Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Hey, Give Me Time--I'm Trying to Get Interested in the Iowa Stars

I'm trying to get interested in the new hockey team in town.

I really am.

I'm not there yet, but I'm trying.


It seems to me that lots of other people are still waiting to get hooked on the Iowa Stars, too.

Only 2,829 people showed up to watch their exhibition last night with Peoria.

That's not many in a new $220 million arena that seats 16,000 or so.

I wish 'em luck. I'm just glad I didn't invest any money in that outfit.


Speaking of hockey, the AP reports NBC is going ahead with plans to air a National Hockey League commercial [pictured above] showing a bare-chested player being dressed by--excuse the expression--a "scantily-clad woman."

The go-ahead came despite objections from Martha Burk, who led an unsuccessful effort to allow female members at Augusta National three years ago.

NBC said it had no problem with the ad, which first appeared last week on the NHL's website, and planned to air it on its NHL preview show Saturday.

"We've viewed the spot and find nothing objectionable," NBC spokeswoman Alana Russo said.

Opening night for the NHL is Oct. 5, when all 30 teams will be in action following the season-long lockout.

Hey, the NHL needs all the help it can get these days. But if it's going to take half-naked players to get people into the arenas and in front of their TVs to watch the games, it's a pretty sad-sack operation.


Nice going, Lisa Colonno, on putting an attendance figure -- whether it was phony or not -- in your story on last night's Iowa Stars exhibition.

Keep it up. Put the attendance figure in every one of your game stories.

It drives me nuts when reporters at the local paper don't bother putting the attendance -- whether it's actual or an estimate -- in their stories.

If the team you're covering doesn't issue an attendance figure, estimate it yourself. That's why you're a reporter.


Maybe the league the Iowa Stars play in has some sort of identity problem.

I mean, it doesn't show me much when I hear that they're going to be playing Peoria and Omaha.

But I suppose the people in Omaha don't think much of having to watch games against Des Moines and Peoria.


Has Mo Dana left town yet?


Trev Alberts, the Cedar Falls, Ia., native who played football at Nebraska, figures his TV broadcasting career is over.

The outspoken Alberts [pictured above on the right in this column, and not in the hockey ad with the scantily-clad woman] was fired recently by ESPN. There’s at least one thing he won’t miss about being a college football TV analyst, according to the Lincoln Journal Star in a story now on

“I’d be walking through an airport, and I might hear a fan of Oklahoma — or whoever — shout, ‘You’re wrong about the Sooners!’ ” Alberts said. “I look forward to a less public existence.”

Alberts, 35, was fired earlier this month because of a disagreement regarding his role in the network’s “College GameDay” lineup. He said he can’t talk about the situation because of pending litigation. But he spoke enthusiastically and optimistically about his future, saying he’s keeping an open mind and considering various options.

“My opportunities in broadcasting have probably been destroyed by ESPN,” said Alberts, who now lives in suburban Atlanta. “More than likely, I’ll be making a lifestyle and professional change, which I suppose isn’t always bad.

“My wife and I have been praying a lot and looking for direction.”

Alberts, the fifth overall pick in the 1994 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts, ended his playing career in 1996. He then worked for five years as a football analyst for CNN. He was in his fourth season at ESPN.

With his TV days apparently behind him, he said he’s become “intrigued” by potential opportunities in construction and real estate, among other possibilities.


The subject matter during our lunch at the Chinese place today was interesting.

One of the things we talked about was whether the rest of Iowa's football players like quarterback Drew Tate.

I know I wouldn't think much of him if I was a pass receiver and all he did was bitch at me when I came back to the huddle.


People I've talked with -- some of whom have been watching college football games a long, long time -- say they've never seen a quarterback throw the ball to the turf in anger the way Tate did Saturday at Ohio State.

It looked like he should've been taken out of the game and spanked.


Message from Barry "Born a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye" Crist:

"You're probably all aware of the debate about the pink locker rooms in Kinnick Stadium. There has been some student and faculty support for removing the pink locker rooms. However, there hasn't been much publicity from folks who would like to keep the long standing tradition initiated by Coach Fry. If you would like to show your support for the tradition of the pink locker rooms please share this message with anyone that may be in Kinnick on Saturday for the game against Illinois. A campaign is under way to try and get the entire stadium to start chanting, 'Keep It Pink!' when time expires at the end of the first quarter."


They're still talking about Ron Speer, the former Des Moines Tribune and Associated Press reporter who died this week.

One guy recalled the time he, Speer and others were covering an appearance by a very attractive woman from Ames who was running for a political office.

Speer leaned over to a man standing next to him and said, "She'd be all right if she had bigger tits."

Just one problem.

The man he was talking to was the candidate's husband.


Californian Bob Nicholas, aka Uncle Bob--whose nephew is Iowa tight end Scott Chandler--is upset with some things he's seeing from Iowa's football team. Here's his e-mail after the loss at Ohio State:


"After the past three seasons [my tenure as a Hawks fan], this year has been kind of hard to watch. It's not time yet to throw in the towel, but, wow, was that a lousy game. The offense should be better than last year. It's not. [Not yet anyway]. I can understand the defensive woes based upon a line that's gone. I have always felt the secondary was very suspect, with the exception of Bob Sanders and Sean Considine. We still have some great linebackers. No offense and no defense adds up to a long season.

"Basically, what I have witnessed is a lack of aggression. In the whole game, I only saw two tackles from Iowa [a tremendous hit on a poor slob trying to run back a punt and one hit that caused the quarterback to fumble, which by the way curtailed his running for the rest of the game.....pain has a way of doing that.] That's not good. EVERY play should have a Hawks initiated hit hard enough to take an old man like me out!

"Point being that it's far past time to start hitting. The only intense moments that I saw were Tate'soutbursts which, in my way of thinking, seemed pathetic. I can't understand a team with the pride that I have seen over the past three years, rolling
over and allowing a punking.

"Granted you're not always going to have a great season and I know it's far easier from an easy chair, but it's time for the coaches and players to fight.


"Best Regards,"

Uncle Bob Nicholas

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Lots of people closer to the scene are just as frustrated as you are, Uncle Bob. I'm figuring Iowa will drop a big number of pitiful Illinois this week, but the Hawkeyes still must play at Purdue and Wisconsin, plus take their chances against Michigan and Minnesota at home]. Obviously, this team began the season overrated, and coach Kirk Ferentz must do some magic tricks to make something out of the season].


Bad headline in today's local paper:

Wanna ticket
for ISU's game?
Lotsa luck, pal

I don't like the word "Wanna" and I don't like the word "Lotsa"

The copy editor who wrote that headline should be taken to the woodshed. High school papers do better than that.


Vol. 4, No. 388
Sept. 28, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Well, Hawkeyes, What You're Looking for Is Spelled I-D-E-N-T-I-T-Y

Iowa was a football team looking for an identity a week ago, and it’s still a team looking for an identity.

“We clearly didn’t take any positive steps last week [in finding an identity],” coach Kirk Ferentz said today, in reference to a 31-6 loss Saturday that was about as bad as it gets.

At this stage, you can take those dreams that fans were having about the Hawkeyes going to the Rose Bowl and shove ‘em into the nearest garbage bin.

The same with those thoughts of being ranked in the top five nationally.

[My garbage guy arrives tomorrow morning. If he wants to go through my trash, he’ll find my Rose Bowl ticket order in there].

“The [preseason] euphoria and stuff was being fueled by people probably not as knowledgeable about our team and the level of competition,” Ferentz said.

A guy wanted to know if the Hawkeyes, who take a 2-2 record into an 11:10 a.m. homecoming game Saturday against Illinois, have lost their confidence.

“If players get caught up in that [preseason hype], yeah, their confidence might be shook a little bit,” Ferentz said.


Iowa is a 17 ½-point favorite to beat Illinois and set a school record of 21 for consecutive victories at home.


As for the identity—or lack of it—stuff, Ferentz said it’s the same as it was in 2004, 2003 and 2002.

He said the 2004 team, which went 10-2, was also seeking an identity after four games. In that season, Iowa was 2-2 after beating Kent State and Iowa State and losing to Arizona State and Michigan.

Then the Hawkeyes won their last eight, including a 30-25 victory over Louisiana State in the Capital One Bowl.

In 2003, Iowa started 4-0 before losing to Michigan State, 20-10. In 2002, the Hawkeyes went 11-2, but lost their third game to Iowa State, 36-31.

“People forget that we went undefeated in the conference in 2002, but it was a bumpy road early. That’s the nature of sports.”


We need to focus on the small picture right now,” Ferentz said. “We’re 0-1 in the league and Illinois is in the same situation. The best one of us can be after the game is 1-1. We need to work on improving things we’re not doing well enough as quickly as possible.


Illinois' 61-14 loss at home last week to Michigan State didn’t do anything to help Ferentz’s mood.

“We saw film Sunday of a team getting beat badly—and it was us. We’re not doing anything well enough that we can something for granted.”


Ron Zook, who is in his first year at Illinois, was Florida’s coach when Iowa beat the Gators, 37-17, in the 2003 Outback Bowl.

But Ferentz doesn’t think any knowledge of how Zook [pictured on the left above] operates will help in the preparations for Illinois.

“My memory is not that good,” he explained. “There are some parallels, but Ron would tell you it’s a different situation for him. We don’t have any advantage from that standpoint.”


Don't say I didn't tell you:

Iowa 42, Illinois 14
Iowa State 28, Nebraska 27


Vol. 4, No. 386
Sept. 27, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

Forget the Past Embarrassment--This Is a Game Iowa State Can Win

For Dan McCarney, being beaten like a drum by Nebraska in the huge pool of blood disguised as 73,918-seat Memorial Stadium at Lincoln is bad enough.

But it’s the embarrassment that really hurts.

