Friday, December 25, 2015

I Hope It's Not a Polaroid One-Picture Rose Bowl


I know Iowa's football team will be playing in the Rose Bowl next week, and I'll get to that in a minute.

First, I want to write a few things about the years in Hawkeye football history when there were no Rose Bowls, no bowls of any kind and no championships.

Just a lot of losing seasons and coach firings.

I'm referring to the dark days of 1962 through 1980 when the university never had a winning season in football.

That's right, 19 consecutive years of non-winning football.

They were years that gobbled up Jerry Burns,
Bob Commings
Ray Nagel, Frank Lauterbur and Bob Commings.

Decent guys and decent coaches, most of them. 

Some better than others.

I covered a lot of Hawkeye football in those years.

I suffered too. 

Not as much as Burns, Nagel, Lauterbur and Commings.

But it wasn't much fun showing up in press boxes all over the country [Iowa played games at such places as Southern California and UCLA in those years], wondering if the Hawkeyes would lose by 30 or 40 points, or would even score.

Commings came from a high school coaching job to Iowa, and went back to a high school job after he was fired at Iowa.

After one miserable season, the joke [at least I think it was a joke] was going around that, when Commings wanted to show a recruit the highlight film of the season, he reached into the bottom drawer in his desk and pulled out one Polaroid picture.

There was also a season when T-shirts were being worn on the Iowa campus that showed a picture of a Hawkeye player sitting on a toilet.

The Toilet Bowl was where some fans thought Iowa belonged in those days.

I'm sure glad things have changed now.

I'm glad coach Kirk Ferentz has his Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl against Stanford, and I have every reason to believe Iowa will play well, and might even win.

Oh, I know Hayden Fry took three Iowa teams
Polaroid Camera
to the Rose Bowl,  and the highlight film of those three games could easily have been one Polaroid picture.

I mean,  if you're looking for happy thoughts about a Hawkeye  Rose Bowl game you've got to find guys like Kenny Ploen and Randy Duncan, who played on Forest Evashevski's brilliant teams in 1956 and 1958.

Fry's 1981 Hawkeyes didn't fire a shot and lost to Washington, 28-0; his 1985 squad lost to UCLA, 45-28, and his 1990 team lost to Washington, 46-34.

But this is Christmas, and my thoughts are of candy canes and sugar plums, not a one-picture Polaroid highlight reel.

I hope the 2015 Hawkeyes have a good week of practice. 

My guess is they'll need it.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Indeed, It Was a True Classic


The first nutcase who hollers out of a maximum security cell or on a sports talk show that the Big Four Classic should be taken off
this state's collegiate basketball schedule should be hung by the balls [his balls, not the game balls] from the scoreboard at Wells Fargo Arena.

This afternoon's and tonight's extravaganza at the big building downtown was a true classic, in results as well as name.

The announcers on ESPNU were talking during the Northern Iowa-Iowa State game about the atmosphere in the place.

It felt like an NCAA tournament, they said.

Four state universities represented. 

Lots of fans. 

Two outstanding games.

I fully agree.

It was a wonderful basketball show for Des Moines and the state of Iowa.

UNI handed fifth-ranked Iowa State its first loss of the season, 81-79, and Iowa held off Drake, 70-64, 

Not everyone went home happy. 

But what an exciting day and night it was.

34 Years Ago


It was 34 years ago today--Dec. 19, 1981--that I flew to California to cover Iowa's Jan. 1, 1982 Rose Bowl football game against Washington.

It doesn't seem like yesterday, but it doesn't seem like it was 34 years ago that coach Hayden Fry and his Hawkeyes were preparing for Iowa's first Rose Bowl game since Forest Evashevski's fantastic 1958 squad thrashed California, 38-12, at Pasadena.

How time flies, especially when a guy is having fun.

I was the first of three Des Moines Register sportswriters to make the trip to Pasadena for the 1982 Rose Bowl.

Buck Turnbull and Maury White followed me to California after Christmas.

I went to Pasadena on Dec. 19 because that's when Fry and his Hawkeyes made the trip.

I flew from Des Moines to the Los Angeles International Airport and met them at the John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana/Orange County. That's where the Hawkeye charter plane landed.

Fry held a press conference at the airport, and it was one of many sessions ol' Hayden had with reporters.

He didn't meet a microphone or a tape recorder he didn't like on that trip.

He was proud to take the Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl, and the Rose Bowl was happy to have him.

Fry's 1981 team had an 8-3 regular-season record and won the Big Ten championship, climaxing a season that ended a horrible run of 19 consecutive non-winning years of Hawkeye football.

Fry and his players enjoyed themselves in the days leading up to the Rose Bowl.

They did it all--going to all of the places the Big Ten's representative in the Rose Bowl were supposed to go, such as Disneyland, the beaches, the movie studios in Hollywood, the Beef Bowl at Lawry's Restaurant.

I followed right along, covering the coaches and the players at most of the places they went.

We all had a great time.

Until game day.

As Fry says, Iowa didn't fire a shot.

In other words, the Hawkeyes didn't score a point.

Sadly, they were outplayed and outcoached.

It was Washington 28, Iowa 0.

