Wednesday, November 30, 2005

On A Night Of Basketball Decision-Making, A Guy Chooses Valley-Dowling Girls And Boys Games Over Iowa State-UNI And Big Ten-ACC Challenge on TV

Call it A Night of Basketball Decision-Making.

Iowa State was playing Northern Iowa, and I wouldn't have to go very far to watch it. Just as far as my TV.

Maybe Greg McDermott of UNI [pictured on the right], my choice as the Best Young Collegiate Coach in America, would get into it again with Iowa State's Wayne Morgan [pictured above McDermott]. For me, it's fun when the coaches don't like each other.

Last year, it looked like Mac and Morgan wanted to punch each other out after the Panthers stuck it to Iowa State, 99-82, at Cedar Falls.

I wonder if Wayne thought Mac was pouring it on.

On this night of many decisions, there were a number of other TV basketball games that could be watched on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classic and probably a dozen other ESPN channels.

But wait. Valley was playing Dowling in a boys/girls doubleheader six blocks away in the Valley gym--or, officially, the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse. It was the first big night of the high school season, and the popcorn -- the large bag even -- was only $1.50.

So I forgot the Mac & Morgan Show on the Cyclone Network, forgot the Big Ten-ACC Challenge on all the ESPN channels and sure as heck forgot what Giada Delaurentis was cooking on the Food Network.

Giada would be back another day and another night. Mac & Morgan were talking as though they now like each other, and Wisconsin, Wake Forest, North Carolina, Illinois and the rest of the Big Ten and ACC teams would be back on all the ESPN channels until March or April.

So it was to the Valley gym/Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse I went, knowing not what to expect in a warm place on a cold, windy night.

The 6:15 p.m. girls game was a good one. Dowling, I guess, was supposed to win. At least that's what the sportswriters were telling me.

With my $1.50 bag of popcorn, I walked six or seven rows into the bleachers. The National Anthem -- the recorded version, no pep band on this night even for Valley-Dowling -- was about to be played.

"The flag is that way, Ron," came a voice from one row away.

It was Bobby Hansen of collegiate and professional basketball fame. Hansen [upper right] is the analyst on the University of Iowa Radio Network's basketball broadcasts. He played at Dowling and for the Hawkeyes before winding it up with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA.

Once I figured out where the flag was so I could pay proper respect to the pregame Anthem, I talked for a while with Hansen.

"Do you have a daughter or a relative in this game?" I asked.

"My daughter is No. 24," Hansen said, without mentioning whether she played for Valley or Dowling.

I assumed it was Dowling because that's where Bobby Hansen was a high school standout. Besides, there were fans seated around Hansen who were wearing Dowling jackets and sweatshirts.

It turned out Hansen's daughter, Carly, is a guard for Valley, and she's a pretty fair player. She scored 5 points as the Tigers surprised second-ranked Dowling, 48-41.

[By the way, there was an article about Carly Hansen in the West Des Moines Register this week that was horribly lacking in facts. The West Moines Register is inserted inside my Des Moines Register three times every week. That somehow sends me the strong hint that both the West Des Moines and Des Moines versions of the Register are published by the Gannett Co. The article about Carly Hansen in the West Des Moines version mentioned Carly's dad, but didn't identify him as former Iowa and NBA player Bobby Hansen, and it didn't say that Carly's dad played at Dowling, which is Valley's longtime rival. Oh, well. My friend Buck Turnbull says he doesn't read the West Des Moines Register. I can see why. And now you know that I have smart friends.]

Getting back to the Valley-Dowling girls game, Molly McClelland, the 6-foot 2-inch daughter of major league baseball umpire Tim McClelland [left], scored 10 points and grabbed [as the sportswriters say] eight rebounds for the Tigers.

Unfortunately, they played the boys game, too. For a while, I didn't think Valley would ever score. Dowling led by 26 points at the half and wound up winning, 59-33.

I watched Valley beat Dowling twice en route to the state 4-A football championship, I watched on TV when Valley won the state baseball title last summer, I read where Valley won girls track and soccer champiosnhips, and I keep hearing how Valley wins countless band awards.

How a Valley boys basketball team could look as awful as the one coached by Willie Thornton looked against Dowling is beyond me.

Thornton's Tigers won nine games last season. The way they played against Dowling, they may not win half that many [which would be 4 1/2, I guess] this season. Something tells me Thornton may be on borrowed time in the Valley basketball office.

I can't see how Valley's administration and the parents of the players are going to put up with that kind of basketball much longer.

Dowling outshot, outrebounded, outhustled and outeverythinged Valley. Certainly the Tigers were outcoached.

Thornton didn't have a clue.

For a classy school like Valley, it was total embarrassment.

Heck, I think I'd send the football team out there to play the basketball games. Maybe Gary Swenson, whose Valley football teams have won the state 4-A title three of the past four seasons, could do the coaching. Nothing else is working.

I left at halftime of the Valley-Dowling boys game. I wanted to see the end of the Iowa State-UNI game and the Illinois-North Carolina game on the tube.

Illinois beat North Carolina, 68-64. Iowa State beat UNI, 68-61.

Unfortunately, there were no fist-fights between any of the coaches.


For more Ron Maly, go to


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Kelly Hanfelt Does 'A Very Professional Job' As Men's TV Analyst--Too Bad the Cyclones Didn't Equal Her Performance

It's a shame Iowa State's men's basketball team couldn't turn in a performance to equal that of TV analyst Kelly Hanfelt.

Hanfelt [pictured in the top row, center], a former Cyclone women's player, did an outstanding job last night as a first-time commentator on an Iowa State men's game [game action pictured].

The trouble was, the Cyclones didn't give her enough to talk about.

Iona -- Iona, not Iowa -- saddled Iowa State with its first loss of the season, 89-72, before what I considered a disappointing crowd of 9,305 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

"I directed the game," said Bob Helmers, the ESPN guy from Ames who is the coordinating producer for the Cyclone Television Network. "I thought Kelly did a very professional job.

"The true test was during the game. I found myself listening to her commentary and reacting the same way I did the night before to Paul Splittorf's commentary. She had a good handle on the pulse of the game, she was prepared and knew the participants and some of their tendencies, and she communicated it well to the audience.

"I was very pleased. And, oh, by the way, when I asked her what was going to happen in the game, she nailed the performance of the two left-handers for Iona."

Helmers said Hanfelt "will be doing the analysis Tuesday for the Northern Iowa at Iowa State game."


My West Coast Correspondent tore himself away from a post-Thanksgiving cold something-or-other to make an assessment of Iowa State's 24-21 overtime football loss yesterday to Kansas.

"It appears Iowa State was too busy preparing for next season's Iowa game to be distracted by winning the Big 12 North," West Coast Correspondent wrote in an e-mail.

I have no idea why in the world the Cyclones were distracted while frittering away an outstanding opportunity to make a huge football statement in the game at Kansas.

Hopefully, they weren't thinking about the 2006 game against Iowa, even though they've won six of the last eight games in the series. But, in the end, I sometimes have difficulty figuring out what's on the minds of 21-year-old football players--at Iowa State or anywhere else.


I'm still checking, but I'm guessing Kansas' players didn't try to carry Mark Mangino [the guy on the left, wearing sunglasses], their coach, off the field after yesterday's game.

They'd have been better off hoisting Iowa State placekicker Bret Culbertson [lower right] to their shoulders. He's the guy who did a lot to help make them bowl-eligible.


