Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Big Ten Division

If the chatter on Twitter is any indication, by the end of Wednesday night we will know how the new Big Ten will be divided. Rumors have been circulating with different scenarios, with many splitting up rivalries, or adjusting the way they are played. It hasn't been an easy job deciding up who goes where, but we will finally have closure to the issue allowing us to move on. So for one last time, an attempt as to how the divisions will be set up:

Great Lakes-Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan State, Purdue, Indiana

Heartland - Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois

First, I know Iowa doesn't border a Great Lake, but it will be still called the Big Ten with 12 members. More evidence we don't care about the labeling. Second, there are some scenarios I see happening. The most natural rival with Nebraska will be Iowa. Penn State has a similar relationship with Ohio State. Geography will play a role in keeping those teams together as I don't see any benefits of pairing Penn State with Nebraska. Iowa's border / trophy rivalries will take a hit. Wisconsin and Minnesota has the longest rivalry in Division I football. The Big Ten won't jeopardize that. It is sad Floyd of Rosedale will not be played for annually, but Minnesota and Michigan will also not play for the Old Brown Jug on a yearly basis.

There are a couple of rivalries kept intact. The Little Brown Jug, which is played for between Indiana and Purdue will continue as well as the Land of Lincoln Trophy between Northwestern and Illinois. All four of these programs have the least football tradition and it is important they continue to fight for them.

Alright, there are my last thoughts on the issue before the conference announces their decision. Do you agree? How do you think it will be broken down?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Doin' the Hokey Pokey

Becoming a tradition associated with the start of the Iowa Football season, the Iowa City / Coralville Convention and Visitor's Bureau has created "Fry Fest," the best of anything Hawkeye. A year ago at the first, Hall of Fame Iowa Football Coach, Hayden Fry came back to see First Avenue in Coralville renamed, "Hayden Fry Way." To honor the coach who put the Hawkeyes back on the national map, Fry is coming back to Coralville to lead Hawkeye fans in another one of his traditions, the Hokey Pokey.

After wins under Fry the team would come together in the locker room afterwards to perform the dance in a celebratory way. The Hokey Pokey is Friday night at the Coralville River Landing, and a big crowd is anticipated. Over 4000 people will be needed as they are looking to break the World's Record for the most people to collectively dance the Hokey Pokey.

At last Friday's practice, Freshmen of the Iowa Football team re-lived the tradition in front of their older teammates.


College Football Preview

The adjacent picture is the right way to start of the season. ESPN College Football analyst, Kirk Herbstreit is joined by members of the Alabama Crimson Tide Cheerleading squad as the 2010 season gets underway this Thursday night. Although not a premier weekend to get it started, a few good games will garner the interest of the fans nation wide. Of course the ESPN Thursday night broadcast will once again present South Carolina, this year taking on Southern Mississippi. From one USC to another, the Trojans of Southern California follow with a trip to Hawaii. On Friday another Pac-10 team, Arizona travels to a non-BCS school, Toledo. Saturday brings a very intriguing match-up as Randy Edsall's UConn Huskies travel to the Big House to face Michigan. Then two games round out the weekend with major BCS implications. Saturday night Oregon State takes on TCU in the Horned Frogs back yard of Arlington. On Monday Boise State takes on Virginia Tech in Washington D.C.

