Sunday, November 30, 2008

College Football Week 14

The Big Ten may have 11, but it's not as screwed up as the Big 12--I'm looking for some one's take on the Big 12 South. What did Texas do to lose the right to play for the championship? Their only loss is at Lubbock on a last second play to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are also tied for the league lead, but lost badly at Norman. Oklahoma's one loss is to Texas, by ten points on a neutral field. The argument for the BCS is that the regular season is the playoff. Then Texas beat Oklahoma and the Longhorns should be on their way to play for Missouri and beat them for a second time this year. Sure, I'd rather see Oklahoma play for the conference and national title, but Texas has earned the right more than the Sooners.

Georgia drops the ball--Not only have the Bulldogs underachieved against the top teams of the conference, and now state, but the Georgia Radio Network may have had the biggest disappointment of the day. On a day that found in-state rival Georgia Tech win for the first time in seven years over the Bulldogs, but it was disappointing to hear (or not hear) the in-game ceremony for former Georgia radio announcer of 43 years, Larry Munson. At the end of the first quarter Munson was brought to the field to be honored with a video tribute in front of the sell-out crowd. However for those of us listening to the network that so many had enjoyed his calls, we were treated to the usual three minutes of commercials. What made Munson famous were his calls on the radio, and for the network that he worked for not to listen in and sell-out to advertisers was uncalled for.

Big Ten, not Penn State thanks Oregon--Oregon's win in the Civil War over in-state rival Oregon State will most likely send the Southern California Trojans to play in the Rose Bowl for the fourth consecutive year. Had the Beavers won, they would've received the invite to play Penn State and USC had gone to another BCS bowl game. Penn State would've been heavily favored over Oregon State in a re-match the Nittany Lions won by 31 in week 2. But it will be a home game for the Trojans and look for another USC win over the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl.

Faster, Stronger, Bigger Ducks--Did anyone else think it was a men versus boys match-up between Oregon and Oregon State. The Ducks were faster, stronger and bigger than the conference leading Beavers. Oregon State looked more like the team we've seen over the last five years than the team that beat Southern Cal.

Bowl Predictions--My bowl predictions with one week to go. Look for the Big Ten to lock their teams in this week.

Rose Bowl--Penn State v USC
Fiesta Bowl--Ohio State v Texas
Capital One Bowl--Iowa v Georgia
Outback Bowl--Michigan State v South Carolina
Alamo Bowl--Northwestern v Missouri
Champs Sports Bowl--Minnesota v North Carolina
Insight Bowl--Wisconsin v Kansas

The Capital One is very interested in bringing the Hawkeyes back to Orlando. The match-up with Georgia would showcase two of the best running backs in college football. Shonn Greene of Iowa and Knowshon Moreno of Georgia. The Outback is another possibility for the Hawkeyes and look for LSU to be the opponent if Iowa lands here. South Carolina also has a large fan following, but it wouldn't be necessary if Iowa is invited to Tampa. LSU has a bigger name and will be a good draw for ESPN.

Finally, I'm watching the Bears and the Vikings while writing this up. It sure is nice to see the retro uniforms of Minnesota. Except for them playing indoors, these unis are reminiscent of the Bud Grant, Purple People Eaters era of the 70s and 80s. Or where have you gone Tommy Kramer?

Here We "Snow" Again

The first measureable snow to hit Eastern Iowa. Warm enough for a snowball fight as well as other fun and games.

Waking up to measureable snow.

Colin finding out that this isn't enough snow to sled on.

But Colin wanted to help shovel.

Colin and neighbor Ann come charging at Daddy with snowballs.

Colin making the first snow angel

Friday, November 28, 2008

Spielman Awards

Those of you watching the UCLA - Arizona State football game tonight, former Ohio State linebacker and current ESPN Analyst, Chris Spielman gave out his "Spiely Awards." Among those he gave the Defensive Player of the Year Award to Iowa Defensive Lineman, Mitch King. In my opinion this is quite an honor. Spielman only called one Iowa game, and that was a loss at Illinois

RoughRider Hockey

Tonight we took advantage of the Junior Hockey League team in Cedar Rapids. This was the first time I had been there in four or five years, and the first time the whole family went. We had a great time and the experience was worth every penny. The RoughRiders lost 2-1, but two of the goals were scored in front of us and the gloves were thrown down once and a member from each team went at it, and it was good. Along with the good music played throughout the game, what else could you ask for. We will be going back, and perhaps this time we won't have someone spill a beer on us.

