Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I have no idea how Ray Giacoletti is going to do in his second season as Drake's basketball coach. For that matter, I'm fairly certain Giacoletti or Spike, the school mascot, couldn't accurately predict the Bulldogs' future either. The last day of September is never a good time to start wondering what a team with a lot of new players will be doing in January, February and March. All I can say is, I'll be disappointed if the Bulldogs don't win 20 or more games in the 2014-2015 season. I'm not kidding when I say that. Heck, I thought Giacoletti's team would win 20 last season. The Bulldogs had a 10-3 record after putting it to Evansville by 28 points in their Missouri Valley Conference opener on New Year's Day. Then, for one reason or several, the roof fell in. Either Giacoletti had no idea how tough the Missouri Valley Conference was, or his players weren't up to the challenge. They won only five more games, finished 15-16 overall and 6-12 in the league. I was disappointed in those numbers. Records of 15-16 and 6-12 won't cut it at Drake, which needs to win to attract fans to the Knapp Center. The team had a home attendance average of 3,726, and that's not good. The folks at Drake are excited about a new practice court at the university. I wish I could share their excitement. But I never get revved up about practice courts. I've never known a practice court that won a game or got a coach a better contract. We'll see what happens. Like I wrote earlier, there are lots of new players at Drake, but not all of them will be able to play in the upcoming season because some have to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. Check in with me again on about Feb. 1.Drake's Valley schedule will be well under way then, and I'll have better handle on things.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 7:08 PM
Monday, September 29, 2014
By RON MALY
There's some sadness in today's news.
I was informed by a Hawkeye fan from eastern Iowa that Bill Happel, a longtime friend of mine, has gone to the huge stadium in the sky.
Happel, 78, of Iowa City, died late last week in a hospice at Hiawatha, IA, near his hometown of Cedar Rapids.
Happel was an excellent athlete at McKinley High School in Cedar Rapids and later played for, and was an assistant coach on, some outstanding football teams at the University of Iowa.
I recall Happel's athletic skills when I was a teenager in Cedar Rapids.
I played some high school baseball [at Wilson in the southwest part of the city] at about the time Happel was participating at McKinley in the southeast part of town, but I certainly never had the baseball talent he possessed.
And baseball wasn't even his best sport.
When it came to competitive sports, the guy excelled at everything.
Especially football, which he played so well that Forest Evashevski, the best coach the University of Iowa ever had, recruited him to play for the Hawkeyes in the 1950s.
Happel--not especially big and not especially fast, but as tough as a steel post--became a standout back in Evashevski's spectacular wing-T offense at Iowa.
He played on the Hawkeyes' 1956 Big Ten Conference championship team that won the 1957 Rose Bowl game, and he was an assistant coach on Evashevski's 1958 team that also won the Rose Bowl game and was the best football team the university has ever had.
Happel's son, also named Bill, played football at Iowa, too.
As his obituary [printed below] points out , Bill Happel, Sr., displayed the strength to whip some demons that attacked him later in life.
In that regard, I'm happy for him and I'm happy for his family.
I'm also happy I knew Bill Happel in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
Rest in peace, Bill.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 9:31 PM
Sunday, September 28, 2014
It was the kind of call that reminded me of the old days. My phone rang this morning, and the caller was someone who was either too bashful or too far gone to give me his name. For all I know, the guy has both long-term and short-term memory problems, and couldn't remember who he is or was. Maybe a buzzer goes off when he tries to leave wherever he lives. Anyway, the jackoff evidently quit taking his medicine and quit playing with himself long enough to start discussing a football matter with me. Just when he began making some sense, I asked a second time what his name was. Unfortunately, there was complete silence from his end of the phone. I guess the stuff he's regularly doing with himself not only can cause blindness, but also can rob him of his ability to speak. I think he'd better see his urologist, his throat doctor and his shrink as soon as possible. Maybe one of those uniformed guys in a county office would be interested in chatting with him. It's too bad he didn't identify himself because, actually, he didn't come across as a complete nutcase in what he was saying. Like I said earlier, the conversation I had with him reminded me of lots of calls we used to get in the old days at the paper--usually when it was 11 p.m. in the bars. Plenty of the world's problems were solved with those calls. Actually, I'm pretty sure I've talked a couple of times earlier with the guy who called today. What the doesn't realize is that there are ways these days to trace the identities and phone numbers of people who think they're making anonymous phone calls. Now that I know who he is, hopefully he'll call again very soon so we can continue our conversation about football. Then we'll be on a first-name basis. There's nothing I like better than talking football with a guy like that on a Sunday.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 6:42 PM
Saturday, September 27, 2014
