Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bo Pelini Is Gone, and I Won't Miss Him


I'm not surprised at all that Nebraska fired Bo Pelini as its football coach today.
Bo Pelini

The only thing I'm wondering is why it didn't happen sooner.

Like at about this time last year after Iowa beat Pelini's Cornhuskers in Lincoln.

That was when Pelini all but dared his bosses to can him.

Instead, the immature, abrasive coach was fired two days after Nebraska defeated the Hawkeyes, 37-34, in overtime in the 2014 regular-season finale at Iowa City.

Pelini had a habit of winning nine games every season at Nebraska, but they never were the right nine for a university whose leaders still think this is the 20th century and the Huskers should be seizing conference and national championships like they did when Bob Devaney and  Tom Osborne were the coaches.

I guess I'm a bit puzzled why Nebraska hasn't done better in the not-so-difficult Big Ten West, but maybe the Huskers should face reality and realize they're in the same boat these days as a number of other teams.

No longer is Nebraska the feared football program it was in the Devaney/Osborne years.

Nebraska is more like Iowa and Minnesota than like Alabama and Ohio State. 

 Barney Cotton
So now Barney Cotton becomes the Huskers' interim coach and the man who will draw the X's and O's for the team's bowl game. 

It seems like only yesterday that Cotton was (a) an Iowa State assistant coach and (b) a volunteer assistant at Ames High School. 

And, oh, by the way, I'm not worried about Pelini finding another head coaching job. 

There are lots of universities [some not very far up or down the road] that could get interested in a football coach who can pretty much guarantee nine victories and a bowl game  every season.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bob Dyer, Basketball Games, Wrestling Tournaments, Hot Dogs, Popcorn and the Vietnam War


I haven't touched base with you for quite some time, but I sure enjoy reading your site.  Thank you for sending along news of the passing of some notable people, including Bob Dyer.

I had to weigh-in on Dyer.  Back in 1978, when I was the ISU correspondent for The Des Moines Register, I had the opportunity to work for people like Raffensperger, White, Turnbull, Maly, etc.  You can certainly add Dyer to that list.

One time he came up to Ames to cover an Iowa State basketball game.  After we packed everthing up, we headed to Campustown and he told me some very interesting stories.  I think we were talking about the pressure of covering athletics and he said it did not compare to his time in the Vietnam War.  He told me about a serviceman who had thrown himself on a grenade, I believe.  So, sports coverage sure didn't seem so daunting.

Another time, at a wrestling tourney in Hilton Coliseum, I believe his lunch consisted of hot dogs and popcorn.  He made a remark about the kind of stuff he put into his body as a sports writer.  He also really knew wrestling.  Covering the Iowa State wrestling team was a real eye-opener and tremendous training. 

When he left The Register to go into the financial business, I remember Maury White penned a nice farewell, wishing him "good luck, huckster."

But, of course, Dyer had to come back to the sometimes strange Des Moines sports talk radio wars.

I draw on those experiences back in the student days many times.  They supply what I think is a lot of valuable information for the young people I can help instruct today. 

My students are getting ready to broadcast and cover a women's holiday basketball tourney up the road.  But I just wanted to take a little time and look back at what I considered the heyday of sports journalism at The Register.

Mike Swan
Students Sports Media Adviser
Butler Community College
El Dorado, Kan.
ISU '79, '98

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--Great hearing from you, Mike. Thanks for your thoughts on the late Bob Dyer. I, too, remember lots of hot-dogs-and-popcorn meals at sports events. It's a good thing people with  expertise in proper food consumption didn't take notes on what sportswriters included in their diets in those days. Probably these days, too.  Keep up the outstanding work at Butler Community College.]

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Al Schallau's Recipes for Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie and Sugar Free Maple Pecan Pie Are Right Up My Alley for Thanksgiving. I Hope All Of You Have a Very Happy and Safe Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving isn't until tomorrow,
Thanksgiving, courtesy of Norman Rockwell
but Al Schallau is already making me hungry.

Al forwarded the following email to me that he sent to a member of his 1960 City High School of Iowa City class: 

I want to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to our City High Class of 1960 and all their families and extended families. 

Attached are my own special recipes for Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie, and Sugar Free Maple Pecan Pie.  Those pies are really excellent.  I never use any sugar in the pies and breads that I bake.  I use sugar free maple syrup instead. The pies and breads taste great.  

Yes, I have become a gourmet baker of pies and breads -- all of that inherited from my late mother. 

Best regards,  AL SCHALLAU



1 frozen pie crust from store's frozen food section
1 small can of pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie mix, just pumpkin)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of sugar free maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 heaping teaspoons of flour
1 & 1/2 cups milk (or evaporated milk) or combination of the two kinds of milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon sprinkled on just before baking

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

Mix the flour and the spices together in a bowl to prevent lumps.  Then mix all the ingredients in a big bowl. Pour the pumpkin mixture into an unbaked pie crust.  Sprinkle the one teaspoon of cinnamon on the pie batter just before baking. Put the pie mixture into the oven on the bottom shelf.  