The RoughRider mascot makes his way throughout the crowd.

Colin posing for a picture with the zambonis at work. He likes the zambonis.

Buying a Christmas Tree

The day after Thanksgiving is full of activities. Waking up early to shop, sitting at home watching college football, putting up Christamas lights or catching part of the "Kelly's Leftovers," the Beverly Hills 90210 Marathon on the Soap Network are among the some of the options. The one trip we made was to find a Christmas tree.
I am not a believer in pushing the Christmas hoiday any sooner that commercial America already pushes it. Shopping starts too early, Chirstmas music on the radio is unnecessary, and my preference to buying a tree would be a couple of weeks prior to the 25th, not the day after Thanksgiving. But with the cost of a tree, and spending the Christmas holiday at the Iowa bowl site and not Coralville, we want to make the most of the tree we can. That led us to Lowes today to pick out the best one possible. It will be decorated Sunday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Night Out on the Town

Located just outside State College, Pennsylvania is a small colonial village and the home of one of my favorite places. Duffy's Boalsburg Tavern in Boalsburg, PA was built in 1819 yet has the feel of walking back into the Revolutionary War Known today for its local feel and fine dining, Duffy's remains the watering hole that of the local residents. We were told it is not out of the ordinary to find Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno stop by for a drink.

Wrong Type of Bedlam

Saturday when Oklahoma State hosts in-state rival Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series, less than a capacity crowd may be on hand at Boone Pickens Stadium. In what is becomming a disturbingly popular trend, fans looking to attend the Cowboy's home game must purchase season tickets.

A year ago Iowa State and its Athletic Director, Jamie Pollard was the first to mandate access to the in-state rivalry game with Iowa was by season ticket access. 49,516 were in Jack Trice Stadium that day to witness one of the biggest upsets in the series history. The Cyclones connected on five field goals, one with :05 in regulation to upset the heavily favored Hawkeyes. The crowd was short of capacity by less than a thousand, but with standing room, the attendance could've approached 54,000. A reliable source said regarding the game, tickets were made available secretively as the Cyclones did not sell 49,000 season tickets.

This Saturday projected attendance at Stillwater is 39,000 based on season ticket sales, leaving 15,000 empty seats. Unless OU fans want to spend $292 for season tickets for this one game, there should be less than a capacity crowd. However we know there won't be many empty seats for this game. As was the case with Iowa State in 2007, there are ways to distribute tickets to fans of the home team as well as distributing the tickets to brokers who can make the money needed for the University.

The reason for this move is based on financial issues. Iowa State and Oklahoma State cannot succeed in the Big 12, a conference which is not based on revune sharing from their television contracts, without selling out most of their home games. They demand, from their fan base that if they want to be a fan, there is a financial responsibility that goes along with it. And if the fans demand success, they must ante up their level of support.

While I understand and will defend the athletic directors for this unprecedented move, let's not forget who is responsible for letting athletic department budgets escalate. Athletic directors and university presidents have signed off on the sky-rocketing salaries that coaches are being paid today. This "arms race" is out of control and the university brass need to control their spending. Fans demand winning athletic teams and they don't care at what cost. But coaches will still coach as long as their salaries are competitive. Theoretically if Nick Saban is the highest paid coach at $300,000, then other coaches will demand like amounts. But once the athletic directors and presidents began to pay coaches millions of dollars a year, as well as bonuses for bowl games, graduation rates, etc. (which isn't this in their job description?) the financial responsibility rests back on the fan to support the program.

Don't blame the fans for inappropriate spending of university funds, blame university presidents.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sittin in the Principal's Office

One final thought on the last game for the Gophers. If a team can be intimidated before showing up to play a game, it was Minnesota. On their first play, the ball was snapped over the QBs head which pushed the offense back to their own 2, followed by a run into the line for no gain, and a third down which only picked up a few yards. Gopher QB Adam Weber ran for his life most of the game and the offense couldn't move the ball at all. On defense, the Gophers did all they could to stop RB Shonn Greene, but the beatings took a toll on the Gophers. Greene finished the game with 144 yards on 22 carries over three quarters. By the end of the half, the Gopher team appeared they wanted to be anywhere but the Metrodome. Minnesota appeared to be beat before the game started. This may be in part to the effect of watching game video and watching each Iowa opponent get physically beat.

