Friday, September 02, 2005

At Least One Drake Guy [Morrison, 88] Had Something Good Happen

At least one guy at Drake has something to be happy about today.

No, not coach Rob Ash and his Bulldog football players, who were out of their league and got clobbered, 52-17, in a nightmarish-if-you're-a-Drake-fan season opener last night at Northern Iowa.

Instead, Paul Morrison, the university's 88-year-old athletic department historian.

In a very nice tribute, Morrison is pictured on the front cover of the Football Writers Association of America 2005-2006 directory.

Morrison went on the Drake payroll Dec. 15, 1945, and has been in just about every job at the place other than school president.

Morrison is one of 28 men listed on Page 4 of the Football Writers directory for their 50 or more years in the association. Morrison joined in 1946, which means he's got 59 years under his belt.

The only guys who have been in the group longer are Pat Harmon, a former sports editor and columnist at the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Cincinnati Post and was with the College Football Hall of Fame; Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Harmon has been a member since 1942, and Broeg and Hartman have been members since 1945.

"It's pretty high-class company to be in there with Sid Hartman," Morrison said with a laugh. "I don't write as many notes as Sid."

Morrison, Harmon, Hartman, Broeg, Jimmie McDowell [1948] of the All-American Football Foundation and Edwin Pope [1946] of the Miami Herald are pictured on the front cover of the directory.

"I didn't know anything about my picture being on the cover until Andrew Logue [of the local paper] mentioned it to me at our game last night in the UNI-Dome," Morrison said.

"I said, 'Where'd you get this?' Logue said it was in his morning mail. I didn't even open my mail when I got back from the football game early this morning. I climbed into bed at 1:35 a.m."

I had talked with Morrison last Sunday morning when I ran into him after church at the Drake Diner. He was just finishing his breakfast, and we were just starting ours.

I asked him about the upcoming Drake-UNI game, and he said, "I hope they don't beat us, 100-0. They'll try, you know."

Fortunately, that didn't happen.

"It was obvious that they were good to us," Morrison said, meaning the Panthers--who have the benefit of more than 60 football scholarships--didn't try to reach the century mark against the non-scholarship Bulldogs, even though they could have.

One reason was probably because Northern Iowa will play at Drake next Aug. 31 in a game that will be the first in the renovated Drake Stadium.

No need to cause hard feelings a year before making that trip, right?

"UNI is going to be a good ballclub," Morrison said. "They have some good young kids. I think they'll do well in their own element.

"I guess I was a little disappointed in our pass defense against them. But we played about as good as we can. We're missing that good offensive line we had last year."

I know Ash likes the idea of playing occasional games against teams like Northern Iowa and Illinois State [Drake's next opponent]. But I don't agree with him. Why get the season off to a sour start by being pulverized in a name-the-score kind of game that's shown on statewide TV?

That's the kind of game Drake would be better off keeping secret. Hell, Chuck Shelton might have even wanted that result "back by the tire ads," where most of his games were in the local paper when he coached the Bulldogs.


I couldn't help but wonder what might happen last night when Minnesota opened its season at Tulsa.

I was in Tulsa on Sept. 21, 1996 when Hayden Fry took an unbeaten Iowa team into Skelly Stadium for a game, and came away with a shocking 27-20 loss. The Hawkeyes wound up with a 9-3 record that season, including a 27-0 victory over Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl.

Minnesota, however, had no such problem. In a game that started at a ridiculous 9:32 p.m. and didn't finish until well into this morning [so it could be televised by ESPN2], the Gophers rode Laurence Moroney's 203 yards in 21 carries and two touchdowns to a 41-10 victory before 33,410 fans at Skelly Stadium.

So watch out for Minnesota. Coach Glen Mason can't get a contract extension, but he's got a team that figures to be lots of trouble in the Big Ten this season.


Former Iowan Gordy Scoles, who now lives in Bennettsville, S.C., kicks in with some thoughts on last night's football openers in this e-mail:


"I followed UNI-Drake on the bottom of the TV screen as I watched South Carolina Central Florida. I think I enjoyed the UNI-Drake [UNI 1967 grad] more than the South Carolina-Central Florida game. I think Lou Holtz left things in much worse shape than the Gamecock fans, but Steve Spurrier, realized. I'll be surprised if South Carolina does much in the SEC this year, but who knows. You were right from way back this summer about UNI-Drake. The score looks as if maybe it could have been worse, except UNI probably wants to keep playing the Bulldogs. I'm sure Iowa and ISU won't have any trouble this weekend. Clemson might have their hands full with Texas A&M. Lots of Clemson fans would like to see Tommy Bowden leave Clemson ASAP. Talk about a whiner. Jeez. Enjoy the games."