Lincoln has been “one of the great places to play college football,” McCarney said today. “[They have] one of the all-time great groups of fans over there. But the stadium hasn’t been kind to Iowa State, and it hasn’t been kind to me in the time I’ve been at Iowa State.

“It’s been beyond losing. It’s been almost embarrassing going over there.”

But McCarney has no choice this week. He’ll risk losing and he’ll risk further embarrassment when he takes his Cyclones to Lincoln for a 2:36 p.m. ABC-TV regional football game Saturday against Nebraska.

Despite the things McCarney says, this is a game Iowa State can win. Fans with their faces painted red, who are dressed in red underwear, red pants and red shoes don’t decide games. Players do—especially the kind of players the Cyclones have. This year, those players are better than Nebraska’s.

I say Iowa State can win with apologies--well, slim apologies anyway--to Polly, Tom, Connie, Tiffy, Lindsey, Matt, Robert Culver's dog, Alive in Clive, the guy who wheels the shopping cart past Kevin's house so he can collect bottles and cans every couple of days, plus one or two others who proudly wear their "N".

Evidently, the oddsmakers don't think the Cyclones will win. They've installed Nebraska as a 4-point favorite. To illustrate that they have nothing against our state, they've made Iowa a 17 1/2-point favorite to beat hapless Illinois.

ABC has assigned an interesting broadcast crew to the game, but—for a change--I promise not to poke fun at anyone.....even play-by-play announcer Dr. Jerry Punch. I don’t know for sure what Punch is a doctor of, but I’m going to play this straight.

[Attention. This just in. I have just learned that The Doctor is, or was, a trauma specialist. Further research tells me that broadcasting auto racing has been one of his specialties. Obviously, both of those talents will make him highly qualified to call the Iowa State-Nebraska Big 12 Conference opener].

I also know The Doctor used to be a football sideline reporter. And I do know commentator Terry Bowden was fired as Auburn’s coach and is Bobby Bowden’s son. He used to work in the network studios on Saturday afternoons before taking his act to the press box.

And I know nothing about sideline reporter Trenni Kusnierek. But I’m predicting she’ll do an outstanding job, as long as she doesn’t say to McCarney, “Don, do you mind giving our viewers the game plan?” just before the opening kickoff.

McCarney has never won in a red-bathed stadium that will have an NCAA-record 272nd consecutive sellout. But, hell, no other Iowa State coach has won a game there either since Earle Bruce’s Cyclones somehow left town with a 24-21 victory in 1977.

McCarney’s Cyclones lost, 28-0, two years ago in Lincoln—and he’s had to experience even uglier games than that over there. McCarney’s 1995 team was blitzed, 73-14; his 1997 squad was shellshocked, 77-14; his 1999 team lost, 49-14, and his 2001 team was beaten, 48-14.

“We’ve beaten Nebraska in two of the last three years, and both games have been in Ames obviously,” McCarney said. We’ll have our hands full again this week. With an extra week of preparation [because of the Cornhuskers’ bye week], coach Bill Callahan and his staff will be ready for us.”

Both teams are 3-0, and Iowa State is ranked 23rd in the Associated Press poll. After going on TV and beating Pittsburgh, 7-6, only because Dave Wannstedt’s Panthers screwed up a last-second field goal attempt not just once, but twice, being ranked is only a dream in Licnoln these days.

Asked if he’s beyond referring to a trip to Lincoln as “Mission Impossible,” McCarney said, “We’re sure not going to approach it [as ‘Mission Impossible’.] I hope none of our players believe that. But it’s easier said than done.”

McCarney said Nebraska is showing steady improvement because “Callahan is getting more and more of his players. He’s had another year to develop these young men. Their Black Shirt defense is relentless. They’re in the top 10 nationally three categories, and their 5.3-point defensive average is amazing.”

Callahan [pictured at the top of this column], whose team lost at Iowa State, 34-27, last season, is still skating on thin ice in his second season at Nebraska. He came to Lincoln after coaching the Oakland Raiders of the NFL, and there are plenty of people who think he’s in over his head in a college environment where Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne toiled.

They’ve already named a basketball arena at Lincoln after Devaney and they’ve named the football field there after Osborne.

Husker fans had lots of names for Callahan when his “west coast offense” went south last season while producing a 5-6 record. Nebraskans are accustomed to going to bowl games during the holidays, and people from Grand Island and Papillion weren’t fond about staying home last season.

Callahan still gets a bit pissed when asked about making the transition from the pro game to the college game.

“I’m going to be honest with you,” he said today. “They’ve beaten that up since I’ve been here. It’s just football. It’s that simple. You’ve got to adjust no matter what level you’re at. When you change teams in the NFL or college, you’ve got to adjust. We’ve focused on what we need to do better. It’s not a big deal.

People make a bigger deal out of that than you’d expect. You just gotta be able to adapt. I think Steve Spurrier [the South Carolina coach who went from college to the pros back to college] would say the same thing.”

Vol. 4, No. 384
Sept. 26, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Orton, Tate, Men in White Jackets, Deace, Irish, Blanchard, Cyclones

I wasn’t able to watch Kyle Orton and the Chicago Bears play yesterday, so the football expert who modestly calls himself “I’m No Expert” said he’d do me a favor and monitor the game.

Here’s his e-mail:


“Orton had a terrible game, but he should not have been charged with that first interception. He hit his receiver in the numbers, but he bobbled it and a Bengal grabbed the rebound. Should have been recorded as a dropped pass. I predict Orton will be OK, and I'm proud of the Bears for allowing him to continue. Jeepers, Brett Favre threw three interceptions Sunday and Daunte Culpepper has thrown eight in two games, so Orton's day was not much worse that theirs. I liked what Orton said, that it was not because he was young, but because ‘I played like crap.’"

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: Thanks, “I’m No Expert,” for watching Orton, the Bears’ rookie from Altoona and Purdue. Five interceptions is a lot, but the Bears’ record is seven in 1960 by the sure-armed [hah!] Zeke Bratkowski. Hey, at least Orton's day wasn't as bad as I first heard yesterday. I was attending the 39th birthday party for Kevin, my youngest son, when Judy, his mother-in-law, said Orton had thrown EIGHT interceptions. It must have been the Bud Light. I’m with you. I'm glad Lovie [some kind of name for a guy who coaches football, don’t you think?] Smith and his offensive assistants didn’t pull Orton out of the game. The Bears aren’t very good, but it’s been quite a while since they were worth a damn, so this could be a long, long season for them and Orton. By the way, I have a hunch Orton will last longer in the league than Lovie].


I’m No Expert” was critical of Iowa quarterback Drew Tate in an e-mail a few days ago for coming across as “being stupid” in an interview following the Hawkeyes’ victory over Northern Iowa.

A guy who has been around the TV business a lot of years had this explanation for what might have happened:

“….. It seemed to me like Tate was already posturing and getting ready for [Saturday’s] game at Ohio State. What gets overlooked when you interview players immediately after the game is that no coach has had time to ‘coach them’ for the interview. And, believe you me, they get coached for interviews. It is usually part of the head coach’s postgame speech you get to hear back if you interview them afterward. If you interview them before the coaches get at them, you sometimes get the real deal....or you get what the kid thinks the coach wants them to say. Tate is a coach’s kid. He wasn't going to say anything about anything.

“One other thing that gets ‘sort of’ overlooked is how VERY good Ferentz is at that immediate postgame interview. He speaks with his head and with his heart. There is no question you will get some ‘coach-speak,’ but you also get some gems too.

“…. By the way, whoever took that picture of you for your column is good. Great picture.

“One other thing. You know what I miss? I miss Maury White, Buck Turnbull and Ron Maly writing sports NEWS and occasionally branded commentary. I swear there is only one good writer left at the Register in sports.

“I blather on. Sorry.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: Thanks for the explanation of what you think might have happened to Tate. These first few weeks of the season have turned into tough ones—both on and off the field—for the junior quarterback, who was the preseason offensive player of the year in the Big Ten. Look for him to have a tremendous game Saturday against an Illinois team that was shellacked by Michigan State, 61-14 last week. My daughter-in-law took the column photo of me on the field at Kinnick Stadium. I’ll tell her she’s turning into a star. Thanks for the nice words about the old days at the paper. The "Register Report" column/news stories we did, plus other commentaries we wrote, were what made the sports section what it was a number of years ago. Naturally, assorted editorial department knuckleheads [some of whom are still around] thought a few of us were editorializing more than necessary, so they asked that "AP-style" coverage be used on college football and basketball instead. White is deceased, Turnbull and I are retired--at least from newspaper writing. Circulation continues dropping at the local paper. The writing and the circulation are never going to be like they once were].


I struck a nerve with a man nicknamed “Born a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye” when I wrote a column a few days ago about how happy I am that Notre Dame is no longer a candidate for the Bottom Ten collegiate football rankings.

Here’s “Born’s” e-mail:

“I have called for the men in white jackets as Maly has obviously lost his fucking mind! He needs a couple of days with Steve Deace to get him back into reality.”

--Born a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: Hey, “Born,” I was just trying to stay on the good side of my Catholic friends—and I have a few—by saying something nice about Charlie Weis and his Fighting Irish. They sure took care of Tyrone Willingham and his Washington team Saturday. All it took for Notre Dame to suddenly succeed was to hire an overweight alumnus with a flat-top haircut and four Super Bowl rings. Meanwhile, “Born,” chill out, will you. Yes, I’m forwarding your e-mail to Deace].


Gordy Scoles, a native Iowan who now lives in Bennettsville, S.C., writes about South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and former Army football standout Doc Blanchard:


“I enjoyed your comments on the Iowa and Iowa State games. The Old Ball Coach rolled over Troy, but there aren't too many inflated I-AA teams in the SEC. A few, believe it or not, but Troy's in the Sun Belt. For the millions of young football fans who have never heard of Doc Blanchard, the 1945 Heisman winner, I can proudly say he is a native of Marlboro County. Felix Anthony Blanchard was born in McColl, S.C., although his family lived in Bishopville, S.C. Little Doc's dad was a doctor, so Felix's mother came home to McColl to have the future hall of famer. Doc Blanchard's cousin was Jim Tatum, also a native of McColl, and a coach of the year at Maryland in the Fifties. Tatum also coached at North Carolina and Oklahoma, although OU no longer claims him. Enough S.C. history.

