Monday, January 30, 2006

Collegiate Basketball Irony -- On a Night When Movie Fans See 5 Black Starters In 'Glory Road,' Iowa Uses 4 White Regulars To Tie for Big Ten Lead

As I sat in sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena at Iowa City the other night, watching Iowa’s basketball team climb into a tie for first place in the Big Ten standings, I considered the irony of it all.

The Hawkeyes were beating Ohio State, 67-62, and staying undefeated at home with a starting lineup that was 80 percent white and 80 percent native Iowan.

At the same time, in theaters around the state and nation, the movie “Glory Road” was drawing viewers who wanted to see the story of an NCAA championship team that had an all-black starting lineup.

It was in 1966 that Texas Western [now Texas-El Paso], coached by Don Haskins, used its all-black lineup to beat all-white Kentucky, coached by Adolph Rupp, in the championship game, 72-65, at College Park, Md.

People probably cared 40 years ago that Haskins started an all-black lineup, but nobody really gave a damn Saturday night when Iowa coach Steve Alford [pictured at the upper right] used a starting lineup of four white players -- Greg Brunner, Adam Haluska, Jeff Horner and Erek Hansen -- along with black guard Mike Henderson, against Ohio State.

As far as I could tell, the refreshingly noisy crowd of 15,500 cared only that the Hawkeyes won on a night when the student fans were revved up and when the university honored its 1955 and 1956 NCAA Final Four teams.

The fans loved it when Iowa’s 2005-2006 players ran over to the students immediately after the game and saluted them for the noise they had generated.

Skin color didn’t matter. Success in front of only the second home sellout crowd all season did.

The people dressed in those gold sweatshirts and gold T-shirts [photo above from], and buying those big tubs of popcorn, weren’t concerned with which players were “athletic” and which weren’t.

They just wanted to chant “Dirty Program! Dirty Program!” at Ohio State’s players when they were shooting free throws.

This is a Hawkeye team -- now ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press poll -- that’s easy to like.

*There’s Brunner [lower middle], the balding 6-7, 245-pound senior from Charles City who averages 14 points and 10.3 rebounds. Brunner can do it all, and proved it by starring on the USA team that went 8-0 and won the gold medal in the 2005 World University Games.

*There’s Horner [lower left], the 6-3 guard from Mason City who has been robbed of his shooting ability in his senior season. The knee he injured early in the season, and which now is in a brace, has influenced his shot and his mobility so much that was 0-for-8 from the field against Ohio State. He’s averaging 6.5 assists and 11.8 points a game.

*There’s Adam Haluska [lower right] of Carroll, the transfer from Iowa State who leads the team with a 15.3 scoring average. He’s only a junior, but at this time next season he should maybe consider lining up ESPN announcer and former collegiate coach Rick Majerus as his agent. Majerus raves about him all the time when he does Iowa games.

*There’s Erek Hansen [upper middle], the 6-11 senior center who is the only non-Iowan in the starting lineup. Hansen is from Bedford, Texas, and played at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids before becoming a Hawkeye. He has blocked 65 shots this season and is clearly a crowd favorite while not backing away from physical confrontations under the basket.

*There’s Mike Henderson of Waterloo [upper left], a junior who is the only black player in the starting lineup. He’s averaging 7.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2 assists. The kid can play.

In addition, Doug Thomas [5-point, 4.5-rebound average, 21 blocks], Alex Thompson, Tony Freeman and Carlton Reed, give Alford a pretty fair bench.

The Hawkeyes take records of 16-5 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten into Wednesday night’s game at Purdue. This is definitely an Iowa team capable of winning 22 or 23 games heading into the conference tournament March 9-12 at Indianapolis.

Alford, whose teams have underachieved in the conference in past seasons, is doing the best coaching job in his seventh season at Iowa.

Barring further injuries, it’s a team that could win a couple of games in the NCAA tournament.

It figures to be a fun February and March.

Friday, January 27, 2006

'Fabulous Five' Starter Sharm Scheuerman And I Kept the Coffee Plenty Hot At Biaggi's By Exchanging All Those Great Bobby Knight Stories

Sharm Scheuerman and I were exchanging Bobby Knight stories over coffee at Biaggi's in West Des Moines.

One thing we both know is that there may not be a more unpredictable man in coaching -- any kind of coaching -- than Knight.

I've told the story before in these columns about how I was cutting my lawn one summer afternoon a number of years ago, and my oldest son came out of the house to tell me that Knight was calling me.

"Bobby Knight is on the phone," Lonn said.

"I suppose the next thing you're going to say is that the president is inviting me to the White House," I told him. "It's got to be a hoax. It's that damn Al Elder trying to play another practical joke on us."

"No, it's really Knight," Lonn said. "He wants to talk to you."

Know what? It was Knight. He was calling from his office on the Indiana University campus, and he wanted to thank me for something I had written about him.

Later, Knight [right] called me again at my office downtown. That time, he offered to write a guest column for the paper "so I can give you a day off."

That was at the time Johnny Orr, an old coaching buddy of his, was taking the Iowa State job. Knight's Indiana teams had faced Orr's Michigan squads plenty of times in Big Ten Conference games and the NCAA tournament, so he wanted to give him a proper sendoff.

Knight produced his "guest column" for me, and it was a good one.

Still later, Knight invited me to dine with him along with a group that included Brad Bomba, his team physician, and Bob Hammel, then the sports editor of the Bloomington, Ind., newspaper, when Indiana came to Iowa City for a game.

We met at The Lark, the well-known restaurant in Tiffin, just outside of Iowa City, for dinner.

The Lark's best steaks, potatoes, salad, name it, Knight ordered it.

Then, when the evening was about to wind up, the widow of Bucky O'Connor -- who coached Iowa's 1955 and '56 Final Four teams -- passed by Knight's table.

It was a scene that seemed to be set up by a Hollywood movie director.

Knight absolutely charmed her.

[By the way, there is no Lark in Tiffin anymore. The restaurant burned to the ground a number of years ago].

The day after I met Knight at The Lark, I bought his lunch at a restaurant in Iowa City -- a couple of hours after he had put his players through a practice session at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

It was during the practice that Gene Claussen, then a radio announcer at Iowa City station KXIC, asked Knight if he could interview him.

Knight agreed to tape-record the interview, but had a trick planned. He used profanity throughout the interview -- and no radio announcer in his right mind could have used it on the air.

That was long before "shock" radio existed. Claussen wasn't about to risk losing his station's license by using Knight's profanity on the air.

"But something inside me tells me to use it anyway," he said to me at the time out of orneriness.

My mention of the radio story brings up an amusing anecdote Scheuerman talked about when we were at Biaggi's, reliving the old days.

After being a starting guard on Iowa's "Fabulous Five" team in 1955-56 -- which won the Big Ten championship and finished second to San Francisco in the Final Four -- Scheuerman was the Hawkeyes' coach and, later, was a radio and TV analyst on Iowa games.

Jim Zabel [left] was doing radio play-by-play on Hawkeye radio broadcasts in those days, and Scheuerman was his analyst for a while.

"Most of the time, Zabel would tape-record an interview with the opposing coach, but when Iowa played Indiana he'd ask me go down to tape Knight," Scheuerman said. "I think he was a little scared of Bobby."

Knight, of course, always wanted to keep someone off-guard when he was at Indiana. You know as well as me that he's the same way now that he's in the twilight of his coaching career at Texas Tech.

Scheuerman said the site of his interview with Knight was in an old locker room area in Iowa Fieldhouse, where the Hawkeyes played before moving into Carver-Hawkeye.

He explained to Knight that he'd tape the interview and that it would be used on the pregame show.

Sharm also knew that his relationship with Knight had changed. Knight treated him differently when he regarded him as a member of the media than when he was a coach.

Knight always enjoyed intimidation -- especially when he could make a reporter the victim.

When Sharm started the interview, he said something like, "Here I am at courtside with coach Bobby Knight of Indiana......"

Just then, Knight interrupted the interview.

"Wait a minute!" he said. "Let's tell the truth about this. We're not courtside, we're in this locker room."

The rattled and frustrated Sharm turned off the tape recorder and started the interview over.

"I've got to get this done so it can be sent to Des Moines," he told Knight.

