Twenty Years

(Courtesy: KCRG)

Today marks an anniversary many of us wished it would have never happened, nevertheless we observe, but in celebration of life, not in death.

This evening, the Iowa Hawkeyes will take the floor at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to take on Wisconsin.  The 7 pm tip-off will also mark the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of Hawkeyes Basketball stand out Chris Street.

I decided to re-post and update an entry I did in 2008 for Juice, but rather than put it on this main page, it is under a special section, you will see in the banner headline:  “Rediscovering Chris Street:  Twenty Years Later”.

I hope you have a chance to read my recollection of Street, as well as everyone else who were impacted by this anniversary.

Advertisements

“Just the Facts Ma’am”

Last month I wrote on how we should “get the facts” first and let things play out, rather than spouting about what we heard and posting it on Twitter, message boards and various social media platforms, without confirming it.   Sadly, many of us that can’t seem to abide by this, because we’re back at square one.

Now, here’s my four cents worth, a few days removed from the story of the 13 UI football players who were hospitalized with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis:

  • I didn’t have a problem with what Gregg Doyel wrote.

Here me out, folks.  Yes, Iowa fans were furious when he suggested that someone should be fired for 13 players ending up in the hospital for rhabdomyolsis.  Doyel main concern was about the players’ health.  If you think I’m crazy, I encourage you to read Doyel’s column from August 2010 about his concern about players adding on weight and putting their health at risk.

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports online. Don't send him hate mail, because he will make you a topic in his "Hate Mail" every Thursday.

He didn’t write the August piece to be a smartass, though he has the reputation of being one, but with the issues of concussions, painkillers, and other health issues that players face during and after their careers are over, is one of debate and discussion.

  • How is Iowa SID Phil Haddy not take some responsibility on how convoluted the last two press conferences have went?

Yes, everyone expects the athletic director and the coach to be there and to answer all  the questions, but given the way the “pressers”, as media professionals call them, are arranged and handled, it is the sports information director’s job to make sure the pressers go smoothly, communicate press releases, et cetera.

  • I want to give Jon Miller of Hawkeye Nation a nod for his piece.  He is the closest person to the athletic program with regards to media, for he is the sports director at WHO radio and runs Hawkeye Nation.

Jon succinctly wrote, as Jim Mora would eloquently said…

I take Jon Miller’s view of the situation over that of Pat Forde and Jim Rome.  Jon, Marc Morehouse, Mike Hlas and others who are embedded in Iowa City work hard to get the story accurate and right, and make fair criticisms and offer praise.  That is what reporters do.  They don’t sit behind a microphone like Rome and form opinions based on “second-hand” heresy.

Jim Rome may have a lot of listeners, but Doyel can and will eat his lunch. Plus, Doyel is on the road covering stories.

In case you didn’t know, Forde and Rome has never liked Ferentz.  They have never given him praise for the good things the program has done.  All that Ferentz gets is scorn if one small thing goes wrong.

Forde thinks that Ferentz is a fraud and can’t coach.  Pat, if a guy can beat Michigan 3-4 times in the last 10 years, goes 7-2 versus Joe Paterno, and win 3 straight bowls game for the first time in school history, I guess that coach knows what he is doing.

I used to enjoy listening to Rome when I was younger.  Not as much today, because he is closed-minded and think that what comes out of his mouth is pure gold.  He still harbors a grudge back in 2002, when Ferentz politely declined to be a guest on his show.  Rome’s response was “What does he think he is, Bear Bryant?  Guys like him are a dime a dozen.” He has went as far to block Iowa callers from responding and talking about the team.

That’s not professional.  That’s childish.  Sadly, he continues to conduct his show in that manner.

Forde and Rome have shown in the past their unwillingness to respond to Iowa fans.  Both of them will not come on local shows to openly discuss their issues about Iowa and why they don’t like Ferentz.

Give Doyel credit on this:  he read Jon’s blog and responded to it.  Will Jim Rome do that?  Hell no.

Kirk Ferentz and Iowa SID Phil Haddy. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Gregg Doyel is a bigger man for being willing to hear a different view. He may not agree with Miller, but the fact that he acknowledged it and tweeted it speaks volumes.  That is why I like him and read his columns.