“Thanks for the columns."

Gordy Scoles

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: The Old Ball Coach is Spurrier. I wrote about Blanchard and Glenn Davis, the Army stars of the 1940s, last week after Iowa State managed to avoid the Black Knights’ upset attempt, 28-21. Good hearing from you again, Gordy].


Here's the latest e-mail from Sandy Madden of Boone:


“ I am a Hawkeye fan no matter what, but I have to say that the Cyclone athletic program should be commended for being so gracious and generous in giving the mentor program free tickets to the [Oct. 8] Baylor game, so that the mentors can take their mentees to the game. I have been a mentor for six years. I know that their tickets are in demand this year and we appreciate it. I don't mind the Cyclone team and coaches [McCarney having Hawkeye blood]. It's their disgusting fans I don’t like. I plan on attending the game with my mentee!


[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: I asked Sandy to explain the mentor program. She said, "Mentors meet with a child who needs some guidance and reassurance. They usualy come from a broken home and lack the necessary elements needed to cope with society. It is a volunteer job and I have been with my girl for 5 years. She is first-year middle school and does not have a female person in her life. I spend an hour a week with her and we do fun things like play games, go for lunch, go shopping and girl things. Her teachers evaluate the child and they tell me that they have seen a vast change in her. She is a good kid who is not shown a lot of love and attention at home. There are mentees waiting for mentors. A lot of kids benefit from this program and I am glad to be a part of it. The football game is one of the things that the youth and shelter program has invited us to this year. They are the sponsors of the mentor program. Thanks for asking." Thanks for doing a great, job, Sandy!]

Vol. 4, No. 383
Sept. 25, 2005

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Let's Face It, Folks, Iowa Isn't a Very Good Football Team Right Now

It’s a good thing there are some bad football teams in the Big Ten again this season.

A few of them are Illinois, Indiana and Northwestern—all of which, thankfully, are on Iowa's schedule.

So, along with success against Michigan and [maybe] Minnesota, the Hawkeyes will have enough victories to qualify for their fifth straight bowl game under coach Kirk Ferentz.

But no one—certainly not me—is in any mood to talk about bowl games after what happened today in the 101,568-seat horseshoe-shaped arena known as Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

Let's face it, folks. Iowa [2-2] isn't a very good football team right now.

It was total domination as Ohio State [3-1] knocked 21st-ranked Iowa out of the top 25 with a 31-6 victory. For the second time this season, the Hawkeyes were held without a touchdown [the other game was a 23-3 loss at Iowa State], and they were outgained in total offense, 531-136.

Ohio State’s Troy Smith, who came into the game regarded as the “other” quarterback behind Iowa’s Drew Tate, completed 13 of 19 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for two other touchdowns.

So meek was Iowa’s offense that its rushing yardage total was minus-9 yards.

On the other hand, it was a day Woody [“Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust”] Hayes- the late Ohio State--would have loved. The Buckeyes ran for 313 yards.

Said Eddie Podolak, the commentator on Iowa’s radio broadcasts: “Momma said there’d be days like this.”

Momma was right.

The game resembled the Oct. 16 afternoon last season in Iowa City—only in reverse. On that day, Iowa had 448 yards of total offense to 177 for Ohio State in a 33-7 victory.

Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes’ coach who looks like a college professor [with the vest and necktie to prove it], went on to finish 8-4 in 2004. So, hopefully, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for the 2005 Hawkeyes.

But if quarterback Drew Tate [who completed 22 of 39 passes for 145 yards] doesn’t get his act together soon, that light will be dimmer.

The frustrated Tate—the preseason offensive player of the year in the Big Ten—spent much of Saturday’s game barking at his receivers for running the wrong routes. Actually, the receivers probably had just as much reason to be yelling at Tate for not getting the ball to him.

In the last half, Tate angrily threw the football to the turf and drew a 5-yard penalty. Some would say that’s the mark of a competitor. Others would say the kid is a junior already and should show more maturity and leadership abilities.

Oh, well. Tate will probably throw for 1,000 yards next Saturday when Iowa tees is up against Illinois at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. The Fighting [and I use that word loosely] Illini were blitzed by Michigan State, 61-14, today.

As far as Iowa’s fans are concerned, Illinois’ coaches and players can’t get to Iowa City soon enough. Ferentz may want to send a couple of buses over to Champaign to get ‘em tomorrow night.

Vol. 4, No. 382
Sept. 24, 2005

ISU 'Pathetic' Against Army--Let's Hope It's Not a Cyclone Personality

I was about ready to choke on my nachos and jalapenos last night when Army took a 21-14 halftime lead over Iowa State.

What a horror show it was on ESPN2 by a Cyclone team that hadn’t played since doing a 23-3 number on Iowa nearly two weeks earlier.

This definitely wasn’t the way it was supposed to be for 22nd-ranked Iowa State, which wound up winning, 28-21.

“It was a pathetic performance by Iowa State,” a veteran football-watcher said. “They had Army outweighed by 40 pounds a man.”

To his credit, Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said his team was outplayed and outcoached by the Black Knights in the first half.

Actually, probably even longer than the first half.

Hand it to McCarney, though. He somehow knocked some sense into his players in the more than 3 hours it took to play the game, and they had enough to send their record to 3-0.

But, just like in a 32-21 victory over Division I-AA Illinois State in the opening game of the season, Iowa State wasn’t emotionally or physically ready to play this game.

I wonder if this is going to continue being a problem with Iowa State. I stand on what I said a while back—that there’s no opponent on the schedule the Cyclones can’t beat—but I’m afraid this team is one that could stumble against a Missouri, a Kansas State or a Kansas.

Or all three.

These Black Knights who came damn close to puncturing Iowa State’s dreams, of course, are nothing like the Army teams I grew up watching. Those outfits out of the 1940s had Heisman Trophy winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis [pictured on the Time cover of Nov. 12, 1945 that accompanies this column], and they made America proud.

Not just proud that they were playing football for Army, but that they were representative of everything that was good in those difficult years.

Today’s Army players are young kids who look like they could be playing for Waukee High School. [Oh, I know, I’m probably thinking that way because I’m a hell of a lot older now]. I noticed a couple of the players last night crying when the TV cameras zoomed in on them just as the game finished.

Somehow, I never thought Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard ever cried. If they did, I don’t want anyone to tell me.

But the tears last night showed that gone was the 2005 Black Knights’ hope of being the first Army team to beat a ranked opponent since 1972.

They did well just being able to be in the game with a Big 12 Conference team. Army, an 18-point underdog, has no more business playing in a one-touchdown loss against Iowa State than it has pretending it has a major-college football program.

There are plenty of people at West Point who feel the same way. This was supposed to be a two-game series, but Army decided it didn’t want to send its team to Ames next season. So there will be no rematch.

Too bad. I hate to see a team representing the U.S. Military Academy come across as being too timid to strap on its shoulder pads in Jack Trice Stadium.

During the telecast, Army got plenty of commercials out of ESPN2 that said how good it is to be at West Point. The young men in the ads made us all feel good that they’ll be representing our nation around the world in a few years.

I’m sure the gutty performance the Black Knights turned in during the game turned some TV viewers—maybe even some viewers who began the evening wearing Iowa State T-shirts—into Army fans.

The TV announcers made a big deal of saying that Iowa State’s players regarded the journey to West Point as a “business trip.” They mentioned that the Cyclones didn’t tour the grounds, didn’t experience the history.

I think that was a mistake.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of the players on the Cyclone squad. Some will never again get the chance to see everything there is to see at West Point. Touring the campus of the team you’re going to play the next day is rarely done in college football these days.

The last coach I can recall wanting to do that was Earle Bruce of Iowa State, and he hasn’t worked in Ames since 1978.

But that’s just one of the problems with college football.

The TV announcers also talked a lot about Jason Berryman, the thug who was allowed back on the Iowa State roster this season. They thought it was a bad idea to permit him back, and so do I.

I’ve been saying that for weeks.

And Berryman and others like him elsewhere are also among college football’s problems.

Vol. 4, No. 381
Sept. 24, 2005

Speer, 72, Dies; The Gipper May Be Stamped On a Letter You Send

This was a while ago.

In fact, it was maybe back so far that the director of the Drake Relays--in this case, probably Bob Karnes, who has been retired for many years--was still hosting a poker party that was associated with the famous springtime track meet.

Among those who attended the poker party was a guy named Ron Speer, who worked for both the Associated Press in Des Moines and the old Des Moines Tribune--the city's afternoon newspaper.

It was probably before Diet Pepsi was on the market, so Speer must have been drinking something more potent while he was playing poker at the party.

Whatever, when it came time to go home, Speer quickly found that driving his car wasn't a good idea.

So he pulled over and did what all smart guys do when they've had too much to drink.

He went to sleep.

Rumor has it that he remained asleep until a policeman-obviously one of the metro's finest--checked the inside of the car and woke him up.

After that, Speer [whose photo on the right accompanies this column] was my kind of newspaperman.

Now, he's gone to the Great Newsroom in the Sky.

According to Tony Germanotta of the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, Ronald L. Speer died Monday at the age of 72.

"Ronald L. Speer [was] an award-winning editor and longtime columnist for the Virginian-Pilot," Germanotta wrote.

"Speer, a larger-than-life personality with a booming voice and unbridled enthusiasm, was the primary editor for the Pilot’s 1985 Pulitzer Prize for general news reporting.

“'It’s a great day for the race,'” he’d often erupt.

“'What race?'” his friends would reply, playing along.

“'The human race,'” Speer would declare.

