Monday, January 31, 2011

Iowa Football Team in Turmoil

The Iowa Hawkeye football team has experienced several negative incidents over the last several weeks and months.

The latest was about 10 days ago when 13 players were admitted to the hospital. Too much exercise during workouts was the reported cause. It’s a condition called ‘rhabdomyolysis’ which can develop into serious kidney problems.

Rumors said that the player’s problem was more than excessive exercise. Coach Kirk Ferentz said it was the exercise.

Regardless of what happened, this is bad. It’s bad for the effected players. It’s bad for the entire Iowa football program.

I have often sung the praises of Ferentz. I believe he is a good person and a good coach. But his program is becoming a problem, a big problem. Too many incidents. It is becoming a pattern.

I understand that Ferentz is in charge of about 110 players. He cannot baby sit them all. Players will make bad decisions and find trouble. One or two or three incidents happen, but a pattern of continued bad behavior makes you wonder about the program.

At the end of the day, Ferentz is the CEO of the Iowa football team. He receives serious money for that task. He needs to clean this mess up and in a hurry. Life has consequences and as the football boss, Ferentz should be held to high consequences.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

McDermotts Return to Northern Iowa in Enemy Clothing

Tonight’s Northern Iowa-Creighton Missouri Valley game is more than just another conference battle. It’s all about relationships and emotions will be high in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Creighton coach Greg McDermott is a Northern Iowa (UNI) graduate. He later coached UNI to three straight NCAA tournament appearances. McDermott put UNI on the national collegiate basketball stage.

McDermott left for Iowa State and UNI hired his top assistant Ben Jacobson. McDermott and Jacobson are dear friends. Jacobson signed McDermott’s son, Doug, last spring to play at UNI.

Dad McDermott was on the hot seat at Iowa State and jumped at the chance when Creighton called. Doug then wanted to play for his dad at Creighton. UNI and coach Jacobson graciously released Doug from his UNI commitment.

So the McDermotts return home tonight but wearing the visiting colors. Fans around Cedar Falls are excited about this game. How will they welcome or not welcome the McDermotts back to UNI? The nation can watch the reaction on ESPNU at 8. p.m. Central Time.

By the way, there is a McDermott still at UNI. One of Greg’s sons is a student there. Sounds like he will side with the family tonight. Good move. Dad might be paying his college bill.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kansas State's Frank Martin has Anger Issues

Kansas State’s Frank Martin is a pretty good basketball coach. You don’t have a career record of 80-33 and know little about coaching the sport.

But I’m afraid Martin is becoming better known for his antics on the sideline than his coaching ability. Last night’s Kansas State-Baylor game on ESPN was a prime example.

The television cameras seemed fixed on Marin’s consistent anger with his players. If Martin’s expressions counted for words, he could write a long, long story.

Announcer Brent Musburger was constantly talking about Martin. His sidekick, former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bobby Knight, said nothing. That didn’t surprise me. Knight display of anger in his coaching days was well documented.

Like Knight, it takes a special player to perform under Martin. You need great self esteem and a short memory, because if you make a mistake or two or 20, you will hear about it.

People say Martin is a good guy off the court. But you feel for the guy on the court. Think what he is doing to his health with all that consistent anger. He keeps that up and Martin will have a short coaching career.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't Mess With the Texas Longhorns

Texas proved it is a force again this season in the Big 12 Conference when the Longhorns beat Kansas in Lawrence Saturday.

Teams don’t go into Allen Fieldhouse and handle the Jayhawks like that. Texas didn’t require late game magic. The Longhorns just took care of business. They simply defeated No. 2 ranked Kansas.

I was thinking that Kansas was far-and-above the best team in the Big 12. Now, Saturday’s result shows the Jayhawks have company. And a loss might be good for Kansas.

But Saturday’s spotlight belongs to the Longhorns. Coach Rick Barnes has produced a solid, consistent program in Austin. That is saying something because basketball is like a stepchild to Texas football.

But if Texas keeps winning games like it did Saturday, maybe Texas football talk will take a back seat for at least a couple weeks. Maybe…

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baylor Basketball

I had the privilege last week to hang out with the Baylor men’s basketball team when it was in Iowa to play Iowa State.

Sometimes we lament the bad things in college sports, but this was an occasion to celebrate the good things. The Baylor basketball family was friendly. They spoke to us (a friend was with me) and made us feel welcomed in their group.

