua High School Football.”

I wrote about the book a while back.

“Thanks again for the article about my book because Jim Sullivan of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier got hold of me and did a 30-minute interview over the phone,” Scoles told me. “He said he read your article about the book. My wife ended up hustling 34 books on the trip [back to Iowa], and I had dinner one night with my old coach, Doug Pinkham, and his wife. So we had a great time and hope to go back next summer to push the Greene High School book. Thanks again for your support!”

I’m glad I could help you, Sully and the Waterloo/Cedar Falls paper out, Gordy.


I’ve got a family reunion coming up in a few days.

I’ll let you know how much fun it was.


I was watching a TV documentary on Hopalong Cassidy, one of the “good guys” in the old cowboy black-and-white movie film days.

I don’t know if Hopalong—they called him “Hoppy” a lot in those movies--said it or if one of the other gunslingers said it, but I liked this line:

“I’m gonna rip your arm off and beat you to death with it.”

Come to think of it, there are a couple of guys I wouldn’t mind saying that to.


On his trip to Iowa, Gordy Scoles said he made a stop in Cedar Rapids.

“Our friend is a volunteer at the Brucemore mansion, and gave us a private tour of the place,” Scoles wrote. “We finished the tour at one of the buildings that is used as a gift shop and reception area. That evening, the reception area was being used to host a group of local CEOs, and a part of the itinerary included old movies that Howard Hall had taken during his many adventures.

“One of the clips came from Hall’s visit to the set of ‘Gone With the Wind,’ but the highlight of the film presentation was a short clip that showed Nile Kinnick at a practice in 1940, working with Iowa players when he was a parttime coach and fulltime law student. Sixty-five years later and Kinnick is still the star of the show.”

Scoles’ e-mail was in response to the column I did about another honor received by Kinnick—this time in Omaha. Kinnick, the leader of Iowa’s 1939 Ironmen football team and the Heisman Trophy winner that year, died in 1943.

Vol. 4, No. 360
July 19, 2005

Lousy Reporting--Column on Johnny Bright, No Mention of Broken Jaw

It's difficult to believe that someone could write a sports column about former Drake football standout Johnny Bright without mentioning that Bright's jaw was broken in a 1951 game against Oklahoma A&M [now Oklahoma State].

But I have found such a column, thanks to former newspaper editor and reporter Bud Appleby--who sent it to me.

In the column by Blake Sebring that follows, there is no mention of the 1951 Drake-Oklahoma A&M game in which Wilbanks Smith, an Oklahoma A&M tackle, broke Bright's jaw with a forearm on the first play of the game.

Here's Sebring's column as it appeared in the Ft. Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel. I don't know how many other pertinent facts about Bright were left out:

A column by Blake Sebring
Ft. Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel

What if ... Johnny Bright had played in the NFL

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh in a weekly series of eight features that take a mostly lighthearted look at what might have been had some of Fort Wayne’s most notable teams and players taken different paths].

Before Joe Namath, Deion Sanders, Shannon Sharpe or Terrell Owens, there might have been Johnny Bright to draw the attention of NFL fans.

When The News-Sentinel named northeast Indiana’s 50 great athletes of the 20th century in 1999, perhaps the biggest talking point was the selection panel’s choice of Rod Woodson as No. 1 over Johnny Bright. While both would be worthy candidates in any city, many of Bright’s contemporaries said Woodson was not nearly the athlete.

In the end, the final vote seemed to be determined by the fact that Woodson played in the NFL and in a Super Bowl, while Bright played in the lesser-known Canadian Football League. When the former Central star graduated from Drake University in 1952, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Bright with their first pick, so he had the opportunity initially.

“I would have been their first Negro player, but there was a tremendous influx of Southern players into the NFL at that time, and I didn’t know what kind of treatment I could expect,” Bright would later say.

Instead, Bright chose to play in the CFL and was signed by the Calgary Stampeders as a linebacker in 1952. Shoulder injuries led to a trade to the Edmonton Eskimos in 1954, and that’s where Bright’s career took off. He led the Eskimos to Grey Cup titles in 1954, 1955 and 1956, and in 1958 he rushed for 1,722 yards to earn CFL Player of the Year honors. Four times he was the CFL’s top rusher.