"In recent years, Speer suffered from Parkinson’s disease. He had been living in a rehabilitation center outside Philadelphia since last summer, when he became seriously ill.

"Born in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, Speer was proud of his cowboy heritage but had to leave the plains in search of a career after graduating from high school.

"In the Army, he said, he found his calling after officers moved him from forward observer to public information officer when they discovered he was a quick typist. He discovered he loved writing stories.

"When Speer left the service, he became a newspaperman, taking reporting jobs across the country. He was in Watts, Calif., the night it burned.

"While in Iowa, Speer covered the state’s last hanging and met four U.S. presidents, Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev and a Mississippi River island hermit named 'Silent Henry.'

"His two children, Erik and Barbara, were born in Des Moines.

"In Atlanta, working for the Associated Press, Speer covered Henry Aaron’s assault on Babe Ruth’s career home run record and the Civil Rights movement. He counted Aaron and the Rev. Martin Luther King as heroes he had been privileged to meet.

"Speer covered the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, famous for the black power salute by American sprinters.

"When Speer went to work for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, he fell in love with the sea, a passion that continued until he was no longer physically able to handle his beloved 24-foot sailboat, 'Wind Gypsy.'

"In 1992, Speer and two friends sailed a 35-foot sloop from Spain to Virginia, commemorating Columbus’ trip with an Atlantic crossing Speer had long dreamed about.

"Speer joined he Ledger-Star, then the afternoon sibling of the Pilot, in 1977 . He was snared by an ad seeking an old pro to work in the 'Sunbelt by the Sea.'

"Kay Tucker Addis was the Ledger’s city editor when Speer joined the staff. She retired last year as the Pilot’s editor and vice-president.

“'Ron was a gifted writer, an inspiring editor and a true friend,” she said. 'He brought words – and a newsroom – to life with his talent and his exuberance.

“'There are legions of journalists across the country who count working with Ronald L. Speer as one of the highlights of their careers, and who count knowing Ron as one of the real joys of their lives.'

"One of them is Tom Turcol, who covers New Jersey politics for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Turcol was covering Chesapeake City Hall under Speer when he won a Pulitzer Prize by looking into the spending practices of the city’s economic development director.

“'Working for him was the most rewarding experience in my entire career,” Turcol said. 'He was a jewel as an editor, and as a person.'

"Turcol, who remained close to Speer even after he left the Pilot to work for the Washington Post and then the Inquirer, said Speer always was interested in his staff’s personal, as well as professional, lives.

"As an editor, Turcol said, Speer 'was a real throwback. He really believed that the most important role of a newspaper was being a watchdog for the people.'

Speer’s wife, Joanne, died in 2004. He is survived by his two children, Erik Speer and Barbara Brooks, and two stepchildren, Leslie A. Corpuz and Vernon R. Bush Jr.

"A memorial service is planned for Oct. 8 at St. Andrews By The Sea Episcopal Church in Nags Head."


I've got to thank my friend, Jim Feld of West Des Moines, for this one.

Jim was aware that I've been writing about George Gipp--better known as The Gipper in Notre Dame football history--a lot lately.

So he forwarded a story to me about how a likeness of Gipp [pictured above on the left] may be appearing on a U.S. postage stamp soon, according to the Marquette Mining Journal:

"A drive is under way to have legendary Upper Peninsula native George Gipp placed on a U.S. postage stamp," the story says.

"The one-time Notre Dame football standout was born in Laurium, near Calumet. He died in 1920, shortly after being named that season's top college football player.

"Gipp was the recipient of the Helms Foundation Award, the equivalent to today's Heisman Trophy. He was the first Notre Dame running back named to Walter Camp's all-America team, and some of his school records still stand.

"He was portrayed in the movie 'Knute Rockne All-American' by Ronald Reagan, who later became a U.S. president. Gipp is a charter inductee of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.

"'The Gipper'" was offered baseball contracts by the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. He was a prolific basketball scorer on the Calumet High School teams of 1910-11.

"A book written by Emil Klosinski, whose father was a close friend of Gipp's, has been in bookstores since May, 2004. Klosinski also wrote a book about another Laurium native and Notre Dame legend, Hunk Anderson, who provided extensive details about Gipp for the book 'Gipp at Notre Dame-The Untold Story.'

"Gipp fans can join the stamp drive by sending a request to: Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o stamp development, U.S. Postal Services, 475 Lenfant Plaza S.W., Room 5670, Washington, D.C., 20260.

"During his Notre Dame career, Gipp rushed for 2,341 yards and threw for 1,789. Gipp scored 21 touchdowns, averaged 38 yards a punt, and had five interceptions as well as 14 yards per punt return and 22 yards per kick return in four seasons of play for the Irish.

"The apocryphal story of Gipp's death begins when he returned from a night out to Notre Dame's campus after curfew. Unable to gain entrance to his residence, Gipp went to the rear door of Washington Hall, the campus' theatre building. Gipp was a steward for the building, and knew that the rear door was often unlocked. On that night, however, the door was locked, and Gipp was forced to sleep outside.

"By morning, he had gotten pneumonia, and eventually died from a related infection. It could be that Gipp got strep throat and pneumonia while giving punting lessons after his final game, on Nov. 20 against Northwestern.

"It was on his hospital bed that he delivered the famous, but possibly fictional, "win just one for the Gipper" line to coach Knute Rockne. The full quotation from which the line is derived is:

"I've got to go, Rock. It's all right. I'm not afraid. Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go in there with all they've got and win just one for the Gipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Rock. But I'll know about it, and I'll be happy."

Rockne used the story of Gipp, along with this deathbed line that he attributed to Gipp, to rally his team to an underdog victory over the undefeated 1928 Army team.

The phrase "Win one for the Gipper" was later used as a political slogan by Ronald Reagan, who was the 40th president of the United States [1981–1989] and the 33rd governor of California [1967–1975]. Reagan was also a broadcaster, actor, and head of the Screen Actors' Guild before entering politics.

Among the radio stations Reagan worked for were WHO in Des Moines and WOC in Davenport. He was the play-by-play announcer of University of Iowa football games in the 1930s, then went to Hollywood.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ex-Notre Dame Hater Says He's Glad Irish Have Some Fight Again

This probably sounds strange coming from a guy who once hoped Notre Dame lost every football game it played.

But I always said that Sept. 23, 2005 might be a good day to be strange.

So I’m going to say that I’m glad first-year coach Charlie Weis has Notre Dame football back where it belongs—among the nation’s elite collegiate teams.

Oh, I know, the Fighting Irish were beaten last week by Michigan State., 44-41, in overtime, but not until after storming back from a 38-17 deficit.

Regardless of that loss, I already knew Notre Dame had arrived. Again. The Irish won at Pittsburgh and they won at Michigan. Beating coaching giants like Dave Wannstedt and Lloyd Carr on their home turf told me immediately that Notre Dame is back where it should be—thinking about finding a way to get into the national championship game in a few months against Southern California.

I mean, this is “Rudy” all over again. If this keeps up, the Four Horsemen might decide to saddle up for about the 100th time—or at least ask for press box credentials and a parking pass in the handicapped lot at South Bend.

The leprechaun might be chosen to deliver the pregame speech when the Fighting Irish play Southern California, and it might out-Knute Rockne anything Rockne ever did.

And I couldn’t be happier. This is what college football is supposed to be all about.

Obviously, the excitement and the miracles are back at South Bend. Notre Dame is again recovering fumbles late in the fourth quarter, getting last-minute touchdown passes from its quarterback [a kid with the Irish name of Brady Quinn, no less], big tackles from its defensive unit and brilliant coaching from a guy who absolutely looks like he should be working in the shadow of the Golden Dome—an overweight alumnus with a flat-top haircut named Charlie.

Charlie has the appearance of a steel-mill worker who wears size XXL boxer shorts, sweats the 7 a.m.-to-4 p.m. shift and has three Old Styles at the corner tap before calling the wife and saying, “What’s for supper?”, then driving the rusty ’95 Ford pickup back home.

This man knows his football, and he’s got four Super Bowl rings to prove it.

The Irish don’t even have to resort to players flopping on the field these days to stop the clock the way they did under Frank Leahy more than 50 years ago when Iowa’s Forest Evashevski called them the “Fainting Irish.”

I mean, Charlie’s Irish are legit. The Gipper would be proud of them. So would Ronald Reagan, the real Gipper. Rockne, too. I know the guys in the big office at NBC are proud of them. When a football team has its own TV network, it’s always nice to win once in a while.

And that comes with no apologies to Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham, who couldn’t coach their way out of a paper bag and always found a way to screw up a Friday night pep rally.

Notre Dame football has made a triumphant return, and I couldn’t be happier. A top-25 poll is not the same without Notre Dame in it. College football needs Notre Dame. Ever since I was a kid, I’d hear that whenever Notre Dame wanted a high school player, it got him. That’s the way it should be. Then the guys that Notre Dame didn’t want could do their darnedest to upset the Irish.

That’s why Hollywood makes movies about Notre Dame.

Next up for the Irish is Willingham’s Washington team. Tyrone was coaching Notre Dame a year ago, but it was very obvious he wasn’t the guy who was going to take the Irish to the Promised Land. Charlie is the guy, and he’ll do a number on Tyrone this week.

I’ll be paying close attention. So will The Gipper and Rockne, wherever they are. We all know that it’s not an official season unless Notre Dame is winning.

Send a rousing cheer on high. And, please, don’t forget to shake down the thunder from the sky.

Vol. 4, No. 377
Sept. 23, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005

'I'm No Expert' Says Drew Tate Seemed Stupid In TV Interview

A central Iowa man identified as “I’m No Expert” has been watching plenty of football already this season, and has more observations:


“The other day I hinted that Drew Tate may be overrated. On Saturday, however, he was terrific against UNI. He played like a pro. Of course, UNI was no powerhouse, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does when the Big Ten Conference season starts tomorrow. One thing is for sure. Tate is terrible on TV. That on-camera interview he gave on the field after the game was probably the worst in the annals of television…..”

