Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Nice Guy Chuck Schoffner, Longtime AP Sportswriter, Retiring at 55; 'Lots of Things I'll Miss, But I'll Enjoy the Freedom'

To tell the truth, the e-mail I received this afternoon jolted me a bit.

The message said Chuck Schoffner was retiring from the Associated Press office in Des Moines.

Chuck Schoffner retiring?

It couldn't be true. Sports editor Chuck Schoffner is too young to retire.

I had to hear it from the man himself.

I called Chuck -- one of the real nice guys in the news business -- to get the straight story.

"Charlie, what's this about you retiring?" I asked Schoffner over the phone.

"I'm retiring," he said. "It looked like you were having so much fun in retirement, I thought I'd try it."

[Schoffner and I then talked for a while about the fun I'm having these days. Suddenly, Chuck's retirement made sense to me].

So, at 55, I guess ol' friendly, smiling Chuck won't be showing up at as many Iowa State and Iowa football and basketball games and as many state high school basketball tournaments as he's worked at for nearly 27 years for the AP.

No one has worked harder than Schoffner.

"I figured the combination of me working 33 years for United Press International and the AP added up to more than 40 years in regular time," Schoffner said. "That's long enough."

Schoffner will continue working for the AP until mid-November.

After that, his plans are uncertain.

"A little break from the daily thing sounds good," he said. "There are some freelance opportunities out there, and I'll follow those."

Schoffner has covered five Olympics, and has specialized in women's collegiate basketball in recent years. Indeed, he's been in charge of the national women's basketball scene for the wire service, and likely will continue to do some freelance work in that area.

"If they don't meet any resistance from higher up, they'll want me to keep doing the women's basketball poll," he said. "They seem pretty happy I was able to do that.

"There are a lot of things I'll miss, but I'll enjoy the freedom. One thing I'll be able to do is spend more time with my wife. So much of our lives has been built around my job."

Congratulations on your retirement, Chuck. You deserve it.

Here's today's e-mail that announced his retirement:

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 1:16:04 PM
From: "Frank Fisher"
Subject: Chuck Schoffner retiring

Dear AP Members:

It is with a heavy heart that I pass on the word to you that AP's longtime sportswriter, Chuck Schoffner, has decided to retire. He plans to finish out the football season, so he'll be with us until the middle of November.

We are planning to organize a farewell party in the Des Moines-area in the near future and will send out invitations.

In the meantime, if any of you would like to send a note to Chuck that we can include in a going-away book, you can send it to me at the bureau.

Please pass this information on to your staffs.

If you know any other sports writers or editors, active or retired, whom you think would want to know this news, please forward this to them or let me know who they are and I'll do it.

We are currently advertising for Chuck's replacement.




Bud Appleby of Des Moines, a man who has always had a keen eye for outstanding photography, today sent me one of his favorites of autumn, 2005.

"The Kansas City Chiefs football team has 12 percent of its players who have been suspended for team violations or have been arrested since the end of last season," Appleby informs me.

"In light of these brushes with the law, the Chiefs have decided to build a new football stadium."

I understand officials at the stadium, pictured at the top of this column, expect overflow crowds regularly. The Chiefs, whose coach [Dick Vermeil] cries a lot, have a 2-2 record so far.


Modestly, I say that yesterday was a record day for people around the world reading this column.

Readers checked in from such places as Israel, Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames, the District of Columbia, South Carolina, the fourth floor at the local paper [of course], Milwaukee, Baltimore, State College, Pa., Pioneer Hi-Bred in Johnston, Bedford, Mass., Fargo, N.D., San Francisco, Bellevue, Neb., Austin, TX, New York City and an Indian reservation in Arizona --and that's just a few. Germany and Spain were in there, too.

I thank you all.

Amazed as I am when I occasionally check the records and see where my readers are, I do have to admit that the column yesterday which no doubt generated the strong interest among readers in 968 cities, hamlets, college campuses, football offices, bus stations, trailer courts and picnic grounds worldwide was the one in which I said Iowa could run the table and win the Big Ten football title.

Folks at the popular college football website thewizardofodds.blogspot.com [which had a whopping 31,482 hits yesterday] were kind enough to pick up my column, so I'm giving all the credit to the sharp guy who manages that operation for my boost in numbers.

Evidently, my column pissed off plenty of Penn State fans. Nittany Lions followers are feeling pretty good about their team [6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten] right now, and I guess they didn't want someone sitting at his computer in West Des Moines in his flannel boxer shorts writing that Michigan was going to beat Joe Pa's team, and that Iowa was championship-bound.

One Penn State fan -- who obviously forgot to take his medication -- dropped this e-mail on me:

"I'm glad you said 'Just a Few Thoughts' in your blog about the Big Ten, Iowa, and Penn State. Because just a few thoughts is all a mind like yours can muster. Iowa is mediocre. Penn State has earned its position. Sure, the game in Michigan will be critical for PSU, but PSU is the only team that is in the position to control the Big Ten, despite what 'thoughtful minds' like yourself can only hope for. Iowa has not played anybody yet except for OSU, which killed them, and now they are going to run the table??? They got beat by a lousy Iowa State team that just got thumped by...Baylor...This year, Penn State has the talent, tradition, desire, and opportunity to win the Big Ten, whether or not they 'run the table.' It's up to them and Iowa can't do anything about it.....