"I cannot believe the Iowa State-Kansas football game," said Bob Helmers, who sees plenty of football games every year because that's also a big part of his job.

"In terms of the outcome....I am going to guess that Dan [McCarney] will spend a little more time recruiting kickers and agonizing over the play-calling in overtimes.

"Has anyone played in more overtime games this season than Iowa State? Will Dan McCarney be forever haunted by the OT hex? Remember his first season and the OT game then? Dan may be the most upbeat and forward-looking person in the world, but this season's overtime efforts have got to haunt him in the future and eventually affect his end-of-game strategies in close games."


When he got the surprising news that his Colorado team would be representing the Big 12 North in the conference's championship game, coach Gary Barnett reprised the old joke: What do you call the person who graduates last in his class from medical school?

"I guess if you can call that last guy ... 'Doctor,' you can call us champions," he told the AP.

Barnett conceded he was so sick about his team's loss, he didn't bother watching Iowa State on TV. For the second straight year, though, the Buffaloes earned their trip to the title game thanks to the Cyclones losing by a field goal in overtime on a day Colorado wasn't even playing.


It used to be that games played by Drake's football team would be relegated to the area "back by the tire ads" in the Des Moines Register, as then-coach Chuck Shelton would say.

Now the Bulldogs' basketball team is often buried deep in the paper, too. And the editors evidently couldn't scrape up enough money to send reporter Rick Brown to Las Vegas for the tournament in which Drake finished third.

But give 'em credit down there. In Saturday's paper, it said Drake would be playing Oklahoma State in the third-place game. Actually, it was Texas Christian.

Close anyway. At least the schools are in adjoining states.


A very knowledgeable central Iowa reader sends this e-mail, titled "Local Paper--faux-pas #1,529:

"On page 4C of the Sunday Register's sports section, Rick Brown's preview of the Upper Iowa at UNI game caught my attention. It wasn't about the throwback uniforms that the Panthers would wear for the game. It was the following paragraph:

"'Upper Iowa, an NCAA Division III school competing in the Iowa Conference, will be playing its second NCAA Division I foe of the season. The Peacocks lost to Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Nov. 21, 93-64.'

"I have read Rick's work in the past and he is usually on target with facts and information. However, I think something is rotten in Denmark because someone in the sports department hasn't gotten around to updating information. Upper Iowa is now competing in NCAA Division II and is an independent until next year when they will join the Northern Sun Conference. Upper Iowa left the Iowa Conference [they were one of the charter members] and Division III a few years ago to move up to D-2.

"Hmmm, I wonder if they still consider Coe a member of the Midwest Conference and not the Iowa Conference, and if Central is a member of the NAIA?

"I also noticed one other thing when I picked up the local paper over at the Grand Avenue Hy-Vee in West Des Moines at 5 a.m. this morning. The exciting UNI-Eastern Washington game was placed on page 6C and nowhere near the first three pages of the sports section. Given that the Iowa State lost at Lawrence was a big story, UNI deserved to be on page 1 [with ISU], page 2, or no worse than page 3.

"The Panthers rallying from 14 points down to a pass-happy Eastern Washington team, and listening to Gary Rima screaming for joy every time the Panthers made one phenomenal play after another, how the brain trust at 715 Locust pigeon-hole a team that upset three consecutive nationally-ranked teams in their conference to win the Gateway outright and win a 1st round playoff game is beyond me!

"Did the Gannett tribe think that UNI was a member of the Illini-Badger Conference in Division III and shouldn't deserve a full page story? Consider this as reason #1,529 that our local paper is on the verge of going the way of the Do-Do bird.

"Finally, is it me or is Iowa State football cursed?"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Thanks for the very interesting comments. My friends at the Register read this column regularly, so they'll see what you wrote. And, yes, I think maybe the Cyclones' football program is cursed].


For more of Ron Maly's stuff, go to


Friday, November 25, 2005

After Only 8,640 Fans Watch Drake and UNI Play, Craig Cooper Tells Me Wells Fargo Arena Is 'Too Big And Too Expensive to Use for Most Sports Events'

Craig Cooper has been a solid writer and editor for a long time.

He was a sportswriter at the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times, he's been a newspaper copy editor and now he's in hospital public relations work in the Quad Cities. He also was a business reporter at the Quad City Times.

I recently wrote a column about the new Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines, saying that the I considered the future of collegiate basketball in the 16,558-seat building bleak after only 8,640 people showed up last Sunday to watch a doubleheader involving Drake and Northern Iowa.

Considering those were the first two basketball games in the arena, I figure the college game is going to always be a very tough sell in the huge place.

In response to that column, Cooper sent this e-mail.

".....Except for the state high school wrestling tournament and NCAA wrestling-- should Des Moines ever land the event--I have a feeling the new arena is too big and too expensive to use for most sports events.

"But big-name concerts will sell out consistently. I thought when the hockey team was announced, the run would be short in Des Moines for several reasons, one being the economics of playing in a brand-new building with more than 16,000 seats when even the biggest draws in the league need about half that many seats on their best nights.

"The other thing a hockey team should worry about now is that it doesn't seem to be having a 'honeymoon' that other new teams do.

"I covered minor league hockey here [the Quad City Mallards] when the team averaged more than 8,000 fans per game. It has dropped off to about 3,500-4,000, but that has happened over 10 years or so. I'd be a little nervous if I was only averaging 4,000 in that building [in Des Moines] in my first year. Even with The Mark of the Quad Cities, hockey rent is considered to be very high because of the quality of the building. It was almost new when team came in.


"If you want to make Iowa State fans crazy these days, talk about Iowa landing in the Outback, Capital One or Alamo Bowl while Cyclones possibly have to 'settle' for something less attractive. Cyclones fans liked it better when the Hawks seemed to be headed for the Motor City Bowl just as GM workers are motoring out."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: If I were giving advice to those in the athletic departments at Drake and Northern Iowa who make decisions on where games are played, I'd say forget 16,558-seat arenas in the future. The only way the Bulldogs and Panthers should play in Wells Fargo Arena is if they can talk Iowa and Iowa State into coming to Des Moines for a "Big Four" doubleheader. Then we're talking. Iowa State is playing Ohio State at the arena Dec. 20, and I hope the Cyclones draw well there. But I certainly wouldn't call it a slam-dunk now. Iowa would like to play a future game at Wells Fargo Arena in the future. Why not bring all four Division I schools in on the same afternoon or night and do this thing the right way? If that can't be worked out, Drake and UNI should play home games in their own arenas].



Former Iowan Gordy Scoles, now of Bennettsville, S.C., has some thoughts about Drew Tate, the Iowa quarterback who was picked the preseason offensive player of the year in the Big Ten but didn't even make honorable mention. His e-mail:


"I enjoyed your article on the recent Iowa basketball games and Drew Tate going from all-Big Ten to no mention all-Big Ten in one season. It reminded me of Ohio State's Bob White, the big fullback who played in the Fifties. I think he went from all American one year to honorable mention all-Big Ten the next. Maybe Tate has the 'Bob White Syndrome.'

"Let's hope Tate gets over it by next year. You don't suppose he was overrated last year? Speaking of overrated, how about the Big East Conference in football?

