Saturday, April 28, 2012

2012 Video Staff Golf Outing

Winning team: Rahfeldt, Bergdale, Kedley, Hayes
It was a cold, raw, damp Saturday morning, and it seemed more like the morning of an Iowa-Michigan football game in Ann Arbor, but it was the annual Iowa Video Staff Golf Outing, Picnic and Awards Banquet. Twenty participants took to the links, and this weather-shortened 9 hole event took place for the first time at the beginning of Video Appreciation Week (self proclaimed - week following Secretaries Week). As in the past, the event took place at Brown Deer Golf Course in Coralville and wet conditions, as well as frigid temperatures forced the golfers into the clubhouse earlier than expected.

Tie for first: Ambrose, Tjarks, Ehret, and Schamberger
This edition of the outing featured the most video alums. One came in from the Chicago Suburbs, another from the capital city of Des Moines, and one from local New Sharon. It also featured many graduating video staff members as this is the wrap up to a productive, but fun year. Today also gave the new staff members a chance to bond with those who shared their responsibilities in the past.
3rd place: Duncan, Engelbert, Sampson, Nielsen
And as well as video staff members playing in the outing, it is also an opportunity to give those who assist the program a chance to have fun with the crew. Lindsay Bergdale of RTL Equipment joined a foursome, as well some of his employees. It is Bergdale who provides the lifts the video crew uses to shoot practices. Along with Bergdale and his staff are some UI staffers, as well as friends and groupies of the programs.
4th place: Witte, Woody, Dils and Doehrman
Score is kept and a 18 question quiz is provided. Customary scoring is used, but each foursome is responsible for answering as many questions as possible. The number of questions correct is subtracted from the total golf score. Questions are grouped in the following: 6 - Iowa Football Trivia, 6 - Big Ten Trivia, and 6 - Iowa Video trivia. Scores are in question as the above group "called a friend" for numerous questions. Rules did not allow this, but the practice was not approved of by many.
5th place: Shoutz, Witt, Pirkl (not pictured)
A tie was had in the golf competition. The group of Rahfeldt, Bergdale, Kedley, and Hayes finished in a tie for -1 with Ambrose, Tjarks, Ehret, and Schamberger, but the winners were determined by the number of correct trivia questions. That nod went to the team led by Rahfeldt.

Friday, April 20, 2012

NFL Schedule

If you've been watching ESPN this week it has been obvious the NFL schedule for 2012 has been released.  It devoted a three-hour special to the release and then followed it up the next day by having their experts discuss it inside and out on a number of their shows. And these experts gave their take as to which games to look out for and ones they are looking forward to.

When the schedule gets released there are a few things I look for as a Packers fan. The first thing is when are they on prime time, then I look for any other special dates (eg. Thanksgiving) and then when they face the Chicago Bears.

The NFL has many great rivalries, but it reserves its highest respect for that of the Bears and Packers. It is the oldest and with many great players in its history that has become synonymous with the NFL. Starr, Butkus, Nitchke, Payton, McGee is a short list of players from both teams, but when mentioned aloud it is the history of the league. Green Bay is in the smallest market of the NFL while the Bears reside in the third largest market. The cities are separated by only a few hours and the fan bases overlap.

And the NFL shows it respect for this rivalry by the scheduling of the games every year. In 2011 the two teams met in the only game on Christmas Day. It has fallen on the opening weekend in the league's marquee prime time slot, it has been played on the final weekend in that same television window. And this year the NFL kicks off its newest tv package with a Thursday night meeting of the two teams on the NFL Network. This marks a new page in the history of television, and what better way to begin it than with the NFL's best rivalry.

The NFL can never go wrong by putting these two teams against each other, and they know it will be a ratings hit with the inception of the new NFL Network Thursday night package.

The Bubble is Down

In 33 minutes, a facility which gave the Hawkeye Football team shelter from inclement weather for 27 years, came down for good opening up a new view for fans on game day.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bubble

Friday marks the end of an era in Iowa Athletics. The Indoor Practice Facility, or otherwise known as "The Bubble" will be inflated for the last time. A facility that was imperative for Coach Fry to maintain a successful football program was built in the last 1980s will finally come down and used no more.

