Monday, October 31, 2005

Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder And I Are Starting To Think A Lot Alike--He, Too, Believes Iowa State Is Better Now Than It Was in 2004

There was a time when Bill Snyder and I didn't agree on much of anything.

But now, the older Snyder [pictured on the left] and I get, the more we think alike.

Like me, Snyder feels Iowa State is a better football team this year than it was last year.

The Kansas State coach doesn't need to tell me that.

The way I look at it--and you read it here yesterday--Iowa State is headed for an 8-3 regular-season record, a 5-3 finish in the Big 12 Conference and a very nice bowl game.

"I think that's a fair assessment," Snyder said today when asked if Iowa State is better now than it was in 2004. "They came back and beat us [toward] the end of last season, when I thought they were an awfully good team."


Snyder, a former offensive coordinator at Iowa under Hayden Fry, is in his 17th season as Kansas State's coach.

Naturally, I got to see a lot more of Snyder when he worked in Iowa City.

But I admire what the man has done at Kansas State.

He's done a job there that many [certainly me] who pay attention to college football thought was impossible. At one time, Kansas State--stuck in the middle of nowhere, otherwise known as Manhattan, Kan.--was regarded as the worst major-college program in the nation.

But Snyder somehow has been able to recruit well enough to have a 135-66-1 record.

Maybe he told prospects they'd be playing in Manhattan, without being specific about where the Kansas State version of Manhattan was.


But miracles sometimes don't last forever.

Snyder has fallen on some hard times lately. His 2004 team had only a 4-7 record overall and was 2-6 in the Big 12 Conference.

Four-and-seven in some years at Kansas State would be reason to schedule a celebration and a contract extension.

Four-and-seven these days has some people saying, "Well, we figured it wouldn't last. How soon is the old boy planning to retire?"

This year's K-State team is 4-4, 1-4 and tied with Kansas for last place in the Big 12 North.

The Wildcats go into Saturday's 1 p.m. game at Iowa State as 7 1/2-point underdogs. If I know Snyder--and I think I know a few things about him--he's not wasting any time wondering how the Cyclones are going to get that half-point.


Like Snyder, Cyclone coach Dan McCarney is a former Iowa assistant. Bobby Elliott, Snyder's defensive coordinator, is a former Iowa player and assistant coach and a former Iowa State assistant.

Kansas State offensive coordinator Del Miller is a former Iowa assistant who, for part of a day in late-1994, thought he might be the Cyclones' next head coach.

But Gene Smith, then Iowa State's athletic director, did a reversal and chose McCarney for the job.

No surprise there. Nobody could ever figure out what Smith was going to do next.


I've heard that Bobby Elliott's next coaching stop might be Wisconsin, where he'd be the defensive coordinator.

Don't forget, Elliott and Bret Bielema, the former Iowa player and assistant coach who will be the Badgers' head coach next season, were co-defensive coordinators on Snyder's Kansas State staff.

Or would Elliott be considered a candidate for Snyder's job at K-State?

Stay tuned.


Snyder said Iowa State this season "is a very balanced team. I thought they really put it together against Texas A&M [in a 42-14 victory last week] in College Station, which isn't an easy place to play.

"When you look back and see a 5-3 Iowa State record, you're looking at three losses [to Nebraska, Missouri and Baylor] that were by very, very marginal or close scores. We're certainly going to have our hands full, and we haven't been necessarily great on the road this year.

"Iowa State is a more experienced team than last year. The quarterback [Bret Meyer] is a year older, and they've settled on a couple of pretty good specialists They rank 10th or 11th nationally in kickoff returns, and they do a nice job of protecting the football."


McCarney beat Snyder for the first time in 10 tries last season, 37-23. The Cyclones trailed, 23-9, in the fourth quarter, but scored three touchdowns in the last 3 1/2 minutes of the game.

Iowa State became bowl-eligible with that victory, and can do the same by beating the Wildcats this week.

"There's no doubt Kanas State is one of the best-coached teams in the country," McCarney said today. "They always have been, they always will be. It goes right back to head coach Bill Snyder. They're tough, they're physical, they're getting better.

"With the exception of last year, Kansas State has really had their way with Iowa State for a lot of years."


McCarney said it's "almost hard to put into words what Stevie Hicks means to our football team."

Hicks, who has been injured most of the season, ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns in 25 carries against Texas A&M.

"Honestly, we didn't know coming out of last Thursday's practice if he would even play in the game," McCarney said. "It was a complete game-time decision. Stevie said, 'I'm ready. I'm starting. I'm playing.'

"We didn't know if he'd last two plays like he did at Nebraska. Based on practice last night, it looks like he's got a chance to go again this week."


McCarney evidently misunderstood Randy Peterson's question on the Big 12 coaches' teleconference this morning.

Peterson asked, "Are you getting the respect from the television networks during the Big 12 season that you deserve?"

"I have no idea," McCarney answered. "I honestly have no idea. I have not listened to one minute of it. We watch all our videotape that's exchanged.....We're in a world right now, trying to get ready for Kansas State, and I'll just give you an honest answer--I don't know. You probably could answer that better than I could."

Then Peterson said, "Are enough of your games on TV? That's kind of what I meant."

"We're going to be on obviously against Kansas," McCarney said. "I think we're in the hunt for possibly the Colorado game. That's what our athletic director, Jamie Pollard, mentioned to me. Anytime you get on TV, it's great for the whole department, as you know. Hopefully, the Kansas game won't be the only one [that's on TV] in the next few weeks."

Iowa State has never been a network TV darling, and won't be on the tube this week either.


Vol. 4, No. 402
Oct. 31, 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fresh Off One Of Their Biggest Victories Ever, There's No Reason the Cyclones Can't Run the Table, Go 8-3 And Play In a Bowl Game At a Nice Warm Place

Happy Halloween, everyone.

Hopefully, all those ghosts and goblins out there will protect your home-field advantage this week.

Well, other than the one at Northwestern.


Now, back to where we began this season with Iowa State’s football team.

In August, I said there wasn’t an opponent on the Cyclones’ schedule they couldn’t beat.

Then, on successive Saturdays, Nebraska, Baylor and Missouri screwed things up – Nebraska and Missouri in overtime games – and Iowa State suddenly found itself with a 3-3 record.

Dan McCarney and his players got things straightened out by burying Oklahoma State, 37-10, then wiped away another Iowa State ghost yesterday with an impressive 42-14 victory at Texas A&M.

One more victory makes the Cyclones bowl-eligible.

So I’ll say it again……

There’s no team on the schedule Iowa State can’t beat.

There’s one word for Kansas State, Colorado and Kansas—the remaining teams on the regular-season schedule.

That word is “beatable.”

At 5-3 overall and 2-3 in the Big 12 North, the Cyclones should finish 8-3 overall and 5-3 in the conference.

That will get them into a very nice bowl game.

San Antonio [where they play the Alamo Bowl] in the last week of December can be very nice.

So can Houston [where they play the Houston Bowl].

Shreveport [where they play the Independence Bowl] is a place I can do without.


People are trying to find the proper place in Cyclone football history to put the victory over Texas A&M.

At least in modern times.

Although it was the Cyclones’ first victory ever over the Aggies, it’s certainly not the biggest in my memory.

No. 1 remains the 19-7 upset pulled off by Iowa State over 7th-ranked Nebraska on Nov. 14, 1992 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

I was there. It really happened.

The Cornhuskers came to town with a 7-1 record and had clobbered No. 8 Colorado, 52-7, and No. 13, Kansas, 49-7, just before playing Iowa State.

Nebraska had been so impressive that Bob Devaney, the former Husker coach who then was the school’s athletic director, said Tom Osborne’s 1992 team was better than the university’s 1971 national championship squad.

But on that cold November afternoon, Nebraska was no match for unheralded quarterback Marv Seiler and an Iowa State team coached by Jim Walden.

As far as I’m concerned, yesterday’s victory wasn’t even Dan McCarney’s biggest as Iowa State’s coach.

McCarney’s premier game continues to be the 27-9 victory his 1998 team scored over Hayden Fry’s Iowa team in Iowa City.

Iowa had won 15 consecutive games in the series, and there were whispers going around that the rivalry was so one-sided that maybe Iowa State should step back and see if it wanted to continue.

But McCarney put the series in proper perspective and reeled off five straight victories over Iowa, and now has won six of the last eight.


Indeed, another game I’d rank ahead of the victory over Texas A&M would be the 36-31 decision McCarney’s Cyclones grabbed from Iowa in 2002 at Kinnick Stadium.

In that game, Iowa led, 24-7, at halftime, but a Seneca Wallace-led Iowa State offense scored 29 straight points in the second half.

I was in the press box for that one, just as I was the Cyclones' 27-9 victory at Iowa City in 1998.


They're saying that the loss to Iowa State in front of a crowd of 86,172 at College Station, TX, put another sizable nail in the coaching coffin of Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione.


Just when we start thinking Northwestern might be ready to do something big, it plays like……

Well, Northwestern.

The good thing is, suddenly the Wildcats look beatable as Iowa prepares to play them Saturday at Evanston, Ill.

The best way for the Hawkeyes to start avoiding the Motor City Bowl in Detroit is to beat Northwestern.


Hawkeye fans don't easily forget.

I was doing a book-signing yesterday at Borders Bookstore in West Des Moines when a woman walked up.

"I'm still thinking of that loss to Michigan a week ago," she said. "On the final drive of regulation time, Scott Chandler was wide-open in the end zone for what would have been the winning touchdown pass.

"But Drew Tate either didn't see him or didn't want to see him. All he could see was Clinton Solomon."

Alas, Iowa didn't score and the game went into overtime. Michigan wound up winning.

I don't know if I'm the only one who thinks so, but Tate isn't having the greatest of seasons.

He's far from being the offensive player of the year in the Big Ten.


Bill Callahan may not be out of the woods at Nebraska yet.

And look whose team is tied for second place in the Big 12 South.

Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma squad at 4-1 in the conference and 5-3 overall.


A guy who wishes 2005 would go away:

Purdue coach Joe Tiller, whose team is 0-5 in the Big Ten and 2-6 overall.


