Sunday, November 11, 2012

Honoring Veterans at Kinnick Stadium

Veteran's Day fell on the weekend of a home Hawkeye Saturday. Those who served in the military were honored prior to kick off and a flag was unfurled from goal line to goal line during the national anthem. Iowa wore special uniforms and a great tribute to our Veterans was the highlight of the day.
 Instead of the numerous black and gold flags around the stadium, U.S. Flags were hoisted on Friday for the next day's game.
 And for many who remember a trademark of the Iowa Marching Band, the Stars and Stripes Forever was preformed at halftime.
Former Chicago Cubs announcer, Josh Lewin called the game on BTN. He was joined by Chris Martin.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weather Delay in Bloomington

The first weekend in November brought a mix of weather. In Big Ten country the leaves on the trees begin to turn colors in early October and by the end of the month it is a roll of the dice with what may remain. One of the more southern schools in the conference is Indiana and we encountered two different weather scenes on our two-day visit to the Hoosier State.

On Friday the weather couldn't have been better for this time of the year. Temperatures were in the 50s with the sun warming us up. And in this basketball town celebrating Parent's Weekend, the focus had already been switching to roundball and the football team's possible chance at the Big Ten title game was a distant thought. As students enjoyed one of the last fall Friday afternoons where they could enjoy themselves outside, an opposing football coach could walk the campus without being bothered by any of the student body. Coach Ferentz, who enjoys his coffee could be seen walking along the streets, talking on his phone and not being bothered.
 It is a rarity that a football team can stay so close to campus. And over the years of coming to Bloomington, typically a resort miles to the south would house the team, but its only attraction was Lake Monroe and the bears that we had been warned to stay away from. On game day the drive was similar to that the team encounters coming down from Iowa City, but at this remote resort, there would be no distractions. But the resort had closed and a hotel close to campus became the next option, or a move to Indianapolis.
 And as nice as the weather was on Friday, storms came into the area on Saturday causing a Severe Weather delay, starting the game over an hour late. Lightning could be seen to the south and hail was in the area. Bowls of chili were consumed in the press area waiting for the on-field warmups to begin.
 And what looks to be more the norm than the exception are fireworks bringing teams to the field. Indiana is the third straight school to perform the act....
...and the smoke from the fireworks wafted over Memorial Stadium as the Iowa team entered, and close to kick off of the game.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Another trip to Chicago

Northwestern has a small enrollment, but has some of the bigger named graduates. Since the Wildcats have improved their play on the field many of their alumni are fully backing the team. A week ago ESPN talent, and Washington Post writer Michael Wilbon was the honorary captain for the 'Cats as they took on Nebraska. Despite the loss, Wilbon rejoined the team for the Homecoming game with Iowa. He spent a great deal of time on ESPN during the third quarter but joined the Best Video Staff in the Big Ten, if not the Nation for a photo opportunity. Wilbon was very generous with his time and was very courteous in taking the picture. Definitely a proud alum who is as nice in person as he appears on television.
 On the banks of Lake Michigan, Ryan Field provided a very scenic backdrop to a beautiful day on Chicago's North Side. The last trip to Evanston for the Hawkeyes was dreary and rainy, but not in 2012.
Our seat on the 50 yard line provided great views on the field as well as the fall scenery.

A Night Game in Kinnick Stadium

Nights of football in Kinnick Stadium aren't a common occurrence. In 1992 the first one of its kind took place when the Miami Hurricane came to town. But games under the lights have become a more regular happening since the Big Ten Network was created in 2006. No more than one night game a year in Iowa City and it usually is a special event. In Kinnick this year it took on additional meaning with the inaugural member of the "ANF" class, Casey Wiegman was inducted. During the farm crisis of the 1980s, then Iowa head coach, Hayden Fry wanted to bring to light the plight of the farmers to the national audience and placed black and gold stickers on the helmet letting everyone know, "America Needs Farmers." Below, Weigman is honored before the game being the son of a farmer, played for Coach Fry and from small town Parkersburg, Iowa.

 Another future inductee served as honorary captain for the night. Robert Gallery, another farmer's son was introduced prior to kick off. He spoke to the team earlier in the day at the team hotel.