My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut, came in out of the rain early this morning to have a cup of Italian Dark Roast and to discuss last night's high school football games. I've told you a number of times that Al has a good deal going. He canceled his subscription to the paper several years ago, and now reads it for free in the deli at Hy-Vee every morning. Then he comes home to compare what he saw in the print edition to what's on the paper's website on his computer. Consequently, Al has become quite the newspaper critic. And, of course, he has very unflattering comments about the job the paper is doing--especially in sports. "Two lousy paragraphs on Valley's 55-13 skunking of Hoover, and two lousy paragraphs on Dowling's 51-10 skunking of Lewis Central," Al said. "Lousy coverage of the two best high school football teams in the state. The paper didn't send a reporter to either game." I asked Al how he would have solved that. "The sports editor and the sports columnist should have covered them," he said. "I understand that both of their jobs are in jeopardy in the next cutback down there, so you'd think they would have wanted to show they want to keep working by covering a game." I told Al he might have a point. "Anything else on your mind, Al?" I asked. "Nothing other than the fact that the paper has so few people working anymore that it has to depend on the Associated Press and the state's other papers, like the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Dubuque Telegraph Herald and the Muscatine Journal, to cover the news." I think it was time for Al to have another cup.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 9:14 AM
Sunday, September 21, 2014
With each passing day, I see that I'm getting more and more out of touch with today's newspapering. I mean, I was scanning Facebook this morning and noticed the headline on the Cedar Rapids Gazette's story written about Hawkeye quarterback C. J. Beathard in a 24-20 victory yesterday at Pittsburgh, The headline read,'Beathard Gets the Call, Goes Out and Balls.' Like I indicated, things seem to be passing me by.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 5:32 AM
Friday, September 19, 2014
Like I've always said, never underestimate Gary Swenson when it comes to big football games. The man has stood in the bright lights far too many times on Friday nights, and he's been on the big stage far too many times to be intimidated by an opposing team that won the state's class 4-A championship last season and won its first three games in decisive fashion this season en route to the No. 1 ranking among Iowa's largest high schools. Swenson, who has already won five 4-A state titles at Valley, masterminded the Tigers' stunning 24-21 victory tonight over crosstown West Des Moines rival Dowling in front a massive standing-room-only crowd at Valley Stadium. This was a Dowling team that people were saying was even better than the one that marched to the 2013 4-A championship at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls. If nothing else, Valley's homecoming victory tonight served notice that Dowling won't be able to waltz to another championship without having some tarnish on its record and without likely being challenged a second time by Valley when the state playoffs start. Despite the loss to Valley, I'm sure Dowling will again be favored to win the 4-A state championship. The Maroons are loaded with talent, starting with a quarterback who has already said he'll be playing his collegiate football at Iowa. I fully expect Dowling to run roughshod over every other team left on its regular-season schedule. I mean, I'd heard so many stories about how good Dowling was prior to the start of the 2014 season that I thought Tom Wilson's team belonged in the Western [or Eastern] Division of the Big Ten instead of in a high school league made up of some solid teams from suburban Des Moines such as Valley, Waukee, Johnston, Urbandale, Ankeny and Ankeny Centennial, plus some hangers-on from the city like Roosevelt, Lincoln and Hoover whose programs have sunk so far that they should be playing flag football on Saturday mornings at Tower Park in the northwest part of town. But on this beautiful September night in West Des Moines, Gary Swenson displayed his vast coaching knowledge again--and it was against Wilson's loaded lineup. Who'd have thought that a kid--a sophomore kid--named Rocky Lombardi would clearly outplay Dowling's quarterback in this classic of a game? Who would've thought that Valley would lead at halftime, 24-7? Certainly not the Dowling fans who more than filled the seats on their side of the stadium. The johnny-come-latelys had to stand along the fence at the north side of the field. Gee whiz, I began wondering as I consumed my $2 sack of popcorn at intermission if the idiots in the opinion section of the paper downtown were already cranking up their computers so they could again accuse Valley, in some silly Roses & Thistles garbage, of pouring it on once they heard that the Tigers had roared and soared to a 17-point lead. Valley is, of course, historically the high school that editors at the paper love to hate because of its fancy stadium, its superb new auditorium that serves the arts, and that people in West Des Moines are willing to spend money on schools instead of apartments on Court Avenue. The good news is that those clowns at the money-strapped paper will be gone after they're forced by the Gannett Co. to re-apply for their jobs. For me, tonight was a wonderful experience. I loved every minute of it. I'm pretty certain Gary Swenson and Rocky Lombardi did, too.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 10:19 PM
Thursday, September 18, 2014
It was a picture-perfect late afternoon and early-evening Thursday for Valley High School's Homecoming Parade. The Tigers tee it up Friday night against crosstown West Des Moines rival Dowling, the state's No. 1-ranked team and the defending class 4-A state champion, in their homecoming game at Valley Stadium.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 8:57 PM
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Another message from Richard Hayman:
Hello, Mr. Maly,
It is great to hear from you. I’ve missed our correspondence…mostly my fault, I guess. I thought I was taking a break from teaching while working on my doctorate in educational leadership, but I’ve taken on some “part-time” teaching responsibilities at the university that, naturally, are more demanding than just part-time. I still don’t know what I will be when I grow up but, I can say that as I approach my first school district superintendency, I am excited about the possibilities. Meanwhile, my baby boy has grown up into a young man. I’ve tried to talk him into letting me be his college roommate, but he’ll have nothing to do with it. The kids grow up so fast, and it has been the unexpected and overwhelmingly joyful opportunity to be a dad that has added the most meaning to my life.