These Texans didn’t appreciate the Iowa winter weather, however. That made me laugh. I saw one guy with a Baylor stocking hat. Didn’t know they sold stocking hats in Texas. At least, the Baylor people could return to Texas. We poor Iowans have to stay here and tolerate snow, ice, cold and wind chill readings below zero.

On the court, the Bears need some victories. They have lost two straight heading into this afternoon’s home game against Oklahoma State. At 12-5 (2-2 in the Big 12), this is a must-win situation. The old saying you need to protect your home court comes into play here. Baylor already has fallen to No. 3 Kansas at home.

Maybe the Bears should get some tips from the Baylor women’s team. That squad is 17-1and ranked No. 1 in the USA.

Friday, January 21, 2011

ACC is Down This Season

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is far from a mighty league this season.

I follow the ACC because of my interest in North Carolina State. Tuning into the Duke-NC State contest the other night, I was shocked to see the overall records of each conference team.

Yes, the ACC has a number of young players this year. But we aren’t that far removal from the first of the year in which many teams support glossy records despite the competition. Duke is the only team with a glossy record at 17-1.

Three traditional top-tier teams are really struggling. Maryland is just 11-7, while Georgia Tech is barely over .500 at 8-7. Wake Forest is 7-12.

Florida State and Boston College (each 14-5) lead a group of five teams with five overall losses. These two teams should make the NCAA tournament. Boston College’s Reggie Jackson (not the baseball player, ha) is a dynamite talent.

The ACC will need some serious marketing to receive more than four bids this year. The league should definitely sell its rich tradition. But right now, the only real selling point is the potential in the future years.

What do you think of the ACC?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Texas Longhorns Get Their Own Network

They say everything is bigger in Texas and that holds true for Texas Longhorn athletics.

According to reports, Texas and ESPN will join forces to offer a 24-hour Longhorn network later this year.

Now you know why the Longhorns didn’t jump to the Big Ten conference or any other conference. Texas doesn’t want to become part of the pie, it wants to become the whole pie.

Notre Dame was the first school to televise its games exclusively. Then the Big Ten rolled out its network and put millions of dollars in its member-schools laps. By the way if you have cable or satellite, you are contributing to the Big Ten’s bottom line.

So now it’s Texas’ turn to make the big splash and the big dollars. Maybe Texas football coach Mack Brown will get a pay raise. That’s my attempt at a joke, sorry. For my foreign readers, Brown is making 5.1 million per year. That is huge American dollars.

My biggest question in this is what’s ESPN’s role? Will the sports network plaster Longhorn ads on its other channels? Will they give Texas more game exposure on its other channels? Will ESPN become an arm of the Texas athletic department?

At the very least, prepare yourself to see plenty of the burnt orange color scheme and the hook ‘em Horn’s symbol.

What do you think of Texas’ plan?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's Wrong with Kansas State Basketball?

Manhattan, Kansas, dubbed the “Little Apple,” is the home of the Kansas State Wildcats. Unfortunately the apple has been pretty sour these days with the misfortunes of the Wildcat basketball team.

Kansas State was a darling of preseason polls. Many polls picked the Wildcats in the top five in the country. But then they played the games.

Kansas State has lost three of four games in the Big 12 Conference and are just 13-6 overall. The Wildcats are tied for next-to-the-bottom in the league with Oklahoma.

Guard Jacob Pullen is an all-star player but one man doesn’t define a team. He and Curtis Kelly were the only returning starters back from a 29-8 club.

This team misses point guard Denise Clemente who was a senior last year. But the Wildcats better starting consistently winning or they are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament.

Kansas State has developed a solid tradition under coach Frank Martin. Could it be the opposing teams are fired up to play the Wildcats? Could Kansas State be thinking about its former press clips? Do the players need a kinder, gentler Martin?

The Wildcats are definitely a surprise in college basketball this season. The kind of surprise the Little Apple doesn’t appreciation.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fred Hoiberg has Iowa State Fans Excited

I was in the stands last Saturday for the Iowa State-Baylor game in Ames, Iowa.

As I witnessed, there is a new attitude about Iowa State basketball and it’s all because of Fred Hoiberg.

Hoiberg is an Iowa State icon. He grew up in Ames. He spurned major offers from other programs to play college basketball at Iowa State for Johnny Orr. He starred at Iowa State. Fans fondly called him “The Mayor.”

Hoiberg was named coach at his alma mater last spring. The guy brought NBA playing and administrative experience to the job. Hoiberg had zero head coaching experience however.