The NFL approached Bright several times, but he always declined, partly because he had already started his teaching career in Edmonton.

“I might have been interested,” he once said, “if the offers could have matched what I was making from both football and teaching.”

Bright’s football career ended in 1964 after 10,909 yards rushing in 13 seasons. He still holds CFL records for most career playoff touchdowns, most yards gained in a Grey Cup game, and for playing an amazing 197 consecutive games as both a linebacker and a fullback.

Bright might have been an even better teacher than a football player, as he received numerous awards as a teacher and principal at Edmonton’s D.S. MacKenzie Junior High before he passed away in 1983 at age 53.

But what kind of numbers could Bright have produced in the NFL? His popularity might have been remarkable because of his ability and his personality. Imagine the Chris Berman-esque possibilities for a nickname: Johnny “Star” Bright, Johnny “Incredibly” Bright or even Johnny “Light” Bright.

Even in high school, Bright was known for being extremely confident and always able to back it up.

“He was good at everything, and not just good, but really good, and he knew it,” said Tom Jehl, former Central quarterback and Bright’s friend. “What was so neat about him was he knew how to put you down and build himself up in the neatest ways. No matter how he said it, it was with a big smile and it was a challenge. Everybody loved the guy.”

After leading college football in total yardage as a sophomore at Drake, Bright went out for the basketball team. In his first interview, when asked how he thought he’d do, Bright replied with a straight face, “I’m not a football player, I’m a basketball player.”

Oh, the NFL would have loved Johnny Bright. Almost as much as Fort Wayne did.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. E-mail Blake Sebring at

Monday, July 18, 2005

Yes, Lewis Lloyd is Alive--And I Hope His Story Ends Happily

The rumors of Lewis Lloyd’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Lloyd has made telephone contact from the Philadelphia area with people at Drake, where he was one of the best basketball players in university history from 1979-1981.

“Jeff Hill called me a while back and said Lloyd was interested in touching base with Drake,” Paul Morrison said. “Jeff told me that Lewis is thinking of going back to school somewhere in the Philadelphia area, and wanted to find out about his transcript.”

Morrison, who celebrates his 88th birthday in a week, is Drake’s longtime sports historian. Hill, of Des Moines, is a friend of Lloyd and a former teammate. Morrison said he talked briefly with Lloyd about his request to get his academic records in order.

The 6-foot 6-inch Lloyd finished second nationally in scoring with a 30.2-point average for Drake in 1979-80 after coming to the school from New Mexico Military Academy. He was fourth nationally with a 26.3 average for the Bulldogs in 1980-81.

However, after being drafted in the fourth round of the 1981 draft by the Golden State Warriors, he had drug problems as a National Basketball Association player, Along with Houston Rockets teammates John Lucas and Mitchell Wiggins, Lloyd was suspended by the league for substance abuse in 1986-87. He didn’t play again until 1989-90.

“It’s too bad he’s had such a checkered career since leaving Drake,” Morrison told me. “Over the years, people would ask me if I knew where Lewis Lloyd was. I’d tell them he could be 6 feet under.”

Fortunately, that’s not the case.

“When a guy like him is thinking of going back to school, you’ve got to give him a lot of credit,” Morrison said. “If he wants a transcript from the registrar’s office, I’ll pay for it myself.”

I observed plenty of Drake games that were played by both Lloyd and Hill when the Bulldogs still called Veterans Memorial Auditorium home. Whenever I’d see Hill in recent years, I’d ask if he had heard from Lloyd [who now would be about 45 years of age].

The answer was always, “No.”

I talked with Hill outside the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Des Moines a few years ago following the funeral of Dan Stamatelos, who had been an attorney and longtime Drake booster.

“Have you heard from Lewis lately?” I asked Hill.

“Still looking for him,” Hill said.

Academics definitely took a back seat in Lloyd’s life. He was all about basketball—and what a basketball player he was.

Lloyd attended Overbrook High School in Philadelphia [also the alma mater of the late Wilt Chamberlain], then wound up at New Mexico Military Academy.

