Posted on: September 13, 2011 2:45 pm

Facts From Iowa vs Iowa St.

Fact #1 - Kirk Ferentz needs to grow a pair. My first thought was with the 20 yard FG was go for it from the 2 yard line. Worst case, ISU has it around their own 1 yard line. I won't fault him for taking the points there though. Where I do fault him is two other plays. 1) The end of regulation with over a minute and two timeouts. We play for overtime. As well as we were stopping the ISU offense, this made no sense. Try for 3 and end it there. 2) Still unable to stop the ISU offense, we go for 3 in the third OT. 4th and 6 might be excuseable. After a 5 yard penalty and 4th and 1, it is not. Go for the first down because again you have not been able to get a stop without a turnover.

Fact #2 - Ken O'Keefe either needs to stop being so predictable with his offense, or let him pursue greener pastures. I heard Indiana was looking at him for their head coaching job last time around. When Iowa was pinned deep it was the predictable run, run, pass that ISU sacked. Just keep pounding the ball and it will eventually get snuffed out. Coker got some big runs, but eventually it died down. This caused Vandenberg to never really get into a rhythm for throwing, just for handing it off. He started making better passes late, but it was too late. The only intelligent thing the FSN commentators were saying the entire game was that we should be throwing it deep to take advantage of the 6 inch height advantage our receivers had on their corners. We tried it once early. It worked. We stopped trying to do it. It's not a normal part of our playbook, and God forbid we try to do something that is working on a given day on that given day.

Fact #3 - Norm Parker needs to adapt or retire. Throughout the game we kept making Steele look better with our pass coverage. The middle is always soft. Anybody in the Big Ten knows that, and that's why we can never win the conference out right. Ferentz is able to recruit high caliber players to cover up for the deficiencies on both sides of the ball. But when we don't cover the middle, and even give receivers a 5+ yard cushion when the ball is on the 4 yard line, we're not going to get many stops. Add that to not knowing how to cover an option, and  you're doomed against Steele.

Fact #4 - Kenan Davis dropped an easy ball that would have likely led to a third OT TD. Upset about that too, but can't and won't fault him as much as the coaches that put us in that situation in the first place.

Fact #5 - Steele did show he is the real deal today. He made it a close game, and Iowa coaching put them over the top. He'll make sure Iowa doesn't have an easy time with the Cyclones next year in Iowa City next year too. He could get his team bowl eligible this year, and give the top of the Big 12 some issues. I don't know if they're good enough to do what they did today week after week because we all know ISU gets pumped up more for Iowa than anybody else, but the tools are there to get to probably 7 wins this year. And next year, they should get there and beyond in the Mountain West or where ever they end up.

Congrats ISU, and Iowa get to work. I'm getting a bit worried about our own bowl eligibility right now.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 14, 2009 2:42 pm

Mark Martin




I have not regularly watched racing since Mark Martin's final season in 2006. Though, I did catch the 2007 Daytona 500, as I thought it might even be his final chance to win that race. I was devastated when he was passed on the final lap. I thought for sure that the Cubs of NASCAR was at least going to get the Daytona 500 victory that he so deserved that year since he was never able to quite capture the Cup Championship he has always deserved. .02 seconds. That was it, as Harvick passed him by. Second place. Always second place.


I remember my unwarranted anger toward his former teammate (former by just one race) Matt Kenseth, for helping push Harvick past Mark. Mark Martin, a true class act. A man that must be a great teammate. A man that would have still helped Kenseth push past Harvick had the roles been reversed. Kenseth goes and pushes Harvick past Martin. He helps Harvick. He stabs Martin in the back. And, so perhaps my anger is still there.


Damn overtime rules. Damn green, white, checker. Years ago, that race belonged to Mark. Mark won the Daytona 500. Mark failed to win the Daytona 505. The things NASCAR has done over recent years that have ruined the purity of the races are numerous as they try to keep the popularity they suddenly gained in the '90s. Whether it be green, white, checker or their new tendency to call cautions for no reason just to get the pack closer together and sometimes seemingly just to get golden boys Jimmie Johnson or Junior closer to the front. Or the horrible Chase. A points system that worked for decades is no longer good enough.