Gordy Scoles
Bennettsville, S.C.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I don't know who I'd like more to see lose--Holtz or Spurrier. Holtz is no longer coaching, so I guess he's lost for the last time. I can, though, spend the rest of the season hoping Spurrier takes it on the chin--or on that stupid-looking visor he wears].


A sports fan labeled "Fed-Up Iowa Woman" e-mailed me about Jason Berryman, the thug who is again playing football for Iowa State:



"Berryman will be on the starting lineup. What does that say for the other guys vying for that position? What will that do for morale on the team? I used to have a lot of respect for McCarney because I thought that moral behavior was a high priority, but obviously it doesn't matter if you can help win games. What message is this sending out to our youth today? This is why this kind of behavior continues to happen. They think it won't matter what they do because they are a Cyclone. Sad-sad-sad.


Fed-Up Iowa Woman

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: My position on Berryman is well-known. I think he should be playing for New Mexico Military Academy this season].


Reader Travis J. Simpson includes a variety of topics in his latest e-mail:

"Some good stuff recently. Berryman starting really worries me about Coach Mac's double-standard he now has set. Thompson and Gair were just convicted on their burglary charges and were never even given a fighting chance to stay on the team, yet Berryman just removed from a prison sentence on a felony charge is now starting!? Bringing him back on scholarship was a big mistake and to just hand him the starting job for the season opener really makes one scratch his head. If the Cyclones regress and begin to have chemistry problems like they did two seasons ago when they were 2-10 when they had high preseason hopes, this single incident will just add to any turmoil that may arise in the future. As a Cyclone fan, I wished Mac had just done the right thing and left Berryman off the team and now I can only hope it does not come back to haunt him later like Pierce did with Alford.

"One other thing--any thoughts on Channel 13 stealing Mark Meisenheimer away from KCCI? I'm assuming this move is to replace Telly Hughes, who was a flop and easily makes Channel 13 the top sports department in central Iowa by a large margin. WOI's Zubin Mehenti is an occasional caller to Sports Sound-Off, which is more reason to believe the rest of the central Iowa TV stations know they've lost the sports department war to 13."

Travis J. Simpson
Des Moines


Here's the announcement from WHO-TV on the hiring of Meisenheimer:

"WHO-TV is proud to announce that Mark Meisenheimer has joined the Channel 13 News team to anchor and report local sports. Meisenheimer joins WHO-TV from KCCI-TV, where he had anchored weekend sports since 2001.

"Meisenheimer will anchor sports Saturday evenings at 6 and 10, Sunday at 5 and report during the week. He will also produce the popular sports call-in show, Sound-Off with Keith Murphy, Sunday nights at 10:35 p.m. Meisenheimer joins the Channel 13 Sports team with Keith Murphy and Andy Fales.

"We are excited to have someone who is so versed in Iowa sports joining our team," said WHO-TV news director Mark Ginther. "It will be a huge year for sports in the state and Channel 13 is poised to provide the best coverage."

"Meisenheimer has a passion for sports that has earned him numerous awards, including the 2000 and 1998 Merit Award for "Best Use of Video and Sound" from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association . Mark has also been honored for his reporting from the Associated Press and the Iowa Broadcast News Association.

"Before coming to Des Moines, Meisenheimer worked as a weekend sports anchor for more than two years at WQOW-TV in Eau Claire, Wis. He also worked at KDUH in Scottsbluff, Neb., for close to two years and in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. at WITI-TV.

"Meisenheimer is a lifelong Packers fan and getting the chance to follow the Green Bay Packers on a weekly basis and cover games at Lambeau Field was a thrill for him. 'I once got run over by Brett Favre. Could I get any luckier?' he asked.

"Meisenheimer's years in Iowa have made him appreciate wrestling. 'It's truly is the signature sport of the state,' he said. Meisenheimer has also enjoyed covering all the college teams at Iowa, Iowa State, Drake, and Northern Iowa.

"His reporting has taken him all across the country, including New York, Arizona, Florida and Idaho. 'Covering sports has been a great way to see different parts of the country. I've been lucky to share those experiences with the teams and the fans,' Meisenheimer said.

"Meisenheimer spends his free time running, lifting weights, watching movies, reading, and writing. Mark has also published a novel, 'Green Fields.'"

[COMMENTS ABOUT MEISENHEIMER: I asked Keith Murphy, the talented sports boss at 13, about Meisenheimer, and here's what he said: "We're really excited to have Mark join our team. We think he fits perfectly with what we're trying to do. He's a good guy and a good sportscaster. He is a Packers fan---and that bothers some here--but I think it's good to balance out some of that Purple in our newsroom on Sundays.]"

Vol. 4, No. 369
Sept. 2, 2005