Bob Ortegel was Drake’s coach when Lloyd was recruited to play. Lloyd, who told me he liked to be called “Black Magic,” so impressed the folks at the Missouri Valley Conference university that his No. 30 jersey was retired following his senior season in 1981.

The only other Drake player to have his jersey retired is Red Murrell, ol’ No. 33, who was an outstanding scorer from 1955-1958.

The fact that Lloyd’s number has been retired still bothers plenty of players who performed for Drake in the Maury John era. Former Bulldog standouts such as Willie McCarter, Dolph Pulliam and Jeff Halliburton—guys who led John’s teams to the 1968-69 Final Four and NCAA tournaments the next two seasons—have not had their jerseys retired.

Pulliam, who is now employed by Drake, is another person who has been contacted by Lloyd about perhaps continuing his education in the Philadelphia area.

“I liked Lewis when he played for Drake,” Morrison said. He was a likable, soft-spoken guy. Like a lot of kids from the inner city, he had a rough time. He ended up having a great career here and with the Rockets. But, like so many high-level professional athletes, he got involved with the drug scene.”


Paul Morrison came to attention when he noticed a recent Associated Press story that referred to Veda Ponikvar.

“Veda’s name jumped out at me,” Morrison said. “We overlapped at Drake, and she ended up being editor of the Times-Delphic. She had a great career as a newspaper owner and publisher in Chisholm, Minn.”

The story about Ponikvar centered around Moonlight Graham, a character from the movie “Field of Dreams.”

Archibald Wright Graham made his only major league baseball appearance 100 years ago for the New York Giants. He didn’t get a hit, but was left on deck. A late substitute in an 11-1 victory, he played two innings, and there’s no proof he ever touched the baseball.

Author W. P. Kinsella made Moonlight Graham a part of “Field of Dreams.” Ponikvar knew Graham for a half-century in Chisholm. The AP story said Graham arrived around 1912 after the town placed an ad for a school doctor. Burt Lancaster played the adult role of Graham in the movie.

Ponikvar threw out the first pitch at a recent Minnesota Twins-Kansas City game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

“After seeing the story, I wrote to her, saying she was going to be hearing from lots of old friends,” Morrison said. “She’s been honored at Drake, being given alumni distinguished awards. I recall her as being a very outgoing person when she attended school here.”

Vol. 4, No. 358
July 18, 2005

Friday, July 15, 2005

Back to the Basics--Rudy Washington Takes High School Coaching Job

Rudy Washington, a 30-year coaching veteran whose stops included Iowa and Drake, will take over the boys' basketball program at Los Angeles Verbum Dei, where he began his career in 1976.

Washington replaces DeAnthony Langston, who has been promoted to executive director of Urban Compass, a nonprofit organization formed in partnership with Verbum Dei.

Verbum Dei is described as a "college preparatory school for young men."

It is a Catholic school in a rough part of town. Verbum Dei has quite a roster of former players who went on to bigger and better things. It always has been a basketball power of such, but the glory days were in the 1970s.

Today, Verbum Dei no longer has the market on kids transferring. All the public schools have joined in, making the prep basketball scene in Los Angeles what one observer called "a filthy mess."

So Verbum Dei has been knocked down a notch and plays in a lower division, but still does well. Westchester is the hot school these days, along with Fairfax, and to a lesser degree Crenshaw.

Washington is a former assistant coach at Iowa and head coach at Drake. Washington's records at Drake were 8-21 in 1990-91, 6-21 in 1991-92, 14-14 in 1992-93, 11-16 in 1993-94, 12-15 in 1994-95 and 12-15 in 1995-96.

It was thought two months ago that Bakersfield College, a two-year school in Bakersfield, Calif., would hire Washington as its coach for next season. But then Bakersfield officials withdrew the offer, without saying why.


I hear that University of Iowa sports information director Phil Haddy had two stents inserted into his coronary arteries Wednesday, and is scheduled for another next week. He underwent coronary bypass surgery several years ago.

