Monday, May 30, 2011

New Summer Series

A year ago on the blog I did a series on the top ten games in the Kirk Ferentz era. It was well-received and I also had a few followers add their top ten in the comment section. This year we are starting another series which I'm looking for the same interaction. With the addition of Nebraska to the conference the Big Ten will take on a new look for the future. So this is a good time to look back and share the memories we've had from the other ten conference schools. Throughout the summer I will post memories and reflections playing at every Big Ten school and we will also include Nebraska (Iowa's last appearance was in 2000) as well as Iowa State, a more common opponent on the Iowa schedule as Ohio State or Michigan..

Get your thoughts together and join me as we travel through the Big Ten.

Tressel Leaves Ohio State

Jim Tressel walks away from Ohio State amid controversy that eventually caught up to him after not coming clean when finding out information on how some of his players were exchanging gifts for services.

Tressel has been perceived as a quiet man who did things right in the eye of the Ohio State administration and fan base. Since December of 2010 different information has been emerging about the program that shed a new light on the sweater-vest wearing head coach in Columbus.

While many around the Big Ten Conference are finding comfort in the scarlet and red occurring trouble with the NCAA, fans of the Big Ten cannot be happy with the dark cloud this has brought about the storied conference.

This should be an exciting time for the Big Ten--expansion has brought another storied program into the misnamed conference of eleven. Nebraska brings its football tradition and national recognition forming a stronger and more competitive race than those in the Midwest have seen for a while. This is what Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney was looking forward to, and the news that another tradition steeped University may be facing probation takes a little of the luster off the 2011 season.

Jim Tressel entered Columbus over a decade ago with high hopes, which he met and now leaves The Ohio State in a session of turmoil. Tressel's time can be summed up by a quote from the recent Dark Knight movie..."You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Baseball or Business Decision?

As an owner of a sports franchise most of your decisions are based on what is best for your business as well as your sports team. But there comes times where the choice that is made can't end up in both categories.

The Cubs organization has endured a century long of losing with the last World Series Championship coming in 1908. Over the past ten years the team has made the greatest strides to bring the MLB's highest trophy back to 1060 W. Addison. At the beginning of the 2000s, Don Baylor took his place in the home dugout. Baylor had great success with the Colorado Rockies, but the true test is if he could run the Cubs organization.

Baylor was replaced by Dusty Baker, who took the Cubs the closest they would get to the World Series, without appearing in it. But he couldn't get the Cubs to the next level. And after Baker came Lou Pinella. "Sweet Lou" had experience with turning around teams and having success in the playoffs with his only World Series title coming with the Cincinnati Reds some fifteen years earlier.

At times there were interim managers, but Baylor, Baker and Pinella were the main figure heads along that Wrigley Field third base dugout. And each manager managed success, but none took the Cubs to the World Series.

Once Pinella stepped down, former Iowa Cub manager Mike Quade assumed the duties from his previous employer. Some thought it was Lou's way of giving Quade a chance to interview for the job. At the same time, Cub All-Star, Ryne Sandberg was believed to be grooming himself for the job at triple A Iowa, and would be given the head Chicago position once it was opened.

The Cubs were low on many experts list to advance to the post-season citing deficiencies at many positions. Quade showed promise while in his interim position. The Cubs finished stronger and with a winning record in that short amount of time. Sandberg brought a wealth of experience from grooming many of the young Chicago roster while progressing with them in the minor leagues. However, if Sandberg was given the job, and success didn't happen, what would that do to his famed legacy in the Windy City?

Fast forward to the present with the Cubs hovering near last in the division and the team has yet to put together a three game winning streak. Injuries have struck the starting rotation as well as a few position players. And fans haven't been drawn to the Friendly Confines in the numbers the Rickett Family was expecting. Attendance has been lacking leading the Cubs to a promotion unheard of by many who follow the Cubs-$3 beers in the bleachers on Tuesday nights.

So, was the hiring of Quade a good baseball decision? Or should the Cubs have hired Sandberg, one of the most popular players in Cubs history, to lead the team and help sell seats in the process?

The Cubs have always been popular, and the lack of attendance shouldn't be alarming until the Summer months arrive with children out of school. It is June, July and August where seats are the toughest to come by on Chicago's North Side. But should the Cubs have made a business decision and ensuring more seats be sold in the earlier months of the season by hiring a former hero to bring fans into the ballpark.

For those who have watched the Cubs play this season know it doesn't have much of a chance to compete for any division or wild card title. And this team hasn't given their faithful fans much reason to believe the quality of play will improve. Quade was thought to be the sacrificial lamb as the guy taking the bumps and bruises until the youth mature and many overpaid salaries are off the Cubs' books. But with the high ticket prices, many fans may not want to spend their valuable time and money on a sub par product that hasn't shown any signs of progress.

