Monday, September 28, 2009

Night Out on the Town

In honor of the Hawkeye upset of Penn State, this week we'll honor Otto's Pub and Eatery in State College. This was the Friday night destination of the Iowa Video Crew.
Otto's, a very popular place on a home football Friday, has its own brewery with many different selections. The one I wanted to try, Mt. Nittany Ale, was not available so I had to resort to its Octoberfest and Apricot Wheat. The Octoberfest wasn't a favorite of mine, but the Apricot Wheat was very smooth, fruity and light. Definitely one that I could've continued to drink all night.
The food is typical bar fare, but with many selections. I went with the fish and chips which included generous portions. The wings, nachos and mussels were a good way to begin the meal.

College Football Week 4

While many top 20 teams continue to fall, the ladies of Alabama support the Crimson Tide as they continue to stay in the top 5. Alabama has proven to be worthy of their ranking. However Florida and Texas are my two teams that may find themselves being knocked off in the within the next three weeks. Florida must play at LSU in two weeks while Texas takes on Oklahoma in the Red River ShootOut in three weeks.

Talk in the press box following the Hawkeye upset of Penn State focused on ABC's decision to carry the Iowa - Michigan game on the 10th. Other options for the prime time game that week include Baylor at Oklahoma as well as Florida at LSU. However CBS has the first option for the SEC showdown, and if they pass, the broadcast would move to ESPN as ABC cannot show an SEC game in prime time. If that game does appear on cable the broadcast team of Musberger and Herbstreit will be live in Baton Rouge. However a matchup of undefeateds in Iowa City would be tough for ABC to pass up.

A score that went with little notice over the weekend had Idaho beating Northern Illinois in Dekalb. This is the same NIU team which upset Purdue the week before and pushed Wisconsin to the final minute. Idaho moves to 3-1 in the WAC and makes a statement for the improved football competition in the non-BCS conference. A potential key match-up comes in the second to last game of the season when the Vandals travel to Boise to take on the top 10 Broncos.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Iowa - Penn State: Game Time

Game time arrives and coaches, players and staff arrive at Beaver Stadium. Here Iowa Equipment Manager Greg Morriss meets Head Football Coach, Kirk Ferentz and escorts him to the locker room as ABC cameraman follows him in. Team buses typically arrive to any stadium two hours prior to kick off.

Despite the rain, Penn State fans turn out to tailgate. This photo was taken over three hours before kick off
Beginning about seven hours prior to kick off, rain fell upon the State College area, hard at times. Since the Friday walk thru the Beaver Stadium turf had been covered. Known throughout the country as one of the best playing surfaces, the crew went to work to make the field playable.Ninety minutes prior to kick off the tarp finally came off. Drains surround the crowned field. The only casulty was the Blue and White Marching Band that was not allowed to perform.

ESPN on ABC announcer Kirk Herbstreit prepares for his on-air assignment during the ESPN College Game Day Scoreboard which preceedes the night's broadcast. Due to the rain his on-air partners from earlier in the day did not join him.

Self named the Best Student Section in the Country, fans were asked to wear white and make Beaver Stadium the "White House." By far one of the best game day atmospheres I've been apart of, following an early PSU TD, the students created more noise than I remember for an outdoor stadium. All fans began jumping up and down at the time making the press box shake.

At the end of the day it wasn't a white out, rather a sea of black and gold bumble bees as the Hawkeyes were victorious over the #5 team in the nation.

Iowa - Penn State: Beaver Stadium

Naming of Beaver Stadium did not come from the little animals who may roam the Central Pennsylvania countryside, but from the former Governor of the Commonwealth and former Trustee, James Beaver

A new tradition at Penn State is "Paternoville," the tent city which is established outside Beaver Stadium every week to assure the student body good seats. For the Iowa game tents were set up as early as the Monday prior to game day. Players and coaches from Penn State came out to thank the students for their support as well as ESPN on ABC analyst Kirk Herbstreit joined them to play a little trash can football. Herbstreit was two for two.

On Saturday students are allowed in based on their academic year. Lines had formed as early as 9am for this gate of Freshman and Sophomores. It is obvious the drinking age is 21 as the gate for Juniors and Seniors was empty.

On the east side of Beaver Stadium is a replica statue of Joe Paterno.
The arrival of team buses is another tradition within the Penn State football program. Players and coaches dress at the Lasch Football Complex and are bused to Beaver Stadium in blue and white school buses. Hundreds of Penn State fans await their arrival every week.

Iowa - Penn State: ESPN College Game Day

Weekly the ESPN College Game Day Crew travels the country to produce their show live from the sites of the nation's top games. This week GameDay travelled to State College to promote its prime time battle between Iowa and Penn State.