The next day, it was back to the cold and snow of our state.

Back to reality.


What an embarrassment it was to collegiate basketball in the state of Iowa that there was no decent TV coverage of today's Drake-Iowa game in the so-called Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena. 

Streaming the game on something called ESPN3 doesn't cut it with me. 

The four-team event is trying to show some class, but the TV coverage of today's opening game was entirely classless.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thanks, Rick


Thanks to Rick Brown for the kind words he wrote about me in his farewell sports column in the Des Moines Register
Rick Brown

I enjoyed working with Rick for many years at the paper. 

He is a first-class guy and an outstanding writer. 

The same was true of Bob Brown, Rick's late father.

I sat in many press boxes with Bob throughout  my working years.

Bob then was a standout sports editor at the Fort Dodge Messenger.

Even though Rick has accepted a buyout at the Register, I'm betting he's not finished writing about sports and the people who play them.

He's got a tremendous amount of excellent writing left in him.

I hope to continue reading whatever he writes, and I also hope our paths cross again soon.

Count On It That Talented and Hard-Working Randy Peterson Will Be Back In the Register's Sportswriting Lineup Sooner Than You Think


I had a nice conversation on the phone this morning with Randy Peterson, the talented and
Randy Peterson
hard-working Des Moines Register sportswriter who suffered a compound fracture of his left leg last Thursday night in Ames. 

Peterson, a veteran writer who is as tenacious as any reporter in America when working on a column or a story for his newspaper,  was injured while performing his postgame responsibilities at Hilton Coliseum on the Iowa State campus. 

His leg was fractured while Cyclone basketball fans stormed the court following Iowa State's 83-82 victory over Iowa.

Both the tibia and fibula in his left leg were broken in the mishap.

Randy was still at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines when I talked with him today, but he expects to be released from the hospital very soon.

"The physical therapists are doing a great job with me," he said.

Physicians obviously did a wonderful job, too.

I had a few broken bones and other medical problems myself many years ago while covering sports at the paper, and doctors always told me it would take six weeks to heal the fractures.

I always tried to beat the odds so I could get back sooner.

I know Peterson will, too.

Randy, of course, has two broken bones, so I don't know if that means he'll take longer to heal or not.

Whatever, I know he'll be back on the job sooner than people think. 

He's always been a gamer, and he'll return to the writing lineup as quickly as possible. 

I wish him the very best.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Chicago Cubs have been breaking the bank while trying to buy themselves into a World Series. They haven't won one--a World Series, I mean--for more than 100 years. So a lot of Cub fans have died without ever seeing their ballplayers participate in what is supposed to be baseball's biggest two-team tournament. The Cubs today agreed to pay an outfielder named Jason Heyward $184 million over the next 8 seasons to see if he can help get the team into a World Series. This comes a few days after the Cubs spent other millions of dollars signing pitcher John Lackey and second baseman Ben Zobrist. By the way, Heyward's contract says he can opt out of his new deal after 3 seasons or 4 seasons if he isn't happy about something. Frankly, I hope the man stays happy so he can be paid all of that $184 million. And if Heyward, Lackey, Zobrist and all of the other multi-millionaires on the Cubs' roster can't get the team into a World Series, I think Wrigley Field should be turned into a picnic grounds in the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter. Another by the way: National baseball reporters such as Ken Rosenthal are saying the St. Louis Cardinals, Heyward's former team, and the Washington Nationals each offered Heyward $200 million. But Jason, good guy that he is, turned down those larger contracts because he wanted to be a Cub. I'm sure the Cardinals and Nationals understand the young man's rationale. I sure do.

Jason Heyward. Photo courtesy of Google.

Big 12 Review Of Happenings At Hilton

Memo from the Big 12 Conference:

The conference has reviewed the Iowa - Iowa State men's basketball game and determined the host school handled its postgame celebration protocol consistent with Big 12 Conference Rules related to sportsmanship and ethical conduct. Game management staff appropriately handled their primary responsibility of ensuring the safety of the teams, coaches, officials and administrative staffs. We were sorry tao hear about the unfortunate accident with Des Moines Register reporter Randy Peterson and wish him a speedy recovery.

The conference considers this matter resolved and will have no further comment.

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--I, too, wish Randy Peterson a speedy recovery after suffering a compound leg fracture during the time when Iowa State fans stormed the court after the Cyclones' 83-82 victory last night over Iowa at Hilton Coliseum. I learned a long time ago to stay away from excited fans running onto basketball courts and football fields. The next time I see Peterson, I'll stress to him that nothing good happens when a man my age or his age collides with college students who are running fast. Hopefully, no one else will get hurt if and when there are court-stormings the rest of the 2015-2016 basketball season. However, as far as I'm concerned, the fewer court-stormings there are, the better off everyone will be].

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Forget that phone call I was planning to make to Fred Hoiberg in Chicago. Fourth-ranked Iowa State [8-0] doesn't need any advice from The Mayor after rallying from a 20-point deficit to get past Iowa, 83-82, on Monte Morris' basket with 9 seconds remaining

Cyclone fans storm Hilton Coliseum court. Photo courtesy of Deadspin.


