I'm starting to get a weird feeling about Iowa's football team.
I'm wondering if Hawkeye fans, some of them anyway, are going to be disappointed when they're finally told that Iowa is going to the Rose Bowl.
Fans have felt for at least a couple of weeks that the Hawkeyes (ranked No. 3 in today's coaches' poll and No. 4 in the Associated Press poll) are better than the Ohio State team that will be playing in the national championship game at Tempe, Ariz.
That feeling was even more pronounced while the Buckeyes were showing they are an anything-but-a-sensational-team in a 14-9 victory Saturday over Michigan. That enabled Ohio State to finish the regular season at 13-0 and tie Iowa for the Big Ten championship at 8-0.
It's normal for Iowans to have a bittersweet taste in their mouths today. They know the Hawkeyes are likely going to the Rose Bowl, but down deep they think their team deserves to be playing Miami for the national title.
And, yes, the hardest thing for Hawkeye fans to stomach is that a 36-31 loss Sept. 14 to Iowa State, after Iowa had led at halftime, 24-7—is what's keeping their team out of Tempe.
Now Iowa's players are understandably frustrated that they didn't get a chance to prove on the field that they're a better team than Ohio State. Big Ten schedule-makers took care of that by not matching them up.
The Hawkeyes are left to ponder "what might have been" as they wait out the remaining weeks before their bowl game. And their fans are thinking up all sorts of scenarios that might enable Iowa to get into the national championship game—possibly against Ohio State.
But cool it, Hawkeyes and fans. Just think of the opportunity ahead. Iowa can do something in the Rose Bowl that no Iowa team has done since Forest Evashevski's 1958 did—win it. Hayden Fry's 1981, 1985 and 1990 teams all lost at Pasadena.
"Rose Bowl Champions."
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
But first, get rid of those frustrations.
It's Getting Bad and Sad for the Cyclones
The saddest thing about Iowa State's 37-20 loss to Connecticut has been the reaction of fans on the CycloneNation Internet message boards since.
Some want Coach Dan McCarney fired. Some want his assistants fired. Some even want Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde fired.
One guy claimed the loss to Connecticut, a school that fielded its first Division I-A team this season, was more embarrassing than the 1979 loss to Pacific (when Donnie Duncan was the Cyclones' coach) and the 1985 loss to Drake (when Jim Criner was the coach).
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and I'll give you a few of my own:
McCarney is in no danger of being fired.
Neither is Van De Velde.
Fire McCarney and Iowa State would regret it. He's the best thing to happen to Cyclone football since Earle Bruce.
With the kind of late-season support he's been getting from fans, I wouldn't blame McCarney if he took the Michigan State job (even though I hope he doesn't).
Sure, the Cyclones and quarterback Seneca Wallace—and maybe even McCarney--are in the tank. That's what a murderous 13-game schedule can do to you. Give any other coach and his players a schedule that includes road games at Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado in a five-week period and see how they do.
Iowa State still has a bowl game remaining. So what if it's the Humanitarian Bowl? In the bowl, the Cyclones will look more like they did in September than they looked in November.
If they win the bowl game, they'll finish 8-6, their third consecutive winning season, their third consecutive bowl. Not bad if you ask me.
Give the Heisman to Brad Banks—He Deserves It
If you're a football player and you don't have your own website, you're not a legitimate Heisman Trophy hopeful these days.
Iowa State's Seneca Wallace has had a website (www.gosenecago.com) all season, and now Iowa quarterback Brad Banks (www.hawkeyeheisman.com) has one. His was up and running on Saturday.
Wallace is no longer in the running for the Heisman. Banks, on the other hand, is the leader in the clubhouse.
Banks has the numbers and so does his team. He deserves the trophy,
Some people think it will hurt him that his season is over and some of the other contenders have games remaining before the Dec. 14 Heisman presentation.
That shouldn't make one bit of difference.
Drake's Danielson Grew Up a Hawkeye Fan
Greg Danielson scored 15 points and had six rebounds in Drake's 101-59 loss at Iowa last Dec. 12.
It was the Hawkeyes' 23rd consecutive victory in the series. Not since a 72-69 victory on Dec. 9, 1978 has Drake beaten Iowa.
On Tuesday at the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Danielson—a 6-9 senior from Des Moines Hoover—gets his last chance to play on a winning team against the Hawkeyes.
He vows to be ready.
"The game means a whole lot to me," Danielson said. "I grew up an Iowa fan and I can't wait to play against them. Coach (Steve) Alford is an excellent coach, and I know he's going to put together a great team (at Iowa)."
Danielson added that "my dad and I used to watch all the Iowa games. Now it's fun to get a chance to play against them."
He said he received "a few letters from Iowa, but nothing major" in the recruiting process. That was before Alford arrived at Iowa.
"He was at Southwest Missouri then," said Danielson, adding that Alford contacted him about perhaps attending the Missouri Valley Conference school.
"But then he left," Danielson said.
Catching Up With Tirrell
You probably remember Marty Tirrell. Last January, the former Des Moines sports-talk radio personality told me that "sports talk in Des Moines is drab. It needs a swift kick in the ass."….At the time, I think Tirrell was hoping he'd wind up back in town to provide that kick. But that never happened. Mike Mahon at Drake sent me this: John Molori of BostonCityBeat.com writes that Tirrell is now working in Nashua, N.H. "In this day and age, people can get all the national sports they want," Tirrell told Molori…."I had to do something different.' Molori said "something different is Friday Night Lights heard every Friday from 6 p.m.-10 p.m….A team of reporters, stationed at key high school games in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, calls in periodically with live scores and updates….Tirrell modeled the show after a similar program he created in Des Moines….Tirrell is no longer doing halftime and postgame shows for the Boston Celtics. After a playoff game last season, he said, "This game set the NBA back 50 years." The Celtics called Tirrell's boss and told him they wanted him to be more of a cheerleader. "How can I be a cheerleader when they played as bad as they did?" Tirrell told Molori. It was then goodbye, Marty….By the way, another thing Tirrell told me earlier in the year was that three sports-talk stations were too many for Des Moines. Obviously, he was right about that. Now there are just two.
Vol. 2, No. 102
Nov. 24, 2002
Ron Maly's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org ]