Big Ten Football Just Around the Corner

Hawkeye Nation publisher Jon Miller is in North Carolina on Monday, working on some improvements to HN's next Iowa Hawkeye Bowl game charter flight. He alerts you to some of the changes that are taking place in Kinnick Stadium, as well as noting some important dates on the upcoming Hawkeye calendar. Can you believe that the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon is less than three weeks away?

I am writing to you from North Carolina, as I am out here meeting with Premiere Sports Travel, the company that helped us get you to the bowl games in each of the past two years.

We are looking at ways to make our trips even better than they have been.

Since moving to West Des Moines on May 1st, one of the fun things has been running into so many readers of the site, as well as several of you that have come on one of our trips. It has certainly brought a smile to my face hearing all of the great experiences that you have had while traveling with us, and it makes me feel great to know that this year's trip will be even better than the last two trips…well, at least on what we can do for you. I can't promise a Tate to Holloway each year, or a wax job of Florida. That is up to Kirk and the boys in Black and Gold.

I will be back in HN HQ on Tuesday, and I hope to have some exciting things to relay to you on the bowl charter front later this summer….

While I took a short detour down to the coast, a fellow Hawkeye fan saw my hat and we struck up a conversation. He left Iowa and served our country in the military. No matter where I have ever traveled, I always meet an Iowa fan if I have a tigerhawk on a shirt or hat. Without fail. I am sure that you have encountered similar situations.

Have you been to lately? If not, you are missing some good pics.

The new South Endzone looks great, as does the scoreboard that is going up pretty quickly. But one of the neatest things, as far as I am concerned, is seeing the progress with the new press box.

It will not be ready for business until the 2006 season, but you can begin to see how wide that box is going to be compared to the current box, as well as that it will span nearly the entire West section of the stadium. Once it is completed, it will stand higher than the current press box, and it will be nearly twice as long. That just means a lot of noise bouncing back onto the field.

It will be interesting to see if the latest question that has been bothering the minds of some Iowa fans will have any impact; the gaps in the SW and SE corners of the stadium. They are much larger than under the old configuration, so some people are concerned that it might impact the noise level in the old gal.

Well, if it does, it will likely only be a one year deal, because that press box is going to ratchet things back up quite a bit.

If you visit the website linked above, you will also get to see a little bit of the pink that is in store for teams visiting Iowa this year and in the future. You have to love tradition.

Did you know that the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon is just 20 days away? That is the event that marks the beginning of football season for me and many of us in the media. Each school typically brings two players to the event, sometimes more, along with its head coach.

In the past, Iowa has brought a player from both sides of the ball. Last year was an exception, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this year be an exception, too. The safe bet is that Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge will join Kirk Ferentz in Chicago, but don't be surprised if Ed Hinkel also makes the trip.

I am planning on attending the event this year for the first time, now that I am living back in Iowa and getting there is much easier. I am looking forward to hearing what all of the coaches have to say about the Iowa program, and seeing if there is anything other than coach speak that will come out of the luncheon.

The Hawkeyes are now the hunted, as far as many of the national pundits are concerned. I can't wait to hear what Iowa's league rivals have to say about the Hawks.

Then Iowa will host its annual media day event on August 8th in Iowa City. will be there in full force, and we are quite certain that you are going to be very, very pleased with the results. I don't want to expand any more than that…just get ready for a lot of reading!

Steve Deace and I will tape the pilot episode of ‘State of the Nation's' this week, and if you are a Mediacom Cable subscriber in the state of Iowa, you will be able to watch the program later this month, in addition to each and every week this fall. It promises to be a lot of fun, and though Steve and I are close friends, that does not mean that we don't get into some heated discussions. If you could be privy to some of our phone conversations during the week, you would understand what I am saying.

We are hoping to carry some of that fire onto the television program…none of it contrived, just raw debate.

We will keep you informed on the dates and times that the program will air later this month, as well as throughout the year.

There is a new place to catch the Iowa games coming to West Des Moines this fall. It's name is ‘Tonic', and it will be located in the new West Glen Shopping district on Civic Mills and I-35, next to the new Super Target in West Des Moines.

It's going to be more than a sports bar, in that it will be high end in the class department, with plasma tv's throughout, as well as big screens to catch the big games. It will feature outdoor seating, including on the second deck of the bar.

We hope to host several Hawkeye game watch events at Tonic, perhaps even making it the official Des Moines Hawkeye Nation Game Watch HQ, and more. Stay tuned for more on this front, but be sure to stop by Tonic in October once it opens.

One final thing about traveling in the south… I have done so extensively in my professional life, and I always leave here thinking one thing; a passport is not required to come here, but it should be. Don't get me wrong, the people here are great.

But there is no place like home when home is the Midwest, and Iowa.

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