So was this a good baseball decision? Or was it a bad business decision?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CSVA to the Denver Broncos

As the rains continued to fall, events went on. Following a morning in Boulder, buses with video coordinators traveled to the south side of Denver to visit the Broncos facility. With the player lockout in progress, the facility was barren. Staff of the Broncos were seen throughout the complex, but players continue to be absent. Once the lockout is complete, Bronco personnel is prepared to begin the 2011 season. New gear is sitting in lockers of drafted rookies, medical staff is ready to meet the crop of players and coaches are ready to begin a new era of Denver Bronco Football.

Above is the team meeting room. The central meeting point for all Denver Football players. The facility isn't one of the newest in the NFL, but it is very practical. The video staff of the Broncos has done an outstanding job of keeping it up to date with the evolving technology.

The Bronco facility is divided into two different buildings. Offices, meeting rooms, lockers, medical, coaching staff and video are in the main building while the strength staff shares its area with the field staff. Above is one of the many editing cubicles of the video office. The advantage to this editing suite is the location it has to the practice field and how the Denver staff can work and keep an eye on what is going on outside.

Not very big, but it doesn't have to be for a roster of 45, the dining hall is the main area for all of Denver's meals. The shelves and refrigerators aren't packed at the moment, but definitely will be once players are allowed back into the complex.

One of the more popular lockers in the Denver facility belongs to Tim Tebow of the University of Florida. On this day of the tour, most of the video coordinators had their cameras out to record this bit of history.

And the meetings rooms aren't big and glamorous, but very practical when it comes down to a small team of 47. Above is the meeting room specifically designed for the quarterbacks. Rooms are built to the space needed for each position. The Denver team will carry no more than three quarterbacks once in season. The room allows for maybe two - three additional players during training camp.

Executive Vice President of Football Operations, John Elway has had a constant presence in the Mile High City for nearly thirty years. He secured one of the prime parking locations - between each building adjacent to the practice fields.

Monday, May 16, 2011

CSVA in Boulder

The weather wasn't any better in the Mile High State than anywhere else in the country. Thursday morning's CSVA schedule had two events wiped out due to the weather. The annual Chuck Linster Golf Outing was cancelled, and for those who weren't interested in golfing (yours truly) couldn't take part in a tour of Coors Field as the Mets and Rockies, postponed from a day earlier, was re-scheduled a day later and the video guys were unable to see the inside of the ballpark. Quick thinking by the CSVA board, and the cooperation of the Colorado Video Staff had the entire group head to Boulder and a tour of the Dal Ward Center, home to Colorado Football.
In 1992, the Iowa Football team traveled to Folsom Field to take on the Big 8 Buffaloes. Nearly twenty years later, the only difference was a few luxury suites added to the east stands. And although it has been close to two decades since that original trip, the Dal Ward Center looks as new as the day the Hawkeyes lost. Video Director of the Buffaloes Jaime Guy allowed the group to tour the facility adjacent to the football stadium. Above is a portion of his office.
 Colorado is fortunate to utilize the same locker room for practice as well as on game day. Here is the entrance to that facility. On the left is the equipment room window with personal foot lockers just around the corner.
 As you continue to walk into the CU locker rooms, the team's player lounge is located off of the main locker area. Comfortable chairs, large screen TV, a myriad of games as well as computers are at the disposal of the team.
 And prior to taking the field, a room full of flashing lights, a large screen monitor and loud music is intended to motivate the team. Scores of big Colorado wins line the wall under the stuffed Buffalo head. From there the doors open to the playing field.
And this is the view Ralphie has prior to his run around Folsom Field. Colorado has spent many years in the Big 8, followed by the Big XII, but now the University moves to the Pac 12. Announced during our stay in Denver was the Thanksgiving Weekend match up between Utah (another new team to the Pac 12) and Colorado.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

CSVA Trip to Coors Field

Originally CSVA was to be in Dalla, Texas. However due to some scheduling conflicts beyond the control of the association, it was moved to Denver, Colorado. Denver turned out to be a great location.

The weather didn't cooperate for us, but we had other opportunities at our disposal that may not have been possible in the Lone Star State. On one night, the group was treated to a Colorado Rockies game, but I was unable to attend as I was still in the process of driving to the Mile High City. Instead I made it a point to attend the next possible game. That was the next night against the New York Mets.

The last time I was in Coors Field also coincided with CSVA in Boulder. That time it was against Atlanta with Tom Glavine on the mound. I also sat in the "Rock Pile," seats in the highest point of the stadium, directly in center field. But on this night my friend, Jeff Dotson of Colorado State and I sat down the left field line as we bought tickets from a scalper.
 Colorado was atop the NL West standings, but had struggled coming into the home series with the Mets. On this Tuesday night, the ballpark was over half full on a cool and cloudy night. In Denver, games are currently beginning at 6:40 local time, earlier than the expected 7:05 start in most other cities.
Those who remember the '86 Mets will remember their lead-off hitter. Mookie Wilson now coaches first base.
On the lower level there are many concession options. At this nook located behind third base is a place that serves Italian, Pizza, Burgers and Gelato, most of it made fresh in front of you. Throughout the ballpark are other specialty stands that serve traditional ballpark fare as well as bar-b-que and food designed for the younger fan. Of course at Coors Field, there are many places to find the beverage from Golden, Colorado. However, prior to the end of beer sales in the 7th inning, one stand had run out of Coors Light. Somehow I find it hard to believe Miller Park or Busch Stadium has that problem.
Located down the street from Coors Field is an Iowa City landmark, the Sports Column. In Denver it is the official bar of the Colorado Rockies, and inside it has the same look as the Iowa City establishment, including the Iowa Hawkeye flags and signs.
 Part of what makes Coors Field unique are the fountains located within the pine trees of center field.
The rains came in the seventh inning. Our seats were two rows removed from the elements, until the wind switched directions and then we began to get wet as many others were. But it didn't last long and the delay lasted close to thirty minutes. That allowed us enough time to take a tour of the park. When it resumed, the Rockies were unable to come back and lost to the visiting Mets.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

