Sunday, August 31, 2008

College Football Week 1

After the first week of college football, a couple of observations.

The ACC is a basketball conference. Clemson is pummeled by Alabama, East Carolina surprises Virginia Tech, North Carolina State is throttled by South Carolina and Southern California punishes Virginia. North Carolina narrowly beats McNeese State, Maryland is a touchdown better than Delaware and Boston College defeats Kent State 21-0. The most impressive victory is by conference doormat Duke. They beat James Madison 31-7.

Clemson...ENOUGH! We consistently are led to believe the Tigers will be battling for the national title. This year they enter the season ninth in the nation, on national television and get thoroughly beat. Nothing new. Remember, it is better to have your fifteen minutes of fame at the end of the season, not the beginning.

The Big Ten proved they can beat the wannabes of the college football world, but Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois did not make the conference proud. When was the last time Michigan lost back to back home season openers to non-BCS conference teams. I do believe Michigan State has a promising future. Playing on the west coast is tough duty.

Did anyone else notice that Texas A&M lost at home to Arkansas State? And Arkansas was behind by ten entering the fourth quarter against Western Illinois?

Pittsburgh, I'll hold off on my comments until September 21, the day after the Hawks travel east.


A beautiful day and an outcome many can live with. Although there were some moments that weren't as great as we'd like, the performance showed yesterday is satisfactory for the first game of the season.
I'm now ready to move on to Division I football teams (currently known as Football Bowl Subdivision).
Thanks to the Cedar Rapids Gazette for the photo.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Final Touches

The final coat of paint graces Nile Kinnick Stadium. Pete Van Elswyk and the Kinnick Stadium crew do what it takes to make Hawkeye Game Day an experience no one will forget.

Johnson County I-Club Breakfast

A Hawkeye tradition in the Johnson County I-Club Breakfast which is held each Friday morning prior to every Iowa Football home game. Typically the largest crowds are for the first game of the season, Homecoming and the last game of the season.

This morning over 500 people jammed into the ballroom at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel in Iowa City to listen to the Hawkeye Marching Band, watch the Iowa Spirit Squads perform and of course hear what Head Coach Kirk Ferentz had to say about the Maine Black Bears. This is game one of two of the Kirk Ferentz Reunion Tour this year. Kirk's first head coaching job was in Orono, ME for the University of Maine. He also spent a year as a graduate assistant at Pittsburgh, an opponent in three weeks.

I had the opportunity to sit at a table with the Snells, originally from Ida Grove, where the retired father currently lives and his son, now in Iowa City. Truly great people who follow the Hawks at home and occasionally on the road as well as the bowl game. Their seats are in Kinnick's South End Zone and they each told me they truly love sitting there.

Game time approaches...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Q O' the D

Don't make decisions because they are the easiest, the cheapest or the most popular. Make your decision because it is right.

--Theodore Hesburgh, Former President, University of Notre Dame

Monday, August 25, 2008

Night Out on the Town

My hopes is that will be a weekly feature during the football season. "Night Out on the Town" will highlight some of our favorite spots that we have visited while working for Iowa Football. They may either be a restaurant or a place to have a cool beverage. Our first stop is a place in San Antonio, Texas called Durty Nelly's. An Irish Pub we first got to know the place on our first trip for the 1993 Alamo Bowl. It is located on the famous Riverwalk and we were attracted by the live sing along piano player. It was the 1996 and 2001 trips where we would call this bar home. Nightly we would sing along with either Bill (1996) or Don (2001) as it would be open every night (incl. Christmas Eve and Day). Whether it was the Iowa Fight Song or one of many Irish tunes, it is a great place to be with friends.

Hubbub of Activity

It is the first day of school for the University of Iowa. (I was told incorrectly and posted the wrong info earlier. My bad.) After a Summer which saw the Iowa City / Coralville area as well as much of Eastern Iowa damaged by flood waters, it was good to have a beautiful sunny day greet the students for the 2008-09 school year.

The first day of school was one of my favorites. Seeing old friends. Meeting new ones. Having new books and being part of the University Community was always exciting. I also knew I was not behind in any of my classes. The only time I could say that.