Don’t say I didn’t tell you:

Iowa 38, Northwestern 28
Iowa State 25, Kansas State 21


Vol. 4, No. 401
Oct. 30, 2005

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ex-Iowa Basketball Player Pierce Sent to Prison, But the News Isn't All Good--The Thug Could Be Out In Less Than A Year

Former Iowa basketball player Pierre Pierce was sentenced today to two years in prison for assaulting a former girlfriend at her apartment last January.

The 22-year-old player wept as he hugged his parents and relatives after he was sentenced. Moments later, he was handcuffed and escorted a block down the sidewalk to the county jail.

Reading from notes, Pierce apologized to the victim and blamed himself for what happened, the Associated Press reported from Adel.

"Not a single day goes by that I don't think about how things could have been different," Pierce told the judge. "Truly, deep down in my heart, I am sorry for my actions."

Pierce pleaded guilty in August to third-degree burglary, a felony, and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, false imprisonment and fourth-degree criminal mischief -- all misdemeanors.

Judge Gregory Hulse gave Pierce a five-year suspended sentence on the burglary charge. But Hulse sentenced Pierce to two years in prison on the assault charge and one year each for false imprisonment and criminal mischief, ordering the sentences be served concurrently.

With good behavior and completion of treatment as a sex offender, Pierce could be released after serving 11 months, said Fred Scaletta, a corrections department spokesman.

Pierce has 30 days to appeal his sentence, but lawyer Alfredo Parrish said he would advise Pierce not to do so.

The charges were filed after police began investigating a Jan. 27 disturbance a the West Des Moines home of a woman Pierce had been dating for 2½ years.

After police confirmed Pierce was the focus of their investigation, Iowa basketball coach Steve Alford dismissed him from the team. At the time, Pierce was the Hawkeyes' leading scorer and best defender.

In 2002, Pierce was charged with third-degree sexual abuse, but pleaded guilty to a lesser crime and was given a deferred judgment.

"This isn't a case about giving a young man a second chance," said Patricia Houlihan, assistant attorney general. "This is a case about holding a repeat offender accountable."

Pierce will be transferred early next week to the Oakdale Treatment Facility in Coralville, where he will be evaluated.

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Good. The only thing that would have made this a better story would be for Pierce to be sent to the slammer for a longer period of time. An eastern Iowa reader has already checked in with these thoughts on the Pierce situation: "I watched on TV as the judge read Pierce's sentence. What a bunch of crap. It pretty much amounts to a slap on the wrist, which is what I figured the jerk would get. It will be interesting to see how his new status as a registered sex offender will impact his future as a big-time basketball player after he's served his 'time.'"]


The St. Paul Pioneer Press says Katie DeWitt, who averaged a team-high 15 points a game last season for Centennial High School in Circle Pines, MN, has made a commitment to Drake.

Several schools were interested in DeWitt, but she chose Drake because the basketball program stayed interested in her despite broken bones in her left foot three times.

"I missed the summer after my sophomore year and Drake never lost faith in me the whole time,'' DeWitt said. "I like Drake because it's a small, really prestigious academic school.''

DeWitt said she would major in broadcast journalism or business.


Pierre Pierce's former team, Iowa, has been voted the 20th-best among the nation's major colleges in the coaches' preseason poll. Iowa State was ranked No. 23. Northern Iowa was among the teams receiving votes.

Look for Iowa to stay in the top 25 until about January. The Big Ten season is when Steve Alford's teams start losing big-time. Iowa State will be as good as its guards -- and the guards are pretty darn good.

None of Iowa's major-college coaches is voting in the poll. Maybe they weren't asked. Maybe they had no interest.

The poll:

Rank School (first-place votes) 2004-05 record Points 2004-05 final ranking

1. Duke (28) 27-6 767 7
Outlook: Blue Devils could return to top of Atlantic Coast Conference and contend for national honors behind experienced group led by Fs Shelden Williams and Lee Melchionni and Gs J.J. Redick and Sean Dockery. Youth will be served with high school All-Americans C Eric Boateng, F Josh McRoberts and G Greg Paulus aboard. Opens: Nov. 14 vs. Boston University in Preseason NIT (ESPN2, 6:30 p.m.).

2. Connecticut 23-8 692 17
Outlook: Status of G Marcus Williams (suspended) could determine how well Huskies do in Big East, but they're solid elsewhere with Fs Josh Boone and Rudy Gay, Ed Nelson, Denham Brown and Hilton Armstrong and G Rashad Anderson. Opens: Nov. 18 at Pepperdine (ESPNU, 10:30 p.m.).

3. Texas (2) 20-11 683 NR
Outlook: As long as F LaMarcus Aldridge is healthy and F P.J. Tucker is eligible, Longhorns should be much improved from last season's 9-7 Big 12 record. G Daniel Gibson provides steady floor leadership, and F Brad Buckman is solid. Opens: Nov. 15 vs. Sacramento State in Guardians Classic.

4. Villanova (1) 24-8 644 13
Outlook: After heartbreaking loss to North Carolina in the Sweet 16, Wildcats return with a loaded lineup, featuring Gs Allan Ray, Randy Foye and Mike Nardi. But 'Cats received serious blow with F Curtis Sumpter's knee injury. Health of F Jason Fraser also must be watched. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Stony Brook.

5. Michigan State 26-7 632 4
Outlook: After looking up at Illinois in Big Ten all season, Spartans got hot at right time and drove to Final Four. C Paul Davis and Gs Maurice Ager, Shannon Brown and Drew Neitzel hope to lead return trip. Opens: Nov. 19 at Hawaii.

6. Oklahoma 25-8 617 20
Outlook: Taj Gray and Kevin Bookout help lead dynamic frontcourt, and G Terrell Everett came into his own last season. Sooners should again be in thick of Big 12 hunt and are threat to go very far in March. Opens: Nov. 19 vs. Samford.

7. Gonzaga 26-5 540 18
Outlook: Ronny Turiaf is gone, but Bulldogs will be looking to make up for last season's early NCAA ouster behind Fs Adam Morrison and J.P. Batista and steady point guard Derek Raivio. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Idaho.

8. Louisville 33-5 536 3
Outlook: Coming off first Final Four appearance of Rick Pitino era and heading into Big East play, Cardinals should be strong again behind F Juan Palacios, G Taquan Dean and 6-11 Kansas transfer David Padgett. Palacios (ankle) and Padgett (foot) have been hampered by injuries, however. Opens: Nov. 19 vs. Tennessee-Martin.

9. Arizona 30-7 532 6
Outlook: Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire have departed, meaning Gs Hassan Adams and Mustafa Shakur and F Ivan Radenovic are among those who have to step up. Expect Wildcats to be more balanced as they strive for Pac-10 honors. Opens: Nov. 21 vs. Kansas in Maui Invitational at Lahaina, Hawaii (ESPN, 8 p.m.).

10. Kentucky 28-6 511 5
Outlook: Eligibility issues surrounding C Randolph Morris notwithstanding, Wildcats should again be Final Four threat behind Gs Rajon Rondo and Patrick Sparks and deep cast of youngsters who gained valuable experience a year ago. Opens: Nov. 13 vs. South Dakota State in Guardians Classic (ESPNU, 7 p.m.).

11. Boston College 25-5 484 19
Outlook: Eagles started 20-0 a year ago but went out in second round of NCAAs. Fs Craig Smith and Jared Dudley and G Louis Hinnant lead deep, veteran team that should be immediate contender in first year in ACC. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Dartmouth.

12. Memphis 22-16 354 NR
Outlook: Tigers look like class of new-look Conference USA and could go deep into March behind talented cast that features F Rodney Carney and G Darius Washington. Opens: Nov. 15 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Preseason NIT.

13. Stanford 18-13 331 NR
Outlook: Return to good health of G Dan Grunfeld (knee) is key for Cardinal. PG Chris Hernandez and F Matt Haryasz will be that much more effective if Grunfeld's all-around game is back in force. Opens: Nov. 19 vs. UC-Irvine.

14. Alabama 24-8 295 NR
Outlook: Kennedy Winston and Earnest Shelton depart from last season's NCAA team. If Crimson Tide are to rise in Southeastern Conference, big years will be needed from Fs Jermareo Davidson and Chuck Davis and PG Ronald Steele. Opens: Nov. 15 vs. Miami (Ohio) in Preseason NIT.

15. West Virginia 24-11 265 12
Outlook: After narrowly missing Final Four trip, Mountaineers should be major factor in Big East behind sharp-shooting C Kevin Pittsnogle, G J.D. Collins and F Mike Gansey. Opens: Nov. 12 vs. Louisiana-Monroe in Guardians Classic.

16. Syracuse 27-7 210 21
Outlook: Level of success for Orange probably will depend on development of C Darryl Watkins and F Terrence Roberts, who will be called on to do a lot more after departure of All-America F Hakim Warrick. G Gerry McNamara returns for his final season, and freshman G Eric Devendorf is one to watch. Opens: Nov. 8 vs. Bethune-Cookman in 2K Sports Classic (ESPNU, 7 p.m.).

17. Illinois 37-2 201 2
Outlook: Last season's runner-up will miss Gs Deron Williams and Luther Head but welcomes back G Dee Brown and C-F James Augustine. This team will be young in spots and quality depth might be issue, but freshman F C.J. Jackson is one to watch. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. South Dakota State.

18. (tie) UCLA 18-11 190 NR
Outlook: Coach Ben Howland's rebuilding job starting to bear fruit. Bruins return four starters from last year's team that made NCAA tournament and could be ready to take the next step behind Gs Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo, F Josh Shipp (temporarily sidelined by hip surgery) and C Michael Fey. Opens: Nov. 15 vs. New Mexico State in Preseason NIT (ESPN2, 9 p.m.).

18. (tie) Wake Forest 27-6 190 11
Outlook: All-America point guard Chris Paul left for the NBA, and Fs Vytas Danelius and Jamaal Levy have also departed. C Eric Williams and G Justin Gray are mainstays returning to retooled team that still should be able to make some noise in ACC. Opens: Nov. 10 vs. Mississippi Valley State in 2K Sports Classic.