I'm canceling my plan to make that phone call to Fred Hoiberg.  

He was busy anyway. 

The man they called The Mayor when he lived in Ames and played and coached basketball at Iowa State was calling the shots tonight for the Chicago Bulls in their 83-80 NBA victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at the United Center in Chicago. 

Oh, well, I don't need to talk to Hoiberg, the former Iowa State basketball player and coach after all.  

I planned to ask Fred if he thought the Cyclones had forgotten how to play defense and how to play both ends of the floor with tenacity since he coached his final game in Ames. 

Well, it's a good thing there was a last half to tonight's game against Iowa at Hilton Coliseum. 

Although lethargic in the opening half, Iowa State played much better defense and offense in the final 20 minutes--holding Iowa without a point in the final 2 minutes 35 seconds--and won, 83-82, for its eighth victory without a loss in Steve Prohm's first season as Hoiberg's successor.

Monte Morris' basket with 9 seconds remaining decided the drama-filled game.

The Cyclones had games like that when Hoiberg coached 'em, too.

So he would have understood.

Iowa State scored the last 9 points, and many of the giddy students who were in the crowd stormed the court when the game ended [photo at the top of this column].

Yes, Hilton Magic is still alive.

However, it turned out that the magic didn't reach far enough to protect Randy Peterson, a  longtime sportswriter who was covering the game for the Des Moines Register.

I learned on Twitter that Peterson suffered a compound fracture of a leg during the court-storming.

I guess that's called being part of the story, not just covering the story.

I tweeted this late-night message to Peterson: "Sorry to hear about your mishap. But knowing what a gamer you are, you won't be MIA very long." 

Earlier in the night, Iowa's basketball players seemed capable of making sure there would be no Hilton Magic and no court-storming by Iowa State students.

But the Hawkeyes couldn't continue their first-half domination.

Frankly, the Hawkeyes [7-3] are a veteran team and  had no business losing. 

They got a phenomenal 30 points from Jarrod Uthoff in the first half and built their lead at one stage to 20 points.

Uthoff connected on 11 of his 13 field goal attempts in the opening 20 minutes.

But the defensive tenaciousness that Iowa State lacked in the first half forced Iowa into mistake after mistake when the game was on the line.

For some reason, Uthoff quit shooting in the last half, finishing with just one basket in those last 20 minutes.

Go figure.

If Iowa is going to be a factor in the Big Ten Conference this season, stuff like that just cannot happen.

And So Forth


In recent seasons, the Iowa-Iowa State basketball game has been played on Friday nights.

This year's game isn't on Friday night, and I'm happy.

I'm glad it's being played tonight at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

It starts at 6:30 and it'll be televised by ESPN2.

Leave Friday night to high school basketball.

Many high schools have a difficult enough time attracting fans, including students, to their games without an Iowa-Iowa State game getting in the way.


A few days ago, I wrote that I was getting sick of reading the word takeaways in the paper. 

Evidently, one or two people at the paper have suddenly decided it's cool term.

Unfortunately,  takeaways showed up again in the paper's coverage of the Iowa-Michigan State football game that decided the Big Ten football championship.

Beneath the takeaways headline, was something just as curious.

The paper had a story about the game written by Andy Hamilton that had no Indianapolis dateline.

Which indicated to me that Hamilton wrote the story in Des Moines while watching the game on TV and listening to it on the radio.

Indeed, he included a quote from Ed Podolak, the former standout Hawkeye player who has been a longtime commentator on radio broadcasts of Iowa games.

I doubt people covering the game in the press box at Indianapolis were listening to Podolak's commentary on the Iowa radio network.

I don't know where the quote from Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio came from.

I guess Hamilton will be the successor to Rick Brown [who has taken a buyout] on the Hawkeye sports beat.

Hamilton is no stranger to writing about Iowa athletics.

He covered the Hawkeyes when he worked at the Iowa City Press Citizen, and did it so well that George Wine [now deceased] told me a number of years ago that, at the time, he thought Andy wrote sports stories as well as anyone.

Wine, who was Iowa's sports information director for a quarter-century, was like a lot of us. 

He didn't think much of 21st century sportswriting. After he retired, compliments to sportswriters by ol' George were few and far between.

But in his eyes, Hamilton's writing was better than most at the time.

Another curious thing was that Hamilton later left the Press Citizen and moved to the paper here. Both newspapers are owned by the Gannett--a company that has worked hard to earn its horrible reputation.

The fact that Hamilton came to Des Moines cost the hard-working Dan Johnson [also now deceased] his job at the Register.

That's the cut-throat type of business Gannett did, and still does.

Anyway, I am now wondering  if bosses at the paper are frothing at the mouth after finding out that Hamilton was able to write a decent story on the Iowa-Michigan State football game by watching it on TV and listening to it on the radio.

For all I know, they may decide to cover all Iowa [and Iowa State] games by watching 'em on TV.

Look at all the money they'd be saving. 

No need to fill the gas tank in the company car, no expensive airplane tickets, no meal money, no Motel 6 costs.


