Letters To A Reporter

The football season has started, so Ron Maly's e-mail is very interesting these days. One of the readers of his column calls a TV reporter a "moron'' for using "National Enquirer-type journalism'' at Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz's first press conference of the season.

Cleaning off the top of my desk:

An e-mailer from northeast Iowa, a high-profile guy who definitely knows the difference between good electronic journalism and shabby electronic journalism--writes:

Ronnie M:

Always enjoy your scribings, as usual, but you were way soft on that moron from TV 7. That might have been the most pathetic attempt at National Enquirer-type journalism I've witnessed in a long time. The guy and his cameraman were giggling and chuckling like a couple of second-graders out in the lobby after everyone had left.

I guess they have a new news director at Channel 7 and that's where this rookie is getting his guidance. The news director is from the New York-New Jersey area. I was actually embarrassed for a class operation like Channel 7 has been for years. I know Paul Burmeister was.

Sure sounds familiar, Ron? New ownership at the Des Moines Register has sure paid dividends, right? (Yeah, right!). Looks like a similar situation in Waterloo.

[My comment: The e-mailer was referring to a reporter from the news department of KWWL-TV in Waterloo, who fired a bunch of questions in machine-gun fashion at the start of Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz's preseason press conference.

The questions concerned Benny Sapp, the defensive back whom Ferentz has kicked off the team. Sapp since has transferred to Northern Iowa, where the Waterloo reporter can now get a much closer look at him in neighboring Cedar Falls.

Ferentz handled the barrage of questions better than most coaches. I pointed out in an earlier column that someone like former Iowa coach Hayden Fry (and certainly people like Bo Schembechler and the late Woody Hayes) would have told the guy where to shove his camera. And his tripod, too.

The "embarrassed'' Burmeister the e-mailer referred to is Paul Burmeister, the former Iowa quarterback who now is a sports reporter at KWWL. He was on the scene that day to do more normal press day interviews].

This e-mail comes from an Iowa fan who lives in Des Moines:


You very well could be right about Iowa State beating Nebraska.

Another observation: Iowa will NOT beat Iowa State.

What a heartbreaking ending for the Clones, being stopped on the 1 as time expired. It was really a good game after the first quarter.

If Iowa State had 45,000 to 50,000 fans there, as (Fox Sports Net TV announcer) Joel Meyers said, that's more than they draw at home. Eric Heft (commentator on the Iowa State radio network) said people should be lined up at the ticket window Monday morning to get tickets for the Kansas game:

Pete Taylor (the Cyclones' play-by-play radio announcer) said there are a LOT available. They must not have had much of an advance for that game.

With this performance, wins over the podos they have early plus a win at Iowa should guarantee them some good midseason crowds, you'd think.

[My comment: I've been saying since spring practice that this will be the year Iowa State beats Nebraska, and—until the Cyclones' 38-31 loss to Florida State in the Eddie Robinson Classic—my friends thought I had suffered brain damage as the rsult of serving as a tackling dummy at Dan McCarney's practices.

Now just about everyone with the exception of Frank Solich and his Nebraska players, plus longtime Husker fan Alive in Clive (not his real name), is predicting Iowa State will win the Sept. 28 game in Ames.

By the way, I assume the "podos'' on Iowa State's schedule that the e-mailer was referring to are Tennessee Tech and Troy State.

As for the crowd at Saturday's Iowa State-Kansas game, Cyclone fans should be ashamed of themselves if they don't sell out Jack Trice Stadium. Just being on hand to watch Cyclone quarterback Seneca Wallace is worth the price of admission.

Of course, I feel the same way about Iowa's season opener Saturday against Akron at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. The crowd is projected at 60,000—more than 10,000 less than capacity. With hopes high for another big season at Iowa, that game should be a sellout, too. Shame on the fans if it isn't].

Here's an e-mail from a reader who lives in Minnesota:


A lot of impressive things about the Cyclones on Saturday to me. The most important was that they didn't lie down and die after getting overwhelmed early. They used to do that against top 10 teams, even when they were pretty good (see Kansas State in 2000).

Not only did they not surrender, they outplayed an ostensibly superior opponent the rest of the game.

Iowa State is good. Because of their schedule, they could be a good team that loses a lot of games. I don't think they will be. I was impressed.

[My comment: The game against Kansas State in 2000 the reader was referring to was a 56-10 Iowa State loss at Manhattan, Kan. However, the Cyclones went on to a 9-3 record that included a victory over Pittsburgh in the Insight.com Bowl.

Another team Iowa State has had trouble with in recent seasons after falling behind early is Nebraska. But, as I've been saying, that will end Sept. 28.

Much bigger danger awaits the Cyclones later in the season when they play at Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado in a five-week period of brutal scheduling.

Whenever you ask a coach or an athletic director how conference schedules are put together, they say, "The computer does it.''

If a computer put together Iowa State's 2002 Big 12 schedule, 300-pound Cyclone defensive standout Jordan Carstens should be assigned to haul it to the Ames city dump].

My West Coast correspondent sent an e-mail saying that, if he were a betting man, "which I'm not,'' he'd keep in mind that Iowa State will likely suffer a letdown against Kansas after its supercharged late effort against Florida State.

[My comment: Iowa State is a 21-point favorite to beat Kansas, a team that's been bad for a long time. The Jayhawks are still bad. Letdown or not, I expect the Cyclones to have no trouble winning].

Free things last only so long, especially when it's the Register that's giving something away. Check this e-mail:


I received about three Sunday papers on Tuesdays, and then they quit. No reason given. I do not miss them. However, it was short-lived for a new policy.