No doubt. It is nice to have school underway and Iowa City becomes the thriving community we know so well.

The Q and the A

This week's Q&A is with Linebacker Coach, Darrell Wilson.

DOB & Birthplace: 7.28.58 Camden, NJ

In Your IPod: Jazz, R&B, Gospel

Hobby: Bowling, Golf, Spending Time w/ Family

Coca-Cola or Pepsi: Neither

Grass or Turf: Grass

Play Football at Day or Night: Night

Favorite Team Growing Up: Oakland Raiders

Person You Most Admire: Father / Mother

If I were not a football player, I'd be a ... Golfer

Memorable Sports Moment: Winning 1983 Grey Cup

Best Advice Given to You: "Never feel you have arrived."

Game Week: Maine Black Bears

The Iowa Football Season kicks off Saturday against the Maine Black Bears. Game Time is 11am on the Big Ten Network. Mike Crispino, Former Hawkeye great, Anthony Herron and JB Long will call the action on tv. Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak on the Hawkeye Radio Network.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Matt Leinart...your 10 minutes of fame may be over. You'll be remembered more for a picture depicting you doing a beer bong with coed college students than playing for the Arizona Cardinals....But then again, who'd want to be remembered for playing for the Arizona Cardinals. Point goes to Leinart.

CBS Sports...nice way to finish your golf season. An audio glitch had us missing the last 8-10 minutes of audio on their last golf tournament of the 2008 season. No Jim Nantz to explain why Sergio Garcia got relief from his poor lie. I found out a day later that this problem was limited to our broadcast area. Thanks, KGAN

The Yankees and Red Sox play this week. It is hard to believe this is the last series between the two until the final weekend. What will ESPN do for a month? And can ESPN handle a series more important than the Yankees and Red Sox playing on the final weekend? Say the Brewers and Cubs?

Best baseball is being played in the midwest. Although the Cubs have a 4 1/2 game lead on Milwaukee, it is far from over. The battle for the NL wild card may come down to the Cardinals and Brewers. In the American League, it is important to check the standings daily. One day the Twins may lead the AL Central, and the next it could be the White Sox. The next two weeks are very important to the race. The Twins are on the road for fourteen days due to the Republican Convention in the Twin Cities. If Chicago is to have a sizable lead, now is the time.

Closing Ceremonies

It has come to a close and I am sad to see the Olympics come to an end. My son, four, became a fan while intently watching the games over the last two weeks. Tonight while watching the closing ceremonies he knew the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube as well as Shawn Johnson. He became a fan. While in the pool a week ago he wanted to be Michael Phelps. He did the freestyle, breaststroke and jumped into the pool as if he were competing in the backstroke. Last night while at the Iowa Soccer Complex we sat on the grassy hillside and he was doing his best to stand on his head as if here were Shawn Johnson on the balance beam. He asked if basketball was over, if we could go to China, and why did the Olympics have to be over. He was a fan of volleyball, whether it was inside or on the beach. And he watched table tennis intently to see how the game is played, although he thinks dad and him could compete with the world's best in our basement.

To those who believe that the Olympics are an idea whose time has past, I do not understand. The Olympics is an event we need. In two weeks the world's attention focused on the best athletes from around the world. A war broke out in the old Soviet Republic of Georgia and due to the playing of the games, it was over quickly. Once again, this is what is so great about sport. It is unscripted. It is competition. It is something that can bring the world together. My son had never heard of China, but had so many questions about it over the past two weeks. He got to witness a different culture otherwise only taught from a schoolbook. And that is what the games should be about. We learn about others and their way of life. We go to war on the athletic fields, rather than destroying homes and lives of innocent people. To those who don't believe in the Olympic Spirit are truly missing out on much.