CSVA National Video Coordinator of the Year

Photo courtesy Jay Reid, Big Ten Conference
 The next few posts will be about the recent CSVA (Collegiate Sports Video Association) convention held in Denver, Colorado. This was the 17th annual meeting of video coordinators from all sports at the college, high school and professional sports level.

Along with a trade show and panel discussions, the yearly awards are given out at the night's final banquet. Awards are given out to those who put together the best highlight, motivational and recrutiing video.

Also individuals are recognized for being the best in their conference as well as in the nation. It is broken down by conference as well as high school and basketball. Each of those video coordinators are entered into the contest to find the overall best one. Not only did I win the Big Ten, but the above picture shows me winning the coveted Bob Matey National Video Coordinator of the Year Award. I was the first representative from the Big Ten to win the award. It is a very prestigous award that is voted on by our peers.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

2011 Video Staff Golf Outing

John Derby, Jon Filloon, Brian Filloon, Ron Stewart

Friday marked the annual Iowa Football Video Staff Golf Outing, Picnic and Awards Banquet. This year there were 24 participants with six different foursomes. Brown Deer Golf Course was the setting on the best day Coralville has seen all spring.

This year's tournament had an added rule to it, answering 18 questions divided into three groups-history of Big Ten Football, history of Iowa Football, and history of Iowa Video. First place was determined by low golf score minus number of correct questions.

Controversy surrounded this year's outing. Rules specifically state that each group's captain needs to be a member of the video staff. The winning group did not adhere to those policies. After taking a year off, Sheriff Ron Stewart, security captain of the Iowa Football team returned and brought his own team to participate including John Derby, Jon Filloon and Brian Filloon - two former Hawkeye football players. In 2009 Stewart was thought to be a "ringer" by a competing at-large member. Following shoulder surgery in 2010, Stewart returned to win. Their final golf score was 62, 9 under with 13 correct on the test.
 Coming in second with a similar golf score were the two graduating seniors of the video staff. Chad Wells and Kyle Yoder (L-R middle) were joined by Tyler Barnes and Don Pirkl. Don represented RTL Equipment, owners of the lifts used for shooting of practice. Pirkl helps maintain the equipment and trains the video staff.
 Third place was taken by the group consisting of Josh Schamberger, Kevin Long, Matthew Engelbert and Andy Drude. Josh has been a staple of the golf outing in each year of existence. He comes from the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kevin Long, former Iowa City West High quarterback as well as the University of Kansas represented RTL's sales staff. Drude works for DragonFly Athletics, the software used for video exchange by most in the country.

In fourth was the team consisting of Dan Kedley, Tyler Anderson, Bob Rahfeldt and Rita Foley. Kedley is a part-time assistant in the Iowa Football Equipment Room. Anderson is the grandson of Defensive Coordinator, Norm Parker, and will be the undergraduate assistant on the staff this year. Bob has been in the video department since 1997 with most of that time assisting me. And many know Foley as the assistant to both Coach Fry and Coach Ferentz over the years.
 The next team was the extremes of golf level. In the middle above, Grant Ridpath and Michael Witt could be the worst two golfers ever to have been on the video staff. Witt is entering his third year in the video department while Ridpath completed his first spring practice. On the left is John Mills who has worked with the video department in many ways over the last 20 years. Currently he works for XOS Digital and is based out of Moline, Illinois. And finally Jay on the end also works for RTL Equipment.
 Perhaps the biggest surprise was this group who finished last. Although two of them aren't blessed with the best golfing talent, the cornerstone of the foursome was one of the better golfers in the tournament. On the left is David "Big D" Blaker, the Video Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin football team. He drove the three hours from Madison to see what all of the publicity surrounding this event was. On the right is Iowa Equipment Manager Kevin Foor and in the middle are two Video Staff Members, Derek Ambrose and Emma Ravenscroft. Emma's dad, Bob was the head of the video department in the late 80s and early 90s and hired me. Derek is in his second and last season with the team.

Following the round of golf, all participants were treated to dinner as part of the Video Picnic and Awards Banquet. Prizes were provided by the Insight Bowl, various NFL teams, the Iowa City / Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as those brought from Des Moines by Sheriff Ron. And in addition to the above, all participants were given a souvenir 2011 Iowa Football Video Staff Golf Towel.