I agree with Al (the Health Nut), I like your idea about Iowa-Iowa State twice per season…preferably in back-to-back weekends! That would certainly set our intrastate rivalry apart from any others. It’s actually a really good idea. I suppose some would say, “…with well over a hundred teams from which to choose, you’re crazy for playing the same team twice in a season”, and, at times, that argument would have merit. But, if both programs are competitive in their neighboring, and rival, power conferences, I think it would be just absolutely terrific. The intrigue of the second game would always be compelling.
By the way, I’ve given some more thought to my previous comments about the Beathard to Powell touchdown…and I stick to my original position. In fact, at the risk of going too far, I say that if the receiver has possession of the ball before it touches the ground, even if inadvertently stuck in his face mask, or miraculously spinning on his prostrate body, then it is a catch. When someone banks in a free throw or a 3-pointer, we don’t take those points off the board, arguing that the player didn’t really mean to do it. We say he or she got lucky. Call it slop, if you will. But, the points stay on the board. Teams have lost important basketball games on a lucky shot, but no one argues that the points should have been disallowed. That’s the way the ball bounces. When a running back impossibly eludes a horde of would be tacklers, bounced around like a pinball, unconscious on his feet, but somehow ends up in the end zone, we don’t take those points off the board and spot the ball where the runner should have been tackled. He got lucky. A kick that bounces inward through the goal posts after colliding with the upright…those points stay on the board. Even a made intentional-miss free throw…the point stays on the board. Ball never touched the ground, and the receiver had possession at the end of the play. Seems simple enough to me.
Should be an interesting ballgame this weekend. I hope C.J. stays frosty. At some point, he is going to get an opportunity to play for more than a single series. I believe he has the potential to carry this team to a new level…especially with the weapons we have this year. As ridiculous as it may sound, we possibly have two NFL-caliber quarterbacks on our two-deep. I might alternate them on a per game basis, giving my quarterback two weeks to prepare for an opponent, while giving both guys the opportunity to play that they deserve. It’s a wonderful problem to have, but it is a problem…and one that demands a creative solution. Sooner, rather than later.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 7:14 AM
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Forget What Some Nutcase Writes About Wanting the Iowa-Iowa State Football Series Called Off. Frankly, I Like What the Chicago Cubs' Ernie Banks Would Always Say: 'Let's Play 2'
By RON MALY
I shared a pot of Italian Dark Roast this morning with My Neighbor Al, the Health Nut.
Al had just gotten back from Hy-Vee, where he reads the paper.
"I saw that they're writing about whether the Iowa-Iowa State football series should be called off after the present contract expires," Al told me.
"Who's writing crap like that?" I asked Al.
"Oh, I think it was in My 2 Cents Worth or something," Al said.
"Listen, Al, those people who write stuff in My 2 Cents Worth are idiots," I commented. "They can be idiots because they never have to use their real names.
"The paper lets them use phony names like Joe from the East Side, Daniel P. Finney In the Newsroom and Pissed Off In Schleswig.
"Besides, Al, anyone who thinks the Iowa-Iowa State football series should be called off -- whether he or she writes it in My 2 Cents Worth or not -- is an idiot.
"I know all about that series because I covered a lot of Iowa-Iowa State games after the series was revived in the Bob Commings/Earle Bruce coaching days back in the previous century.
"As far as I'm concerned, the Iowa-Iowa State game is the best one on the schedules of both teams more often than not.
"It sure beats the heck out of Iowa-Ball State and Iowa State-Toledo.
"The stadiums at Iowa and Iowa State are full when the Hawkeye-Cyclone games are played--something that's not always the case for other games these days.