A few observations as we enter week 1:
  • There is much pressure on Virginia Tech to prove Boise State does not belong among the nation's elite. When Boise State defeated Oklahoma in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Broncos had over a month to prepare. This time BSU has had over seven months to come up with a few new wrinkles for the Hokies.
  • Rich Rodriguez would definitely like to start the 2010 season with an opponent easier than that of UConn. The Huskies played the end of 2009 determined and focused. Will that carry over to the season opener? Meanwhile if there is a must-win for the Wolverines, this would be it. Michigan cannot afford to travel to Notre Dame in a week looking for their first win.
  • How different will the Big Ten look in one year when Nebraska joins? There are two names that consistently appear on every one's "Hot Seat" lists. They are Rich Rodriguez and Illinois' Ron Zook. However how safe are Minnesota's Tim Brewster and Indiana's Bill Lynch? The Big Ten has eight bowl tie-ins entering 2010. Will making a lower-tier bowl game be enough to keep any of these coaches from leaving their school?
  • Texas has already named Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp as the Head Coach in waiting--waiting for Mack Brown to step down. It seems Brown has spent more time in ESPN's Bristol's studios this off-season than on the recruiting trail. Has he been auditioning for the ESPN Game Day job currently held by Lee Corso? Corso suffered a mild stroke prior in the spring of 2009, causing his workload to be lessened. I believe it is a matter of when, rather than if.
  • Finally, what is the likelihood the popular ESPN College Game Day makes an early visit to Iowa City? The Hawkeye's game with Penn State has already been slated for 7pm. However there are a list of quality games on the schedule that day. Among them are Oklahoma - Texas, Florida - Alabama, and Stanford - Oregon. ESPN likes to schedule its pre game shows at games of teams with near perfect records. With Penn State making a trip to Alabama in week two, ESPN may find themselves sending Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit elsewhere. But Iowa fans shouldn't be frustrated as it may mean more to have the show on the shadows of the Pentacrest when Ohio State travels to Iowa City on November 20.

Night Out on the Town - Orlando Ale House

A popular in-season feature returns for a third year. "Night Out on the Town" returns and starts out with a long-time favorite. I visited the Orlando Ale House close to a decade ago while on a business trip. Located in the shadow of Disney, this is a good place to get some good food and watch your favorite sporting event. That first trip was my first time eating lobster out of the shell, and to this day the menu continues to have local favorites, although it has migrated to more bar fare.

The Ale House is a restaurant that is divided into halves by the central bar. On one side pool tables, dart boards, and video games are surrounded by high tables with bar stools. But the other half are private booths with a good view of the televisions.

The beer flows freely, and stays open late. But the best part is this family restaurant gives mom and dad to escape the Magic Kingdom. However the only time Iowa fans should be visiting the Orlando Ale House is on vacation, not for a potential bowl trip.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Saturday

Although it has been the shortest off-season in Iowa Football season, the time Hawkeye fans have waited since the January 5 Fed Ex Orange Bowl has seemed like decades. Anticipation for the 2011 season has been at an all time high. And now we can finally say the season starts, "This Saturday!"

This Saturday, this Kinnick Stadium Parking lot will be full of anxious tailgaters.
This Saturday, fans will be lining Melrose Avenue for not only tailgating parties, but to welcome the Iowa Football team. At this spot, the team depart their buses and make their way through the black and gold clad crowd to their game-day locker room.
This Saturday, fans will crowd these Kinnick Stadium concourses to either buy a soda or find their seat...a highly sought over seat for the best home schedule in years. Teams such as Iowa State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State play the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.
This Saturday, Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak will broadcast on the Learfield Network from this booth high atop Kinnick Stadium. Dolphin and Podolak have teamed up every year since 1997.
This Saturday, members of the print and electronic media will take their seats to blog, tweet, chat and report on this Top Ten football team.
And this Saturday, Kirk Ferentz will lead his 2010 Football team onto the Kinnick Stadium turf to begin the season with Eastern Illinois.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Classes Underway

Iowa City became a college town once again as the University of Iowa opened up the 2010-11 school year on a beautiful sunny day.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Big Ten Network Rolls into Iowa City

Every year the Big Ten Network crew travels the midwest reporting on the progress of its member institution football teams. With a little over half way through this year tour the Big Ten Network bus stopped in Iowa City for an evening practice with the Iowa Hawkeyes.

