Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Davenport QB Club

Wednesdays during the football season, the Davenport Quarterback Club comes together at the exclusive "The Outings Club" to listen to various members of the Hawkeye Athletic Department give a little insight into each of their departments. Kicking the series off every year is the Director of Athletics at Iowa, Gary Barta. Then after that it is various head coaches (Lisa Bluder, Tom Brands) as well as notable assistants of many of the other sports.

The Club has been around for nearly 50 years and the requirements to get in are high (and secretive), but those who are involved are treated to a terrific meal courtesy of "The Outings Club" staff as well as an inside look into the happenings in Iowa City. On this Wednesday night they were treated to an enjoyable evening of equipment and video. Prior to my presentation the Shoe Guy, Greg Morris spoke of the new material of uniform as well as comparing the different helmet of players and the new type of football being used the Hawkeye offense every week of the 2011 season.
I followed up with a presentation of the latest advancements of video in the football world. The Club was able to see the different videos the coaching staff look at on a regular basis as well as the new video format being used this year (HD) and how it compared with the old Standard Def.

Monday, September 26, 2011

College Football Week 5

Welcome to Wisconsin and Welcome to the Big Ten. The feeling of Nebraska playing Big Ten football hasn't sunk in since the Cornhuskers have been playing Wyoming, Fresno State and Washington. This pre-conference scheduling isn't any different than in years that Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas State ensued. But now those fans of the Big Ten, who have been anxious for the Big Red to join want to show the folks from Lincoln how tough the Big Ten can be. This will definitely be a tough ticket. Historic Camp Randall will certainly be electric and fans from Philadelphia to Ogalala will be tuned in to watch.
Over a month ago a Facebook friend posted she had four tickets available for Iowa State and Texas in Ames this Saturday night. At the time I knew this was our off-week and it would be an interesting game to attend. But now that the game is days away, it will certainly be the night Cyclone fans anticipate on a more regular basis. Although not a fan of either team, I need to give props to the 'Clones. In three games they have beat a top five team from FCS, outlasted our Hawkeyes in 3OTs and went on the road and beat the defending Big East Champs. A win over Texas will bring them their national attention they deserve.

And Wisconsin - Nebraska isn't the only big game in the conference. A year ago Michigan State and Ohio State tied for the conference title, although they didn't play each. other. The Buckeyes went on to the Sugar Bowl while Michigan State earned the non-BCS bowl game, Capital One Bowl and lost to Alabama. This is the Spartans' opportunity to prove on the field what they couldn't a year ago. This is a big game for Ohio State. Dropping this game at home makes the following week's game at Nebraska even more important.

And for the Hawkeyes, the off-week comes at a time that will help prepare them for conference play. This is the week the video staff makes sure all video is available for the staff and ensuring all video is in place for the upcoming schedule.

Night Out on the Town

It may be the place to celebrate birthdays in Madison, but the Wisconsin Badger fans are hoping to celebrate a victory over conference newcomer Nebraska Saturday night.

The Nitty Gritty is located near UW's Kohl Center, on campus, but not in the heart of the Badger College Bar scene. Which is why many want to celebrate birthdays here. It is a family restaurant, that, like other restaurants in the Dairy State have a focus on good beer and outstanding brats. Children and grandparents feel comfortable celebrating with their kin knowing they won't be surrounded by a group of 20-some year olds looking to celebrate late into the night. Yet it is close enough to State Street allowing that same crowd a short walk to enjoy their birthday at this famous restaurant and then heading to the college bars to celebrate in style.

A Fantasy Championship Lost

The fantasy championship among some college football video guys was won by Matt Harper (Far Right) of Michigan State. His team "Millen Sucks" defeated "Millen" owned by me, 299-263. It was the second year of the fantasy league. A year ago, David Blaker (Wisconsin) defeated Tom Shepherd (near left).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Packers - Bears 2011

List of results from the Packers Hall of Fame
On Sunday, the oldest and best rivalry in the NFL hits the field one more time in Chicago. The Packers travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears. When sports rivalries are talked about, this one has to be one of the first mentioned. And in my opinion it is the best in sport.