Sitting at tonight's Iowa home basketball game with Southeast Missouri State my son asked why didn't more people come. The announced crowd was just over 8,000, generous seeing at least two sections completely empty. Todd Lickliter is building a fundamentally sound basketball team. Perhaps it won't be flashy, but once Todd has his players understanding his system, the Hawkeyes will be a fun team to watch. Over the last few games fans can begin to see what he wants to do. Tonight the Hawks was successful from three and at times, the movement without the ball and passing was fun to watch.

However, it is tough to watch an Iowa basketball game in year two of the Big Ten Network. A year ago the newly formed channel forced Iowa to start many of their games at 8pm. This made it difficult for fans from outside the Iowa City area to attend. And those inside the circle found themselves leaving early so young kids could get to bed on time. This year start times could be either 7pm or 7:30pm. A more manageable time, but the first few games have either not been on television (streamed on-line by or on local cable provider's Connections channel. For the first year of the network fans were forced to listen to the games on the radio or purchase a satellite dish. Those who went for the dish have been unable to watch the majority of this season's games. There are alternative channels on Direct TV as well as Dish Network, channels that will show football games not on the main channel. Why can't this be the case for basketball? A year ago the Big Ten Network promoted themselves as the "University of Iowa Network" since you could find more university programming here than anywhere. But it did no good if no one could watch and their start times forced fans away from the arena. This year, a University who prided themself as the first entity to have a state-wide television contract now has little visibility once again.
I'd be very surprised to see the Hawkeyes play in the Champs Sports Bowl

Finally, the Producer of Hawkeye Football on Learfield Sports passed away Sunday afternoon, less than twenty four hours following the Hawkeye win at Minnesota. Patrick Mormann, 31 of Epworth, Iowa died in an automobile accident north of Anamosa. I didn't now Pat well, but would talk with him at home games and on road trips. Pat sat next to me on the plane on our most recent trip. He always had a smile and enjoyed being apart of the broadcast team.

Monday, November 24, 2008

College Football Week 13

For many Hawkeye fans who are wanting an Oregon State defeat this week to in-state rivals, Oregon, we present you the Fighting Duck Cheerleading Squad. A loss by the Beavers helps the chances of the Big Ten Conference having two BCS teams and improving Iowa's bowl rank within the Big Ten. However a win by Oregon State puts them into the Rose Bowl as Pac 10 Champs. New Year's Day in Florida looks very promising.

Dome is Home--For the past twenty-seven years the Minnesota Golden Gophers have called the HHH Metrodome home. At that time, moving their home facility off-campus to an indoor, climate-controlled atmosphere was a recruiting plus. However now the dome is blamed for lack of attendance and atmosphere. Next year the Gophers move into TCF Stadium on the UM campus. Saturday night at kick-off I noticed a packed house for the border rivals Iowa Hawkeyes. A full house isn't typical unless the Hawkeyes or Badgers travel to the Twin Cities, but Minnesota will definitely miss out on these types of crowds when playing outdoors in November, and more importantly, the deafening noise that gets trapped inside. Moving into the open-air stadium will lose its flare, not after a couple of years, but perhaps after a couple of games. If Tim Brewster continues to have the same type of success that his predecessor Glenn Mason has (padding his schedule with lower level FBS teams and succumbing to BCS schools of winning records), it won't matter where the Gophers play, fans will not show up. Now they are guaranteed of full houses at least once a year.

Keep the A.D. to His Word--After a devastating 70-7 defeat to the hands of New Mexico , San Diego State Athletic Director Jeff Schimmel declared Head Football Coach Chuck Long would be back in 2009. Chuck was fired prior to Saturday's 42-21 win over UNLV. Long did not share the news with members of his team or coaching staff until after the victory. It was discovered Schimmel and boosters had been securing the money to buyout Long's last season on his contract over the last two weeks.
Can we end in-season comments by athletic directors unless a final decision is made. Please state that a decision will be made at the end of the year. It is unfair to coaches, staffs and players to be misled.