Still on the subject of the paper, there was this headline in the business section:

Clive store to become Cash Saver outlet 

The first two paragraphs of the story said:

"For the second time in less than a year, the Price Chopper grocery store in Clive will be re-branded.

"Starting Dec. 17, the store will become a Cash Saver Food Outlet discount supermarket." 

My question is this:

Where the hell in Clive, a city of 16,590 residents, is the Price Chopper store that is turning into a Cash Saver store?

There was no address of the store included in the entire story, which was spread out over two pages.

By the way, I think Price Chopper and Cash Saver are both dumb names for grocery stores.


That's it from me. I hope it's a good game tonight.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Everything Is Coming Up Roses for the Hawkeyes. They'll Play Stanford In the Rose Bowl On New Year's Day. Iowa Hasn't Been To the Rose Bowl Since 1991 and Hasn't Won At Pasadena Since Forest Evashevski's Outstanding 1958 Team Walloped California, 38-12


Hey, so what if the Hawkeyes lost their first game of the 2015 football season last night and didn't make it to the collegiate playoffs?

They're headed to the Rose Bowl for a Jan. 1 game against Stanford.

Not a bad consolation prize for an Iowa team that has a 12-1  record.

Iowa will take a No. 5 national ranking into the game at Pasadena, Calif.,  against a Stanford team that's  No. 6.

Stanford  [11-2] rode a sensational performance by Christian McCaffrey to a 41-22 victory Saturday over Southern California in the Pac-12 title game.

Afterward, David Shaw, his coach, called him the best player in the nation. Indeed, by the time Iowa and Stanford tee it up in the Rose Bowl game on New Year's Day, McCaffrey could be the Heisman Trophy winner.

McCaffrey ran for 207 yards and a touchdown, threw a touchdown pass, caught a a touchdown pass and broke Barry Sanders' one-season all-purpose yards record in the victory over USC.

Iowa lost to Michigan State, 16-13, in the final half-minute of the Big Ten championship game at Indianapolis.

The Hawkeyes haven't been to the Rose Bowl since 1991 and haven't won a Rose Bowl game since the 1958 team coached by Forest Evashevski walloped California, 38-12.

Iowa set Rose Bowl records for total offense and rushing offense in that game, and I regard that team as the best in university football history.

Evashevski's 1956 Hawkeyes defeated Oregon State, 35-19, in the Rose Bowl.

Three of coach Hayden Fry's Iowa teams lost in Pasadena. His 1981 squad was beaten by Washington, 28-0; his 1985 team lost to UCLA, 45-28, and his 1990 team lost to Washington, 46-34.

I'd say it's about time Iowa won one out there.

I'm in shock. Drake's women's basktball team isn't supposed to lose games like this. Not by this type of score anyway. Green Bay walloped the Bulldogs, 86-61, today at the Knapp Center. Not the Green Bay Packers. The Green Bay women's basketball team. "We just weren't all there," said Lizzy Wendell of her team's second consecutive loss. "I think our mindset is to get better, but we have to take it possession by possession." Drake coach Jennie Baranczyk said, "We had too many breakdowns...some uncharacteristic turnovers."

I'm Distancing Myself From Last Night


Getting back to whether last night's Iowa-Michigan State football game was big.

Big enough, that is, to lead off--or even be on--Iowa's all-time highlight reel.

Big enough to be classified alongside the Rose Bowl victories by the Hawkeyes' 1956 and 1958 teams that were coached by Forest Evashevski. 

Big enough to be mentioned in the same breath as the 45-21 shellacking Kirk Ferentz's 2002 Iowa squad put on Minnesota to clinch a tie for the Big Ten championship. 

Big enough to equal or surpass the nail-biters Nile Kinnick and his 1939 Ironmen had with Notre Dame [a 7-6 victory] and Minnesota [a 13-9 victory]. 

Big enough to match two or three Iowa-Iowa State games from past seasons.

You can think about the Hawkeyes' 16-13 loss to Michigan State all you want.

Me?  I'm planning to forget the game as quickly as I can.

If it's going to wind up on somebody's highlight reel, it will be Michigan State's, not Iowa's. 

As far as I'm concerned,  Iowa can burn the game film or the videotape, whatever it is they use these days to chronicle football happenings.

I want to think about pleasant things.

Like how Iowa won its first 12 games this season.

Like how Kirk Ferentz, in 2015, proved that he hasn't forgotten how to coach.

Like the Hawkeyes' upcoming Jan. 1 Rose Bowl game against Stanford.

In retrospect, last night was pure misery.

Someone once said moral victories are for losers.

I agree.

I'm pretending last night did not happen.

It was not a game for the ages.

Don't believe anyone who tries to tell you differently.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


     By RON MALY 

     Sickening, that's what it was. 

    Michigan  State's 9-minute 4-second,  22-play, 82-yard drive for the winning touchdown was sickening enough.           

To make matters worse, Iowa football fans had to watch Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany hand the league's championship award  to Spartans coach Mark Dantonio after the winning drive.

Fittingly, Delany was booed loudly in a building brimming with people when he was introduced.

Add all that sickness up and you've got a 16-13 Michigan State victory over a previously-unbeaten Hawkeye team that deserved better.