These two teams have been competing as long as the NFL has been around. The story behind these two teams is no different today than over 75 years ago. This pits two teams - in the same conference - that represent what is good with the NFL - one is from a blue collar town in northern Wisconsin, while the other reigns from the third largest city in America. One is public owned with the other the standard single family owned.

Today marks meeting 183 between the two teams, and is the best rivalry in all of sports.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hawkeyes Finish Non-Conference Schedule

The fourth and final game of the Iowa Hawkeyes non-conference schedule was compteted today as the home town team defeated the Louisiana - Monroe Warhawks 45-17.

Iowa continued off the momentum of their previous week's win over Pitt and came out with a no-huddle offense. James Vandenberg guided a sharp offensive attack down the field and scored the first touchdown of the day and the Hawkeyes never looked back.

Closing out the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Hawkeyes move into Big Ten play with a 3-1 record. Next week is Iowa's only bye week of  2011. On October 8th, Iowa tries to open league play with a win at Penn State.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Warhawks

This Saturday the Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The nickname of the "Warhawks" is not one of the more common names associated with sports teams. According to Wikipedia the teams who do have ownership over "Warhawks" are Louisiana-Monroe, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Arrowhead HS (Wis), Auburn Montgomery (AL), North Chicago, Westerville Central, Marytown of Wisconsin, and James Madison High School in Virginia and San Diego. However Wikipedia doesn't recognize the small school in the Class A Iowa school system.  Are there others?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Night Out on the Town

A favorite spot for my family and I to eat out in Downtown Chicago is Rock Bottom Brewery and Grill. And there are many advantages to this establishment among many outstanding dining options.

My first experience to Rock Bottom in Chicago was the rooftop patio. It isn't the highest spot in Chicago, but its located atop the second floor and allows for a decent view of the surrounding area. But more importantly there is plenty of room to relax and enjoy a cool beverage on a hot Summer night. It is a popular spot in the early weeknight evenings as the many young professionals end up there after work. On the weekends it becomes busier with Cub and baseball fans who look for a different spot than the surrounding Wrigley area.

As a family we enjoy going there as it also caters to little kids. The child's menu has many selections, but the most popular has to be the make your own pizza. The Rock Bottom staff will bring to the table a flat piece of dough with cups of cheese, sauce and the one topping requested. Our son put the pizza together with the ingredients, and then it was placed in the oven to be cooked. Not much time expired before every one's meals were out for all to enjoy. The kids have to be excited to see what their hard work yielded.

Rock Bottom has their own varieties of beers, and I don't recall the name of mine, but I found one which was very enjoyable. My son enjoyed his bottle of root beer waiting for his pizza to be cooked. All of us enjoyed the drink as well as the experience.

College Football Week 4

Heading into Week 4 of the college football season, one game has caught my interest. Michigan entertains San Diego State with a great story line. When the game was scheduled I'm sure neither coach had a say in the match-up. And why should they since they've only been on their respective jobs less than a year. But the storyline is Michigan's Head Coach, Brady Hoke facing the team he built into a bowl champion in the 2010 season. He didn't schedule this game while an Aztec and I'm sure this is one he'd prefer wasn't on the Michigan schedule. The Wolverines have also started their last couple of seasons on a high, but have finished the season on a downward spiral. Something tells me the story will be a little bit different this year.

I'm also interested to see how some teams follow up on their performances of a week ago. Notre Dame travels to Pitt after the Panthers lost a three touchdown lead in the second half to Iowa. At home, Pitt is capable of beating the Irish. And in a match-up of two teams with different results last Saturday, Florida State travels to Clemson and Death Valley. Clemson beat defending National Champions Auburn Tigers and the Seminoles lost to another national power in Oklahoma. Who can overcome their hang over.

Fantasy Baseball Championship

In the Spring the video coordinators and members of their staff from schools such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State, Arkansas and Florida State conducted a draft for their fantasy baseball league. After six months four teams made the playoffs and the final two are fighting it out for the championship.

A week ago the division champs managed by David Blaker of Wisconsin and Pat Foley of Penn State fell to their wild card participants, Matt Harper of Michigan State and myself. So now in the finals it is one Matt against another. But better yet it is "Millen" (operated by Matt Engelbert based on the friendship the former Detroit Lions GM has with the Iowa Video Staff) against "Millen Sucks" (operated by the Detroit Lion fan himself, Matt Harper).