I said I would post pictures from Salt Lake City. My wife and I were there in 2002. I hope we can take my son to Vancouver in 2010 or London in 2012. You will find the Olympic flame, the medalists from the Women's Downhill and the Ski Jumping Venue.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Iowa - Drake Women's Soccer

The University has had women's soccer for close to ten years, but I had never attended a game. On this beautiful fall-like night I thought I would take the family to a game. It was the season opener against the Drake Bulldogs. By the time we arrived the Hawkeyes were ahead 2-0 with about twenty minutes to go in the first half. Soon after taking a seat on the grassy knoll, the Hawkeyes scored a goal and increased their lead by one. We stayed until the 35 minute mark of the second half with hopes that Iowa could hold on to win this one.

I am definitely not a soccer fan, but it was more interesting to watch in person. A very good crowd showed up and few seats could be found in the permanent bleachers. I have met Iowa's head coach Ron Rainey, and talked with him on a number of occasions. He is definitely a person I would let my child play for. Very nice, humble and seemingly appreciative of the people around him. One of his players is the sister of a good friend of mine. Jackie Kaeding, the sister of Nate is also a very nice person. I met her at a San Diego Chargers playoff game in the '07 season and have talked with her many times as she worked this summer at Brown Deer Golf Course in Coralville, Iowa. It was these two reasons why we attended tonight's soccer match-up.

Although I am not a soccer fan, I was bored by tonight's atmosphere. We sat through a halftime with little entertainment. A contest for two little kids to dribble and kick a ball through the goal. This idea has been recycled throughout the many Iowa sporting events. Then the music that ensued sounded like they came from the original 8-Track. Then when the Iowa Fight Song was played, my wife and I were the only ones I heard clapping to it.

My wife said she may take Colin to more games this season. It won't be because of the half-time entertainment though. It will be for the play on the field and the beautiful soccer facility.

Chuck E. Cheese

Note to self...Do Not go to Chuck E. Cheese on a Saturday Night.

Chuck E. Cheese has been a favorite of the family for a couple of years now. Not only do they have fun games that the three of use enjoy, but they have very good pizza. Not that I would take my wife there on a date, but their pizza is very underrated. On this night we had much fun, but there were many (and I mean many) birthdays being celebrated and many little children running around with little to no adult supervision. I think the next time we go, it will be a night other than Saturday.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mock Game

Every year each college football team has a Mock Game to simulate game-like situations. These are situations that may not happen in every football game, but most likely will occur during the season. Defensing fakes, taking a safety, as well as other game management issues which fans take for granted are covered in this practice. In this picture sideline and team box issues are covered. Staying back from the sideline, bench organization and coaching responsibilities are among the topics practiced.

Paint on the Field

We're almost a week from the home opener with the University of Maine Black Bears. There is much to do for the stadium to be ready for 75,000+. Today, the initial coat of pain went down in the end zones.

On Thursday banners began to decorate the facade of Kinnick Stadium. Featuring players of the 2002 Big Ten Champion team, each corner had a banner sponsored by local grocery store chain, Hy-Vee who also sponsors the Cy-Hawk series. The Cy-Hawk series credits points that go to the winner of the Iowa v Iowa State game in all sports competed over the course of a school year. Last year Iowa State took home the award as well as the Cy-Hawk trophy, which goes to the winner of the football game. That was started by the Downtown Des Moines Athletic Club.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Son at Practice

This isn't the first time my son Colin has joined me at practice. At the age of four, he is beginning to understand what is going on. Tonight he wanted to try the gauntlet drill. He didn't find it very difficult.
Only one more day of Fall camp before we start game week in preparation for the Maine Black Bears. Saturday the team breaks camp and there is no practice. Except for a few chores that Colin can help me with at the office, I am looking forward to spending my last day before the season begins, with my family. After Saturday my job is seven days a week with the only rest in sight being our off week in late October.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Much to Read

I didn't begin to read blogs until the beginning of this year, but I continue to find new and informative ones on a daily basis. I find some blogs more informative than reading the newspapers. Many bloggers spend way too much time to keep theirs up to date with daily information. Today I stumbled upon a couple of different college football sites with links to more local university blogs. I found the following interesting.

