Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hawkeyes with the Stars

New Year's Eve ended up being an off day for the Iowa Football team. Into game week, this is the squad's Monday. After an morning weight training session, many of the Hawkeyes made their way to one of the many pools at the Fontainebleau.

The Fontainebleau is preparing for popular singer and performer, Lady GaGa at poolside. While preparations were underway, the Iowa Football players were not the only stars lounging around. Movie producer and director Spike Lee spent time with the Hawkeyes. Above Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt is invited into Spike's poolside area.

Spike Lee also takes time to meet Adrian Clayborn.

Spike also spends time with other players on the roster. Iowa quarterback John Weinke overherd Lee talk to the players about life after football is over.

The opportunity to meet Lee was special for the entire team.

Also poolside was Kevin Connolly of HBO's "Entourage." Connolly wasn't able to spend as much time with the team, but did take a moment for a couple of pictures. Many of the stars are at the hotel for the concert, but they are also taking advantage of the many features the Fontainebleau has to offer.
(Photo Courtesy John Weinke)
Sophomore quarterback John Weinke gets a photo opportunity with the Entourage star.

With a beach so close to the hotel, the Fontainebleau is a favorite spot for the Hawkeyes and Holloywood stars. While Iowa City is suffering through a cold, snowy spell, this is part of the reward the Hawkeyes worked hard for during the season.

2009 - Don't Stop Believin'

Looking back at the 2009 season, a song played by the DJ reminded me of the theme of this Iowa Football team. "Don't Stop Believin'" is a song I used for a season in review video shown on the Kinnick Stadium Hawk Vision, but this Journey hit of the '80s definitely sums up what Hawkeye fans lived through as their team perservered to earn a spot in the 2010 Fed Ex Orange Bowl.

Following the season opening thrilling win over Northern Iowa, many Hawkeye fans were unsure how good this team would be. A feat that has never been done before, Iowa blocked two field goals to end the game giving them a 17-16 win over the FCS national power. But the next week was the exception to the rule as the Hawkeyes steamrolled their in-state FBS rival, Iowa State, 35-3.

Teams like Arizona, Arkansas State, Wisconsin and Michigan each gave the Hawkeyes everything they could handle as they had to fight from behind if some to keep a winning streak alive. But it was games against Michigan State, Penn State, Indiana and Minnesota that may give Hawkeye fans their lasting memories.

In Happy Valley, an Adrian Clayborn punt block and return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter put Iowa ahead for good. Behind, and looking sub-par heading into the fourth quarter against Indiana, the Hawkeyes played their best quarter on offense including back to back touchdown passes of 60+ yards as well as two rushing touchdowns by freshman Brandon Wegher for the win over the Hoosiers.

In order to hold onto the Floyd of Rosedale trophy, Iowa held Minnesota twice in the fourth quarter on fourth down to preserve the victory. And finally who will ever forget the last second, fourth down touchdown pass of Ricky Stanzi to Marvin McNutt to beat Michigan State to set a school record of eight consecutive wins to begin a season.

Hawkeye fans had reason to enjoy every game this season. Except for Iowa State, each game went down to the wire and provided some of the best football outcomes ever seen by an Iowa team. It convinced them, that no matter what the score is, there was never a time to not stop believing.

Night Out on the Town

In the heart of Miami Beach's Art Deco district is The Clevelander, a popular hotel and nightclub. After recently going through a multi-million dollar renovation it is back and better than ever as a must stop while cruising Ocean Avenue.
During the day it is one of many hotels located on the strip, but it takes on new life as the hot sun goes down. The hotel pool transforms itself into a dance club. The lounge chairs are put away for a stage and dance floor with the daytime poolside restaurant begins turning out the coolest of beverages.
On the night my wife and I visited, the Ghosts of Gloria were performing. Playing the songs of Nickelback and Three Days Grace, it was disappointing to hear a group with a short playlist and a sound that was forgettable. But they were replaced by the house DJ and the vibe picked up with songs from the 80s to today.
Although the band was a little disappointing and not what I would expect The Clevelander to book, it didn't disappoint the night my wife and I had.

Orange Bowl's Welcome Reception

Although the Hawkeye football team has been in South Florida preparing for the 2010 Fed Ex Orange Bowl since the 27th, December 30th marked the official first day for the team and travelling party as recognized by the Orange Bowl committee. Iowa's opponent for the game, Georgia Tech did arrive on Wednesday and their travel party is in Miami-Broward County, just north of Iowa's Miami-Dade County home.

The Orange Bowl welcomed both staff and players in two different ways. The players had a dinner followed by the opportunity to select their gifts in the Sony suite.