You had to feel for Iowa's heartbroken players, the thousands of Hawkeye fans who made the trip to Indianapolis and the many others [millions maybe?] of black-and-gold faithful who watched the agony on TV.

 Minutes after the game ended, a longtime Iowa fan summed up Hawkeye emotions with these comments:

"That's worse than a bummer. What a heartbreaker. A sad way to end a record-breaking season. It ended up to be more of a defensive battle than the Hawkeyes had left in them."

That echoed the feelings of Hawkeye fans everywhere.

Gone was the unbeaten record.

Gone was the opportunity to be in the national football playoffs.

But a bowl game remains  in warm weather somewhere. 
Iowa had been clinging to a 13-9 lead after C. J. Beathard unloaded a tremendous pass to wide receiver Tevaun Smith for a touchdown that covered 85 yards.
Michigan State's winning touchdown [and the only one the Spartans scored all night] was scored by freshman running back L. J. Scott with 27 seconds remaining in the game.

Iowa's defenders tried desperately to keep Scott out of the end zone as precious seconds ticked off the clock.

Scott desperately fought and stretched his way over the goal-line. The critical play is pictured above,  courtesy of USATSI.

Like I said, sickening. 

Being Naive In 2015

Webster's definition of the word naive:
adjective na·ive \nä-ˈēv, nī-\
having or showing a lack of experience or knowledge : innocent or simple


I guess there was something in the paper today that labeled tonight's Iowa-Michigan State football game the biggest in Hawkeye history.
Sec Taylor

To borrow one of the favorite words of Sec Taylor, who knew a few things about being the sports editor at a newspaper: 


Tonight's game in Indianapolis that will decide the Big Ten championship is the biggest game of Iowa's 2015 season so far, and that's the extent of it.

I've lived through more than a few of the biggest games in Hawkeye history.

Yes, sir, and yes, mam, dozens of 'em.

When you're on the scene, you always think the game you'll be attending or reviewing for the paper is the biggest.

The 1958 Hawkeye team that is still regarded by many as the best in university history had a pretty big game on Jan. 1, 1959.

Talented guys like Randy Duncan, Willie Fleming and Bob Jeter were on that team, and all the Hawkeyes did was cruise past California, 38-12, with an offensive explosion in the Rose Bowl.
Forest Evashevski and His Hawkeyes

Forest Evashevski, one of the best coaches in the history of collegiate football,  coached that team.

Evashevski also was the coach in 1956 when Iowa's Big Ten champions steamrolled Oregon State, 35-19, in the Rose Bowl.

Big game.

Another big game in that same season came on Nov. 17 when Iowa seized the Big Ten championship with a massive defensive effort that produced a 6-0 victory over Woody Hayes' Ohio State squad.

I was there.

The emotions filling the stadium on that crisp afternoon in Iowa City that day will rival those in any stadium anywhere.

Yes, what a big game that was.

Kirk Ferentz is Iowa's outstanding coach now,
Kirk Ferentz and His Hawkeyes In 2002

and he's been involved in more than a few big Hawkeye games.

One that stands out was certainly the Nov. 16, 2002 game at Minnesota in which his Hawkeyes buttoned up an 8-0 Big Ten record and a share of the conference title with a resounding 45-21 victory at Minnesota.

Hayden Fry [his 1981 team went 8-4 and played in the Rose Bowl to end a streak of 19 straight losing seasons at Iowa] had big games.

Howard Jones [he had 7-0 records in 1921 and 1922] had big games.

Eddie Anderson had big games [every one of those games played by The Ironmen in 1939 were big ones, and their star attraction was  eventual Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick].

Hell, even Bob Commings had a big game on Sept. 17, 1977. 
Bob Commings

That was the day his son, Bobby, quarterbacked the Hawkeyes to a 12-10 upset victory over Iowa State in the renewal of the series between the two universities.

My point in all of this is to stress that there have been many big games played by Hawkeye football teams. 

Tonight's game is certainly one of them.

When I'm asked to name the biggest, I always say it was that Jan. 1, 1959 game in Pasadena, Calif., when Evashevski's wonderful offensive juggernaut thrashed Oregon State, 38-12, in the Rose Bowl.

Iowa hasn't won a Rose Bowl game since, so that'll do until something better comes along.
[Photos courtesy of Google]

Friday, December 4, 2015

Valley Freshman Standout Zoe Young Treats Fans [Including Collegiate Coaches] At Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse In West Des Moines To a 16-Point Show As the Tigers Roll To a 74-44 Victory Over Roosevelt


A sizable crowd showed up tonight at the Bill Coldiron Fieldhouse on the Valley High School campus in West Des Moines to watch Zoe
Zoe Young courtesy of ESPN
Young and her Tiger girls' basketball team hang a 74-44 thumping on Roosevelt of Des Moines.

Zoe, who scored 16 points in the victory, is Young in more than her name.

She's a 5-foot 9-inch freshman [that's right, a freshman!] guard for Valley who has already attracted the attention of numerous Division I coaches and scouts around the nation.

Joe Sigrist
Joe Sigrist has built his Valley's girls' basketball program into one of the strongest in the state.