Prior to 1990, the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department was on hard times. The football program was unable to fill it's 76,000+ stadium unless it was for a border game with Minnesota or Iowa. The basketball team continued its mediocrity and the Olympic Sports weren't excelling. Times were so tough the department decided to drop baseball. Then the President of the University became involved and put the right people in place to build the program up again. In less than 15 years the Badgers won three Rose Bowls, attended a couple of Final Fours and numerous other honors ensued.
Jamie Pollard is now the AD at Iowa State. As a Hawkeye fan and a long-time resident of the State of Iowa, I was not a fan of how he treated the price per ticket for the 2007 Iowa - Iowa State football game. But I do respect the job he has done in Ames. In 2006, coming off a year where the Cyclones won the Cy-Hawk trophy, he purchased a popular billboard in Cedar Rapids claiming victory. Then in 2007 he increased the price of the game ticket for the annual football showdown in Ames from $50 to $95 and the only way you could gain entrance for that game was to buy a season ticket. Following the 2006 season, he fired popular head football coach Dan McCarney and replaced him with the Defensive Coordinator at Auburn and Texas, Gene Chizek.
Pollard is trying to make Cyclone backers proud of the program again and inject it with enthusiasm needed to contend in the Hawkeye State. He has worked hard and I admire him for making some very difficult decisions for the best of the Iowa State program. Although I admire him doesn't mean I like him.
The linked article is from February, but worth reading.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Q O' the D

Today's comes from CBC Olympic and Hockey Night in Canada Host, Ron MacLean. He said the following a couple of years ago while hosting the NHL post-season trophy presentation.

"We are not here to see through each other, we are here to see each other through."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Moving Day

On my run through the University of Iowa campus I noticed many moving in for the 2008-09 academic school year. A couple of observations.

  • It appears there is some sort of competition between those who live in the dorms and the Greek system. I saw t-shirts signifying life in the residence halls as well as those that promoted "Be Greek." Let the competition begin.

  • To the very athletic young lady who was outpacing me on the run--my goal is to stay up with you.

  • Mr. and Mrs Claypool, the lawyer and his wife who figures out my taxes every year--yes, that was me who ran by you and said "hello."

  • Young ladies who were seen walking around with your "toolish" boyfriends--you can do better. But if you are stuck up and snobbish, stick with these "tools." You deserve them.

  • Thank you to all who came a week early, not only to enter the Greek system or claim your space in your dorm room, but to get a feel of the town. Here are a couple of tips. 1. Pedestrians have the right of way. 2. There is no stop sign at the west end of Market Street by the Union. 3.Parents and future students--you can not save parking spaces by standing in them until someone pulls the car around. My dad tried to do this when I was a freshman, and it doesn't work.

Classes begin Tuesday, August 26.

Q O' the D

This is the "Quote of the Day." And while this may not be a daily feature, whenever I come upon a good quote, I'll post it. Today's belongs to the former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter. (And yes, I'm a Republican, but I'll give the Democrats their due if they deserve it.).

"A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Picnic at the Head Coach's House

Before the start of every football season, Iowa Football Head Coach Kirk Ferentz invites the families of his staff as well as various people who contribute to the program to his house for dinner and swimming. Very few of the adults make their way into the pool, but all of the kids take advantage of the opportunity.

Kid's Day

On a Chamber of Commerce day in Iowa City, the Iowa Football team held it annual Kid's Day at Kinnick Stadium. A few thousand watched as the Hawks scrimmaged for two hours and then signed autographs afterwards. This marks two weeks until the season opens at home against the Maine Black Bears.