20. Iowa 21-12 176 NR
Outlook: With veteran cast, including Gs Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska and F Greg Brunner, returning from last season's NCAA team, Hawkeyes hope to take next step in Big Ten. Consistency was issue last season, but experienced roster should help there. Opens: Nov. 14 vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore in Guardians Classic.

21. Maryland 19-13 167 NR
Outlook: Terrapins disappointed in NIT bid last year, but this is veteran team that should make run for NCAAs. Fs Nik Caner-Medley, Travis Garrison and Ekene Ibekwe and Gs Chris McCray and Mike Jones all have plenty of experience. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson.

22. Indiana 15-14 153 NR
Outlook: Hoosiers could be heard from in Big Ten with four starters returning, including F D.J. White, 2005 Big Ten freshman of the year. Also coming aboard are two solid transfers from Auburn, F Marco Killingsworth and PG Lewis Monroe. Opens: Nov. 18 vs. Nicholls State (ESPNU, 6 p.m. ET).

23. Iowa State 19-12 118 NR
Outlook: Cyclones qualified for NCAAs for first time in four years by knocking off some Big 12 royalty in waning weeks of last season. Behind Gs Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock, they should be back in mix for league honors. Opens: Nov. 20 vs. Mountain State (W.Va.).

24. George Washington 22-8 109 NR
Outlook: Best news in offseason was that Fs Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Mike Hall pulled out of NBA draft. Their return, along with that of G J.R. Pinnock, could mean best season in a long time for Colonials. Opens: Nov. 23 vs. Kennesaw State.

25. Nevada 25-7 88 NR
Outlook: Wolf Pack again look like team to beat in Western Athletic Conference and have good inside-outside balance with F-C Nick Fazekas and Gs Ramon Sessions and Kyle Shiloh leading eight returning letter-winners. Opens: Nov. 19 vs. Sacramento State.

Others receiving votes: North Carolina State (21-14) 76; Ohio State (20-12) 72; Washington (29-6) 57; Kansas (23-7) 56; Wisconsin (25-9) 52; Texas Tech (22-11) 51; LSU (20-10) 45; Michigan (13-18) 35; Charlotte (21-8) 34; Oklahoma State (26-7) 34; North Carolina (33-4) 16; Old Dominion (28-6) 13; Georgetown (19-13) 10; Florida (24-8) 7; Northern Iowa (21-11) 7; Miami (Fla.) (16-13) 6; Vanderbilt (20-14) 3; Western Kentucky (22-9) 3; California (13-16) 2; UNLV (17-14) 2; Ohio (21-11) 2; Oral Roberts (25-8) 2; Utah State (24-8) 2; Bucknell (23-10) 1; Temple (16-14) 1; Texas A&M (21-10) 1.

The USA TODAY/ESPN Board of Coaches is made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions. All are members of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The board for the 2005-06 season: Dana Altman, Creighton; Tevester Anderson, Jackson State; Eddie Biedenbach, North Carolina-Asheville; Jim Boeheim, Syracuse; Rick Byrd, Belmont; Charlie Coles, Miami (Ohio); Barry Collier, Nebraska; Dick Davey, Santa Clara; Fran Dunphy, Pennsylvania; Mick Durham, Montana State; Rob Evans, Arizona State; Steve Fisher, San Diego State; Pat Flannery, Bucknell; Greg Graham, Boise State; Tom Green, Fairleigh Dickinson; David Henderson, Delaware; Johnny Jones, North Texas; Eddie McCarter, Texas-Arlington; Bob McKillop, Davidson; Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph's; Ron "Fang" Mitchell, Coppin State; Joe Mihalich, Niagara; Dan Monson, Minnesota; Dave Odom, South Carolina; Doc Sadler, Texas-El Paso; Bob Thomason, Pacific; Jimmy Tillette, Samford; Perry Watson, Detroit Mercy; Gary Williams, Maryland; Ted Woodward, Maine; Rich Zvosec, Missouri-Kansas City. The NABC prohibits schools on major NCAA or conference probation from receiving votes.

Have Some Cake, And Stop By To Congratulate Jimmy Larson -- But Don't Make Too Much of a Fuss About It

Well, once in a great while, people -- one or two of them anyway -- on the fourth floor of the local paper show they have some heart.

Jimmy Larson, who has been in the newsroom forever, was honored again this afternoon.

Here's the announcement:

"We have cake in the newsroom today for Jimmy's 50 years at the Register.

"From: Church, Gage
"Sent: Friday, October 28, 2005 1:13 PM
"Subject: Jimmy Larson

"Fifty years ago this month, James Larson sat down at the copy desk as a Des Moines Register employee for the first time. In the half-century since Oct. 8, 1955, he rose to the position of News Editor and guided the newspaper's front page through historic times -- a moon walk, the resignation of a disgraced president and the pope's visit to Iowa. He has been known to shock the delicate sensibilities of some colleagues and newsroom visitors with his colorful language and behavior. He should be better known for guiding rookie and veteran journalists, helping them improve their craft and keep this crazy business in context. Because of his sharp news judgment, he has been and continues to be a key reason the Register is such a good newspaper.

"Jimmy doesn't want a big fuss made of his 50th anniversary with the Register, but we can't let that kind of milestone pass unnoticed. There will be no speechifying or public ceremony, but we do have cake and cookies at the usual spot, and a wonderful portrait by Marturello for you to sign. While you're there, check out a couple of historic pages -- the Register from Jimmy's first day and the Today-section profile marking his 'retirement' in 1984 -- and a scrapbook with stories contributed by several former and current staffers.

"And stop by and congratulate Jimmy -- but don't make too much of a fuss.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ex-Police Beat Reporter Tom Suk Calls It Quits at the Local Paper; If Nothing Else, the Guy Proved He Could Take a Punch

I hear that Tom Suk is retiring from the local paper.

As far as I'm concerned, Suk is one of the most famous reporters ever to work at the place.

According to my friend Ken Fuson, Suk got punched in the mouth at a parade.

In my book [well, Suk really isn't in my book. I'm just using the words "in my book" to illustrate something], that made him famous.

More on the punching incident later.

First, some background.

I didn't know Tom Suk all that well. He hung around the police station a lot, and I've always tried to stay away from the police station.

So we didn't see much of each other.

But I think Suk was the guy who wore a big western hat -- I used to call that kind of hat a "cowboy hat" -- in the office.

That got him a lot of attention.

Suk probably even wore the big cowboy hat at the police station, too, when he had to deal with the cops while working on a big story for the local paper.

For many years, I also wondered how Tom Suk preferred to have his name pronounced. And I'm not talking about the name Tom. I'm pretty sure how guys named Tom like to have their name pronounced.

I mean Suk.

I never wanted to mispronounce Suk's name because I didn't want to get punched.

So I checked with a Des Moines resident the other day who knows a lot about names and how they're supposed to be pronounced.

He said Suk's name rhymes with the word "cook."

That settles that.

The only communication I can recall having with Tom Suk came a few years ago. The way I remember it, Suk was planning a trip to the Czech Republic. I think it was a vacation trip. I doubt the local paper was paying for it.

Hell, they wouldn't pay for lunch at Ames after a team [how's that for a newspaper word?] of reporters and columnists had spent 10 hours working on a story about why a coach was being fired.

Maybe Suk's vacation trip overseas was even before the Czech Republic had changed from being just plain old Czechoslovakia.

Anyway, Suk e-mailed me and asked if I knew where a guy named Milan Something-Or-Other was living in the Czech Republic.

I call the guy Milan Something-Or-Other because I've forgotten his last name. Czech names are sometimes long and complicated -- and headline writers aren't fond of them.

So I'll just keep calling him Milan Something-Or-Other.

Milan Something-Or-Other had spent a few weeks as a sort of exchange journalist at the local paper.

Somehow, Milan Something-Or-Other became my project. He was my guest on Thanksgiving Day, and we made sure he got his belly full with turkey and all the fixin's.

I think Milan Something-Or-Other liked the turkey and also the fixin's. I'm pretty sure he asked for seconds.

Earlier that fall, I had taken Milan Something-Or-Other to Ames to meet Jim Walden, who was losing a lot of games while coaching Iowa State's football team.

Walden was nice to Milan Something-Or-Other. He gave him a Cyclone football helmet, which I assume is now sitting inside the castle in which he now lives in the Czech Republic.

I also took Milan Something-Or-Other to an Iowa State game at Jack Trice Stadium. He spent most of the afternoon taking pictures from the sideline.

It was a cold day. Milan Something-Or-Other showed me how tough he was, standing on the sideline on that frigid afternoon. I don't even think his lens got foggy.

I sent Milan Something-Or-Other a letter a few weeks after he left Des Moines, telling him now nice it was to visit us. I maybe sent him a few newspaper clippings, and told him we'd like to see him again sometime.

Milan Something-Or-Other must have forgotten me and also my mailing address, because I've never heard from him.

I asked Dave Westphal, who then was my managing editor, if he'd ever heard from Milan Something-Or-Other.

"No," Westphal said. "I think he was a spy."

Maybe that was supposed to be a joke. Maybe not.

I never heard if Suk found Milan Something-Or-Other on his trip. I certainly hope they made connections.

And I want to wish Suk the best in his retirement.

He got a nice going-away e-mail from one of the people he worked for, or with. It was considerably nicer than the snotty, one-sentence going-away e-mail veteran reporter Frank Santiago got from a guy he worked for, or with, last week.

Before I draw too many conclusions about Santiago's exit from the local paper, I should remember that his retirement may still be covered in Randy Brubaker's blog.

Of course, then nobody would read it.

That would probably be all right, too.

Here's the announcement on Suk:

"From: Belt, Deb
"Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2005 9:41 AM
"Subject: Suk's retiring


"After 31 years at the Des Moines Register, nearly 20 of them spent breaking news on the night cops beat, reporter Tom Suk is retiring. His last day is next Wednesday, Nov. 2 -- more on party plans to come. But, Tom will be working next Monday through Wednesday before heading off to balmy Texas.