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Gordy, it surprised lots of people that Tate received absolutely no recognition from sportswriters and Big Ten coaches who voted for the all-conference teams. But, heck, the folks at some newspapers [including one in Des Moines that sent a reporter to Tate's hometown to do a preseason profile, apparently were dozing off when the all-Big Ten teams were announced. They made no mention of the fact that Tate was totally stiffed in the voting. Of course, that same local paper made the basketball doubleheader at Wells Fargo Arena appear like it was a sold-out NCAA Final Four event. It seemed to me that folks from the local paper were being very careful to not throw cold water on what was a very ordinary, low-key parade in the new building. It was almost like the local paper had some sponsorship associated with the arena. You don't suppose that was the case, do you?]



Here's an e-mail from former Iowan Richard Hayman, a Hawkeye fan:

"Hello, Mr. Maly,

"Sorry [it's been] so long since you've heard from me. I hope this missive finds you in good health. I've been i-dead for a couple of months. It's interesting that someone who has made his living in technology for so many years could find tranquility in being i-dead...but that's another commentary.

"I have had opportunity, of course, to follow the [Iowa] football team. As I wrote to you before the season, I considered it very important that we Hawk fans manage our expectations. And, I think I heard rumor of some grumbling following losses to Michigan and Northwestern. Both losses were tough pills to swallow. But, a football takes crazy bounces [witness the onside kick] and during our seasons of mega-success we have certainly benefited from a few fortuitous bounces. That's the game. Indeed, that's life.

"My only real grumble about the season was the loss to Iowa State [a game, mercifully, I didn't get to see]. And, it's not so much that we lost to Iowa State as it is that Iowa State, a month later [on Family Weekend, no less] loses to [much improved] Baylor. Yes! Baylor.

"I love Iowa and try to support all of our schools. And, I wish Iowa State could go undefeated in football every year, save their game with Iowa. But, if Iowa State is going to wear the mantle of victory in the intrastate rivalry, I wish they would wear it with some fortitude. If Iowa State goes on to have an outstanding season [which, for the most part, they have], there is little shame in losing to them. But, to play out of their minds, whip the Hawkeyes to a fare-thee-well, and then crash and burn against Baylor...this is just not acceptable. Come on Cyclones! You suggest to the nation that Iowa football is mediocre. And, living here in Virginia Tech country makes it all the worse.

"And, one quick word about that. I know RPI ratings attempt to balance out schedules and rankings but there is no substitute for the week in, week out level of competition in the Big Ten. You take away the top 3 or 4 conferences in the country and Illinois finishes in the upper division of any other conference [including the ACC]. I've seen Virginia Tech grow from a a truly mediocre program into a so-called national power. But, I assure those at home that the footballplayed in the ACC is nothing like the Big Ten. I'm hoping for a Virginia Tech-Ohio State or Penn State contest in the bowls. Even then, though, I reserve the right to pooh-pooh a VT win [improbable though it may be], simply because it is an entirely different thing to "get up" for 3 or 4 games a year. Go to sleep in the Big Ten, get embarrassed. Go to sleep in the ACC, not much change in outcome. I'm sure this opinion will not endear me to Virginia Tech fans...

"Finally, congratulations and best wishes to Coach Ferentz and this year's Hawks, wherever they may go. I love the character and grit of Hawkeye football. Let's go out a winner. And, let's get back to the good old days of crushing Iowa State on an annual basis.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I'm sure you'll agree with me, Richard, that this turned out to be a darn good season for both Iowa and Iowa State. The Cyclones can make it even better by winning at Kansas tomorrow. What more can fans of the Hawkeyes and Cyclones ask for than for their teams to both play in bowl games. It's been happening regularly in recent years, and I like it as well as anyone].

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Readers Wonder.....Does Jeff Horner Need Glasses? Did Iowa Run Out of Gas? Isn't Drew Tate Even Good Enough To Be On the Honorable Mention List?

The e-mailers are making a lot of sense again today.

"I think Iowa looked tired last night," Kevin of West Des Moines writes. "Maybe Horner [pictured on the right playing against Texas] needs some glasses."

Two good points -- which was something Jeff Horner, Iowa's senior guard, had trouble coming up with last night and the night before in the Guardians Classic at Kansas City.

Horner, who's supposed to be able to walk out the front door at 2 o'clock in the morning and make a dozen straight baskets in any gym in the country, missed on 10 of 12 field goal attempts in the Hawkeyes' 68-59 loss to No. 2-ranked Texas.

Critics of coach Steve Alford continually say that too many of his players get worse as their careers go longer. Sadly, Horner seems to be one of them.

He's certainly proving again this season that he can be stopped by good defenses.

If I were Alford, I'd take the advice of Kevin of West Des Moines and send Horner to an eye doctor.

[NOTE: I fully expect Horner to score 40 points -- without glasses -- against Iowa's next crummy opponent.].


Kevin of West Des Moines isn't the only guy who wonders if Iowa ran out of gas against Texas.

That seems to be a trait of Alford's teams, too -- especially when they're playing talented, quick opponents.

The same thing happened last season when the Hawkeyes played, and lost to, such teams as North Carolina and Cincinnati.


I listened to former Iowa standout Bobby Hansen dissect Iowa's loss on the radio when the clock was approaching midnight last night, and it was clear to him that a decisive factor was when Texas switched to a zone defense in the last half.

But, if you read the local paper, you wouldn't know if Iowa's problem was a zone defense or if the Hawkeye players had their arms amputated in the locker room at halftime.

There was no mention of Texas' zone. The local paper could've saved money and had a copy editor listen to the game on the radio so it could get a decent game story.

Oh, well.


Still on the subject of basketball, Bud Appleby of Des Moines writes:

"The Register's story on the Iowa women's loss to Louisiana Tech on Tuesday night somehow failed to mention that the Hawkeyes had a 19-point lead with less than 8 minutes to play."

The Hawkeyes lost to Louisiana Tech, 95-91, in two overtimes at Ruston, La. The local paper wrapped up the account of that game in seven paragraphs. I guess an eighth paragraph would've been needed to get something in about the 18-point Hawkeye lead.



John Cavanaugh sends this e-mail about the all-Big Ten football teams:

"Ron, Interesting that no one has mentioned that Tate did not even receive honorable mention in the all-Big Ten teams after making first team last year."

Very, very interesting, John.

Interesting that Iowa quarterback Drew Tate [pictured on the left] didn't get on the honorable mention list despite being named the Big Ten's preseason offensive player of the year.

Interesting, too, that Hawkeye running back Albert Young was only an honorable mention pick by the conference coaches. Reporters had him on the second team.


Drake's men's basketball team, off to its best start since 1999-2000, will have to do some growing up in a hurry when it plays the final two games of the Las Vegas Holiday Invitational.

The matchup with 10th-ranked Boston College on Friday will mark the first time a Drake team has played a top-10 opponent since a Dec. 27, 1998 meeting with then-No. 10 Indiana in the first round of the Hoosier Classic in Indianapolis, Ind.

When Drake plays Boston College, it will mark a reunion of sorts for Coach Tom Davis, who had a 100-47 record at Boston College from 1977-82. Davis took the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in 1981 and 1982 as well as the 1980 NIT.

Davis led Boston College to the 1981 Big East Conference regular season title, with the team advancing to the 1981 NCAA Elite Eight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Drake Honors Chuck Schoffner--No One Did It Better Than the Hard-Working Guy Who Is Retiring After a Long, Distinguished Career At the Des Moines AP

Drake University officials did a very nice thing in the Bulldogs' first basketball game of the season at the new Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines when sports information director Mike Mahon presented Chuck Schoffner, sports editor of the Associated Press in Des Moines, with a plaque.