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: I wasn’t watching the Iowa-Northern Iowa telecast when the game ended. I had switched over to the Michigan State-Notre Dame game, which was much more interesting. So I didn’t get a chance to hear how bad Tate, the Iowa quarterback, was in his postgame interview. I e-mailed “I’m No Expert” and told him to go into more detail about the interview. Here was his reply:

In the post-game TV interview on the field, Tate hung his head and mumbled so badly that he could hardly be understood. His answers were vague, never on point. I suppose he was trying to appear modest, but he came across as stupid. You need to give him some pointers. I switched between the Iowa-UNI game and MSU-Notre Dame. I enjoyed both. I thought the Register failed to note strongly enough that Ferentz had second- and third-stringers in for much of the second half, although he did continue to use most of the first-string defensive line, moving lesser players in and out individually. Further, of course, [No. 2 quarterback Jason] Manson played a lot in the second half. I think the Hawkeyes could have pulled off another Ball State shellacking if they wanted to, so I doubt that the UNI game tells us much about [Saturday's game at Ohio State].”

[MORE FROM MALY: I’m going to give Tate the benefit of the doubt and say he was, indeed, attempting to appear modest in the postgame interview. I know one thing. He does like TV. He appeared fairly comfortable in front of numerous TV cameras and TV reporters when he met the press on media day in August. It was on that day, when asked by a reporter about newspapers, he snapped, “I don’t read newspapers.” So I’m assuming by that comment that he’s a huge fan of Internet columnists and TV and radio reporters. I do hope Tate loosens up in future interviews because, after all, he was picked the Big Ten’s preseason offensive player of the year and there was some thought that he might be on some Heisman Trophy “watch” lists at some point in his career. So far, though, he’s been no Nile Kinnick either on or off the field].


I referred to Jennifer Jones, a sportswriter from the Chicago Sun-Times, the other day while writing a column about Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.

Jones asked Ferentz some dumb questions on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference. Sharp guy that he is, the Hawkeye coach remained patient and carefully answered every one of Jones’ queries.

That column prompted this e-mail from Mark Robinson, a former Iowan who now lives in California:

“Jennifer Jones…..

“Well, we know those Illinois folks pay attention to Iowa because Iowa does get a few nice recruits from that great state, and they do pretty well here at Iowa on occasion.

“I think what you were trying to convey to your readers, Ron, is that this reporter should be working for CNN, or at very least, FOX NEWS, to be so naïve as to ask those questions. A high schooler might have done better. Or, maybe they should be reporting from Mars.

“Perhaps I’m wrong.

“Her tenure may be short, however. If she is good-looking, she will be on the sidelines, making big bucks any day now.

“Take care, Ron. And keep writing.”

[MALY AGAIN: That reporter will likely fit right in on the sideline at a future Hawkeye game, Mark. I was in the press box at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, and not in front of a TV, when the Iowa-Iowa State game was being played. I’ve been told that the female sideline reporter called Cyclone coach Dan McCarney by the wrong first name when asking him a question. You’d think one thing someone assigned to a big-time game would know is the name of the home team’s coach. By the way, the photo included with this column [and the person who isn't Drew Tate] is of Jennifer Jones, the movie actress. I still haven’t been told if the Jennifer Jones of the Sun-Times looks anything like her. If she does, watch for her on the sideline in a stadium near you very soon. Either that or she'll be running the whole damn TV network!]


George, not his real name, from Swea City, not his real hometown, has something to say about Iowa State’s search for a new athletic director. Here’s his e-mail:

“I was right about one thing. Steve Burgason was a nominee for the AD job. He nominated himself.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: Burgason, a former Iowa State basketball player, evidently tossed his own name into the hopper late in the job search. I understand he owns some businesses in Ames. Whatever he does, it wasn’t enough to impress those who did the hiring. Jamie Pollard, who had been the deputy athletic director at Wisconsin, got the job].


Bob Nicholas, who is simply “Uncle Bob” from Huntington Beach, Calif., in this column, checked in this week with another e-mail:


“Just a quick note to say hello again and get ready to root for another great Big Ten season. My young nephew, Scott Chandler, is getting some playing time with some great not-so-great results. He will probably become more of a positive factor as the year progresses.

“I met someone as the Orange County Iowa Club viewing of the UNI game last Saturday who said he knew you from the journalistic world in Iowa. I think he said his name was Don Mitchell. [I’m positive about his first name, but not sure about his last]. He was a transplant from California who joked about getting on the wrong train and ending up in Iowa. He studied journalism at Iowa, graduated in 1958 and worked in that arena for 12 years in Iowa. He then did a government job and ended up back in California. He goes back every year for homecoming with his fraternity brothers.

“I guess you’re more famous than you think; now you have two people in California who know who you are.

“Best regards, friend always, GO HAWKS!”

Uncle Bob from Huntington Beach

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: Great hearing from you, Uncle Bob. Those journalists from Iowa are all over the place, aren’t they?]


An AP story on the WHO-TV website talks about a University of Iowa law professor saying the school is promoting homophobia. It says the professor will challenge whether the university is violating NCAA rules by painting the visitors’ locker room pink.

Erin Buzuvis moved to Iowa from Boston and discovered the visiting team’s locker room at Kinnick Stadium is pink—something she says promotes sexism and homophobia.

But school officials say they won’t change the pink walls—a tradition started by former Iowa coach Hayden Fry. Recent stadium renovations added more pink items to the locker room, including lockers, sinks and urinals.

Buzuvis plans to speak with a school committee compiling a report on Iowa’s compliance with NCAA regulations.

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: As far as I’m concerned, much too much attention is paid to the pink in the visitors’ locker rooms at Kinnick Stadium. Sure, former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler had the pink walls covered with wrapping paper the day before the Wolverines played a game in Iowa City and, sure, other coaches refer to the pink. The fact that they’re even talking about the pink, I guess, gets the point across that the visitors’ locker room color is…..well, different. But I can’t believe the color of the sinks has anything to do with how a team plays on the field. If you’ve got a talented quarterback, some speedy wideouts and a strong defense, your team will probably win—whether the sink is pink or not. All I know is that, whenever I have to take a leak, I don’t bother checking to see if the urinal is pink or purple. My bladder and kidneys don’t ask, either].


I won’t bother reading “Outrage, Passion, and Uncommon Sense: How Editorial Writers Have Taken On and Helped Shape the Great American Issues of the Past 150 Years.” No need to check it out at the library, either. They’d probably try to charge me $4 to park at the library if they knew I was looking for that book.


E-mailer Bud Appleby of Des Moines writes:

“The second paragraph of a two-paragraph story on the Roosevelt game [at Council Bluffs Jefferson] in Saturday’s paper said:

“’Further details and statistics on Roosevelt’s victory were not made available to the Des Moines Register late Friday night.’

“They are trying to make it sound like it was the fault of somebody else.”

[RON MALY’S COMMENTS: I laughed at that one, too. There was a brief four-paragraph story buried at the bottom of Page 3 of the Sunday paper with a few details about the game. Earlier in the season, the local paper relied on the Council Bluffs Nonpareil for its coverage of Des Moines-area teams, declining to send a reporter to the game. But, obviously, no reporter was assigned to the Roosevelt game, and the bosses at the local paper didn’t line up coverage from the Council Bluffs paper. Horrible].


When Purdue won at Arizona. 31-24, last Saturday night, it ran for 239 yards on the ground and didn’t throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 16 games. But coach Joe Tiller laughed when asked if his team’s personality has changed.

“We still play sissy ball at Purdue,” he joked.

At least I think he was joking. We’ll find out when Iowa plays at Purdue on Oct. 8.

Vol. 4, No. 380
Sept. 22, 2005

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Mark, Polly, Cole and Claire Say, 'Good Luck to Your Football Teams!'

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Iowa-Ohio State Whether You're from Mars, Hollywood or Chicago

Kirk Ferentz acted as though the question came from Mars.

And maybe it did.

Or at least Hollywood, where there’s always a lot of make-believe.

After all, the questioner said her name was Jennifer Jones, and a very attractive actress named Jennifer Jones won the 1943 Academy Award for best actress for her role in the movie “The Song of Bernadette.” Jones also wasn’t bad in “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” in 1955.

But this Jennifer Jones [and I know absolutely nothing about her looks, or if she’s ever appeared in “The Song of Bernadette”] said she worked for the Chicago Sun-Times. I’m betting she’s a sportswriter.

It was today’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference—something all coaches love to participate in. I think most of them compare it a lot to being called into the athletic director’s office and hearing the words, “You’re not winning enough games and, if you don’t beat the last five teams on the schedule, I’m firing you.”

Ferentz was fielding questions about the conference opener his Iowa team will be playing at 11 a.m. Saturday at Ohio State.

“Hi, coach,” Jennifer from Chicago asked. “With this game against Ohio State this week, what do you think is at stake in terms of any national title hopes and also the Big Ten title?”

[This was when I think Ferentz was wondering if Jennifer from Chicago was really from Mars or Hollywood].

“Well,” responded Ferentz, whose team has a 2-1 record, “I don’t know if you’re familiar with the way we played the first three weeks. We’ve been playing OK at best and certainly not OK a couple of weeks ago [in a 23-3 loss at Iowa State].

“We did a lot of good things this past Saturday [in a 45-21 victory over Division I-AA Northern Iowa], but a lot of things really need attention. We’re not even thinking about that [I assume he meant the national and Big Ten championships].

“We’re a little bit more smaller-focus kind of football team. I’m more focused on us starting conference play. Knowing the strength in our conference and, obviously, I think Iowa State—err, Ohio State—has every right to be thinking about the national title picture…..they’re used to that, they’ve earned that right. We look at their football team and the challenges they present, and we’ve got our hands more than just worrying about this weekend.”