Here Iowa kicker Daniel Murray signs one of many autographs on the day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Night Practice

Tonight was our third practice under the lights. This is the first time in years we have had as many practices at night. Although it creates long days and doesn't allow me to get home much before 10, it is nice to be outside in the cooler evenings.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First Practice in Kinnick

After a week of practicing, Iowa Football had their first scrimmage of the season in Kinnick Stadium. Over 130 plays entailed the 2+ hour practice. Improvement showed as the scrimmage progressed. Players were making plays and a tight end from Marion, Iowa may have shown the most promise of the day. has the first set of bowl predictions out. Ohio State will represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl against USC. Wisconsin will earn a BCS birth against Missouri in the Fiesta Bowl. Illinois will be in the Capital One Bowl, Penn State the Outback Bowl, Michigan State goes to the Alamo Bowl, Michigan in the Insight Bowl and Purdue in the Motor City Bowl. Iowa is slated to play Georgia Tech in the Champs Sports Bowl.
I agree with only a few of the predictions. I believe Ohio State and Wisconsin will be good enough an is capable of earning BCS bowl invites. However Ohio State and USC will be a rematch of a game the second or third week of the season. Finally the Buckeyes won't be playing for the national title and pollsters will make sure of that.
If Illinois does qualify for the Cap One Bowl, they will with three loses on the season. Penn State will only earn an Outback Bowl birth on reputation alone. I believe Michigan State may be the surprise team of the conference and watch for them to play on New Year's Day. Illinois may drop to San Antonio. What many forget is that after the Cap One, it is based on selection by the bowls. I cannot see Michigan falling all the way to the Insight Bowl. The Champs Sports Bowl would love to have the Wolverines involved. Iowa, who did not qualify for a bowl game in '07 will this year. The Insight wants the Hawkeyes and Iowa would be a big draw to Tempe. The Hawkeyes will either be good enough to play on New Year's Day, or they will end up in Arizona.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Best Story of the Beijing Olympics

Many watched the spectacular spectacle of the Opening Ceremonies. The image that I will remember from the night is the nine year old Lin Hao of the Sichuan Province of China. His school was affected by the recent earthquake. 20 of his 30 classmates lost their lives in the disaster, but Lin Hao survied. Not only did he survive, but he also came to the aid of two classmates and saved their lives. When asked why he did that his comment was, "I am one of the class leaders. A Hall Monitor. That is one of my responsibilities."

The Olympics is an event everyone should attend. My wife and I were at Salt Lake for the 2002 Winter Games. We attended a Hockey Match between Austria and Germany, the Women's Downhill featuring Picabo Street in her last Olympic race and the Men's K120 Ski Jumping Finals. We also watched the Bare Naked Ladies perform at the Medals Plaza in downtown Salt Lake. We were there five days and it was purely an incredible experience. "Magical" is a word that definitely defines the hype surrounding the two weeks. I hope to find pictures we took from 2002 to post.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

End of a Legend

Today was a difficult day for any Green Bay Packer fan. Brett Favre, 16 year quarterback for my favorite team was traded to the New York Jets. It culminated a difficult month of constant speculation of whether or not he would play again after retiring from the game six months ago.

This is my take. General Manager Ted Thompson and Head Coach Mike McCarthy began to form the post-Favre team a few years ago by drafting Aaron Rodgers in the first round. Rodgers was projected as a top-ten pick, but slipped to mid to late 1st round. It was difficult for the Packers to not take him as Favre's retirement was imminent. Brett has flirted with the idea of retiring the last few years, and pulled the trigger in 2008.

When building this team, McCarthy has expectations on and off the field. He wants the same committment off the field to studying the game as he does on the field to giving 100%. While Brett has been toying with the idea of retiring the last few years, the team began to question if he was committed to what McCarthy was putting into place.

Now Brett retired. The draft came and went with Thompson taking two QBs. Mini-camps and OTAs came and went focusing on the new Green Bay Packer philosophy--all working harder to learn the game in film study. Favre said at his retirement press conference he couldn't see himself put the time into watch video as what is needed by Mike.

The new mindset was instituted in April and May. Late June, Brett wanted to come back and his terms. But his terms aren't part of the new Green Bay way. McCarthy said "the train had left the station," but Brett wanted to be on the train, but not under Mike's engineering.

So today Brett was traded to NY. Thompson said he didn't want to be the guy who signed the trade papers. Brett is a Packer. I was not happy Green Bay offered Brett $20M to stay retired, but I believe they did this so he would not tarnish his image. He is Green Bay and Green Bay became known because of what Brett did for them.