The plaque said, "Drake University honors Chuck Schoffner, Associated Press, for his coverage of intercollegiate athletics. November 20, 2005."

Schoffner has been a hard-working, very efficient sportswriter for many years and will be missed by those who worked with him [certainly I am one of those] throughout his outstanding career at the AP.

No one did it better than Schoffner. Enjoy your retirement, Chuck.

In a 'Horseshit Edition' of the Register Sent to Iowa City, George Wine Finds Out Why Newspapers Continue to Lose Readers And Circulation

George Wine of Coralville is an intelligent, talented man.

He was the longtime sports information director at the University of Iowa, and has authored or co-authored at least two books about Hawkeye athletics.

Wine keeps a close eye on happenings in both the sports and news businesses, and occasionally goes public with thoughts on both.

[Click on "the way i see it....." at the right for the rest of this column]

Monday, November 21, 2005

Shame on D.M., Shame on the State of Iowa--Drake and UNI Should've Attracted a Much Bigger Crowd Than 8,640 at 16,558-Seat Wells Fargo Arena

Shame on Des Moines.

Shame on the state of Iowa.

After watching Drake and Northern Iowa play the first two games at the 16,558-seat Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines, I’m certainly not as excited about the future of collegiate basketball there as I hoped I’d be.

Frankly, I was disappointed that only 8,640 people took the time and spent the money to attend the games.

Before the games, Drake officials said they thought as many as 10,000 people would be in attendance.

It’s a beautiful building and a nice place to watch basketball.

The chairs are comfortable, the vision from most parts of the arena is excellent.

But the first couple of games, which were played late in the afternoon and at night, should have attracted a much larger crowd than 8,640.

You’d think 12,000 or so would’ve come come through the doors just out of curiosity.

I guess people didn’t want to drag themselves out of their easy chairs while watching NFL games. Maybe Christmas shopping at the malls was more important.

Whatever, I hand it to Drake and Northern Iowa athletic department officials for giving it a try. They worked hard, and their teams put on a fine show.

This is going to be Tom Davis’ best Drake team. It has a very good chance to end the university’s horrible streak of .500-or-worse seasons that has stretched to 18 in a row.

Northern Iowa is going to be an outstanding team in the Missouri Valley Conference and—-in Greg McDermott—-has one of the best young coaches in America.

The Bulldogs and Panthers deserved a better turnout yesterday, and I don’t blame the two schools if they don’t play more games in the new building in the future.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of crowd Iowa State attracts when it collides with Ohio State there Dec. 17.

If the place is half-full for that game, then I say let the local hockey team and the stage shows have it to themselves. The hockey team can continue drawing its slim crowds of 4,000 and 5,000, and then we’ll see how long it stays in town.


Tom Davis, of course, has been around basketball a long time.

He has the correct approach to playing at the downtown arena.

Asked if he wants to play more games at Wells Fargo Arena, he said after Sunday’s game, “I’m staying open-minded on it. I like the building. When [we brought the players there for the open gym before the season] here, you could tell they liked it.

“It’s a wonderful facility. The question is, what kind of support can we get? If we can’t get more than a couple thousand fans Tuesday night for our game against Shawnee State [at the Knapp Center on campus], then it makes no sense to come down here [to Wells Fargo Arena].

“It costs a lot of money to open the doors here. At the Knapp Center, it costs no money to open the doors. So, if you’re drawing only 2,000 or 3,000 [at the Knapp Center], then it kind of answers that question.”

However, Davis has done a good job of building attendance at the on-campus arena in his first two seasons. With the promising team he has this year, I look for the crowds to be even better.


I’ve been through this before, with Drake trying to build basketball interest in a big downtown building.

Like nearly 40 years ago.

It was always a problem when the Bulldogs played their games at Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

The late Maury John [pictured] was the best coach Drake ever had, but he had to win Missouri Valley Conference championships, beat opponents such as Iowa, Iowa State, Louisville, St. Louis and Memphis State, and take his team to the NCAA Final Four in 1969 before he got the attention of some Des Moines fans.

John was always trying to find ways to get people into the Auditorium so he could get even more of a home-court advantage.

Heck, for one game, he moved the players’ benches to the other side of the arena so they’d be in front of the Drake students, who then were generally a rowdy, noisy bunch that gave the team strong support.

However, after a few of the students threw coins at the Marquette bench—and hit coach Al McGuire on the head—the benches were moved back to where they were before.

There are some people in town who would like to see Drake move games such as those against Iowa and Iowa State to the Wells Fargo Arena so there would be bigger crowds than the 7,002 who can be shoe-horned into the Knapp Center.

However, there’s always a problem with that. Making more seats available would mean there’d be additional space for Hawkeye and Cyclone fans.

I’ll never forget what Maury John once told me about that.

“One time when we were playing Iowa, we were ahead early in the game,” he said. “Our fans were really excited. But when Iowa rallied and tied the game, the crowd seemed to turn on us. They began cheering for Iowa.

“I started thinking, ‘Where are my people?’”


By the way, University of Iowa officials have discussed perhaps playing a game at Wells Fargo Arena.

I’m certainly all for Iowa playing in Des Moines. The Hawkeyes have a chance to draw a bigger crowd at Wells Fargo Arena than they’re getting these days at their own building in Iowa City.

Attendance for a team that figures to be one of the best in the nation has been very disappointing so far – just as it was last season.


Lauri Pyatt, the assistant sports information at Drake, did a wonderful job of singing the Star Spangled Banner prior to the Drake-Detroit game at Wells Fargo Arena.

That was the first time I’d heard Lauri do any singing, but she told me today that she has sung the National Anthem at Drake’s men’s and women’s soccer games, women’s softball games and some other basketball games.

“I was shaking while I was singing yesterday,” she said. “I’m glad it came out OK.”


Iowa State football coach Dan McCarney said today his team faces an “unbelievably tough challenge” in Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. regular-season finale at Kansas.

“Kansas is trying to finish undefeated at home for the first time since 1951,” McCarney pointed out.

McCarney said he and his players will be en route to Lawrence, Kan., by bus when the Colorado-Nebraska game is being played Friday in Boulder, Colo.

So they won’t be watching on TV to see if Nebraska wins the game and makes it possible for Iowa State to represent the North Division in the Big 12 playoff game.

Iowa State is 4-3 in the conference and Colorado [which lost to the Cyclones] is 5-2. The Cyclones would have to beat Kansas to equal Colorado’s conference record.

Asked if he made the travel plans so the players didn’t have to watch the Nebraska-Colorado game on the tube, McCarney said, “Those plans have been set for months.”


Asked what it means to now be the dean of Big 12 coaches, McCarney said, “It means I’m a survivor.” He agreed with a questioner that it’s going to be more difficult in the future for coaches to last a long time in the business “because of the toll it takes.”


One coach who I hope stays right where he’s at is Gary Swenson, the mastermind of the tremendous football program at Valley High School in West Des Moines.

I watched Swenson’s Tigers survive every challenge Cedar Falls put up last Friday at the UNI-Dome en route to a 24-21 victory in the Class 4-A championship game.

What Swenson has done at Valley is amazing. His teams have won the 4-A championship in three of the past four seasons.

When I moved to West Des Moines in 1967, one class was attending the new Valley High School on 35th Street. The rest of the complex was still under construction.