The Iowa coaching and administrative staff also had a dinner and were addressed by members of the Orange Bowl committee. Iowa Athletic Director, Gary Barta and head Football Coach, Kirk Ferentz also acknowledged the appreciation to be playing in the BCS game. Orange Bowl mascot, Obie welcomed children of all ages for a opportunity to have their picture taken with it and the 2010 Fed Ex Orange Bowl trophy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

FOX Sports at Practice

According to the Iowa Football calendar this Wednesday is a Sunday as the team enters into game week. On this final practice before entering the game week preparation the media was allowed into practice, and that includes the FOX Sports announcing team of Dick Stockton, Charles Davis, and Laura Okmin.

Kirk Ferentz takes time prior to practice for the FOX Sports sideline reporter and analysis.

Members of the local print media as well as network affiliates had access to the first two periods of practice.

The Fontainebleau

This week the names Ferentz, Stanzi and Angerer are on the guest list of the Fontainebleau hotel, but this famous hotel has also hosted the likes of Sinatra, Kardashian and Lee. While in Miami for the 2010 Fed Ex Orange Bowl, this beach side residence is the home of the Iowa Hawkeye football team.

Just a year after a multi-million dollar renovation the Fontainebleau is one of Miami Beach's "chic" spots for the rich and famous. It is home to the best in entertainment, food and health and fitness.

The finest of dining opportunities abound at the Fontainebleau. Gotham Steak, Hakkasan, and Scarpetta are among the many choices. Steaks, Cantoneese and Italian are the specialties, but it is not limited to those establishments either. There are a number of smaller delis and snack shops that are available as well.

There isn't a lack of places to unwind and relax. Lapis is the spa to the South Beach royalties and the number of swimming pools and hot tubs give people of all ages to lounge around. A gym and workout room overlook the ocean, or one can run for miles steps from the hotel on the boardwalk that lines the Atlantic Ocean.

There is plenty to do at night. LIV is the hottest night club on South Beach. New Year's Eve is expected to bring over 8,000 people to the club. Just outside of LIV is the Bleau Bar which was home to the Max Weinberg Orchestra's tour opening nights. Also on New Year's Eve, the Fountainebleau pool area will host what Perez Hilton has called the "hottest ticket", Lady GaGa. Pricing for the concert starts out at $425 for a general admission ticket with reserved tables as high as $20,000.

While the Hawkeyes have called the Fontainebleau home, the team's stay may be secondary to many at the hotel. On the day the Hawkeyes arrived an Indian wedding was in progress. Hotel officials worked with the City of Miami Beach to stop traffic for 15 minutes on the busy Collins Ave outside the hotel to allow the wedding party to walk down the street following the groom atop a horse. Over 800 people were in attendance for the million dollar affair.

With many rooms going for $1500 a night...and filled, the Fontainebleau is definitely the place to be this New Years.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Visit from the Big Tuna

Bill Parcells, Executive Vice President of Football Operations with the Miami Dolphins made an appearance at the Iowa Football practice. The one time head coach of the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys was on-site to take a closer look at the Iowa program as well as visiting with Iowa head coach, Kirk Ferentz.

(L-R Miami Dolphin General Manager Jeff Ireland, Kirk Ferentz, Bill Parcells)
The Bill Parcells coaching tree has a tie to Coach Ferentz. While with the New York Giants, current New England Patriot head coach Bill Belichick was Parcell's defensive coordinator. Belichick left New York to become the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. It was in Cleveland that Belichick hired the head coach at the University of Maine, Kirk Ferentz.

Parcells took time with Iowa trainer and travel coordinator, John Streif.

The Hawkeyes travel in style through Miami. Their buses leave Miami Beach's Fontainebleau for the north side of the City of Miami and Barry University.

Day 2 of Iowa Football Practice in Miami

Another sunny day in South Florida, but with temperatures "only" to get into the upper 60s. Practice today will be much like day 1 as the Iowa Football team settles into its Fed Ex Orange Bowl routine.

Night Out on the Town

When it comes to the Miami social scene, this Iowan sees two types of places. One is a place to be seen and the other is not to be seen. Those places on Ocean Avenue along the South Beach district are the chic clubs where a dress code is enforced. Away from the club atmosphere are "dive" bars known for having a drink, watching some sports and eating some greasy food. Beaches Bar & Grill in the basement of the nearby Days Inn is a great example of a "dive" bar.

Arriving to Miami late on Christmas night we were afraid it would be hard to find a restaurant open to have a sandwich. That wasn't a problem at Beaches as we walked in at 1am with the grill open and a bar that closes at 5am. The menu isn't big but it has a sandwich list that most could find something they like. My blackened fish sandwich was one of the finest I've had in a while.