But Iowa State figured he was “The Mayor.” Why not provide him the keys to the Cyclone car?

Expectations were low. Media people picked Iowa State near the bottom of the Big 12 Conference. Hoiberg needed some coaching experience and some players.

Well, so much for expectation. Iowa State is off to a 14-4 start (1-2 in the conference) and playing with a huge amount of spirit and energy. Not bad for a team that uses only about seven players due to a thin roster of bodies.

Hilton Coliseum was loud and rocking Saturday. Fans have bought into Hoiberg and his team.

The Mayor has definitely returned home.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Colorado is Big 12 Conference Surprise

Don’t adjust your glasses college basketball fans. The Colorado Buffaloes are tied for first in the Big 12 Conference at 3-0.

Yes, I know it’s early in league play and the Buffs could fade like a race horse in the lead, but this is Colorado basketball we are talking about. Go figure.

Colorado does defeat some teams in the altitude in Boulder, but this team looks like it has a new attitude. The Buffs defeated ranked Missouri at home, traveled to Kansas State and defeated another ranked team and finished off Oklahoma State in Boulder last Saturday.

Winning at Kansas State opened many eyes. In the past, Colorado won a road game in conference play about as often as you can purchase a steak for $10 at a fancy restaurant.

Tad Boyle, a Colorado native, is the Buff’s first-year coach. Whatever he is selling, it is working.

But Colorado has landmines ahead: two straight road games and then Kansas at home. After that stretch, we will know if the Buffs are contenders or pretenders.

Now that they have awakened Big 12 foes, the scouting reports will become more intense against Colorado. Plus, Colorado is playing its final Big 12 season. With the exception of Nebraska (another departing team), remaining conference teams don’t want the Buffs to accomplish anything near the top.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Is the Big Ten Serious?

According to news reports, the Big Ten has decided to keep its Leaders and Legends divisions for at least one season. Wow.

You might recall there was terrible backlash when the conference first announced its decision to go with the two names. Is the Big Ten just plain stubborn?

I have written about this situation before. Remember my comparison about old Coke and new Coke? After replacing new Coke with old Coke, the company caved to the public outcry when people wanted old Coke back.

The Big Ten could have saved itself some time and money and listened to its public outcry. But to paraphrase an old song, “Some people have to learn the hard way.”

Obviously the conference is hoping people will forget their outcry and buy into these names. But I say good luck with that. I wouldn’t bet the family farm on it.

It’s a new beginning for the Big Ten. But I see shades of old in this decision.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Special Day in Ames, Iowa

The bad news was No. 3 Kansas beat a scrappy Iowa State squad last night in Ames.

The good news was Iowa State honored legendary basketball coach Johnny Orr yesterday. Orr receives the credit for putting Cyclone basketball on the map in the 80s and 90s.

Iowa State unveiled a lifelike statue of Orr during a ceremony at Hilton Coliseum. The statue sits inside Hilton Coliseum along with displays of Orr’s teams and accomplishments. There is also a bar for Iowa State donors in the same area.

I watched the ceremony online and it brought back fond memories of my time at Iowa State during the Orr years. Hilton Coliseum was one rocking place then.

The 83-year-old Orr was vintage Orr during his remarks with one exception. He became emotional when he thanked Iowa State for the honor and his time as Cyclone coach. Then he returned to his usual barbs that endeared Johnny to Iowa State fans.

He said that when he is dead, people cannot get rid of him now because he has a statue. He told current coach Fred Hoiberg (a former Orr player) that Kansas great Danny Manny never won a game in Hilton Coliseum. Talk about putting some pressure on the former pupil when Hoiberg battled Kansas that same night.

It was also great to see Orr’s wife with him. She has experienced major health challenges in recent years.

Johnny Orr loves people. Iowa State showed yesterday how much it loves Johnny Orr.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Michigan Isn't Special Anymore

Michigan hired a football coach yesterday.

Rumors said the Wolverines wanted Jim Harbaugh. He said no. The Wolverines apparently wanted Les Miles. He said no. Finally, San Diego State’s Brady Hoke said yes.

The Michigan job is getting to be like the guy desperate for a prom date. The Wolverines in their last two football hires were moving down their date list at a good clip.

This proves to me that the Michigan job is no longer special. In the old days, would anybody ever consider turning down the Michigan head coaching job?

Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles are Michigan men. Harbaugh liked the San Francisco 49ers better. Miles realized the grass was still pretty green at Louisiana State (LSU).

