Iowa basketball coach Steve Alford, always a very quotable guy, had some interesting things to say the other day to a reporter from the Indianapolis Star.
Writer Michael Pointer said Alford praised Hawkeye fans, but said "Iowa City is unlike any place he has ever lived."
Pointer quoted Alford this way:
"The one thing I've learned in the last five months is the liberalism of this community."
Pointer said Alford, "a conservative Christian," made that comment about the liberalism of Iowa City "with a smile."
Pointer talked with Alford in Iowa City on the day before the Hawkeyes lost to Purdue, 80-77, in overtime Saturday night.
Pointer began his story with this paragraph:
"An Indiana resident passing through the Hawkeye state last fall may have thought he was in a foreign country.
"'Fire Alford," one sign read outside Carver-Hawkeye Arena before an Iowa exhibition game."
Pointer went on to quote Alford this way:
"I have weathered a pretty substantial storm. I would hope that I have grown."
The story added, "In a span of 10 months, three Iowa players transferred, another flunked out of school, and three more had run-ins with police; including sophomore guard Pierre Pierce, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault after originally being charged with third-degree sexual assault.
"It seemed everyone was taking Alford to task; whether it was the Iowa media, advocates for sexual-abuse victims or the local prosecuting attorney."
Pointer said "the Alford family recently moved into a new house, and Steve says he's committed to Iowa over the long term."
Obviously, that's going to make some people happy, others not so happy.
Iowa's loss to Purdue was devastating. It was the third straight, and the second in a row at home, after the Hawkeyes got off to a surprising 3-0 start in the Big Ten.
With Alford hoping to finally have a winning record in the Big Ten's regular season (after going 6-10, 7-9 and 5-11 in his first three years), Iowa can't afford to lose games at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to Ohio State and Purdue
Following victories over Northwestern, Michigan State and Illinois, I (foolishly, I guess) felt the Hawkeyes could be factors in the Big Ten race. After all, the conference is pretty soft this season, and the title is clearly up for grabs.
Anyone who tries to convince me that Purdue, the league leader, carries any sort of major prominence has been watching basketball on Mars. One of the few things the Boilermakers have is a highly-competitive coach in Gene Keady and some athletes who play the same gritty basketball he teaches.
But will Purdue have any national strength in March? Forget it.
There's still a long, long way to go, but now Iowa faces successive road assignments against Penn State, Michigan and Minnesota. All will be difficult. Even Penn State.
You know it. I know it. Whenever Notre Dame really wants a football player, it gets him. It's been that way since Knute Rockne coached there.
Maybe since the game was invented. If you want to know where there's a lot of moaning going on, check out the state of Minnesota.
Notre Dame expects to sign three of the best high school players from that state on signing day Wednesday.
"I don't like it," Gophers Coach Glen Mason told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "But that's just a fact that happens to all of us." The players are tight end John Carlson, jr., of Litchfield; offensive lineman Ryan Harris of Cretin-Derham Hall and defensive lineman Trevor Laws of Apple Valley.
"When Notre Dame recruits you, it's special," Carlson told the newspaper. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I had to jump at it." Carlson said Notre Dame Coach Tyrone Willingham "is an amazing guy. You talk to him and you know you have a real good chance to win a national championship. That's a pretty powerful combination."
Iowa even got some mention.
Positive mention. In a Minneapolis newspaper. Eden Prairie Coach Mike Grant said, "Go to Notre Dame or Iowa or Michigan or Ohio State and see what goes on on game day. Great atmosphere. Great stadiums. Great campuses.
"At Minnesota, your campus is up against railroad tracks and you play at the Dome. It's night and day, and that isn't Mason's fault." Thirteen of the 15 high school coaches and Division I-A recruits interviewed for the Star-Tribune story said the off-campus Metrodome was the Gophers' biggest problem. Laws told the paper he considered Iowa and Michigan before picking Notre Dame. "I grew up hating Notre Dame because it was always on TV," Laws said. "But Tyrone Willingham is amazing. Notre Dame is the best place for me. (Minnesota) has nothing to offer football players these days."No wonder Mason is always interviewing for jobs.
Vol. 3, No. 5
Feb. 2, 2003
[Ron Maly's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org ]