"The best laid plans....
For the past couple of weeks I've plotted out my Big 12 Championship media coverage. Well, it hasn't gone the way I'd hoped.
The first curve ball came when a professional photographer I'd lined up to go with me wasn't given credentials. Now we have an outstanding photographer, J.C. Kearn. She does an amazing job and many of her photos have appeared in our magazine including the photo of Coach Mac being carried off the field after his last game at ISU. But I'm old fashioned and I didn't feel comfortable being on an extended trip with a female employee.
Plus, Bert Moody has shot a couple of games for me and we could share a room. So my virtue was bolstered by my desire to make this as cost effective a trip as I could. Then the Big 12 didn't credential him.
Now last fall I had purchased a very nice, very expensive digital camera so our staff could take photos of tailgaters and fans. I'm an old community journalist and I just think it's cool to take pictures of everyday folk cheering on their favorite team or partying before and after. We didn't get much use out of the camera but it's really nice and on the trip down I got acquainted with it.
Now I never read the manual. I read the manual. So instead of bringing my 35-mm and my storehouse of 800, 400 and 200-speed film I entered the new millennium. Unfortunately as the ISU press conference began ... but I'll get to that later.
Left with the task of covering the Big 12 Championship on my own I restructured my coverage strategy. I would focus on the behind-the-scenes glimpses our subscribers just can't get on their own.
To start I broke out the men and women's media guides. I studied and studied and studied. Of course I couldn't resist when coach McDermott was at the 14-win mark asking him about his 14 win opening campaigns at Wayne State and UNI. That was a couple of press conferences ago but that's how long I prepared. Regardless I was ready to provide the greatest Big 12 coverage CN has ever provided.
Not only coverage of the men's tournament but the women's tournament. And then came time to apply for credentials and I was simply overwhelmed. Now you have to understand that as of the time to apply for credentials I didn't have a laptop. I just got my laptop on Monday and was training on it until after 10 p.m. I still don't have a Blackberry, Palm Pilot or cell phone. I did discover how to use an automatic dishwasher for the first time in my adult life about two weeks ago and I'm still very excited about that piece of technology. If you have one and want me to do your dishes for you just drop me a line. I might even get one at home although washing dishes in the sink is one of the few things I enjoy that rivals cutting grass and shoveling snow.
I'm not being sarcastic. I love doing those three things. And cooking. But that's a story for another day...
Getting online and getting credentialed just beat me down. So Steve, our publisher finally did it for me.
Now as I get older I find myself more and more forgetful. Yep, I felt so silly about him having to get me the men's credentials I forgot to have him get me the women's credentials. But it wasn't a gender thing. I planned to cover the NCAA wrestling championships but I forgot to have him get me credentials for that, too.
Fortunately the women have basketball to play after this week and we really want to do a good job covering them.
At this point let me say working with Athletics Communications, the entire staff, has been amazing. Of course last year's matters were a bit more contentious but this year they have been unbelievable. I can't say enough good things about them.
If you've been enjoying our expanded coverage at CN call Jamie Pollard, Steve Malchow, Tom Kroeschell and the Athletics Communications staff and thank them. For their phone numbers and email addresses go to Cyclones.com.
Seriously, the Clones have been good at being negative. Now we need to learn how to give credit where credit is due and the staff at ISU has been a real pleasure to work with since I started covering the Clones earlier this year.
Back to the trip. It was well planned. Everything was in place. Here's the simple version:
A. Get rental car.
B. Pack lightly and buy anything I need past the first couple of days. (This strategy has always proven a great excuse to shop.)
C. Get to Oklahoma City early enough to rest.
D. Maximize the new technology.
This is how it went:
A. I realized I have a new convertible and that it would be in the 60s or 70s. Steve affectionately calls it my mid-life crisis. I affectionately call it my gift from Cyclone Nation. So I cancelled the rental and decided to drive my own car. That meant taking it in at the last moment so I could get it checked. Well I hit a block of ice and the muffler all but came off. Fortunately one clamp remained and they hooked it back on, checked the fluids and tires, and gave my car the clean bill of health leaving me exactly 14 minutes to get to WHO to pick up Steve's book for the trip. But I made it. I even made it to the bank afterwards.
Now Warren Buffet said years ago if you can't pay for it in cash you don't need it. I think I took him too literally. Regardless I don't have credit cards so making it to the bank wasn't optional. Fortunately I did making those early morning McMuffins possible earlier today. Of course after leaving the teller window nothing else went right until I left Des Moines.
B. Having watched this team up close I realized that they could get beat Thursday in their road game against Oklahoma. Then I remembered what Mike Taylor said about the games they let go. What if I got to Oklahoma City and they make the shot they didn't take against Texas Tech, or drop the free throw they didn't against Kansas, or personify March Madness and win the Big 12 Championship?