The finals last Monday thru Sunday. Hopefully you'll find out the winner on this site.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hawkeyes Bounce Back

In the biggest comeback in Iowa Football history, the Hawkeyes scored three touchdowns in the final quarter to pull out a 31-27 victory over the Pitt Panthers of the Big East Conference. The first three quarters was a brand of Iowa Football very few in this state ever want to see. But those who continued to stick around on a cool, cloudy day in Iowa City were treated to an outcome that perhaps only the players believed they could do.

Louisisna - Monroe enters Kinnick Stadiun in one week and that 11:01 start can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

College Football Week 3

Congratulations go out to the University of Oklahoma Football team. Being ranked #1 in the nation marks the 100th time the program has earned the ultimate ranking. And this week will put the #1 ranking to the test. It is a road trip to Tallahassee, Florida and the Florida State Seminoles. Sooner head coach, Bob Stoops will face his little brother, Mark who is the defensive coordinator at FSU. Mark is hoping for a better turnout than the one-sided victory by the Sooners a year ago.

This Saturday will be another test for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Losing a week ago at Iowa State, Kirk's squad needs to bounce back quickly with Pitt and the ability to ear a quality win for the BiG Ten season.

Not necessarily one of the finer weekends to watch Big Ten Football, but we are now approaching a weekend of mismatchs in the Big Ten.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Night Out on the Town

If you enjoy live music and being able to sit outside to enjoy it, Harry's in St. Louis is a great destination to do so. Located just blocks Union Station and Busch Stadium, Harry's has a wide open outdoor patio that serves two purposes. Not only can the patrons enjoy sitting under the humid Summer Moon of St. Louis, but there is ample space for everyone to dance.

On the different occasions I've been there a live band has performed music of the different eras of my life. I have heard everything from the hits of the 1980s to the most recent releases of today. And the bands that perform are local to the area, but are not a house band of Harry's itself.

The most recent trip to Harry's allowed us to listen to a familiar voice to those in the St. Louis area, and a name that many baseball fans would recognize. Nikko Smith, the son of Cardinal Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, was very popular with the near packed house. Smith was a finalist on American Idol in 2005 and finished in the top 10. Today he spends much of his time performing in the great St. Louis area, and at Harry's.

Harry's is a definite stop for everyone traveling to St. Louis.

Iowa - Iowa State in Pictures

It will be remembered as a classic in the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Iowa and Iowa State battled for 60 minutes and it still took three additional over time periods to decide the victor. The Cyclones won for the first time since its 2007 win in Jack Trice Stadium and the original Cy-Hawk trophy and temporary one used for Saturday's game will reside in Ames for the next year. One of the largest crowds in Jack Trice Stadium history witnessed one of the more exciting games in the series history.
Before the game there were many who walked the streets of Ames wearing these shirts. There were a few more that were more derogatory, but in all fairness there were many shirts sported by Hawkeye faithful saying, "Beat State."
Out from the visitor locker room walked Iowa Head Coach, Kirk Ferentz. He was accompanied by the head of Iowa Football security, Ron Sheriff who is in his 30th season on the Iowa sideline. Stewart is a retired deputy sheriff from Polk County.
Prior to the playing of the in-state rivalry the meeting of the head coaches at center field is the popular shot for all of the local media stations. I'm not sure what kind of a conversation can be had when there is so much attention given to a short media opportunity.
The newest addition to Jack Trice Stadium is the installation of a giant video/replay board and new sound system. And during the afternoon the Cyclones got their money's worth out of the sound system. Music was constantly being played at decibel levels louder than normal, and especially when the Hawkeyes were at the line of scrimmage. It was definitely a different game atmosphere in 2011 than in previous years and the addition of the giant sound system has much to do with that.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hawks lose the Cy-Hawk

For the first time since 2007, the Iowa Hawkeyes did not come home with the Cy-Hawk trophy, which goes out to the winner of the annual Iowa Iowa State football game. In triple overtime the Cyclones prevailed with a game winning touchdown on the final possession of the game. The Hawks fell 44-41 and go to 1-0 on the season. Next week Big East Conference opponent Pittsburgh Panthers will appear in Kinnick Stadium for a contest to be seen on ESPN at 11am.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NFL Football is Back

 Back to Football has been the theme adopted by all NFL teams are training camps opened for business in late July. Now over a month later football is back and it starts in Titletown USA, Green Bay, Wisconsin. The defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers take on the New Orleans Saints in Lambeau Field.