1 frozen unbaked pie shell, 9 inch
3 eggs beaten
1 cup sugar-free maple syrup
3 tablespoons of melted margarine – pour into a cup and microwave for 50 seconds
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 to 5 ounces of pecan pieces or pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack at lowest position. In a bowl, pour in beaten eggs. Add maple syrup, melted margarine, and vanilla extract. Stir well until the whole mixture looks evenly mixed. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Then sprinkle in the pecans until they essentially cover the mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and the pie filling is set. After you remove the pie from the oven, put it in the refrigerator (not the freezer) for several hours before eating.

It tastes great with or without whipped cream on top. It is even better after it has been in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Note: I never use sugar in any of the pies or breads that I bake. I use sugar free maple syrup instead. Our pies and breads taste great. 
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven to 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Note -- My late mother's pumpkin pie recipe included one cup of sugar. I never include any sugar in the pies or breads that I bake. I always use sugar free maple syrup instead. The pies taste great. --- AL SCHALLAU 

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--Those pies are right up my alley, whether it's Thanksgiving or not. I thanked Al for sending the recipes. I also asked him where I can find sugar free maple syrup [another thing that's right up my alley], and he said I can buy it at Hy-Vee or any other supermarket. That's good to know. I'll be buying it soon. Maybe even today. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone]. 

Thistles To the Paper. Again


It's business as usual at the Des Moines Register.  No story--not one word--in today's paper on Valley's 91-17 victory over North last
night in a girls' basketball game. Yet, people at the paper are begging non-subscribers to pay for a one-month subscription and they'll give 'em three months free. For what? Lousy coverage of the high school sports teams? If I recall right, the paper also stiffed Dowling when it steamrolled North, 77-7, in football a number of weeks ago. Not a word on that game either. The only good thing about the paper not having stories on Valley and Dowling runaway victories is that Randy Evans and the other knuckleheads in the Opinion department of the paper are less inclined to give the schools those stupid thistles [from the Roses & Thistles department] because of 70- and 80-point differences in the score. As I pointed out in an earlier column, only an idiot would give a thistle to a suburban high school team that wins by 70 or 80. You can't tell a second- or third-team player to not score a touchdown or a basket. They should give the thistles to the Des Moines schools because they're so non-competitive. By the way, Evans has had a thistle up his ass since giving Valley's football team a thistle after an 88-0 victory over some terrible team from Council Bluffs. A few others down there deserve thistles placed in very personal places, too.


While on the subject of the paper, I have a thing or two to mention about Daniel P. Finney and Roland H. Thompson,  his personal and very close friend. But I don't want anything like that cluttering up Thanksgiving, so I'll get into that subject on another day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

James Naismith, the Man Who Invented Basketball, Probably Knew There Could Be Nights Like This. Valley Girls' Coach Joe Sigrist Substituted Early and Often In a Mismatch Against North. But Even That Couldn't Hold Down the Score. The Tigers, Who Made It To the Class 5-A State Tournament Last Season, Led At the Half, 59-2, Then Went On To Win Their 2014-2015 Opener, 91-17


Coach Joe Sigrist has the makings of another outstanding girls' basketball team at Valley High School.  Sigrist's 2013-2014 squad had
enough firepower, defense and scrappiness to win 22 games and make it to the class 5-A state tournament. Whether this season's team reaches that level remains to be seen, but the Tigers opened their schedule by cruising past overmatched North, 91-17, tonight at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse on the Valley campus. Sigrist substituted early and often after his team opened a 29-2 lead after one quarter behind 6-foot senior guard Grace Vander Weide. Everyone on the Valley team [other than the student managers] played, including those who had participated in the preliminary game--a 53-5 victory by Valley's junior varsity over North's JV squad. Unfortunately for North's JV and varsity teams, there is no "mercy" rule in basketball as there is in high school football. In football, the clock runs continuously if a team has a lead of at least 35 points in the second half.  And no basketball fan in his or her right mind should expect a coach to tell his players to not shoot or rebound, regardless of the score. All a coach can do is substitute liberally in both halves, as Sigrist did.  If any team needed a mercy rule, it was North. Valley's halftime lead was 59-2. After three quarters, it was 68-6. Valley can look ahead to tougher competition as the season progresses. As for North, well, I hope there are better nights on the horizon.  At least no one could fault the Polar Bears' effort tonight. They did as well as they could against a far superior opponent.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Day and Night They Forgot About Basketball At Hilton Coliseum and Turned the Huge Arena On the Iowa State Campus At Ames Over To the High School Chorus, Band and Orchestra Performers Who Have Been Named the State's Best At the Iowa Music Association's All-State Festival Concert

The Iowa High School Music Association staged its 68th All-State Festival Concert at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, and what a rousing 2-hour performance it was--starting with America the Beautiful by the All-State Chorus and Band and finishing with Battle Hymn Of the Republic by the chorus and orchestra. Iowa Public television stations [channel 11 in central Iowa] across the state will show the performance at 7 o'clock on Thanksgiving evening and again at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30.