Those who frequent Beaches may never see the inside of a Ocean Avenue Club, but they seem to like the low-key atmosphere with their NFL Sunday Ticket, a number of tvs, and a darkly lit room. There hasn't been many renovations to this local hangout, but no one seems to care.

Once the lights go out at 5am, they don't stay out for long as it re-opens at 7am for breakfast.

Max Weinberg at the Fontainebleau

Prior to the show Tonight Show Orchestra leader, Max Weinberg declared to the fans at the Bleau Bar in the Fontainebleau, "Welcome to the second and last night of the 2009 Max Weinberg Orchestra Tour." Monday was the second of two shows at the famed Fontainebleau, the team hotel of the Iowa Hawkeyes for the 2010 Fed Ex Orange Bowl.

The set started out with a Sinatra favorite, "Come Fly With Me," and followed that up from many others from the Big Band Era. He ended with a few renditions of Beetles tunes, and ended with the band marching through the crowd with horns in the air...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Barry University Practice 1

First day of practice is over for the University of Iowa football team at Barry University. Sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s were a big change for this midwestern team.

Players enter the facilities of Barry University. BU is a Division II team which doesn't have football. The Iowa team is using the soccer fields for practice.
Prior to the start of Practice, Iowa Football Head Coach, Kirk Ferentz talks with members of the Orange Bowl committee, among those are Larry Gautier (far left) and Sean Crews (right of Ferentz).

Wide Receivers in the early drill period.

Kirk Ferentz overseeing members of the offensive line.

A welcome sight on the road from Barry to the Fontainebleau.

Wake Up to Miami

Hazy skies in the morning to be burned off by South Florida sun in time for the first Iowa Football practice in Miami.

Allowing the players a chance to enjoy their first night on South Beach and an opportunity to sleep in, a mid-morning brunch followed by position meetings is what's in store for the team's first day. Players then will load buses for Barry University for a practice to begin shortly before 2pm.

Weather for the upcoming week is ideal for the many Iowans who made the trip, although the locals are not looking forward to Tuesday's high of 68.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The team has arrived in South Florida

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The football team in the first team meeting in S. Florida. This one is about the area and what they should know
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Max Weinberg performing at the Fontainebleau

Tonight Show Orchestra Leader Max Weinberg practices for one of two performances at the Fountainebleau, the hotel for the Iowa Football while in Miami for the 2010 Fed Ex Orange Bowl.
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Morning in Miami

The day has come for the Iowa Football team to arrive in Miami and continue its preparation for the 2010 Fed Ex Orange Bowl. The team has an early workout in Iowa City before departing from Cedar Rapids early afternoon.
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Night Out on the Town

This special bowl edition of Night Out on the Town takes you to one of the hottest spots on South Beach, Mango's. While participating in the 2003 Fed Ex Orange Bowl, Mango's was one of the South Beach Clubs we had a chance to visit. Latin and Salsa music rule, but watching the house dancers perform was a treat. Throughout the night the Mango's dancers took to the stage and showed the people had to move. Lke most places in Miami, don't forget to bring cash. Drinks are not cheap nor is the cover. Of all places on South Beach's Ocean Avenue, Mango's is a must stop.
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Moon Over Miami

The moon shines bright over the South Beach District of Miami. While temperatures are below freezing in Iowa, the Hawkeye Football team will arrive Sunday to highs in the 70s and clear skies.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Barry University

Practice fields lined and ready to go.
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The Semi Arrives

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Welcome to Miami and the Fontainebleau - the home of the Iowa Football team starting Sunday.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads. And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name! "Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose! He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
Christmas Eve may be the most special time of all the Holiday season. Children all around the world fall asleep in anticipation of Santa's arrival druing the night. One by one, each of them set out a set of cookies and milk for the jolly old man with each awaking to see crumbs left behind. The magic that surrounds the night before Christmas is irreplaceable. The waiting and excitement by children is very rewarding for any member of the family. Once morning comes and the gifts are exchanged, the magic decreases as the celebration of family grows.
This is one Holiday season that is very extra special. It is not often to spend Christmas at home with my son waking in his own bed on Christmas morning. He not only gets to do that, but he will also be rewarded with a semi-vacation by joining the Hawkeyes for another bowl game in sunny South Florida.

Merry Christmas

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."
So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

--Matthew 1:18 - 2:23 New International Version

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Next Stop Miami

Doors are shut and the truck is ready to roll. Iowa Football Head Coach, Kirk Ferentz placed his bag on last and sent the truck on its way. Driver and owner, Mike Riggan plans on arriving at South Beach the morning of the 26th.

