Monday, April 30, 2007

Searching for J.C. Love Jordan

I'm eventually going to return to the Big Ten Year in Review - no, really, I will - but there is a far more pressing topic that must be discussed. Someone needs to get me the whereabouts of my new personal hero, J.C. Love Jordan.

J.C. Love Jordan was a wingback and kick returner for Iowa from 1980 through 1984. He caught 31 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns in his five years with the Hawkeyes. He was the #1 tailback on the depth chart heading into the 1991 season, but missed the season due to injury. By the time he returned, Iowa had played in the Rose Bowl, and J.C. Love found himself a backup at wingback. Nevertheless, most people would consider such a career a modest success and proceed into their post-collegiate lives.

But not J.C. Love Jordan. Oh no, he had far bigger things in mind.

In 1990, J.C. Love found his way to Universal Studios Hollywood to take on the likes of Nitro, Gemini, and Laser. That's right, folks; J.C. Love Jordan was a contestant on American Gladiators. He was initially crushed by Richard Seymour, but (under the modified American Gladiator Stableford scoring system, where the loser almost always returns) he was resurrected in the quarterfinals and even beat Erick Sutton. Finally, he succumbed to the eventual champion, and former Kentucky congressman, Lucian Anderson. J.C. Love Jordan may have been good1, but nobody could compete with a zombie Kentucky congressman who was later implicated in a 2005 murder. Nevertheless, it was the last time an Iowan reached the Final Four.2 And again, almost anyone could look back with pride and settle into a simple, quiet life from that point forward.

But not our man J.C. Love.

In 1992, J.C. Love Jordan made his most imporant appearance yet. When the representatives from Name of the Year convened in their first-ever papal enclave to choose the Name of the Decade, you know who was in the running. Three votes, and a 22nd place finish, later, J.C. Love Jordan was immortalized. He then vanished into the ether, never to be seen again. No mention on Google, other than Hawkeye football and AmGlad. Certainly no pictures.

So what happened to J.C. Love Jordan?

I need to talk to J.C. Love. I need to know what it's like to run around those cones and enter the final stretch of The Eliminator, not knowing whether Gemini ("a split personality; calm one moment, violent the next") lies on the other side of that paper. I need to know how it feels to be mentioned in the same breath as Godfrey Sithole and Funzio Banjo. I need to know how it feels to be truly legendary. So if anyone knows the whereabouts of this Iowan...no, AMERICAN...hero, let me know.

1 - One would think, given J.C. Love Jordan's football background and Iowa ties, his best event would be Breakthrough & Conquer, but one would be incorrect in making that assumption. His best event was most certainly Atlasphere.

2 - of American Gladiators.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets

This has been making the rounds for about a year now, but it's still funny:



This video is dear to me; Vikings fans and Jets fans have a common nucleus of bad draft decisions. I Can't wait to see how long the Berserkers let the clock run before taking another underachieving defensive lineman. In any case, happy Mel Kiper Christmas Weekend, everyone!

Monday, April 23, 2007

"I'm Off the Wagon And I'm Hitchin' a Ride"

Welcome to add/drop week in the University of Iowa athletic department. And, gentlemen, this one's gonna hurt.

From KCRG:
Iowa's best returing player will not be returning.

Freshman Tyler Smith has asked to be released from this scholarship, and coach Todd Lickliter has granted that release. Lickliter said that Smith expressed a desire to be nearer his father in Tennessee. As a freshman, Tyler Smith led the Hawks in rebounding (4.9) and steals (45) and he was second in scoring (14.9) and assists (111). Smith was a member of the Big Ten all freshman team.
I'm going to save the discussion of the fallout for the inevitable Iowa Year in Review post this week, but I don't know how we possibly recover from this. Between Haluska's graduation and Smith's transfer, we're losing 35.4 ppg and 9.5 rpg from a team that couldn't score or rebound. Also, word of Smith's departure and Henderson's graduation immediately sent retail shoplifting security stocks plummeting.

Obviously, more on this story as it unfolds, but we had better prepare ourselves for a basketball team relying far too much on the scoring prowess of Seth Gorney.