All-Staters from Valley High School in West Des Moines
Valley's Senior All-Staters

A Valley All-/State Singer and Her Proud Parents

No All-State Festival Concert Would Be Complete Without Proud Grandparents, Too

The All-State Festival Concert Was Just the Ticket At Hilton Coliseum in Ames

Friday, November 21, 2014

West Des Moines Football Continues To Show Off Its Muscle: It's the Ryan Boyle Extravaganza All Over Again As the Dowling Quarterback Runs for 3 Touchdowns and Passes for One In the Maroons' 49-14 Victory Over Previously-Unbeaten and No. 1-Ranked Cedar Rapids Washington In the High School Class 4-A State Championship Game At the UNI Dome


As was the case in a lot of other West Des Moines Dowling High School football games this season, the class 4-A state championship game turned into the Ryan Boyle Extravaganza. 

Boyle was brilliant, running for three touchdowns and passing for one in the Maroons' spectacular 49-14 victory over a Washington of Cedar Rapids team that came into the game with a 13-0 record and ranked No. 1. 

But the Warriors were no match for a Dowling juggernaut that rode the talents of Boyle to its second consecutive 4-A championship at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. 

Boyle ran for 146 yards as he guided Dowling to its 13th victory in 14 games this season.  He was named the player of the game.

The Maroons' only 2014 loss was to crosstown West Des Moines rival Valley, 24-21, on Sept. 19 at Valley Stadium. 

In that game, Boyle [who will play his collegiate football at Iowa] was clearly outplayed by Valley sophomore Rocky Lombardi. 

But Boyle and his teammates weren't to be stopped after that setback. 

They clobbered everything and everyone that got in their way. 

Washington's players, coaches and fans  were undoubtedly shellshocked by Dowling's offensive firepower, but it was business as usual for central Iowans who watched the Maroons win by such scores as 49-0 over Urbandale; 45-14 [regular season] and 41-28 [playoffs] over Waukee; 51-10 over Lewis Central; 52-3 over Sioux City East; 50-13 over Johnston; 70-21 over Des Moines Roosevelt; 77-7 over Des Moines North; 62-21 over Indianola; 59-24 over Ames [playoffs] and 48-14 over Ankeny [playoffs].  

I've never been a guy who subscribed to the theory that a loss was good for any team, but perhaps the defeat at Valley in September somehow benefited Dowling. 

I know it was the best high school football game I've ever seen, and I know it did wonderful things for the Valley program. 

Hopefully, it helped Dowling, too. 

Whatever the case, the Maroons' lopsided victory tonight further emphasized my belief that the best high school football in the state of Iowa is being played in the Central Iowa Metro League. 

More specifically, in the city of West Des Moines.

Bob Dyer & Dan Johnson


I'm trying to come to grips with the deaths in recent days of Bob Dyer and Dan Johnson, two former sportswriters at the Des Moines Register. 

Bob died last Saturday, Dan died Tuesday. 

My condolences to their families

My prayers and thoughts are with them.

I worked many years with both men. They were very talented writers, and they will be missed throughout the sports scene in this state. 

Bob Dyer was a stalwart in the newspaper's collegiate football and basketball coverage, and recruiting was one of his specialties. 

Dan Johnson covered women's athletics like no one before him or after him covered it. 

He also did outstanding work on the horse racing beat, both locally and nationally. 

Both Bob and Dan went onto other jobs after leaving the paper. 

Bob Dyer left the paper at a fairly young age to enter the profession of selling stocks and bonds, and later did an excellent job as a local sports-talk radio host. 

It was not Dan Johnson's idea to leave the Register. 

The paper has had numerous staff cutbacks--ordered by the Gannett Co.--in recent years, and Dan was the victim of one in 2011.  

Among others losing their jobs in that cutback were Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Schorer Meisner; standout photographer John Gaps III, and sports columnist Sean Keeler.  

In my opinion, telling Johnson he was losing his job was a cold-blooded move by people at Gannett and at the Register. 

Dan had informed his bosses and others in the newsroom that he was fighting a serious disease. 

Someone told me it was a blood disease that could not be cured.  

Even though his bosses were aware of his situation, Dan was laid off.  

No one saved his job.

Not the sports editor.  Not the editor of the paper. Not the publisher of the paper.


Like I wrote earlier, cold-blooded.

Bryce Miller, a former Register sports editor and now the general sports columnist, wrote about Johnson in today's paper. 

He wrote that the sports department was "working with heavy hearts this week" because of Johnson's death.

But Miller did not mention that it wasn't Johnson's idea to leave the Register. 

I believe Miller was the sports editor when Johnson and Keeler were laid off.  

I think I'm correct in writing that, when Johnson was told he would have no job at the Register, Andy Hamilton moved from the Iowa City Press Citizen to the Register. 

However, Hamilton didn't come to Des Moines to take over Johnson's women's basketball and horse racing responsibilities. 

He came here to help cover collegiate wrestling and high school sports. 

No one has ever taken over Johnson's responsibilities. 

The paper's coverage of women's collegiate basketball now does not come close to the way Johnson handled it.  

An example came this week when there was no advance story on the Drake-Iowa State women's game at Ames. 

That would never have happened had Johnson still been at the Register. 

He wrote advance stories for Drake, Iowa State, Iowa and Northern Iowa. 

He often would cover two games in one day--one at 1 p.m., another at 7 p.m. at arenas in different cities. 