Blowout Saturday--As exciting this college football season has been, this past Saturday was a disappointment. Every game in the Big Ten was decided in the first half with the exception of Wisconsin and Cal-Poly. In the day's most anticipated game, #5 Oklahoma dismantled #2 Texas Tech. A top 25 North Carolina Tar Heel team was embarrassed at home by in-state rival, North Carolina State while the newest darling of the ACC, Miami lost badly to this week's darling, Georgia Tech. We may see the same this week when Florida and Florida State meet.
Games to watch:
Georgia Tech at Georgia
Western Michigan at Ball State
Oregon at Oregon
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
and look for West Virginia to upset Pittsburgh.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Last College Game in the Metrodome

Some of the last images from the final Minnesota Golden Gopher Football game played in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. I was fortunate to be able to attend many of the Iowa - Minnesota games played in the inflatable downtown stadium. The Gophers began playing there in 1982 and next year they move into TCF Stadium, an on-campus outdoors facility. When the Hawks play there in 2010, it will be the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Looking at the first picture below, many of us are not looking to what the weather conditions may be that day.

Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak prepare for the broadcast on the Hawkeye Radio Network.

It was estimated over 20,000 Iowa fans found their way into the Metrodome. However by the end of the game, there were many more Hawkeye Fans remaining than Gopher.

The Hawkeyes are congratulated by the many Iowa fans.

Floyd Stays Home; Hawks Down Gophers 55-0

The final college football game for the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Metrodome was one their faithful will like to soon forget as their border neighbors from the south, the Iowa Hawkeyes destroyed the home team 55-0 and held onto possession of Floyd of Rosedale for the seventh time in eight years. The 55 point difference is the greatest in the 102 year history of the series. Iowa now waits their bowl destination but most roads point to a New Year's Day battle in either Orlando (Cap One) or Tampa (Outback).

Monday, November 17, 2008

College Football Week 12

A look back at College Football's week 12.

Go Beavers. All Big Ten members but Penn State will be cheering for Arizona this Saturday as the Wildcats host Oregon State. The Beavers looked impressive in their win over California and now travel to the desert. OSU is two wins away from playing in the Rose Bowl. Penn State has to like its chances playing the Beavers again instead of Southern California in their backyard. However if Oregon State makes the BCS, most likely that will send only one Big Ten team to the BCS party and each conference team will drop down the bowl selection list.

Fear the Turtle. Maryland has certainly improved as the season progresses. It opened the season by squeaking out a 14-7 win over FCS power Delaware. A week later lost at Middle Tennesse State 24-14. Following that upset the Terps haven't lost at home and their two losses came in the Commonwealth of Virginia to UVA and Tech. This past week they upset what was perceived as the best team in the ACC in North Carolina. They end their home slate this Saturday against Florida State and then end the season at Boston College. Two wins are definite possibilities.

The Cubs win the Pennant. No, this past playoff season wasn't a bad dream, but the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series more recently than the storied Michigan Football program has had a season with eight losses. The Wolverines have gone 129 without losing eight or more games in a season. If anyone tells you Rich Rodgriguez was left with the cubbard bare, don't believe them. WRs Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington had eligibility remaining but left, and a starting offensive lineman defected to The Ohio State University last spring.

This little Piggy went to Iowa. No, the above picture is not of the Iowa Football team holding a Minnesota Cheerleader. That is Floyd of Rosedale, the travelling trophy awarded annually to the winning team in the Iowa - Minnesota football game. Floyd has lived the good life in Iowa City over the past 12 months. Game time is 6pm on the Big Ten Network. Wayne Larrivee and Chris Martin have the call. As always, tune into the Hawkeye Radio Network with Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak.

Night Out on the Town

Having been to the Alamo Bowl four times allowed us to visit many of the popular locations on the Riverwalk. In 2006 we were introduced to a new Irish Pub named Waxy O'Connor's.
There are many Waxy's around the world, and if the rest are like the one in San Antonio, I see why many are opened. The food is very good, the selection of beverages are cold, the workers are very friendly and all of the sporting action is in HD.
We found this pub to be very welcoming during our stay in San Antonio.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hawks Down Boilers 22-17

The Iowa Hawkeyes held off the Purdue Boilermakers on a raw, cold Saturday afternoon, 22-17. Iowa finished their home schedule with a win before heading north to Minneapolis and the Minnesota Golden Gophers for a 6 pm broadcast.

