“March Madness” Finally Comes to Des Moines

“March Madness” Finally Comes to Des Moines
The 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena . Hosting this proved that Des Moines was ready to host any major sporting event.
The 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena . Hosting this proved that Des Moines was ready to host any major sporting event.

Remember when Wells Fargo Arena and the Iowa Events Center opened in 2005?

Remember when people complained about paying $6 for a beer at Wells Fargo?

Remember when the Polk County Board of Supervisors had that ridiculous iron-clad contract to put an AHL team inside Wells Fargo?

Remember when people expected Wells Fargo and Des Moines to land a NCAA men’s tournament game right away?

Funny how we forget those moments. People stop complaining about the price of beer. It’s cheaper than venues like Solider Field and Yankee Stadium.

After the first fiasco of having an AHL team, the Board of Supervisors finally got it right by having the right owners and an affiliate that was in the region (Minnesota Wild).

And all that talk about never getting to host March Madness?  That debate ended today.


This morning, the NCAA has announced that Des Moines was selected as one of eight cities to host the first and second round games for the 2016 Division I men’s basketball tournament…aka March Madness.

Yes…our city. How about that?

See what patience and proving doubters wrong can do?

Des Moines was ready for this moment to come. It took a few “no’s”, but here it is.

This is why the IAHSAA and the IGHSAU moved their tournament dates up a few weeks early, much to their displeasure.

This is why Des Moines was willing to host the NCAA Track and Field Championships, the women’s basketball early and regional rounds, Iowa State hosting the volleyball regionals, and the coup d’etat, the NCAA wrestling championships in 2013.

And not to mention, Des Moines has hosted the AAU Junior Olympics the last few years as well.

This is why after listening to what they needed to do to improve their chances at hosting the men’s tournament, Des Moines, quietly and patiently, worked diligently to put as many of the pieces together. A new hotel will be built next to the Events Center complex in the next two years.

So that excuse of not having a hotel on site can no longer be used as an excuse by the NCAA or anyone else.

This news even surprised WHO-TV’s Andy Fales, who thought Des Moines was going to miss out, yet again:

…after the announcement:

The more you doubt a person or something, the more they can prove you wrong.

The credit goes to the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau and others like Iowa State, Drake, and sports fans. We earned this. We proved that anything can happen…patience is a virtue.

Is hosting a major national sports event still a “useless folly”, Mike Draper?  I didn’t think so. The CVB just got scoreboard.

That also goes for those who will continue to find ways to player-hate on Des Moines. You can quietly exit stage left.

The haters are not going to ruin this day for sports fans. We’ve waited for a long time for this to happen. When 2016 arrives, it’ll be 44 years since March Madness was held in an Iowa venue (Hilton Coliseum hosted the 1972 Midwest regionals).

There are a few other things I want to add about the news (for one, it’s long overdue for the NCAA to find new cities to host tournaments), but for today, it’s a good day to see that the work towards getting March Madness paid off.


She Did It Her Way

Pat Summitt

For those who continue to feel that it’s sad and tragic that Pat Summitt has retired due to early-onset Alzheimer’s, I would like for you to stop feeling sad about it.  Rather, smile and appreciate what you were witnessed to:  a great career. 

Name another individual who started a program from the beginning and ended up being the winningest coach, man or woman, in NCAA Division I-A basketball history?  Name another individual who became an integral part to women sports, Title IX, and the success of women as athletes?   

For those of you who felt that she didn’t leave on her terms, I think you are wrong…to a point. 

She did leave on her own terms.  Bobby Bowden, the late Joe Paterno, and Eddie Robinson, to name a few, did not get to leave on their own terms.  Despite her health situation, she made the call on her own.  No one tapped her on the shoulder and escorted her out.  I can think of two other coaches who left on their terms and did it their way:  Dean Smith and Buzz Levick

Keep this in mind:  there is no such thing as a perfect way to leave or to end something

Never was…never will. 

It is unfortunate that we may see Alzheimer’s progressively take hold of Summitt, but like the fighter she is, it’s a new rival that she now has to game plan against.  Ask Geno Auriemma, Muffet McGraw, and Kim Mulkey how it feels when they have face the coach with those cold and steely “I’m goin’ to get you sucka'” eyes glaring at you on the other side of the scorer’s table. 

Today, be happy for Pat Summitt, not sad.  For 38 winters, she did what she love:  coaching young women and guiding them to greater success.  Be happy that she was successful.  She has and will continue to live a great life, in spite of early onset Alzheimer’s. 