In Iowa City for the game were the Insight Bowl hosts for the Hawkeyes while in Arizona the past two years. Steve Leach, Bob Whitehouse and Jeff Smith were also honored before the game and spent time watching from the best seat in college football.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Victory over Michigan State

After an off-week in the season, the Iowa Football team found a way to get to 2-0 in the Legends Division of the Big Ten and be in the driver's seat for the birth in the Big Ten Championship Game. It was a raw, cold, damp day in East Lansing as the Michigan State crowd was little factor in this Big Ten match-up. The stadium was never full, and by the middle of the fourth quarter empty seats were more prevalent than those occupied. But the black and gold clad sitting in the NE corner didn't leave and saw a double OT victory.
 The Michigan State Video Crew has always been one of the crews we enjoy working with in the conference. Matt Harper and Tom Shepherd have always provided good laughs and memories from many game days. In the video world this was a minor monumental day. Each of use XOS Digital's Thunder platform, always found on PC's, but this year a few have tried using it on the Mac platform for increased speed and performance. This is the first game both schools used Macs to get the game edited for coaches to use following the game.
 Around the hotel on Friday night was Hawkeye Legend Rob Houghtlin. He currently lives in Eastern Michigan and drove over to spend some time with his alma mater.
 However the Michigan State Video Staff has been a bit of a thorn to the side of mine and the Iowa Staff. The last two years our fantasy baseball championship has come down to a matchup of me against one of the two. And each year I have been the runner-up to the championship. My frustration was taken out with a bat to Shep's camera.
A highlight for members of the video crew was meeting ESPN's sideline reporter, Jenn Brown. Here Shane Adams and Jeff Nielsen get their picture taken with her.

Night Out on the Town

Every town has that one establishment where all the older men get together, away from the job and home, where the stories are told and then get exaggerated. In East Lansing, that one place would be Arts - the old hangout for the Michigan State Football coaching staff.

Back in 2009 Tom Shepherd, the Video Coordinator for the Spartan Football team took us to where Perles and Parker would hold court after work. It wasn't a fancy place, but one that would be comfortable to older men - smoky, dark and hidden - away from the crowd of the locals.
The beers are about as large as some of the stories that were told, and the pizza as deep as the lies. But this is where the good times were held by the staff.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

An Off Weekend

Watching ESPN College Game Day I was quick to find out the college game of the day involved the Bulldogs. However it was the Georgia Bulldogs as they defended their #5 ranking on the road at South Carolina, ranked 6th. But another game of the day involved a different Bulldog team. The Drake Bulldogs were taking on the University of San Diego Torerors - a rematch of the defending co-champs of the Pioneer League. Each of these teams came into the contest undefeated in Pioneer League competition, with the winner having a big leg up on the conference crown.
Drake's home game has coincided with our off weekend the last two seasons. Growing up attending Drake football game when the Hawkeyes were on the road, this has become my chance to take my son to their games. A year ago my son and I saw them play Campbell, but this year's matchup had more intriguing story lines going in. The 2011 game had Spike the mascot, this year the real Spike roamed the sideline.
Drake's football coach, Chris Creighton has been in Des Moines for six seasons and his contributions have been greatly felt. Not only have the Bulldogs won or tied for conference titles in many of those years, he has led the team to international play in the summer of 2011 when the travelled to African and play in the Kilamanjaro Bowl. That was part of a two week trip that went beyond a football game. There the Bulldogs team volunteered their time for many projects around the area.
There was much hype leading into the game, but the final score was a letdown. Drake was victorious 38-10 and took advantage of many USD turnovers. The win puts Drake in the driver's seat for the conference crown.
It was Homecoming weekend on the Drake campus. And for the first time was a marching band reunion. Many former band members came back and celebrated the legacy of former marching band director, Don Marcoullier. He led the band and made it one of the elite marching band outfits in the Midwest. Along with performances in front of the home Drake crowd, he would also take them to perform in front of many NFL crowds.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Night Out on the Town

As the baseball's regular season closes and the post-season begins it is important to highlight a favorite place of ours in Spring Training Heaven, Don and Charlie's in Scottsdale, Arizona.