This won't be the first time the inflatable structure has come down, but the first time it was done on purpose. The first time the bubble was deflated was the first weekend in December of 1990 when more snow accumulated on top than what the heaters could keep up with. The result was a Big Ten Champion Football team departing for Los Angeles to practice off site for over two weeks in preparation for the upcoming Rose Bowl

The facility fell one other time and that was June 29, 1998, two days after my wife and I got married. She and I were sitting on a runway in Chicago ready to begin our honeymoon out of the country. Our flight was delayed due to a wind storm approaching O'Hare airport, the same storm that sent the bubble down for the second time.
 The Bubble was unique. At the time it was built it was one of the few indoor facilities in college athletics that was a regulation football field. The roof, at times wasn't high enough to punt, but when practicing the punt teams, players ignored if the ball hit the top or not as they played through to the end of the returner's run.

The Bubble wasn't only used for football as all athletic teams had access to it. Batting cages would be built following the football team's last practice before departing for the bowl trip. Baseball and softball traded off depending on class schedules of each team. Golf, track as well as intramurals also split time with the sporting teams. It was the sight for marching band practice during December preparation for the upcoming bowl game. Little kid soccer tournaments, softball clinics and birthday parties all occurred in the facility at least once a year in its time.
But the bubble is showing its age. Cables are beginning to rip, the surface has dirtied and the lights have been hit by a punt one too many times. The sight of it definitely worsens, but it was a welcome sight during December with a foot of snow on the ground.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Las Vegas once again played host again to their largest convention of the year. National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is a near-week long experience attracting over 100,000 from around the world.

Vendors as familiar as Sony, Panasonic, and Avid sit side by side with some of the smaller, but useful companies. But they are all there  looking to make themselves "The One." Three convention halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center are completely full with the different companies.

The event wraps up Thursday morning.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Iowa Spring Game

Approximately 10,000 fans showed up to Kinnick Stadium for the annual Iowa Football Spring Scrimmage. Typically the open practice marks the end to a 15 practice session, but that's not the case in 2012. The team ends their spring drills a week later, but fans were allowed to enjoy the 12th workout as the US Olympic Wrestling trials are in Carver Hawkeye Arena on the 21st. School officials were concerned about staffing and parking issues if these two events and a home baseball series as well as an annual track meet occurred on the same day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

BTN Chalk Talk

In the office today was a crew from the Big Ten Network (BTN). Gerry DiNardo sat down with new Iowa Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis. It is one of a series the network is offering this spring, and this installment is said to be shown during one of its football shows on Tuesday, April 17th.
Davis was no rookie in front of the cameras. And he was very comfortable with the one-time coach at Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana in DiNardo. The two sat down for over 30 minutes discussing football and the Iowa offense, without hesitation. Yes it was all down in one take.
A few different plays were selected by Davis - run and pass - and were both discussed while watching the video as well as Davis at the white board.
And while all of the 30+ minutes will not be shown on the network - it will be edited down to a 6-8 minute package while some other outtakes will make - a favorite moment of mine was the beginning where the two veteran coaches talked about how important video is to a coaching staff and how it is used as a great teaching tool.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fantasy Baseball

Another season of Major League Baseball means the start of the 3rd year of Video Guys Fantasy Baseball. This is made up of those who run the video operations for football teams around the country, and with one change since its inception, it has been the same guys since day 1. In 2010 the winner was David Blaker, who was at Wisconsin at the time. He beat Tom Shepherd (left) to win the Championship. Then in 2011, the Championship went to Tom's co-coordinator at Michigan State, Matt Harper (right). He defeated myself (middle).

Those who participate are from Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Pitt (Blaker's new school), Penn State, Arkansas, the San Francisco 49ers, and Iowa. The league is handled by CBS Sports and is played in the head to head format. This year divisions were set by the CBS site and placed the previous two winners along with myself in the same division. And Pat Foley, representing Penn State, was another play-off team in 2011 and has also been assigned to the same division. Definitely the toughest of the two.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Baseball Voices

Baseball is back, and it is a welcome sight...and sound. One reason I look forward to the Boys of Summer are the voices who call the action for the local teams. Since taking over in the middle 90s, Pat Hughes is one of the few broadcasters who Cub fans would sit and listen to read the phone book, and at times that would be more exciting than the play on the field. His signature call to bring fans to the ballpark - "The Chicago Cubs are on the Air" - is spoken with the same excitement and enthusiasm in game 1 as well as 161. And with a fan base for a franchise who has had a good share of fan-friendly announcers, Hughes fits in well with them.