Finally, there was a Knight-Scheuerman interview.

When Sharm got to the WHO radio area at the fieldhouse, Scheuerman told Zabel what had happened.

"I hope you didn't erase what Knight said," Zabel commented. "I'd like to keep it."

* * *

Scheuerman will join 50 or so other former Hawkeye players tomorrow night at Iowa's Lettermen's Game.

The ex-players will be honored before and during the Iowa-Ohio State game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa won Big Ten championships and played in the Final Four in both 1955 and '56. The '55 team [19-7 overall and 11-3 in the conference] lost to LaSalle and Colorado in the Final Four, and the '56 squad [20-6 overall and 13-1 in the Big Ten] is regarded as the school's best after reaching the championship game against San Francisco.

Unfortunately, McKinley "Deacon" Davis, a starter on the '55 team -- and Carl Cain, a starter in both '55 and '56 -- aren't expected back.

However, Bill Schoof, Bill Logan and Bill Seaberg will join Scheuerman of the '56 starters in what figures to be a very emotional night for everyone.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bud Appleby Unimpressed With Newsroom Move -- Says, 'The Register Has a History Of Putting Unqualified People In the Managing Editor's Chair'

A headline in today's local paper said:

Register taps
for managing
editor post

This was the story under the headline:

"The Des Moines Register has hired one of its own as managing editor, in charge of daily news operations.

"Register Editor Carolyn Washburn late Wednesday afternoon announced she had hired one of her assistants, longtime Iowa journalist Randy Brubaker, as managing editor. Brubaker replaced Rick Tapscott, who left to take a job in Delaware.

"Brubaker, 47, was born in Des Moines. He is a graduate of Wartburg College in Waverly.

"Brubaker has held a series of positions at the Register, including sports editor, news editor and, recently, assistant managing editor leading the paper's offerings at He joined the Register staff in 1988.

"Washburn, who considered six finalists from across the country, said Brubaker's strengths include creativity, supporting both public-affairs and community-based reporting, online experience, the respect of his Register peers and his ability to coach the staff.

"Register Publisher Mary Stier said she was thrilled that the position went to one of the Register's own. 'He has the respect and trust of the newsroom staff,' Stier said of Brubaker's standing at the Register, the state's largest newspaper."

* * *

Early reaction to the naming of Brubaker has been less-than-upbeat.

Bud Appleby, a retired writer and editor at the Register, is certainly unimpressed.

He said in an e-mail to me:

"I guess Brubaker getting the managing editor's job isn't much of a surprise when you consider that people are not hired for that post on their journalistic skills but on their perceived ability to hold down the cost of gathering and reporting the news.

"Besides, the Register has a history of putting unqualified people in the managing editor's chair. Ed Hines, Arnie Garson and Diane Graham come to mind. I'm sure there are others."

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Another ex-Register managing editor who was strongly-deserving of being on that list was Mike Townsend].

"Garson, of course, was in a class by himself," Appleby continued. "During his reign of terror there, someone cleverly altered the dictionary at the copy desk so that if you looked up the word 'asshole' you found Arnie's picture.

"On the day Garson announced his resignation, there were at least three parties at the homes of newsroom staffers that night to celebrate the occasion. At the party I attended, there was a dart board on a closet door that had a picture of Arnie instead of a bull's-eye. And that wasn't done to mark his leaving; it had been that way for months.

"Another joke about Brubaker getting the job was the Register story that quoted the publisher, Mary Stier, as saying: 'He has the respect and trust of the newsroom staff.'

"That may be true, but even if it is, she doesn't know it. She probably had to ask someone who he is.

"You can use my name [in your column] and you can add that Garson's biggest accomplishment as managing editor was unifying the newsroom -- everybody hated him."

* * *

[Brubaker is pictured on the upper right, Stier on the upper left. Photos of the other Register managing editors mentioned in this column -- as well as Brubaker, Stier, Washburn and even Mike Gartner and Dennis Ryerson -- are being used as bull's-eyes in the men's and women's restrooms at 715 Locust. There's a crowd in both places, so you'll have to take a number to get your turn.]

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It's No Wonder Some Indiana Fans Would Still Like To Have Alford As Their Coach -- Mike Davis Didn't Have a Clue Against the Hawkeyes

I've been watching collegiate basketball for almost 60 years, and rarely have I seen a team that was as poorly-coached as Indiana last night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Hoosiers coach Mike Davis didn't have a clue in a 73-60 loss to Iowa.

His lack of preparation and inability to make adjustments throughout the game made Hawkeye coach Steve Alford look like Mike Krzyzewski's twin brother.

After surveying the mess Davis left in front of a national TV audience, it's no wonder many Indiana fans aren't happy with him and still want him replaced with Alford -- who was a standout as a Hoosier player -- or someone else.

Indiana had no inside presence and tried to rely on three-point field goal shooting to stay with Iowa. Despite having a forward the size of 6-8, 268-pound Marco Killingsworth -- who has a body that should be able to take on the entire Russian Army -- Indiana could do nothing against an Iowa front line led by Erek Hansen, who looks like he should be eating more Wheaties at breakfast.

You know Alford [pictured on the right] loves beating Indiana, and he did his best coaching job of the season against a Hoosiers team that came into the game with records of 4-1 in the Big Ten and 12-3 overall.

Iowa was the team that was supposed to be on life support after somehow managing to lose by 30 points three days earlier at Michigan State.

But it was Indiana that was gasping after a game that certainly should have attracted more than the 11,825 fans who showed up in the 15,500-seat building.

Iowa is obviously one of the seven Big Ten teams that will be invited to the NCAA Big Dance in March. With 15 victories already, I can see the Hawkeyes finishing the regular season with 22 or so heading into the tournament.


Mike Gartner gets blamed for everything that happens around here, and now he's taking the rap for David Skorton [pictured on the left] leaving at president at the University of Iowa and going to Cornell University.

Norton from Newton, not his real name, said this in an e-mail to me:


"The news about Dr. David Skorton is very upsetting.

"Your old buddy, Michael Gartner, is behind this whole deal. As an M.D., Skorton was very familiar with the scurrilous practices of health insurance companies. Skorton's public fight with Wellmark did not sit well with Mikie because Wellmark CEO John Forsythe and he are good friends. Forsythe and Wellmark board member Dave Neil resigned from the Board of Regents due to a clear conflict of interest.

"Gartner got his revenge by giving Skorton only a 3 percent raise, while ISU and UNI leaders got 5 percent. What a slap in the face! Skorton's job was much bigger than the other two, as he also ran the largest teaching hospital in the United States.

"I thought Skorton would be at Iowa forever. He was a big supporter of athletics and an all-around good guy.

"The only positive out if this horrible news is that at least Gartner didn't have to fake any gas tank exposions this time."

--Norton from Newton

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Norton from Newton seems to be on top of things over there in Maytag Land. It's obvious he isn't spending all of his time crawling around inside of freezers, wondering if he's got the right metric wrench in his tool-belt. I'm also assuming Norton from Newton -- smart guy that he is -- didn't waste any of his overtime pay on getting Reggie Jackson's $75 autograph at the I-Cubs' Fan Fest last week].


Milo from Menlo, not his real name and not his real hometown, sent this e-mail:


"So, how do you really feel about Gartner and the I-Cubs?!

--Milo from Menlo

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: The same as I felt last week, and the week before that].


Gordy Scoles of Bennettsville, S.C., writes:


"Thanks for using my remarks about Buck the Youngest [that would be FOX TV announcer Joe Buck]. For me, he belongs with Dick Vitale. I'm surprised that the Drake athletic director [Dave Blank] left Des Moines for Elon University. When we moved out here 20 years ago, Elon was a struggling NAIA college. Lately, it's moved into D-IAA pretty quickly, but I'm not sure exactly what that says about Drake and the Missouri Valley. Appalachian State, the team that beat UNI in the recent playoffs, is a member of the Southern Conference, the league Elon joined a few years ago. Maybe the future in the SoCon is brighter than the Missouri Valley."

--Gordy Scoles

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Dave Blank is making the move to Elon because he's going home to the Carolinas. The athletic director's job at Drake has never been easy, and never will be. I thought Blank did a good job while he was here, and he figures to do well wherever he is. Now let's get Jean Berger hired and start kicking some ass at Drake].