"Tom covered the Des Moines Police Department's war on gangs and drugs in the 1980s and early '90s, regularly scooping TV stations with overnight news and being on the scene as bullets were flying. For the last 10 years or so, Tom has covered Warren County, Des Moines' south side and for the last two years, the city of West Des Moines, respectively. Tom's work has included complete coverage of the Rodney Heemstra murder case, the Milo farmer who shot his neighbor in a land dispute, and the arrests of several metro residents in an illegal sports gambling ring. Spot news has kept him busy in the 'burbs, including coverage of Pierre Pierce's arrest and heated suburban spats over a new Wal-Mart, annexation and the construction of Jordan Creek Town Center.

"Anyone interested in the newsy West Des Moines beat should see John Gaps or me by noon next Friday, Nov. 4. We need someone ready to hit the mean streets of West Des Moines and keep readers updated on development strife and political manueverings in the state's ninth-largest city."

Deb Belt
Community Publications Editor
Des Moines Register
P.O. Box 957
Des Moines, Ia. 50304
Phone: 284-8198
Fax: 284-8152

[MORE FROM RON MALY: Nice going, Tom. You survived in the newspaper jungle longer than anyone could have predicted these days. Enjoy life in Texas. I hope you kept that cowboy hat. I'll bet it will come in handy where you're going. And now for the story about you from Ken Fuson. Ken, the local paper's humor columnist, mentioned it a couple of months ago when he spoke to a group of retirees from the local paper. Here's the story: "Tom Suk, a police reporter, showed up at a parade to do a feature story. A guy said, 'Who are you?' Suk said, 'I'm Tom Suk of the Des Moines Register.' Then the guy hit him in the mouth. You know what, I don't tell anybody I'm Tom Suk anymore."]

Great Job, White Sox, And I Was Just Wondering.....Does Phil Garner Ever Move? Do the Cubs Really Have to Bring Dusty Back Next Season?

Nice going, White Sox. Before you swept Houston in the World Series, a lot of us were wondering if any team from Chicago would ever win anything again.


Minutes after his team won the final game, 1-0, catcher A. J. Pierzynski said on TV that the White Sox are "a bunch of guys who like each other." How come the White Sox liked A.J. a year after the San Francisco Giants said they thought he was a clubhouse cancer?


The White Sox had at least nine guys in their bullpen who were better than any pitcher the Cubs had all season.


Speaking of the Cubs, has anybody heard from Dusty Baker lately?


Do the Cubs really have to honor the final year of Baker's contract?


Why did the people at FOX TV think we needed to keep seeing what Astros owner Drayton McLane was doing during the game?


Speaking of the Astros, where were they during the World Series?


Still speaking of the Astros, is manager Phil Garner alive? I think he moved twice in four games.


Remember when Air Force Academy football coach Fisher DeBerry had all his marbles?


Has there ever been a bigger goofball in the Big Ten than Michigan State football coach John L. Smith?


They're already talking about Charlie Weis leaving Notre Dame and taking an NFL head coaching job next season. Sorry about that, Jim Feld.


The player America didn't know until now: White Sox third baseman Joe Crede [pictured on the upper right].


I hear that scouts from the Motor City Bowl are so hot about Iowa that they might show up in Iowa City this weekend even though the Hawkeyes don't have a game.


During the regular season, I heard that the White Sox cheered in the clubhouse whenever the Cubs were losing on TV. That meant the Sox got to cheer a lot. No wonder they were so happy all year.


Take that, all you guys from the 1919 Black Sox [pictured above on the left].


It's easier and easier easy every day to be a Northwestern football fan this season.


Does Ozzie Guillen have any brothers in Venezuela? If so, there are still some big league managing jobs open.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ferentz Tips His Cap to Paterno and Carr--'Most Of Us Would Be Happy Just to Last 100 Games, Let Alone Win 100 Games'

Iowa doesn't have a football game this week, so that gave coach Kirk Ferentz a chance today to answer a question or two about some other guys.

Like Lloyd Carr.

Joe Paterno, too.

In his 10th season as a collegiate head coach--seven at Iowa--Ferentz's record is 59-55.

When his Hawkeyes lost to Michigan, 23-20, in overtime last week, it marked Carr's 100th career victory in 11 years with the Wolverines.

"Most of us would be happy just to last 100 games, let alone win 100 games," Ferentz said.

"What coach Carr has been able to accomplish is tremendous, and I'm happy for him," Ferentz said. He's an outstanding coach person and an outstanding coach."

Then there's Paterno [pictured on the right above], who has won a phenomenal 350 games at Penn State.

"I don't make a lot of predictions, but I'll say that will never happen again at one school," Ferentz said. "I can't comprehend that happening again."

Times are changing in the coaching business, Ferentz said.

"If you look at pro football, when I was growing up you looked with admiration at coaches like Tom Landry, Don Shula and Chuck Noll, who coached with one organization for a long period of time," he said.

"I think those days are gone forever, for the most part. Maybe Bill Cowher [at Pittsburgh] would be an exception. In college football, it's the same way. The coach Paternos, coach [Bobby] Bowdens--guys who've had great runs at their schools--that's going to be tougher and tougher to do."


Iowa's coaches don't get any rave reviews in the latest second-guessing at

Here's Matthew Zemek's take on the loss to Michigan:

"Iowa? Poor Coaching? Say It Ain’t So!

"It’s only once every five years or so that the Iowa Hawkeyes can be criticized for having poor coaching—-that’s an indication of the track record possessed by Kirk Ferentz, Ken O’Keefe, and Norm Parker [whose defense was just fine against Michigan on Saturday]. But in a Kinnick-busting, pink-debunking loss to the Wolverines this past weekend, the Ferentz-O’Keefe combo clearly erred in managing the Hawks’ final series of offensive plays in the waning moments of regulation. Clock time wasn’t an issue at all, and for most of Iowa’s final drive, the play selection was solid. But with the Hawks facing a second-and-4 at the Michigan 15, everything changed on two plays.

"Yes, Albert Young was having success on the ground, but it was just as true that quarterback Drew Tate, who started strong and then got cooled off by a fierce Michigan pass rush, had regained his rhythm on this all-important drive. With his leader and chief playmaker from 2004 back in a groove, Ferentz—-along with O’Keefe, his offensive coordinator—-had to put the ball in Tate’s hands, going for a touchdown instead of settling for a tie. But the next two plays—a timid run and then a shovel pass—-did the exact opposite.

"Rather than using a big, tall weapon such as Scott Chandler, who should be cash-money in red-zone situations, Iowa took the ball out of Tate’s hands, junked the passing game, and sent a message to Michigan that a field goal was OK. Running Young in spots was fine—-this success on the final drive came precisely because Young’s runs were mixed in with successful downfield passes by Tate—-but using Young exclusively was a clear mistake. The interesting element of a shovel pass is that it managed to be a pass that took the ball out of Tate’s hands early in the play. Even when passing at the end of that drive, Ferentz and O’Keefe didn’t allow Tate the time to allow a play to develop and then make something happen.

"Again, this occurs as rarely as the Democratic Party finds someone with charisma to run for the presidency, but yes, for the first time in what seems like a decade, Iowa got poor coaching, and it cost the Hawks against Michigan."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: All right, so Kirk Ferentz isn't going to get this guy's vote on the Coach of the Year ballot. Everyone is entitled to one bad day].


This figures to be the Year of the Panther in the Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball race.

Northern Iowa, led by senior guard Ben Jacobson of Sioux City, is the preseason favorite of coaches, reporters and sports information directors to win the league title.

The Panthers received 23 first-place votes to finish ahead of defending champion Southern Illinois.

Drake was picked to finish a disappointing seventh--the same place it wound up last season.

UNI and Creighton tied for third place last season with 11-7 records. The Panthers were 21-11 overall. Drake wound up 7-11 and 13-16.

Jacobson, one of 50 candidates for the prestigious national John Wooden Award, was picked the Valley's preseason player of the year. Joining him on the preseason all-conference team were Creighton senior Nate Funk [also of Sioux City], Indiana State guard David Moss, Bradley forward Marcellus Sommerville and Southern Illinois guard Jamaal Tatum.

The preseason picks in order: Northern Iowa, Creighton, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Wichita State, Bradley, Drake, Indiana State, Evansville and Illinois State.


Drake was picked to finish fourth in the Valley women's race, and junior forward Jill Martin was named to the preseason all-confernce team.

"Jill Martin is one of those special players," Drake coach Amy Stephens said. "This year she will be looked at as a leader on this team, not only on the court, but off the court as well."

Indiana State is picked to win the women's title, followed by Missouri State, Creighton, Drake, Northern Iowa, Evansville, Illinois State, Bradley, Wichita State and Southern Illinois.


Bud Appleby of Des Moines thinks Drake is getting the short end of the stick in the Missouri Valley Conference's basketball television package.

Know what? He's right.

"There are more than 50 Valley basketball games on TV, but I count only two involving Drake's men and none involving Drake's women," Appleby says in an e-mail.

The Bulldogs' Jan. 21 men's game at Northern Iowa will be on the Missouri Valley Conference network, and so will the Feb. 1 men's game at Missouri State.

On the other hand.....

Northern Iowa's Jan. 5 men's game at Wichita State will be televised by ESPNU. UNI's women's game Jan. 29 at Missouri State will be on the Valley network, the Panther men will play at Creighton on Jan. 31 in another ESPNU telecast, the UNI-Missouri State men's game Feb. 11 against Missouri State at Cedar Falls will be on the Valley network, and the Feb. 25 UNI-Southern Illinois men's game at Carbondale, Ill., will be on ESPN2.