His team finished second in the class 5-A state tournament last season, and the addition of Zoe Young is a huge addition to his program.

Being a freshman, Zoe doesn't even attend Valley yet. 

She shows up for her ninth-grade classes at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines. 

Among the collegiate coaches on hand for tonight's game, Sigrist told me, were Iowa State's Bill Fennelly, as well as an assistant on Iowa's staff. 

Iowa State and Iowa are among the growing number of universities around the nation that want to recruit Young.

Fennelly obviously needs to start attracting such talented players as Young. His team has been on an early-season skid, losing  noteworthy non-conference games to Drake, 74-70; Duke, 86-48,  and Idaho, 97-65.

"Michigan State is sending its top assistant coach in a week or two," Sigrist said. 

Before she's much older, there will be many more coaches and scouts watching Zoe.

It's going to be an interesting [and eventful] season for Sigrist and his Valley girls. 

The Tiger boys aren't bad either. They defeated Roosevelt in the second half of tonight's doubleheader, 61-42.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I have decided that, when I grow up, I am going to become a major league baseball pitcher. I made that decision tonight after learning that 30-year-old David Price has agreed to sign a 7-year contract with the Boston Red Sox that will pay him $217 million. Many of you may consider that an obscene amount of money to be paid to a man for simply throwing a ball. Not me. I'm calling my travel agent right now, looking for the first flight available to Arizona so I can work on my curveball.

David Price

Kirk Ferentz of 12-0 Iowa has been named the Big Ten football coach of the year by coaches and reporters. No surprise to me. No one else deserved it. Had anyone else gotten the award, I would've suggested the voters be subjected to a urine examination.

Kirk Ferentz

When Coach Maury John and His Drake Basketball Teams Were Enjoying Their Glory Years At Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Talented Organist Bill Henderson Pepped Up the Place With 'Three Blind Mice' and Other Famous Music


My condolences to the family of Bill Henderson, whose funeral will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Grace Lutheran Church,  3010 52nd Street in Des Moines.

Bill Henderson. Courtesy of Hamilton's.

Bill died on Thanksgiving Day at the age of 85. 

He was a talented musician who entertained fans as an organist at Veterans Memorial Auditorium when Drake basketball games were played there. 

Maury John was the best basketball coach the university ever had.

He was in charge of the Bulldogs' program from the 1958-59 season through the 1970-71 season, coaching his 1968-69 team to the Final Four and taking his squads to three straight NCAA tournaments.

It was Maury John who arranged for organist Bill Henderson to perform at games in the  Auditorium. 

The organ music was in addition to music provided by the Drake pep band, giving atmosphere at the arena a big-city feel when Drake basketball was in its heyday during the Maury John coaching era.

Henderson always had fun with the fans, the coaches and the players. 

John loved it.

The savvy coach, of course, was looking for any home-court advantage he could get in the 14,000-seat arena. 

Henderson had fun with the fans and the teams. 

The officials? Well, Bill had fun, the zebras probably not. 

When Henderson thought the officials gave Drake a bad call, he'd play "Three Blind Mice" on the organ. 

Henderson's obituary, provided by  Hamilton’s Funeral Home, 605 Lyon Street in Des Moines, said he played the organ for 25 years at the Auditorium., meaning he continued performing after Maury John left Drake following the 1970-71 season. 

John took the Iowa State job prior to the 1971-72 season, and persuaded Henderson to be the organist at Hilton Coliseum, which had just opened. 

John was able to coach at Iowa State for only two full seasons and part of a third. He developed inoperable cancer in his third year, and died shortly thereafter.
With John's passing came the end of the organ music at Hilton Coliseum.

Henderson's obituary said  he skillfully played a number of musical instruments including piano, trombone and tuba in addition to the organ for the Des Moines Symphony, Maple Street Jazz Band, and Veterans Band. Bill was a lifetime member of the Des Moines Musician’s Union.

Bill Dwyre, who got his start in the newspaper business as a sports copy editor at the Des Moines Register, has retired from his job as a sports columnist at the Los Angeles Times. Dwyre was a longtime sports editor at the Times before writing columns. I worked with Bill in his years at the Register. He's a good guy, and did wonderful work wherever he was employed.

Bill Dwyre

Iowa, Memphis, Providence and Virginia headline the eight-team field for the 2016 Emerald Coast Classic basketball tournament. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Savannah State and St. Francis Brooklyn also are playing in the tournament with one more team to be announced within the next month. Iowa, Providence and Virginia competed in the 2015 NCAA tournament, with Iowa and Virginia advancing to the third round. First and second-round games will be played at on-campus sites Nov. 12 through Nov. 23, with the third round and championship round scheduled Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 25-26 at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Fla. Iowa State captured the 2015 Emerald Coast Classic title by beating Illinois, 84-73, in the championship last Saturday.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holy Toledo! 36-Year-Old Matt Campbell Will Be Paid $2 Million In His First Season As Iowa State's New Football Coach. I Just Hope He's a Better Fit With the Cyclones Than Frank Lauterbur Was When He Came To Iowa In the 1970s After Winning 23 Straight Games At Toledo. Lauterbur's 3-Year Record With the Hawkeyes Was 4-28-1 and the Lousy Defenses Designed for Him By Assistant Coach Ducky Lewis Set Major-College Football Back By At Least a Half-Century


Whenever anything happens in or about Toledo, Ohio, a few people usually want to shout or simply say, "Holy Toledo!"