Friday, July 08, 2005

$2.8 Million Loafer Another Reason to Stay Away From No-Name Ballpark

I’ve never been in the habit of feeling sorry for million-dollar baseball players, and I’m not about to have any sympathy for Corey Patterson, the Chicago Cubs-and-soon-to-be-Iowa Cubs centerfielder who is being paid $2.8 million a year.

The only people I feel sorry for—well, kind of sorry--are the Chicago fans, who sell out Wrigley Field every day to watch lousy baseball. At least they’ve been able to wipe away some of their frustrations by booing Patterson every time he comes to the plate this season.

Now that opportunity is gone.

Patterson has been given what may be a one-way ticket to Des Moines and Sammy Sosa is screwing things up in Baltimore, so all the Chicago faithful can do the rest of the summer is boo Dusty Baker, who doesn’t seem to have a clue about anything.

Baker, the Chicago manager, and general manager Jim Hendry evidently are tired of babysitting Patterson, who was supposed to be the best young prospect in the Cubs’ outfield [sorry, Sammy] since Lou Brock.

Now Baker and Hendry have thrown Patterson into the middle of the mess known as the Iowa Cubs—who play in a place where a beer costs $5.75 and the entire operation is terrible, from top to bottom.

Thank goodness the local team doesn’t play again until July 14. That will give the big club time to swing a trade for Patterson. You know he doesn’t want to be in Des Moines, and I don’t want him here.

You think I want to pay $4 to park so I can watch that bum go at half-speed?

There are more than enough underachievers hanging around downtown already.

Even Triple-A pitchers are smart enough to know they don’t have to throw strikes to Patterson. He’ll swing at anything, whether it’s a pitch 2 feet over his head or whether it bounces 2 feet in front of the plate.

Patterson is an undisciplined hitter who has never been willing to learn.

He loafs on the bases.

He thinks he’s a power hitter, but isn’t.

He won’t run.

He doesn’t want to lead off.

His nonchalance drives me nuts.

I say trade him to Tampa Bay or some other American League team, where the only time the fans in Chicago can boo him is when he comes to town for a three-game series at Comiskey Park.


It kind of tells you something about the players on the Iowa Cubs’ roster when the big club calls up two guys from Double-A West Tennessee to replace Patterson and leftfielder Jason Dubois.

Surely you’re excited about watching big-time baseball names Adam Greenberg and Matt Murton on WGN-TV, aren’t you?


Just goes to show you. All you see at No-Name Ballpark [Sorry about that, Sec!] in Des Moines are has-beens and never-weres.

Speaking of has-beens, I wonder how Des Moines can get along without Trenidad Hubbard?


Some people are wondering if Dusty Baker will be back for the final year of his Cubs contract in 2006. Me? I wonder if he’ll still be around by Labor Day, 2005.


Another guy I wonder about is Larry Rothschild, the big club’s pitching coach.

With Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Greg Maddux in the dugout masquerading as Cy Young Award winners, injuries [at least to Wood and Prior] and Rothschild’s wonderful pitching lessons have turned them into flops.

I’ve never heard of a staff becoming so ordinary in such a hurry.

Where’s Leo Mazzone [the Atlanta Braves’ pitching coach] when Chicago needs him?

When Mazzone needs a young pitcher destined for a 15-3 record and a 2.10 earned-run average, he snaps his fingers and gets one from Triple-A.

No wonder the Braves let Maddux go so he could retire a Cub. They knew something.

Oh, well, Baker has his own problems.

Can Rothschild survive this horror show on the mound and in the bullpen? I doubt it.


Strange, isn’t it, that Matt Clement now has a 10-2 record for the Boston Red Sox.

This is the same Matt Clement the Cubs let get away as a free agent after the 2004 season.


The only positive thing about this sadsack baseball season is that we don’t have much longer to wait for football. Those Kirk Ferentz and Dan McCarney press conferences can’t come soon enough.

Vol. 4, No. 357
July 8, 2005

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Hey, Raise Your Hand If You Care About Paper's 25 'Power' Sports People

The local paper’s top-25 has turned out to be a big zero.

Few people are talking about it. Few people seem to care about it.

Many who have read it are critical of it.

