Saturday, April 01, 2006

Hawkeyes and Cyclones Seriously Consider Calling Off Their 2006 Football Seasons; Iowa Cubs Drop the Ridiculous $4 Parking Fee At No-Name Ballpark

Ten things I hear:

1. Both Iowa and Iowa State are giving strong consideration to cancelling their 2006 football seasons. "We can't hold a spring game because Kinnick Stadium is being revamped, so it would be senseless to try to play 12 games in the fall," said Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz, somewhat surprisingly. Meanwhile, Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said he's fearful that athletic director Jamie Pollard, who can't refrain from firing people, will dismiss his offensive and defensive coordinators this summer. That would make it very awkward for the Cyclones to play in the fall because McCarney doesn't especially want to turn the play-calling over to his student managers.

2. People in the Iowa Cubs' front office, known throughout baseball circles as the original April Fools and embarrassed that they have been charging folks $4 to park their cars at No-Name Ballpark, say fans will be allowed to park free all season. And everybody gets in without a ticket on Saturdays. "Hey, we're trying to be nice guys at this ballpark," said the owner, whose name I have forgotten. "I know we've come across as crooks in the past, and we really are crooks. But we thought dumping the $4 parking fee would be a nice thing to do in this era of $2.46-a-gallon gas. However, the price of a cup of beer at No-Name Ballpark will go up to $15 -- illustrating that we still think the fans are a bunch of bozos. We'll get that damn parking money back somehow."

3. Wayne Morgan and Jamie Pollard will co-host the first-ever Cyclone Happy Guys Picnic at Ledges State Park in June. Any hard feelings between the two men have been smoothed-over. In fact, Morgan has told Pollard that he can forget about paying him the $1.5 million Iowa State owes him for firing him. "Jamie is a helluva guy," Morgan told both of his friends at a recent beer bash in south Ames. "If I were him, I'd have fired me, too. I didn't know an X from an O, or a game-plan from Morris Plan. Look for me at Cyclone Alley next season, holding up a banner that says, 'Go, Greg!'"

4. Because of a late cancellation, Drake needs to add another opponent to its 2006 football schedule. It has offered to put Valley High School of West Des Moines on the schedule, with a $100,000 guarantee. "We used Valley's stadium to play some of our games last season, so we figured the least we could do is see if they want to play us this year," said a guy who answered the phone in the athletic director's office. Valley, however, would prefer not playing Drake because it doesn't want to be accused of running up the score when the teams play. Valley is so powerful that it has won the Class 4-A state title three of the past four seasons, and would prefer to schedule Michigan. "Any team coached by Lloyd Carr is very beatable," a Valley player told me.

5. Because the caliber of Iowa's wrestling program has gone downhill so badly in recent years, athletic director Bob Bowlsby is considering adding women's wrestling to the intercollegiate program there. He thinks women's wrestling will have a greater appeal to male fans -- and also to women who like wrestling other women. Dan Gable has said he'll strongly consider being the women's coach. If the women's wrestling program works out competitively and financially, men's wrestling may be dropped permanently. "Sounds good to me," said Jim Zalesky.

6. Dan Callahan of Sioux City, the only living member of the coaching staff that took Drake to a third-place finish in the 1969 NCAA Final Four, has offered to recruit a Bulldog team that he says could make it to the Final Four in two years. "I want to do something big for my alma mater," Callahan explained. "It's been 19 years since the school had a winning record, but I think I have some coaching ability that's never been tapped. For a long time, Drake wouldn't gave me the chance to be the head coach, but I'll forgive them. And I'll out-Gonzaga what they've done at Gonzaga. I mean, Adam who?"

7. The University of Northern Iowa, which has been Iowa State Teachers College and State College of Iowa in the past, will undergo another name change. Like UNLV and LSU, it will be simply called UNI. Its next step will be to petition the Big Ten -- or is it the Big Eleven? -- for admission. "When we join and the Big Ten is called the Big 11-Plus-One [you can't call it the Big 12, of course!], the league can have a football playoff and make lots of money," said UNI athletic director Rick Hartzell. However, Hartzell will have a sizable price to pay for UNI's admission to the Big 11-Plus-One. He'll have to give up his moonlighting job of officiating major-college basketball games. I say it's about time.

8. In a decision that shocked collegiate basketball, Iowa coach Steve Alford will resign this spring so he can manage the Des Moines YMCA and its branches. "That way, I can play in the noon league at the downtown 'Y' and show everybody how good a jump shooter I am," Alford explained. "My dad, Sam, will be my assistant, and that will be darn good for me. I can ask him every 15 minutes what I should do next. I've missed him on the bench the last year or so. That's one reason we blew the 17-point lead we had over Northwestern State."

9. The Arena League is returning to Des Moines. Kurt Warner will be the owner of the team and -- when his NFL career is history -- plans to play quarterback for a club that will be known as the Iowa Payback. There's just one hitch. Warner doesn't like the idea of the Payback playing its games at Wells Fargo Arena. "I prefer Veterans Memorial Auditorium because that's where I began attaining stardom," he said. "Don't forget for one minute that I'm a star." It will take $60 million in improvements to make the Auditorium playable for Arena games, but there's nothing to worry about. Hayden Fry says he'll pay the tab "because I always wanted to do something to show my appreciation to the great people in this state."

10. Publisher Mary Stier will surprise newspaper readers in Des Moines by saying that the Register will cease operations. Juice will take over as the Gannett Co.'s main paper in town. It will continue to be free and available in all Chinese restaurants in the Golden Circle. "We're targeting readers in the 6-to-16 age group because they are our only hope for the future," Stier explained. "Most other people are reading the Register free on the Internet anyway. Circulation of the Register has dropped so severely in recent years that it was stupid for us to continue calling it a daily newspaper. Juice will publish such riveting writing projects as, 'The Best Place In Town To Buy Pepperoni Pizza.'" A considerable amount of Juice's coverage will be handled by the AP, and Juice's reporters will be assigned areas of town where they will deliver papers in company-owned pickup trucks. "We feel we're on the cutting edge of 21st century newspapering, and we intend to dominate the Best of Gannett awards in the forseeable future," said the bubbly Stier.

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A very happy April 1 to all of you. Anyone who's paid $4 to park at No-Name Ballpark for all these years to watch that lousy team play deserves something good to happen.