Friday, April 20, 2007

This Bain Don't Stop Here Anymore

This escalated quickly. From Steroid Nation:
Ryan Bain arrived at Iowa as a prized football recruit in a star-studded class of players who candidly, and seemingly collectively, stated their goal was to lead the Hawkeyes to new heights.

The 6-foot-2, 282-pound defensive lineman has asked for his release from the Hawkeyes and plans to transfer at the end of the semester, his father said Thursday evening.

Rick Bain said his son wants to get to the NFL and thinks the best route to getting there is by going somewhere that he can receive the playing time and exposure that comes with being a full-time starter rather than spending another season at Iowa as a second-string defensive
tackle....

When asked if there's anything that would change his son's mind at this point, Rick Bain said: "If you get a signed affidavit that he's the starter, that's all he wants."

Bain entered Iowa with the vaunted 2005 recruiting class and played as a true freshman. He was part of that U.S. Army All-America game with six other Iowa signings. To date, those guys have done the following (hint: not too damn much):
  • Jake Christiansen - Beat Northern Illinois; fill-in action throughout last season; threw a pass directly to a Minnesota cornerback, thereby ending any hope of retaining the pig; current overwhelming favorite to become starting quarterback; leftiness will eventually lead to Kenny Boy's termination, once it becomes clear he can't understand why southpaw quarterbacks roll left
  • Dace Richardson - Starting left tackle until he leaves; next Iowa offensive lineman to be chosen too high in the NFL draft
  • Tony Moeaki - Backup tight end last season; prohibitive favorite to start next season; just catches touchdowns
  • Trey Stross - Lost in depth chart at beginning of last season; showed coaches he had a pair of opposable thumbs and no fear over the middle, and became a possible starter for this campaign; came to spring practice second on the depth chart at wideout; I love this guy
  • Dan Doering - Hasn't really played after being stuck behind the graduating starters; in a position battle with Andy Kuempel at left guard (and Kuempel seems to be winning)
  • Tyler Blum - Special teams, mostly; on the spring depth chart, but in a logjam at right tackle; best player out of Pottawattamie county since I tore up the Western Iowa Conference in junior high (2 seasons, 1 catch - which was probably a trap - that was nevertheless The Greatest Catch In the History of Junior High Football...in other words, Warren Holloway's career)
Which brings us to...
This picture of 97-year old famed economist Joe Bain is
the closest thing to a Bain action shot I could find

  • Ryan Bain - Flashes of brilliance, but was absolutely the third-best junior defensive tackle on the team; arrested last week for a multitude of football-related offenses, thereby getting Iowa into the running in the Fullmer Cup; has apparently taken an interest in discovery practices; might get a subpoena demanding the deposition of Norm Parker (and who doesn't want to see that?)
Look, I can't blame the kid. You're a U.S. Army All-American stuck behind two guys who weren't, you have no chance of ever seeing the field unless you finally start working hard, and all you want are some friggin' affidavits, damn it. After all, isn't it easier to transfer to a smaller school where you don't have to work for that starting position?

As for Iowa, it's certainly a blow to depth at a position where it may be needed most. However, the third defensive tackle is employed most often against those pesky running sets, and Rashad Dunn is the run-stopping guy you need in that spot. I think we'll be OK.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Soo-Wha?

So, I promised the immensely awkward press conference announcing the hiring of Dana Altman at Arkansas. As you know, it was immediately followed by the press conference announcing the resignation of Dana Altman at Arkansas. Gee, I wonder why:



You can almost see the moment when he realized he had made a huge mistake. It's the moment they do the second "woooooooo," and he gives a half-hearted nod of appreciation. That, my friends, was the moment Creighton got its coach back.

Welcome back, Dana. We'll act like it never happened.