True, this Chase nearly helped Martin in 2002, but he's been second place before this wretched system ('98, '94, and '90), and he has finished in the top 10 in points in every year he has raced a full season since 1989 except 2001 and 2003. He returned to fourth place finishes in 04 and 05, shutting up all those who thought he was over the hill. And he was winning the standings when his 'retirement' became official in 2007. How I wished he would change his mind. The full time 8 ride was offered to him, and he turned it down. He stuck to his guns.


But now he's back. He's starting the Daytona 500 second. Kind of where he left off really. And I am back, paying attention to NASCAR. More importantly, paying attention to Mark's final season. Hoping he can get both, that Daytona 500 victory, and the Cup Championship that he deserves before his racing days, and my watching days, are done.


#6 - Forever.

Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Mark Martin
Posted on: October 9, 2008 1:05 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2008 1:05 pm

The 6-0 Iowa Hawkeyes

What an amazing year we're having here in Iowa City. Our Hawkeyes are the surprise of the Big 10 at 6-0. I'm just amazed at the way this team is playing even with the QB competition that was played out throughout the Pittsburgh game.

Thankfully Ferentz realized that Ricky Stanzi truly was the Manzi and kept him in for the second half at Pitt. I know they were tempted to bench him at the end of the first half after he tried to get the first down and keep the momentum going, but he was merely trying to win and I don't think he truly realized the coaches were telling him to change plans. But he didn't throw it away and damn near got that first down. He showed some nice poise in his attempt. And the momentum kept flowing through him in the second half. I think Jake Christensen was 2/8 in the first half of that game which is far worse than anything Stanzi did in the first half. Stanzi was the best chance to win that game. Who knows what Jake would have done had he played the second half? Maybe trip over his own feet and fumble away our last hope?

And Shonn Greene. How amazing as he been for us this year? Taking a running game that has been hampered by youth and injuries as of late, and making it the domination of our game. Also a key is mixing it in with some more passing. There has been some greater play variety this year opening up the running lanes for Greene. It's still not perfect, and a little predictable, but not nearly as bad as last year. If we would have stopped giving him the ball so much in the second half of that Pitt game, things could have gone a different way.

Then there was that amazing Homecoming game against Northwestern. We jumped out of the gate quick, but were hampered by alot of turnovers. Yet we still pulled it out. Stanzi made a name for himself in Iowa Hawkeye legend by leading the team down the field. He got us to first and goal down those 5 points. He gave us the chance, 4 plays for a touchdown. And I admire the playcalling again. The coaches weren't afraid to run the ball even with Greene knocked silly for the game. They shocked the Northwestern defense with the Hampton run on third down and he pounded it down to the half yard line for Stanzi to sneak it in on 4th down. What an exciting win. Made me a little sad that that was the first home game I couldn't be at in 2 years.

Then, Michigan State on the road. Already with one of our rare road victories under our belt this year, we went into East Lansing with a mission. Things were a little rocky for Stanzi at the start. A pair of fumbles and a horrible PI no call in our red zone that caused a pick, but we were still in this game. I admire Ferentz for going for it on fourth down when we were borderline out of range. Missing that try wasn't a big deal. I also like how he went back out there on the 20 with the offense on another 4th and 1, but was smart enough to call the timeout when he didn't like what he saw from the Spartan defense. And then he smartly sent out the FG unit to tie it. Then the defense stepped up huge in OT, stopping the Spartans from scoring and then Greene just ran it into the end zone when all we were trying to do was set up the FG. The excitement is just too much for me to handle right now. I cannot wait for the trip to Indiana this weekend. If we can beat Pitt and MSU on the road, Indiana shouldn't be a problem.


Now I ask: Kirk and his league of assistant, would that have been so difficult? These losses can all be pinpointed on your horrible decision making.