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Iowa's 'Fabulous Five' Ready for Its 50th Reunion -- It Was a Team With a Great Coach [Bucky O'Connor] And No 'Me, Me, Me' Attitude

Sharm Scheuerman was on the phone from Denver, Colo. – winding the clock back a half-century.

“Sharm, how would you describe that 1955-56 team?” I asked.

“It was a team,” Scheuerman said, placing strong emphasis on the word team. “It was a team with a great coach, who got the most out of his players.”

Scheuerman [right], now 71, was a starting guard on coach Bucky O’Connor’s team -- known as the Fabulous Five -- that’s regarded as the best in University of Iowa basketball history.

The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten championship with a 13-1 record, finished 20-6 overall and were second to Bill Russell’s San Francisco team in the NCAA Final Four at Evanston, Ill.

“No one on the team cared who scored the points,” Scheuerman pointed out.

Those who watched that squad beat one opponent after another in old Iowa Fieldhouse -- and I was one of them –- would put it this way: The 1955-56 Hawkeyes played basketball the way it should be played.

There was no “me, me, me” attitude. No “look what I’m doing” kind of thinking. It was long before SportsCenter on ESPN zeroed in on every slam-dunk from coast to coast.

Those 55-56 Hawkeyes are having their 50th reunion this weekend in Iowa City. They’ll gather Friday, attend Saturday night’s Iowa-Ohio State game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and go their own ways again Sunday after a brunch.

Most members of the team are expected to be present. However, Carl Cain, the standout forward who averaged 15.8 points, likely won’t be there because of some health problems.

“And [reserve] Babe Hawthorne passed away a while back,” Scheuerman pointed out.

The starting forwards were Cain and Bill Schoof [10.8 scoring average], center Bill Logan [17.7] and the guards were Bill Seaberg [13.9] and Scheuerman [10.1].

The top reserves were Bob George [3.8], Augie Martel [2.2] and Tom Payne [3.0].

All of the starters’ jersey numbers – Cain [21], Seaberg [22], Logan [31], Schoof [33] and Scheuerman [46] have been retired by the university.

Those Hawkeyes won three of their first four games, then lost four in a row –- to Washington, Stanford, California and their Big Ten opener to Michigan State, 65-64.

But then Iowa reeled off 17 consecutive victories before losing to San Francisco, 83-71. One of the biggest was over Illinois, 96-72, in a Big Ten showdown at Iowa Fieldhouse that was a classic.

“We used two guards, two wings and a center,” Scheuerman said. “Seaberg was a better shooter than I was, so he was the shooting guard. I thought I contributed and got the ball to the right player as a quote-unquote point guard or playmaker."

Scheuerman said his best game as a scorer came against Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky team in the regional tournament at Iowa City.

“I had 23 points [in our 89-77 victory],” he said. “Carl Cain had 35.”

Iowa beat Temple, 83-76, in the opening round of the Final Four before the loss to San Francisco. The Hawkeyes had no answer for Russell, who scored 27 points and an unbelievable 26 rebounds. Cain and Seaberg each scored 17 points for Iowa, and Logan had 15 rebounds.

Scheuerman had a 72-69 record –-including 18-6 in 1960-61 -- as Iowa’s coach from 1959-64. He took over after O’Connor died in a traffic accident in 1958. Scheuerman also later was a television and radio analyst of Hawkeye games.

After that, Sharm was a coach and general manager of Athletes in Action, a well-known basketball team of post-college-age players. He’s now president and CEO of BCI Edge in Denver, a team of players aged 23 to 35.

“I left Athletes in Action over two years ago,” he said. “I formed BCI Edge to serve as goodwill ambassadors for the U.S. in the spirit of Jesus, exemplifying character, integrity and our faith.

“The way athletics at the high level, especially basketball, is going, what we stand for is needed more today than ever before.”

The BCI Edge team played a number of games in China in October and November.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hey, Let's Go Back To When Babe Ruth's Salary Was $80,000 [More Than Hoover], And He Said, 'I Had A Better Year' Than the President

Mark Robinson, a former Iowan now living in California, weighs in on the obscenity of the silly Iowa Cubs' management inviting Reggie Jackson to Des Moines and letting him charge fans $75-per-autograph:

"Hi, Ron,

"I just read your post regarding this weekend's event that features, among other things, Reggie Jackson and the $75 autograph.

"I agree with you and the fellow who sent the e-mail, but not because Iowans are perceived as suckers. I don't think so. I do think management should be ashamed. Management lives in a different world.

"It is symptomatic of a larger problem with major league sports.

"The St. Louis Cardinals [you know, Ron, my team] just signed pitcher Jason Marquis to a one-year, five-and-a-quarter-million-dollar contract. This is the guy who had a mediocre record, although he finished strong, and lost his only outing in the playoffs last season. The guy is a better hitter than pitcher.

"For the Cardinal brass to award him such a contract after such a performance is symptomatic of professional sports. Five-and-a-quarter-million dollars, just to avoid arbitration? Yes, if they couldn't come to terms, it was headed to arbitration, and the Cards' brass backed down.

"Sad to say, it's all about money, and that includes those players who make millions in the after-market.

"Reggie Jackson and the other baseball retirees must feel they were short-changed by today's salary standards, thus charging fees for their signature based upon something they did years ago. Reggie probably demands more cash because he was a Yankee and hit three homers in one important game.

"He was a good one, for sure. Perhaps 75 bucks is chump change in New York or the bay area, where his career began. Perhaps his legacy in those locales warrants such a fee. It would pale in comparison with the price of housing in those places.

"It's just my opinion, but I would only offer 75 bucks for an autograph from Roger Maris or Stan Musial, and only Musial still lives.

"As far as I know, Maris never asked such a price for an autograph, and I'm not sure about Musial, but Musial would deserve any price.

"Keep writing,

"Mark Robinson"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Just think, Mark, I go back far enough that I thought $100,000-per-year contacts were big deals when talented guys like Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams were getting them. I wasn't around in 1930 when, after a long holdout, Babe Ruth [right] was paid a then-ungodly salary of $80,000, which was $5,000 more than President Herbert Hoover [left] made. When asked about it, Ruth delivered his famous quote, "I had a better year than he did." The Babe led the American League with 49 home runs. With bums like Jason Marqus making millions for piss-poor seasons, it's sickening, and it's just as sickening to see the I-Cubs bring clowns like Jackson to town so they can charge $75 per autograph].


Speaking of salaries, I'm guessing the ridiculous 3 percent pay raise received by David Skorton had a hell of a lot to do with why he's leaving as president of the University of Iowa and heading to Cornell University.

At the same time Skorton was given the embarrassing 3 percent raise, the presidents at Iowa State and Northern Iowa were receiving 5 percent raises.

By the way, it's been a long time since I've seen reporters get blindsided the way they were by Skorton's exit.

At the same time newspaper, TV and radio reporters were so worried that Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz might bolt for a job in the NFL, Skorton obviously had to be traveling around the country interviewing at Cornell and perhaps other universities in search of new employment.

Reporters in this state didn't have a clue that Skorton was going after other jobs.

Talk about people being asleep at the switch -- this was a classic case.

And then the Des Moines Register had the balls to put a copyright on the Skorton story it carried on its website yesterday.

Totally idiotic.


Something at the Register that "Mystified in Mystic -- Not Her Real Name" is wondering about:

"The movie critic announced on his blog -- or whatever the hell something that nobody reads is called on the newspaper's website -- that he's no longer reviewing movies for the paper," writes 'Mystified' in an e-mail.

"'Newspapers are things that are constantly in change and one of those changes will take place next week, when the Register moves to wire reviews and discontinues having a local film critic,' the critic wrote. 'Newspapers are constantly juggling resources and it’s been decided that having a full-time film and theater critic is no longer a priority.

"'After four years as the newspaper’s film critic I’ll miss reviewing movies —- well, the good ones at least —- as well as writing the Reel World page each week in Datebook. But I will be staying at the newspaper, working mostly as a copy editor but also continuing to review Des Moines theater. And that means we’ll continue to have fun discussions about why 'Rent' is or isn’t a great musical and other burning questions of the day.'"

