Saturday, January 31, 2009

Super Bowl Pick

I'm not taking the Cardinals to win, but the Steelers don't have cheerleaders. Arizona represents in this post.
Arizona is the underdog story, but my only reason to cheer for the them is their Defensive Line coach, Ron Aiken. Aiken was the Iowa Defensive Line coach from 1999 - 2006 and left to join Wisenhunt's staff, a coach he worked with at Vanderbilt.
I was tired of the Kurt Warner story after he led the St. Louis Rams to the NFL title in 2000 and now it has been brought up again.
My prediction--Pittsburgh 24 - Arizona 16.

Other thoughts...

  • It is very unfortunate to see the natural turf of Kinnick Stadium be replaced by the fake stuff. As a fan of venues such as Wrigley Field and Lambeau Field, Kinnick was another stadium that was an arena for how the game is meant to be played.
  • Hopefully Ed Podolak will return to the Iowa Football broadcast booth. I'm happiest for Gary Dolphin. Dolph lost a good friend at the conclusion of the '08 regular season, producer Pat Mormann to a car accident. It will be tough enough on Gary as he prepares for the '09 season, losing Ed would be a tough adjustment for the Iowa broadcaster.
  • Saturday Night Live is really bad.
  • Topic of conversation on local radio is "Who is the biggest Cedar Rapids Star? Kurt Warner or Zach Johnson?" I'll take Zach Johnson, however either answer has merit. Post your pick in the comment section.
  • Saw "Hotel for Dogs." Better than I thought.
  • Warren Sapp...underrated.
  • Enjoy the game.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Adding to the Wall

On a wall in the Jacobson Athletic Complex are paintings of past Iowa Football All-Americans. Newly added to the wall is Doak Walker Award winner and 2008 Iowa Football MVP, running back Shonn Greene. He joins the likes of Nile Kinnick, Andre Tippett, LeRoy Smith, Chuck Long, Robert Gallery, and Nate Kaeding among others. Greene is the first to be added to the wall since Gallery and Kaeding were added following the 2003 season.

Colin and Mickey

This was taken outside of Williamsburg's Tanger Outlet Mall...on a 8 degree day. Mickey has to be wondering why would anyone want to ride with him on such a cold day.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Top 50 Sportscasters

Last week the American Sportscasters Association came out with their top 50 sportscasters. A panel headed by Dick Enberg, selected the tops in the industry and they can be found at the following link.

Their top ten included (1) Vin Scully, (4) Curt Gowdy, (5) Howard Cossell, (6) Bob Costas, (7) Jim McKay, (8) Keith Jackson, (9) Al Michaels, and (10) Dick Enberg.

I'll do my list a little differently. I'll list my favorites in the different sports.
MLB Baseball--(tie) NBC's Bob Costas / Tony Kubek, NBC's Vin Scully / Joe Garagiola, WGN's Thom Brennaman / Steve Stone.

NBA Basketball--NBC's Marv Albert / Mike Fratello. (Runner Up-CBS's Dick Stockton / Tom Heisnsohn)

PGA Golf--CBS's Pat Summerall / Ken Venturi. (Runner Up-NBC's Vin Scully / Lee Trevino)

College Basketball--NBC's Merle Harmon / Fred Taylor (Runner Up-NBC's Dick Enberg / Al McGuire / Billy Packer and CBS's Verne Lundquist / Bill Raftery)

Tennis--NBC's Dick Enberg / John McEnroe / Bud Collins

NHL Hockey--ABC's Gary Thorne

College Football--ABC's Keith Jackson / Frank Broyles (Runner Up-ABC's Brent Musberger / Kirk Herbstreit, ABC's Al Michaels / Lee Grosscup, ABC's Chris Schenkel, ABC's Bill Flemming, ESPN's Ron Franklin)

NFL Football--(tie) CBS's Pat Summerall / Tom Brookeshire and NBC's Don Criqui / Bob Trumpy. (Runner Up-ESPN's Mike Tirico, NBC's Dick Enberg / Merlin Olsen)

NFL Pre-Game Show--CBS's NFL Today with Brent Musberger, Irv Cross, Phyllis George and Jimmy the Greek.