This year the show was shot on the 19th of August, but will not be shown until the 26th. Since everything was shot to tape, it gave the Big Ten Network football analysts a great chance to see how the Hawkeyes were preparing for a run at the conference title. Gerry DiNardo, Howard Griffith, and Dave Revsine spent time getting the low down on the team from Iowa Head Coach, Kirk Ferentz.
DiNardo has spent some of his coaching career in the Big Ten with a stop in Bloomington, Indiana as head coach. He has been with the network since its inception in 2006. Above he is finding out the latest on the Hawkeye Wide Receivers from Iowa position coach, Erik Campbell.
For the show, which will be seen August 26th at 9pm, the studio analysts sat down with a few of the Hawkeye players. Above Chirsitan Ballard tried to get his interview out of the way pre-practice, but audio difficulties placed the interview later.
But by the end of practice the audio glitches were out of the way and the focus was on the players. Adrian Clayborn sat down with the BTN crew.
 The final interview was saved for the head coach of the Iowa Football team, Kirk Ferentz. All segments were taped and will be packaged into an hour special a week from tonight on the Big Ten Network.
After a night in Iowa City, the bus rolls north to Minneapolis. This crew will not be at TCF Bank stadium tomorrow, but will be on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gator Bowl Tickets on Sale Today

One of the Big Ten's newest additions to the bowl lineup, the Gator Bowl announced tickets for the January 1, 2011 game went on sale today. This is the third match-up of SEC v Big Ten on New Year's Day. The Iowa Hawkeyes played in the 1983 Gator Bowl, losing to Florida, 14-6. The contest is played in Jacksonville, Florida and will be televised by ESPN2.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kids Day at Kinnick

Saturday gave Iowa Football fans a look as to what the 2010 season may have in store. The annual Kids Day at Kinnick drew many on a warm and humid day in Iowa City. There aren't many questions surrounding the 2010 squad, but this unique opportunity gave fans a chance to see their favorite players for free when the entire season is sold out.
Senior leadership is the key to this year's team. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi leads his underclassmen QBs to Kinnick Stadium. James Vandenberg (16) and John Wienke (14) will fight for the job in 2011.
The rare opportunity for fans to get a glimpse at the football team also gave people the opprotunity for pictures in the historic stadium. This bridal party took advantage of getting some wedding photos with the field as a background.

Among the crowd favorites for autographs was defensive lineman, Adrian Clayborn. Barring any injuries Clayborn will vie for All-American honors.
And by far the most popular autograph was that of the starting QB. Stanzi's name was being chanted by the youngsters following the Saturday scrimmage.

Tailgating at Kids Day

Some Iowa fans appear ready for the start of the Iowa Football season. Fans have their lawn chairs and games ready in anticipation of the annual Fall open practice, also known as Kids Day.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Throwback Game

Iowa Football Equipment Manager, Greg Morris shows off the helmet that will be used by the team when Ball State comes to Kinnick Stadium September 25th. On that day the Hawkeyes will be wearing uniforms honoring the 1959 Rose Bowl team. Morris shows off the backside of the helmet honoring that game. Below is another way to honor the team. Each helmet will display the name of the member of the '59 team that wore the corresponding number. For example the #45 helmet will have Bernie Wyatt's name displayed across the front. Morris also plans on giving a bio of the '59 team member to the current numbered Hawkeye the week leading up to the game. The jerseys will be available for sale to the public beginning Thursday, August 12th at http://www.hawkeyefootball.com/.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Opening Practice

A common practice every year is the opening of practice to members of the media to grab some photos or video of the Hawkeyes. With the invention of the Internet the media demand has intensified. Roughly ten years ago those seen wandering around the Hawkeye practices were a couple of photographers and about the same number of those carrying a video camera. Today reporters show up  carrying their own pocket recording devices to use within the blogs or in their newspapers.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

LOST

Just when you thought it was over and had so many questions, Lost comes out with an epilogue. This is a definite must watch for Lost fans...and what might become an Internet series. Whether or not you were satisfied with the ending, fans of the show didn't want it to end. Hopefully the producers will continue to whet our appetite.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Iowa Football Media Day 2010

