Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Iowan Who Is Heading South For the Winter Wonders If He's Personally Seen Alford Coach His Last Game At Carver-Hawkeye Arena

A longtime University of Iowa basketball fan who is heading south for the winter didn't leave before e-mailing me with some comments:

"I hope you had a Merry Christmas. We will return in early March. I'm wondering if I've personally witnessed Alford coach his last game at Iowa. Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby didn't exactly give him a ringing endorsement in the Gazette a week ago....."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: That man is among those disappointed in what Steve Alford [pictured at the upper right] has accomplished -- or not accomplished -- since becoming the Hawkeyes' coach in 1999. Victories are down and so is attendance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In games against the state's other three major-college teams, Iowa [10-3] lost to Iowa State and Northern Iowa and had trouble beating Drake. It'll be interesting to see how the Hawkeyes do in the Big Ten race that starts Jan. 5 at Wisconsin. Although Alford has had a long-term contract as coach and has a pretty fair team, there's a group of observers and fans who claim he might be gone after this season, regardless of how many games he wins.].


"I don't have a real good feeling about this [Outback Bowl] game," writes a Hawkeye football fan from eastern Iowa. "Florida should win for two reasons (1) psychological advantage and (2) better players. Too bad Ron Zook isn't still coaching the Gators....."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Zook was the Florida coach two years ago when Iowa won the Outback Bowl, 37-17. He's now at Illinois, where he had records of 2-9 overall and 0-8 in the Big Ten in his first season].


When I sat next to Larry Morgan -- the talented TV and radio sportscaster from Clive -- at a basketball game the other night, he mentioned that Shawn Huff is a sophomore guard for the Valparaiso team that lost to Iowa, 72-59, earlier this month in Iowa City.

Shawn's father is Leon Huff, who was Drake's leading scorer [11.6-point average] and rebounder [7.7 average] in the 1971-72 season.

Shawn [pictured on the left] is a 6-6, 205-pound Valparaiso sophomore from Helsinki, Finland. He averaged 4.4 points last season, and scored four points and had two rebounds in the game against Iowa.


An e-mail from a central Iowa reader:

"Did you see the picture in the Metro & Iowa section of the Register yesterday? It showed a guy giving the photographer the finger at the Des Moines airport. They've been laughing about it on the radio."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: The reader was referring to the photo on Page 6B of the paper. The photo was taken by Doug Wells of a line of passengers at the airport. A guy in the front is shown talking on a cell phone, and a guy behind him is shown flipping the bird. He could have been pissed for a number of reasons -- 1. He wasn't able to fly anywhere because of foggy weather; 2. He didn't like it that Wells was taking his picture; 3. He didn't like Wells; 4. His wife didn't know he was in Des Moines. This is the same newspaper that refused to run a photo a number of years ago of former Iowa State basketball coach Johnny Orr flipping the bird at officials in a Cyclone game against Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. The paper didn't use the photo even after Larry Paul, then the news editor, wanted to use it and got permission to do so from then-editor Jim Gannon. I referred to that incident recently when writing about the retirement of Larry Lehmer of the Register's sports department. I'm wondering now if Wells and his editors realized the guy was flipping the bird for the camera].


Then there was the headline at the top of the front page in the same Des Moines newspaper:


All of us were waiting for that.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why the guy was flipping off Doug Wells at the airport.


Now I can relax.

There's good news for Ken Fuson and the rest of us.

Dave Barry [pictured at the lower right] tells Editor & Publisher he won't be resuming his weekly humor column.

"I'll continue occasional columns for the [Miami] Herald as I did this year, I'll also continue to do the holiday gift guide and the year in review. And I'll keep blogging," Barry said. "But not the weekly column."

When Barry, a writer who some [including probably himself] consider to be God's gift to humor columnists, quit his regular, syndicated column a while back, the Des Moines Register had a problem.

Oh, I know, the Register has all kinds of problems. But this was a real problem.

The Register had been publishing Barry's weekly column on Mondays. So, in an effort to replace Barry, the Register's bosses did a national search for a replacement that went as far the Eighth Street parking ramp downtown.

Fuson [center], who remains the Register's best hope to end the long dry spell at the Pulitzer Prize well, replaced Barry and writes better humor than the guy who has the glitter in his eyes.