There are many names I am omitting and forgetting. Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Pat Hughes are radio men that I grew up listening to. Jack Buck with Hank Stram was entertaining on Monday Night Football Radio while Buck with Mike Shannon on St Louis Cardinal radio described the action to me while laying in bed every night. Many of those that I mentioned are those that I grew up listening to and I grew a fondness of. However broadcasting and many broadcasters have drifted away from storytelling towards over-zealous enthusiasm.

There are those who may not ever see this list, but are very good at their craft. A good friend of mine is currently the play by play man for Minnesota Gopher Basketball. Mike Grimm got his start at WMT in Cedar Rapids broadcasting high school football and basketball. In 2001 he went on to be the voice of Iowa Women's Basketball alongside Karen Schulte. The two formed an announcing team that were among the best in Division I women's basketball. Each broadcast was informative and entertaining while keeping the focus on the ladies of the court. After spending time in St. Louis, Grimm is in the middle of his third year with the Gophers. He continues to broadcast in the storytelling style and does an outstanding job of painting a picture.

One national person I enjoy in Spero Dedes. Spero has done some work for CBS College Basketball and is currently a studio host on the NFL Network as well as radio voice of the Los Angeles Lakers. With the NBA on XM, I enjoy falling asleep to the Laker broadcasts.

I encourage you to list your favorite announcers in the below comment section.

Martin Luther King Day

I am definitely not one to speak on the topic of Martin Luther King. The day that honors him was not observed by my high school and only half way through my college career did the University acknowledge it by making it a holiday.

The past two weeks eastern Iowa has been hit hard by winter weather and has caused its number of days off from school. Those schools in the area that originally has taken this Monday off to observe MLK Day will now make up a day of school to avoid adding days to the school year in June.

Schools throughout the state of Iowa should have class on Martin Luther King Day every year. Coming from a white, rural town, Martin Luther was only brought up for a few days in history class as the unit focused on the 1960s. King was taught no differently than any other notable politicians of the 20th Century.

By having school on this day every year, schools should focus all classes on the Civil Rights leader and educate his importance in all facets of the curriculum. Rural Iowans need to be educated on King's life and ideology. By having school on his day should be the way to honor the man, not forget him.

Super Showdown Set

The Super Bowl is set and let the Kurt Warner saga be repeated for the next two weeks. It is the Cardinals and Steelers and I'm sure few had predicted this match-up when training camp began in July. And today, Cub fans were reminded of how the Cardinals were able to break their 61 year of futility. That was in comparison to the Cubs' 100 years. Thanks, Fox!

But there are other former Iowans involved in this year's game. First year NFL player Ken Iwebema was drafted in April to play for former Iowa Defensive Line coach, Ron Aiken. I could not be any happier for Aiken. Ron is one of the nicer people in the coaching profession. When he left the University many were surprised to see him leave Iowa City with his children in school, for the NFL life in Phoenix. Aiken is truly a family man and put them ahead of his coaching career. He emphasized to me how, at his previous stops, the family would always gather for at least one meal during the season, even if it meant they ate in the car while their sons slept in their car seat. When they moved to Iowa City, Ron would bring his three sons with him to the Cedar Rapids hotel on Friday nights during the season as he met with the team. Each son was well-mannered--yes sir, no sir--and sat in the hotel lobby and read their chosen book. Any time he could spend with his family was precious to Ron. I am very happy to see him have the opportunity to play in the sport's biggest game.