Monday, September 5, 2011

College Football Week 2

Is Texas A&M bolting for the SEC, or another conference? The Magic 8 Ball points to yes, and this Aggie Cheerleader would agree. The Big 12 is quickly disintegrating and some of the non-Big 12 South Schools need to start looking for a new home.

Weather was the headline to week one of college football. Delays were forced in Iowa City, Ann Arbor, South Bend, and Morgantown while Eastern Michigan decided to wait a day before attempting to play theirs. Never have I seen it rain as hard with as strong of winds in Kinnick Stadium for a football game. Many I talked to who have spent many years going to Iowa Football games agreed.
I must give much credit to Boise State. A year ago I still doubted the Broncos following a win in Washington D.C. over the nearby Virginia Tech Hokies. Then I said that it is much easier to prepare for a team when they have months to do so. They were in the same scenario again this year playing in Atlanta against the home Georgia Bulldogs. Boise stepped up to the challenge this year and proved they could play with the big boys. Give BSU credit, they haven't shied away from taking on a challenge of playing a BCS team on the road.

However Mark Richt may be facing his last year "between the hedges." The Bulldog faithful are becoming impatient with the recent status of the Georgia program. A BCS bowl game appearance or SEC championship may be the only way Richt can save his job. He cannot afford anything less than 9-3.

This week many eyes will be on Ann Arbor for the first night game in Michigan Stadium history. First year head coach of the Wolverines, Brady Hoke would've preferred to get some more plays in before weather halted their game with Western Michigan. Will Michigan be prepared to take on Notre Dame?

And can we put an end to the experimental uniforms given to teams? Those that look cool are fewer than those that are over the top. See Maryland.

Night Out on the Town

Sports Column, Denver, Colorado
What has been a popular spot in Iowa City is now also the place to be in Denver, Colorado. The Sports Column has evolved its Iowa City location over the years. It started out as a small "hole-in-the-wall" bar on Dubuque St., but took over a cleaners and grew into one of the largest bar/restaurants in the downtown area.

In Iowa City the nicknames the college students refer to it have changed from one generation to another. I'm assuming upon its opening many referred to it by name. But then in the 80s and early 90s everyone knew it by "The Column." But those who have been attending Iowa the last ten plus years now refer to it as "SpoCo."

In the mid-90s the Sports Column expanded outside of their Iowa City location. Prior to the building of Coors Field in Denver, the Sports Column moved in down the street. It is now the most popular post-game place for Rockies fans, and the place to watch college football, especially Iowa Hawkeye football in the Mile High City.

Both locations are very similar. The inside is reminiscent of each other, and the menu also offers some of the Iowa City favorites, with names that would make anyone from the Hawkeye State recognize. But the one difference is the addition of a roof-top beer garden. And with the lack of humidity, it is a very popular spot in the warmer months.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Iowa Opens 2011 Season in Downpour

The 2011 season opened with a bang and a strike, or thunder and lightning which caused a delay in the Iowa football game with Tennessee Tech. A sell out crowd weathered the hardest rain to hit Kinnick Stadium on game day in the Kirk Ferentz era until lightning caused an hour thirty one minute delay at the 3:37 mark in the 3rd quarter.

Big plays highlighted the day on both offense and defense. But as the rain continued to fall on the Kinnick Stadium surface, the ball became harder to control. And according to the Iowa radio broadcast with Gary Dolphin and Ed Podolak, it was reported the Golden Eagles only brought six football with them on the road trip.
But as eager as the Hawkeye faithful were to start the season, many were ready to call it a day when the storms caused a delay. Fans headed for on-campus buildings or cars to wait out the delay, or decided to stand in line for the Hawkeye express and head home.

At 1-0, the Hawkeyes travel to Ames in one week to take on the Iowa State Cyclones.