I wasn't born when Bart Starr was the Green Bay quarterback, and my earliest recolection is Lynn Dickey. I would celebrate every win as a little kid, and cry when they would lose. Finally the Packers became a winner and the quarterback who led my team is my age. He takes them to the playoffs, Super Bowl and brings back the Lombardi Trophy to a town in northeastern Wisconsin. While I don't like to idolize, there was no player that was Green Bay to me than Brett Favre. Now he is gone.

I will continue to watch and cheer every weekend for my beloved Packers, but it will take a few years to accept my guy is playing for another team. I want nothing but the best for him as he deserves to be a champion again.

Big Ten Network at Iowa Football Practice

Iowa was stop #2 on the Big Ten Network's tour to all conference school's pre-season football practice. It was a two-day stop for the crew as they watched and observed a practice on Wednesday. Today the crew was put to work with a set-up of a mobile set, production truck and cable run around the football fields. Dave Revsine, the face of the network anchored the 90 minute show along with former Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo and former Illinois star Howard Griffith.

The practice lasted over two hours, concluding around 5:30. The show had to be condensed with features and interviews and ready for air by 8pm.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Big Ten Officials

Dave Perry, Coordinator of Big Ten Officials visited the Iowa Football Complex to discuss the latest rule changes as well as reviewing a video which included how personal fouls may be called differently this year as well as reviewing various sportsmanship calls which were either flagged or not over the past year. Two big changes in store for the 2008 season include the implementation of the 40/25 second play clock and making all Face Mask penalties 15 yards personal fouls.

Officials have had to make a decision of whether or not a facemask is either unintentional and marked off for five yards, or a personal foul for 15 yards. The guess work is taken out and all will be fifteen. A player may graze the mask, but as long as there is a grab and turn or jerk, the flag will fly.

In an attempt to shorten the game for television purposes the college game will use the 40/25 play clock which is similar to the NFL. The game clock will continue to stop until the chains are set on all first downs, but as soon as the ball is dead from the previous play, the play clock will begin. The only time the 25 second play clock will be used is after any administrative stops by the officials. It is now important for coaches to utilize their time outs wisely. If a team has no time outs, on defense and are behind with less than two minutes remaining, the offensive team will only need to take a knee for three straight plays and the game will be over. I have always liked the old college rules of the 25 second play clock so I'm not looking forward to the change.

Mr. Perry also informed the team that the head referee for the first game of the year vs Maine will be Dave Witvoet. Not happy about that either.

Dave Perry is reviewing the new play clock rules with Iowa Offensive Coordinator, Ken O'Keefe.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Media Day

Also on the first day of practice, Iowa holds their annual Football Media Day in the afternoon. This is the first opportunity of the new season for members of the Iowa media to speak with any of the student-athletes associated with the football program. Media members include those from the Big Ten Network and major media outlets within the state of Iowa to those from the hometown newspapers and radio stations of anyone on the team. There will be other media opportunities throughout the year--press conferences every Tuesday throughout the season and after each game--but this will be the last time some members of the media will make the trip to Iowa City. For example, the sports editor at a small town newspaper in Western Iowa may not return to report on a freshman from the same hometown with no game experience.

Returning Quarterback, Jake Christensen and Head Coach Kirk Ferentz garnered the most attention. Coach Ferentz answered questions earlier in the day at his press conference, but this was an opportunity for all members present to meet with him one-on-one.

The day concluded with the taking of the team picture in Kinnick Stadium

Practice Day 1

I am the Video Coordinator for the University of Iowa Football team. As the days go by, you'll have a better idea what that is. Today is fall practice #1 for the 2008 football season. The temperature reached into the 90s and the area was in a Heat Advisory.

I oversee four students who shoot practice for me. It is shot from four lifts. Two were in 60ft lifts and the other two were in 40ft scissor lifts. Although we use the lifts and cameras, as well as most of our equipment on a daily basis, I am always concerned that something will not work on the first day.

The Beginning

This is a new experience for me. This will be an opportunity for me to share my experiences as a sports fan as well as one who has an inside look at a Division I Football program.