Back to the e-mail from "Mystified in Mystic -- Not Her Real Name":

"Usually when a reporter is moved back to the copy desk, it's considered a demotion, and people in the newsroom know it's a demotion.

"Moving the movie reviewer to the copy desk is like moving sportswriter Randy Peterson to the copy desk or humor columnist Ken Fuson to the copy desk.

"Until the Register's new editor does a tell-all column and explains her reasons for doing it, I'm guessing she (a) wasn't happy with the critic's reviews; (b) wasn't happy with something the critic did; (c) decided giving two thumbs-ups to syndicated reviewer Roger Ebert was a better idea than giving any thumbs-ups at all to her own critic; (d) dumped her critic so the multi-talented Joan Bunke could come out of retirement and do the reviews again until she turns 150 years of age; (e) dumped her critic in favor of a $10-an-hour intern from Des Moines Area Community College, who will take over the job next month [after all, the editor will do anything to save a buck or two].

"Where's Jane Burns when we need her?"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: "Mystified In Mystic -- Not Her Real Name" -- obviously minces no words in her e-mail. For an old girl in a town of 588, she definitely has a way with words. Actually, I'm glad "Mystified" wrote because I haven't had much time to pay attention to the movie scene lately. Now that they're making movies about cowboys who kiss each other, I might be giving up on Hollywood completely. Hell, I don't even know the local movie critic's name. I knew it once, but when I heard from people who were acquainted with him that he wore a bow-tie so he could dress like his boss, that did it for me. Anyway, I've been too busy reading every word in the Register that farm editor Jerry Perkins has been cranking out and seeing all the unexciting stuff that readers are missing by not checking out Randy Brubaker's blog. My advice to you, "Mystified," is to look on the bright side. Maybe the ex-movie critic writes good headlines. The copy desk can always use a good headline-writer in this era of people constantly asking, "What's wrong with my paper today?" And, man, that bow-tie will go over real big on the copy desk. By the way, "Mystified," Jane Burns -- another former Register movie critic -- now lives in Wisconsin and is happy there.]


Friday, January 20, 2006

Are Local Baseball Fans A Bunch of Suckers? A Guy Says Reggie Jackson Charging $75 for His Autograph At Iowa Cubs Fan Fest Is 'Totally Obscene'

A Des Moines-area baseball fan is already upset, and it's still six weeks before he can start booing during spring training games in Arizona.

The guy is in an uproar because visitors to the Iowa Cubs Fan Fest that's going on here this weekend have to pay Reggie Jackson -- who used to be called "Mr. May" by George Steinbrenner -- an atrocious $75 for his autograph.

The man says such a fee is "totally obscene," and he adds that promoters of the Fan Fest are evidently taking local fans "for a bunch of suckers."

Here's the man's e-mail:

"Hi, Ron,

"I noticed in the advertising for the Iowa Cubs Fan Fest that they were promoting autographs from Reggie Jackson for $75. Who in their right mind would pay $75 for an autograph, let alone $30 or $35 for some supposedly 'lesser known' baseball stars? Nothing against Jackson. I think he was a great player, but to charge some kid [or adult, for that matter] $75 for his autograph is totally obscene. The people who accommodate him by paying that simply must have way too much money to spend. I also think the promoters of the event must take local Cub fans for a bunch of suckers."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Mike Gartner [left], Sam Bernabe [second from right] and others from the Iowa Cubs should be ashamed of themselves for bringing Jackson [right] and other has-beens into town so they can charge Iowans as much as $75 for their autographs. It's the biggest swindle since the I-Cubs were charging fans $4 to park their cars and $5.75 for a cup of beer at No-Name Ballpark last season. My correspondent is correct in saying the promoters of the Fan Fest are taking local fans for a bunch of suckers. Look for me to be as far away as I can [like about 120 miles] from Jackson and the Fan Fest. If I want to get robbed, it won't be by any band of baseball bums or a money-grabbing Triple-A team].

With Dave Blank Soon To Be Gone, My Question Is: How Long Will Tom Davis, the Basketball Coach He Hired, Stay At Drake?

There is another matter that needs to be addressed in the aftermath of the scenario that unfolded the other day at Drake University.

Dave Blank, who has been the school's athletic director since June 29, 2000, will be gone after the Drake Relays in late-April. His next job will be running the sports program at Elon University in North Carolina.

So what I'm wondering is this:

Will Tom Davis [pictured at the right] remain as Drake's men's basketball coach after Blank is gone?

I hope he does, but that doesn't keep me from wondering.

Blank is the reason Davis is at Drake. "Doctor Tom" was lured out of retirement by Blank on April 22, 2003. Davis had been the winningest basketball coach in history at the University of Iowa, and was seemingly enjoying life both inside and outside his home on a golf course in Iowa City.

He didn't leave Iowa on the best of terms -- actually, it wasn't even Davis' idea to quit coaching there after 13 seasons and a 269-140 record -- so he stayed away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the people who worked there.

But everyone knew Davis still had a lot of basketball knowledge in his brain. Everyone knew he could put it to use somewhere else if he so desired.

Blank was looking for a new coach after Kurt Kanaskie's 2002-2003 Drake team had a 10-20 record and became the 16th consecutive Bulldog squad to finish with a non-winning finish.

I thought -- and wrote in these columns -- that Blank should take a look at Davis, and he did just that.

It would have been easy for Davis to say, "Gee, Dave, thanks for asking, but I'm enjoying my retirement. I see a lot of collegiate basketball on TV. There are some things I'd do differently than the coaches do who I watch, but I think I'll continue playing a lot of golf and taking it easy."

But Davis, somewhat surprisingly, took the Drake job -- which just happens to be the most difficult in the Missouri Valley Conference because of the academic standards that athletes there must measure up to.

If it's the toughest job in the Valley, it's also got to be the toughest in this entire area -- which includes the Big Ten and Big 12 universities, too.

Give Davis a thank-you for taking on the challenge.

But will be stay after this -- his third -- season at Drake? Blank, the man who gave him a fresh chance, will be gone. Who knows what the next athletic director will be thinking.

David Maxwell, Drake's president, could no doubt ease the uncertainty by naming Jean Berger or Mark Kostek the successor to Blank. Berger [my choice for the job] and Kostek are associate athletic directors at Drake, and would make the transition to athletic director easier.

Bring in some 40-year-old up-and-comer from East Stroudsburg who doesn't know the Knapp Center from Knapp Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep in Kingfield, Maine, and who could guess how long Doctor Tom will be setting up shop at Drake.

This Drake team, which has an 11-8 record, could be the one that ends the 18-season streak of non-winning records at the school. For Davis' sake, and for the sake of Drake's long-suffering fans, I hope that happens.

But, with Blank gone and with an unknown future at Drake, I could understand Davis saying, "I did all I could. Good luck to the Dogs and to the new athletic director. It's time for me to hit the links."


Gordy Scoles, the former Iowan who lives in Bennettsville, S.C., writes:


Although we live about two hours' from the Carolina Panthers, I still pull for the Chicago Bears. But if a team had to beat them, I guess the Panthers are as good as any. However, the Bears losing to the Panthers didn't bother me as much as Joe Buck's non-stop yapping. I only wish there was some way I could apologize to Red Grange and George Connor for the way I used to berate them when they announced the Bears' games in the 50's. I thought Buck made Grange and Connor look good."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I think Buck and others like him think they're being paid by the word. Joe Buck is a classic example of a young announcer being hurried to the TV booth because he had a father [Jack Buck] who was a pretty good announcer. Joe is even worse in baseball than he is in football. He's an obvious St. Louis Cardinals fan and a Chicago Cubs hater then].


Former Iowan Al Schallau, a Hawkeye and Southern California fan who now lives in California, has been busy at the computer.

Here's one of his e-mails, in which he announces that he is withdrawing his name as a potential candidate for governor of California:

"Iowa Hawkeye football coach Kirk Ferentz has announced that he has withdrawn his name from consideration for any NFL head coaching vacancies.

"I am also announcing today that I am withdrawing my name as a potential candidate for governor of California in 2006.

"I think Kirk Ferentz's chances of being offered a head coaching job in the NFL are about 10 percent better than my chances of being governor.