August 6th was the annual Media Day at the University of Iowa Football Complex. This is the day that anyone and everyone from the media gets their time with the Iowa Football players and coaches. After today the opportunities are fewer and it comes by request. Tuesdays throughout the season is the Kirk Ferentz press conference with requested upper classmen afterwards. Then following the game the same applies - Ferentz and requested upper classmen.
Although the Iowa head coach spends over thirty minutes answering questions to the media as a whole, following the press conference he is available for individual members of the media.
A popular subject for the local media is the play of the defense. Des Moines Register sportswriter Sean Keeler meets with secondary coach, Phil Parker.
And the head of that defense is the coordinator Norm Parker. Here Norm takes it easy and answers questions from his golf cart.
Following the interview session players, coaches and staff members head to Kinnick Stadium for the taking of the team photo. Above is a view of what it feels like to be in the picture....
...and a look at what the final product looks like. Below are a few of the sights and sounds of the interview session at the Kenyon Practice Complex.(photo courtesy Michael Witt)

video
A video look at today's Iowa Football Media Day

Practice Day 1 in the books.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Preparing for the 1st Practice

Lifts are being moved on a beautiful morning-the first day of Iowa Football practice.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, August 2, 2010

Top Ten Most Memorable - #1

2004 Iowa 30 - Wisconsin 7 - The Iowa Football team has been around for over 120 years and their opportunity to be presented a Big Ten Championship trophy in Kinnick Stadium has been few. Under the twenty year leadership of Hayden Fry, the Hawkeyes either won or shared the championship three times, two of those were in Iowa City. Kirk Ferentz' Hawkeye team shared the title in 2002, but were presented the trophy in a locker room of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. In 2004, the opportunity presented itself on the final Saturday of the season with rival Wisconsin coming to town.

The 2004 Hawkeye team started out strong with two good wins in Kinnick Stadium and to finish their non-conference season a trip to the desert awaited them. A year earlier the Hawkeyes dominated the Arizona State Sun Devils, but a rainy night in Tempe proved a complete different result. The black and gold were humbled, and a week later a trip to Ann Arbor would be where we would see what they were made of. Although a loss, the Hawkeyes bounced back and gave the Wolverines a fight showing promise for good things to come, but it was unclear how good it could be.

The following week Michigan State came to town, and it was a Hawkeye win over a decent Spartan team. An off-week came at a good time giving the Hawkeyes time to regroup and prepare for a home date with Ohio State. Perhaps not the best Buckeye team in the Jim Tressel era, but it was still Ohio State, a team with much more talent than Iowa. And on that October day the Hawkeye team began to make believers out of its fans and those around the county as they went on to win 33-7.

As seen in an earlier "Memorable" game post, the Hawkeyes won a tough battle on the road at Penn State and it was then one more road trip to Champaign to face the Fightin Illini. Special teams, defense and offense all contributed to the win and it was the sixth win on the season for the Hawkeyes making them bowl eligible. Typical of road trips the SID staff are usually the last ones to board the team bus. On this day Phil Haddy, Iowa's Sports Information Director stated that we have earned the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, and with every win, that bus will keep moving.

While Iowa kept winning, so did the Michigan Wolverines and Wisconsin Badgers. Each were undefeated in the Big Ten and they would not play each other. For the Hawkeyes to win the Big Ten, the possibility was there, but some work by other teams would have to play a part.

On the second to last Saturday of the season the Hawkeyes won an hard-fought game against Minnesota in the Twin Cities on a last-second field goal being wide right. Later in the day the Wisconsin Badgers visited East Lansing and were soundly defeated by the Spartans. Now it came down to one game of the season as two one-beated conference teams would face each other in Iowa City, while Michigan had to win at Ohio State that same day to win the Big Ten Championship outright.

As the week of the game started out, there was little talk of the possibility a Big Ten Championship Trophy would be presented in Iowa City. Many expected the Wolverines to come out victorious in Columbus. But fans of the Hawkeyes and Badgers knew it would be tough for Michigan to win the game in the Horseshoe.