A popular place for baseball fans and celebrities, Don and Charlie's is the center of the baseball restaurant world. Memorabilia line the walls from the plethora of signed baseballs, to photos of many major leaguers with Don and Charlie. And it isn't a picture on the wall at each individual table. The walls are simply their to hang the many  different photos, program covers and baseballs. It's a "Who's Who" of baseball and athletics as fans of the many other sports are known to stop by. On our recent Insight Bowl trip to the Valley of the Sun, a member of the traveling party happened to dine at a table adjacent to Milwaukee Brewer announcer, Bob Uecker.
The food is outstanding, too. The ribs are a specialty, but the sandwiches are great too. And as a parent, we appreciate the attention they give to the littlest of little leaguers as our son was treated to a great meal of chicken fingers, and walked out of the restaurant with a Don and Charlie's hat, a special treat of ownership.

I can tell this is the place to be while in Arizona for Spring Training. Nightly you could be seated next to one of many major leaguers, or a great of the past.

Life of a Video Guy

Walking down the hallway inside the Iowa Football Complex I was asked about the recent video exchange among Michigan State and Ohio State. I first heard of the scenario late Saturday night after receiving the newspaper link in a text from my friend, Matt Harper at Michigan State. He filled me in from both sides as he heard much from Mark Quisenberry at Ohio State earlier in the day. Mark called me the next day to make sure I had my facts straight as well as making sure I can continue to trust a guy who has been in the conference for over 10 years without anything like this on his resume.

The story of video being doctored was being accused of by a Michigan State coach to the Ohio State football program. Those who spoke on the matter were coaches of each team. But neither video guy had comment and we were led to believe the story coming from those who didn't have a direct effect on the trade video.
As recently as Monday, Washington State football coach, Mike Leach spoke of their video and how he doesn't "know which buttons to push." He went on to talk about how video has changed, but not in the ways many who share my profession would talk of today. We would discuss how video has evolved with quality through technology. But Leach discussed how the video used to have shots of girls in the stands at different points during the game. But he doesn't give credit where credit is due - to his video guy.

Video guys tend to like their position of being behind the camera, rather than being the focus of attention. Quisenberry and Harper weren't quoted in the article, but they would be the most knowledgeable to speak of the rules of exchange. They could say that the Big Ten Game Management Manual would tell you that all pre-snap shifts, trades and motions must be in the video. Each could also tell you that all teams in the Big Ten shoot their own video.  And each could tell you that we are the lone staff member of each program that needs to work with their opposing video coordinator throughout the year, and shoot next to them on game day. I can't think of any staff member that needs to maintain a professional manner in front of their opponent on game day.

We have our differences, and our ways to get the job done. But if we don't work with one another, neither of us can do our job.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vid Staff Reunion

Having many vid staffers come through in my twenty plus years with the Iowa Football program I'm not sure I could find four guys who became closer friends being part of the staff than the four pictured. Michael Witt, Kyle Yoder, Erick Tjarks and Derek Ambrose have all gone their separate ways since 2010, but all remain good friends to this day. Michael and Derek knew each other in college and shared their love for Iowa Football. Michael started out as a volunteer and earned a spot when one opened. At the same time, he recommended his friend Derek for a position. Kyle and Erick came from different Iowa small towns but were members of the staff in 2009.

Definitely one of the more cohesive and dependable groups I've had at Iowa, they continue to remain close friends. Often I see tweets and Facebook postings going from one to another. Kyle now lives and works in Atlanta. Erick has moved to a Chicago suburb. Michael graduated in May and lives in Iowa. Derek and his overall bibs continue to hang around Iowa City as he finishes up school with a December graduation. He also assists this year's video staff a couple of days a week.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Homecoming 2012

Tomorrow's Homecoming game against Minnesota is the 100th anniversary of the event on the University of Iowa campus. In 1991 the Homecoming Executive Council consisted of myself and my wife, Dana Engelbert. I was the Parade Coordinator and she was Director of PR. She is on the far right, I'm on the far left with the Homecoming Coordinator, Jennifer Reagan who worked with me in the video office, located third from right in the front.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Night Out on the Town

Maybe it is because I'm still reeling from Monday night's Green Bay loss to the Seahawks that I feel compelled to list a place in the shadows of Lambeau Field. Stadium View Bar and Grill seems to me to be the largest gathering spot outside of the parking lots for tailgating before Packer games.

There isn't anything fancy to the Stadium View - it is a bar with plenty of seating, bar food and cold beers. It pretty much sums it up as fans can hang out and watch any game on the many tv sets throughout the place, or focus solely on the Packers when they are on.

