Monday, November 30, 2009

Night Out on the Town

Oddly located in Illinois and Indiana as well as the Pacific Northwest, The Ram is a trendy Bar and Grille with its own brewery. Having dined at the establishment in Indianapolis as well as the Northern Suburn of Chicago, Wheeling, the food has been good, the brews on tap tasty and the environment lively with many televisions on the various live games from around the country.
This past weekend was the first opportunity to take my family to one of The Ram locations and found it to be very friendly to the little ones. My son was welcomed with a balloon, crayons with learning puzzles to solve as well as an appetizer of carrot sticks. Although known for its different brews on tap, his root beer was a favorite as well.
My first time at The Ram was at the Indianapolis establishment while there for the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament. It was a good place to get away, watch the games and have a beer. The food is good with a wide variety on the menu.

Floyd of Rosedale - Tournament Winner

Winning the Rivalry Trophy Tournament, the unofficial voting to determine the best travelling trophy in the Big Ten is Floyd of Rosedale. The #1 overall seed in the tournament goes on to win.

College Football Week 13

If this weekend's slate of Championship games goes to form, many predict the Hawkeyes to be facing Courtney's Boise State Broncos in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. There is nothing definite, but the fans of the black and gold should cheer for Texas to defeat Nebraska, Cincinnati to beat Pittsburgh and the BCS powers that be select Iowa over Penn State. Many arguments for both teams to earn the at-large BCS selection, but this is one time the fans of the black and gold can point to the head to head match up where Iowa defeated Penn State 21-10....This past weekend of college football provided much more excitement than most of the NFL games on Sunday. Given the opportunity I would've much rather watched the Alabama - Auburn rivalry game or the Battle for the Boot between Arkansas and LSU instead of Minnesota - Chicago. The NFL has the elite athletes playing the game at its highest level, but it can't compare to the genuine excitement of the college game where there are battles for boots, jugs, pigs and bragging rights with "good old fashined hate" in a "backyard brawl"...One piece of the game college players and coaches can take from the NFL is game management in the final minutes. A week earlier LSU was much aligned for trying to spike a ball with one second to go. This week it was Auburn and Kansas. Auburn for not using the clock appropriately for moving themselves into the scoring zone with less than a minute to play. And Kansas for not killing time off the clock with a lead under three minutes. Each team found themselves on the losing end due to bad clock management. The NFL's Tom Brady and Peyton Manning do it better than few before and the college coaches need to teach it better than what fans see today....Once the final BCS rankings come out in one week I will show how they can be transcribed into a viable play-off option incorporating the bowl system....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend in Chicago

With this being the last Thanksgiving weekend the Engelbert family will get to enjoy together for some years to come (Big Ten football extends the season for play over Thanksgiving), we decided to enjoy a couple of days in Chicago.

This is a popular photo opportunity when the family heads to the Windy City. Colin's highlight of the trip is to ride the "L" all over town. He is well-schooled in the many diferent lines that run through the city. Here he is waiting on the Purple Line with a transfer to the Red Line at Howard.
A very happy camper as he gets a window seat on the first leg of the trip.

Of course once on the Red Line, Colin knows Dad's favorite stop is at Addison, home of Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs.

Although it is the off-season for the Cubs - and many would say the Cubs always have an "off season" - it is still one of the greatest sights in all of sports.

After taking the train and then transferring to the city bus system, we arrive at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

Of course a highlight of the museum was a replica of a train on the Burlington Route. Colin was content with seeing this and not paying to enter the rest of the museum. However there is a theme to this weekend, if you haven't figured it out yet.

The Christmas Tree set up in the center of the Museum of S&I.

An activity for the kids was the building with Legos. Among many of the exhibits, one was many city skylines built from Legos. Here Colin takes a stab at constructing his own building.

Built from Legos is the Chicago Skyline around a track of electric trains. In the foreground is a miniature Metra System located in the suburbs of town.

Colin awaits the "L" to come around the corner. There was also a set up of the Seattle skyline as well as many rural / country and mountainous settings.

Not as interesting to Colin is a series of model ships. He found it interesting, but not as mesmerizing as the many different toy trains and their layouts.

However the one demonstration that caught Colin's attention long enough to keep his mind off the trains was the process of building toys. For $5 Colin was able to watch his own Gravitron be made from start to finish, including packaging. Here he shows it off in front of one of the many Christmas trees on display. If you look closely, you will see a train running underneathe this tree, right behind Colin.

