Sunday, September 27, 2015



As you know, I've been paying attention to collegiate football for a lot of years. 

A lot of decades, really. 

A lot more years and decades than I care to remember, I guess. 

But it was fun 70 years ago, and it's fun now. 

I don't spend as much time following the game as I did earlier in my life, but I observe enough to draw a conclusion or two about the landscape. 

I got a close-up look at Iowa' 2015 team yesterday in its final non-conference game, and came away impressed.  

The Hawkeyes manhandled Dan McCarney's North Texas team, 62-16, in Kinnick Stadium. 

I felt bad for McCarney, a friend of mine dating back to his days as an Iowa player and later as an assistant coach at Iowa and Wisconsin, and the head coach at Iowa State.

He's a man I respect, but he and his team were clearly in over their heads yesterday. 

However, this Hawkeye team, coached by Kirk Ferentz, is capable of doing that to an opponent.  

Frankly, I don't think there's any team on the schedule that Iowa can't beat. 

After all, this is not the most difficult schedule in major-college football.

I'm not saying the Hawkeyes will go 12-0 and play in the Big Ten championship game, but I think we're looking at a team that could finish the regular season 10-2 or 9-3.  

Iowa has a 4-0 record heading into its Big Ten opener next Saturday at Wisconsin. 

You know and I know that will be a difficult game for the Hawkeyes.

Wisconsin is always difficult for Iowa.

But the Hawkeyes are a capable of winning this game, and they are capable of winning the other road games at Northwestern, Indiana and Nebraska. 

They certainly are capable of winning the rest of their home games against Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Purdue. 

But to say they'll run the table is foolish. 

It doesn't work that way in collegiate football these days. 

There's far too much parity in the Big Ten and in every other major conference. 

So I'm being conservative. 

Experience has taught me that. 

Right now, I'll predict the regular-season record to be 9-3.  

The losses will be, or could be, to Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska. 

I hope I'm wrong about that previous sentence. 

Don't forget, I wrote that Iowa is capable of winning 'em all, and I hope it happens.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

And the State Champion [Again] Will Be Dowling


I don't particularly want to write that I told you so...but, hey, I told you so.

A few weeks ago, I wrote this in a column:

It's no secret that I'm a big follower of the athletic program at Valley High School. I've lived in West Des Moines for 48 years, and my three sons and three of my six grandchildren own diplomas from the school. A fourth grandchild will graduate from Valley in two years.

I happen to think that Valley's Gary Swenson is the best high school football coach in the state, and one of the best anywhere. He has five state championships to prove it.

But I don't necessarily think the Tigers should be ranked No. 1 in the state by the paper at this stage of the season, even though they walloped Waukee, 44-13, Friday night.

As far as I'm concerned, Valley's opponent from a few miles down the road in West Des Moines--Dowling--should be on top of the class 4-A rankings.

Dowling won the 2014 state championship, and I know coach Tom Wilson has another standout team this season.

Wilson is a very good coach and he'll have his players sky-high when they tee it up Sept. 18  against Valley in a Dowling home game at Drake Stadium.

Until the Maroons lose, they're No. 1 in my book.


Well, you and I saw what happened last night. 

Dowling manhandled Valley, 38-21, at Drake Stadium

The paper, in a typical exercise in overstatement, called it a "stunner."

The only people stunned by the outcome were those at the paper, plus perhaps a few misguided Valley fans who really thought the Tigers had a defense that could stop Dowling.

Valley is a pretty good team, but clearly not as good as Dowling.

I happen to think coach Tom Wilson's Maroons are the best team in the state, and they will run the table en route to yet another 4-A championship.

No high school football program in this state compares to the one Wilson  has constructed at Dowling.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Just What the Doctor Ordered


My left ankle wasn't feeling worth a damn a while back.

It soreness was affecting my long-distance walking.

So I went to a doctor who specializes in feet and ankles. 

He looked at the X-rays of my ankle and said, "I'll tell you one thing right now. You've got arthritis." 

"That doesn't surprise me," I said. "I broke ankle back in the days when I was still working."

"How'd it happen?" the doctor asked.

"Well, they were getting ready to hold the Big Ten wrestling meet in Carver-Hawkeye Arena at Iowa City, "and they were moving some of the bleachers to make room for the mats.

"I made the mistake of jumping down from the bleachers, which were higher than normal, onto the floor.  I was walking around with a boot on my ankle the next morning. The ankle was broken."

One or two comments later, the doctor urged me to start taking fish oil pills. Maybe they would help my arthritic ankle feel better, he said.

"I take four fish oil pills every morning," he said.

I haven't started doing that yet.

Maybe tomorrow I will.

At least fish oil in some form.

You see, I read something in the health section of the New York Times that said fish oil, though controversial, might be good for kids.

And if fish oil is good for kids, it might be good for adults.

I'm thinking I might skip the pills and start taking a spoonful of cod liver oil every morning, like my mother told me to do.

I'll let you know in a few weeks how my ankle is doing.

Don't expect Lawrence Phillips to be participating in any pregame coin toss or even being in the football stadium at Nebraska anytime soon. Phillips, a Cornhusker running back from 1993-1995, who later played in the National Football League and the Canadian Football League is--as Muhammad Ali used to say--a bad man. Phillips has been in a California prison since 2008 for convictions that included domestic violence, spousal abuse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft. His sentence was for 31 years. Now Phillips has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his prison cellmate, Damian Soward, 37. Soward was found unresponsive in his cell last April. Wire service reports say Phillips is facing a term of 25 years to life, plus 15 years. Why the 15 years? Just for being a bad guy, I guess

Lawrence Phillips

Tuesday, September 1, 2015