Notes and Errata

Thoughts while calculating how long Sean Sonderliter would have lasted at Princeton:

I attended Saturday's spring game. Ten things from that experience:
(1) Tailgating in spring? Fun, but not AS fun. Drinking beer before noon is exactly as great as it used to be.
(2) Any discussion of Jake Christiansen not starting the year on top of the depth chart are GREATLY exaggerated.
(3) Having a lefty quarterback may be too confusing for Ken O'Keefe.
(4) Douchebags are living in my old house. I'm not very happy about this development.
(5) Coors Light does not qualify as a non-perishable food item, and not only because of the "born on" date.
(6) Someone - ANYONE - needs to catch a pass before Christiansen commits hari kari.
(7) I'm still not entirely sure why Alex Kanellis was changed from a pretty decent defensive end to an obviously undersized offensive tackle. The obvious position change this spring would be Herb Grigsby to male cheerleader. That way, when he makes another inexcusable drop, at least someone can sue.
(8) There's something strangely comforting about having a 6-4, 230 lb. placekicker.
(9) That whole "We all hate the basketball coach" thing we had there for a while? That was a bummer. This is much better.
(10) I still love Iowa City. And I want to burn Ames to the ground. In other words, I've still got it.

This line, taken from the unusually early 2007 season preview at FireGaryBarta.com, is hilarious: "Iowa's linebacking tradition is becoming pretty well known around the country. Two linebackers from the 2005 senior class are now highly regarded in the National Football League. They are Minnesota's Chad Greenway and Green Bay's Abdul Hodge." Of course, as you know, Greenway has yet to play a down of NFL football, but his sitting in the press box really got the attention of league scouts.

OK, I think it's time we change the name of Duane Banks Field to Brad Banks Field. In fact, he should also be the namesake of an auditorium, a sandwich at the Hungry Hobo, and the river that runs through town. Those were the days...

By the way, Jack Dahm will once again be watching the College World Series at Pauli's in Omaha. Iowa baseball is 15-14, and lost to UNI last week. Panther County would be gloating if anyone cared enough about college baseball to pay attention.

I'm a Yankees fan, and I hate the Red Sox out of obligation, but if you ever needed evidence of who your typical ISU fan is modeling himself after, take a look at this:



Or how about this (by the way, the funniest thing I've seen all week, made better by the announcers, so turn up the sound):



Stay classy, Boston.

I'll be back this weekend with the ongoing Big Ten Year in Review.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Big Ten Year in Review - The Michigans

Part Three in a six-part series takes us to the state that's shaped like a mitten...being stabbed by an icepick.

BIG BLUE (22-13 overall; 8-8 conference)

Oh, where do we start? It's not often that a Golden Boy-coached Iowa team isn't the most dysfunctional in the conference, but this was a strange year for teams in the Big Ten, and Michigan's was certainly one of the strangest.

From the preview:
They have a whole helluva lot of talent. They return a lot of scoring (Lester Abram, Dion Harris), some size (the overrated Courtney Sims), and enough youngsters to fill out a pretty decent starting five....It's not enough to make up for the fact that Tommy Amaker is coaching. Seriously, is there a college with more incompetence in important positions that Mich? Amaker, Carr, Mary Sue Coleman (that's just bitterness, but still)....11-3 non-conference, 7-9 conference, 18-12 overall.
I Was Right:

Another round of props for me. This was damn close to the truth.

Not only can I predict the future,
But I'm also A MIND TAKER!

Courtney Sims leaves UMich as arguably theirr most overrated player since...well, since Brent Petway. And Dion Harris. And let's throw Lester Abram in there, too. Quite frankly, I don't remember a Michigan basketball player meeting the hype since the Fab Five, and I certainly don't remember seeing one under Amaker.

And therein lies the problem. I don't think anyone will question Amaker's ability as a recruiter; there was hardly a more athletic team in the Big Ten this season than Michigan (save for tOSU). It was his ability to improve his players from game-to-game and year-to-year that became a problem. Just as you could set your watch by the horrible road loss that would send Iowa's season spiraling out of control, you could also pick the moment in every year where Michigan would absolutely quit playing any semblance of team basketball, ignore the pleading and begging of Tommy A, and start jacking up every half-open shot they could get.