"I absolutely love the emotion of the series. I loved the emotion in Kinnick Stadium many years ago when Commings' Iowa team, with his son, Bob, Jr., at quarterback, upset Bruce's Iowa State team.
"The Cyclones wore the words "BEAT IOWA" on the front of their jerseys that day [it was Bruce's idea], and it riled up the Hawkeye players. Consequently, they played over their heads.
"I loved the emotion when Bret Bielema, then an Iowa linebacker, told then-Iowa State coach Jim Walden, "You're a big prick, and I loved kicking your ass for five seasons" after the Hawkeyes won at Kinnick.
"I loved the emotion when Donnie Duncan, who then was Iowa State's coach, won three straight games from Iowa.
"I loved the emotion involved when Dan McCarney, a former Iowa player and assistant coach, won five straight games in the series when he was Iowa State's coach.
"You know what, Al? The only thing better than one Iowa-Iowa State football game every season would be two games--one in Iowa City, another in Ames. Who says it couldn't be done?
"That's how much value I put on this series. I hope they play each other forever. And, like Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs would always say, let's play two."
"I like your idea," Al said. "Pour me another cup."
Hawkeyes celebrate after beating Iowa State. Photo courtesy of Bill Adams/University of Iowa.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 3:03 PM
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Hello, Mr. Maly.
I hope this note finds you doing well. I’m compelled to write. I like Jake Rudock. Jake is a proven winner. His numbers almost look like typographical errors. We’re 2-0. Despite our win, I’m extremely uneasy. Jake seems to make all the throws, but one. Jake can’t hit the streaking wide receiver. I don’t know if his better judgment gets the best of him, or if he is just incapable of making that long throw, with both velocity and touch…that just-drop-it-over-the-defensive-back-and-hit-your-receiver-in-stride throw. This problem then cascades through the offense…and defense…and crowd. I was stunned at the number of times Ball State put all 11 guys within 7 yards of the line of scrimmage, and stopped us (for Pete’s sake). With Jake, even when we have a long field, we always have a short field. Neither UNI nor Ball State respected our ability to throw beyond 20 yards. For a brief glimpse Saturday, we saw what could be. When the defense has to respect the speed and play-making ability of our wide receivers, then our running backs run wild in space. Our tight ends have meaningful routes. I disagree that the run has to establish the pass. If a defense is completely disregarding your ability to pass over the top, instead committing 11 guys to stopping the run, then you have to be able to make them pay. With Jake, the defense never pays. Even when we throw downfield, our receivers either get slaughtered, or have to fade back into coverage in order to wait for the ball. As a consequence, our running game is stifled (and another potent weapon is rendered impotent). Our defense could be rested and energized. The crowd would be electrified. There would no longer be empty seats in Kinnick. By the way, I think the reversal of the Beathard-to-Powell touchdown was absolutely wrong. I saw the receiver control the ball, first foot down in bounds, cross the plane of the goal line (thereby scoring a touchdown), THEN getting pushed by a defender, forcing him to shift the ball to his opposite hand, never losing control, ball never touches the ground. But, what happened AFTER he crossed the goal line seems irrelevant unless, of his own accord, he loses control. A defender hitting him after he scores a touchdown is just a frustrated defender. On the other hand, we can’t possibly expect a receiver to hold the ball in a frozen position when exposed to direct contact with a real college football player. The play was beautiful, the place was rocking, and no one seemed to care that the the ball movement was in response to a defender’s contact. I don’t know the specifics of the rules but, if that wasn’t a catch, then the rules need to be modified. I like Jake. I hope he will be as good a teammate to C.J. as C.J. has been to him. This game was a 56-10 rout that didn’t happen, that couldn’t happen with Jake. We can win with Jake, and it’s great to know your reserve quarterback can rally your team to an improbable win. But, with C.J., this would have been an entirely different game. I don’t understand what valid experiment was completed by not allowing Beathard to take another snap. I felt Coach Ferentz placed his loyalty to Jake over the importance of winning this game. With Jake, we can have a respectable season. With C.J., we can have a special season. We have a gunslinger on the sidelines who deserves a chance, and his name is C.J. Beathard. Coach Ferentz needs to pull the trigger. -- Richard Hayman
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 4:36 PM
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Wilson N. Franklin of West Des Moines sent me this email: "Did you hear that former West Des Moines Valley and Drake basketball guard Matt Woodley resigned as head coach at Division II Truman State to become an assistant coach with the Iowa Energy? I don't think this made the D.M. Register." RON MALY'S COMMENT--No, I hadn't heard that information. Thanks for telling me. And you can be certain the paper will be the last to hear about it. News reaches that place very slowly these days.
Posted by ronald wesley maly at 12:10 PM