The entire Valley TV schedule:

Nov. 6 State Farm/MVC Women’s Soccer Omaha, Neb. 2:05 pm ESPNU
Nov. 13 State Farm/MVC Men’s Soccer Championship Peoria, Ill. 1:05 pm MVC
Nov. 26 State Farm/MVC Volleyball Championship Cedar Falls, Iowa 3:35 pm MVC
Dec. 10 Wichita State vs. Michigan State (MBB) Auburn Hills, Mich. 6:05 pm ESPN2
Dec. 17 Indiana State @ Butler (MBB) Indianapolis, Ind. 1:05 pm Classic
Dec. 22 Illinois State @ Indiana State (MBB) Terre Haute, Ind. 6:05 pm MVC
Dec. 30 Bradley @ Wichita State (MBB) Wichita, Kan. 6:05 pm MVC
Dec. 31 Richmond @ Missouri State (WBB) Springfield, Mo. 5:05 pm MVC
Jan. 2 Wichita State @ Southern Illinois (MBB) Carbondale, Ill. 8:05 pm ESPNU
Jan. 5 UNI @ Wichita State (MBB) Wichita, Kan. 8:05 pm ESPNU
Jan. 7 Indiana State @ Evansville (MBB) Evansville, Ind. 5:05 pm MVC
Jan. 8 Bradley @ Southern Illinois (MBB) Carbondale, Ill. 2:05 pm ESPNU
Jan. 14 Missouri State @ Wichita State (MBB) Wichita, Kan. 7:05 pm MVC
Jan. 15 Illinois State @ Bradley (WBB) Peoria, Ill. 12:05 pm MVC
Jan. 16 Evansville @ Illinois State (MBB) Normal, Ill. 7:05 pm MVC
Jan. 18 Bradley @ Creighton (MBB) Omaha, Neb. 7:05 pm MVC
Jan. 21 Drake @ UNI (MBB) Cedar Falls, Iowa 7:05 pm MVC
Jan. 22 Missouri State @ Indiana State (WBB) Terre Haute, Ind. 3:05 pm MVC
Wichita State @ Missouri State (MBB) Springfield, Mo. 2:05 pm ESPNU
Jan. 24 Creighton @ Southern Illinois (MBB) Carbondale, Ill. 7:05 pm MVC
Jan. 28 Wichita State @ Creighton (MBB) Omaha, Neb. 6:05 pm MVC
Jan. 29 UNI @ Missouri State (WBB) Springfield, Mo. 12:05 pm MVC
Jan. 31 UNI @ Creighton (MBB) Omaha, Neb. 8:05 pm ESPNU
Feb. 1 Drake @ Missouri State (MBB) Springfield, Mo. 7:05 pm MVC
Feb. 4 Southern Illinois @ Wichita State (MBB) Wichita, Kan. 11:05 am ESPN2
Indiana State @ UNI (MBB) Cedar Falls, Iowa 3:05 pm MVC
Feb. 7 Missouri State @ Southern Illinois (MBB) Carbondale, Ill. 8:05 pm ESPNU
Feb. 11 Missouri State @ UNI (MBB) Cedar Falls, Iowa 7:05 pm MVC
Feb. 14 Creighton @ Wichita State (MBB) Wichita, Kan. 6:05 pm ESPNU
Pre-Game Show Peoria, Ill. 7:05 pm MVC
Southern Illinois @ Bradley (MBB) Peoria, Ill. 7:35 pm MVC
Feb. 18 #Valley School(s) vs. TBD Team(s) TBD TBD TBD
Feb. 19 Evansville @ Creighton (WBB) Omaha, Neb. 12:05 pm MVC
Feb. 21 Southern Illinois @ Evansville (MBB) Evansville, Ind. 8:05 pm ESPNU
Feb. 22 $Pre-Game Show TBD 7:05 pm MVC
$To Be Determined (MBB) TBD 7:35 pm MVC
Feb. 25 UNI @ Southern Illinois (MBB) Carbondale, Ill. 1:05 pm ESPN2
$To Be Determined (MBB) TBD 5:05 pm MVC
$Pre-Game Show TBD 7:05 pm MVC
Creighton @ Missouri State (MBB) Springfield, Mo. 7:35 pm MVC
Feb. 26 $To Be Determined (WBB) TBD 2:05 pm MVC
March 3 State Farm/MVC MBB Tournament St. Louis, Mo. 12:05 pm MVC
State Farm/MVC MBB Tournament St. Louis, Mo. 2:35 pm MVC
State Farm/MVC MBB Tournament St. Louis, Mo. 6:05 pm MVC
State Farm/MVC MBB Tournament St. Louis, Mo. 8:35 pm MVC
March 4 State Farm/MVC MBB Tournament St. Louis, Mo. 1:35 pm MVC
State Farm/MVC MBB Tournament St. Louis, Mo. 4:05 pm MVC
March 5 State Farm/MVC MBB Tournament St. Louis, Mo. 1:05 pm CBS
March 11 State Farm/MVC WBB Tournament Springfield, Mo. 1:05 pm MVC
State Farm/MVC WBB Tournament Springfield, Mo. 3:35 pm MVC
March 12 State Farm/MVC WBB Tournament Springfield, Mo. 3:05 pm MVC
April 16 Missouri State @ Wichita State (Baseball) Wichita, Kan. 1:05 pm ESPNU
May 7 Creighton @ Missouri State (Baseball) Springfield, Mo. 12:05 pm MVC
May 13 State Farm/MVC Softball Tournament Omaha, Neb. 6:05 pm MVC
May 27 ConAgra Foods/MVC Baseball Wichita, Kan. 7:05 pm MVC

Monday, October 24, 2005

There's a Good Chance Running Back Stevie Hicks [Remember Him?] Will Start Saturday As Cyclones Go After Their First Victory Ever Over Texas A&M

Maybe you remember Stevie Hicks, maybe you don't.

Don't feel badly if you can't recall who he is.

Hicks has been MIA a lot this football season.

Obviously, coach Dan McCarney is one of those with memories -- fond memories, by the way --of Hicks.

Stevie is the 215-pound Iowa State junior running back who hasn't played at all since carrying the ball one time for 4 yards Oct. 1 against Nebraska.

Actually, he hasn't played much since Sept. 10 against Iowa.

"That seems like eight months ago," McCarney said today.

An injury has prevented Hicks from playing more, but McCarney said there's a chance he'll start for the Cyclones in a 2:30 p.m. game Saturday at Texas A&M that will be televised regionally by ABC.

"We could have used him [last week] in an emergency [in a 37-10 cruise past Oklahoma State], but I wanted to give him some more rest," McCarney said. "The doctors agreed.

"I think he has a really good chance to be ready this week. I don't think he'll play the whole game, but if he has a good week of practice and feels as good he did last night, Stevie Hicks will start and he'll play a lot."

Hicks ran for 1,062 yards in 270 attempts and scored five touchdowns last season. He has been able to carry the ball only 63 times for 234 yards this season.

He began the season with 90 yards in 28 carries against Illinois State, then ran again ran 28 times for 118 yards against Iowa. He was limited to 22 yards in nine tries against Army before getting the call just once against Nebraska.

Iowa State has never beaten Texas A&M. The Cyclones are 0-7 in the series, and are 9-point underdogs Saturday. A&M has records of 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big 12. Iowa State is 4-3 and 1-3.


Don't say I didn't tell you:

Texas A&M 28, Iowa State 24


Sunday, October 23, 2005

I See Absolutely Nothing Wrong With the Motor City Bowl--Even If Jimmy Hoffa Is Buried At Ford Field In the Heart of Beautiful Downtown Detroit

I want to go on record right now as saying I have absolutely nothing against the Motor City Bowl.

That goes side-by-side with the comment shared by Amos Alonzo Stagg, Fielding Yost, Johnny Majors [pictured at the right] and ESPN that, “There is no such thing as a bad bowl game.”

Ask Iowa State, one of the places Majors coached, about that. They used to joke everywhere –- even in Ames -- about the Weedeater Bowl that was played in Shreveport, La. Now the Weedeater Bowl is called the Independence Bowl, and the Cyclones have played in it twice.

I don’t hear anyone from Ames complaining about it now.

I was thinking about the Motor City Bowl both before and after Iowa’s 22-game winning streak at Kinnick Stadium ended with a 23-20 overtime loss Saturday to Michigan.

Before the game, I thought Michigan was headed to the Motor City Bowl. Now I think Iowa might be going.

Especially if it can beat Minnesota.

The Motor City Bowl has a tie-in with the Big Ten and Mid-American Conferences. The Motor City folks say the first- or second-place teams from the MAC will be matched against “a bowl-eligible team from the Big Ten.”

Right now, Toledo has the best records in the MAC at 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the league.

Right now, there probably aren’t any teams in the Big Ten –- bowl-eligible or not –- that want to go to the Motor City Bowl.

The Big Ten lists the Motor City last among the seven bowls to which it sends teams -- behind the Music City, Sun, Alamo, Outback, Capital One and Rose Bowls. That might tell you something.

I know that’s why I was hoping Lloyd Carr and his Michigan team would be going there. That old Ann Arbor-to-Detroit connection sounded great to me.

You’ve probably heard the Motor City Bowl jokes.

I have, too.

But I’m not laughing.

People say the only problem with the Motor City Bowl is that it’s played in Detroit.

In the heart of downtown Detroit, of all places.

At a stadium named Ford Field [pictured on the top] that seats 64,355, another place Jimmy Hoffa [pictured on the upper left] might be buried.

People say it’s kind of embarrassing when you have to answer your friends and relatives who ask if you’re taking sun-block on your bowl trip.

“I won’t need it in Michigan,” you tell ‘em. “It’s always cloudy, even when it’s not snowing.”

Frankly, I don’t know why people say they won’t be celebrating Christmas until after New Year's Day because they’re going to the Dec. 26 Motor City Bowl.

I think Christmas in Detroit, or just December in Detroit, could be lots of fun. But I tell everyone, “Don’t forget your 5-buckle overshoes and the gun permit.”

I know Santa Claus always wears a holster in Detroit.

And a flak jacket.

Iowa has a 5-3 record and, after a week off, plays at Northwestern and Wisconsin on successive Saturdays. I’m certainly not predicting that the Hawkeyes will lose both games, but if they do they could be playing Minnesota [5-2] on Nov. 19 for the right to play in the Motor City Bowl.