Some of the football teams at Valley before that time were awful.

After I moved my family to the Des Moines area in 1959, one guy told me, “Valley has 50 kids out for football and 500 out for the marching band.”

Now, Swenson has built a football dynasty.

As far as I was concerned, beating Dowling twice –- once early in the season at Valley Stadium and then in the playoffs at Cedar Falls –- was the Tigers’ toughest task this season.

Frankly, I thought Dowling would upset Valley in the playoff game, but the Tigers got the job done in a sensational game.

Look for Valley to again be a state championship threat next season. Swenson will have all the parts in place for another run at it.


I estimated the attendance at the Valley-Cedar Falls game at 14,378. I didn’t see a crowd figure anywhere else, so I consider my numbers official.


You know me. Anything to help the local paper.

The l.p. finally published a note today on the Jake Sullivan/Kelly Hanfelt Iowa State basketball TV commentator situation –- four days after I had it in this column.

I'm glad to know they're paying attention down there on the 4th floor.

I’ll continue doing whatever I can to be of further assistance.


Don’t say I didn’t tell you:

Colorado 25, Nebraska 14
Iowa State 30, Kansas 27

Saturday, November 19, 2005

After Giving a 'No' to Iowa State TV Commentator Job, Jake Sullivan Says It Was 'Toughest Decision of My Life....God's Hand Is Leading Me'

When former Drake placekicker Billy Cundiff [right] sustained a quadriceps tear in training camp, the Dallas Cowboys knew there would be an opportunity to re-sign him at some point.

But it would be well down the road.

When the opportuny arrived to re-sign the fourth-year kicker, the Cowboys jumped at the chance.

After an impressive workout Friday, the Cowboys signed Cundiff--a native of Harlan, Ia.--today and released rookie kicker Shaun Suisham, who has handled the kicking duties for the Cowboys for the last two games.

Cundiff, who set 15 Drake school and five Pioneer Football League records from 1998-2001 now takes over and will be ready for Sunday's game with the Lions at noon Sunday Texas Stadium.

Cundiff has a one-year deal worth the fourth-year minimum $455,000, although the kicker will receive less than half of that total since only seven games remain in the regular season.

When Cundiff tore his right quad in the final practice of training camp, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells decided the club could not keep him on the 53-man roster until he healed.

The Cowboys released Cundiff, paying him a six-week injury settlement - the projected time he would need to heal and pass a physical. NFL rules prevent teams from re-signing players paid an injury settlement for a mandatory six weeks, plus the number of weeks of salary paid in the settlement. That amounted to 12.

Because the Cowboys released Cundiff almost immediately during preseason, they were eligible to re-sign Cundiff after 10 weeks of the regular season. The 10th week expired Monday night following the Philadelphia game.

The Cowboys hope Cundiff can bring a little more consistency to a position that has seen some ups and downs already this season.

In three years with the Cowboys, Cundiff made 55 of 74 fieldgoal attempts and all but one of his 87 extra point tries. Cundiff has also hit a few game-winners and other clutch kicks during his career with the Cowboys.

His 52-yard field goal against the Giants in 2003 was not only his sixth field goal of the game, but forced overtime. He then hit a 25-yard kick to give the Cowboys a 35-32 win that included a NFL-tying record seven field goals.

Cundiff also hit game-winning field goals in St. Louis [48 yards] in 2002 and then to beat the Eagles at home in 2003 with a 28-yard field goal.

After Cundiff was hurt, the Cowboys were left with veteran Jose Cortez, who had been signed in the middle of August, mostly just to give Cundiff a break from kicking every day in training camp.

But when Cundiff suffered the injury and was waived Aug. 24, the Cowboys were left with Cortez, who had been erratic during his career with the 49ers.

The Cowboys released Cortez the following Monday after the Seahawks defeat, and signed Suisham, who had spent time earlier in the season on the practice squad.



Following is Jake Sullivan's e-mail explanation of why he turned down an opportunity to be the TV commentator on a number of Iowa State men's basketball games this season:

"..... I have turned down the color job due to my demanding committment to All Iowa Attack Basketball. This has been the toughest decision of my life, but I believe God's hand is leading me in this direction. My goal in this world is to impact young lives and that is where my focus currently lies.

"Please know how thankful I am for the opportunity.


"Jake Sullivan"

Sullivan [wearing the coat and tie] will be replaced by former Cyclone women's player Kelly Hanfelt for the Nov. 26 Iowa State-Iona game. Sullivan turned down the commentator job two weeks after saying he would take it.



It doesn't get any better for Iowa's football team than it got today at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.

The Hawkeyes clobbered Minnesota, 52-28, and kept possesion of Floyd of Rosedale, the bronze pig that's awarded to the winning team in the series.

"So much of football is mental," Minnesota coach Glen Mason [upper right] said. "You always look at why? I don't know why. Did you perform well? No. Why? I don't know."

Floyd didn't know either. But he also didn't care. All that mattered was that he's going to spend another winter in Iowa City.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Jake Sullivan Turns Down TV Commentator Job 2 Weeks After Saying He'd Take It, So Ex-Cyclone Women's Player Kelly Hanfelt Will Get a Look Nov. 26

There's no Jake, so there'll be a Kelly.

Iowa State men's basketball on TV will have a new look and sound in a game Nov. 26 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

Former Cyclone women's player Kelly Hanfelt will be the commentator.

In her playing days, you knew Kelly Hanfelt as Kelly Cizek [pictured in her Cyclone uniform].

Hanfelt, 26, was a 6-foot forward for coach Bill Fennelly's Iowa State teams, and has already done some TV commentary in Cyclone women's games.

"We think a lot of Kelly," said Bob Helmers, the coordinating producer for the Cyclone Television Network. "She's a natural. She walked in, grabbed the microphone and did an awesome job last year in the women's games."

Helmers said Hanfelt "did four or five women's games for us last year on the Cyclone Network, and she did such a good job that she got one of the NCAA women's tournament assignments on ESPN. She's going to be a great one."

Helmers said he's certain the Nov. 26 Iowa State-Iona game will be her first men's assignment.

Paul Splittorf, the veteran TV analyst from Kansas City, will be the primary commentator on Iowa State's games. The word is that the Nov. 26 assignment will be a "test" for Hanfelt.

"There are some openings down the line that have not been filled," Helmers explained. "Kelly will be working Nov. 26 with Dave Armstrong of Kansas City, who will be our main play-by-play announcer.

"Splittorf, who was a four-year letterwinner in both baseball and basketball at Morningside College and is a former major league baseball pitcher, will do most of the commentary on the Iowa State men's games."

The Cyclone network was in need of new commentators this season because of the retirement of former Cyclone basketball standout Gary Thompson [pictured on the right in the coat and tie].

Helmers doesn't expect Thompson to come out of retirement.

"I don't think he'll do any games," Helmers said. "When Gary retires, Gary retires."

Another reason some openings for a commentator developed was because former Iowa State player Jake Sullivan [the hairless guy on the left] turned down an opportunity to join the TV crew.

"Jake pulled out of helping to fill Thompson's shoes two weeks after saying he would," Helmers said.

I had heard earlier this fall that Sullivan had his foot -- and obviously his mouth and basketball expertise -- in the TV door. Frankly, it's a surprise to me that he didn't take advantage of the opportunity. It could have led to something big for the young guy who played so well for Iowa State on the court.


