Monday, February 28, 2011

State Basketball in Iowa

Courtesy Des Moines Register
Making Iowa's State Basketball tournament means something to the boy or girl that achieves the goal of playing in Des Moines. But to the team's fan base, the thrill of playing on the state's grand stage has a different meaning. All school's representation want their team to bring the hardware back to their school's trophy case, but the thrill of playing in the state tournament means more to the fans of the smaller schools in the state.

I grew up in a town, population 1,000 with a graduating class of 32. I live in a town where nearly 1000 attend one of the two city schools.Thirty-two may take up one Algebra class. But today the town I grew up in and the school I graduated from finally made the Girls State Basketball Tournament, the first time since the school consolidated in the mid 1960s. The team consisted of daughters of classmates and granddaughters of friends, and the side cheering for the Warhawks consisted of every single one of the community members.

This is a big deal to small towns. This is their one chance to let the rest of the state know where their small community is located, show their pride for their school and come together for one common goal, to win a state championship. The rest of the year, this small town isn't much different than the one they were playing or could've played with a win in the tourny's first round. To small town Iowans, this is a big deal, something they have been preparing for after a long wait.

That large community I currently live in has a high school with a similar story to that of the Warhawks. The West High Lady of Troy earned a rare trip to Des Moines after compiling a 21-2 record. West High has had a history of losing girls basketball. Only recently have they turned their losing ways into success. But Iowa City is among the largest cities in the state and their identity is well-known between Iowa's river borders.

At the end of the week there will be four trophies awarded to towns of varying sizes. The Warhawks lost today, but another small town will find their way to the trophy stand, while Iowa City West, or city of similar stature will win the state's big prize. The girls on those teams will be proud of the accomplishment, but the trophy that will eventually sit in the case of the winning small town team will mean more to a community, it create pride that will extend throughout the county.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NFL Video Directors

Experienced video directors have seen their profession evolve over the years. It began with film, moved to tape and is now in its digital non-linear form. One person who saw this transformation was recently honored by his peers in Indianapolis. Al Treml, formerly of Green Bay,  was brought back to the NFL Video Director's meetings to reminisce and be honored by his peers.

Treml make a point to remember all of the video coordinators who have passed on since he left the Packers.Going name by name, Treml encouraged his peers to provide stories along with those he brought along.

One story Al shared was his trips to Chicago's Wrigley Field where the Bears called home for many years. The friendly confines was a baseball park, but adjusted to the football dimensions. There was no true sideline shot, and after possessions, Al would have to drop his camera a few feet in order to get a shot of the scoreboard. The process in getting to the sideline platform was difficult. In the upper deck, Al would climb a ladder placed on a post behind a fan's seat. Once he made his way to the platform, he would need to raise his camera by a pulley system from the stands below. The platform was narrow and messy. Other than the time the "film" guy occupied the area, pidgeons would call it home, leaving an inch of droppings for Al to deal with.

Making sure the position of Video Coordinator isn't forgotten in the NFL, Philadelphia Eagle veteran video guy, Mike Dougherty has been working on finding a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the well-respected video coordinator. The process has been a difficult one for "Doc," he felt it was important to bring Treml to Indianapolis and honor him in front of the current staff of video guys. "Doc" made sure the current crop understood the importance of their profession and to enjoy it. He went on to say how those who have come before were characters, and he encouraged all in attendance to be their own characters.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Big Ten Video Meeting 2011

Big Ten Video Meeting 2011
Big Ten Video Meeting 2011,
originally uploaded by mengelbert.
Early this week the video coordinators of the Big Ten football teams met in Indianapolis for their annual meetings. For the past three years these meetings have been held in the heart of Indiana to coincide with the meetings of the NFL Video Directors prior to their work in the NFL combine.

This year's meeting had much to do with the conference's move to the acquisition, playback and exchange of HD video and ensuring all parties included are working together to make sure it happens. It is important for Sony and Panasonic to have the equipment to acquire and playback a suitable format for the editing companies of XOS Digital and DVSport to network for the coaching community. Dragon Fly is the preferred method of internet exchange, and their role is critical in having the video travel among member schools quickly and maintaining quality.