I think Michigan fans know realize their program is no longer larger than life. Fans at Notre Dame, Florida State and Southern Cal have also recently experienced that feeling with their teams.

Brady Hoke may come to Ann Arbor and do a great job. But the once mighty program has serious problems. The recent coaching search is a perfect snapshot of the difficulties.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Random Thoughts on BCS Championship Game

The NCAA should ban the Southeastern Conference (SEC) from the championship game for a long while. The SEC teams are too good. The conference wins the championship too often. Give some other conference a chance.

Despite the close final score, Auburn dominated Oregon. Oregon played tentative and out of sync. Again, the Ducks had trouble on the big stage.

I thought Oregon’s hot yellow shoes and socks were well, hot. The only problem was they looked too much like the officials’ penalty flags.

I wonder if Auburn’s Gene Chizik thought about his heading coaching days at Iowa State last night after the Tiger’s victory. After going 5-19 in two years at Iowa State, Chizik continues on his magical ride.

I loved Oregon coach Chip Kelly’s responses to sideline reporter Erin Andrews’ questions before the game. He basically said to Andrews without saying it: “These questions are really stupid ones and here are my bland answers.”

Kelly and Chizik are tough football guys. I guess that’s one reason their football teams played for the title.

If I was Auburn, I wouldn’t build a permanent case for the championship trophy. The Tigers may have to give it back some year. The Cam Newton situation is still fluid.

And some final general thoughts. The college season is officially over with the exception of a couple all-star games. Now recruiting is the center stage. Then spring football.

By the way, spring football is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nike Versus Under Armour for the Championship

Oregon and Auburn battle for the BCS National Championship tonight. But another game within the game will occur. Apparel companies Nike (Oregon) and Under Armour (Auburn) will also fight for exposure.

Some call the University of Oregon Nike University after Nike founder, Phil Knight, an Oregon grad. Oregon has the hippest uniforms of any college football team out there. Maybe Oregon will reveal new uniforms tonight. Don’t underestimate Knight’s desire to make a splash. Remember Nike is Nike.

Auburn will sport uniforms from an up-and-coming apparel company. You see more college teams wearing Under Armour Stuff. Texas Tech and Maryland (where the founder went to school) come to mind. Under Armour wants to make a splash too and it wants part of Nike’s pie.

While Oregon has the advantage in the apparel race, the Ducks could be lacking in the game. Sure they have firepower, but can they handle the pressure of tonight’s big stage.
Then their opponent, Auburn, brings Cam Newton to the contest. The Tigers seem to handle pressure and distractions well.

Enjoy this championship game. And don’t forget to watch the apparel race. Remember, it’s the game within the game.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bowl Season Almost Over

Whew, what a bowl season. Too bad I missed most of the games (just kidding).

Today is bowl game No. 34. Tomorrow is bowl game No. 35. And then, it is over. Was the bowl season as long as the regular season or did it just seemed like it?

I really enjoy college football but I think we have reached enough bowl games now. In fact, there are way too many.

I cannot remember this many bowl games being played between January 2 and the national championship game. What happened to all the games on January 1? In the old days, my eyes became fizzy from watching two many New Year’s bowl games. Now, I have lost interest due to the lengthy bowl season. I watched only two complete bowls games this season.

I get the biggest reasons why this bowl marathon—money and TV. But please again remember the old days when a bowl game was a reward for a successful season. Now, 7-5 and 6-6 earns trips. At this rate, it will not be long before 5-7 and your team earns a trip.

The only way to stop this nonsense is in the hands of the fans. Quit attending the bowl games and quit watching them on TV. The bowls and TV will receive the message and will cut back on the offerings.

Sounds like a great result to me. What do think?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Good for Stanford's Andrew Luck

Stanford ‘lucked' out yesterday when quarterback Andrew Luck announced his was returning to school and postponing his entrance to the National Football League (NFL).

Luck may have been the No. 1 player taken in the draft but decided to continue working on his architectural design degree and of course, play football at the California school.

I say good for him. Enjoy the full college experience. Have fun. Earn your degree. Continue learning life lessons in a college environment. You can always work. The college life at a youthful age only happens once.

Luck is obviously an outstanding football player and a good student. He’s at Stanford. Isn’t that termed the Harvard of the West? Athletics and academics are serious business at Stanford. Luck is a student-athlete in the full sense of the term.