I am also a new fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My loyalties still belong to the Green Bay Packers, but after visiting the Buccaneer complex while in Tampa, I have a new found appreciation. Video Director Dave Levy treated us very well, but also new head coach, Raheem Morris. While Levy and I talked privately in his office, Morris started a conversation with my four students who were waiting in the hallway. Morris spoke with them for nearly five minutes the day following the last game of the season. Levy commented on how great of a person Morris was and how happy he was to have him as the new defensive coordinator. Levy must be very pleased with the hire now.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Science Project

With temperatures dropping to as much as thirty below throughout the state of Iowa, we tried a simple science project that many others had been doing. I had first heard about it on AM-720, WGN Chicago. We took 8oz of boiling hot water and threw it into the sub zero air. The adjacent picture shows the result. Water quickly turned into steam and crystals.
WGN Meterologist, Tom Skilling said this air mass originated over Sieberia four weeks ago and now has make its way into the midwest. We compared our temperature to that of Anchorage, Alaska. While Cedar Rapids was reporting a high of -29F, the Alaskan metropolitan area reached 38 above zero. A difference of more than sixty degrees.
Weather is the talk all around the country. However while watching the Sony Hawaii Open from Oahu, golfers had to deal with winds over 60mph. Winds ferocious enough to cause many of the local schools in the area to let out early. I think we'd be satisfied with that weather around here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who's Next?

Attention turns to who will take the seat next to Gary Dolphin on Saturdays in the Kinnick Stadium Press Box. Des Moines has an on-line poll with who they believe are the favorites. They are: Marv Cook, Bob Elliott, Bill Happel, Chuck Hartlieb, Chuck Long, Lew Montgomery, and Matt Whitaker.

It is no doubt the most coveted job and it will come with high expectations in and out of the broadcast booth. What should be looked for? First they need to find the right fit in the booth. Not only will they need to know the X's and O's of football, but they must be able to have good chemistry with current play by play man, Gary Dolphin. Good chemistry can super cede the knowledge of the game. Too often radio partners know the game but don't make good radio. Cub fans witnessed that early this decade with the addition of Joe Carter to the booth with Chip Caray. Each knew the game but failed to find cohesion.

Second, they will most likely be local and be more than an analyst. The proper addition may be able to be the ambassador that Ed was and help the workload of Gary Dolphin. Dolph is found racking up more miles on Highway 151 than a state trooper to handle duties with radio and television shows as well as I-Club related duties. The new analyst may be called upon to lighten this workload and be more visible than Podolak was available for.

Finally the new analyst must be the anti-Podolak out of the booth. Socializing won't be out of the question for the new analyst but a new standard will be expected. The next guy won't be found at the hotel bar at closing time on every weekend.

The list the Des Moines Register listed should only be a partial list as there are many qualified ex-athletes available. Of the previous list, Bill Happel could be the best fit. Of those that were mentioned, Hartlieb, Long and Whitaker all have children at the age which they may not want to be gone twelve weeks in a row as well as take on the public speaking tour. Long and Elliott may be well-spoken but they need to be so in a reactionary role. They won't have time to form thoughts but must be able to comment immediately on what they see. I could see each having a future as a studio analyst, but it takes practice to formulate thoughts instantaneously and concisely.

Happel has had experience in radio and is local. The Cedar Rapids businessman has done stock reports for local radio stations and is well-received within 930 Stadium Drive. Obviously he is local and is still well-known to Hawkeye fans over the age of 30.

Another name that should be considered is former Hawkeye football analyst, Mike Reily. Reily worked with Ron Gonder in the 70s and 80s and was well-received by their eastern Iowa listeners. Reily currently lives in Dubuque and is good friends with Gary Dolphin. The chemistry would be there and Reily would do well as a public speaker.

This is the biggest hire for Learfield since naming Gary Dolphin prior to the 1997 season. Ed Podolak and current basketball analyst, Bob Hanson were employed by WHO of Des Moines and made the transition from Jim Zabel to Gary Dolphin. While this has been a sudden retirement, there is no rush to name someone new. They have until the first of April when the I-Club circuit begins. At this time they can usher him around the state of Iowa and introduce him to the fans, the same fans that will be looking to socialize with him as they did Podolak.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The End of an Era

Today Iowa great Ed Podolak announced his retirement from the Iowa Football broadcast team. Since 1982 Podolak has been apart of the broadcast whether it was on WHO teamed with Jim Zabel, or on the current Learfield team with Gary Dolphin. Podolak, a star running back with the Hawkeyes in the late 60s, has been associated with this program longer than any head coach and is as iconic with Hawk fans as Hayden Fry or Kirk Ferentz.

Over the weekend pictures appeared originated on a Iowa State message board, which also found their way onto many national blogs of what appears to be an intoxicated Podolak with a female fan--Podolak appearing unprofessionally. What ensued was the announcement of Podolak's retirement from the broadcast team. Ed, 61, cites the increased difficulty of travelling from his relocated home in Northern California to Hawkeye football games scattered throughout the midwest, and denies any correlation to the photos.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports the pictures were taken the night before Iowa's New Year Day's Outback Bowl victory over South Carolina. However, as seen from the pictures below, Podolak is wearing the same shirt in both sets of pictures. Mine were taken the night after the game. This is the Ed Podolak I will remember:

Pictured with me and Podolak are Iowa running back Jared Oberland, Senior Tight End, Brandon Myers and others close to the program. If the pictures that circulated over the weekend were taken the night of the game, these were taken after those. Ed always had time for the Iowa fans and loved the University as well as football program more than anyone. We tend to use the phrase "there is no bigger Hawk than..." on many, but it doesn't belong to anyone more than Ed Podolak. While in Tampa I tried to introduce a friend to Podolak at the Hawkeye Huddle and the wait was long as all Hawkeye fans wanted to meet the Hawkeye great. The introduction finally occurred only to be interrupted within seconds by another Hawkeye fan. There was no one more generous with his time and resources than Ed Podolak.

When Iowa decided to reduce to one radio team many wanted to see the person who they grew up with take over the job. Whether it was Jim Zabel, Ron Gonder, Frosty Mitchell or Bob Brooks, no one disagreed on who should be the analyst. The state of Iowa has been fortunate to have an analyst that is nationally recognized as one of the best to broadcast the local state university.

Below is the last time the Iowa broadcast team of Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak will be seen together. This was taken the day after the game while preparing for the buses to leave for the airport. Gary was to return with the football team while Ed deaparted on is own for home.

My wife's father played against Podolak while Ed starred at Atlantic High School. It was also on this day that we asked Ed to pose for a photo with her and our son. We knew it would be a picture that many would enjoy.

I am very fortunate to know Ed and will greatly miss him, not only on the radio, but also as part of the Iowa Football program. He and Dolph made a great team and he shared many great stories. In his statement today Ed mentioned of writing a book of his memoirs. All Hawkeye fans would greatly enjoy that as we heard many of them throughout the years.

Winter Days

Growing up, snowy days like this cancelled school, but also made it difficult to drive to town as the country roads were blocked, typically for days. Overnight 6 1/2 inches of snow fell upon the Coralville / Iowa City area and school was closed. However this city doesn't come to a stop, but it does slow down. Local schools were cancelled, but people were out snow blowing and shovelling in order to get out of the house and get around town.

Many of the streets were covered with the overnight snow, but were very driveable. Now we look forward to highs below zero over the next 48 hours.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Winter's Day in Kinnick Stadium

Any day is a good day to be in Kinnick Stadium, but rarely is the inside seen on a day in which up to five inches of snow fall on the stadium's turf. With moderate temperatures and snow falling heavily, today was a good day to visit the historic stadium.

Snow found its way onto the Kinnick mural located in the south end zone concourse.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Purely Iowa

Purely Iowa is a new feature of the blog. Throughout 2009 we will share our experiences with places that are "Purely Iowa."
Our first is a local family restaurant in Solon called Joensy's. Joensy's is famous for the biggest and best pork tenderloins in Iowa.
As you can see by the photos, it would be hard to find a tenderloin larger than the ones found at this little place in Solon.