Ferentz added that “it’s going to be a very challenging eight-game [Big Ten] stretch we have in front of us. If we don’t start improving a little quicker, it’s not going to be good.”

Jennifer Jones – the one from Chicago, not Mars or Hollywood -- wasn’t finished.

“Even the Big Ten title you’re not thinking about?” she asked Ferentz, seemingly not believing what she just heard.

“I think that’s more media talk,” Ferentz said. “And fan talk. All I know is that if you’re going to have a chance to win a title, that really becomes apparent in November—if you’re in the race or not.

“If you don’t take care of business in September and October, none of that is going to matter. I’m just more in tune with what our concern areas are right now. Hopefully, we can improve those real quickly because, knowing the strength of the conference, if we don’t get moving here, we’re going to get left behind real fast.”

Ohio State is a 6 ½-point favorite – a smaller spread than some people might expect –to win in a game that will be televised regionally by ABC. The Buckeyes have lost only to Texas in three games.

Ohio State lost last season at Iowa, 33-7, and the Hawkeyes outgained the Buckeyes in total yardage, 448-177. I’ve been paying attention to Ohio State football for well over a half-century, and that was the worst game I’ve ever seen the Buckeyes play.

I think coach Jim Tressel’s necktie was even a little crooked after the game.

I’m also pretty certain that Woody Hayes rolled over in his grave that afternoon. Not just once, either. A half-dozen times. I mean, the whole cemetery rocked.

But I didn’t feel sorry for Tressel or his players on that Oct. 16, 2004 afternoon. I remember when Ohio State poured it on Iowa, 83-21, in 1950—even though I’m not blaming Tressel or his players for that one.

I assume Tressel permitted all of his guys to board the team plane after the whuppin’ they took in Iowa City. Tressel showed that he knows something about coaching, taking Ohio State to an eventual 8-4 record.

“I think the Big Ten is going to be a very strong conference this season,” Tressel said today, “and we start out with an awfully strong opponent in Iowa. They’ve dropped a game, but they didn’t have their quarterback that day.”

Hawkeye quarterback Drew Tate left the game against Iowa State early after suffering a concussion while making a tackle.

“We haven’t done the little things across the board,” Tressel said. “Everyone talks about what we haven’t done at quarterback, but we could talk about everything down the line where we need to get better. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Of last year’s loss at Iowa, Tressel said, “Like all Big Ten games, if you don’t play great you’re going to learn some very difficult lessons and have some harsh reality brought forward. I just think that after that game we did a good job of slowly trying to get better.

“We thought by the end of the year—in games 11 and 12—we were playing much better. But we faced a very good Iowa team, and every year Iowa is a good team. They took care of things from top to bottom [against us].”

Vol. 4, No. 379
Sept. 20, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hiring of Pollard Will Be Good for McCarney's ISU Football Program

Dan McCarney suddenly has the best of both worlds.

Not only does he have an unbeaten and nationally-ranked football team at Iowa State, he’s got a new boss who figures to go the extra step to help him keep the good times rolling.

Jamie Pollard, 40, today agreed to a five-year contract with a $275,000-per-year base salary to become the university’s athletic director, effective Oct. 1.

Pollard comes from the University of Wisconsin, where he has been deputy athletic director under Barry Alvarez, who is the athletic director and is in his final season as football coach.

For McCarney, the Wisconsin factor is huge. Wisconsin is where McCarney spent five years as the defensive coordinator on Alvarez’s football teams.

Alvarez recently did Iowa State a big favor by not trying, at least publicly-, to hire McCarney as Wisconsin’s next football coach. Such a move could have caused a mess at both Wisconsin and Iowa State, and now it appears McCarney could become a “lifer” in Ames.

Alvarez picked former Iowa player and assistant coach Bret Bielema as the Badgers’ next coach after he had spent just one season on his football staff as defensive coordinator.

Alvarez and McCarney evidently remain close friends, and it would be a big-time upset if Pollard didn’t do everything within reason to help McCarney’s Iowa State program be successful.

Pollard’s timing in coming to Iowa State is perfect. In following Bruce Van De Velde, he has virtually nothing to live up to. Bruce Van De Velde resigned under pressure Aug. 8 and has been allowed to show up for work since. Don’t look for that to continue when Pollard starts punching the clock in less than two weeks.

Although few, if any, people guessing who might be the successor to Van De Velde brought up Pollard’s name, the Alvarez-Wisconsin-McCarney-Iowa State connection makes a whole lot of sense.

“He’s an outstanding person and leader,” McCarney said today of Pollard. “I only met him one other time before I met with him this morning at the home of Dr. Gregory Jeoffroy [Iowa State’s president].

“Obviously, I’ve known a lot about him because of my relationship and friendship with Barry Alvarez. I didn’t have anything to do with the selection. This was all Dr. Jeoffroy, the selection committee and a consulting firm.

“But I have tremendous trust in Dr. Geoffroy and have great faith in what Barry Alvarez has told me. The best measure I have about Jamie coming to Iowa State is how disappointed they are in Wisconsin to lose him.

“Jamie’s voice is Barry’s voice. Barry has given Jamie lots of responsibilities while Barry has been both athletic director and coach. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Jamie, so we’re excited to have him part of the Cyclone family.”

It’s a good move for Pollard. He’s at an age where he can build a solid reputation at a university that’s long been considered the athletic Avis of the state behind the University of Iowa, but is rapidly closing the gap with the football coaching of McCarney and the basketball coaching of Wayne Morgan.

McCarney has beaten Iowa in six of the past eight years, and now has a football team that’s ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll after beating the Hawkeyes and Illinois State and heading into Friday night’s game at Army. Morgan has had two successful seasons after succeeding the fired Larry Eustachy.

Obviously, one thing Iowa State might have to worry about down the road, assuming Pollard is successful, is that he’d be a strong candidate to succeed Alvarez when he decides to retire as Wisconsin’s athletic director.

But that’s a problem for another day.

Pollard said he’s honored to be chosen Iowa State’s athletic director, adding, “Iowa State’s athletic program has a rich tradition, a solid foundation and tremendous potential for growth and even greater success.”

Said Alvarez: “I’d like to personally congratulate Jamie on his opportunity to run the program at Iowa State. Jamie is an outstanding athletic administrator, whose vision, work ethic and intelligence will make a huge impact on Iowa State. In my dual role, Jamie has been both essential and exceptional in running the day-to-day operation.....He will be an immediate impact player at Iowa State.”

Pollard joined the Wisconsin athletic department in May, 1998, and has been deputy athletic director since 2003. In 2003, he received Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal’s “Top Forty Under 40” award, which goes to the most influential and creative individuals in athletics under the age of 40.

Before going to Wisconsin, Pollard was associate athletic director for internal operations at St. Louis University [1989-94] and associate athletic director for administration at the University of Maryland [1994-98].

He earned a degree in business administration in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. That same year, he was the NCAA Division III national champion in the 5,000-meter run.

In addition to his base salary, Pollard can receive up to $75,000 annually for achieving athletic and academic performance goals. If he remains the athletic director for five years, he will receive an additional $50,000 per year in deferred compensation.

He and his wife, Ellen, have four children.


After Iowa State’s 23-3 victory over Iowa on Sept. 10, McCarney said he sent e-mails to every student at the university in Ames, thanking them.

“I didn’t feel like I had to do that,” McCarney said today. “It was something I wanted to do. When we played Iowa, it was the best environment we’ve had in my 11 years at Iowa State. We broke the all-time season ticket sales record and we broke the all-time student ticket sales record.

“But it wasn’t just a matter of selling tickets—it was the students’ interaction, their involvement, their enthusiasm long before that game kicked off to when they stormed the field after we won. It was an unbelievable environment, and one I hope we can duplicate as the season goes on.”

Any negative reaction to the e-mail campaign?

“There was only one negative response,” McCarney said, “and it happened to be a Hawkeye fan who goes to school at Iowa State.”


Iowa State’s game Oct. 1 at Nebraska has been picked as an ABC-TV regional telecast, starting at 2:30 p.m. The Cyclones’ game at Army at 7 p.m. Friday will be on ESPN2.


Years Name Notes

1903-1914--S.W. Beyer [Iowa State's first faculty representative; also world renowned geologist; Beyer Hall was named after him]

1914-1919--Clyde Williams [Coached football from 1907-12; started Iowa State basketball program in 1907; Clyde Williams Field was named after him]

1919-1923--Charles Mayser [Coached football and wrestling]

1923-1924--Hugo Ottapalik [acting]; [Long-time Iowa State wrestling coach]

1924-1931--T.N. Metcalf [Left Iowa State to be athletic director at University of Chicago, replacing Amos Alonzo Stagg]

1932-1945--George Veenker [Iowa State football coach 1931-1936; golf course on campus was named after him]

1945-1958--Louis E. Menze [Iowa State men’s basketball coach 1929-1947]

1959-1966--Gordon H. Chalmers [Came to Iowa State from West Point as assistant football coach under Earl Blaik]

1967-1970--Clay Stapleton [Iowa State football coach 1958-1967]

1971-1982--Louis G. McCullough [Was a former Iowa State assistant football coach]

1983-1993--Max Urick [Former Iowa State associate athletic director]

1993-2000--Gene Smith [Now athletic director at Ohio State]

2000-2005--Bruce Van De Velde [The job was too big for him. He was forced out]

2005-Indefinite—Jamie Pollard [Takes over Oct. 1. Figures to be good for the football program]

Vol. 4, No. 378
Sept. 19, 2005

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Storyteller Offenburger Cranks Out a 502-Page Gem on Bernie Saggau

If anyone can put together 502 pages of the written word and make everything sing, it's Chuck Offenburger.

Everybody in our state knows Offenburger. He's the former "Iowa Boy" columnist at the Des Moines Register, and he has become a well-known author. He's a tremendous feature writer, but in my opinion even a better reporter.