The night before the Iowa - Wisconsin game a video was shown to the team. A video like the one shown to the team prior to the last game in Kinnick every year - seniors declaring what it meant for them to be Hawkeyes over the last 4 -5 years. But what made this one different was the six-minute confessional of Matt Roth. The defensive lineman who was known for his strength and brutality on the field dug deep and shared his feelings. And as serious as he was, the more comical it was for his teammates and coaches. Roth had that trait to him that any time he tried to be serious, those around him found his mannerisms and descriptions quite funny. It may have the been the best way to break up the serious mood of the team.

Waking the next morning I knew something special was going to happen. I knew we would be playing for a share of the Big Ten title as Michigan would not beat Ohio State in Columbus. As players began to filter down to the meeting rooms for their last talk by the coordinators, the mood was light, yet focused. But the talk that Norm Parker gave to the defense is one I would not forget. He challenged the players to play this game for someone they love. He then referenced three individuals who had passed on within the past year, his son Jeffrey, Kirk's Dad, and Kirk's mentor, Joe Moore. He said they were all watching what they were going to do that day on bar stools together. After Norm concluded I looked at our graduate assistant and said, "We're going to win."

What also made this day special is that it would be the last in Kinnick Stadium before the renovation would begin. The last time in the locker room that coaches Ferentz, Fry and Evasheski each talked to their team.

This was one of the few times I had the opportunity to be on the field for a home game. And although introductions of seniors is typically loud, I can't imagine a louder cheer for a Hawkeye than that of Matt Roth. As he ran to the fifty yard line he pumped up the crowd louder and louder until the loudest cheer came at kick-off when the final score of the Michigan - Ohio State game was posted on the Kinnick Stadium jumbotron. Ohio State 37 - Michigan 21. Now the winner between the Hawkeyes and Badgers would earn a share of the Big Ten Championship.

It was a physical Big Ten game that had the Badgers missing a field goal early and the Hawkeyes completing a touchdown pass prior to half time giving Iowa the momentum heading to the second half. But the details of the game are more irrelevant compared to the emotions of the day, as when the fourth quarter began the Iowa student section started the chant of "Big Ten Champs." As the fouth quarter evolved, that chant became louder and louder. Not it was a matter of time until the clock ticked zero, and the trophy to be presented.

As it was my first time on the field, and this time with a camera, I wasn't prepared for what would happen next. When the clock showed zeros, the fans stormed the field quicker than I could ever imagine. Knocked around and looking for the closest path to space. However that path took me to our locker room and I sprinted back to the Iowa Sideline where the Big Ten was waiting for the makehsift stage to be made for the trophy presentation. As I said, it doesn't happen often that the Big Ten trophy is presented in Iowa City, and this was the first time for it to be presented to the Iowa team in front of its adoring fans.

The celebration lasted late into the Iowa City night. Champaign was being popped among the video staff and being shared with Gary Dolphin and Kirk Ferentz. From the complex we moved downtown and continued the celebration with video staff members past and present at Mickey's where we ran into a few Badger fans in denial.

That November afternoon and evening in 2004 will be my most memorable moment of the Kirk Ferentz era, if not my twenty years with Iowa Football. There is nothing more special than being presented a Big Ten Champsionship trophy in Kinnick Stadium.

Amy T #1 - Iowa 21 - Penn State 10 - 2009. The Hawkeyes continued their dominance over the Nittany Lions by winning their seventh in the last eight games.

Phil H #1 - Iowa 24 - Penn State 23 - 2008. In dramatic fashion the Hawkeyes upset the undefeated #3 Penn State Nittany Lions in front of a Kinnick Stadium crowd.

Pete V #1 - Iowa 30 - Wisconsin 7 - 2004.

A Lemonade Stand on a Summer Day

What isn't better than a glass of Lemonade on a sunny, humid Summer day. Colin had the idea to have his own lemonade stand in the neighborhood. Although the location (front of his home) wasn't in a high traffic area, he did have a few sales. He said all of his proceeds would go to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital.