The month of July has flown by, my friends. It seems like yesterday that FOX's "this time it COUNTS" promos and Kobe Bryant's apologies were just beginning.
Now, it's time to focus on August. What do I want to see happen in the month that brings us the return of college football and the heat of baseball's pennant races? I thought about that and came up with the following list…
- I'd like to see Iowa State's football players get through August workouts, practices and the season opener against UNI in good health. Injuries to key players can bring a college football season crumbling down before it has a chance to get started. Let's hope the Cyclones can avoid the injury bug this fall.
- I'd like Coach Dan McCarney name a starting quarterback. No "QB1" and "QB1A" stuff, either. One guy is picked to run the team unless he plays himself out of the position. Quarterback controversies can hold a team back, divide the locker room and cause the offense to sputter. The Cyclones need a leader to take control of the huddle and not have to look over his shoulder every series. My guess is that Waye Terry will be the man. My hope is that we don't see a two or three-headed monster.
- I would appreciate it if not a single prominent ISU athlete was arrested in Northwest Iowa in August. Puhhhhh-leeeease! This CAN'T be that hard to figure out.
- On August 30, I'd like to discover that Stevie Hicks is as good as advertised. It would be a huge off the new QB's shoulders if Iowa State can put together a strong rushing attack this fall. Hicks has been tabbed as a "can't miss" type of player. I hope the redshirt freshman can live up to it.
- I would like VH-1 to apologize for a few mistakes it made during its "200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons" series and take a mulligan. Seriously, the cast of "Friends" is a greater icon than Jerry Seinfeld? Are you kidding me? In the words of a "Friends" cast member, "That is soooooooo not even close." However, VH-1 got this one right: "The Brady Bunch" over Britney Spears.
- It would be great if ISU's offensive line got better and stronger every day during the month of August. In my opinion, this unit is the key to the Cyclones' success this season. Iowa State has to be able to run the ball against Big 12 competition with more consistency than the Cyclones did a year ago. The new quarterback will need this much more time than Seneca Wallace did to make a decision or avoid the rush. Health might be a key issue here, as well.
- I would love to see Jack Whitver catch a touchdown pass in the opener against the Panthers. Whitver caught 52 passes for 685 yards a year ago, but failed to find the end zone the entire season. I think it would be terrific if the senior from Grinnell caught several TD passes this year.
- It would be good if the newcomers to the Cyclone men's basketball program turned out to be even better than people think. I'd like to see Will Blalock be able to penetrate at will, and shoot the ball well enough from the perimeter to keep defenses honest. I hope that Damion Staple can run the floor, finish on the break and rebound like crazy. I'd love to see Curtis Stinson shoot the three-pointer well enough to stretch defenses out. All these things won't happen in August, I realize, but Coach Wayne Morgan will have a good idea if these things are at least possible.
- I would love to draft a Fantasy Football team this season that doesn't have a single player remotely "Ricky Watters-esque" on it. You know what I'm talking about. Watters was the king of the 24 carries for 78 yards and no touchdowns stat lines. Very, very frustrating.
- It would be nice if Tim Barnes and Jackson Vroman took their classes seriously in August and every month that follows during the 2003-04 school year. Is that too much to ask?
- I would like it if Gary Payton, Karl Malone and Shaquille O'Neal got into a big fight about who should be getting the shots this season for the Lakers. And each one of them could blow out an Achilles or something so that none of them could play in 2003-04. This would serve two good purposes: 1) Payton and Malone still wouldn't have championship rings, and 2) Phil Jackson might actually have to coach a regular roster for once.
- I look forward to ISU's new play-by-play man, John Walters, doing a terrific job in the season opener on August 30. Walters is a terrific guy and a fantastic broadcaster. He will do a first-class job, you can count on that.
- It would be awesome if the Cubs could make it through August and still be in the hunt for the NL Central title. I know. I know. Now, I'm really reaching, aren't I? Oh well, it never hurts to dream a little.
(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. His columns for CN online are published each Tuesday and Friday. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)