[My comment: The e-mailer was referring to the paper's attempt to attract readers to the Sunday edition. The circulation department was delivering free copies of the Sunday paper on Tuesdays to those who subscribed to only the Monday-through-Saturday papers. Something tells me the Sunday giveaway was a flop].

What I know about cars, and how to repair them, would fit comfortably into thimble.

One of the two cars I own is a 1989 Toyota Camry, which has only about 80,000 miles on it. Not bad for a 13-year-old car. The old buggy looks pretty good, too.

But one of my sons suggested the other day I take the car to a shop to have the "freeze plug'' on the engine looked at. He understands things like freeze plugs, wheel bearings, driveshafts, and even jet engines.

Hey, when one of my kids says he thinks the freeze plug has a problem, I pay attention.

So I took the car to a Firestone shop.

Big mistake.

"I'll call you this afternoon to let you know what I find,'' the guy at the front desk said.

"Good,'' I said. "Remember, it's a 13-year-old car.''

The guy called me at about 4 p.m.

"Bad news,'' he said. "You need a new head gasket.''

I guess he was talking about the car, not something on my body.

"How much will it cost to fix it?'' I asked.

"About $800,'' he said.

After putting down the phone, I used a lot of words that don't belong on a family web page.

But, remembering that it's always good to get a second opinion, I drove the car to the service department at the Toyota dealership in Des Moines.

A friendly young man named Ian waited on me.

"The guy at Firestone said I need a new head gasket,'' I said.

"We'll look at it,'' Ian said. "Give us a couple of hours.''

I returned in two hours.

"The technician couldn't find anything wrong,'' Ian said. "No internal or external engine leaks. Nothing wrong with the head gasket.''

"You mean there's nothing wrong?'' I asked.

"Nope,'' he said.

Suddenly, I still had $800 I thought I wasn't going to have.

Take it to the bank that I won't be having anything done—not even an oil change—at that Firestone store in the future.

One other time when I was there, they said I needed four new tires and several new hoses.

As far as I know, they were talking about the car, not something on my body.

It was fun for me to sit in with mile-a-minute talkers Larry Cotlar and Steve Deace the other day on the afternoon show on sports radio station KXNO.

With people still eager to talk about Iowa State's performance against Florida State, we got plenty of calls from listeners. Cyclone fan Denny from Clear Lake called and claimed he could hear us that far away.

Cotlar takes over the KXNO morning show and Deace, formerly of KJJC and KXTK, will be the afternoon host on KXNO, starting next week.

That's when the sports-talk radio market in central Iowa turns into a two-station rivalry between KXNO and KJJC. Saying adios to that type of programming is KXTK.

Denise Seomin, the former Iowa State sports information staffer who has been public relations manager for Princess Cruises the past four years, has changed jobs.

She's been named vice-president of corporate communications and public relations at Uniworld, America's leading river cruise and tour company.

"As Uniworld continues to grow, raising the standards within the river cruise and tour industries, we have many stories to tell,'' said Serba Ilich, president of the company. "We are quite pleased to have Denise leading our public relations efforts....'

I was having a beer with a couple of guys from the paper the other day.

It took only 30 seconds for us to start talking about what we didn't want to talk about—the paper.

"Hey, when are you going to write something about the new movie reviewer?'' one guy asked me.

I guess he thought I should write something because I've been critical a number of times in the past because the paper had never replaced longtime movie critic Joan Bunke.

"I'm still trying to figure out if I like the guy as a reviewer,'' I said of the local critic, who shares space with Roger Ebert and other syndicated film critics on Fridays. "I don't agree with much of what he writes.''

Then the conversation somehow sank to a new low. We talked about the bow ties the critic wears, or has worn. Maybe it was the beer that caused things to deteriorate.

Someone mentioned that people at another paper used to talk about how the guy began wearing bow ties because one of his former bosses wore them.

Bow ties make me nervous. So do people who dress like the boss. Other than Dave Elbert, I don't trust newspaper guys, or baseball club owners, who wear idiotic bow ties—whether they're the clip-on variety or not.

Bottom line: Joan Bunke, who never wore bow ties, still hasn't been replaced.

Still on the subject of what people wear, two guys were having lunch recently at the University of Iowa Athletic Club in Iowa City.

One was representing a fairly-large, but steadily shrinking, media company. The other is a retired University of Iowa athletic department official.

I hear that the guy from the media company was wearing shorts and a baseball cap. I assume he also was wearing a shirt, shoes and socks, although I'm not 100 percent certain of the socks.

The man who wasn't wearing the baseball cap was a little nervous about the other guy's attire. Finally, the manager of the club came over to the guy wearing the cap and asked if he'd please remove it.

He did. He must have thought he was in Burger King.

I know his name, but won't use it. There's no point in embarrassing him.

Speaking of the paper, a sportswriter doing a nice job is Bryce Miller.

As far as I know, he doesn't wear bow ties.

He's a hustler who has given the place some good off-beat stuff. And not just football and sports talk radio stuff.

Particularly entertaining was his story about Highway 6 and the communities in Iowa that it goes through and around.

That story was in the travel section—which, other than restaurant articles by free-lancer Steve Pope of Des Moines--is usually a vast wasteland.

Any story written by someone from the paper looks good there. I'm told Miller said at a news meeting one day that the paper should do something on Highway 6.

"Then why don't you do it?'' an editor said.

That's how things sometimes work at the paper.

Send your e-mail—and, obviously, I've been hearing from plenty of you lately—to malyr@juno.com]

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