Once done at the Museum of S&I, we cabbed it to Daley Plaza. Since this is primarily a sports blog, it is important to continue with that theme. Having already seen Wrigley Field, this is the modern spaceship also know as Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears as well as the opening game of the Iowa Football 2007 season with Northern Illinois.

A German Cultural Festival of Christmas was in full force at Daley Plaza. Many gifts from the eastern European area as well as food and beer were available. All gifts and food were very authentic with lines long to buy a draw of Laurenbrau.

Colin admiring some of the hand-made ornaments for sale. He purchased his own small snowman.
Chicago's Christmas tree alit at Daley Plaza.

Colin also re-enacting a photo opportunity from earlier in the year in front of the Chicago Theater. This time Mom is in the picture rather than being the recipient of the final product.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Consecutive Streak

My new mission is to find the person who has witnessed the most consecutive Iowa Football games. That person must have been to games on both the home and road and more than an appearance is necessary.
In the adjacent picture is Bob Brooks. Bob was one of many who broadcasted Hawkeye Athletics. Known for his play-by-play on KHAK in Cedar Rapids, he currently is the Sports Director for KMRY in Cedar Rapids. He continues to follow the Hawkeyes by travelling with the team as part of an agreement made with all those who finished their play-by-play career in 1996.
On a recent road trip I asked Bob when was the last football game he missed. In 1983, Bob travelled with the men's basketball team to a tournament in Los Angeles while the Hawkeye Football team played Florida at Jacksonville's Gator Bowl. It was determined that year there were not enough booths at the Gator Bowl press box and it was difficult for anyone to broadcast games on each coast. The men's basketball team was playing USC and Memphis and Bob was the lone Iowa broadcaster in attendance. As Bob told me with a laugh, "I was in Los Angeles where it was 80 degrees. And it was 32 in Jacksonville."

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rivalry Trophy Tournament Finals

The unofficial tournament to determine the best rivaly trophy in the Big Ten is at its Final stage. it comes down to two of the most original trophies, each involving the University of Minnesota. Floyd of Rosedale, which is contested between the Hawkeyes and Gophers (most recently won by Iowa) and the Paul Bunyan Axe, which goes to the winner of the Gophers and Badgers (most recently won by Wisconsin).

Vote in the upper right-hand corner of the blog before Monday, November 30.

Night Out on the Town

Half-hour south of Madison, Wisconsin is the small Swiss Villiage of New Glarus. This Green County town embraces its heritage much like many of the other Wisconsin towns. Most notably is the authentic Swiss food of the New Glarus Hotel.
This isn't a Swiss wannabe restaurant, but the authentic foods you'd find in Europe. On the menu are the Schnitzels, Roestis, Fondues, Raclettes, and assorted sausages. On certain days you will be entertained by local polka bands and on other days recorded Swiss Yodelers are on the speakers.
In order to make the trip complete, stop by the local New Glarus Bakery, Maple Leaf Cheese and Chocolate Haus as well as the New Glarus Brewery for the freshest local goods. A definite worthwhile four hour trip from Iowa City.