"In 2002, Coach Ferentz did interview for the Jacksonville Jaguars head coaching job. He never had a chance of getting that job. In 2002, Jack Del Rio was the hottest head coaching candidate in the NFL. If Jacksonville had not offered him a head coaching job, two or three other NFL teams would have.

"NFL teams want to fill their head coaching vacancies with men who have been career assistant coaches in the NFL. That fact of life has now been demonstrated in spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs.

"My youngest son [age 30, and a pro football guru], asked me, 'What was Iowa's record this year?' Then he said, "Wow. Anybody should know that a 7-5 record in the Big Ten does not get you a head coaching job in the NFL.'

"I hope we will now be rid of the annual 'Is Kirk Ferentz leaving for the NFL?' frenzy that has gripped Iowa Hawkeye fans and new media persons every December since 2002.

"I keep wondering why a similar frenzy does not grip the Ohio State, Michigan, Texas, and Miami fans every year. I have never heard or read one word about any NFL teams being interested in offering a head coaching job to Jim Tressel or Lloyd Carr or Mack Brown or Larry Coker.

"NFL teams aren't interested in offering a head coaching job to Kirk Ferentz either."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I'm sorry you're pulling out of that governor's race so quickly, Al. You'd probably do better than all the other clowns who plan to run. I know one thing. If I had to choose between you and a weightlifter, I'd vote for you].


Here's another e-mail from Schallau:


"I find it distressing that Iowa Hawkeye football will continue its policy of playing their first two games each year against Central Cupcake A&M and Mid-Valley State Teachers College. Those opponents do NOT prepare the Hawkeyes for their Big Ten competition.

"Please click onto the link below which shows the future schedules for the USC Trojans. You will note that USC has scheduled home and home non-conference games against Arkansas, Nebraska, and Ohio State, and plays its annual home-and-home games against Notre Dame.

"In recent years, USC has played home and home non-conference games against Auburn [won both], Kansas State [lost both], Colorado [won both] and BYU [won both].

"For Iowa to schedule a non-conference game against Montana is exactly what the Hawkeyes don't need to prepare for the Ohio State game on Sept. 30, 2005."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Schallau was reacting after he read in this column yesterday that Iowa has scheduled Division I-AA opponent Montana as its first opponent next Sept. 2 in the renovated Kinnick Stadium. I know I'd go for an Iowa-USC home-and-home series, but I doubt Kirk Ferentz would. Here's Iowa's 2006 schedule:

Sept. 2 -- Montana

Sept. 9 -- at Syracuse

Sept. 16 -- Iowa State

Sept. 23 -- at Illinois

Sept. 30 -- Ohio State

Oct. 7 -- Purdue [homecoming]

Oct. 14 -- at Indiana

Oct. 21 -- at Michigan

Oct. 28 -- Northern Illinois

Nov. 4 -- Northwestern

Nov. 11 -- Wisconsin

Nov. 18 -- at Minnesota]


Barry Crist of West Des Moines writes:

"Peyton Manning [of the Indianapolis Colts] commented at least twice in the interview after the playoff loss [to Pittsburgh] that their 'protection broke down.' In effect, he was calling out his offensive linemen.

"That's why Manning is just a great qurterback while Tom Brady is a great LEADER, as evidenced by his three rings.

"Why am I also thinking about how the Manning family held up the NFL when Eli was drafted?"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I guess if I were Peyton Manning, I'd watch which sidewalks I walked on these days. He wouldn't want to run into any of his offensive linemen. That wouldn't be a pretty picture].


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Iowa Gave Montana 'An Offer We Couldn't Refuse' [Of $450,000-Plus], So the I-AA Team Will Be the Hawkeyes' Opening Foe At 'New' Kinnick On Sept. 2

When Iowa came calling, Montana couldn't say no.

"Iowa gave us an offer that we couldn't refuse," University of Montana athletic director Jim O'Day said.

O'Day made his comment while announcing that his Division I-AA school will be Iowa's opening football opponent next Sept. 2 in the newly-renovated Kinnick Stadium at Iowa City.

Montana made the announcement of the game on its athletic website.

"[The game] will allow us to meet a number of official needs in or department as well as within the Grizzly football program," O'Day said. "It will also give us reassurance that our deficit situation from two years ago will be paid off at lezst two years early."

O'Day didn't release details of the contract with Iowa, but said the dollar amount was substantially higher than the guarantee received last year from the University of Oregon.

The Billings [Mont.] Gazette said the guarantee from Oregon was $450,000. Oregon won the game, 47-14.

Western Michigan was supposed to be Iowa's opening opponent next September, but evidently didn't want to honor the contract. For whatever reason, the school disappeared from the Hawkeyes' schedule.

So Iowa, a Division I-A school, was in need of a game, and decided to schedule an opponent from a lower NCAA division.

To make way for the Iowa game, Montana has canceled its Sept. 16 home game against Division II Central Washington.

"We are constantly working on our football schedule to assure the most success for our program," O'Day said. "It's a continual 12-month process. While understanding that Griz fans request upcoming schedules as early as possible, sometimes decisions are made after the fact that are deemed worthwhile to the university."

Montana football coach Bobby Hauck likes the idea of playing Iowa.

"This is a great opportunity to play against one of the best football programs in the country and to test ouerselves against a team from the Big Ten Confernece," said Hauck. "Iowa is one of [four] teams in the country that have played [January bowl games] the past four seasons, and they are also the winningest team, along with Ohio State and Michigan, in the Big Ten during the same period.

"Obviously, we will have our work cut out for us. With that being said, we are excited about having the chance to play in one of the greatest venues in all of college football."

Iowa finished the 2005 season with a 7-5 record that included a 31-24 loss to Florida in the Outback Bowl.

One of the Hawkeyes' victories was over Division I-AA opponent Northern Iowa, 45-21. The Panthers went on to finish second in the I-AA championship game, losing to Appalachian State, 21-16.

Friday, January 13, 2006

'Down-To-Earth' Jean Berger, Who Has Been As Outstanding Administrator At Drake, Is My Choice To Be the University's Next Athletic Director

If you ask me, Drake University could do no better in the search to find a new athletic director than to hire a woman.

And that woman should be Jean Berger, who has been a member of Drake's athletic administration since 1991.

Berger has been an associate director of athletics at the university since February, 2005, and is the senior women's administrator. She had been an assistant athletic director there since 1994.

She's certainly no stranger to workings in the NCAA. Berger [pictured on the right above] has completed a five-year term on the prestigious NCAA's Women's Basketball Committee.

At Drake, Berger supervises academic seervices and is the NCAA compliance officer. She was named Drake's "mentor of the year" last spring.

Dave Blank [left above] is leaving as Drake's athletic director in the spring. He's been in the job for six years and will stay through the Drake Relays April 27-29. Blank is becoming the athletic director at Elon University in North Carolina.

Although it would be a ground-breaking move by Drake to choose a woman for the athletic director job, it wouldn't be a first nationally. There already are athletic directors who are women, there are university and college presidents who are women, and there have been conference commissioners who have been women.

I hear nothing but good things about Berger from those who work at the university.

Paul Morrison, the 88-year-old volunteer athletic department historian at the school -- and a man who has worked with "eight or 10" athletic directors there, going back to J. Russell Cook in the 1940s -- is a big fan of Berger.

When I asked Morrison who he thought should be his next boss, he said, "Oh, I have no idea."

Then I said, "What if I brought up Jean Berger's name?"

"She'd do a good job," Morrison quickly said. "I've often said some medium-sized school would be very wise to pick her up because she's a very talented and very dedicated person who gets along with everybody. She'd be a great choice for somebody."

I was also told that Berger is a "very down-to-earth woman. Drake could do a lot worse than hire Jean Berger for that job."

There will be plenty of interest in the Drake job among young athletic administrators around the nation. There are always a bunch of aggressive candidates who think they have all the answers at the collegiate level.

The trouble with those people is that few of them want to make Drake their last stop. They're always looking for greener pastures -- especially when they find out that Drake ranks behind Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa on the major-college sports totem pole in this state.

The "I'll-stay-at-Drake-for-five-years-then-head for the ACC" kind of thinking hopefully wouldn't be the case with Berger, an Iowa native. She grew up in nearby Winterset and has done a solid job in Drake's women's athletic department.