"P.S.-- Mark Northwestern on your map as the next Iowa loss."

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: All right, the doctor says it's time to go back to your room now].


I'm sure glad Gordy Scoles, the transplanted Iowan who now lives in Bennettsville, S.C., doesn't scold me like that.

Here's Gordy's latest e-mail:


"Weekly update on the Ol' Ball Coach [South Carolina's Steve Spurrier]: His team killed Kentucky, as you probably know by now. Then, Saturday night another player gets in trouble with the law [second time], and the O.B.C. threatens to punish players who had penalties against Kentucky. Playing for South Carolina would seem to be punishment enough, but the O.B.C. probably knows what he's doing. Luckily, the Gamecocks have this weekend off, so they can't lose. Iowa looked good and what's up with ISU and UNI? The usual second-half blues, I guess."

Gordy Scoles

[RON MALY'S COMMENT: Gordy, please don't send the Ol' Ball Coach up here to straighten out Iowa State and Northern Iowa. They had enough problems last weekend].

The 2005 major league baseball season is still going on, and already there's bad news for 2006.

The Chicago Tribune reports that pitching coach Larry Rothschild is staying with the Cubs.

Rothschild turned down what is loosely referred to as a "lucrative offer" to join new Detroit manager Jim Leyland so he could stay in Chicago.

Evidently, he wants to go down with manager Dusty Baker's ship, which is sinking quickly.

Rothschild left a guaranteed three-year contract with the Tigers on the table, preferring to remain in Chicago--where he doesn't have a multiyear deal.

That means Rothschild and Dick Pole, another Cubs coach, can continue looking like they're asleep in the Cubs' dugout during games.

Coaches from other teams are standing, shouting and kicking water-coolers. Rothschild and Pole do nothing. It's big news when they switch from leaning on their right arm to their left arm.

They like it that the Cubs play most of their home games in the afternoon. That's a good time to take a nap.


Thank goodness Editor & Publisher is keeping close track of the story that has all of journalism on edge.

I'm talking about the Judith Miller mess.

Quite frankly, the only thing that's got more of an emotional stranglehold on America right now than the Miller saga is Randy Brubaker's blog.

Crack Editor & Publisher reporter Joe Strupp writes that "in the 11 days since Miller left jail after agreeing to testify before a federal grand jury about her sources, many of the facts in the case have yet to come out. But one thing is clear: Her newspaper, the New York Times, has had very little to say about her role in the Plame/CIA leak case, and has been regularly scooped by other papers on the latest twists in her involvement.

"The newspaper promised a full accounting by now, but then put it off after Miller was told she had to chat with the federal prosecutor again, on Tuesday. Executive editor Bill Keller was quoted in an online Business Week article Monday suggesting that the complexities of the situation put the paper in the 'uncomfortable' position of not being able to share important information Miller knows.

"The paper had to run a correction today on one bit of information it did confirm [after it was widely published elsewhere]: The previously unknown conversation between Miller and I. Lewis Libby took place on June 23, 2003, not June 25 of that year.

"The all-holds-barred reporting by the Times about a national story partly based in its own newsroom has drawn comments from several daily newspaper editors, who tell Editor & Publisher that the paper needs to open up more about one of its own. But more than half of the top editors polled on this subject declined to comment, refusing to leap to the paper's defense, or condemn it.

"'What bothers me is that they have been quiet about it since she got out of jail, not sharing with the readers anything,' says Doug Clifton, editor of he Cleveland Plain Dealer . "Once she was out, they owed it to readers to share what she testified. She ought to have shared with readers what she shared with the grand jury."

"Clifton also questioned the Times' approach in putting together a story about Miller's jailing if editors who have a long association with her, or have championed her actions, are part of the process.

"Maybe because of the Times' stature, it elevates this whole thing to a national audience," he said. "Perhaps they should get someone more removed to handle it, to direct the reporters who are doing a good reporting job on just what happened," Clifton told Editor & Publisher, "someone out of the direct chain of command."

"Clifton would not go so far as to advocate an outsider coming in to run that reporting project, which is well under way, but he said, 'if they want it to be above reproach, get the public editor to do it. The important thing is to give an accounting.'

"For Dennis Ryerson, editor of the Indianapolis Star and former editor of the local paper, the minimal Times reporting is unusual. "I've been surprised at their lack of aggressiveness throughout," he told Editor & Publisher. 'They didn't even break the story of her getting out of jail.' Ryerson added that 'usually they can be counted on to provide the best perspective on things, even when it involves their own. It seems unusual for them that we are not seeing more.'

"When asked how he would have covered the story, Ryerson would not say. He also pointed out that 'there may be things that we do not know that will come out' related to how the Times has taken the approach it has.....'"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Those two clowns commenting on what the New York Times is doing wrong is like football lightweights Jim Criner [pictured above on the left] and Jim Walden second-guessing the coaching of Amos Alonzo Stagg [right]. I know one thing--the guy working in Indianapolis had better keep things afloat there. He's just killed his chance of being hired at the Times. As for him not wanting to say how he would've covered the story, did you expect anything different?]