All right then.

On with business.

Holy Toledo! Matt Campbell is Iowa State's new football coach. 

And Holy Toledo! He's going to be paid $2 million in his first year on the job.

Matt Campbell
“I couldn’t be more excited to receive the opportunity to coach at Iowa State,” said Campbell, who is leaving a successful stint at the University of Toledo to coach the Cyclones.

“Two years ago after we played the Cyclones in Ames, I called my wife [Erica] and said you simply would not believe this place. Their fans, the game-day environment and facilities are all incredible.  

"I could see us living in Ames and me coaching the Cyclones some day. My family and I are truly humbled.”

Campbell is 36 years of age--meaning he is one of the youngest collegiate head football coaches in America.

I'm sure he is an eager young man.

I'm sure he welcomes challenges.

It's good to be 36 and eager.

He'll have plenty of challenges as Iowa State's coach.

He will be paid well to meet those challenges head-on.

Iowa State said Campbell agreed to a six-year contract with a first-year salary of $2 million.

His 36th birthday is today.  Nice birthday gift, that $2 million first-year salary. 

“Matt’s coaching and playing achievements are extraordinary, but we were even more impressed by his character, leadership and commitment to his family,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said. 

“I could not be more excited to welcome Matt, Erica and their children to the Cyclone family.  We are truly blessed to have one of the industry’s rising stars leading our football program.”

I refrain from predicting success in the Big 12 Conference for a coach--Campbell or any other coach--from the Mid-American Conference.

But I wish the new man in Ames the best.

He is in a league in which it is very difficult for a football program like Iowa State to succeed-- whether the coach is a young man or a man not-so-young.

In my working years, I closely observed Iowa State coaches such as Clay Stapleton, Johnny Majors, Earle Bruce, Donnie Duncan, Jim Criner, Jim Walden and Dan McCarney.

None had it easy.

Some left the Cyclone job on their own terms.

Some didn't.

Campbell, whose team handed Iowa State one of its nine losses in the just-concluded 2015 season.

Toledo officials were well aware that Campbell would be in high demand by athletic directors elsewhere, and the Mid-American Conference university tried hard to keep him.

But Toledo's efforts failed, the Toledo Blade reported. The newspaper was among the first to report that Campbell agreed to become the successor to the fired Paul Rhoads at Iowa State.

Reports surfaced that Toledo had offered Campbell a contract that would've made him the highest-paid coach in the Mid-American Conference. He earned $495,000 this year.

"We think very highly of Matt Campbell and have made him a very generous ffer to keep him as our head football coach," news sources quoted Toledo athletic director Mike O'Brien.

On Sept. 19, Campbell's Toledo team defeated Iowa State, 30-23, in double overtime at Toledo, Ohio.

Reports say Iowa State will pay a $200,000 buyout to bring Campbell on board. Campbell had a 35-15 record in four seasons at Toledo after taking over for Tim Beckman in 2011.

Campbell perhaps agreed to terms with Iowa State even before the fired Paul Rhoads finished a 3-9 season at Iowa State with a 30-6 loss Saturday at West Virginia. Rhoads was paid $2.2 million this year at Iowa State.

I hope Campbell fares better at Iowa State than another former Toledo coach--Frank
Frank Lauterbur
Lauterbur--did at Iowa in the 1970s.

Lauterbur, who won his final 23 games and had a 48-32-2 record from 1963-1970 at Toledo, was hired as Iowa's 22nd head coach prior to the 1971 season. 

I got to know Lauterbur well, and regarded him as a good friend.

Unfortunately, his success at Toledo didn't follow him to Iowa.

Lauterbur lasted just three seasons in Iowa City.  

His first Hawkeye team had a 1-10 record, his second was 3-7-1, his third was 0-11.

That 1973 season was nightmarish for lots of folks, including me. I was writing plenty about the Hawkeyes in those years [when Iowa went through 19 consecutive seasons of non-winning football].

Wikipedia described Lauterbur's final season at Iowa this way:

"The 1973 season was a disaster. Iowa finished with the worst record in school history. The Hawkeyes lost all 11 games to finish the year 0–11. The only other winless season in Iowa history occurred in 1889, [the university's] inaugural campaign, when the Hawkeyes lost the only game they scheduled that year.
Ducky Lewis
"Despite the 0–11 record, Lauterbur had two years left on a five-year contract, and then-athletic director Bump Elliott considered retaining him. Iowa fans were unhappy with Lauterbur, obviously, but they were more unhappy with defensive coordinator Don "Ducky" Lewis. 

"Lewis' defensive units, so spectacular at Toledo, were horrible at Iowa. In 1973, Iowa yielded 401 points on the season, the most in school history. In addition, Lewis was notoriously profane in public, which embarrassed and appalled several fans. That might be tolerated if Iowa was winning, but not at 0–11.
"Elliott approached Lauterbur about firing Lewis as defensive coordinator. Lauterbur refused, stating that he had to have full control of his staff and that it was his right, not Elliott's, to hire and fire assistant coaches. 

