Big Day For The State of Iowa

AMES, IA - After more than a half-century of watching college football games, you think you've seen it all. Then it turns out you haven't. Saturday was a huge day for gaining respect for football in the state of Iowa.

A guy who sometimes thinks he's seen it all while watching college games for well over a half-century knows it's a colossal day in the history of Iowa State and Iowa football when:

There's a bigger crowd flooding the field to celebrate an Iowa State victory over Nebraska at Jack Trice Stadium after a game than used to show up to watch some games a few years ago.

After you observe Cyclone fans celebrate, you hear that Joe Paterno, a 75-year-old man who has more victories than any other major-college coach, is so upset that he races across the field after the Penn State-Iowa game to grab one of the officials by the shoulder – complaining that his team got "a couple of lousy calls.''

It takes just 10 seconds for a dozen Iowa State students to charge out of their seats and climb the north goal posts.

You hear about another bizarre thing from out east. You hear that LaVar Arrington, a former Penn State linebacker who now plays for the Washington Redskins, is ejected during the Penn State-Iowa game for yelling at the officials while standing on the sideline.

Dan McCarney, whose records were 3-8, 2-9 and 1-10 in his first three seasons and had to fight to get a contract extension, says he "knew in my mind and my heart that I was the right guy'' for Iowa State's coaching job. Now school officials had better do the things necessary to keep him. Lane Danielsen, who plays for an Iowa State team that beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 1993, says, "Going into it, I expected victory. I felt we had the better team. There was never a point in the game when I felt we were going to lose....It's a dream come true to beat Iowa and Nebraska in the same year.''

McCarney doesn't completely escape the mob scene on the field after the game. He says he has "a fat lip, but I don't think anybody hit me on purpose. Thank God I had my security guy out there. It can be a little dangerous, but I'll try to fight my way out of that danger anytime. It was a great feeling. I'm happy for Iowa State's fans. That's the best environment I've ever been part of here, and hopefully we'll have a lot more.''

Donnie Duncan, who coached at Iowa State from 1979-1982 and now is senior associate commissioner and director of football operations for the Big 12 Conference, knows "what the challenges are" at the school and says McCarney "is doing a tremendous job.''

Nebraska Coach Frank Solich, looking like he's ready to pop an artery or two, pauses after being asked after the game by a reporter if losing to Iowa State is embarrassing. Obviously, he is choosing his response carefully. "I won't even answer that in terms of using the word ‘embarrassing,''' Solich finally says. "But I will answer it in terms of we're just not getting it done.''

The same guy who has observed so much emotion in his half-century of college football-watching hears Iowa State athletic director Bruce Van De Velde say on the sideline, "Be careful'' as time is expiring in the game against Nebraska. The guy, figuring he's getting too old to get trampled to death in a football version of "Running With the Bulls'' in Pamplona, Spain, moves to a safer observation point inside the Jacobson Athletic Building.

IOWA STATE RANKED NO. 15, IOWA NO. 24

For the first time since 1981, both Iowa State (5-1) and Iowa (4-1) are ranked among the nation's top 25 football teams. The Cyclones are No. 15 and the Hawkeyes are No. 24 in today's Associated Press poll. In the coaches' poll, Iowa State is No. 18, Iowa is No. 26 Nebraska, a 36-14 loser to the Cyclones on Saturday, fell out of the AP top 25 for the first time since 1981, ending a run of 348 consecutive appearances.

One of the more amazing things about Iowa State's victory was that its defense held Nebraska to 81 yards rushing.

That's unheard of.

Nebraska virtually invented the rushing game as we all know it. Bob Devaney must be rolling over in his grave. Husker fans might be tempted to ask Tom Osborne if he'd like to get out of politics and take another shot at coaching the team.

Nebraska went into the game ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 7 nationally in rushing with a 255.5-yard average.Husker teams averaged 411 yards rushing in nine previous games against Iowa State.

Saturday's total marked the first time the Huskers had been held below 100 yards rushing since getting only 73 against Oklahoma State in 1998.

"There was never a point in the game where we got any momentum,'' said Solich, who watched Nebraska lose two straight regular-season games for the first time since 1976.

"Iowa State is a big-play team and they got big plays,'' Solich added. "I thought Iowa State played very well. They have a good team. Seneca Wallace has done a great job and they have built around him very well. Their guys played very hard and executed very well. We did not.''

Asked if he ever expected to see the day "when Iowa State would blow out Nebraska,'' McCarney said, "I never stopped believing or dreaming. I knew we could turn this thing around, and I knew we eventually could start winning big games and more big games.''

Oh, by the way, Iowa State's 22-point victory margin was its largest against Nebraska since a 34-0 victory in 1899.

I'll call Jim Zabel one of these days and ask him what he remembers about that game. I'm sure he did the play-by-play on the radio broadcast.

Rating the games.

In my estimation, Iowa State's victory Saturday over Nebraska ranks significantly higher than the Cyclones' 19-10 upset of the seventh-ranked Huskers in 1992 and their 33-31 victory over No. 16 Oklahoma in 1990. I covered the 1990 and 1992 games in a previous writing life.

Neither the 1990 nor 1992 Iowa State team finished above .500, but the 2002 squad could wind up to be the best in school history. However, its place in history will be determined by what happens in the brutal road games at Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado.

Still No. 1 on the personal list of games that I covered is the Iowa-Michigan game in 1985 at Iowa City. The game matched the No. 1-ranked Hawkeyes against No. 2 Michigan, and Iowa won, 12-10, on Rob Houghtlin's field goal as time expired. Both McCarney and present Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz were on Hayden Fry's Iowa staff then.

Others that deserve strong mention on my list include Iowa State's 27-9 victory over Iowa in 1998, which ended the Hawkeyes' 15-game winning streak in the series, and Iowa's 12-10 victory over Iowa State in 1977 in a game that was the first between the schools after a 43-year lapse.

This e-mail came today from Dick Jacobson: "What a GREAT day in football yesterday. Both schools win over national powerhouses. I've waited most of my life for this to happen.''

No Excuse for This Type of Newspapering

Leave it to the Register to screw up an otherwise sparkling football weekend.

In Saturday's paper, this is what it said about the Roosevelt-Sioux City East game:

Sioux City East 48, Roosevelt 21

Game information was not made available to the Register.

After returning from the Iowa State-Nebraska game, the first thing I noticed in my e-mail was a message from a reader that said, "The damn paper is trying to shift the blame to someone else because they did not have a game story. The attitude there is that they are doing the school a favor if they publish a story of the game and it is the school's responsibility to see that the details are called in.

"It should have read:

Sioux City East 48, Roosevelt 21 The Register was too cheap to pay someone to get game details. The reader is correct. Obviously, people on the sports desk were too lazy, or too cheap, to make a telephone call or two.

Last year, of course, the Register did the same thing with Valley's opening game of the season. No reporter was sent to the game at Valley Stadium and, consequently, there was no story the next day.

That's sad. Very sad.

Ron Maly

Vol. 2, No. 68

Sept. 29, 2002

Ron Maly's e-mail address is malyr@juno.com ]


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