  1. Stanzi did not appear to be even looking at the sideline when Ken was waving his arms calling for him to not run the play. He was doing what he was told before the series began. Yet we pull him for 2/8, can't find a receiver Jake?
  2. Shonn Greene is a beast. Why the hell do you stop handing him the ball in favor of 'I'll throw it 5 yards behind or in front of you' Jake?
  3. Greene had 147 yards for the game. Only 14 in the fourth quarter because we stopped giving him the ball. I know I want to stop giving the ball to a guy who had 133 yards through 3 quarters.
  4. Jake was 12/24 for the game. Admittedly, he picked it up some in the second half. But Stanzi was 7/10 in the first half averaging over 11 yards per reception.
  1. Admittedly, 5 turnovers killed. Put some glue on the returners hands or something I guess.
  2. We were still up 17-16 through 3 quarters despite having the ball for about 2 minutes of the third.
  3. Something needs to be done about our secondary players and coach as evidenced by the last drive of the first half which can be pinpointed as the momentum shifter.
  4. Stanzi marched us from our own 22 to the Northwestern 8. Greene is hurt. So we call for 4 passing plays. Bad passing plays. We had time and a timeout even. Hampton this year averages 5.1 yards per carry. Just call for one run to keep Northwestern guessing. Calling for a Hampton run on third could have shocked them all the way to a deficit.
  5. Fine, you call for 3 incompletes on the 8. Then you take that timeout and the best play call you can come up with assumes that there's no way they'll call for the all out blitz. Which they could easily do since we were forced into the obvious pass by keeping ourselves way back on the 8 for the fourth down play. Amazing.
Michigan State:
  1. First, all of this could likely been avoided had a blatant PI call been called against MSU in the first half when we were on their 5. Instead our receiver was tackled before the ball got there allowing a Spartan to pick it off behind him.
  2. I am fine with going for it on the first 4th and 1 rather than kicking the long field goal. Both Murray and Mossbrucker have the leg, but accuracy from 45+ isn't always there. There was time left, so going for it wasn't a horrible deal.
  3. I am not fine with the play calling on 4th and 1 from the MSU 20. We went out there going for it and smartly called the timeout when we knew it wasn't going to work. But with little time left, we go back out there to go for it. Dumb. Mossbrucker has proven he can make that field goal and send it to OT.
  4. Not only do we not kick the FG, but the play call was horrible. It looked like a draw/read to the left. If we're going to go for it, we need to pound it up the middle smashmouth style and get it. Not lose 2 yards.

Kirk Ferentz:
  • The 8th highest paid coach in the country
  • The 2nd highest paid coach in the Big Ten ($470,000 behind Tressel; $530,000 ahead of Rodriguez)
  • 2004: 10-2 (7-1) -- Capital One Bowl: Iowa 30, LSU 25
  • 2005: 7-5 (5-3) -- Outback Bowl: Florida 31, Iowa 24
  • 2006: 6-7 (2-6) -- Alamo Bowl : Texas 26, Iowa 24
  • 2007: 6-6 (4-4) -- No Bowl
  • 2008: 3-3 (0-2) -- Not looking good

I'm sure before this, we remember the other 10 win seasons. The BCS Bowl (I won't mention how badly we lost). The way Ferentz built up the program. But I'm starting to see this as a fluke. The decline from those days. The recruiting has fallen, the results have fallen, the coaching decisions have fallen. We lost the core of those good players between 2004 and 2005 and were unable to replace them. We lost to Western Michigan last year costing us even a Motor City berth. For the money Ferentz is getting, we should be a BCS threat every year like Tressel's Buckeyes. Or we should at least be improving and be doing alot more with what we have than we should like Rodriguez's Wolverines are beginning to do. It's just his first year with a team in shambles and they managed to beat Wisconsin this year.

I'll give Ferentz until some time next year before I call for his job. I've seem glimmers of hope from the players, and I'll let him live off of his past success until then to make up for his coaching gaffes. If we have this same start next year, we need to cut the losses and realize we should have hired Stoops when we had the chance. Actually, I've already realized that, but I'm trying to make do with what we have.
Posted on: October 5, 2008 6:28 pm

Wrigley's Fans in the NLDS

I'm sitting here watching some football and some ALDS action between the White Sox and Rays, and I'm noticing something in the latter. The Sox fans, formerly famous for only going to the park for wins are actually cheering their team. Down two games to none, down 1-0 in the game, the Sox fans cheer their team to a now 4-1 lead. They support their team.

This season the support at Wrigley was very apparent throughout most of the year. There was a skid or two where some boos rained down, but for the most part it was a good year. The year hit it's climax on September 20, a game I was actually at. The Cubs clinched the division with a 5-4 win over the Cardinals. I taped the clinching moment on my camera, the excitement afterwards, and some of the postgame celebration down by the diamond. The support was there. It was magical, the Cubs were going to go far this year.