College Football Wrap-Up

A quick look back at the bowl season thanks to the USC Song Girls.

Florida head coach, Urban Meyer defended his former school, Utah and deemed them as a non-BCS school who is very much BCS quality. He mentioned the facilities are better than some BCS schools (Iowa), talent is better than some BCS schools (Indiana) and beat all BCS schools that came their way.

Congrats to the Pac 10. They went undefeated in all of their bowl games. A conference that was so maligned early defended themselves well into the post-season.

Big 10 lived up to expectations. Did many expect Penn State to beat USC in the Rose Bowl? Who had any faith in the Golden Gophers as they played Kansas? Wisconsin? Northwestern? Ohio State? Iowa played the best of any of the conference schools, but they did play a bad South Carolina team. Had the Hawkeyes played a game higher in the bowl line-up (Georgia, Cap One) the Big Ten may have increased their number of wins to 2. Ohio State hung with Texas longer than I thought.

The most exciting action of the day in El Paso may have been the world record set by Villiage People and the 41,000+ fans who performed "YMCA." Sure beat the 3-0 win by Oregon State.

Finally, many northerners have long said that if any southern school had to play for the title in the colder climate, the outcome would change. Consider this, six of the last six BCS title winners have come from warmer climates and three of those have played in their home state. Perhaps talent wants to stay close to home, but when was the last time Florida, LSU, or Alabama played a regular season game at a Big 10 or Big 12 school?

Check out this link ranking the Big 10 in 2009...,0,3555209.story

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Night to Celebrate

We're still trying to post pictures from our trip to Tampa. I'll also post video as time permits. Please check back to this specific post for additional video.

Night Out on the Town

We'll revisit an earlier Night Out on the Town. Hat Tricks was profiled early in the season, but after our recent trip to Tampa it is worth updating. Hat Tricks is a Hockey Bar and we found that out first hand. Observing a Iowa fan ask the bartender if they'd switch the NHL game on the big screen to the Holiday Bowl, the bartender responded by saying, "We don't turn off Hockey Games."

The food was outstanding and it provided many of us a meal on Christmas Eve when all other restaurants were closed. I asked for the Grouper on a number of occasions, but all but one time they were out. The chicken was very tasty, but it was disappointing to find them out of grouper.

Hat Tricks was much more convenient on this trip as we stayed across the street at the Hyatt. However my secret dining spot no longer belonged to myself. It was busy every night, mostly with Iowa fans and those of our travelling party.

Hat Tricks did not disappoint.

The Battle for the Wall

In what has become at least a yearly battle, Indianapolis and San Diego have played each other either in the regular season or post season, or both. Each team has a number of ex-Hawkeyes. Bob Sanders and Dallas Clark for the Colts. Nate Keading, Mike Goff and Scott Chandler for the Chargers. Dallas and Nate have each signed a picture of them in action for their respective NFL teams which hang on the wall in my office. For the past two seasons, the player's picture which is on top belongs to the winner of the game. As many of you know, the Chargers won the most recent battle and now Nate is the top picture.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Iowa Returns from Tampa

A smaller travelling party returned from sunny and warm Tampa to temperatures in the 20s at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. Many staff members returned with the marching band following the Outback Bowl victory on the first, while many players returned to their homes with their parents for what remains of the holiday break.
Due to internet issues at our home, we will slowly post more pictures from the trip to Tampa over the next few days.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hawkeyes Win Outback Bowl

Iowa dominates the South Carolina Gamecocks to win the 2009 Outback Bowl 31-10.

Iowa Head Football Coach, Kirk Ferentz accepts Outback Bowl trophy.

Shonn Greene accepts the Outback Bowl MVP after announcing his intentions to enter the NFL Draft.