Folowing the conference meeting, myself, Rob Porteus of Wisconsin and Erik Knuttu of Syracuse (representing the national Collegiate Sports Video Association) addressed the NFL Video Directors with an update of HD and the status of the national organization. The NFL is beginning their discussion of HD and is currently relying on the progress of the colleges. The pending CBA between owners and players has delayed the HD movement.

Along with the HD discussion, the college video coordinators had the opportunity to tour Lucas Oil Field, the 2011 home of the Big Ten Championship game.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl Champions

Courtesy Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Super Bowl - Game Day

After two weeks of hype, the NFL's big game has finally arrived. Fox Sports has their cameras and crew in place and game time is a few hours away. For the first time in post-season history, the Green Bay Packers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Price of the Super Bowl

When Pittsburgh and Green Bay take the field for Super Bowl XLV Sunday, over 100,000 are expected in Cowboys Stadium as well as a standing room only crowd outside the view of the field. Those inside most likely paid more than the face value of $900 as the Super Bowl has a large re-sell market. Players and coaches are allowed to buy two tickets to the NFL's big game, and it is well-known that some of those choose to make a few dollars off that opportunity.

The last time the Packers won this title game, tickets went at face value for $375. That was 1996, and the price as escalated to $800 a year ago in Miami, and $900 for this year's tilt in Dallas.

With these prices, the NFL has out-priced the majority of their fan base. Imagine what $900 could pay for? And it isn't only $900, it is $1,800 as you can't just buy one at face value. The game before the Super Bowl - AFC & NFC Championship games - the face value for the game ticket is $146. How they decide upon $146 is beyond me, but a considerable amount less than the next game up. Aside from the entertainment value that comes with the Super Bowl, how can the NFL justify such a large price jump from one game in the playoff to the next?

Next year the game will be played in Indianapolis, but in 2014 the NFL looks to take their biggest game to the biggest stage, New York. Although the weather in Dallas this past week may be similar to what it could be in New York, at least this year's game as a roof to it. At the increasing cost, the 2014 fans may be paying $1,100 to sit in a cold wintry mix.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Remember This?...

Prior to the 2005 Capital One Bowl ESPN's "Mayne Event" made a visit to the Iowa campus to do this piece for NFL Sunday Countdown

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Hawkeye in the Super Bowl

For the third year in a row, the Iowa Hawkeyes will have a representative in the Super Bowl. In 2011 Green Bay offensive lineman, Bryan Bulaga will be representing the black and gold.

Bulaga left Iowa with one remaining in his college career. There were skeptics, but Bulaga took advantage of being a potential first round pick and was picked up by Green Bay as the 23nd pick. A quarter of the way into the Packers' season, the rookie was called upon and began a start streak that will continue with Sunday's Super Bowl.

Bulaga hit gold quick. Many veterans of the NFL don't make it to the NFL's premiere game. Bulaga will be part of the starting OLine in the 45th version of the Super Bowl.

And while it has been quoted in the of the Chicago media, Bulaga didn't necessarily grow up in the suburbs as a fan of the Chicago Bears. But when Bryan was at Iowa, many of our conversations were devoted to baseball and his love for the White Sox.

Since he came from the north side, I assumed he would be found in the friendly confines on a beautiful sunny day. But he wasn't and we continued to find a bond in disliking each other's baseball teams. Typically I wouldn't care about what Ozzie and his squad would be doing, but I kept an eye on their box scores to ensure I was able to fully discuss baseball with him. Although I don't think he had time to follow the Cubs, he would remind me of how much US Cellular, the home of the White Sox, is better that the Cub's home at 1060 W. Addison. Of course he liked Sox manager, Ozzie Guillen while letting me know how much better he is than the Cubs' Lou Pinella.

Now a short year after playing his final college game at the Orange Bowl, Bulaga is preparing for what may be the biggest game of his career. Reaching the Super Bowl is a long, tough road which comes with no guarantees. Green Bay wide receiver, Donald Driver hasn't participated in a Super Bowl during his twelve year career, but the rookie from Iowa has reached it in his first year.