It’s funny, last month we, the fans, wanted the coaches and administrators fired.  That is, until the football team beat Missouri.  But we hate it when someone else who doesn’t live here pops off about our school and we become defensive. Welcome to the world of hypocrisy.

Welcome to college athletics.  If your team is mentioned across the nation, then you have to be ready to deal with the bad, as well as the good when it comes to your program.

Sports and News Links – December 13, 2010

 

The new Big Ten Logo. Hit the picture to read how this was created.

Mondays are usually good for a distraction when you return to the grind.  But, this is no ordinary Monday, with the Big Ten announces the new division names and logo to brand the league with the addition of Nebraska.

Leaders and Legends?  Oh boy.

But let’s find a few other distractions that is sure to keep you interested in things outside of Hawkeyes and the Big Ten Conference.

Reid Forgrave, Des Moines Register:  I mentioned this three-part series on Saturday about my friend and former classmate Heather Jacobs and her family.  In 2006, her husband, Eric, after having a dream about himself dying, videotapes a message for his family.  Several months later, he loses his life in a plane crash.  Today, part 2 of the series was published, with part 1 on Sunday.  The final chapter will be published on Tuesday.

Sportsjournalists.com:  On the heels of the ESPN “30 for 30” documentary on SMU rules-breaking road towards the NCAA “Death Penalty punishment, a great discussion has begun on that site on how come more schools have not been punished severely by the NCAA.  Is the NCAA capable of meting out punishment or are they overwhelmed by the number of schools in Division I-A?

 

Erica Blasberg (Getty Images)

Joe Posnanski, Sports Illustrated:  JoePo, as he is commonly referred to as, writes an excellent blog about the “snide apology” that fellow sports writer Murray Chass wrote after writing that Tom Verducci did not vote for former MLB players association rep Marvin Miller for the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Verducci did vote for Miller.  Posnanski says”…to call someone by name without proof is not just a violation of journalistic ethics, it is a disgusting thing to do.”

Alan Shipnuck, Sports Illustrated:  LPGA golfer Erica Blasberg was found dead in her Las Vegas home on May 10.  Initial speculation was that she was murdered.  Shipnuck lays out the sad lonely account of the golfer who struggled to make it on tour and ended up taking her own life.

The New World Order of the Big Ten Conference

The Big 10 Conference + Nebraska (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

On Wednesday, the Big 10 Conference announced the newly created divisions.  I don’t need to break it down for you, because the Big 10 took care of that themselves.

The talented Pete Jones of “Des Moines is Not Boring” was unhappy about the pairing of Iowa and Purdue in the “cross-rival” game.  In fact, everyone was unhappy about it.  As I put it, to quote Meat Loaf, “two out of three ain’t bad.” I would rather have Nebraska and Minnesota, lose Wisconsin for two years, and make Purdue a rival for the good of conference.  It’s business, eyeballs, and ratings.

The New World Order

Last year’s 11-5 Iowa win over Penn State didn’t move the ABC national ratings barometer.  Never have, never will.  Nebraska vs. Penn State in the past have moved the meter.  It’s a sexier match-up between two tradition-laden programs.

Yes, Pete, it’s not fair and shouldn’t matter, but the Big 10 needs as much national exposure to bolster it’s “brand.”  Just like we do when we have to promote our blogs, our skills, and our names.

Let’s look at the big picture:  Iowa is a big winner with this division set-up.  Michigan’s struggling and Nebraska will be getting their feet wet.   Minnesota and Michigan State are, well, Minnesota and Michigan State, and Northwestern will be a thorn in Iowa’s side.

Winner winner chicken alfredo dinner.

Be happy that Iowa will continue their rivalry with Minnesota.  That game has a lot of history and they play for Floyd of Rosedale.  Be happy that Iowa will finally get their wish and play Nebraska every year.  Expect to skip Thanksgiving dinner and start tailgating in Lincoln that night.  The Hawks and the Huskers will play the Friday after Turkey Day.

Don’t let a little hang-up like having the Boilermakers as a “cross-divisional” rival be a big issue.

Mmmm, turkey, football, Cornhuskers...

Part 2 of “Ideas for a 96-team tournament to be successful”

On Tuesday, we started exploring ideas that the NCAA can make their men’s basketball tournament successful once they expand the field from 64 to 96 teams.  Today, we’ll look at the teams, television coverage, and the tournament locations.