"Elliott agreed, but then reminded Lauterbur that it was his right, as athletic director, to hire and fire head football coaches by relieving him of his duties as Iowa head coach. 

"Lauterbur's loyalty to his assistant backfired, as now Lauterbur and Lewis were both out of a job. Ron Maly, a reporter for the Des Moines Register, wrote, "On the day he was fired, Lauterbur held an umbrella over my head so he could protect the notepad I was using from the rain that was falling near the stadium. He was a good guy, but Iowa clearly was not the right place for him."


Record as Head Coach

2011 Toledo 1-0 Military Bowl Champions
2012 Toledo 9-4 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
2013 Toledo 7-5
2014 Toledo 9-4 GoDaddy Bowl Champions
2015 Toledo 9-2 TBA

Coaching Experience

Bowling Green, Graduate Assistant, 2003-04
Mount Union, Offensive Coordinator, 2005-06
Bowling Green, Assistant Coach, 2007-08
Toledo, Run Game Coordinator, 2009 & Offensive Coordinator, 2010-11
Toledo, Head Coach, 2012-15

Bowl Games As Coach

Bowling Green, 2003 Motor City Bowl
Bowling Green, 2004 GMAC Bowl
Bowling Green, 2007 GMAC Bowl
Toledo, 2010 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Toledo, 2011 Military Bowl
Toledo, 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Toledo, 2015 GoDaddy Bowl (’14 season)

National Championships (Division III)

Mount Union (player), 2000-2001-2002
Mount Union (offensive coordinator), 2005-2006

[Source Iowa State University]

Friday, November 27, 2015

Congratulations, Hawkeyes. You were clearly the better team in the day-after-Thanksgiving football game you played at Nebraska. I'm glad your coach is Kirk Ferentz and not Mike Riley. I'm glad your quarterback is C. J. Beathard and not Tommy Armstrong. I'm glad Jordan Canzeri is your running back instead of What's His Name? from the Cornhuskers.. And I'm glad you'll be taking a historic 12-0 record into the Big Ten championship game at Indianapolis. That's what today's 28-20 victory accomplished. Some people might say it wasn't a classsic, but who cares what other people think? When you're on the brink of getting into the College Football Playoff, you can say stuff like that.

This Is How It's Supposed To Be. Almost


This is what it's all about. 


This is what the TV people had in mind when they decided to match up the football teams from Iowa and Nebraska on the Friday after Thanksgiving. 

Sort of. 

Today's game in Lincoln is big.


The only thing keeping today's 2:30 p.m. game at Memorial Stadium from being a huge national event is Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers didn't fulfill their side of the bargain. 

They're supposed to have an 11-0 or 10-1 record and be playing for something decent, too. 

Instead, Nebraska has a disappointing 5-6 record, considerably unlike the records many other Husker teams had heading into this type of late-November game. 

Where have you gone, Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne?

And when's the last time Barry Switzer of Oklahoma was heard from?

By the way, I don't use the term Black Friday for anything. 

I don't like it. 

I think it's dumb. 

So you won't read it again in these columns. 

This is the 26th straight time Nebraska has
played in a football game on the day after Thanksgiving. 

The Huskers are 19-6 in those games against Oklahoma, Colorado and Iowa. 

Nebraska can sew up an invitation to a bowl game by winning today, but that's a far cry from what Husker teams of old were shooting for at this time of year. 

National championships were on the minds of Nebraska coaches, players and fans in those days. 

However, the words national championship can certainly be properly on the minds of Iowa coaches, players and fans. 

A victory today would give the Hawkeyes a historic 12-0 regular season record and solidify their place among the four teams in the national playoff picture. 

So the ABC-TV sports scheduling people are finally happy about Iowa-Nebraska. 

No blah matchup this time.

The ratings will be huge. 

I hope the game is as good as the expectation. 

Whatever,  I'm expecting the Hawkeyes to win.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rob Ash Treated Unfairly

Here's another email from the former Drake athlete who expressed strong dissatisfaction in one of my columns yesterday about lousy coverage of Bulldog athletics by the Des Moines Register:
Rob Ash

"Did you see the news this morning that Rob Ash was fired at Montana State? He had been there 9 years with a record of 70 wins and 38 losses. 

"Only 5-6 this year and he only beat Montana twice and lost 7.  I still think they will find it difficult to find a better coach than Rob.

"Thanks for putting the email in your blog. [Register sportswriter] Andrew Logue did call me last night, and basically said they don't cover everything the way they should. He is covering tonight's game with Creighton."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS--I agree with you on Rob Ash, who had been a very successful football coach at Drake before going to Montana State.  He became the winningest coach in Montana State history. Clearly, he was treated unfairly. Sometimes, though, it's not a case of how many games you won, but which teams you beat. Ash obviously didn't didn't defeat  Montana often enough to please his bosses. Ash's teams won three Big Sky Conference titles, but a 54-35 loss last week to Montana sealed his doom].