Some of the other things I hear:

*There were likely fewer than the 5,000 fans present at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City for an Iowa basketball game Monday night than some people estimated. Indeed, there may have been fewer than 4,000. That's trouble, my friends.

*"Given the 'activist' president at Kansas State, I doubt that athletic director Tim Weiser dare take a chance on someone who has not been a head coach, but he should!" a guy tells me in obvious reference to Wildcats defensive coordinator Bobby Elliott, who would like to be the successor to newly-resigned Bill Snyder.

*"Did you know that they GIVE AWAY the Des Moines Register at gas stations in Iowa City?" I'm told in an e-mail. "And the rack was still full at 11 a.m. one day this week when I got gas."


Drake basketball coach Tom Davis came up to Paul Morrison, the school's 88-year-old athletic department historian, today at the Knapp Center.

"Welcome back. You'd better take care of your health, Paul," Davis said with a laugh. "You're not going to make it through the year."

"Twenty seconds was all I was out," Morrison responded.

Morrison was talking about an espisode Wednesday at the Drake women's basketball lunch at Christopher's restaurant. Onlookers said he appeared to be on the verge of collapsing, so they called an ambulance.

"I think it was a case of standing for 2 hours and not having a meal," Morrison explained. "They insisted on hauling me off to Iowa Methodist Hospital. They gave me a bunch of tests, and all of them came back real good."

[Morrison said he normally doesn't eat his lunch until the program is completed].

"I'm going to my regular doctor tomorrow," he said. "I must been out of it 20 seconds or so. I felt a little woozy because I'd been standing so long. Jean Berger [a Drake athletic department official] grabbed me because she thought I was going to faint."


In my earlier writing life, I was covering a Dallas Cowboys NFL playoff game at the Cotton Bowl stadium.

The Cowboys had been upset, and nobody was happy. Especially former Iowa player John Niland, who then was a standout Dallas offensive lineman.

When I approached him in the locker room, I tried to make my first question a good one.

I was trying to get Niland's take on why the Cowboys played so poorly.

"Did you ever play football?" Niland said.

"No," I said.

Things deteriorated quickly after that.

Obviously, it was a short interview.

Whatever, Niland -- a member of Iowa’s all-time team -- will be the honorary captain when the Hawkeyes play Minnesota Saturday in Iowa City.

Niland [pictured in his Hawkeye uniform], originally from Amityville, N.Y., lettered three times [1963-65] while playing for Jerry Burns' Hawkeye teams. He will accompany the Iowa captains to the center of the field for the pregame coin toss, and also be with the Hawkeyes on the sidelines and in the locker room before and after the game.

Niland was an all-American as an offensive guard in 1964 and 1965. He played in the East-West, Hula Bowl and Chicago Tribune all-star games following his senior season. He was picked by the Cowboys in the first round of the 1966 NFL draft.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Where Are Iowa's Basketball Fans? Crowd Called 8,553, But Only 5,000 Were In the Arena; ISU 'Corporate Spokesman' Malchow Will Get A $105,000 Salary

There might be another major story developing in Iowa City.

I'm not referring to Kirk Ferentz's football team, which ends its regular season against Minnesota at 11 a.m. Saturday in Kinnick Stadium.

I'm talking about attendance -- or the lack of it -- at the Hawkeyes' basketball games.

A gathering of only 8,553 [or so it said in the box score] in 15,500-seat Carver-Hawkeye Arena [the empty version of which is pictured above this column] watched Iowa beat Maryland-Eastern Shore, 86-41, last night in the opening game of something called the Guardians Classic.

Don't believe those 8,553 numbers.

Susan Harman of the Iowa City Press-Citizen didn't.

There were "perhaps 5,000 fans" in the building, Harman wrote today.

Very disappointing. Embarrassing, too.

In the old days, 8,553 people might wander into the building off the streets, just to stay warm.

Attendance was down last season, too. You'd think more people would show up now because Steve Alford's team is ranked 20th nationally.

But Alford [upper right] -- alias Mr. November -- doesn't sell many tickets.


I see that Mr. Personality -- otherwise known as Bill Snyder [lower right] -- is calling it quits as Kansas State's football game after Saturday's regular-season finale.

Becoming a winner in the lonely outpost called Manhattan, Kan., is something no one ever thought was possible.

Snyder, a former offensive coordinator under Hayden Fry at Iowa, is maybe the only guy who thought he could take his Kansas State teams to 11 straight bowl games.

Before he got there, K-State was regarded as the worst major-college job in the nation.

Kansas State made Iowa State, another place known as a coaching graveyard until Dan McCarney got there, look like Ohio State.

But Snyder somehow talked good players into accepting football scholarships at K-State. His record in his 17th season there is 135-68-1.

I wonder if Bobby Elliott [lower left] will be seriously considered as Snyder's successor. Elliott has certainly paid his dues. The Kansas State defensive coordinator played at Iowa and made coaching stops there and at Iowa State.

Another member of Snyder's staff is Del Miller, a native of Cedar Rapids who is in his 12th season as offensive coordinator. Miller thought he had the Iowa State head coaching job until then-athletic director Gene Smith changed his mind at the last minute and hired McCarney.


Steve Malchow [pictured to the left of Alford] of the Wisconsin staff is coming to Iowa State as senior associate athletic director for communications, and he's getting a nice pay raise, too.

The Wisconsin State Journal says Malchow [who worked with Jamie Pollard, Iowa State's new athletic director, at Wisconsin], will get a $13,000 raise and be paid $105,000 annually at Iowa State.

The fact that Malchow [who formerly worked in the sports information office at Iowa] would join Pollard's staff at Ames was in the plan all along.

"Pollard thought so highly of Malchow, he created a position for him," the State Journal said. "Pollard said having a 'corporate spokesman' for an intercollegiate athletic program, as opposed to a communications director for sports, is becoming a necessity.

"'He's the perfect person,' Pollard said of Malchow."

Malchow obviously knows what he's doing. But I wonder why Tom Kroeschell [upper left], Iowa State's longtime athletic department spokesman, didn't qualify for the new job.

Oh, well. Maybe I'm missing something. It's been a long season.


I wondered the other day why Notre Dame wants to keep playing football games against Navy, a team it has beaten 42 straight times.

Now a guy informs me that Navy and Notre Dame have agreed to play through at least the 2016 season -- with the 2012 game scheduled for Dublin, Ireland.

"I wonder if Navy does it for the paycheck," the guy asks. "Those ships need maintaining?"


"I don't know when it happened, but I noticed that the price of the Sunday paper has been dropped back down to $1.50," Bud Appleby tells me in an e-mail.

The Sunday paper had cost $2, which I think is too much for any newspaper.

I guess other people felt the same way.

"What are the odds of the Register replacing Rick Tapscott by promoting someone who already works there?" Appleby asks. "I'll bet they bring in another Gannett clone."

Tapscott, who was passed over in favor of Carolyn Washburn when the paper was looking for a new editor, is leaving the place. He'll be the managing editor at the paper in Wilmington, Del.

A guy tells me that there will likely be a few in-house candidates for his job at the Register -- one of them perhaps sports editor Bryce Miller, "who applies for every job that opens."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Drake Basketball Coach Tom Davis Hits Paydirt, Signs 6-1 Guard Who Led State of Oklahoma With a 35-Point Average Last Season As High School Junior

Josh Young, a 6-foot 1-inch guard from Lawton, Okla., who led the state of Oklahoma in scoring as a high school junior last year, has signed a national letter of intent with Drake.