More importantly, be happy for Pat Summitt…because Frank Sinatra was on to something… 

…she did it her way.

Sunday Sports Leisure Reading – March 25, 2012

If college football resembled "Mad Men"... (courtesy of No 2-Minute Warning)

I haven’t done one of these for awhile, but there’s plenty of stuff going on that’s flying under the radar.

Deadspin this week profiled two former Drake Basketball greats in their series, “Tell Me When It’s Over”.  Willie Wise and current Drake color analyst Dolph Pulliam recalled their run to the Final Four and facing UCLA, and more importantly, their lives post-basketball.  This is a must-read for Bulldogs fans around the world.

Ty Duffy of The Big Lead pens an opinion that I agree with wholeheartedly with regards to the punishment handed down by Roger Goodell to New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, General Manager Mickey Loomis, and assistant coach Joe Vitt for their involvement in Bounty-“gate”.  Duffy reminds everyone that the criticism towards Goodell is not only shortsighted, but unwarranted for the most part.

Could Mizzou's Kim English have himself a budding career in being a college hoops analyst?

Greg Hall, popular Kansas City sports media blogger has quotes from Missouri basketball star Kim English during his appearance on KCSP 610-AM with sports talk show host Nick Wright.  English, who has struggled with speech disfluency (stuttering, for which I know very well from my experience), had a lot to say, including his opinions on several college basketball analysts.

Duffy also reports that John Infante, the college compliance officer behind the well-informative and insightful “Bylaw Blog” is shutting down the blog, effective April 7th.  “Bylaw” is a look into NCAA regulations and decisions.  Namely, what does the NCAA do, why do they do it, and the effects of it.  I will miss this site a lot.  I hope Infante, or someone else, down the road will either bring it back or create a new site that helps fans understand the inside look at NCAA rules.

The Wigwam, home of the Anderson Indians.

Craig Fuhrman of the NY Times writes this great story about an end of an era in Indiana.  The Wigwam was the home of Anderson (IN) High School for many years when basketball was king.  This recently past basketball season is the first that the Wigwam did not host a game.  The economic conditions and the shift of popularity from prep basketball to prep football in Indiana has put the game of basketball at a larger crossroads.

It’s time to get your martini, whiskey sour, or Old Fashioned on:  Mad Men makes its return after a 17-month hiatus with its long-anticipated 5th season.  Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times interviews Mad Men director Matthew Weiner about the return of Don Draper, Roger Sterling, and company, as well as Weiner’s need to keep things under wraps about what this season will bring.

Aaron Wernimont

Some somber news over the past few weeks that deserves to be mentioned by me.  Whereas everyone across the country is talking about a certain story in Florida (I don’t need to tell you what it is), there are several individuals whose lives were tragically cut short.  I chose to mention them here because they are part of my extended families (hometown, high school, and college) that are near and dear to me.

It’s easy to follow the current cause celebre, and that’s fine to do that, but personally for me, the deaths of the following hits closer to home for me.  Please take the time to read these stories.

Mollie Enwright

Aaron Werinmont

Preston Bradford

Lindsay Nichols

The Greatest One Hour of the Year

Need I say more? 

In case if you were unaware, there are lyrics (yes lyrics!) to the CBS College Basketball theme.  Sing-a-long with the older version of CBS’ theme. 

Come on and watch some basketball,

you’ll watch it all… day… long…

Come on and watch some basketball,

til’ your pool sheet is done! ..

Come on and watch some basketball,

it’s got it all…Tour-na-ment Madness …

Throw in a few parlays, Gambling is fun!…

Walton and Wooden own the court,

don’t try them out… you’ll….lose…

Packer and Nantz call all the games,

just watch… Billy be wrong…

Come on and watch some basketball,

your wife is mad… send..her out shopping…

Coach K is gay… Duke really sucks!

Sports and News Links – May 12, 2011

Jay Mariotti's fall from grace gets worst.

We’ve had some news popping up in the sports world over the past 2 days.  Let’s get to the business at hand.