Shonn Greene led the Hawkeyes by rushing for over 200 yards. However former starting Boiler quarterback, Curt Painter came off the bench to rally Purdue and have a chance for victory on the last play of regulation. On that play, the football dropped outside the End Zone amid a myriad of Boiler and Hawkeye football players.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Big Ten Bowl Predictions

With two weeks remaining in the Big Ten season many are making bowl predictions. I'll take my stab at it as well as final records.

Penn State..........7-1, 11-1 ROSE BOWL
Ohio State...........7-1, 10-2 FIESTA BOWL
Michigan State...6-2, 9-3 CAPITAL ONE BOWL
Iowa.....................5-3, 8-4 OUTBACK BOWL
NWestern............5-3, 9-3 ALAMO BOWL
Wisconsin.............3-5, 7-5 CHAMPS BOWL
Minnesota............3-5, 7-5 INSIGHT BOWL

The Motor City Bowl will not have a Big Ten representative this year. Illinois (5-5) still has Ohio State in Champaign and finish at Northwestern. The Fighting Illini will be shut out of the bowl season in 2008 after representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl following the 2007 season.

The Big Ten must also hope for Oregon State to lose one of their remaining three games (vs Cal, @ Arizona, vs Oregon). The Beavers are currently in the drivers seat for the Rose Bowl due to their head to head win over USC. If the Pac-10 has two teams in the BCS, the Big Ten most likely will be shut out.

Also, the BCS only has to take ONE non BCS-Conference school. Currently Utah, Boise State and Ball State would be eligible for BCS play, but the BCS only has to take one of the three teams.

Selections won't be made until the first Sunday in December. I encourage all to leave their predictions in the comments section of this post.

Night Out on the Town

An underappreciated restaurant in Chicago is Weber Grill. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago among the best of the town's restaurants, all of the food at Weber Grill is cooked on a Weber Grill.
This chain has earned high praise from many of our friends. A few years ago, Iowa defensive line coach, Ron Aiken called for directions to the location in the western suburbs. After dining at Weber Grill he went on to say it was the best hamburger he had ever tasted.
Weber Grill is as good as any fine dining steakhouse in the Chiacgoland area, yet meant for family dining and cheaper prices.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

College Football Week 11

The weekend begins and ends in Iowa City, Iowa. The Hawkeye's upset of Penn State rocked the college football world this past Saturday and seemingly took the Big Ten out of the BCS Title Game picture. Although Penn State most likely will finish the season with only one loss, many other teams must lose for the Nittany Lions to play for the BCS Champsionship.
Many people from around the country sent emails or texts congratulating me on the results of Saturday's game. My phone lit up following the game. Thank you to all who did. One that needs to be noted came from Mike Motl, the Video Coordinator at Iowa State. I received his congratulatory text within an hour after the completion of the game. The Cyclones lost earlier on the final play at Colorado.
Here is a look at some of the final pictures from Kinnick Stadium this past Saturday

Iowa Football Coach, Kirk Ferentz seated on the bus ride from Cedar Rapids to Kinnick Stadium.

Set up in the Krouse Family Plaza, the Big Ten Network Studio.

ABC's Primary Announcing team prepares for the contest between the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes. Set-up for this broadcast began Thursday. "Skycam" is also controlled from this booth. Their operators sat to the left.

A look inside the ABC broadcast booth during the game. In the forefront is analyst Paul McGuire. Bob Griese and Brad Nessler alongside of him. Stacy Dales reported from the sidelines. The announcing crew typically show up on Friday afternoon to visit with the head coach and coordinators. I was very impressed with this team. All very professional and outgoing. Dales is much more stunning in person than on tv.

University of Iowa graduate, former Chicago Cub play by play man, and current voice of the Houston Astros, Milo Hamilton was a guest in the press box.

The Iowa Marching Band prior to Kick-off.

Joe Paterno being led to the coaches booth. Security was stationed outside the booth the entire game. It was a bit extreme as no other coaching staff has had this kind of attention. Members of the Penn State media questioned the need for such security and discussed the possibility of a death threat on the current Nittany Lion coach. Former Offensive Coordinator and Associate Athletic Director of Footbal Administration, Fran Ganter assisted Paterno. At one time Ganter was not allowed access to the booth.