Young averaged 35 points, 8.2 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 5.9 steals last year while leading Lawton Christian Secondary School to the Oklahoma Christian School Athletic Association state title year.

Young scored 25 points in his team's state championship victory over Windsor Hills last season.

Young is already averaging 33.8 points this season while guiding Lawton Christian to a 4-0 start, including a season-high 43 points against Sterling High School.

He becomes the second high school player to sign a national letter of intent to join the Drake basketball program during the fall signing period. Keith Worner, a 6-6 forward from Denver [Ia.] High School, signed a national letter of intent last Thursday.

During the 2004-05 season, Young scored 40 or more points in six games, 50 or more points on three occasions including a school-record 64 points against Alex High School. He is a three-time Oklahoma Christian School Athletic Association all-state selection. And was named the most valuable player in the 2005 Sooner Christian Conference tournament.

Young plans to major in business at Drake. He is a member of Epsilon Chi and is listed in Who's Who Among American Students, while belong to the Lawton Christian School Leadership Group.

"From the first time we saw Josh Young, we felt he was the right choice," said Drake coach Tom Davis. "Our staff saw him play numerous times last summer and were convinced he would be a great fit for Drake, both athletically and academically, so we're pleased to have him joining us."

He has scored 2,320 career points entering his senior campaign for a career scoring average of 25.9 points.

"Drake presented Josh the greatest opportunity of all the schools that were recruiting him, academically and athletically," said Lawton Christian coach Rick Young. "It was a tough decision but after all the fall recruiting dust had settled, Drake proved to be the perfect fit."

"Coach Davis, his staff and the university did a wonderful job in recruiting him. They will give Josh the greatest opportunity to be successful as a man, student and a basketball player."

Said Young: "I chose Drake because I felt that it was great fit for me academically. I really like the coaches, players and people that I met during my visit. Finally, the city of Des Moines is a nice place and I felt very comfortable there."

Like incoming Drake recruit Keith Worner, Young owns a 4.0 grade-point average.

"In all of my years of recruiting, I can't remember two young men better prepared for college in the same recruiting class as you'll see with Josh [Young] and Keith Worner," added Davis.


It's silly at this point in the season for any sportswriter to be cranking out stories that say this team or that team is going to this pissant bowl game or that pissant bowl game.

Believe me, I've been down that road.

Plenty of times.

The scenario at every bowl game will change many times before the decisions are made on the matchups.

At this stage, to say Iowa is going to this bowl or Iowa State is going to that bowl is ridiculous.

It's pure guesswork and, in some cases, wishful thinking.

Don't believe it.

Like Hayden Fry used to say, "It all makes good newspaper copy, but it means nothing."


I used to talk about the people who engineered Jack Trice Stadium on the Iowa State campus in Ames.

Especially when the wind blew so hard that the stadium's foundation was in jeopardy.

Which was most of the time.

"How can it be," I'd ask, "that Iowa State can have a forestry department, but no one planted any trees around the stadium? What kind of thinking was that?"

I thought the trees would help control the wind, which always is a factor during football games at the stadium.

But, obviously, trees wouldn't have made any difference Saturday night when the Cyclones played Colorado in their final home game of the season.

The wind was so awful that it likely would have ripped down the trees, too.

As it was, the wind raised all kinds of hell before and during a game the Cyclones won, 30-16.

There was much more involved, of course, than a football game. Wind was the least of it. Tornadoes tore through parts of Iowa and caused massive damage Saturday night.

"I'm glad you dodged the tornadoes," Big 12 Conference spokesman Bo Carter said to Iowa State coach Dan McCarney this morning on the league's coaches' teleconference.

The start of the game was delayed 40 minutes.

"The wind was blowing non-stop relentlessly throughout the game," McCarney said.

McCarney was asked how much the wind is a factor in pregame planning.

"At 10 o'clock Saturday morning, we knew there could be a delay [in the start of the game] because of the weather," he said. "We didn't know tornadoes would be involved. But everybody did a good job of keeping things secure.

"Colorado won the coin toss and took the ball. So that meant we had the wind in the first and third quarters. We were fortunate to get off to a 13-0 start."


Iowa State tailback Stevie Hicks, who has been battling what is believed to be a lower leg injury all season, had to be helped off the field late in Saturday night's game.

"He'll be ready for [the Nov. 26 game] at Kansas," McCarney said.

Hicks was injured in the first week of two-a-day practices in August, and has been bothered by the ailment most of the season.


An e-mail from Steve Deace at KXNO:

"At some point in time, all of you on this email list have been instrumental in the success we've had on radio over the years, maybe some of you without even knowing it. Your support, accountability, and feedback has been a big blessing to me, even when I didn't like what I was hearing [or especially then!]. That's why I wanted to share with all of you the latest ratings for our show in afternoon in drive in Des Moines:"

Persons 25-49: tied for third with Star, behind KGGO and The Bus
Persons 25-54: third, behind KGGO and The Bus
Men 18-49: third, behind KGGO and LAZR
Men 25-49: second, behind KGGO
Men 25-54: second, behind KGGO
Men 35-64: second, behind KGGO

"Folks, those are great numbers for a 5,000-watt AM sports station in a non pro-sports city. We even beat WHO in every one of those demos. To be blunt, we shouldn't be getting these kinds of ratings. Thank you for being there for me over the years."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Something Tells Me Football Has Passed Alvarez By...McCarney Keeps Proving His Critics Wrong...Don't Forget, Floyd: Iowa City Is Nice In the Winter

If you ask me, it’s a good thing Barry Alvarez decided it was time to hang up his coaching whistle.

After what I saw yesterday, football has passed Barry by.

Great guy, though.

When ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews caught up with Wisconsin’s coach after the game and asked him why his team lost to Iowa, 20-10, he said he didn’t know.

Later, someone –- maybe one of his assistant coaches –- must have told him.

“In the second half, they flat-out beat us up-front,” Alvarez said of Iowa.

I’m not sure it was Bret Bielema, the former Iowa player and assistant who will be Alvarez’s successor, who told Barry why he lost.

Beliema [pictured alongside the bald Alvarez in the AP photo] couldn’t seem to figure out what to do about Iowa in the last half, either.

Maybe even the first half.


The victory at Wisconsin was obviously Iowa’s most impressive of the season.

Somehow, beating hapless Illinois, Purdue and Indiana doesn’t seem like a big deal in the Big Ten this season.

Wisconsin was ranked 19th nationally. Going into yesterday’s game, I thought the Badgers were overrated. Afterward, I think they were horribly overrated.

But who's complaining?

Not me.


Speaking of big victories, how about what Iowa State did against No. 22 Colorado?

Just think, it was a few weeks ago that people were calling for Dan McCarney’s head.

McCarney showed 'em -- just like he's done so many other times.

The man can coach.


There are plenty of TV viewers who like the work Chris Spielman does as an ESPN college football analyst.

I’m one of them.

But network officials must have been a bit nervous yesterday when Spielman used the word “pissed” during the Iowa-Wisconsin game.

With Spielman [pictured on the left at the top], what you see is what you get.

The former standout at Ohio State and in the NFL again said he could tell whether Iowa was going to run or pass by the way the players were lined up on each offensive play.

