Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Des Moines Newspaper Gives Northwestern Some Bulletin Board Material With a Dumb Headline--And Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz Isn't Happy About It

Don't look for Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz to be taking headline writers from the sports department at the Des Moines Register out to lunch anytime soon.

Although you didn't read about it in today's Register -- I wonder why? -- Ferentz has expressed his strong dissatisfaction with a headline in yesterday's sports section.

The headline likely will wind up where all dumb headlines go -- tacked to the bulletin board of the next team on the schedule.

In this case, that next team is Northwestern.

Iowa is a 2 1/2-point favorite to beat the Wildcats in an 11 a.m. game Saturday at Evanston, Ill.

The incident involving the piss-poor Register headline was covered this morning by the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

The Press-Citizen story, co-authored by Pat Harty and Andy Hamilton and headlined "Ferentz says paper's headline off the mark," reads:

"Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz doesn't claim to be a journalist, but he knows a bad headline when he reads it.

"Ferentz was less than pleased after reading a headline in Tuesday's edition of the Des Moines Register.

"The headline read: 'Northwestern defense has Iowa salivating.'

"It was in reference to this Saturday's game between Iowa and Northwestern and the fact Northwestern is ranked 117th nationally in total defense. The Wildcats are allowing an average of 494.7 yards through eight games.

"'I just hope they realize we didn't write the headline,' Ferentz said. 'I mean, please.

"'It would be great if it were that easy. It's not.'

"Asked what his first reaction was after reading the headline, Ferentz said:

"'Just what I typically think if I read something that' want an honest answer on that or not? Probably somebody that really doesn't understand competition, but understands numbers if I had to take a guess.

"'That'll tick somebody off, but that kind of thinking gets people beat.'"

"Ferentz said he would talk to his players about the headline.

"'I'll bring it up, yeah sure,' he said. 'I just hope they're more sports knowledgeable than the author of that headline.'"

What makes it interesting that the Press-Citizen made a big deal out of Ferentz being critical of a headline in the Register is that both newspapers are owned by the Gannett Co.

Ferentz has had plenty of things to be upset with the Register about this year, and the horrible headline is the latest.

Andrew Logue, who has been covering Iowa's games all season, wrote the article about Northwestern's defense. However, unless things have changed drastically at the Register, he didn't write the headline.

Someone on the copy desk was responsible for that. Also, unless a hell of a lot has happened in recent years, the sports editor -- in this case, Bryce Miller -- had the final say on what was in the headline.

Miller had to give his approval to it.

If he didn't, the sports department has a lot more problems on its hands than most of us are already aware of.

[By the way, Bryce Miller is a former Iowa City Press-Citizen sports editor].

Coaches are constantly worried about headlines and articles in the week of preparation for a game.

Hayden Fry, who was Iowa's coach for 20 years before Ferentz took the job, always said he didn't read newspapers, but all of us suspected he did.

Fry might say that "one of my assistant coaches put the article on my desk" to get the point across that he wouldn't lower himself to actually read a newspaper.

I know this. Fry always knew what was in the paper -- especially if it was something controversial, or if it involved him and his team.

I'll bet Fry is laughing over this latest headline issue.

I know I am.


A guy e-mailed me, asking why Drake senior guard Linda Sayavongchanh isn't listed among the probable starters or the reserves for Saturday's 2:05 p.m. women's basketball exhibition game at the Knapp Center against Nebraska-Kearney.

I hear that Sayavongchanh has been battling a foot stress fracture that's taking longer to heal than anticipated. Hopefully, the graduate of Des Moines Lincoln will resume practicing late next week.


Travis Simpson of Des Moines says his worst fear has happened.

Here's his e-mail:

"My friends and I have always said that you are asking for trouble if you plan your wedding for the day of the Iowa-Iowa State game. That's what summers are for: To have weddings! Well my worst fear finally came true.....One of my friends is going to get married on the day of the big game next year. I guess she can be partially excused since her and her fiancé are both Nebraska Cornhusker fans [sadly] and the wedding is in Lincoln, but I still have to give her a thumbs down for the poor date selection. Their engagement happened earlier this summer and they would have still had a year to plan a summer wedding. Here is to hoping that kickoff is an early time on TV so I can at least watch the big game before the wedding festivities begin at 4 p.m.!"

Travis Simpson

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Travis, the best thing I can say is that not all people are sports fans. A few years ago I missed my 50th high school reunion because they scheduled it on the day of the Iowa-Iowa State game at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. My son was among the four F-16 pilots who flew over the stadium during an emotional pregame ceremony, so there was no way I was going to miss the game].


Todd Sommerfeldt of the LaCrosse [Wis.] Tribune writes about Karl Klug, a 6-4, 220-pound high school football player from Caledonia, MN, who says he'll enroll at Iowa:

"An Iowa coach called Caledonia coach Carl Fruechte to tell him about the offer on Sunday night, and Klug accepted it in a phone call Monday morning.

“'When a big school like that offers you something like this,' Klug said with a laugh, 'it’s tough to turn down.'

"Klug was recruited to play defense. The initial plan is to move him to linebacker, but he said remaining on or eventually going back to the defensive line is a possibility.

"Either way, he’s happy to be a Hawkeye. He’ll be able to sign his national letter of intent Feb. 1.

"Klug, who also received heavy Division I interest from Iowa State, Minnesota and Northern Iowa, has the Warriors [10-0] in a Class AA, Section 1 championship game against Winona Cotter [9-1] Friday."

Caledonia is 30 miles north of Decorah, Ia.


University of San Diego football coach Jim Harbaugh was arrested and booked on suspicion of drunken driving early Sunday morning after being stopped for running a stop sign in Encinitas, according to the San Diego County sheriff's department.

The San Diego Union-Tribune said he was released later that morning after 7½ hours at the Vista Detention Facility. He is to appear in court on the matter in December.

"I'm more embarrassed for the people around me than I am for myself," Harbaugh said. "I've made a lifetime of good social decisions, and this was a bad one. Our players know they have consequences for decisions they make. That applies to me, too. I'll take responsibility for this action."

San Diego athletic director Ky Snyder said, "The university takes allegations of this nature very seriously. However, it's not appropriate for us to comment on the situation, especially since it's not resolved."

Snyder said Harbaugh will be on the sideline for Saturday's game against Chapman. The Toreros are 8-1 [with one of the victories over Drake, 31-26] in their second season under Harbaugh, 41, a former NFL quarterback and standout at Michigan.


Even though these are tough times for Rob Borsellino, he continues to write brilliantly. The column he did on the little weasel was a masterpiece.