Stanford’s successful season was one of college football’s feel good stories. And with Luck returning, that success could definitely continue next season. Maybe Luck’s decision might convince his much sought-after coach (Jim Harbaugh) to return to northern California too.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

College Announcer Ron Franklin Out at ESPN

I have been following the situation with broadcaster Ron Franklin this week.

Franklin lost his college play-by-play job at ESPN when he apparently called fellow coworker Jeannine Edwards “sweet baby” and she didn’t appreciated it. Edwards does sideline work for ESPN. For my foreign readers, sideline reporters add interesting tidbits about the players, coaches and statistics during the telecast.

ESPN didn’t give Franklin three strikes. He apparently was on watch after another incident with a reporter about five years ago. So in Franklin’s case, two strikes and you’re out.

I enjoyed Franklin’s college football and basketball work. I live in Big Ten and Big 12 country. Franklin did a good job with Big 12 telecasts. He had a pleasing style. I will miss hearing him.

Edwards is also a good reporter. She’s a no nonsense type, but enjoyable. Her main interest is on the horse racing side for ESPN.

It’s really a sad situation. I’m thinking maybe a little give and take from both Franklin and Edwards and this mess would not have exploded.

In the end, Franklin didn’t subscribe to the old saying, “If you don’t have something good to say about somebody, say nothing at all.”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Michigan's Rich Rodriquez in Limbo

As of Wednesday morning, Michigan coach Rich Rodriquez’s head is still on the chopping block.

The word on his fate is supposedly coming down later today in Ann Arbor.

Media reports yesterday said he was fired. Michigan denied the rumors.

So this is developing into a soap opera. What is Michigan actually doing? Are they working out the severance package with Rodriquez’s lawyer? Are they waiting for Jim Harbaugh to say yes to a coaching offer? Do they have someone else in mind to take the job immediately after the Rodriquez clearance?

A national sports guy said that Michigan would do Rodriquez a favor by firing him because of the constant speculation.

Rodriquez and Michigan were a terrible marriage. According to rumors, he was Michigan’s third or fourth choice. It played like a third or fourth choice.

Michigan is Michigan. It doesn’t do the spread offense. The Wolverines run the football and mix in the pass. They play solid defense. They play old style Big Ten football.

Rodriquez will be fine. He will find another coaching job and resume his success.

On the other hand, Michigan is a troubled place. The Wolverines need some counseling and probably a Michigan guy. At least then, we will recognize the style of football in Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Jim Harbaugh Should Stay in College

Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh is one sought after fellow.

Last night, he helped guide the Cardinal to a win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl that cemented an amazing 12-1 record. I stated yesterday that TCU’s Rose Bowl win was the biggest new story of 2011, well Stanford’s season is 1b.

Stanford’s success has led to many Harbaugh suitors. Rumors have Harbaugh linked to NFL jobs like San Francisco and Denver and at his alma mater, Michigan. Harbaugh is in a good professional spot.

Obviously, Harbaugh needs to do what’s best for him and his family. But I would like to see him stay coaching in the college ranks. From a distance, Harbaugh seems like a good guy. He cares about his players. He’s a tough but fair coach. Why not continue to make a difference in the lives of young men 18-22?

Harbaugh should really weigh the quality of life issue. College football is a business, but pro football is really, really a business. In the sports world, it’s tough to beat a Saturday afternoon or night at a college football game. It’s a great experience.

The college game needs guys like Harbaugh. Do us a favor Jim and keep making your living on Saturdays in the fall.

Monday, January 3, 2011

TCU is BCS Buster

Congratulations to the TCU Horned Frogs. It is the biggest sports story of the young New Year.

TCU came into the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin under pressure. As a non-BCS participant, the Horned Frogs were representing the smaller programs throughout the country. They were invited to the Rose Bowl party only because TCU forced its way through the door. And I say good for them.

Then the game started.

TCU was ready. The Horned Frogs took the Badgers punches and punched back. They had a plan and they had emotion. Those two things in football often spell success. Last Saturday, success was spelled TCU.

Ponder the fallout from this game. Wisconsin disappoints approximately 50,000 Badger fans in attendance. The flight back to Madison was probably somber. The BCS gurus are probably evaluating the formula regarding non-BCS schools.

But then again, think about the celebration in Fort Worth, Texas, home of TCU. The Horned Frogs came, saw and conquered. They were on a mission and the Horned Frogs completed the job.

I wonder how many hits the TCU website has taken since the victory. Sometimes exposure is all about marketing and to use a baseball term, TCU hit a home run on all fronts.