Dan Johnson would drive to hell and gone to cover games and races. 

One other thing.  

There have been more changes at the Register lately. 

More layoffs, more resignations. 

Among the changes is that there is no longer a need for a general sports columnist. 

So Bryce Miller is quitting the paper. 

But he was still in the paper this morning. 

A friend of mine--another retiree from the Register's sports department--emailed me with this comment: 

"I thought Bryce Miller quit."  

My response to the retiree: "People have told me Miller's last day at the paper is supposed to be Nov.  21. That's today." 

We'll see.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm thinking I've seen this movie before. In the agonizing final few weeks of last season probably. Iowa's basketball team looked decent in the first half of tonight's game against 10th-ranked Texas, then the roof fell in. Well, it wasn't actually the roof of Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple that fell in. It was the Hawkeyes' offense and defense that collapsed Consequently, Texas advanced to tomorrow night's championship game of the 2K Classic with a 71-57 victory. Iowa [2-1] won't win many, if any, games this season with 29.6 percent shooting, and if it gets just two field goals in 15 attempts by starting guards Anthony Clemmons and Mike Gesell. The three guards who came off the bench--Trey Dickerson, Josh Oglesby and Peter Jok--didn't exactly burn the nets either. They combined for three baskets in 14 tries. Aaron White's 23 points led the Hawkeyes--14 of them coming on free throws. Jonathan Holmes scored 17 of his 19 points in the last half to lead Texas [3-0], which is mighty tall and mighty talented. But the Longhorns are beatable. Rick Barnes' teams are usually beatable. But the Hawkeyes simply weren't up to the task. Iowa dominated the first half and actually led, 30-24, at its conclusion. But Texas' coaches and players made the adjustments Iowa's didn't at intermission, and the Longhorns completely outplayed the Hawkeyes after a 43-43 tie. Texas scored the next 13 points and held Iowa without a field goal for more than 8 minutes to decide the game. Iowa's Gabriel Olaseni was ejected from the game after being called for a flagrant foul in the final minutes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

S&H Green Stamps & a Tennis Champion

Al Schallau tells me his sister, Anne Guerrant  [formerly Mona Schallau], was recently  inducted into the United States Tennis Association's  Southwest Tennis Hall of Fame.  She was introduced by her husband Terry Guerrant. It was my pleasure to write the story when she was named to the paper's Sports Hall of Fame. Here's a copy of the July 14, 1996 story [headlined: Schallau and tennis: a match point], with a  drawing of her by Mark Marturello:

Register Staff Writer

Don Klotz said he will never forget the day.

"We were having a tournament in Iowa City, and three little girls showed up for one of the divisions," the 90-year-old former Iowa tennis coach said.

"Two of the girls had been given lessons, and the third was this skinny kid named Mona Schallau.

"I thought, well, 'she doesn't know much about tennis.' I had never heard of her. So I sent her to a distant court to play a 10-game pro set with one of the other girls. Before I knew it, Mona was back.

"I asked, 'Who won?'

"Mona said, 'I did, 10-0.'

"So I sent her out to play a second match. She won that one, 10-0, too. By that time, I was wondering where she had come from."

Soon, it wasn't so much where she had come from, but where she was headed.

Today, at 47 years of age, she becomes the 148th member of the Des Moines Sunday Register's Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

Mona Schallau, once of Iowa City, is now Anne Guerrant, of Scottsdale, Ariz. She is married to Terry Guerrant, and they have a son, Danny, 14.

"Actually, my proper first name is Ramona, and Anne was my middle name," she said. "I've gone by Anne for about 10 years."

Starting with that first tournament in Iowa City, her tennis got steadily better. So good that it produced big-time victories, rankings, world travel and money.

In 1976, she was ranked No. 6 in the nation and No. 11 in the world. That year, she teamed with Ann Kiyomura of San Mateo, Calif., as the nation's No. 1 doubles team.

"My best year in professional earnings was 1976, when I made $103,000," Guerrant said.
"I made between $75,000 and $100,000 for four or five years."

It started with an 11-year-old Mona Schallau asking her mother, Elsie, for a tennis racket. Her mother obtained one using S & H Green Stamps.

"She decided she wanted to be a tennis player," Elsie said. "So I saved my Green Stamps to get her a racket."

The racket, Guerrant recalls, was one of those old-fashioned wooden types.

"It weighed 12 3/4 ounces, and the oversized graphite composite racket I use now weighs 10 ounces," she said. "Today's rackets are much more powerful."

She credits her brother, Don, for her early tennis knowledge.

"He played tennis with me and showed me how to keep score," Guerrant said.

But it was Klotz who had a big role in moving her up the ladder.

"She was part of our junior program in Iowa City," Klotz said. "She's a tremendous natural athlete, and she has great desire."

The desire to play tennis - and succeed - was evident when she was a junior at City High School.

There were no sports for girls, but that didn't stop the 5-foot 4-inch competitor from pursuing tennis.

"I went to the school board meetings by myself and sat for 1 1/2 hours to ask if they'd join the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union, so I could play in the state tournament," she said. "I ended up getting all the votes."

She won state titles as a junior and senior, and she said she would have played more girls' sports in high school had they been available.