You wonder if opposing coaches and players can see the same tendencies when they’re playing the Hawkeyes.

Something tells me Illinois, Purdue and Indiana couldn't.

Maybe Spielman should be coaching.


Please tell me what Notre Dame is proving by beating Navy for the 42nd straight time.

Why would the Fighting Irish want to continue pulverizing Navy or any other service academy football team year in and year out?

Even though Iowa State had trouble handling Army in a game earlier this season, I think the service academies should start playing Division III schedules because they can no longer compete at the major-college level.

The days of Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard running roughshod over bigtime rivals are long gone.


Can you believe it?

Michigan State, which beat Notre Dame earlier this season, still isn’t bowl-eligible.

Kind of makes me wonder where Spartans coach John L. [“L” for loser, I guess] Smith [pictured in the green jacket, not to be confused with anything connected to the Masters golf tournament] will be next year.


Minnesota manhandled Michigan State, 41-18, yesterday without Laurence Maroney –- who had a bad ankle.

I’ll bet Maroney [pictured in the Gopher maroon outfit] will be ready for Saturday’s game at Iowa.

Floyd of Rosedale [pictured] says he’s ready, too.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Floyd is the bronze pig at the top right of this column].

Ready to spend another nice winter in Iowa City, that is.


Don’t say I didn’t tell you:

Iowa 42, Minnesota 24

Somehow, spending Christmas in Detroit didn’t seem like a lot of fun.

Spending Dec. 26 there for the Motor City Bowl sounded like even less fun.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

At A Time When Newspapers Are Being Attacked From All Corners, the Register Showed No Guts In the Headline Flap With Ferentz

Back to that Kirk Ferentz headline mess with the Des Moines Register for a minute.

Remember, at one of his Tuesday press conferences, the Iowa football coach took issue with the newspaper for a headline that said "Northwestern defense has Iowa salivating."

Ferentz thought the sports page headline provided Northwestern with bulletin board material heading into last Saturday's game against Iowa. It was a game the Wildcats wound up winning, 28-27.

Some newspapers--one being the Iowa City Press-Citizen --and TV stations reported Ferentz's disapproval of the headline. Shockingly, the Register didn't report the story.

[Click on "the way i see it....." at the right to read the rest of this column]

I saw nothing in the Register the day after Ferentz [pictured at the upper right] complained, and I haven't seen anything in the paper since. No news story, no column. Nothing.

Bryce Miller is the paper's sports editor and Andrew Logue was the reporter assigned to the press conference.

My take on this situation is that the Register dropped the ball miserably.

The paper was gutless.

It was a big-time choke job.

Whenever someone takes issue with the paper, the paper owes it to its readers to report it.

I would never want to be in a position where another media outlet -- another newspaper, a TV station or [these days] an Internet site -- reports something that I should be reporting.

Believe me, I've been in some similar situations.

When I was involved, I wrote the stories.

I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Some examples.....

There was the incident following Iowa's final football game of the 1970 season, when then-Hawkeye coach Ray Nagel verbally came after me.

Following his press conference, with a handful of reporters that included me, Nagel turned to me and said, "Is there anything you want to ask me, Maly?"

I immediately said, "Do you plan to resign?"

Nagel quickly said he didn't intend to quit.

That episode had its start on Tuesday of the week. Nagel's weekly press conference was held at the University of Iowa Athletic Club in Iowa City. Because rumors had been rampant that Nagel was on his way out, I asked him if I could talk with him for a minute in a private room.

I was trying to make it easy on him and, yes, I was attempting to keep the story as a Register exclusive.

I told Nagel about the rumors that he would be announcing his resignation.

Nagel then went into the press conference and said to the other reporters, "Do you know what this guy just asked me? He wanted to know if I was quitting."

That was Nagel's way of seeking defense [sympathy perhaps?] from Gus Schrader of the Cedar Rapids Gazette and others who then were covering Iowa, and who tended to write more favorably about Iowa.

I recall writing a story for the next day's Register that quoted Nagel about not quitting.

However, two days after the final game of a 3-6-1 season, he was history. He announced his resignation Monday night at the Iowa football banquet in Davenport.

So I guess all those rumors were correct.

In another season, then-Iowa State football coach Jim Walden [pictured at the upper left] began a Tuesday press conference in Ames by saying, "This conference is open to everyone but Ron Maly....."

Oh, man, I was loving that.

Walden then went into a tirade about me putting his game plan for the next opponent in the paper that morning. He had announced the game plan to fans attending the Cyclone Club lunch in Des Moines the day before.

I certainly wrote about what Walden said both Monday and Tuesday in the next days' papers.

Another time, Walden tore into Marc Hansen [pictured between Walden and Hayden Fry, wearing sunglasses], then the Register's sports columnist, about something he had written. Hansen wasn't at the press conference, but I was. After hearing what Walden said about him, I called Hansen at his home, told him about Walden's comments and asked if had anything to say about them.

I recall writing about what both Walden and Hansen said about the situation.

Come to think of it, Hansen and I seemed to spend a lot of time on the phone in those days, talking about what some coach had said about each of us.

Another time, then-Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry was critical of Jim Ecker -- a standout sports reporter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette -- at one of his press conferences. It seemed that Ecker had been trying to find out what Iowa's new football uniforms looked like, and was doing his best to get a scoop.

Fry, however, went public at the press conference with his displeasure of how Ecker attempted to get the story. It turned into a real sideshow, with Ecker disputing what Fry was saying while taking notes at the press conference.

I know I wrote about that situation, and I'm sure Ecker did, too. The reporting bulldog that Ecker was, there was no way he was going to get shut out of that story.

My point on this is that I always wanted to be the guy who wrote the story when someone attacked me or my employer. No way would I want it any differently.

Evidently, times have changed at the Register. I think it's horrible that the Ferentz issue with the Register headline went unreported in the newspaper.

It was a definite lack of courage at a time when newspapers are being attacked from all corners, and it displays an unbelievable absence of leadership at a once-proud place.



Here's something else that's hard to believe.

I hear that editors at the Register told business columnist Dave Elbert that he had to get a comment from Bob Ray before they'd publish Elbert's review of Walt Shotwell's new book.

Some of the book is about Ray, a former Iowa governor and former everything-else in this state.

It turned out that Ray said he hadn't yet read Shotwell's book.

But it's ridiculous to tell a columnist who is doing a review that he has to get a comment from someone mentioned in the book.

That, too, is gutless, and it's a definite show of disrespect to Elbert, who has worked at the paper forever.



I got some laughs while listening to a couple of kids [I guess they were high school students] broadcasting the Valley-Dowling Class 4-A state semifinal football game last night on the radio.

The kid doing the play-by-play didn't do a bad job, but in the first half, he said Valley coach Gary Swenson "is probably pee-ohed" that the officials didn't put more time on the clock after a penalty.

Another time, that same kid said he hoped a penalty "doesn't come up and bite Valley in the butt."

I wonder why Gary Dolphin and John Walters don't say that kind of stuff when they're broadcasting games?



It's mystifying to me why a columnist wasn't assigned to write about the Valley-Dowling game for today's Register.

It was the biggest game in the state, and it deserved a column by either Nancy Clark or Sean Keeler.

It shouldn't have been left to reporter Dan McCool to write everything about a game that didn't start until 7:30 p.m.



Another thing I wanted to see, but didn't, was an attendance figure in the paper on the Valley-Dowling game.

There's no excuse for that.