The decision to expand the field will most likely come in July, with the proposal to go in effect starting with the 2011 tournament.  In part one, the tournament committee make-up and the schedules were discussed and I gave my ideas on those two factors.

Teams

Teams need to finish .500 or better in the league if they want to get in the Big Dance.

The expansion of the tournament may be a sign that the non-major conferences like the Missouri Valley, the Southern, and the Big West conference will have more teams in the field.  But there is a concern that mediocre-to-poor  teams from power leagues like the Big Ten, Pac-10, ACC, and Big East will get in, solely on the basis of the reputation of their respective leagues.

Idea:  a team that has less than a .500 record in conference play in any league, will not be considered for an at-large bid, unless they win their conference tournament.  That may include leagues in which the conference champion has a less than a .500 record and no league tournament.

Example:  West Eastern State is the regular-season conference champions with an 8-10 record.  If their league has no conference tournament, they should not get an at-large bid.  If a conference tournament is held and they win it, they will receive the automatic bid.  This is an attempt to get the best teams with good records in the tournament. If a conference doesn’t have a team with a .500 or above record, they probably don’t deserve to have a team representing them in the tournament.

Television

The NCAA, upon approval of the expansion, will likely opt out of its television contract with CBS, ending a 28-year relationship with the network when CBS acquired the rights to broadcast the tournament in 1982.  ESPN will get the first crack to bid on acquiring the rights.  Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.  However in this day and age, there are many viewers who, for some reason, still do not have basic cable to watch ESPN.

"It looks I'll have to use my 'Hello Friends' line for the Masters starting in 2011. Damn."

Yes, they still resort to watching terrestrial television.

With that said, efforts have been made in the past to provide the extra coverage of games for fans who want to follow their teams.   The March Madness on Demand website the NCAA provides has been one of the most successful ventures to be created to cater to those who are unable to watch the game on television.

I don’t have a suggestion for television because if ESPN gets it, it can handle the workload, which is something that CBS could do, but may not have the expansive resources that ESPN has.  Though I have one wish:  CBS to do the coverage from the Sweet Sixteen to the National Championship game.  Then again, it’s me.

Locales

With the creation of the pod system in 2002, the efforts to limit the early-round travel has been a moderate success.  However, the hangup I have is that the NCAA tends to re-use the same venues over and over.  This is a prime opportunity for cities like Des Moines (Wells Fargo Arena) to be considered to host the 1st 2 rounds , or the 3rd and 4th rounds of the expanded tournament.  There can be so many times Spokane, Birmingham, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Boise State can continue hosting games. The NCAA needs to break out this comfort level and move the sites around to give cities like Des Moines and Omaha a chance to prove that they can be great hosts during the tournament.

Des Moines' Wells Fargo Arena could finally get that coveted 1st & 2nd, or a 3rd & 4th round games.

Idea:  stop re-using the same tired old venues and move the tournament sites around, as the tournament was designed to do.  Also consider doing what the women’s tournament has done for some time now:  have the higher seed host the 1st two rounds on campus.   Keep in mind, the state of  South Carolina has been excluded from hosting, due to that state’s refusal to take down the Confederate flag.

Those are my biggest ideas and suggestions at this point with respects to March Madness.  Things could change between now and July when the NCAA makes the final decision.

I invite you to read these suggestions from today and from Tuesday, and tell me what you do you think?  Did I go far enough or is there a better plan that you have?


Bowl Day 2010

Dear Pat Forde Ben Maller Travis Rodgers Lou Holtz Colin Cowherd or anyone sports talking head not from the Midwest:

What was all of that crap about slow white boys, 3 yards and a cloud of dust, and not being able to win the big games, errr, the BCS bowl games?

The Pac-10:  2-5 overall in bowl games as of tonight.  The Big Ten?  3-2 overall and credit to a fellow alum, the Big 10 is 4-1 versus the spread.

Our advice to all you smart guys in the national media:

The Sweater Vest goes "booyah" on Oregon in the Rose Bowl, 26-17

Suck it, suckas.

Sincerely,

The Big Ten Conference

P.S.:  Iowa has yet to play.  Kirk Ferentz always has his team ready for a knock-down, drag-out fight.