Finally, Iowa radio play by play man, Gary Dolphin wraps up the upset victory over the #3 Nittany Lions.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Iowa's Win over #3 Penn State

#3 Goes Down

The unpredictability that is the college football season hit Iowa City, Iowa. Down 23-14 in the fouth quarter, the Iowa Hawkeyes beat the third ranked Penn State Nittany Lions on a Daniel Murray field goal with :01 remaining to give the Hawkeyes a 24-23 win and seemingly eliminate a Big Ten team from the BCS Title Game.
Just returning from a local night spot, Hawkeye fans are savoring the win, the first over a top five team since 1990. Ironically a member of that squad, John Derby was among those celebrating the victory at Eggy's in North Liberty. Quote of the night was directed from a female Hawkeye fan to Iowa Radio Voice, Gary Dolphin. The middle-aged lady said, "Gary, I'm having an orgasm just standing next to you."
This was the Hawkeyes sixth win in the last seven attempts over the Nittany Lions.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sittin' in the Principal's Office

Alright, not the best shots, but you are looking at Kinnick Stadium on the Thursday prior to the #3 Penn State Nittany Lion's Saturday arrival. Musco Lighting was busy preparing its lights for the national television broadcast.
It doesn't seem long ago that Musco first lit up Kinnick Stadium, but it was over 23 years ago they were brought in for the Michigan - Iowa game. That day (October 19, 1985) the #1 Hawkeyes faced the #2 Wolverines. Today, a game of that magnitude would attract a national prime time audience with ESPN's GameDay. However that wasn't the case then. The game began at 2:30 with CBS showing the game to a split-national audience. Auburn and Georgia Tech was the other game. But one thing hasn't changed, Brent Musberger called that game as he still calls the most prolific games today. However Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, Paul McGuire and Stacey Dales will call the game for ABC Saturday.

Tim Tebow for Heisman
I'm not sure he deserves it this year. There are many other good candidates. Colt McCoy (Texas), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech) are on most voter's lists, and for good reason. Each have led their teams to remarkable seasons, but the returning Heisman winner has received little attention and may not win it again this year. However this article brings to light the life of a college quarterback. Being a video coordinator, there are few who realize how important video is to a football coaching staff and team members. Tebow here shows the commitment needed to excel at the highest level.

Thanks for Playing
Five openings have occurred in Division I (FBS) College Football. The latest is Ron Prince at Kansas State. I don't have first-hand knowledge of what led to his dismissal, but it is extremely difficult to understand how someone could lose thier position after 2 1/2 years on the job. A new coach's first year is to understand his personnel and recruit players to fit his system Typically the coach takes over with a late jump in the recruiting process. In the coach's second year, the system begins to take place, but often they are doing it with young inexperienced student-athletes. In year three, positive signs should take place, however the coach still doesn't have many experienced players that he recruited. Prince made a commitment to the players and their families to be there until they completed their time at Kansas State. However the athletic director decided it was time to move in a different direction.
I don't feel it is right for any coach to leave for a better job after the same amount of time on the job, but it is worse for the University to rid themselves of a coach after the same period of time. I don't know all the circumstances, but how long will this AD give the next coach to succeed?

Obama for Playoff?
On the eve of the '08 Election, Barack O'Bama explained to ESPN's Chris Berman that he would like to see a college football playoff in college football. The next day prominent coaches like Bob Stoops and Pete Carroll came out in support of a play-off system. Let's forget about John McCain's plea for eliminating substance performing drugs. We wouldn't want to talk about something that isn't good for the body, rather center our focus on a seemingly trivial play-off system.
What i propose is the following. Start the season a week earlier and ensure it is over the Saturday prior to T'Giving. Thanksgiving weekend is Conference Champion Saturday. Each conference will play their title game or determine the champion in their pre-determined way. After those games, seed the conference champions into a 8-team play-off to begin play the first Saturday of December. The following Saturday would be the semi-finals with the title game played the Saturday after January 1. Those teams that don't qualify for the play-offs would then be sent to their conference designated bowl game. This would allow fans and staffs to adequately prepare travel arrangements. If the season were to end today your playoff would look like the following:
#1 Alabama vs #8 Boise State
#4 USC vs #5 West Virginia
#3 Penn State vs #6 Georgia Tech
#2 Texas Tech vs #7 Utah
The conference season remains important. You must win your conference to advance to the field of 8. Many notable top ten teams are absent. Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, are among the list. However now it is important to win every conference game, no matter when it occurs.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Night Out on the Town

Downtown Iowa City hosts many fine dining options. This week's installment looks at one of my wife's favorites, 126.
126 is the type of restaurant you would take a lady to when trying to impress. It has many options on the menu, and a wide variety of beverage options. The bar upstairs is intended to entertain those waiting for their table to open, rather than hosting individuals into the night. Reservations aren't necessary, but are recommended.