There is little room left on the Iowa Football Equipment semi, and it will all be unloaded at either the Fontainebleau, Barry University or Land Shark Stadium.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Loading of the Equipment Truck

It all goes in here. Everything.
On Tuesday the Iowa Equipment Staff began loading a semi full of everything necessary to prepare for the 2010 Fed Ex Orange Bowl and its opponent, Georgia Tech. Video, medical, equipment, administrative, spirit squads, ticket operations, as well as personal luggage is what will be included in the back of the semi provided by Mike Riggan (Tantara Corp) and Ed Huff (North American Van Lines).

Trunk after trunk, box after box sits waiting to be the next thing to be packed. All equipment is necessary for Iowa Football to set up the Jacobson Building offices in the Fontainebleau Hotel located in Miami Beach, Florida. Ten meeting rooms, three offices and one medical facility is housed in the team hotel.
Also everything needed for practice at Barry University finds its place on the back of the semi. Once Iowa Football moves into its practice facility it consumes the entire location. One cannot assume Barry University has the necessary equipment for a Divison I BCS team, so the Iowa Equipment Staff takes everything.

Placed on the back of the semi is the Fed Ex Orange Bowl Logo. The logo for each game of Kirk Ferentz is placed on the tractor trailer.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mom's Birthday

Mom had her birthday today and Colin was anxious for her to cut into the cake. When deciding on what to put on the cake, Colin's initial response was "Dear Mommy." Asking him if that is all he wanted on there he continued with, "this was Colin's idea." I wasn't sure he understood what I was asking and he quickly re-iterated, "this was Colin's idea." I started to laugh, he insisted he was serious and I made the executive decision. On the cake it says, "Happy Birthday Mommy" with a train the Colin wants to save.

Hawkeyes v Yellow Jackets

Iowa and Georgia Tech have never met each other on the football field, and have little history athletically, but the two school's paths have crossed twice in the last nine months.

In March Iowa hosted first and second round games of the Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament. As the #8 seed, the Hawkeyes faced the #9 seed Yellow Jackets. The ladies from Atlanta proved to be too much inside and the Hawkeyes lost in the opening round. Tech went on to face the #1 seed Oklahoma two nights later, but were not up to the challenge of the Sooners. Georgia Tech's season ended in Iowa City after putting the Hawkeyes on the sidleines.

A few months later tables were turned and it was the Hawkeyes travelling to Atlanta to participate in the NCAA Women's Softabll Tournament. The Yellow Jackets were the highest seeded team in the double-elimination regional, but the Hawkeyes lost to Auburn and Boston University and did not face the host school.

This time it is a neutral-field...Miami's Land Shark Stadium is the scene of the latest match-up between the Hawkeyes and Yellow Jackets.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fox Sports in Iowa City

The 2010 Orange Bowl will be played on FOX, the last BCS game on the network before handing the contract over to ESPN. In preparation for the game against Georgia Tech Fox Sports sent a crew to Iowa City to record spots to be used during the game. From set up to tear down, the assembled crew from throughout the USA spent an entire day, recording hours of footage in which only minutes will be used.

Pat Angerer was one of many spotlighted.
Dace took his turn in front of the cameras. One question he was asked dealt with the Iowa fanbase and their large support.

From Fox Sports, Jennifer (near) is on her third year recording BCS teams. In 2007 she visited Lawrence, Kansas and a year ago travelled to Salt Lake City to spend time with the Utah Utes. Both Kansas and Utah won their game. Jennifer ensured us her two teams went on to win their bowl game.
Pat Angerer was asked about his favorite MMA moves, but declined to demonstrate any of them on camera. However he did speak of his hobby, bowling. Look for a line during the game in which he talks about playing it in his "spare" time.

Iowa Quarterback Ricky Stanzi fielded questions as well as repeating staged lines. The process was tedious and time consuming. All athletes were asked to speak their parts multiple times from different, marked out places within the room. Look for Ricky's line about the Happy Hawkeye Polka Song. Sports Information Director Phil Haddy and I thought they were referring to the Hokey Pokey.

The final interview of the day belonged to Head Coach, Kirk Ferentz. His part was more Q&A rather than staged material.

Ferentz spoke of the entire season, but among his highlights from the year were the blocked kicks against Northern Iowa.
As I said earlier, the Fox crew recorded many segments, but only a few will make the cutting room floor. A similar crew headed to Atlanta to do the same with the Yellow Jackets. This crew, except for Jennifer will travel to Boise, Idaho and shoot the Broncos for their Fiesta Bowl match-up.