Steve Alford has made a career of coaching great at Big 10 Championship time. Why not Coach Mac? Now would I bet my car against Kansas? No. I wouldn't bet it against Oklahoma, either. But then again I wouldn't bet against Coach Mac's young warriors. These guys just don't quit. They have that something deep inside you can't teach and that means they have a player's shot.
At tournament time skill, talent, ability, records and sphincter muscles are diminished and courage, character, the inability to quit and testicular fortitude increase.
So I packed enough clothes to make it through the weekend. Three suitcases later...the time ticked away...
C. My car is a great road car. It tells me how many miles I have left and the faster it goes the better my gas mileage. Mr. Spain would be horrified having proven to us scientifically in 8th grade that the faster you drive the more wind resistance consumes fuel.
Now I'm not sure if my care improves the mileage when I use the turbo button. I discovered the turbo button coming back from Sioux City. I'm not saying it went to 110 before I realized eight seconds later the speed. I'm not saying that. I will say I didn't use the turbo button on this trip. Still, I figured I'd be able to average a bit over the 70 miles per hour limit along most of the stretch to Oklahoma City. I was wrong. With a great deal of frustration I watched car after car pass me. It was horrible. My pride is still wounded.
Instead of getting to Oklahoma City in the six hours and 42 minutes I originally calculated - I didn't know about the toll stops - I arrived nearly 16 hours after my original scheduled departure time. Fortunately I wasn't alone. Dave Chappelle, Steve Harvey and The Fellowship of the Ring kept me company on the trip. I made it to Oklahoma City about 9 something in the a.m., showered, set up the iron and discovered I'd grabbed the wrong shirts. It was a very appropriate discovery considering how the trip had gone so far. Fortunately I found in my three suitcases a suitable outfit to wear today. The rest of the week is taken care of, also.
The shower was nice. Or as Borat would say "nice."
I did have the cell phone and got Mike Green on the line. He was very helpful and eased my fears about screwing up the hunt for my credentials. Of course had I not taken the phone out to call him I wouldn't have forgotten it at the hotel, but the best laid plans of ...
I studied the manual. I even stopped and bought new batteries for my camera. I mastered the various settings. I even figured out how to work the zooms and flash settings. And then on my fourth press conference picture the batteries died. When I bought them I said to the clerk this morning - wow, these are really cheap. Much cheaper than I could get them in Iowa. Yes they were.
No press conference photos. No pep-rally photos. No photo of my interview with President Geoffrey. No picture of my interview with ISU Alumni president Jeff Johnson. No photos of the players in their practice session. I had tons of room on the card. I made sure I had a clean, mega, mega space card. At that point I was reminded of that scene in Ocean's 11 when the door doesn't blow because the batteries in the detonation device didn't work. A great plan. An epic plan. Defective batteries. But this ain't the movies. I'm not George Clooney and Matt Damon is far, far away. So no from pictures today.
The camera dying on me was very disappointing. At least it was until I realized I hadn't started the recording of the press conference.
Now we hooked into this platform for audio. It was very, very impressive. (I'm easily impressed). It was a great press conference. I wish I could bring you all the audio of it. But I can't. I did get the last 12 minutes and some post press conference comments from Coach McDermott but the really good stuff, nada.
Yes, there's more that went wrong today.
The Ford Center is impressive. I love the treatment we're getting here as media. Unfortunately my wireless internet connection didn't work. Steve thinks this being Oklahoma City's first time hosting this played a role in that. I wasn't the only person that couldn't get online, just the only one from Iowa. Of course where there's a Kinko's there's a way. I really hope you enjoy the audio from this tournament because it's costing a fortune to bring to you.
I did make the press conference. I did make the pep-rally and we have some good interviews. The women's game was amazing! And the women in Oklahoma are very pretty. They have great accents, too. Like a light perfume - intoxicating but not overpowering. The food is good down here, too. I've never seen so many BBQ joints prominently displayed. My dad's from Beaumont, Texas so I'm used to lots of BBQ but they are dives. Great food but not fancy.
The people in Oklahoma are really, really, really nice. Everywhere I've been in this state the people are friendly and courteous. The people in Kansas sucked. They were rude, mean and I hope we beat Oklahoma so we can upset Kansas. But the people in Oklahoma – even those who knew nothing about the tournament – were really very kind and well mannered.
Well, as I wrap this up the plan is to go to Tapwerks, the Cyclone Fan Headquarters for the Big 12 Championship and hang out. I'll get some interviews and just enjoy the celebration. I'm also looking forward to the Men's Basketball Pep rally tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. We should have some more good audio for you then and also another (choking on the word) blog.