"As a senior, we did get a team at City High, and 30 girls went out for it," she said.

She went on to play regional and national events and got a No. 20 junior ranking.

"No big deal," Guerrant said. "I was such a late bloomer."

Young tennis players from cold-weather states - especially those with professional aspirations - often are urged to head for places such as Florida, Arizona and California so they can play outdoors as often as possible.

Guerrant chose Florida. After graduating from City High School in 1967, she headed for Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.

"I was a pretty good player in those days," she said. "I made the semifinals of the national intercollegiate tournament and was picked to represent the United States in the World University Games in Turin, Italy, in 1970.

"I also was on a doubles team, with Margie Cooper of Florida, that was the runner-up at the national intercollegiate tournament."
When she graduated from Rollins, the Virginia Slims pro tour was just getting started. It was something that attracted Guerrant.

"I went to play the Australian circuit," she said. "I started with $5,000 and decided I would travel the world and play tennis."

Travel the world she did. Guerrant made it to such places as China, Russia, Japan, England, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and New Zealand in addition to Australia. She played in some of those nations many times.

"I played at Wimbledon six times," she said. "That was a dream come true. There's lots of energy in the air and huge crowds."

Guerrant said she won 15 professional doubles titles, including six with Kiyomura.

"We were playing against the best in the world," she said. "In singles, I won some smaller tournaments."

Guerrant teamed with such players as Billie Jean King and Rod Laver in World Team tennis competition in the 1970s, and she played on U.S. Wightman Cup teams in 1974, 1975 and 1976.

The money has gotten much better than when Guerrant was a pro. She said her achievements likely would be worth $600,000 to $700,000 a year now, but she said she doesn't regret playing when she did.

"The competition is much tougher now," she said. "I might not do as well."

Guerrant said she plays tennis mostly for fun these days, but still is good enough to win championships.

"I still weigh 115 pounds, but I'm not as fast as I used to be," she said. "I play United States Tennis Association age-group competition and won the national 45-and-over singles title in 1994. I earlier won the national 35-and-under title."

Guerrant describes herself as "a pretty solid all-around player. I like to go to the net. That's my strength."

Husband Terry continues to be amazed at her ability.

"I'm very proud of what she has done," he said. "I was a club player, and I used to think I was pretty good. Club players sometimes imagine they could be a little competitive with the pros, but they're dreaming.

"I've never beaten Anne, and never will."

Looking back, Elsie Schallau still is somewhat amazed at what her daughter has accomplished on tennis courts around the world.

"I never thought she'd become the great tennis player she is, and I don't think she did, either," Elsie said.

"But she has lots of determination. When she decides to do something, she does it."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Best Team[s] Money Can Buy


Lots of people have been raving about the newest National Basketball  Association team playing for the Lexington, Ky., franchise this season. The players are nicknamed the
Wildcats, and now I'm raving about them, too. They are the absolutely the best team money can buy. At least the best team coach John Calipari can buy. I'm kidding, of course, that there's an actual NBA franchise in Lexington. As far as I know, Calipari is still coaching a bunch of McDonald's all-Americans at Kentucky University that will be heavily favored to win the NCAA Final Four this season. But they'd probably win the NBA championship, too, if they were allowed to compete for it. On TV tonight, I marveled at how bad the Wildcats made Kansas, the pride of the Big 12 Conference look. The Wildcats won, 72-40, and the turning point was when Kentucky's players tied their shoes in the locker room. Kansas didn't have a chance. Actually, Kentucky isn't just one team. It's two teams. The Wildcats come at you in platoons. I'm not sure which platoon is the best.They're both pretty darn good.  Maybe  they should  play each other for the NCAA championship. It would be a heck of a game.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Well, it's a start anyway. It's not the Final Four, but at least it's the 2016 first- and second-round NCAA men's basketball tournament games that were awarded today to Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines. The city has had NCAA wrestling and NCAA women's basketball events in the past, but finally an NCAA men's event will be held at 16,000-seat Wells Fargo Arena. Iowa State is the "host' university, but that means the Cyclones can't play in the tournamenat. That's unlike what happens in preliminary rounds in the NCAA women's tournament. The host school gets games in the women's event so the tournament gets larger crowds. Iowa, Northern Iowa and Drake, however, would be able to play in the Des Moines men's tournament if they were chosen for the NCAA field The NCAA website today told it this way: "The 2016 tournament features two brand new hosts as Brooklyn and Des Moines join Providence, St. Louis, Raleigh, Oklahoma City, Denver and Spokane as first- and second-round sites. The East Regional will be played in Philadelphia, which will be hosting the tournament for the 28th time. The Midwest Regional will take place in Chicago, while the South Regional will be played in Louisville and the West Regional will be held in Anaheim. Houston will host the 2016 Final Four." I have covered NCAA first- and second-round games in such cities as Pullman, Wash., Salt Lake City,, Lincoln and Omaha, Neb., and Hartford,Conn. Not always were all of the seats filled in the arenas at those places. It's important for Des Moines to sell all of the seats so it can get a future tournament.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Home Is Where The Art Is


Valley High School  showed off its new $15 million, 1,136-seat Performing Arts Center this afternoon with a music-filled, student-performed gala grand opening.  