But when it comes to a place to party a Green Bay victory, these is totally Wisconsin. Beer, brats and the Green Bay Packers. Just a completely fun place to hang with friends, enjoy life and celebrate.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Night Out on the Town

Scottsdale is known more for it high class life of luxury. It is where some of the more wealthy people live on the east side of the Valley. Golf courses, tennis courts and some of the finer dining options are in Scottsdale. However there is one place along Scottsdale Blvd, located in a strip mall not far from Camelback Mountain, that has more motorcycles parked out front than maybe seen throughout the entire area. It is the Dirty Dogg Saloon which is a unique little hole in the wall bar among grocery and convenience stores. Once inside the bar it is a unique experience that many should visit at least once. The drinks are cold and people watching is always popular. After attending it once, you will have many stories to tell for quite some time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Notre Dame to ACC

Few are surprised Notre Dame decided to leave the Big East for another conference. The Big East is very unstable and is spreading beyond the East Coast by adding San Diego State. It doesn't make much sense and the one time prestige of playing Connecticut, Syracuse and Pitt for the Big East title is no longer there. Pitt and Syracuse have also declared their decision to leave for the ACC and Notre Dame follow suit nearly one year later.

Many thought it made much sense for the Irish to join the Big Ten. It already plays B1G teams in football on a yearly basis. It is in the center of Big Ten country making travel for Olympic Sports easier. But the Big Ten didn't offer Notre Dame for all sports other than football and hockey like the ACC did. But is it a bad idea the Big Ten is left out. I say no.
Travel will continue to be difficult and expensive for the Olympic sports. Imagine the road trips to Miami (Fla) and Syracuse - much longer than bus trips to East Lansing and Ann Arbor. Men's and women's basketball will enter perhaps the best conference for competition, but will it make it more difficult to gain the necessary wins for entrance in to the dance?

Was it wrong for the Big Ten to not offer Notre Dame inclusion for all sports but football? I say no. I don't see what the B1G has to gain. There is no sport that makes the Big Ten instantly better. Football may add some credibility to the Irish program, but it wouldn't make the conference any better. The only reason Notre Dame should've entered the Big Ten is "it makes sense." 

The ACC is a definite improvement for Notre Dame from where it came from, but the road will become much tougher with trips to North Carolina, Maryland as well as the stretch of teams from Miami to Syracuse.

Night Out on the Town

When dining out in Wisconsin a few things are true. The dining establishment will have good beer and it will most likely have great food. I've never met a Wisconsinite who didn't have a beer in their hand or enjoy a good meal. And little local places are easy to find the good bear and pub food. In Mt Horeb, Wisconsin the Grumpy Troll is one of those little local places.

Mt Horeb is located off Highway 151 about 30 minutes outside of Madison. This downtown spot is worth getting off the four lane highway for. The day we stopped was a Friday afternoon and sports were on the screens in the front part of the bar. The larger back area, more akin to a restaurant was closed off. But upon entering it was obvious what the Grumpy Troll was all about - beer. They have their own local brews like many towns and restaurants in Wisconsin. The one shown below is the Captain Fred. Very light and refreshing - what I prefer over many of the other flavors.
The menu consists of typical bar foods found in the Dairy State. My choice was the Bratwurst. No different than any other place in Wisconsin - good and fresh. My wife had the burger which didn't disappoint her. Of course we had to share an order of cheese curds, too. It also consists of a pizzeria, but we didn't take the time to try it out.

It is unfortunate the Hawkeyes don't consistently make the trip up 151 as this would be a great spot for the black and gold fans to stop either on the way to, or on the way home, or both.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Saturday's Pictures

A rare home opener with Iowa State and it was a beautiful day in Iowa City. A full Kinnick Stadium watched the 9-6 game while another 30,000 fans continued to party outside in the tailgating lots.