A large turnout on many college campuses, the Game Day set was across the street from Beaver Stadium and its large parking lots.
The on-air talent consists of many former Big Ten players and coaches. Former Michigan Defensive Back Desmond Howard, Ohio State Quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, and Indiana Head Coach Lee Corso join host Chris Fowler.
Fowler does a fine job in relating to the college "frat" crowd. Prior to going on-air he explains what the show entails and his expectations to keeping it orderly. To get a charge out of the predominately Nittany Lion crowd he points out the lack of black and gold in the crowd, the least of any opponent on this year's tour. The blue and white fans loved hearing that.

Popular in the Game Day audience is the travelling Washington State flag. It is in the crowd at every Game Day location.
Signs abound in the background of the Game Day set. Among those seen on Saturday were, "Erin Andrews for Heisman," "Stanzi is a Panzy," and "Stanzi listens to Hannah Montana." ESPN encourages those signs as long as they are in good taste and clean. Title sponsor of the Game Day crew, Home Depot sets up a tent where fans are able to create their own signs.

Iowa - Penn State: Weekend

When Penn State was invited to join the Big Ten, part of the agreement included the lengthening of the State College Airport runways. Prior to 2000 Penn State and visiting teams were required to fly into Harrisburg and then bus two hours through Central Pennsylvania to the small college town. Today large planes are allowed to land at the local airport, less than five miles from Beaver Stadium.

Adjacent to the State College area is Mt. Nittany. Here seen from the tarmac of State College Airport.
After arrival in State College, team personnel head to Beaver Stadium to allow players to get accustomed to their surroundings. The Hawkeyes have lost only once in five games at Penn State since 1994.

Game broadcasters typically meet with coaches and players on Friday. ABC sideline reporter Lisa Salters talks with Iowa Wide Receiver coach, Erik Campbell.

The night before the game the Iowa Video Staff had the opportunity to have dinner with members of the Penn State Staff. Here retired Penn State Video Coordinator, John Palmgren joins me and current PSU Video Coordinator Pat Foley at Otto's in State College.

Hawks Upset #5 Penn State

A bit late on posting, but still worth seeing. The scoreboard reflected the outcome of the game for a few short minutes following the Hawkeye upset of Penn State Saturday night. Iowa fans could revel in it for a short time before the Nittany Lion staff turned off the lights on a White Out at Beaver Stadium. The win was the 7th in the last 8 for the Hawkeyes over Joe Paterno's club. Iowa currently ranks #13 in the AP / Writers poll while the Coaches have the Hawks at 17. Next week is a non-conference match-up with the Arkansas State Red Wolves out of the Sun Belt Conference. It will be on ESPN2 at 11am. Word from ABC workers leaving the Beaver Stadium Press Box Saturday night suggested Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit may be calling the Iowa - Michigan game on the 10th from Kinnick Stadium.

Monday, September 21, 2009

College Football Week 3

After going a season without a win, it is only fair to show the Washington Huskies Cheerleading team some love after the football team upset USC in Seattle. As upset as Pete Carroll is at the loss imagine how Tyrone Willingham must feel.
Kansas State head coach, Bill Snyder signed his contract extension at the right time. After doing so his Wildcats went on the road and lost to Louisiana-Lafayette and UCLA. You could call him the Anti-Ferentz. Ferentz who hadn't finalized his contract until the second season of his Iowa head coaching career went on to win at Penn State and home against Big Ten leader Northwestern.
The ACC will take much heat this season as a conference that should be known more for basketball than football, but they will be better than public perception. Virginia Tech and Miami face off this weekend in the only battle between top 25 teams. North Carolina will contend for the title and Georgia Tech has a tough offense to prepare for in a week's time. The winner of the conference will definitely be BCS worthy and one that will be difficult to beat in a bowl game.
It is tough to put a "must-win" label on any game in week 4, but that is what Michigan State faces as they head to Madison in their conference opener. Very few expected them to be 1-2 and a road loss to an undefeated Badger team will place them in a corner they will fighting out of the next two months.

Night Out on the Town

A local favorite of the SportsFanEngy clan is Divots Bar and Grill at Brown Deer Golf Course in Coralville. It is one of the few places where a golfer can come of the course and enjoy a good meal with the rest of your foursome.
Divots is operated by the staff of the local Marriott Hotel and the food reflects that of the Marriott standard. A favorite of mine is the Blackened Catfish Sandwich with fries while Colin enjoys the Cheese Pizza, Fries and Carrots. We always leave very satisfied. And although we don't have time to golf at this time of the year, we find ourselves having dinner on Thursdays while watching the college game on the many flatscreens. On Monday nights it is a great place to watch the game with beer and wings.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

ESPN GameDay in State College

ESPN's College Game Day is heading to State College, PA for the Big Ten showdown between Iowa and Penn State. Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard will broadcast their show live from 9am - 11am on Saturday, September 26.
(Photo Courtesy Cedar Rapids Gazette)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blackout Saturday

Iowa Arizona on a September day with temperatures in the 70s was also the designated "Blackout" Saturday. Many fans came to Kinnick Stadium with their best black shirts and tops. It was a rare afternoon kick-off for the Hawkeyes.