He's a guy I'd trust to handle any reporting assignment on any subject.

Offenburger's newest finished project is a soft-cover book titled "Bernie Saggau & the Iowa Boys." It's subtitled, "The Centennial History of the Iowa High School Athletic Association."

Among his earlier books are: "Iowa Boy: Ten Years of Columns by Chuck Offenburger," "Babe: An Iowa Legend," "Ah, You Iowans! At Home, At Work, At Play, At War!" "Don't Look Back.....we aren't going that way! The Bill Krause Story" and "E. Wayne Cooley and the Iowa Girl: A celebration of the nation's best high school girls sports program."

"Now I'm deep into another book project that's just as much fun--'Gary Thompson: All-American'--coming during the basketball season," Offenburger said.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association says the Saggau book is "the most comprehensive history of boys' high school athletics in the reads like a storybook of sports vignettes and an encyclopedia of information about the Iowa High School Athletic Association. The book highlights the programs and events that have helped build the association as one of the most admired sports programs in the U.S.

"The purpose of this book is to pay tribute to the life and career of Bernie Saggau--a man who devoted much of his professional carer to the development of the association. As Chuck Offenburger recalls Saggau's 37 years as executive director, readers are treated to some amazing stories about athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, media and fans who have come to realize that there may be no better place to be a high school athlete than in Iowa....."

As expected, Offenburger has been on the go since the book has been out.

"We've got the book off to a good start," he told me. "The Iowa Farm Bureau sponsored our launch of it on Sunday, Aug. 14, at the Iowa State Fair with Bernie and I both there, and we had a great start.

"It's hitting the bookstores now. Also, the IHSAA is donating a hardbound copy to every library in the state -- high schools' and public -- which is a real nice touch.

"I went to Waterloo [recently] and did KWWL-TV's 10:30 p.m. "SportsPlus" show with Chris Kolkhorst, then did radio the next morning on KWAY in Waverly with Dave Michaels and Kelly Neff, then spoke at the Downtown Rotary Club in Waterloo [sold 40 books as fast as I could sign them afterward] and then signed books for two hours at Barnes & Noble in Waterloo late in the afternoon.

"Earlier, I've done 'Talk of Iowa' with Rob Dillard on WOI-AM, 'Two Guys
Named Jim' with you know who [Jim Zabel and Jim Walden] on WHO, 'The Big Show' with Ken Root on WHO, the morning show with Jim Field on KJAN in Atlantic.

"There's starting to be a lot of press reaction as people are getting their
review copies read. Several columnists have used it as a jumping off point
to tell some great stories about their own athletic careers or about
athletes in their areas.....The Register hasn't reviewed it yet, but they've cited it several times -- especially my list of the 25 greatest Iowa high school boy athletes of the past 100 years.

"As far as my adventures in writing it, take a good read of the preface. I
pretty well tell the story there. Of course, I love the Robert James Waller
story there, and Waller has been great to work with subsequently, too.
You'll notice he gave us a quote to use in the promo, and he almost never
does that."

In the preface, Offenburger writes, "It's amazing how quickly phone calls are returned, if you leave word that you want to talk to somebody about their high school sports experience.

"My favorite story about that involves Robert James Waller, the internationally-known author of 'Bridges of Madison County' and other books. Many will remember that Waller was a professor of business at the University of Northern Iowa when 'Bridges' was published in 1992 and quickly became one of the biggest successes in book publishing history.

"Despite the proven popularity of the book, many in the media--including some colleagues of mine at the Des Moines Register--made fun of the story and of Waller. It was unseemly, they wrote, that a business professor, a good thinker and a serious writer would win such fame and financial reward for what they characterized as a shallow love story.

"He was the target of some real cheap shots, even in the Register, the newspaper that had launched him as a writer in the 1980s when it began publishing his essays on a wide variety of topics. Waller thereafter began refusing interview requests from Register reporters and columnists, a policy he has basically followed ever since.

"Several times over the years, I attempted to reach him, usually through our mutual friend, J.R. Ackley of Marble Rock, Ia. I would point out that I had known Waller 15 years before he ever became famous, and that I'd never written anything critical about him--before or after 'Bridges.' In fact, I wrote favorably about his UNI career, about his visionary thinking about Iowa's future and even about how he conceived the idea for 'Bridges' and put the story together.

"But he'd never talk to me, although he generally would later send me word that it was 'nothing personal against you.' He'd just been so personally wounded by the Register's scorn that he did not want to talk to anybody who was writing for the paper--or had written for it, as became clear after I left it in 1998. I still occasionally sought interviews with him, unsuccessfully.

"There were two things about Waller that made me want to try once again to talk to him, for this book. First I remembered being told years ago about what an outstanding basketball player he was at little Rockford High School in north central Iowa, where he graduated in 1957. He had one of the finest jump shots ever, people said, and he went on to use it both for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and ultimately for the Panthers of what today is the University of Northern Iowa. Second, I had pulled out my copy of his essay 'Jump Shots,' which was originally published in the Register. It is one of the finest sports stories I've ever read anywhere. Actually, it's a story about the pursuit of excellence. Waller tells it through the metaphor of how he developed his jump shot back home in Rockford, where it took him and why he eventually decided to walk away from it. I wanted to ask if he'd help arrange permission from the book publisher that now owns the essay, for it to be published in this book.

"So on Sunday evening, May 23, 2004, I got back in touch with J.R. Ackley and told him I'd really appreciate him contacting Waller in Texas about a possible interview. 'Tell him about this book and that I want to talk to him about his basketball experience in high school at Rockford,' I told him, 'and ask how I can get permission to use 'Jump Shots' in this book.' Ackley was polite as ever. 'Oh, Chuck, I'll get in touch with him, but you know how he is on this stuff,' he said. 'He's never said 'yes' yet, so I doubt he will now. But I will ask him.'

"Just before 8 a.m. the next morning, May 24, 2004, I was out front of our house, putting up our American flag to start another day. Suddenly, my wife Carla opened the front door and, with a special urgency, yelled, 'You better get in here right now!' What was the matter? 'Nothing's wrong! Robert James Waller is on the phone for you! Get in here!'

"He could not have been more congenial as he talked at length about basketball and other sports in his Rockford boyhood, about his college sports experiences and about his evolving view of sports since then. It told me a lot about Waller that he not only knew where his old Rockford High basketball coach Paul Filter is today, but said that he talks to him frequently. In fact, he gave me the coach's phone number, encouraging me to call him. And in several follow-up conversations and messages, Waller indeed helped arrange permission for 'Jump Shots' to appear here [in the book]."

Offenburger was kind enough to mention me a couple of times in his book.

On Pages 375 and 376, while talking about the late Nile Kinnick--the University of Iowa's only Heisman Trophy winner--he writes:

"Among the most insightful resources about him in his college and young adult years is a 2003 book 'Tales from the Iowa Sidelines' by retired Des Moines Register sportswriter Ron Maly. He portrays Kinnick as a brilliant and complex young man.

"Maly notes that Kinnick was raised in the Christian Science Church, a faith with pacifist leanings, although not as much as the Quakers. While Kinnick was not particularly active in the church while at Iowa, old college friends told Maly he did follow the news closely and was concerned about the threat of war. But, then, nearly all college men were worried. They knew who would be fighting the war if indeed the U.S. was drawn into it.

"Many people can quote Kinnick's speech when he accepted the Heisman Trophy in New York City in late 1939--two years before World War II began--especially his concluding thought:'.....I thank God I was warring on the gridirons of the Midwest and not on the battlefields of Europe. I can speak confidently and positively that the players of this country would much more, much rather struggle and fight to win the Heisman award than the Croix de Guerre.'

"His speech is generally regarded as one of the best ever given during the Heisman ceremonies. When you look back on it with an understanding of Kinnick's religious tradition, knowledge of his concern about the war and then think about his death in military service three years later, it makes the dramatic conclusion to his speech all the more powerful and poignant.

"'Some people back then might have branded him an isolationist,'" Maly told me. 'I think some of those guys who covered his speech--some of those New Yorek guys--wrote that Kinnick may have had isolationist views.' Maly said from what he learned in his research and interviews, 'I don't feel Kinnick wanted to go into the military, but he felt he had to.'

"During the U.S. presidential campaign in 1940, Kinnick--then apparently a law student at the University of Iowa--went to Iowa Falls when Republican candidate Wendell Willkie was making an appearance aboard a whistle-stop campaign on a train. Maly leawrned from former Des Moines Register political writer George Mills that Kinnick introduced Willkie to the crowd that day. Willkie had been an isolationist, but by the time the Republicans nominated him, he had started to broaden his view. And two years later, after he had been defeated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was fully supporting the war effort and stood with Roosevelt in advocating continued international involvement when and if peace resumed.....

"'He captured the imagination of an entire nation,' Maly wrote in the introduction to his book. 'In my conversation with those who knew him, played with him and played against him, I am convinced Kinnick was destined for greatness beyond the football field. He remains the most dynamic player in the 113-year history of football at the university....."

On Page 388, Offenburger writes about Jack Dittmer, who became a standout athlete at Iowa after playing at Elkader High School.

"'Despite his light weight, Dittmer never backed away from a collision on the football field,' wrote Ron Maly in a story in 1988 when Dittmer was inducted into the Des Moines Register's Iowa Sports Hall of Fame. 'Following a rare Iowa victory over Ohio State in 1948, Dittmer was asked about a run-in with the Buckeyes' 220-pound Joe Wisler. Although Wisler had steamrolled him, Dittmer said: 'Did you see me take him on? I wonder if he's out of the hospital yet.'"

Offenburger, who does his writing at what he calls "Simple Serenity Farm" in Greene County, Ia., is scheduling more book signings. He has one Saturday from 10:30 a.m.t o 12:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines.

"Just me, no Bernie that day," he said.