Tonight, while enjoying a free preview of MLB Extra Innings, a package that airs all baseball games and the local broadcasters, I had to decide between a baseball legend of Vin Scully, who broadcasts the Los Angeles Dodgers and broadcasting legend Dick Enberg, the second-year voice of the San Diego Padres. Each have their own style, but Scully's has become unique as he is the broadcast, calling the game solo without hesitation. Enberg has his analyst, and solicits his baseball knowledge. Each have their own following due to their presence on the national stage, but now entertain the local markets on a daily basis.

There are many other announcers that I have listened to over the years. Growing up in Central Iowa I was fortunate to be able to listen to broadcasts of the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City  Royals and Minnesota Twins. Jack Buck and Mike Shannon were very entertaining working together, but Buck had a very distinctive way to broadcast a game with signiature calls. "Go Crazy," "We'll See You Tomorrow Night," were among the most recent, but Buck was the voice of baseball for the Cardinals. St. Louis fans moved on after his passing, and his partner Mike Shannon, carried on the torch.

Denny Matthews is the long-time voice of the Royals. Perhaps not quite as known on the national stage, Matthews has been with Kansas City since the team was born in 1969. He had a way to say George Brett, U.L. Washington, Steve Balboa, and Willie Wilson like no other. Almost as if they were brought together for a certain purpose. And in 1985 he called a World Series Champion. The Twins had Herb Carneol, and his voice would reverberate throughout the upper Midwest. In Milwaukee is Bob Uecker, and his wit combined with knowledge of baseball has made him very popular among Brewer fans.

I'm fortunate to know one of the voices of the Houston Astros, Brett Dolan, and look forward to his broadcasts when I can have the time on my MLB At Bat app. And there are others that I have enjoyed listening to, but the number of up and coming personalities is becoming fewer.

ESPN decided to go a different route a year ago by replacing a long-time voice of baseball, Jon Miller with Dan Schulman on its Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts. Miller had been with ESPN since it started broadcasting the game nearly 20 years ago. Miller was also the voice of the Giants, and Orioles before that. But Schulman had been doing his share of play by play, but ESPN decided to move him into the national spotlight. Schulman is a broadcaster, but not what I would call a baseball "voice."

Miller was given the opportunity to take the Sunday Night responsibilities on ESPN Radio, but declined. The network gave the job to Jon Sciambi. He had experience with the Atlanta Braves, but better known for his time on ESPN. Again the network decided to promote one of their own.

I don't find what people see in Len Kasper (Chicago Cubs) and some of the other younger broadcasters. Their not baseball voices, but capable broadcasters. Having the MLB At Bat app allows me to listen to the Scully's, Millers and Ueckers, and it is important that I also have that app near my son whenever, so he can appreciate the sound of the game of baseball.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opening Day

Forget that there have already been two games played outside the United States. And forget that made for ESPN game so they could declare that they have the opening night game. Opening Day in Major League Baseball begins April 5 in many cities across the country.
But as the season begins, MLB hasn't hesitated to stumble out of the box. No reason the season had to begin in Japan. And to make the defending World Champs play a one-game series in Miami wouldn't be what I would call "in the best interest of baseball."
I don't want to compare leagues, but this is one area the National Football League has succeeded in. They begin their season with the defending champs playing at home, not on the road to play second fiddle to a team opening a new ballpark.
 But with the start of the season, hope springs eternal. The Chicago Cubs begin anew with a front office that is completely different than a year ago. The owner is the only familiar face at 1060 W. Addison. The team president, general manager and manager are all new. Fans will know some of the players, but it some new names will be found at different corners of the infield. It is the beginning of a different philosophy on Chicago's North Side. It has been 104 years since a championship has been awarded to the Cubs, and I don't see it happening this year, but a new way of thinking will endear this lovable loser team to their die-hard fan base.
This year's All-Star game will be played in Kansas City. Play there by the Royals will be better, but a play-off spot is still not on this team's radar. They are one of the unlucky ones to be in the same division with the Detroit Tigers, a franchise with some of the better players in the American League. So that brings me to my predictions:
Division Winners
  • American League East - New York Yankees
  • American League Central - Detroit Tigers
  • American League West - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • National League East - Philadelphia Phillies
  • National League Central - Cincinnati Reds
  • National League West - San Francisco Giants
  • AL Wild Card - Texas Rangers & Tampa Bay Rays
  • NL Wild Card - Miami Marlins & Milwaukee Brewers
Since the Kentucky Wildcats won the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship, and every time they win, the Yankees also win the World Series, I'll take New York to defeat the Phillies in six games, with the majority of the games played in the NL park.