There were many exciting plays in one the more forgettable games in the series. Iowa State had three turnovers in the red zone and the Hawkeyes were unable to find the end zone for the first time in many years at Kinnick Stadium.
The game played to a national audience on the Big Ten Network. Broadcasting newcomer, and former Hawkeye All-American, Chuck Long was on the broadcasting crew with former Wildcat Chris Martin and play-by-play man Kevin Kugler
 And the Cyclone network settled into their 35 yd line seat anchored by John Walters
It wasn't the flyover many remember from the 2010 season. That year the fighter jets skimmed the top of Kinnick Stadium giving fans a memory that will last for a long time. This year the two fighter pilots were a little concerned about that '10 flyover that they flew a little higher than normal to Iowa City.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Night Out on the Town

Participating in four Alamo Bowls it seems that I would know most of the places to eat along the Riverwalk in San Antonio. It is one of the best bowl cities as fans rarely need a car to get anywhere. Most of the tourist spots are near the Alamo Historical Site, and this is also the same area as many hotels are restaurants. The Alamo Dome is within walking distance of this famed area. This is why San Antonio is such a great bowl city - fans of both teams mingle among themselves and it is also where the tailgating starts before fans make the walk down the road.

But if the fans don't come up from the lower Riverwalk area to higher street level they may miss a great steak dining experience. Bohanan's is more than a block or two from the main drag, but located in the theatre district of town. It is proclaimed as the second best steakhouse in Texas - which carries a great weight in such a large state - but I can't imagine how #1 could top it.
I haven't experienced many steak houses, but have visited enough to know how good Bohanan's is. At street level is the bar with a large sitting area away from the massive bar. Definitely a place for a few before and after dinner drinks. This is where the dining area starts and ends. The restaurant host greets you letting you know when your table is ready, and then escorts you up the elevator to where the massive dining room is.

It has southern hospitality written all over it. It is warm and inviting, as if you are walking into your grandparent's dining room, but the architecture is large and grand like the state you are in. The portions of food are big, as one would expect in Texas. Throughout the night I had the opportunity to experience a little bit of everything - shellfish, steak and the various fresh vegetables. It was hard for one to stand out over the other.

The staff was also great. It was an education with the different cuts of meat as well as the different well drinks that were poured. Not knowing the best wines, our waiter's recommendation matched the meal well, and was enjoyed by those who were at the table. Possibly one of the better restaurants that I, or any of my fellow video guys had ever dined at.

It is unfortunate the Big Ten is no longer affiliated with the Alamo Bowl. Aside from being in a great city, the bowl had always treated us well. But now many of my fellow co-workers and friends will not be able to share the experience that I would not soon forget.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Soldier Field Kick Off

Saturday the Iowa Hawkeyes began their season on the road in Chicago. And while it was a road game hosted by Northern Illinois, nearly 40,000 of the announced 52,000 crowd wore black and gold. And those Iowa fans could never feel at ease with this team as the Hawks came back to take the lead late in the 4th quarter and take their first win of the 2012 campaign.

Chicago is a popular destination for Hawkeye fans. The day before the opener many Iowa fans ascended upon Wrigley Field to watch their favorite baseball team, the Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants. Iowa basketball coach, Fran McCaffrey threw out the first pitch while former Hawkeye and Bull standout, Bobby Hanson sang the 7th inning stretch.
Hawkeyes settle into Soldier Field
But while many wearing black and gold could be found around Wrigley Field on Friday, the Hawkeye equipment and video staff spent the morning moving into their comfortable comforts of home. Owned by TanTara Truck Lines and Mike Riggan, son Jeff drove the Hawkeye Semi through the streets of Chicago to Soldier Field

 And it was the three on the right who set up the stadium and hotel for this game trip. Two of them left a day earlier in order to have everything set up. Equipment needed to be unloaded and then the projectors and screens had to be set up in the rooms at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place for pre-game meetings. The third arrived with the rest of the staff and team on Friday with computers for the team's review session.

 While Soldier Field sounds like a great place to hold a game like this, it is the worst place to shoot video from. The sideline booth is by far the lowest in the NFL and many college campuses. The accomodations within the boost may be the best with ample room for shooting, editing as well as a private bathroom.
 The Hawks come out to a crowd more typical of Iowa City than a home game for the Huskies from nearby Dekalb. But Hawkeye fans travel well and support their team.
 Then the night before was a video reunion at Harry Caray's. Two from Ft Dodge joined two from New Sharon and one from Gilbert at Harry Caray's.
This scoreboard was seen by few, but the larger replay boards were blocked by the upper deck. This and monitors were available to those of us on the Media Deck. This level was reserved for coaches, radio and television.