The view of Kinnick Stadium as the team emerges from the buses which brought them down from Cedar Rapids.
One of many tailgating tents outside Kinnick Stadium

The Video Staff with former Hawkeye asst and current New Hampshire asst., Mark Deleon.

The game was seen nationally on ABC. Calling today's action was Mike Patrick and Craig James.

The team runs onto the Kinnick Stadium turn prior to kick-off with the Wildcats.

Hawks win 27-17

The Iowa Hawkeyes took on the Pac 10's own Arizona Wildcats and faught for a 27-17 victory in Kinnick Stadium. The win takes the Hawks to 3-0 overall with conference play to begin next week in State College with the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Night Out on the Town

Popular in the Wrigleyville area is Merkle's, located on Clark Street, less than a block from Wrigley Field.

Definitely the "Iowa" bar on Chicago's North Side. Along with Iowa banners there are also pictures of former Hawkeye players such as Chuck Long and Tim Dwight.

Merkle's is definitely a hot spot before or after any Chicago Cub game, but also the place to go to after a day at the Friendly Confines to catch the Hawkeyes.

College Football Week 2

This week's review is brought to us by the ladies of "The U" as they prepare for a Thursday night affair with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Cy-Hawk Battle
Many didn't know what the annual battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy would hold, but few imagined it would end in a Hawkeye blowout 35-3. With two years remaining in the current contract, and a new one waiting to go into effect, this would be the time to amend the wording and place this intra-state battle at the end of the year.
As the Big Ten extends their regular season and play on Thanksgiving weekend, it begins to make sense for the Hawkeyes to move the in-state rivalry game to Thanksgiving weekend. Previously it was enticing for Iowa fans to travel to Minneapolis at the end of the season as tickets were plentiful, the game was played indoors with beer a hot commodity, and fans could get a quick jump on holiday shopping at the Mall of America. But now the game will be outdoors where Hawkeye fans will be allotted 3,000 tickets in a stadium opening up to a NW wind. The game isn't as attractive.
Moving the Iowa State game to the end of the year will allow Iowa fans the opportunity to continue to spend the holidays with family and lessen a drive in what could be inclimate weather to only an hour or so, rather than 5 north into winter's questionable weather. Take it one step further and move the game to Friday and capture the nation's attention with a sparse schedule of televised game. More importantly, a game on Friday allows the student-athlete an opportunity to go home following the game and enjoy at least two days--for some, their only opportunity to go home since mid-summer
Halloween Comes Early
Many scares occurred this past weekend around the country, but the BCS schools perservered. Bowling Green lead at Missouri for more than a half, Jacksonville State led for more than three quarters at Florida State, Alabama had a battle with Florida International, and Central Michigan defeated Michigan State in East Lansing.
What does this tell us? It does say that it is hard to get up to play every single week. And perhaps there is a shrinking difference between BCS and FCS.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Photos of the Iowa State Weekend.

There is no freshman hazing, but there are times Freshman are the recipients of practical jokes. Here back-up quarterback James VandenBurg is locked out of his room before dinner.

Had the opportunity to meet up with "Chubs," a former co-worker.

The local television stations are finding their spots prior to kick off.

Jack Trice from atop the scoreboard.

Cars arriving early to tailgate.

The view of Jack Trice from the coaches booth in the press box.

A most disliked person by Iowa fans. Iowa State Ahtletic Director Jamie Pollard is responsible for the high price of tickets to the intra-state rivalry.

Members of the Brett Morse family and friends await the team busses arrival at Jack Trice Stadium. Morse went on to score his first touchdown of his career against the Cyclones.

The Iowa Dance Team warms practices one of many routines.

Former Iowa State football player and college coach, John Cooper (standing, left) is on campus to be honored as a member of the "Dirty Thirty" football team of 1959. Cooper also was the head coach at Tulsa, Arizona State and Ohio State is speaking with Iowa Defensive Coordinator, Norm Parker (seated, right).

The Iowa Football team swarms onto the field.

The Iowa Cheerleaders spell I-O-W-A with their flags following one of five touchdowns on the day.
The photo deck of Jack Trice Stadium. It is located at the top of the upper deck.
Iowa State fans begin to empty the stadium after the Hawkeyes make the score 35-3.

The final score from Ames and the Cy-Hawk trophy stays in Iowa City for one more year.