You probably didn’t think it would come down to that after those victories over powerhouses Illinois, Purdue and Indiana, did you? I didn’t, either, so that’s why I’m making sure I write nice things about the Motor City Bowl.

I’ll have more to say on this matter after I buy another set of flannel long-johns at Wal-Mart.


Well, so much for the “black-out” idea at Kinnick Stadium.

I wonder if we'll ever see that again.

Probably not.


I purposely sat on a stool near the working stiffs in the first row of the press box at the stadium Saturday so I could say hello to star columnist Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press.

But, darn it, Albom must have been having lunch with Paul Anger back in Detroit. Whatever, he wasn’t assigned to the game. Instead, he wrote a Sunday column about interviewing Martha Stewart for his radio show.

I realize Lloyd Carr has taken a hit in popularity in Ann Arbor and Detroit, but I didn’t know he’s even taken a back seat to Martha Stewart.


Actually, maybe we should all quit laughing at Lloyd Carr.

After all, he did win his 100th game Saturday.


There are times when Iowa is not as good a team as its opponent, but wins anyway.

Like against LSU in the Capital One Bowl last season.

There are other times when Iowa is not as good a team as its opponent, and doesn’t win.

That was the case Saturday. Michigan was the better team, and played a better game than Iowa.

Afterward, I was surprised to hear one Iowa fan say, “Well, now we know one guy who can out-coach Kirk Ferentz. It’s Lloyd Carr.”


Some sad news.

The 76-year-old father of Mike Hlas, the outstanding sports columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, died suddenly late last week.

Ernie Hlas did a lot of good things in the famous Czech Village area of southwest Cedar Rapids. He'll be missed by many.


Clock management is obviously not an Iowa football strength.

At least it wasn’t against Michigan.

On the Hawkeyes’ drive that began on their 12-yard-line with 2:42 to play, they were slow getting plays into quarterback Drew Tate.

Once, Tate got so frustrated while waiting for a play that he called his own.

Although it appeared Iowa should have had enough time to score a touchdown, it had to settle for Kyle Schlicher’s 32-yard field goal to tie the game, 17-17, at the end of regulation time.

Something like that shouldn’t happen.


Nice going, Cyclones.

Two more victories to become bowl-eligible.

I can see it coming.

Are you listening, Kansas State and Kansas?


Vol. 4, No. 399
Oct. 23, 2005

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hey, Andi, Anytime a Guy Named Mad Dog Wants to Interview Me About the Hawkeyes And 'Tales from the Iowa Sidelines,' I'm Ready!

The phone rang. It was Andi from the publishing company.

“Good morning, Ron. I’m wondering if you want to be interviewed about ‘Tales from the Iowa Sidelines’ by Mad Dog?”

“Mad Dog who?” I asked.

“David ‘Mad Dog’ Demarco,” Andi said. “Mad Dog does a radio show called ‘Mad Dog Inc.’ in Lansing, Mich. “He’d like to talk to you about the Iowa-Michigan football game as well as your book.”

“Hey, Andi,” I said. “Anytime a guy named Mad Dog wants to ask me about my book and about the Hawkeyes, I’m on! Set it up.”

Meanwhile, I did a little research on Mad Dog. I learned that he’s a huge favorite in the Lansing area. He’s a big deal on the radio and he’s invited to do lots of things off the air.

Heck, he even threw out the first pitch at a Lansing Lugnuts’ baseball game [the photo is at the top of this column]. That’s tough to beat.

So Andi got hold of Mad Dog. Somebody from WQTX, which is Mad Dog’s station in Lansing, called me at 2:30 p.m., and we were rolling.

“OK, welcome back, this is David, the Mad Dog, Demarco and this is 92 on the ticket,” Mad Dog told his listeners after the commercial. “As we take a little break from our topic—-whether it’s the NBA dress code or hockey…..

“There’s going to be a big game at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City this weekend. The Michigan Wolverines travel there, and they’ve had some success and some non-success there.

“This gentleman has been covering Iowa football for a long, long time. He has a collection of the greatest stories ever told…..’Tales from the Iowa Sidelines—Updated and Revised’……Ron Maly is the author.

“Ron, how are you doing?”

“I’m doing very well, Mad Dog,” I said. "And you?"

“Doing great, and great to hear from you, man,” Mad Dog said. “First of all, why don’t you tell the Michigan people in this area exactly how fired up people are in Iowa City—on the campus of Iowa—for this ballgame.

“Tell us the status of some of the Iowa players—guys like Drew Tate and the offensive line. We already know the status of Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway. They’re gonna be trying to win this game very badly.”

I told Mad Dog that anytime a Michigan football team comes to Iowa City, people are excited. Hawkeye fans may not be quite as pumped as they were 20 years ago when Bo Schembechler accompanied his No. 2-ranked Wolverines to Kinnick Stadium for a game against No. 1 Iowa [and wound up losing, 12-10], but, hey, Lloyd Carr won’t be bringing his Michigan team into a place where they’re playing classical music over the public address microphone.

I mentioned to Mad Dog that this state is unlike Michigan. There’s no professional football team –- well, I guess they’re still calling the Detroit Lions a professional team, aren’t they? –- around here, so Iowa and Iowa State are our teams.

Mad Dog and I continued on for 15 or 20 minutes, covering the Iowa-Michigan and “Tales from the Iowa Sidelines” waterfront. We left no stone unturned. We even talked about Iowa’s 1939 Ironmen, and about Nile Kinnick, the university’s only Heisman Trophy winner.

I explained to Mad Dog that the hard-cover version of “Tales” was published in 2003, and all 10,000 copies have either been sold or distributed to bookstores and book sellers. I told him the publisher [Sports Publishing LLC] asked me last summer to do a 4,000-word addition on Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz’s success in recent seasons, and the soft-cover version of the book is in now selling very well in stores.

Andi of the publishing company had reminded me in an e-mail to tell Mad Dog and his radio listeners “where they can purchase the book [], and local book stores” such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks and just about every other place that sells books.

So I did just that.

Mad Dog wound it up by saying that maybe we'd talk again sometime.

"Sounds good to me, Mad Dog. Meanwhile, stay cool."

Andi wanted to know later in the day how things went on the radio with Mad Dog.

“Great,” I said. “Mad Dog is on top of things and is an excellent interviewer."

Andi then said she’d be reminding me of the three book signings I have coming up in the next few weeks in the Des Moines and West Des Moines areas.

“I’ll be ready, Andi,” I said.

So it goes in the book-writing and book-selling business.

Cyclone Coaches Have Done That 'Mr. September' Thing for Years, But No One Could Do Any Better Job At Iowa State Now Than Dan McCarney

I've heard from a couple of e-mailers about the Iowa and Iowa State football teams.

A central Iowa man wrote: "Ron, since this is that rare time of the year when the World Series and college football must share time on Sports Center, perhaps it's appropriate to apply baseball nicknames to Iowa's college football coaches.

"Reggie Jackson earned enduring fame while a New York Yankee as 'Mr. October' as he led the team to World Series championships. Therefore, should we start referring to Dan McCarney as 'Mr. September' and Kirk Ferentz as 'Mr. October/November?'"

On basically the same subject, a central Iowa woman wrote: "I think the Cyclones use so much energy and adrenaline preparing for the Hawks [in September] that they are emotionaly drained for the important games in their conference. On the other hand, the Hawks put more emotion and importance on their conference games. Every game the Cyclones lose tarnishes the Iowa win."

For years, Iowa fans, coaches and players have been saying that Iowa State places so much emphasis on the early-season game against the Hawkeyes that it winds up doing harm late in the season.

It all began when Cyclone teams coached by Donnie Duncan [pictured on the upper left] won consecutive games from Iowa in 1980, 1981 and 1982.

Photographers were able to get classic shots of Duncan being carried off on the shoulders of his players, happily waving to Iowa State fans in both Jack Trice Stadium in Ames and Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

In those days, reproductions of those photos were framed and placed on walls in the athletic department at Iowa State.

I'm not sure even Hayden Fry, who hadn't been Iowa's coach all that long, realized how strongly Iowa State's coaches, players and fans felt about the intrastate rivalry.

The Iowa-Iowa State series had been interrupted for 43 years, and was started again in 1977--two years before Fry was hired to coach the Hawkeyes.

Beating Iowa gave Iowa State's coaches and players instant star-status, and it wasn't until after Duncan's 10-7, 23-12 and 19-7 victories in 1980, '81 and '82 that Fry seemed to catch on.

But, once he caught on, there was no letting go until late in his Hawkeye coaching career. Fry's teams won 15 consecutive games in the rivalry from 1983-1997.

Iowa fans pointed out that Duncan's teams paid a hefty price for placing so much emphasis on the early-season games against Iowa.

The 10-7 victory over the Hawkeyes in 1980 was the third in a string of five that began the Cyclones' season. Iowa State later went into a tailspin and finished with a 6-5 record.

Duncan's Cyclones went 5-5-1 -- with one of the victories over Iowa, 23-12, in Ames -- in 1981. Iowa State lost its last four games. The 1982 season was Duncan's last. After winning at Iowa City, 19-7, in the second week, the Cyclones lost their last four games and finished 4-6-1.

By that time, Iowa State fans also were wondering if too much emphasis was being placed on the Iowa rivalry. So down came the framed photos of Duncan being carried off the field. For all I know, they're buried in some closet at the Jacobson Building now.

New coach Jim Criner got the message -- look at Iowa as just another game--even though we all know it isn't.

So Criner promptly lost his 1983 opener to Fry's Hawkeyes, 51-10. To prove it was no fluke, he was buried by Iowa, 59-21, in the 1984 opener. Iowa blitzed Iowa State, 57-3, in 1985, then helped send Criner packing with a 43-7 victory over the Cyclones in 1986.

McCarney [pictured on the right] certainly knows the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry from both sides. He's been around the football field a long, long time. The one-time Hawkeye player was on Bob Commings' and Fry's staffs at Iowa from 1977-1989, and he has been Iowa State's head coach since 1995.