Then the NLDS started. DeRosa homered in the second to put the Cubs up 2-0. The magic was there, the fan support was there. But then, the moment things turn bad, the support is gone. Boos start to pour on to the team. A team that has 100 years of pressure put on them by the media, the city of Chicago, and (unfortunately) some of the fans as well. I don't care if this is a 97 win team. Booing is not going to relax this team. Booing is going to put more pressure in their minds. It's bad enough Soriano is going to strike out swininging on 3 pitches in every postseason at bat no matter what, but now we're causing other players to do it too.

The booing continued into game 2. Listening to the entire game, there was always a faint booing in the background. It grew stronger as Lee and DeRosa made errors. It grew stronger as we fell further and further behind. A team that just 2 weeks ago scored 4 times with 2 outs and nobody on in the 9th to force extras against the Brewers (another playoff team), and the fans forgot that. Those in Wrigley forgot that a comeback like that was possible for these Cubs. Instead they booed.

We helped feed the media. Their calls of curses and jinxes increased, when really all it has been to cause our 100 year drought was aging players, poor play, poor ownership, and more poor play. Now we had ownership that was trying to win to help sell the team at a higher price, players that were good and playing extremely well, and the best record in the National League this year. But the fans expected to not let go a run the entire year. They expected too much and the booing then caused the players to try to do too much. It seemed the only players that could keep composure through it were Lee and Sean Marshall of all people. Relying on these two wasn't going to be enough.

How can we expect to win when we do this to our own team at home? Home field advantage is the worst thing we could get in the playoffs when that is our fans' behavior. How can we expect to remain successful in the future? When contracts run up, or free agents look at the Cubs, why should we expect them to play for us when we treat our players so horribly? Why do we deserve to win when we boo so loudly at our own playoff team? Why do we deserve the good players to come help us end our drought? Until these Cubs fans that were booing throughout the game at Wrigley or on their couches at home shape up, we don't. We deserve being swept in round 1 every year until the fans become less selfish, ignorant, and greedy and become true fans.

I never thought I'd see the day when White Sox fans were better baseball fans than my fellow Cub fan, but that day has come today. I am ashamed.

Lou, Jim, and company:
Please ignore these other Cubs fans. Their behavior is dispicable and wrong, but they obviously don't know any better. Please continue to improve this team. Give us another chance this next year. Teach next year's team to be calmer under the pressures put on them by these other Cub fans, and win in 2009 for the rest of us, the supportive Cubs fans. The die hard Cubs fans. The true Cubs fans. I know there are more of you out there, and for you I am proud. We are not those who boo, but we do get grouped together with those fans by other teams, the players and the media. We deserve better than that reputation. We deserve a World Series Championship in 2009.




Category: MLB
Tags: Booing, Chicago, Cubs, Fans
Posted on: September 4, 2008 1:11 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2008 1:14 pm

Bandwagon Cubs Fans

I had meant to write about this topic sooner, but I am glad I waited. With the Cubs on their current losing streak, my point will be made even clearer for me by those around us. Bandwagon Cubs fans are in hiding now with the losing streak, but they will emerge as the playoffs near. Bandwagon Cubs fans are the people that give the true Cubs fans a bad name. Bandwagon Cubs fans are the people that talk about curses, jinxes, lovably losing, and statistics with no knowledge of their actual meaning. Now that the Cubs are likely on their way to the playoffs (9 up on a spot with just 22 games to go despite recent woes), these people are going to make themselves more visible all around us.

The way this season has been moving overall, it makes me think back to a bittersweet time known as October, 2003. We all know that the Cubs were on a dream track to the World Series until a fateful inning in Game 6 of the NLCS. Building up to that point, all around me people were buying and wearing more and more Cubs apparel. I heard the inane conversation from people trying to talk as if they knew anything about the team that year up until that point. Then, the NLCS ended. Almost all of the Cubs clothing disappeared. The talk died. I kept on wearing my Cubs things. I was bitter and disappointed, but I was still a huge fan. The majority of these people haven't worn Cubs clothing since with a slight exception made for the Septembers of 2004 and 2007, and briefly last October.