She is well aware of the strengths and the weaknesses at Drake. She knows that the Drake Relays and men's and women's basketball should be, and are, the strong points of the program.

She knows Drake Stadium -- home of the Relays and coach Rob Ash's Bulldog football program -- is undergoing a massive renovation under Blank.

She is well aware of the academic restrictions Drake's coaches must work under. She knows Blank was smart in hiring Tom Davis -- the winningest basketball coach in history at the University of Iowa -- as Drake's men's coach.

Drake hasn't had a winning record in men's basketball for 18 seasons, but that could change this year. Davis' Bulldogs have a 10-7 record now. But it's never going to be an easy job.

And attendance will always be a problem at Drake, whether you're talking about men's basketball, women's basketball or football.

Berger certainly had a big role in the hiring of Drake's last two women's basketball coaches -- Lisa Stone and Amy Stephens.

Mark Kostek [upper left], who came to Drake as director of the Relays and now is an associate athletic director at the school, may get a look as the new director. He's certainly someone to keep an eye on, but whether he's had enough experience to be the director is something only David Maxwell -- Drake's president and the man who will make the decision on Blank's successor -- can answer.

Right now, Jean Berger is my choice for the job.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alford Can't Afford To Be 'Chesty' After Upsetting Illinois--His Hawkeyes Have Games Against Penn State and Minnesota That They Can, And Should, Win

You might think it's strange for me to say that this is an important week for Iowa's basketball team.

But hang with me for a minute or two on this.

The Hawkeyes gave every indication that they can be a factor in the Big Ten championship race by upsetting Illinois last week. That, following a loss in their conference opener at Wisconsin, made them 1-1 in the race.

So now comes a game Saturday at Penn State. You'd think that would be a name-the-score, let-the-subs-play-the-last-half type of game.

After all, Penn State basketball is something that's related to Chuck Taylor canvas high-tops and short pants above the knees.

The last time Penn State basketball was anything more than a laughingstock, Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno [upper right] wasn't sticking his foot in his mouth everytime he said something.

When Paterno was still making sense, he was probably hoping Penn State football would be a year-long sport and Penn State basketball would go away.

But, as bad as the Nittany Lions basketball program is, Steve Alford [lower right] and his Iowa team had better be on the lookout Saturday. Just when you think the Hawkeyes can march into State College, Pa., and put up an automatic "W," bad things might happen.

I was reminded of that by a guy who has been around plenty of college basketball games, and has seen enough of Alford's coaching to know the dangers ahead.

"Can Alford follow the big win over Illinois by winning a couple of games he should--Penn State on the road and Minnesota at home?" the guy asks.

"He has a history of getting 'chesty' after big wins, so this will be interesting. If he can protect the home court all season, which he has never done in the Big Ten, he'll get a nice seed in the Big Dance."

We'll see.

Who knows, maybe Penn State assistant [and former Drake coach] Kurt Kanaskie [center] will put together a game plan that's got "The Way to Beat Iowa" written on it.

Well, maybe not.


Well, it was an interesting couple of weeks with Kirk Ferentz and the NFL, wasn't it?

On Jan. 2 -- even before Ferentz's Hawkeye football team lost its Outback Bowl game to Florida -- he again was being called a hot coaching prospect for a National Football League job.

His son, Brian, was about to play his final game as a Hawkeye, so everybody figured he'd be on every team's short list of candidates in the pro league.

It seemed like there were about 200 coaching jobs open at the time, or maybe it was seven. But if you'd believe the NFL insiders who work behind ESPN's microphones, Ferentz was everybody's hot candidate.

Ferentz said nothing. Much to the displeasure of Hawkeye fans, he didn't say he wanted to stay at Iowa. He didn't say he wanted to coach in the NFL. But as far as I know, he didn't interview for any pro job. Maybe no team wanted him.

Now everyone says Ferentz isn't going anywhere but back to his office in Iowa City.

I guess Iowa's fans -- who always are afraid of losing something -- won't have to worry again about losing Ferentz until this time next year. We'll see if anyone wants him then.


A friend of mine says in an e-mail:

"I see you used Al Schallau's opinion that Ferentz is not going to the NFL. I hope he's right, but as I told him, never say never. Some 35 years ago I was wrong when I said Ralph Miller would never make a lateral move to Oregon State."

Oregon State is where Miller ended his coaching career.


A knowledgeable reader noticed the comments a few days ago by central Iowa TV guru Bob Helmers about Stephen Bardo, who was the commentator on the Iowa State-Kansas State basketball telecast last week in Ames.

Here's what he wrote:

"Hi, Ron,

"It's interesting to see Stephen Bardo doing Big 12 games this year. I think he will do well for ESPN Plus, as Bob Helmers mentioned in his e-mail.

"Here is another tidbit about Bardo that we should add to his dossier. Along with his work on WBBM-TV and ESPN Plus, he was the color analyst for Illinois basketball games on radio for several years with Brian Barnhart. I was able to listen to a lot of the Illini games on radio in the past, courtesy of one of their former affiliates, WSCR in Chicago.

"Barnhart and Bardo made a great combination on radio and Stephen was very articulate in describing what took place on the floor and provided good and fair analysis on the positives and negatives of not only his alma mater, but also the rest of the Big 10 teams. He was truly a delight to listen to. I hope he continues to grow into the television role and best wishes to him!

"On another subject, upon hearing of the death of David Kruidenier [upper left], the Register did a good thing by putting the story of his death on the front page in print. It's unfortunate that they stuck the story on-line under the smaller 'more headlines' section and not as a major story, like the Condition of the State speech this morning."

[RON MALY'S COMMWENTS: Bardo, a former Illinois player, would seem to have a bright future with ESPN. As for the Register's handling of the Kruidenier story on-line, I guess it's too soon to expect miracles -- or even mini-miracles -- with the paper's computer operation. It continues to be a work in progress or a joke, depending on who you talk to].

Monday, January 09, 2006

Al Schallau Has the Facts -- 'Kirk Ferentz Is NOT Going To Be Offered Any Head Coaching Job In NFL;' ISU Was Out Of Its League Against Texas

The way Al Schallau has it figured, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz won't be leaving for an NFL job anytime soon.

"I looked on the teams' websites for the prior coaching careers of Bill Belichick, Jack Del Rio, Bill Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer, and Jeff Fisher," Schallau writes in an e-mail.

"Those five NFL head coaches have a grand total of ZERO days of college coaching experience. None of the five ever coached one day of college football, as an assistant coach or as a head coach.

"[New England's] Belichick began his NFL coaching career in 1975 at age 23 with the Baltimore Colts, and he has been coaching in the NFL ever since. [Pittsburgh's] Cowher began his NFL coaching career in 1985 at age 28 as special teams coach for the Cleveland Browns, and he has been coaching in the NFL ever since.

"Schottenheimer [of San Diego] began his NFL coaching career in 1975 with the New York Giants, and he has been coaching in the NFL ever since [except for a couple
years that the worked for ESPN between the Kansas City and Washington Redskins head
coaching jobs]. He has never coached one day of college football.

"Fisher [of the Tennessee Titans] began his NFL coaching career in 1986 at age 28, as an assistant for the Philadelphia Eagles. Del Rio [of Jacksonville] began his NFL coaching career in 1997 as an assistant for the New Orleans Saints.

"My conclusion is, the likelihood of any NFL general manager offering a head coaching job to a college coach is about is about as likely as major league baseball teams offering their manager's job to a college baseball coach.

"Kirk Ferentz is NOT going to be offered any head coaching job in the NFL."


After Schallau's first e-mail, he sent this one later today:


"You can add Tony Dungy [of Indianapolis] to the list. He also has ZERO days of experience as a college coach [none as a head coach; none as an assistant].

"Dungy began his NFL coaching career in 1981 at age 25, as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has been coaching in the NFL ever since. In 1981, he was the youngest assistant coach in the NFL."


Schallau is an attorney, a former Iowan and now lives in California. He is a fan of Southern California and Ferentz's Hawkeyes.