The story about the “25 most powerful people in Iowa sports” appeared last Sunday. Some people tell me they still haven’t read it, which might say something about the newspaper business these days.

“I didn’t read it. On purpose,” said a man who spent most of his working years as a newspaper editor and writer.

“I make a point of avoiding reading things in the Register that I know are going to piss me off—and anything with Rekha Basu’s name connected to it tops that list.

“I figure that list was just another of the things the Register does to avoid actually gathering and reporting news.”

Newspaper editors like to make a big splash with something like a top-25 list—especially at a time when circulation is nosediving and people are spending more time observing the Internet, watching TV and listening to sports-talk radio.

This newspaper idea has drawn a huge yawn.

I always try to watch Keith Murphy’s popular “Sound Off” show on Sunday nights on WHO-TV. I tuned in last week to see if there’d be any calls about the local paper’s top-25.

Not a one.

“I haven’t received a single e-mail, phone call or comment from a viewer about the Power 25 list,” said Murphy, the station’s veteran sports director.

Listeners haven’t exactly bombarded Steve Deace with comments about the top-25 on his 3-to-6 p.m. KXNO-radio weekday sports-talk shows, either.

“We talked about [the top 25] on Tuesday,” Deace told me. “We received no phone calls on it [last] week, and about a half-dozen e-mails—most of those were folks loyal to our show who either were surprised I wasn’t on [the list] or wanted to know what I thought about not being on it.

“They also wondered if it was self-serving of the Register to place two of its own people on the list.”

I said in an earlier column that the paper was wrong in having sports editor Bryce Miller and sportswriter Tom Witosky on the list. As far as I was concerned, including their names immediately destroyed the credibility of the rankings.

A high-profile Iowa media person, who deserved be on the list but wasn’t, said this:

“Bryce Miller being mentioned in that thing? You know he forced that down Randy Peterson’s throat.”

Peterson wrote the story. A number of people have indicated to me that they think Miller forced Peterson to put the names of the two Register people on the list.

“Forced” might be too strong a word. “Influenced” may be more accurate.

Then there’s the matter of Sean Keeler, one of the local paper’s sports columnists.

He was left off the list. What kind of message is the paper sending Keeler when Miller, who has been the sports editor only since February, and Witosky make the list and he doesn’t?

I guess one of my reactions to the list was the absence of Keeler,” said a well-known retired newspaper editor. “If you are going to name Register people—Miller and Witosky—how can you leave the lead columnist off?

“The obvious answer, I guess, is looking at the selectors. Keeler’s acid, sarcastic, always negative attitude does not turn folks on.

“I agree with you that no member of the Register should be on there. But, for heaven’s sake, what is Christine Grant doing on there? Did you notice that in the list of selectors, the sports information directors from Iowa State and Drake were on it, but Phil Haddy was not?”

Tom Kroeschell is the sports publicist at Iowa State and Mike Mahon has that job at Drake. Haddy is the sports information director at Iowa.

Peterson’s story said “there were 21 letters not returned” – which means, I guess, that 21 people were asked to vote, but didn’t bother.

Earlier in this essay, when the retired editor asked why Christine Grant was on the top-25 list, he was referring to a retired women’s athletic director at the University of Iowa. These days, she’s not exactly a household name in sports.

Murphy also had a question about Grant being on the list.

“What year was this survey mailed out?” he asked.

My guess is that the paper was desperately trying to not make it an all-white-male list of 25 so-called powerful people. So Miller, Peterson and anyone else who had a role in the decision-making wanted to be sure they had as many women and blacks as possible on the list.

A few people wonder about the purpose of the project.

“What constitutes ‘power’ for crissakes?” asked a Des Moines writer who has authored a number of books.

There’s a feeling among some critics of the list that Peterson was merely blowing smoke up Miller’s ass, as well as Witosky’s, by putting them both No. 10 on the list. Others say they’re convinced the project was Miller’s, and that he obviously had the final say on who went on the list and who didn’t.

“I agree completely about the Register’s self-serving inclusion of its sports department among the top 25 power brokers in Iowa sports,” said a man who has worked for a couple of the largest newspapers in the state and now is happy he has left the business.