"Home Is Where The Art Is" was the theme of the 3-hour celebration.  

Music included the National Anthem; Fanfare: Lieto Godea Sedendo by
Gabrieli; Ode To Joy by Beethoven;  All the Hemispheres by Hafiz; Somewhere Over the Rainbow [dancing provided by Valley senior Alyson O'Hara and second-grader Scout Claussen], and Homeland sung  by West Des Moines students in grades 4-8 and Valley's acapella  choir, plus a postlude in the lobby by the Valley jazz orchestra. 

There were speeches by West Des Moines school officials, students and others, and the best thing about them was that they were short. 

If you couldn't make it to the event, or had to leave early, you missed the vast array of pastries, apple cider and coffee available to everyone present.  

Indeed, if you went home hungry or thirsty from this deal, it was your own fault. 

The Performing Arts Center is the windup to a $66 million three-phase construction project at Valley that began in 2011.

In my estimation, it was money well spent.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

National Anthem Was the Highlight Of This Game


There wasn't anything humorous about Drake's basketball game today at the Knapp
David Maxwell

After all, the Bulldogs--minus seniors Gary Ricks Jr., and Karl Madison, who have been suspended three games for doing things the NCAA doesn't like [detailed a few columns below this one]--were clobbered by Bowling Green, 77-58, in their regular-season opener. 

Nothing funny about that. 

But there was some stuff just before the game began that sounded funny [or at least unusual] to me. 

I was driving to Hy-Vee and had the KRNT coverage of the game on my car radio. 

Many stations that broadcast collegiate games cut away to do commercials when the pregame National Anthem is played or sung. 

Not so today. 

That was a good thing. 

Announcer Larry Cotlar said David Maxwell, Drake's president, would be playing the anthem on his electric guitar. 

I mean, that's unusual right there--a university president playing the Star Spangled Banner on his electric guitar. 

But there was a pause before the anthem began. 

"I guess [Maxwell] is having trouble getting his guitar plugged into the electricity or something," Cotlar said. 

Then Paul Doerrfeld, Cotlar's commentator, said, "I'll bet this delay isn't making the coaches happy.  I wish the band would just play the anthem." 

That didn't happen. 

Finally, Maxwell got his electric guitar working, and his playing of the Star Spangled Banner sounded great on the radio. 

Nothing good took place after that. 

Undermanned Drake didn't stand a chance in the basketball game in front of a matinee turnout of 3,362 fans. 

"We're a work in progress right now," coach Ray Giacoletti said.

I didn't watch much of Iowa's football game on TV today. It was while I was observing parts of the 30-14 victory over an Illinois team that's got to be one of the worst in America that I started thinking about how much I don't like it that the Big Ten is split into West and East divisions. I realize, of course, that the main reason for the divisions is so the West champion can play the East champion in December to give the league a fat payday and decide which team is the conference champ despite all those regular-season games. But I don't like it that Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan aren't on the Hawkeyes' schedule. I'm from the old school that says it's not an official Iowa schedule unless the Hawkeyes tee it up against Ohio State and Michigan just like in the days when Forest Evashevski was coaching against Woody Hayes, and Hayden Fry was coaching against Bo Schembechler. Games week after week against Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern, Maryland and Illinois don't exactly trip my trigger. I'm glad Iowa has already won seven games and will be going to a bowl, but I wish today's victory would have been over Michigan instead of those hapless Fighting [are we sure about that?] Illini. Heavens to Jim Delany, after that Illinois performance today, Red Grange must be rolling over in his grave

Friday, November 14, 2014

I predicted Dowling of West Des Moines and Washington of Cedar Rapids would win tonight's semifinal round football games in the class 4-A high school playoffs, and that's what happened. Dowling rolled to a 24-0 first-quarter lead and moved another step toward another championship with a 41-28 victory over Central Iowa Metro League rival Waukee at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. The Maroons, whose only loss has been to crosstown West Des Moines rival Valley, 24-21, improved their record to 12-1 behind another superb performance by quarterback Ryan Boyle. Waukee closed its season with an 11-2 record--both losses to Dowling. Unbeaten Washington of Cedar Rapids defeated previously-undefeated Bettendorf, 28-17, in the other semifinal round game. By the way, I picked Dowling to repeat as the 4-A champion, and nothing that happened tonight in Cedar Falls made me change my mind. Indeed, I think Dowling will win fairly easily in next Friday night's game, which starts at 7 o'clock in the UNI-Dome.

Drake basketball players Gary Ricks, Jr. and Karl Madison are suspended for the first three games due to receiving improper benefits not in compliance with NCAA bylaws. The two seniors will not play in the games Saturday, Nov. 18 and Nov. 22. "As soon as we learned of this situation that occurred during the 2012-13 season, we notified appropriate personnel and launched an internal review," said athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb. "We are, and will remain diligent in our adherence to all NCAA bylaws and to the education of our student-athletes, alumni, and donors in maintaining integrity and compliance with NCAA rules. Once advised of the situation, Gary and Karl worked diligently to resolve the issue and to come into full compliance with NCAA regulations."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Drake athletiic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb and coaches Ray Giaccoletti and Jenny Baranczyk gave an Internet columnist, two or three newspaper reporters, a couple of TV and radio broadcasters, assorted retirees and other interested people a guided tour today of the glittering Shivers Basketball Practice Facility on the university's campus. It was too bad the late Maury John couldn't have been there. He could have seen what $8 or $9 million can buy these days. Maury somehow coached his 1968-69 Drake team to a third-place finish in the NCAA Final Four at Louisville, Ky., followed by NCAA appearances in the next two seasons without having the benefit of a practice floor, a videotape room, fancy new locker rooms, a spacious coaches' room and a room for boosters to socialize before the games.

