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.