Ever since Iowa lost to Florida in the Outback Bowl, Hawkeye supporters have been going through their annual period of fear -- scared that Ferentz [pictured at the right] would forsake the millions he makes at Iowa in favor of a fat deal from an NFL team.

They recall how Nick Saban hurried off to coach the Miami Dolphins last year after he and his LSU team lost to Iowa in the Capital One Bowl. Before coaching at Michigan State and LSU, Saban -- like Ferentz -- had been an NFL assistant.

With Iowa's fans, it's a not a matter of "if" -- it's "how soon?" when it comes to a Ferentz exit.

Some people thought now would be an ideal time for him because his son, Brian, has completed his football eligibility at Iowa.

But all has been quiet on the job front. Ferentz has done nothing to silence the talk that he is considering leaving, but those in charge of hiring new NFL head coaches evidently haven't been scheduling any meetings with him.

Al Schallau may be right.


It's obvious that Iowa State's basketball team is out of its league when it has to play a team of strong shooters and a dominating inside presence.

The good news is that the No. 8-ranked Texas team that stormed into Hilton Coliseum and went home with a 78-58 victory is the best Iowa State will play until the NCAA tournament.

I can't imagine any other Big 12 Conference opponent being as overwhelming as the Longhorns.

Iowa State's biggest problem is that it no longer has Jared Homan in the middle. Sure, Jiri Hubalek stands 6-11 and Ross Marsden is 6-10, but Hubalek is only a sophomore and Marsden is a freshman.

Asking them to do what Homan did as a junior and senior is like asking boys to do a man's work.

Iowa State has talented guards in Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock, but guards will take you only so far in a conference like the Big 12.

There will be some rough nights ahead for the Cyclones, but none quite as difficult as the assignment against Texas.


ESPN, which televised the Iowa State-Texas game as its "Big Monday" feature, did a nice thing by paying tribute to former Cyclone coach Johnny Orr, who was at the school from 1981-1994.

Announcer Ron Franklin accurately credited Orr [pictured at the left] with building the "Hilton Magic" reputation in the Cyclones' explosive arena, and ESPN supported the theme by showing videotape of Orr marching onto the court to the "He-e-e-re's Johnny!" music.

Before Orr took the Iowa State job, Hilton Coliseum was just another arena with a lot of empty seats. Orr made it something special. He didn't advertise himself as God's gift to coaching, but he stressed offense and he began recruiting the kind of players Iowa State needed to be successful.

The fans identified with Orr and his program, and proved it by showing up in droves at Hilton. Attendance hasn't been the same since he left -- even in the successful years when Tim Floyd and Larry Eustachy were doing the coaching.

As for Hilton Magic, it's becoming a myth. Iowa State has already lost three games in its arena -- to Iona, 89-72; to Fresno State, 84-77, and to Texas, 78-58.


Speaking of fans, Franklin indicated to ESPN viewers that there wasn't room to shoehorn any more into the building for the Iowa State-Texas game.

He said even the upper decks were packed.

However, the attendance was announced as only 13,652 -- nearly 500 under capacity.

There's been only one full house at Hilton all season -- 14,092 for the victory over Iowa on Dec. 9.


It was worth it for ESPN to send sideline reporter Holly Rowe to Ames in addition to Franklin and commentator Fran Fraschilla.

Rowe asked Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan some intelligent questions at halftime -- not content with the usual, "What's your team going to have to do better in the second half?" -- and made some sensible observations throughout the game.


Big 12 Basketball TV Guru Bob Helmers Says 8 Or 9 Teams Could Win the Title, And the Champion Could Lose As Many As 5 Games

Central Iowa sports TV guru Bob Helmers, who has been around the basketball block more than a few times, looks for a wide-open Big 12 Conference race this winter.

"I have either produced or directed games from every Big 12 and Big Eight postseason basketball tournament," Helmers tells me. "No, I did not do any of the old [Big Eight] Christmas tournament. I am old, but not that old.

"This year's Big 12 tournament and, for that matter, regular-season will be the most competitive I have seen in quite awhile. I think you could tie for or win the league with five losses this year. And there are eight, and maybe nine, teams that could win it.

"This is going to be fun!"


Two of the eight or nine teams that could win the Big 12 title -- Iowa State [11-3] and Texas [12-2] -- face one another at 8 o'clock tonight at a Hilton Coliseum in Ames that should be rocking.

It's the conference "Big Monday" game on ESPN, and it's certainly one that the Cyclones can win.


Ron Franklin will do the play-by-play, Fran Fraschilla the commentary and Holly Rowe will be the sideline reporter tonight.

Rowe has worked plenty of collegiate football games in the past, including a number of Iowa games at Kinnick Stadium.

I would think being a sideline reporter in basketball would be more difficult than in football.

Whatever, let's hope Rowe [right] can be more imaginative than simply asking Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan, "What did you think of the first half?" when he walks to the locker room tonight.


Speaking of TV basketball analysts, Stephen Bardo worked the Iowa State-Kansas State game Saturday night.

So who is Stephen Bardo [left]?

"He is a former player from Illinois," Helmers said. "He was a member of coach Lou Henson's Final Four team. He has been doing Conference USA basketball for ESPN-Plus, and is being re-assigned by ESPN Inc. to do Big 12 games for both ESPN and ESPN-Plus.

"He does have a regular job, too. He is a reporter for the sports department at the CBS-owned and operated television station in Chicago, WBBM.

"Saturday night was his debut performance in the Big 12. My opinion is that he did a real nice job for his first time in the league. He came prepared, [but] was worried he would call Iowa State "Iowa" or the Big 12 the Big Ten.

"He had fun with the game when he could. And, when it got tight, he had some good things to say strategy-wise. Of course, when people turn the ball over three times in the last 45 seconds you don't have to have a whole lot of strategy."


"Iowa is good," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said after the Hawkeyes [12-4 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten] handed the Fighting Illini first loss Saturday at Iowa City.

"I think around the country, teams respect them more than people in their state."

Well, that's what happens when a Hawkeye team that's supposed to be one of the best in the nation loses December games to Northern Iowa and Iowa State.

But there's no reason Iowa [large photo above] shouldn't join Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio State and Indiana as Big Ten title threats this season.

Anything less would be a huge disappointment to fans in this state.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I'm Going To the Valley Game Tonight, And I Hope Bobby Hansen Is There, Too, So I Can Ask Him How Iowa Could Miss 19 Straight Shots Against Wisconsin

I plan to attend the Valley-Marshalltown girls/boys basketball doubleheader tonight at Valley's Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse.

And, while I'm there, I'll be looking to see if my friend Bobby Hansen is in the crowd.

The last time I was at a Valley game, I sat a couple of rows away from Hansen [pictured on the right] -- who has a daughter playing for Valley's unbeaten team.

I want to ask Hansen, the analyst on radio broadcasts of Iowa's basketball games, how any major-college team can miss 19 consecutive shots like the Hawkeyes did last night in their 66-52 loss at Wisconsin.

I also want to ask him how a team like Iowa -- which has guys such as Jeff Horner, Adam Haluska and Greg Brunner, who are supposed to be talented shooters -- can score only 18 points in the last half.

Amd I want to ask him how a team coached by Steve Alford -- one of the best shooters in the history of collegiate basketball -- can perform like that.

Come to think of it, my questions to Hansen might take a while.

It might require two Valley games to get my answers.


"Central Iowa Ivan" sent this e-mail to me today:

"Something to think about.....

"OK, I hear Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz is in Texas recruiting through the weekend.

"I hear that the Houston Texans are looking for a new coach, and making sure anyone within shouting distance knows that they would like Ferentz as their next coach.

"For all those Hawks upset that the Texans may be courting Ferentz, take a moment to reflect on what a great recruiting tool that kind of 'interest' can be. Especially when another school in the state [albeit a darn big state] just won the national championship.

"There is probably only one thing that a Texas high school football star wants to be part of more than a national championship team, and that is the NFL.

"When you are a HAVE to play the game. Kirk just does it better than most.

"See you at a game."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: You're right, Ivan, Ferentz [pictured above] knows how to play the game -- both on and off the field. Although he's not saying a word publicly about his thoughts on jumping to the NFL, he's no doubt telling all the Hawkeye prospects' parents that he's staying in Iowa City. Like every other coach, he loves the attention a hot coaching prospect gets, but also adores the security he has at Iowa. Look for him to be coaching the Hawkeyes in 2006. You know it, I know it].