College Football Week 12

We are re-visited by the original yound lady that started our weekly look at cheerleaders in this weekly posting. Brianna of UCLA is courtesy of Sports Illustrated. As said on the site, she is a Green Bay Packer fan. Good enough for me to highlight her a second time. It is also apporpriate to highlight her as the rivalry of the two BCS LA schools face each other at the Coliseum on Saturday. As the USC Marching Band tweeted today, "It's TROY WEEK! "High up in the hills of Westwood, sprawled offensive to the eye, lies a Cal extension campus known as Westwood High..." No other sport has the rivalries like College Football....Notre Dame lost for the fifth time in their home finale to Connecticut. It is hard to find anyone defending the Irish head coach, Charlie Weis as most have him packing up his office once he returns from Palo Alto this weekend. There are many reasons / excuses thrown out as to how difficult it is to win in South Bend, but there are many advantages to coaching in this Northern Indiana college town. Facilities are unrivaled, support is strong by administration and alumni, and national recognition is second to none. Many names are being thrown out as to Charlie's successor including Urban Meyer at Florida, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, and Brian Kelley at Cincinnati. The one supposed knock against Notre Dame are the tough academic equirements. If this is such a concern, Notre Dame needs to expand their search beyond the aforementioned names. Meyer and Stoops have established programs have nothing to gain by making the move. Kelley is at an institution that allows him to bring in students that a Notre Dame may decline. If this is the case is Kelley the right match? The one proven coach who has dealt with tough academic guidelines and has a great name in the local recruiting area of South Bend is Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern. This young coach has done an outstanding coaching job with lesser talent playing similar teams facing Notre Dame. While it would take much to lure Fitzgerald from his alma mater, it will be tough for him to do much more in the Big Ten Conference....Michigan. Wether or not the fans in Ann Arbor want a change, there will be no such change coming. A fan or not of Rich Rodriguez he does deserve at least one more year to get the program back into the top ten that the Wolverine fans are accustomed to. It will also be hard to lure a good coach to Michigan with their Athletic Director on the clock before retiring September 4, 2010. If a change at the top of the football program is to come, a new AD must be hired first. The Wolverines aren't prepared to do that. Michigan fans should be patient as well. Those who wanted Les Miles of LSU in 2007 will have one more year to evaluate him as the Tigers head coach. Miles, who won the National Championship in his third year with the school has had troubles acheiving such level since. While his teams have been very good in a tough SEC, they haven't reached the SEC title game.

Saturday's Post Game Video

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Regular Season Finale

After 12 straight weeks the Iowa Football regular season comes to a close. 10-2 record culminating with a victory over rival Minnesota in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale. The victory was no different than eight others of the regular season, a tough battle with the decision in doubt until the last few minutes of the game. With this record the Hawkeyes have put themselves into position for a BCS bowl game or a trip to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl. Wherever the destination it was the first time the Hawkeyes finished with double digit wins since 2004 and quite possible could finish in the top ten, the first since that same year.

The family outside Kinnick Stadium prior to Saturday's game.
And what has become a good luck charm during the year, me along with the Minnesota Video guy, Mike Schaaf. Every game a picture has been taken with the opposing video coordinator, the Hawkeyes have been victorious. Of course I don't bring that up until after the picture has been taken.

One of the BCS bowls in consideration for the Hawkeyes is the FedEx Orange Bowl. With Voice of the Hawkeyes, Gary Dolphin is Orange Bowl representative Larry Gautier in the Learfield Booth prior to the Minnesota game. The Hawkeyes appeared in the 2003 South Flordia game bringing over 40,000 fans in a match-up with Southern California. Also in attendance Saturday were representatives from the Capital One Bowl and Outback Bowl. Iowa last appeared in the Capital One Bowl in 2005, and played in the most recent Outback Bowl against South Carolina. Iowa's bowl destination will not be known until December 6th when the bowl pairings will be announced.

On the Friday prior to the final home game, the Johnson County I-Club hosts the class of Seniors for the weekly breakfast. Seventeen seniors were honored.

Gary Dolphin introduced Head Football Coach, Kirk Ferentz.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hawks win 10 - Keep Floyd at Home

The Iowa Football resumed their winning ways, in customary fashion with a 12-0 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers. With the win the Hawkeyes extended their winning season to 10 and kept the coveted Floyd of Rosedale in the state of Iowa for one more year.
That was the end of Iowa's Regular Season.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rivalry Tournament

The Axe (MN / Wis) advances to the final of the sportsfanengy web site, but one more semifinal has yet be played. The Little Brown Jug (MN / Mich) will battle Floyd of Rosedale for the finals in the Rivalry Trophy bracket.

Please vote in the upper right-hand corner.

Night Out on the Town

O'Shaughnessy's of Columbus was a popular spot for Hawkeye fans attending last Saturday's Iowa - Ohio State football game. Located outside the Nationwide Arena, along with numerous other bars, restaurants and night clubs. O'Shaughnessy's is an Irish bar with the typical Irish drinks. However with this establishment located so close to the Hockeye Arena, other drinks are on tap, including those from Canada, such as Labatts, Labatt's Blue, etc.