  • The downfall of national sportswriter and provocateur Jay Mariotti has taken another sad and sorry turn.  Mariotti was charged with three felonies, including felony stalking, after he confronted his ex-girlfriend on the same day a court ordered him to stay away from her.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Mariotti was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of disobeying a court order.  He confronted his former girlfriend on two recent occasions, last September and this past April 15th. 
  • The L.A. Times also has this gem of a story.  Facebook disabled the account of Mark Zuckerberg.  No, not that Mark Zuckerberg, but Mark S. Zuckerberg, a bankruptcy attorney in Indianapolis. Facebook thought that the lawyer was pulling a joke on them with his name.  He wasn’t.  Mr. Mark S. Zuckerberg should sue the other Mark Zuckerberg, if you asked me.
  • Steve Wieberg of USA Today writes about the NCAA paying sports and entertainment marketer Intersport to “cease and desist” using the term “March Madness”.  How much did it cost the NCAA to scratch a check to Intersport?  Well, there are ($) 17.2 million reasons why the NCAA was willing to go to great depths to keep “March Madness” in their pockets.  Cha-ching!
Regardless how the Lakers lost to Dallas and your opinion of the guy, Phil Jackson was more than a coach. He knew how to manage people and press buttons to win 10 NBA titles.
  • Ed Sherman of Crain’s Chicago Business puts Phil Jackson’s legacy in a fair and balanced perspective.  But does it mean that the Zenmaster is done coaching?  Well, for all intenstive purposes, he is calling it a career as the Lakers’ head coach.  Noticed I said “Lakers”.  Golfing has never been Phil’s forte.
  • NHL’s bad boy enforcer Sean Avery of the New York Rangers did a TV ad in support of gay and lesbian rights.  No big deal, right?  Well, not for an obscure sports agent by the name of Todd Reynolds of Uptown Sports Management, who represent other NHL players.  Reynolds felt the need to tweet his “sadness” towards Avery for his misguided support for gays and lesbians.  When pressed to answer why he would tweet that comment, Reynolds tweeted that he wasn’t “intolerant of gays and lesbians” (which is translation for “I don’t mean to offend anyone, but…I’m going to offend anyway) and then a Canadian sportscaster, Damien Goddard, jumped in the fray with his tweet defending Reynolds comments.  Goddard was canned on Wednesday afternoon by his employer, Rogers Sportsnet.

As my fellow Wartburg alum Tom Buchheim have said, athletes need to be careful what they tweet.  The same goes for agents and media personnel.  I’m glad to know that Emily Carlson of WHO-TV will not have that problem!

And I didn’t mention my man Gus Johnson.  Mr. Rise and Fire will be taking his talents to Fox Sports.   That was not cold-blooded.  It’s called business.

That’s it for now.

News and Sports Links – April 6, 2011


The Great Kenny Powers...still (trying and failing) livin' the dream...

I’m working on a few topics that I doing some research on, so in lieu of that, and to erase some of the memories of an offensive-inept national championship game on Monday (between Butler and UConn), let’s hit the “links.”

  • Thanks to friend Megan Hilger for this story from The Awl, written by Maria Bustillos, about the late writer David Foster Wallace and his vast library of personal notes and documents.  Those papers will be made available to the public.  Wallace committed suicide in 2008.
  • One of my favorite sports bloggers John Infante of The Bylaw Blog has an interesting point of view about Connecticut’s (UConn) win over Butler for the NCAA Division I-A basketball championship.  Expect teams that are or will be on probation to win national titles.  There is no such thing as a pristine program in Division I, II, III, or NAIA anymore.
  • Finally, Alex Pappademas of GQ catches up with actor Danny McBride (aka Kenny Powers of “Eastbound and Down” and the new movie “Your Highness”) and picks his brain.  Is Pappademas sure he wants to do that?


It sounds like it’s going to be another nice day outside.  Take advantage of it and enjoy it.

The Science of Bracketology

His nickname is Joey Brackets.

He loves making predictions.

This is his favorite time of the year.  People love him or hate him, but when he pops his head on your TV set, everyone stops to watch him.

He’s not a political pundit or a dabble with a mystery ball.

Joey Brackets is obsessed with a science called “Bracketology.” He even teaches a college course on it.  Seriously, there is a class on Bracketology.


Joe Lunardi, the man behind Bracketology

Joe Lunardi has created a niche and a brand out of studying teams, their schedules, and how well they play as the NCAA tournament approaches.  It’s all trends:  who’s stumbling, who’s rising, who needs to win, and who can’t afford to lose.

ESPN leans on every word he says because his track record (allegedly) is solid.  Nevertheless, Lunardi loves this time of the year.

This is where he makes his money and people find out who he is.