“I’m guessing that, these days, 90 percent of the people in Iowa would have no idea who Bryce Miller or Tom Witosky are. They would be more likely to select the guy who covers their high school in the Weekly Bugle or the sports guy on the TV station they watch…..”

Murphy said, “I enjoy lists like this one, so I was a little surprised it didn’t spur more discussion. Steve Deace and I did talk about it on his KXNO radio show Tuesday…..

“How do you define power? Name recognition?....pull?….bank account?…..influence?…..accomplishments? I don’t know. That’s the big question. Is Bryce Miller really more powerful than Bruce Van De Velde [Iowa State’s athletic director] or Dan Gable [former Iowa wrestling coach]?

“Does the president of Musco Lighting [No. 13 Joe Crookham] have more power than Steve Deace or Larry Cotlar [KXNO’s morning sports-talk show host]? Guys who have a microphone in front of them talking sports to a captive audience for 15 hours a week? Does Tim McClelland [No. 24] umpiring games—all of which are played outside our borders—give him more power than the guy behind him on the list, [No. 25 Iowa State wrestling coach] Bobby Douglas? I really don’t know.

“McClelland is the best umpire in the Bigs, and a great guy, so maybe it does.”

Murphy said he agreed with the paper that Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby deserved to be No. 1 on the list.

I didn’t. I thought Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz, whose football teams have won 18 straight games at Kinnick Stadium, should have been No. 1, Bowlsby No. 2.

“Bowlsby would make a national list of college sports’ most powerful people,” Murphy said. “I also found it interesting that Van De Velde was ranked so low [No. 14]. That certainly shows that the lack of a long-term contract, and Iowa State’s poor crisis management during the Larry Eustachy fiasco lingers. Van De Velde has more power than No. 14, but the fact so many people ranked him that low shows what power perception is.

“As for the media, Witosky deserves his spot. He’s a terrific reporter—respected [and feared] by both the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. Tom doesn’t go after people, he goes after the story.

“In the end though, who are we kidding: It’s Kirk Ferentz’s world.”

Deace, a former part-time employee of the Register’s sports department, said he “had no problem with Witosky being on the list, and Bryce Miller was probably on the list because folks have respect for the sports editor of the Register, regardless of who it is. Besides, no Register folks were listed in those that did the voting.

“I was disappointed I wasn’t asked to vote on it,’’ Deace continued. “With all due respect, no one in the state of Iowa talks to more sports fans each week than we do from 3 to 6 p.m., and there are a few folks on the list I have never even heard of.

“In addition, I was disappointed to see the folks who actually pay good money to go to the games were not given a vote, either. I was also surprised not to see a couple of media folks like Keith Murphy and Mike Hlas not listed, as well as Bill Krause. And, frankly, we’re now in an era when a Jon Miller has more daily interaction with the mighty athletic department at the University of Iowa and its hefty and passionate fan base than does a Jim Zabel, Gary Dolphin or anybody else, for that matter.”

I suggested that Murphy, Hlas [the veteran Cedar Rapids Gazette sports columnist], Dolphin [Iowa’s football and basketball play-by-play radio announcer] and Jon Miller [who runs the Hawkeye Nation site on the Internet] deserved to be in contention for spots on the list.

“I don’t think Michael Gartner belonged at No. 2,” Deace said. “I don’t know about you, but in all my years thus far, I’ve never heard a coach or athletic director on or off the record give a rip about what the Board of Regents thinks. I would’ve put him on the list, but that was purely political to have him at No. 2, and I think Gartner would probably agree with that.”

I don’t think Gartner belonged on the list at all.

“I’m not sure how you can do a list like this and have it be complete and respectful of everyone because it is so subjective,” Deace said. “All in all, I thought it was a good attempt at something—as Murphy told me—that is interesting, but really only inside-baseball folks really care about.

“I’ll give them credit for trying to be creative during a slow news period.”

Well, I guess things are slow at 8th and Locust. I haven’t noticed one letter-to-the-editor in the last week's daily and Sunday papers regarding the rankings. In a business that likes to get reader feedback, that’s not a good thing.

Vol. 4, No. 356
July 3, 2005