My college roommate of 2003 is perhaps the greatest example of it. Admittedly, he wasn't much of a Cubs fan. He knew very little about baseball. He was from a Chicago suburb, and his parents were White Sox fans. Therefore, he said he did lean a bit towards the South Side. But then the Cubs magical October came, and suddenly he was a Cubs fan mostly to "tick [his] dad off". He watched the games, but didn't get into them too much. But after a Cubs win, he talked it up to everybody about how great it was. When the Cubs came crashing down, he didn't mention them again. The magicalness was over. The bandwagon had lost a wheel. It was no longer cool to be a Cubs fan.

This year, I feel it coming again. We're getting close. It would take the worst collapse in history for the Cubs to miss the wild card spot in this year's playoffs. When the Cubs do get a playoff spot, it will all start again. These people won't know about the horrible collapse to sour their hopes. They'll only hear about how great the Cubs had been most of the year, the 100 years, and how it's going to happen. They'll start talking up the jinxes and curses, feeding the media on those topics even more (but that's a rant for another time). And then if, God forbid, the Cubs get eliminated, they will all be gone again.

To be a true Cubs fan, you don't need to know every statistic or watch every game. But half of the people on this campus will not know our star player names or what some of the most common statistics mean. What's good or bad for them. They'll be sitting there watching the playoff games asking questions with every pitch. The simplest questions. It's fine to watch the games, cheer on the Cubs. But to be sitting there trying to sell themselves as lifelong Cubs fans while annoying everybody around them with their idiot-banter is ridiculous. They'll be the ones blaming the 'curse' with every loss, error, or other misfortune that will befall the Cubs along the way. They'll be the ones saying "wait until next year" with the Cubs' (again, God forbit) elimination. A die-hard Cubs fan is going to take it a little harder then that.

We won't blame Bartman, black cats, or billy goats for the loss. We'll blame something that actually has to do with baseball. While these bandwagoners were blaming Bartman and the billy goat for the 2003 downfall, the true Cubs fans placed the blame where it belonged. And that game 6 had more than 1 person to blame. There was Dusty Baker for not calming down his pitcher and the rest of the team after the Bartman play. There were Mark Prior and Kyle Farnsworth who fell flat on the mound following that play. And, my personal choice, there was Alex Gonzalez who failed to even get a fielder's choice on a routine double play which allowed both Prior and Farnsworth to fall. Altogether that inning, charge Baker with a DA, and Gonzalez with an error and 2 DA's on the same damn play. But I digress......

Real Cubs fans and bandwagoners alike will be out on the streets rioting and celebrating a Cubs World Series victory, but not all will be sitting down with a few cocktails trying to drown their sorrows if the Cubs don't make it. Only the truest of Cubs fans will be sitting on that barstool with me thinking about what could have been. But again, God forbid. My stomach can't handle that much sorrow drowning any more.

Beyond that, I almost want to extend this bandwagon Cubs fan definition further. Last night, fans at Wrigley were again booing this team. This team that is still 4.5 games up on the best record in the National League. This team which became the next to last team to reach a 5 game losing streak this season in the NL. That's right, only 1 NL team still hasn't reached that point (Florida). Certainly, September is not the time we want to see it happen. Cubs fans have seen too many collapses, but the skids happen. Cheer the team through this before they become past Cubs teams that play better on the road because they can't take the pressures put on by the terrible fans cheering them at home. We're looking to get home field this October, so let's actually make it an advantage. Let the real Cubs fans step forward and cheer this team through this funk and get back to the top of their game as we push towards a World Series victory.
Posted on: August 21, 2008 8:56 pm

New Stat Category - The Dumb###

Have you ever watched a baseball game and seen a terrible play that doesn't get recorded as an error? Have you seen the out at second and then the horrible throw to first that would have easily been a double play? Of course, we can't assume the double play. The defensive player does not get punished statistically whether it was a terrible throw, a missed catch, or a simple mishandling of the grounder because we can't assume two even if it is blatantly obvious that the double play would have been made. For such a category, I suggest the Dumb###. The statistic will henceforth be known as the DA.