McCarney's Cyclones won five straight over Iowa from 1998-2002, and now--after a 23-3 victory Sept. 10 at Ames--they're 6-2 in the last eight games of the series.

The victory over Iowa has clearly been the highlight of Iowa State's 2005 season. I know McCarney enjoys beating the Hawkeyes, but he certainly knows by now that it's much more than a one-game year.

I'm convinced that no one could do any better job as Iowa State's coach right now than Dan McCarney, and I'm sure he'll get the Cyclones headed in the right direction -- starting with a victory Saturday over Oklahoma State.


University of Iowa president David Skorton issued a statement today in which he said there will be no further school action on the pink visitors' locker room in Kinnick Stadium at Iowa City.

That's the end of that. So let's move onto something important.


Vol. 4, No. 397
Oct.21, 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Missouri Basketball Coach Quin Snyder Feeling the Heat--'They May Can My Ass, But I'll Feel Good About What I've Done'

Embattled Missouri basketball coach Quin Snyder lashed out today during the Big 12 Conference's preseason media event in Irving, TX, metaphorically jutting out his chin and daring someone -- anyone -- to knock him out of Columbia, Mo.

"They may can my ass, but you know what? I'll feel good about what I've done here," Gregg Doyel of CBS wrote today about what Snyder said. "An arena's gone up [during my tenure], and I know how that arena got built. There's been a lot of excitement around here."

Doyel said Snyder and his staff are in the final weeks of an unusual NCAA punishment in which they weren't allowed to recruit off-campus for one year after a series of violations. The program was placed on three years' probation last fall and lost three scholarships over a two-year period, putting more pressure on Snyder after the past two sub-standard seasons.

After reaching the NCAA tournament in each of his first four seasons, Missouri went to the NIT in 2004 and '05. The Tigers had entered the 2003-04 season in the top 10, but struggled from the outset and finished 16-14.

"A lot of people expected [last year's] team to atone from the perspective that we didn't deliver the year before," Snyder said. "Guys took a lot of heat."

No one took more heat than Snyder, whose imminent dismissal was speculated about -- and in some places, called for -- by the media. Today, he struck a defiant tone against a backdrop of mostly innocuous questions.

"There's teams in our league that would take six straight postseason berths. That would take an Elite Eight. That would take four straight NCAA Tournaments," Snyder said. "Sure, I want to do better ... and I think we're [about] to take off this year. Whether you want to call it a 'stepping stone' [season] or not, our guys intuitively know what they've been through."

Snyder said his program has done its best to blot out the distractions from the periphery.

"I don't know how many wins that'll add up to, and I don't really care," he said. "I'll be happy if the players ... play their asses off."

As for the NCAA trouble, Snyder said his staff hasn't had a violation in three years.

Snyder's passionate dissertation eventually spilled out into the hall of the Harvey Hotel. He had been sitting at a table inside the interview room when a Big 12 official asked Snyder to move outside to make room for the next coach.

"Want to get me out of here? That's a common theme these days," Snyder said, smiling.


Iowa State will get its usual two up-close and personal regular-season looks at Snyder and his Tigers on Jan. 25 at Columbia, Mo., and Feb. 28 at Ames. Both games will start at 7 p.m.


Reservations are being accepted for the Drake men's and women's basketball Tip Off Breakfast Oct. 28 from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the downtown Marriott.

Coaches Tom Davis and Amy Stephens will preview their upcoming season. Reservations will be accepted over the phone at the Drake ticket office at 271-DOGS or by e-mailing


ABC said Saturday’s Iowa-Michigan football game will be televised to almost 85 percent of the nation. The increase is a result of the postponement of the Miami-Georgia Tech game due to weather concerns.

The Iowa game, which is sold out, will go to all states except Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and most of Montana and Wyoming.

Mike Tirico, Tim Brant and sideline reporter Suzy Shuster will do the announcing for ABC. Saturday’s game marks the third time Iowa has appeared on ABC this season. It’s also the 48th straight Iowa football game to be televised.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Of No. 1 vs. No. 2 Iowa-Michigan Game 20 Years Ago, Ferentz Says 2005 Hawkeyes May Not Remember What Happened 3 Weeks Ago

This was 20 years ago.

An Iowa football team that then was ranked No. 1 nationally played No. 2-ranked Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

Coach Hayden Fry's Hawkeyes pushed their records to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten with a 12-10 victory on that Oct. 19 late-afternoon and early-evening over a Michigan team coached by Bo Schembechler [pictured on the left] in the dramatic game.

Kirk Ferentz [pictured with Fry on the upper right] then was a young Iowa offensive line coach, and has vivid memories of the 1985 game.

But, evidently, his present players aren't pestering anyone to see the 20-year-old game film as they await Saturday's 11 a.m. Iowa-Michigan game in Iowa City.

"I'm not sure they even remember what happened three weeks ago," Ferentz said today when asked if his Hawkeyes are cognizant of the 1985 game. "I think times have changed a little bit on that front.

"Our players are aware of it, but it's not first and foremost on their minds."

Of course, some of Iowa's players weren't even born when Iowa's Rob Houghtlin kicked the 29-yard field goal that won the '85 game as time expired. Other present Hawkeyes were in diapers then.

"I had never been involved in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game--especially at midseason," Ferentz said. "The anticipation was great, the atmosphere and the environment was outstanding.

"The ballgame was fitting of the build-up. Both teams fought extremely hard. Both played a tremendous game. It was a great game and went right down to the wire."

When I was researching my book, "Tales from the Iowa Sidelines," a few years ago, Chuck Long [Iowa's quarterback in 1985] told me the Hawkeye-Michigan game "had a Hollywood ending."

Said Dan McCarney, who in 1985 was an Iowa assistant coach and now is Iowa State's head coach: "The electricity running through the stadium during that game was unbelievable."

After spending part of the week in Iowa City as tension mounted for the game, I wrote the game story. It was as dramatic a game and finish as I've ever witnessed.

Iowa didn't lose that season until falling at Ohio State, 22-13. The Hawkeyes took a 10-1 record into the Rose Bowl game, but were flattened by UCLA, 45-28.


Someone woke up Lloyd Carr late this morning.

Asked if a key to beating Iowa is shutting down the run, the Michigan coach said, "Anytime you play Iowa, it begins with being able to try to stop the run.

"I think a year ago they had a significant number of injuries that impacted their game. I don't think you can ever shut 'em down because they take great pride in that and they have the kind of personnel that allows them to run the ball."


Questioned about the atmosphere in Kinnick Stadium, where Iowa has won a school-record 22 consecutive games, Carr said, "They're great football fans, and they [provide] a great home-field advantage for Iowa.

"I don't think I've ever been there when the crowd hasn't been enthusiastic. They support the Hawkeyes as well as any fan base in the country."


Hawkeye officials plan a "paint it black" Saturday for the Michigan game.

Iowa's "Black Out Saturday" will follow the same model as Penn State's recent "White Out" game and other such events staged across the country. Iowa fans are encouraged to wear shirts, sweaters or sweatshirts that have black as their primary color.

Iowa has also commissioned the creation of souvenir T-shirts to commemorate the first "Black Out Saturday." Short-sleeve and long-sleeve versions will be available at the Iowa Hawk Shop and a variety of other retail outlets across the state.


A guy sent me this e-mail today, accompanied with the comment, "There has to be a lot more to this story than that:"

"From: Essex, Randy
"Sent: Tuesday, October 18, 2005 9:16 AM
"Subject: staff announcement

"Reporter Frank Santiago has retired from the Register, effective today."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I agree that there's likely a lot more involved than what the memo said--and it's probably not pretty. That's not exactly a warm, fuzzy going-away announcement, is it? I wonder if it was the classic old "let's-make-it-tough-on-the-old-guy-so-he-quits" bullshit? Santiago was a veteran reporter who probably was being paid a nice salary at the local paper. Spurred by the parent Gannett Co., those types of newsroom employees have been targeted by management in recent years. I'm sure Santiago got fed up with incompetent, ass-kissing bosses and the general cost-cutting atmosphere in the newsroom. Good luck in the future, Frank. You'll be a much happier man now that you're out of that funny farm].


Don't say I didn't tell you:

Iowa 28, Michigan 21
Iowa State 35, Oklahoma State 17


Vol. 4, No. 396
Oct. 18, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005

Big 12 North Weird Again, But [Says Mac] Not Weird Enough For the Champion to Finish With a .500 Record--And Look Who's Coming to Iowa City!

And, just think, people—well, some people anyway--laughed at what was described as a “weird” Big 12 North football division last season.

I've got news for you, football fans.

Things could be just as weird this year.


“I’d be surprised if the winner of the North has a .500 conference record this year,” Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said today.

Despite what others might think, McCarney said the North is improved over a year ago.

McCarney’s Cyclones are a disappointing 0-3 so far. Joining them with that record is Kansas. At 1-2 in the division is Kansas State. Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri are 2-1 in the North.

No team finished higher than .500 in the North in 2004. Colorado and Iowa State were 4-4, but the Buffaloes represented the North in the Big 12 playoff because they defeated Iowa State, 19-14, during the regular season.


Iowa State has too often killed itself with what McCarney called “catastrophic mistakes” – like committing seven turnovers in the red zone.

“My heart aches for these kids,” McCarney said.


Getting back to who might be laughing at the Big 12 North……

It certainly shouldn’t be anyone in Iowa City.

After all, Iowa State thrashed Iowa, 23-3, Sept. 10.

The Cyclone haven’t played that well since, and Iowa suddenly is looking like a Big Ten title contender.

The Hawkeyes have gotten there by beating three of the Big Ten’s worst teams – Illinois, Purdue and Indiana.

Look for Iowa to move its overall record to 6-2 and its conference record to 4-1 by beating Michigan on Saturday in Iowa City. The 11 a.m. game will be televised regionally by ABC.

Three-point favorite Iowa never loses at Kinnick Stadium, and Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is…..well, Lloyd Carr.

The Wolverines [4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten] are coming off a 27-25 upset victory over Penn State. The clipping from the Michigan Daily at the upper right is from earlier in the season when Lloyd Carr was.....well, being Lloyd Carr then, too.