College Football Week 11

One would think this young lady from Louisville is looking for the day when the Cardinals are respectable again in the Big East. Times won't change until someone new heads up the program...Hats off to SMU and June Jones. Jones doesn't go to the top programs, but he has righted the ship at SMU and Hawaii as well as putting them on the national radar....The opportunity to replace Michigan Head Football Coach Rich Rodriguez is starting to take shape. Winning only one conference game with one remaining (v OSU), the maize and blue fans won't tolerate much more mediocrity. Michigan defensive players have experienced four new coordinator over the same amount of time and there has been no improvement. With allegations facing the program of not filing practice logs and rumors running rampant of players transferring the once proud program is slipping further and further. However a switch of head coaches isn't that easy. Of course he will have to be bought out--some Michigan alum will swallow that pill, but the current Athletic Director, Bill Martin, is retiring next September. No quality candidate will take the job without knowing who the athletic boss will be. Fans are losing patience, but a change may not be imminent...On the final weekend of conference play, the Big Ten game of the week is not in Ann Arbor, Iowa City or East Lansing. The game with the most on the line is in Evanston, Illinois. Resurging Northwestern hosts Wisconsin for the first time in two years and many storylines. Not only are bowl implications on the line, but former Badger Defensive Coordinator Mike Hankwitz will be facing his former team for the first time heading up the Wildcats D. Wisconsin has had wins over Michigan and Michigan State, but an impressive victory still eludes them. A victory Saturday over Northwestern may not sound like much, but it could be Bucky's best win of the season...Many discussions have occurred surrounding the regulation end of Iowa and Ohio State. Iowa Football Coach, Kirk Ferentz decided, after having the ball in their own territory and tied with less than a minute to go, to play for overtime. There may not be a right or wrong answer as to whether he should've played for the win, but consider what the Miami Dolphins did in Sundays' game. Leading 22-16 with under two minutes to play, Dolphin QB Chad Henne threw a pass which was intercepted and later led to the go ahead TD. Miami was able to overcome the mistake and eventually win the game. With a freshman quarterback and already throwing two interceptions, Ferentz did the right thing by playing for the additional fifth period.

A tune that is still in my head

A great atmosphere for college football. However it was only appropriate, the kicker who won the game for Ohio State was recently in the MLS, that this soccer tune was continually played.

Script Ohio

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Images from Columbus

On the next to last day of the Iowa Football regular season, the Hawkeyes travelled to Columbus, Ohio for a date with Ohio State with the Rose Bowl on the line.

Upon arrival to Friday's walk through at Ohio Stadium, the Hawkeyes were met with a Rose on the 50 yard line. The team from Iowa knew the importance of the match-up, but the Buckeyes seemed to think a reminder was in order.
Members of the Iowa and Ohio media met the team on Friday afternoon.

The Iowa cheerleaders snap up a few pictures of the empty stadium

On her last day on the job, Celia Eckerman of the University of Iowa Foundation was leaving her position to take on the Development position with the Neuman Catholic Center in downtown Iowa City. Celia has been the person behind the organization of the Huddles at all bowl sites as well as regular season road trips.

Associate Athletic Director, Mark Jennings chats it up with the members of the Florda Citrus Association. The winner of the Hawkeye - Buckeye match-up automatically had the rights to the Rose Bowl. With Iowa in the top 14 of the BCS, a second possible to the BCS is a possibility.

Celebrating with Celia are many of the associates she worked with for huddles. Celia sits next to Iowa play - by play man, Gary Dolphin as well as colleague Scott Brown.

Ohio Stadium sits on the banks of the Olentangy River.

Morning rises on Ohio Stadium

The Buckeye campus.

Ohio State Head Football Coach, Jim Tressel escorts his team to the home side locker rooms.

My favorite sideline announcer, Holly Rowe of ESPN on ABC. Holly was a constant on Hawkeye Football games in 2002 as Iowa steamrolled through the Big Ten schedule. This was her first Hawkeye football game since 2004.

Very few care for the Iowa Student Athletes than John Streif. Streif is part trainer, part travel coordinator for the Hawkeye football program. Without a doubt the most respected person in the Iowa Athletic Department.

Many Buckeye fans in attendance were already smelling Roses. Up to four travel agencies advertised Rose Bowl tours in the morning newspaper, touting they would be open immediately following the Iowa game.

Setting the scene from Columbus is Iowa play by play man, Gary Dolphin and his analyst, Ed Podolak.

The Hawkeyes take the field, although the Ohio State Marching Band provides an obstacle.

Along with Holly, Matt Millen and Sean McDonough set the picture on ABC.

Sun begins to set on Ohio Stadium.

Big Ten Commissionaire Jim Delaney watches the OT from the Ohio Stadium photo deck.