Also coming up:

Sunday, Sept. 25 -- Greene County Arts Council's Fall Festival, old Pleasant Hill Church southeast of Jefferson, 12 to 5 p.m., with Bernie joining Offenburger from 2 to 4 p.m.

A weeknight September 27, 28 or 29, not yet set -- "Bernie Saggau Chicken Fried Steak Night" at Cronk's Cafe in his hometown of Denison. Anybody who
wants to join us can eat what's been Bernie's favorite meal at Cronk's since
his high school years, then we'll tell a few stories and sign books.

In September or October, on a date and time to be determined -- The Public Library in the northwest Iowa community of Lytton, the hometown of Bernie's
successor Rick Wulkow. "Bernie, Rick and I will all be there to tell
stories, reminisce and sign books."

"More at book stores as the holiday season approaches," Offenburger said. "The easiest way to get the book is on the IHSAA site on the Internet, and
this is a bit of a tricky address so note it carefully:


From a central Iowa man who has his ear to the door:

"I just heard today that Iowa State may have a new athletic director named by the end of the weekend. I heard three names as possibilities, all of which surprised me.

"One is Steve Burgason [remember him from his basketball-playing days?], Keith Tribble [executive director of the Orange Bowl and a 'diversity' candidate], and the biggest surprise.....DAN McCARNEY.

"My source is pretty good, but not the same one who tipped me off on Bobby Elliott [being the next director]. Would Coach Mac move 'up' and hire Bobby to be the next head coach?

"Sometimes these things sound more like soap operas than sports."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: With all the success McCarney is having now, I can't believe he's ready to hang it up as Iowa State's football coach. But I could sure see him wanting to be in a position--and athletic director is certainly one of those positions--where he can control the football operation. Burgason lettered as an Iowa State basketball player in 1974, 1975, 1977 and 1978.]


This e-mail is from Sandy Madden:


"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was a little dismayed at a comment that [Iowa coach] Kirk Ferentz made--'We were not ready for this.' Far be it for me to question his reasoning behind that, but I would think you should be ready for anything that is handed to you on game day. But either that was an embarrassment to the Hawkeye teams and fans, or they are overrated. I was just sick about it. That comment didn't help. This game is always the game of the year, and we fans are bewildered and embarrassed. It might be a long season for the Hawks! Thanks for your time."

Sandy Madden

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Sandy is referring, of course, to the Hawkeyes' 23-3 loss last Saturday at Iowa State. Even though Iowa was thoroughly outplayed and lots of Hawkeye fans are saying that Ferentz was outcoached by Iowa State's Dan McCarney, the season certainly isn't over. Iowa will snap back Saturday to beat a good Northern Iowa team and still has a chance to finish 8-3 or 7-4. Overrated? Yes. But that's what a last-second victory in the Capital One Bowl will do!]


Here's another e-mail about the mailbox that was stolen from the Hawkeye fan living in Cyclone Country:


"How about us Cyclone fans living here in Hawkeye you think that's a piece of cake? Hawk fans can be nasty too...And who says it had to be a Cy fan, huh? Maybe a Hawk fan just admired their mailbox and flag. There's probably about as many Hawk fans in Boone as Cyclone."

Teri Johnson

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I agree, all fans--Cyclone, Hawkeye, Bulldog, Panther, Buckeye, Wolverine, you name 'em, can be nasty. But Sandy Madden and her husband are no doubt still wondering what happened to their Hawkeye mailbox].


An Iowan identified as "The Old Sod Guy" sent this e-mail after I wrote that officials at the University of Iowa plan to replace the sad-looking field at Kinnick Stadium with new sod following Saturday's game:

"I've laid a bunch of sod in my lifetime, and I doubt like hell that it'll take root in that short a time. I predict that it will be reduced to running crawlers."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: The folks at Iowa say the new field will be ready when the Hawkeyes play their homecoming game Oct. 1 against Illinois. We'll see].


The column I wrote recently about the local paper relying on coverage from newspapers in such cities as Sioux City and Council Bluffs when Des Moines and suburban Des Moines teams play football games there brought this e-mail from a guy who has been around the news business a long time:

"Terrific observations about the Register's sports non-coverage. Reminds me of the Frank Eyerly days. As you may remember, he didn't know [or care] a damn thing about sports, so Bobby Price and/or Leighton Housh had to go to Eyerly and explain why it was necessary to cover, say, a far-away game that featured an Iowa team. It's outrageous that important local events aren't covered by Register staffers."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Bob Price was a longtime and very good sports news editor at the Register, Leighton Housh was the under-appreciated executive sports editor who worked under Sec Taylor and managed the department both during Sec's life and after he died. Frank Eyerly was the paper's managing editor, and didn't know a football from a badminton racquet. It's a good thing the paper had guys like Price and Housh or the sports department in those days or it wouldn't have been called the "world's greatest." Man, how times have changed. Now some of the high school games don't even get covered!]


Another e-mailer who has the handle "I'm No Expert"--but definitely comes across as an expert--covers the waterfront with these thoughts:

"Lotsa good stuff in your column this week, from [Ralph] Gross to Wayne Morgan. I think the idea of a Reader Advisory Board stinks. A newspaper is not a democracy. Bully that he was, Frank Eyerly, for example, put out a damn good newspaper. Even such a mild-mannered guy as Chuck Reynolds needed no committee to advise him on news judgment. Newspaper editors need to be strong leaders--dictators, if you please. Creating an advisory board to second-guess them only weakens their authority; an editor should be responsible to only the publisher.

"I agree that the Hawkeyes' defeat last Saturday is not the end of the world, but I am concerned about [Drew] Tate. Time may prove him to be a fine quarterback, but he also has benefited from a lot of luck. That final play of last year's season was dramatic as hell, but it also was mighty lucky. Further, Tate has shown that he can scramble to complete passes. Knowing this from last year, other teams will be prepared for Tate this season. Guys like Fran Tarkenton aside, most scramblers don't fare well over the long haul. I just hope Tate isn't overrated. But I'm no expert."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Ralph Gross is the Des Moines man who ripped the local paper a new asshole in the Columbia Journalism Review as he wound up his term on the paper's reader advisory board. Wayne Morgan is the Iowa State basketball coach who is winning lots of games, but some Cyclone fans evidently are questioning his bench coaching. Drew Tate, of course, is the Iowa quarterback who tried to make a tackle early in the loss to Iowa State and left the game with a concussion. Tate's performance in the Capital One Bowl last January got him on some early Heisman Trophy watch lists and he was voted the preseason offensive player of the year in the Big Ten. "I'm No Expert" is correct when he says Tate has been lucky at times as a Hawkeye. But I still think he can be pretty good. All of us can take another look at him after the Ohio State [Sept. 24] and Michigan [Oct. 22] games].


Gordy Scoles of Bennettsville, S.C., sent this e-mail:


"Just read your article regarding the coverage of high school football by the
Register. I've included three paragraphs I used in my book, 'Best In The
Land: The First Half-Century of Nashua High School Football,' which further
illustrate the point you made in your article. 'Ron Maly, who covered high
school sports for the Des Moines Register, cautioned about the hazards of
prejudging Iowa high school football, and how prejudgment of the approaching
1960 season manifested itself clearly in two teams: Mason City and Nashua. On
the one hand, Mason City loomed, as a team with the potential to be one of the
best in the state, and on the other, Nashua was a team whose glory days were
seen as maybe soon ending.' Your article from August, 1960, accurately
predicted our season and you even quoted a rival coach who said, "They may
win the Corn Bowl Conference again, but it doesn't seem to me they'll be as
strong as they have been. They could lose a few this time." We were 5-3
after going 23-1-3 the previous three seasons. But our records weren't the
point: you and the Register regularly covered the big schools and the small
schools in the old days. I'm sure we complained that not enough was being
written about us when Jack North had us ranked No. 1 among small schools in
1959. We'd really have something to gripe about today. Thanks for the article."

Gordy Scoles

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Good hearing from you again, Gordy. The best of luck on your new book].


A Des Moines-area woman writes about the popular Sunday night show "Sound Off" on WHO-TV:


"I like SOUND OFF and I usually watch it, but I get very tired of Andy Fales portraying an angry, pouty guy. He seems like a nice person, but I wish he would use a different "shtick." Even his comments with Keith during the show seem to give the appearance that he is unhappy or sullen. I realize that his attitude may be contrived for the show, but I usually brush my teeth during WHAT'S BUGGING ANDY!"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Actually, Andy Fales is a very nice guy. Heck, so is Keith Murphy. But at least "Des Moines-Area Woman" has clean teeth, and Fales and Murphy should be happy about that].


Bud Appleby of Des Moines, in an e-mail titled "The New Register Editor," sends this from an article in 2000:

"The Idaho Statesman has a curious definition of 'fact checking.' The business editor of the Gannett-owned daily, Jim Bartimo, resigned when he was told that a story he had worked on about Micron Technologies, the area's largest employer, had to be sent for pre-publication 'review'... to Micron Technologies. As the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported, (1/17/00) the Statesman described letting the subject of a news report review it before it runs as 'good journalism,' and the possibility of a journalistic conflict 'laughable.' Interestingly, in following up on that story, Kurtz learned that the Idaho Statesman's previous business editor says he was fired from the paper for writing too critical a lead on a story guessed it, Micron Technologies. Kurtz's February 7 article noted that the Statesman reporter covering Micron is married to a Micron employee. None of this is a problem for Statesman editor Carolyn Washburn, who says, "It's not that it has anything to do with their being the biggest employer. What we write can affect a lot of people in this community. It can affect the stock price."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Carolyn Washburn, who was named editor of the local paper a couple of weeks ago, was executive editor of the Idaho Statesman in Boise since 1999. I wished her good luck a while back, and I'll say it again now. As they say in the big offices at Gannett, she'll need it in this town. Good luck, I mean].

Vol. 4, No. 376
Sept. 15, 2005