Of the Iowa game, Carr said today:

"We're looking forward to playing an excellent Iowa team, a team that has really established some momentum here in the Big Ten Conference race, and a team that when you look at [Abdul] Hodge and [Chad] Greenway, two of the finest linebackers in the country, No. 1 in the Big Ten in red zone offense and red zone defense, which certainly presents a challenge for us.

"And, offensively, I think Drew Tate is another of the great quarterbacks we have got in this conference this year, and [Albert] Young has done a great job in the running game. And, of course, this [Clinton] Solomon, 21 yards a catch is extremely impressive. We need to prepare and get ready to go into a very tough arena in terms of communication, in terms of the enthusiasm their crowd brings to their team."

About the Michigan-Iowa rivalry over the past few years and the physical nature of this rivalry, Carr said, "I think Iowa.....Norm Parker, their defensive coordinator.....and I coached together years ago at Illinois. He was a coordinator for George Perles at Michigan State and before he was a coordinator, he was a defensive line coach.

"So what Iowa really does is they move their tackles down into real tight positions on our tackles and make it very difficult to run inside. And then, of course, they're going to make you run the football east and west, and they're a very difficult team to run the football on because of the way they play. And to play that way, you have to be physical. And they have established I think a toughness there and a pride in defense.

"About trying to put together back-to-back victories for the first time this season, Carr said, "The only thing I am interested in is what our team thinks. And the important thing is that they understand we have got an excellent team in front of us and what we're trying to focus on here every week is the next opponent. You can't worry about all the things that you don't have any control over. Which you can have control over is how you approach today.

"You get some choices. You can come prepared to work and with an attitude that I am going to get better and that's certainly our No. 1 goal. We need to try to get better, and be a better football team."


Iowa State was 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12 at this stage last season.

“We’d been blown out in a couple of games last season [by Oklahoma State and Texas A&M],” McCarney said, adding that those defeats were “real ugly.”

Two of the Cyclones’ conference losses this season have been in overtime to North opponents Nebraska and Missouri. The other was an embarrassing 23-13 loss to Baylor of the South.

Saturday’s 1 p.m. homecoming foe is Oklahoma State [0-3 and 3-3].

Unless the bottom has fallen out of the Cyclones’ season, look for them to win.

Oklahoma State is awful under first-year coach Mike Gundy [pictured at the upper left].


Southern California and Texas were the top two teams in the first Bowl Championship Series standings of the season today, just as they have been in the polls since the preseason.

First-place USC is No. 1 in both the coaches' poll and the Harris Interactive poll, and the Trojans graded out best in the six computer rankings. USC has a BCS grade of .9923, giving it a solid cushion over the second-place Longhorns (.9591).

The top two teams in the final BCS standings will play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 for a national title.

Virginia Tech (.9067), Georgia (.8933) and Alabama (.8220) followed USC and Texas in the standings.


A man identified as Theodore [not his real name] from the Twin Cities [his real home towns--both of them] sent me this e-mail:

"About Glen Mason, loosely referred to as the Gophers' football coach. How could it be that Mason doesn't know when to take a safety and then gets a punt blocked -- and recovered in the end zone -- for a devastating loss at home? I have to call it bad coaching. I've seen Iowa do this several times under Ferentz.....

"The Concordia Moorhead Cobbers lead, 10-0, at halftime over St. John's in a battle of unbeatens in Moorhead. They punt with 25 seconds left leading, 16-14, and St. John's gets the ball 74 yards from the end zone. The Johnnies score on a pass play to win the game.

"By the way, check out these MIAC 'nicknames.' Can you match them: Oles, Royals, Cobbers, Johnnies, Knights, Tommies, Auggies, Pipers, Gusties, and Scots. Not much creativity.

"Northwestern -- which may be for real -- goes and wins at West Lafayette. They only lost to Penn State by five points earlier."


[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I hope Mason wasn't invited on that recent cruise with another team from the Twin Cities -- the Vikings. That could have messed up his thinking. When Mason was an Iowa State assistant coach, I recall him as a clean-cut staff member who knew when to call a safety and when not to call a safety. What's happened to him since, I don't know. Mason's coaching hasn't been the greatest at Minnesota. His biggest problem is not knowing Floyd of Rosedale from Floyd of Manwiller. My friend Floyd of Rosedale is figuring on staying in Iowa City under Kirk Ferentz's care for another winter. The Hawkeyes plan to seal the deal when the Gophers play at Iowa City on Nov. 19. By the way, Joe Tiller is history at Purdue. Thanks for writing, Theodore, and keep those Golden Bears winning!]


Vol. 4, No. 395
Oct. 17, 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Guest Columnist Nathan 'Didn't Know College Teams Cheated,' But What's a Friendly Shove?'--And Nice Going, White Sox!'

This is Nathan, and I’m filling in for Grandpa today as the author of this column.

I went with Grandpa, my dad Kevin, my uncle Mark and my cousin Claire to Iowa City yesterday for the Iowa-Indiana football game, and had lots of fun.

Grandpa has been busy all weekend watching and talking football. People have been asking him about the Iowa and Iowa State games, somebody wondered who the doctor was that brought Lloyd Carr back to life, and Grandpa’s friend Alive in Clive called to say he thought USC cheated to score the winning touchdown against Notre Dame.

I didn’t know college teams cheated, so I’ll leave the controversy involved with that situation to Grandpa and Alive in Clive.

Even if USC bent the rules to score, one of my favorite players is Matt Leinart, their quarterback, whose picture is on the upper right in this column. He’s almost as good as Drew Tate of Iowa.

Getting back to Alive in Clive for a minute, sometimes he drinks one bloody mary too many on Sunday morning, and gets a little goofy when he talks to Grandpa about football.

Because Grandpa was busy with all those people, I decided to take some of the load off him. He’s not getting any younger, you know.

So I’ll be the guest columnist today.

Miss Abraham, my teacher, thinks I’m learning to write pretty well, and that convinced me I should take a shot at it.

If I do a good enough job, maybe Grandpa will assign Megan, my sister, to be the next guest columnist.


Even though I want to write some things about Iowa and Iowa State in this column, I also want to go into a little more detail about whether No. 1-ranked USC cheated on the last play of the game against the Fighting Irish.

Grandpa said he heard Bob Davie, who was fired as Notre Dame’s coach and now is on ESPN, say late last night on the tube that USC cheated.

I guess it had something to do with Reggie Bush [pictured upside down on the upper left] pushing Leinart into the end zone for the touchdown.

“I used all 200 pounds of my body to push Matt in,” Bush told sportswriters after the game.

The rules say a player can’t physically help the forward progress of another. Grandpa's friend who edits writes about it.

Lou Holtz is another former Notre Dame coach who does some work for ESPN. When he heard Davie say that Bush did something illegal to help Leinart score, he scoffed.

He indicated those things happen all the time, so it’s ridiculous to work up a sweat over it.

I’ve never heard Grandpa talk about a player helping another get across the goal, but I know he often mentions how former Iowa coach Forest Evashevski called Notre Dame the “Fainting Irish” more than a half-century ago because their players were falling on the ground to stop the clock in a game.

I wonder if Bob Davie would call that cheating, too?


All of us had a great time yesterday in Iowa City yesterday, where Iowa punched out Indiana, 38-21.

We left at about 7 o’clock in the morning for the 11 o’clock game. Uncle Mark brought a big box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for breakfast in the van, and Grandpa had all the stuff for the pregame tailgate.

I took my Nerf football along, so Dad could throw me some passes. When I go out for the long ones, I imagine that I'm Ed Hinkel [before the broken arm].

Naturally, we watched and heard the Hawkeye drumline [whose photo at the top was taken by my uncle Lonn] and band practice before the game. Grandpa says he gets “jacked up” for the game when he hears those drums and bugles. And we even got a bonus. Not only was the Iowa drumline there, so was Indiana’s.

In the old days, I think Indiana’s drumline and band have made road trips because they were better than the Hoosiers’ football team—even when Lee Corso coached them.

This time, the Indiana band and football team were both respectable.


Grandpa told me before church this morning that the Michigan-Penn State game on TV was almost as good as the Notre Dame-USC game.

He joked about both of those games. He said he didn’t want any of those four teams to win. I guess all grandpas get that way sometimes.

I think he meant that he has never been a Notre Dame fan, and he isn’t all that fond of USC, either. As for Michigan and Penn State, Grandpa doesn’t think that much of Lloyd Carr’s coaching at Michigan, and he wanted Penn State to lose because he's hoping Iowa wins the Big Ten title. So am I.

He’s a little soft on Joe Paterno, Penn State’s coach, though. Paterno has been around so long that he might have helped invent football. Grandpa is happy the Nittany Lions are having a good season and happy that football hasn’t passed Joe Pa by--but not happy enough to want him to keep winning.


All in all, Grandpa was pretty fired up about everything that went on in college football yesterday—except, of course, for the Iowa State game.

We heard the Cyclones lose in overtime to Missouri on the radio in uncle Mark’s Odyssey van.

Grandpa says he doesn’t know what’s happened to Iowa State. He thought they were pretty darn good the day they beat Iowa, 23-3. But that was five weeks ago.

I know Grandpa hasn’t given up on Iowa State. He sure didn’t like it when some guy called one of the call-in shows after the game and said coach Dan McCarney should be fired.

Grandpa and McCarney have been friends ever since Mac would shake his fists on the Iowa sideline when he was an assistant coach for the Hawkeyes.

“Don’t give up on Mac,” Grandpa says all the time. “He’s a fighter.”


Grandpa also mentioned something about baseball. I guess that sport is still going on.

"It looks like the Cardinals are choking again this year," he said.

[Hey, folks, don't forget, he's a Cub fan].

And both Grandpa and I are shouting, "Nice going, White Sox! You're headed to the World Series for the first time since 1959 and--best of all--you showed the Cubs how to do it."

Don't stop there, though. Let's polish off the National League team -- whether it's Houston or St. Louis -- as quickly as possible and win your first Series since 1917.


Vol. 4, No. 394
Oct. 16, 2005