Internet columnist admires new practice court

Women's coach Jenny Baranczyk does a TV interview
There's also studying for the players to do

Athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb chats with men's coach Ray Giacoletti

Videotape room

Men's locker room

And you thought your football team had problems. Well, some of the stuff going on with collegiate football teams can't compare with what's happening with Indiana's basketball squad. The regular-season schedule hasn't even started yet, but Indiana now has three players who have been suspended for four games each. It's become a drug- and alcohol-infested program that coach Tom Crean is [supposed to be] in charge of at Indiana. If the drugs and alcohol weren't enough, how about this one: Sophomore Devin Davis suffered a serious head injury when a car driven by freshman teammate Emmitt Holt ran into him. Both players--one 18, one 19--had been consuming alcohol. "We're not doing a great job in leadership," Crean said. I'd say Crean had better look at himself in the mirror. He's supposed to be the Hoosiers' leader, but is showing that he's anything but a leader.

Tom Crean [pictured, courtesy of Google] is showing a serious lack of leadership as Indiana's basketball coach.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Saw More Than My Share Of Blowout Losses


There were some very interesting, humorous tweets during and after the blowout football defeats administered last
Saturday to Iowa and Iowa State by Minnesota and Kansas. 

Mike Mahon, who spent a quarter-century as Drake's sports information director, emailed me late that day to call my attention to a tweet from Chuck Offenburger, longtime author of the popular Iowa Boy column in the Des Moines Register.

Among the tweets: 

mike mahon @mahonsports
Look on the bright side. Safe to assume all sportswriters on #IowaHawkeye football beat got head start & got their leads written at halftime - 08 Nov
Chuck Offenburger @chuckoburger
@mahonsports I remember Ron Maly starting a blowout loss story: "Iowa's offense had the brilliance of a 15-watt light bulb Saturday as..."

I had forgotten about the opening paragraph I wrote following a Hawkeye avalanche defeat in the previous century.

I'm sure my comment about the "15-watt light bulb" disguised as a Hawkeye offense came during the 19-year period when Iowa didn't have a single winning season.

Those were the days, my friend.

My guess is that the Hawkeyes' coach then was either Frank Lauterbur or Bob Commings.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Fear Factor

Al Schallau is a native Iowan who now is an attorney in California. He has followed Hawkeye sports for many years, and he often contributes opinions and questions to these columns of mine.

His latest email to me:


"One if my big gripes about Iowa football is that the Iowa news media persons are so patronizing to Coach Kirk Ferentz at his Tuesday press conferences.  

"Is there ONE PERSON among the press-pass carrying Iowa journalists who has the guts to say, 

"'Coach Ferentz, your team stunk up the place in every phase of the game at Minneapolis on Saturday.  Why was your team so poorly prepared for that game?'

"I look forward to your response to my above question. 

"Best regards,  AL SCHALLAU" 

Here's the email I sent Schallau:

"Al, I share your frustrations. However, all or most of a dwindling number of people in the sportswriting business are fearful of losing their jobs. Journalism in 2014 is made up mostly of writers and editors who are scared to death. Halfway through this season, Iowa City Press Citizen sports columnist Pat Harty was laid off after being with the paper for 23 years. Tough journalism is dead around here. The best thing for a reader to do is watch the games in person or on TV, and draw your own conclusions. Great hearing from you. I wish I had better news to report."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

'The Outsiders' At Valley High School Is a Big Hit

Some members of the cast from The Outsiders at Valley High School


I enjoyed watching Ponyboy,  Two-Bit, Sodapop,  the Greaser Boys, the Greaser Girls, the Soc [short for Social] Girls, the Soc Boys, the Roller Skating Waitresses and lots of other
Stacy Hansen
characters today in the production in the school gym of The Outsiders by the Valley High School  Performing Arts Department.  

It was another outstanding show by director Stacy Hansen and a talented gang of actresses and actors from the West Des Moines school.  

The Outsiders novel about social class and conflict was authored in 1967 by S. E. Hinton, who began the project at the age of 15.  

Scenes in the play were The Home, The Drive-In, The Church,  The Dairy Queen, The Hospital and [again] The Home in the early-1960s. 

I've seen a number of Stacy Hansen's productions at Valley in recent years, and I had the opportunity after today's matinee performance to visit with her.  

"Were you a greaser or a soc in high school?" she asked me.  "Did you grease your hair back?"  

I replied: "I definitely would say I wasn't a greaser. I wore a flat-top haircut in those days, and I used butch wax [certainly not grease] to keep it in the shape I wanted it." 