Last Look at Champaign

This isn't a Night Out on the Town, but this does highlight a local Champaign band that performed at a local bar on Halloween Night. At Cowboy Monkey, Finger Bang played a mix of music from the 90s and today with an emphasis on the Seattle grunge sound. We weren't expecting a live performance upon entering, but the five dollar cover charge was worthwhile.

College Football Week 10

After an exciting weekend of Big Ten Football, the ladies of Minnesota will present the wrap-up of week 10.
Can anyone remember a Saturday of Big Ten Football that found every game settled in the last minute of play? First, an Adam Weber throw was intercepted by Northwestern and returned for a touchdown to break a 17-17 tie. The Gophers, instead of playing for overtime, threw over the middle and endured a devastating defeat. Then Michigan State came back from 11 down in the fourth quarter to kick a 45 yd field goal with :12 to play. A couple of mental breakdowns from the Wisconsin coaching staff contributed to the defeat. Purdue brings the hook 'n ladder from the back pages of the playbook to defeat Michigan with :27 to play. The win for the Boilermakers sent the Wolverines to the bowl sideline for the first time in 33 years. And finally, a Matt Eller field goal, broke a 24-24 tie with Iowa with :30 to play followed by an Ricky Stanzi intercepted pass. Although the conference is mediocre, that doesn't mean it doesn't have exciting finishes.
Exciting finishes were found elsewhere around the country. Pittsburgh took four overtimes to beat Notre Dame in South Bend. BYU defeated Colorado State 45-42 in a back and forth game that whoever scored last, won the game. And in a game that lived up to the hype, Texas Tech defeated the #1 Texas Longhorns on a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree that left :01 on the clock.
And finally, on the eve of Election Day I just witnessed the interviews of Barack Obama and John McCain. When asked what sports issue they would change Obama wants a playoff while McCain would eliminate performance enhancing drugs. Based on that alone, I could not vote for Obama.

A November Day on a Midwest College Campus

It is November 3rd on the Iowa Campus. The temperature was pushing 75 degrees. For many of you who have travelled to an Iowa bowl game, today's weather reminded me of what a late December day in Florida or Texas is like.

Iowa City Monday Morning QB Club

Every Monday during the football and basketball season, the Iowa City Monday Morning QB Club meets at the Masonic Temple in Downtown Iowa City. This group, made up of mostly men (and many retired), has been meeting every year since the 1960s. Lunch is provided by Hy-Vee and a differenent coach from the University speaks to them along with a someone from the sporting world from the Iowa City area. Today is was my turn and retired baseball player, scout and high school official Bob Oldis shared his stories from his playing days with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A year ago Iowa Wrestling coach Tom Brands
was to share the stage with me, but forgot to show. While many in the audience have good intentions, it isn't always easy to speak following losses. Last year a loss at Purdue 28-6 precluded my appearance. This year is was the 27-24 loss at Illinois.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trip to Illinois

Pictures from Iowa's trip to Illinois, starting with the Friday walk-thru.
Waiting for the bus, Iowa Play-by-Play Man, Gary Dolphin, Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and his son Steven.

Silvercreek, the dining option for the Iowa Video Staff.

The Illiniois Indoor Practice Facility. A 70 yard permanent structure attached to Memorial Stadium. On game day it is used for Will Call.

The Illini Outdoor practice facility backs up to their Indoor as well as Memorial Stadium.

A few of the tailgators around Memorial Stadium

Tailgating in the parking lots of Assembly Hall

On the field a half hour from Game Time

The Illini take the field

Followed by the Hawkeyes

A sea of Orange at Memorial Stadium on a balmy 70 degree November day in Champaign

Memorial Stadium lies on the most southern part of the Illinois campus