Through watching much baseball this summer, fellow Sportsline member BHawk and I have worked on developing the DA. Anytime a should be double play is missed, since we can't give the player the error they get the DA. When the outfielder takes a dumb route to a ball or misplays the fly, as long as it doesn't hit their glove there is no error. As long as they don't throw it away there is no error. But these misplays and poor routes cost a team bases. They get the DA. (Watch out Soriano and Ankiel)
Honestly, how many times this season has Rick Ankiel had a fly ball he appeared set for land behind him? How many players try to make diving or otherwise spectacular catches just to have the ball go by them? Some don't get errors at all. That's what the DA is for. Some of these plays do get 1 base errors, but really the horrible play cost more than that. These rare cases call for the E and the DA.
How about the outfielder throwing to the wrong base trying to make a spectacular play that he had no chance at just to allow the other runners to advance unnecessarily? To be concise, any bad defensive play that does not result in an error or resulted in even worse outcomes than the charged error describes, the player gets charged with a DA.

However, we cannot limit the DA to just defensive plays. Players have proven that they can be dumb on offense as well. Unfortunately, my Cubs are a prime example of this. Even this year still, they are a prime example. The Moises Alou days of base running are behind us in Chicago, but the blunders remain. Alfonso Soriano has proven himself recently. Twice in the past week he has been picked off of first base. These pick off moves could not have come as that large of a surprise. Each happened after at least one pick off move had already been made since the previous pitch. Yet Soriano still gets picked off. DA.
Ryan Theriot has been batting first or second for most of the year, yet he still wants to get caught stealing nearly half of his nearing 40 stolen base attempts. Some aren't his fault. Some are decent enough spots. The caught stealing is punishment enough. But what about the times he is on second base and tries to steal third with the power players at the plate? DA, plain and simple.
Anybody remember Ronny Cedeno oversliding second base against the Cardinals on a base on ball to be tagged out? DA.

I won't limit the finger pointing to my poor Cubs. I'm sure everybody has seen Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton jog around to second base to be tagged out. DA.
What about the players who admire homers that never make it over that fence to cost themselves an extra base (Hanley Ramirez)? Or the players that forget how many outs there are so that they are thrown out on a flyball for running too far from the bag (Rickie Weeks)? How about those that don't pay attention to where the ball is and try to advance on a grounder that is hit in front of them when there's no force? DA. DA! DA!
Base running should be fundamental. If the defense doesn't have to do something spectacular or perfectly to throw you out, chances are you did something that should result in a DA. The one gray area is caught stealings. These DA's should be based on outs, who's up, which base was being attempted for, and how far one was thrown out by. Keeping these things in mind, it should be obvious when a player commits a stealing DA.

Finally, why limit this to players? Managers need to be held accountable for their poor game managing execution. Of course these need to be harder to give out than a player's DA. We can't just give DA's out to managers when we disagree with them. There needs to be a purpose. When Dusty Baker bats out of order, that deserves a DA. When Dusty Baker insists on batting Corey Patterson in the lead off spot, that deserves a DA. When Dusty Baker decides to leave a young stud pitcher in a game for 130+ pitchers he deserves a DA for guiding the creation of the next Mark Prior. When Dusty Baker decides to hit and run with Neifi Perez at the plate or on base, that deserves a DA.
I'll try to stray away from Dusty Baker for a moment, but if any manager does these things they deserve a DA. Overthrowing a young pitcher, an unstretched out pitcher, or a pitcher who does not need to be in the game any more due to a sizable lead (Ned Yost) they deserve a DA immediately. Then the pitcher and the rest of the team can feel the further ramifications of these decisions further down the line.
Players aren't the only ones responsible for base running gaffes either. Calling for hit and runs with slow base runners or poor contact hitters deserves a DA whether they get lucky and succeed or not. Tony La Russa calling for his patented suicide squeeze with the top of the order coming up and/or nobody out deserves a DA. Honestly, don't most teams actually anticipate a suicide squeeze from the Cardinals any more.

Really, we just needs to hold the players and managers accountable any time they don't play fundamental baseball. The error rules are too loose and lenient. The DA stat by no means would go down as being as severe as an error. Errors are terrible plays. But DA's are far from good plays either. Come, join the movement to start keeping the DA statistic.

Final note: I had 3 great pictures for this blog. Sportsline, allow out of site images as long as they're credited. It's impossible to find good images you'll allow. The one of Dusty Baker made this post.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or