Stacy asked if I remembered all of the songs from the Sixties that accompanied the play. 

"I sure do," I said. "Great stuff.  But the songs from the Fifties were better."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sweeping Leaves Off the Floor Of My Garage, Then Calming Down My Neighbor Al On a Crazy Football Saturday In November


I don't get much work done around the house on Saturdays in the fall because I'm either attending a football game, watching several of them on TV or listening to a couple of them on the radio.

Occasionally, all of the above.

I had already seen parts of several games on the tube today, and I listened to some of Iowa's shocking 51-14 loss at Minnesota on the radio, then saw some other stuff on TV when I decided to sweep out the garage.

There were lots of leaves on the floor, courtesy of my neighbor's silver maple tree.

No, not the silver maple belonging to My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut.
Silver Maple Leaves

My neighbor across the street with the biggest silver maple in the neighborhood.

Speaking of Al, it was while I was in the final stages of sweeping that he noticed my garage door was open and the light was on.

After all, it starts getting dark at about 5 o'clock now that Daylight Savings Time has ended.

"Hey, big guy, did you keep track of the scores today? " Al asked.

"The important ones, yes," I answered. "It was a crazy day in collegiate football. I heard on the radio that Iowa got blitzed, I saw Oklahoma get clobbered by Baylor on TV,  I saw on my iPad that Notre Dame was beaten by Arizona State, and I'm planning to watch the Michigan State Ohio State game on TV tonight."

[The Buckeyes upset the Spartans, 49-37].

I purposely didn't mention that I knew Northern Iowa, Al's favorite team, ended North Dakota State's 33-game winning streak, 23-3, at Cedar Falls.

But after a minute or two, I told Al I was happy his Panthers won.

"What a game that was!" Al said. "I listened to it on the radio, and I couldn't be prouder  of my Panthers."

Notice that now they're Al's Panthers, not just the UNI Panthers.

After a few more minutes of talk about UNI, Al said, "What did you think of the  Iowa State game?"

"I didn't get a score," I said, "but I'm assuming the Cyclones won big.  They were playing Kansas, one of the worst teams in the nation."

"Guess again," Al said.  "The Clones got hammered at Kansas, 34-14. Now they still haven't won a Big 12 game this season.  Paul Rhoads is one of my favorite coaches, and I sure hope he's not in any jeopardy of losing his job.

"As far as that goes, I'm worried about Wally Burnham, too. He's the Clones' defensive coordinator, but every team on Iowa State's schedule seems to be running up the score on Wally's boys this season. I sure hope old Wally isn't in any trouble."

"Calm down, Al," I said.  "I read in the paper that Rhoads isn't on the hot seat, and won't be on the hot seat."

"What paper was that in?" Al asked.

"The paper here, I'm pretty sure," I said.  "I read a lot of papers on my computer and my iPad every day, and I'm sometimes too busy to bother with the paper that's on my doorstep in the morning. 

"But I get the idea the people at the paper here like Rhoads personally, and they're convinced he's not on the hot seat. 

"As for Wally Burnham, I'm not so sure. I think the reporters like him, too. I know the TV people like him. He gets lot of air time during Iowa State's games."

"Well, you made me feel better," Al said. "I sure don't want the athletic council up there in Ames to be calling any meetings in the near-future to discuss firing Rhoads."

"Glad I could help you out, Al," I said. "Are you ready for a cup of Italian Dark Roast?"

Unfortunately, Both Gary and I Were Right



Yesterday at about noon, I called a guy I know from Urbandale. 

From now on in this column, I'll refer to the guy as Gary because that's his name. 

Gary and I have talked often throughout this football season because he has a grandson who played for Ankeny High School, and I have a grandson who played for Valley. 

I used the past tense because the season ended last night for Gary's grandson and mine. Ankeny lost to Dowling of West Des Moines, 48-14, in the quarterfinal round of the class 4-A playoffs, and Valley lost to Waukee, 12-0. 

As a result, Dowling and Waukee will tee it up at 7 p.m. next Friday in the semifinal round at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. 

Cedar Rapids Washington and Bettendorf are the other two semifinalists, and they'll play at 4 p.m. Friday in the dome. 

I've decided that Dowling and Washington will win next weekend, and Dowling will repeat as the 4-A champion by defeating Washington the following weekend. 

Gary and I decided yesterday that both Ankeny and Valley would have trouble winning in the quarterfinal round. 

Unfortunately, we were both correct. 

I knew how good Dowling is because I witnessed its only loss of the season--a 24-21 setback at Valley. 

And I also knew how good Waukee is. 

The Warriors crushed Valley, 28-6, in the first week of the season way back in August. 

Valley, which didn't score a touchdown in eight quarters of football against Waukee in 2014, ended the season with a 10-2 record--pretty darn good at any level of competition. 
Gary Swenson

But Gary Swenson has set the bar extremely high in his long tenure as Valley's coach. 

So anything less than a 4-A championship is disappointing. 

Swenson has won five 4-A titles as the Tigers' coach. 

Ankeny closed with a 9-3 record, and there's certainly nothing embarrassing about that. 

Gary and I will likely be talking again next week. 

Probably about basketball.