I mentioned that longtime Iowa fan Barry Crist was probably exercising both arms while warming up to throw something at a dummy dressed as a collegiate football official.

Here's his response:


"I have a rotator cuff problem with my right shoulder, so I would have declined throwing. However, I can still pee several feet."

"Thanks for the pub."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: That tells me one thing, Barry. You probably don't need to make an appointment with your urologist [pictured on the left] for a while. As long as you can keep the stream alive, you should be all right].


Thursday, January 05, 2006

This Isn't a Good Time to Be Dressed As a Zebra On a Football Field -- Where Are Bill Quinby and Harold Still When College Game Needs Them?

The lousy officiating that went on in a number of collegiate football bowl games is the subject of reader displeasure today.

Here's an e-mail from "Pennsylvania Paul," a former Iowan:


"Surprise! Big Ten officials stink!

"It was on full display for the entire nation last night [in the Texas-Southern California national championship game at the Rose Bowl]. What an embarrassment. How [Big Ten supervisor of officials] Dave Parry and his Ann Arbor-based operation can keep their jobs is a puzzlement.

"Penn State fans have long suspected bias, I think last night showed many elements of incompetence also. The best officiated game I saw all bowl season was Penn State-Florida State [in the Orange Bowl], worked by a Big East crew.

"After the Iowa debacle, do you have any thoughts on the NCAA taking over officiating with regional crews? Has this always been a problem? I knew Harold Still and Bill Quinby from Cedar Rapids when they were Big Ten officials. I can't recall this many complaints then. But, then again, televised games and sports highlights weren't part of the deal....."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: In the past, it was extremely rare for football officials to be subjected to the criticism that basketball zebras received. But now anything goes. This bowl season was the worst, with the most ridiculous officiating being done, of course, in the Alamo and Outback Bowls -- where zebras from the Sun Belt and Conference USA didn't have a clue. If things don't improve, I'm all for the NCAA or the FBI taking over the officiating. Bill Quinby and Harold Still were former Big Ten officials, and Quinby later worked in the NFL. Even Quinby, a friend of mine, was involved in a controversial call at a Rose Bowl game, but that was long before the review process that now takes place was in effect. There also wasn't as much instant replay then as there is now].


An e-mail from "Willie Thrower" in central Iowa:

"KGGO will be broadcasting live from the Outback Steakhouse on University in West Des Moines from 6-9:30 a.m. tomorrow [Friday]. They will have a guy dressed up as a referee and all Iowa fans are invited to throw stuff at him. They will be interviewing Iowa fans and serving some breakfast.....This is a bit of a spoof on the bad officiating we saw at the Outback Bowl."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I understand Barry Crist is warming up in his backyard right now. With both arms!]


"Wendell from West Des Moines" reviews the bowls in this e-mail:

"The bowl season was a reasonable success this year. Notre Dame lost, Joe Pa won, Miami lost and cleaned house, Texas won, and we realized that the officials need some work. The only thing missing was a win by Iowa and Iowa State.

"Do you think Ferentz will stick around?"

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I think Ferentz will have fun being courted by NFL teams for a few days, but stay in the background while it's happening. Like every other coach, he enjoys the attention. But then look for him to say for the umpteenth time that he's not interested and resume his $1.6 million-a-year job at Iowa's coach. One of these years, an NFL job will come along that interests Ferentz, but it won't be before Drew Tate uses up his eligibility].


"Sadie from Somewhere" still has the Outback Bowl on her mind in this e-mail:


"To comment on the [Iowa-Florida] bowl game, I think those officials should be made to watch the game from a spectators' view. That way they would be able to observe what a terrible job they did first-hand. Even the Forida newspapers said it was bad. The momentum was going Iowa's way, and had that Iowa possession stood they COULD have tied it up and possibly won the game. What a heartbreaker to lose that way. I have heard Iowa State fans even say it was bad. There is too much at stake in a game like that to not get qualified officials."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: Sadie, I know you live close to some vocal Iowa State fans, and if you hear them agreeing with you and the rest of Iowa's boosters, then you've got a scoop. It's refreshing to know that Hawkeye and Cyclone fans think alike once in a while].


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Good Job By Register Sports Editor Bryce Miller, Who Dug Deep To Get the Story On Bowl Game Screw-Ups By the Guys Wearing Striped Shirts

An outstanding reporting job was done for today's Des Moines Register by sports editor Bryce Miller, who dug deep into the messes created by game officials in the Outback and Alamo Bowls.

Miller demonstrated some leadership and strong reporting skills by a Register sports editor that haven't been seen since the days of Dave Westphal and Gene Raffensperger.

Miller's opening two paragraphs in a Page 1-A article headlined, "Upon review, call in bowl was bad" read: "Controversial officiating in the Outback and Alamo Bowls, as well as complaints from angry Iowans, have prompted the NCAA to agree to discuss how game officials are selected and evaluated.

"Meanwhile, the coordinator of Conference USA officials admitted that representatives of his conference made an incorrect call Monday on an end-of-game onside kick in Florida's 31-24 Outback victory against Iowa."

Miller has been in charge of the newspaper's sports department for less than a year.

In a column last Feb. 2, I wrote, "The Des Moines Register sports department, which has badly needed some new ideas and new blood, is finally getting a transfusion.

"A shakeup at the top is coming.

"Effective next week, Randy Brubaker will no longer be handling the day-to-day responsibilities in the department. Brubaker will be replaced by Bryce Miller, who has been an assistant sports editor....."

Miller, a former sports editor at the Iowa City Press-Citizen, came to the Register in 1999 an as assistant sports editor. Before that, he worked at the paper on a parttime basis while attending the University of Iowa.

I liked what he did after Iowa's football team got a big-time screwing by the Conference USA officials who were assigned to the Outback Bowl.

The officials had so many bad calls and missed calls throughout the game that the ESPN videotape -- along with the tape of the Michigan-Nebraska Outback Bowl game -- should be used as training films at officiating clinics on how NOT to call games.

ESPN analyst Chris Spielman [pictured on the right] was highly critical of the Conference USA officials the entire game, saying they couldn't keep up with the quickness of the game.

The final insult to Iowa came when the officials called Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway offside on an onside kick the Hawkeyes recovered with 84 seconds left in the game. That call kept the Hawkeyes from trying to stage a rally that might have tied the game.

The calls by a Sun Belt Conference officiating crew in the Alamo Bowl prompted ESPN and ABC announcer Mike Tirico [pictured on the left] to say on the air that it was worst-officiated game he had ever seen.

Well, sure, the officiating was lousy, but so was Tirico's announcing. It was a case of a bush-league announcer calling a crew of officials blind.

Pick your poison.

Anyway, I commend Miller for the work he put in on the officiating story in the paper and on the paper's website. He got worthwile comments from Conference USA, NCAA football, Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby and Alamo Bowl boss Derrick Fox.

Supporting Miller's article in the Register and on its website was a photo from the ESPN telecast that showed Greenway was not offside with 1:24 to play. That photo is reproduced at the top of this column.

Miller was wise to jump into the Outback Bowl controversy. He served as an outstanding model for the rest of the paper's sports staff -- proving he's not reluctant to step up to the plate and provide some hard work on an important story.

It reminded me of when Westphal came into the Register newsroom on a Sunday to do some necessary cleanup work 24 hours after the famous phantom officiating call by Jim Bain in an Iowa-Purdue basketball game at West Lafayette, Ind.

Westphal later became the Register's managing editor.

The kind of support by Miller commands respect in a department, and I'm glad to see it lead to a solid story at a time when newspapers across the country are being criticized for what they're NOT doing.


Meanwhile, don't believe what you read on page 3-A of today's Register.

At least not in the edition that was delivered to my front porch.

The headline said, "Miners' families rejoice: 'They're alive!'

Sad to say, that's not the case.

Three hours after families in West Virginia were told that a dozen miners were found alive, it turned out that all but one had not survived.

The news that the miners were dead obviously came after the Register and many other newspapers published their final morning editions, but the story should have been on the front page of the Register -- not Page 3 -- regardless of whether the miners were alive or dead.