Michigan averaged 1.2 more turnovers than assists this season, and that wasn't for a surplus of turnovers. At no point in the Amaker era did you watch Michigan and feel there was any flow offensively. Nobody on this team ever wanted to pass the ball. Sims only got the ball through offensive rebounds (though this was a blessing; he never developed anything in the low post). When the team forgot about Sims for stretches of the game (most notably the second half collapses against Iowa and tOSU), an already-slow and already-exhausted Sims would simply lose interest, pick up a bad foul or a turnover, and put the opponents in position to win. Never did it feel like Amaker had any control of this team whatsoever; inevitably, the cameras would catch him sitting on the sidelines, legs crossed, obviously daydreaming about rainbows and unicorns. And, true to form, he's now at Harvard.

I Was Wrong:

I said they would be 18-12. They were 20-11. And again, I had no idea that kind of record would get you in the discussion for the NCAA's. If they had gotten into the tournament, I would have been forced to start my own bizzaro NCAA tournament in an attempt to stop the injustice of it all.

Prognosis:

Lord only knows what Bielien can do there. He actually inherits a couple of pretty decent perimeter shooters, but he's probably going to have to start his first practice with the two-hand chest pass (forgotten under the previous regime) and build from there. Like Iowa, it may be a couple of seasons before he finally starts paying dividends, but he's a good coach with a proven track record, and he obviously wants to be there. While 2007-08 may be rough at Big Blue, the future isn't too bad.

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (23-12 overall; 8-8 conference)

There wasn't much of a preview, mostly because I decided it was better to post five straight pictures of Mateen Cleaves grinning like a moron. I did say they would go 23-8, 10-6 conference.

We all know the key to this team was Drew Neitzel, and that he'll be the key again next year. Izzo didn't go to UK, so there's nothing new coming from MSU any time soon. They had zero - I repeat, ZERO - seniors, so you're getting this team again. And even if they had lost a bunch of players, the post-Mateen Spartans are eerily similar and, in a way, Bizzaro Big Blue. They always look like they might be outmanned, but Izzo puts them through the meat grinder in November and December, and by the time Big Ten play begins they are tougher than every other team in the conference. They inevitably take Iowa behind the woodshed, beat the tar out of at least 3 teams they shouldn't be on the floor with, and make it to the tournament with something like a #6 seed, where they usually win a tough game one, upset someone in game two, and nobly bow out to a superior opponent in the sweet 16.

Did they play immensely boring, limited-possession, grind-it-out basketball so unwatchable it made Bill Simmons stick his head in the oven? Yeah. Did they turn the ball over far too often? Sure. Do I expect that again next year? I don't think you'll see all the turnovers, but probably something close to this is returning.

So, instead of chronicling what's going to happen next season (something like 21-9, 11-5, 3 wins in the tournament, every minute of it boring the crap out of me), let's take one more look at Mateen Cleaves grinning like an idiot:

Those were the days...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Big Ten Year in Review - Northwestern/Purdue

These teams were originally in a post entitled "Alert the NIT Selection Committee." One made the NCAA tournament - and even beat Arizona - and the other didn't come close to making the NIT. Whoops. Who knew there were more teams in the women's NIT than the men's? Title IX run amok, I say.

Onto the review.

NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS (13-18 overall; 2-14 conference)

From the preview:
Northwestern is Princeton West. Bill Carmody has built a little Ivy League program, right there in Evanston. Recruiting is up, especially in Chicago and the rest of Illinois. And a whole new group of 6'9", 3-point-bomb-throwing Croats is ready to replace Vedran Vukucic. And Iowa's still a member of the Big Ten Conference, so that's a guaranteed win....There's a problem with always being David: You never get to be Goliath. That's the case here, just as it was at Princeton. Throw in the lack of a post presence (The Cats have height, but the height is skinny and wants to shoot from the outside), and Northwestern still isn't over the top....Northwestern hosts Northwestern State on New Years' Eve. All those things that we thought would happen on Y2K? They'll happen if this game goes off as planned. It's like the corner of First and First. How can a school play against itself? It's the nexus of the universe! On the bright side, they can get together afterwards and reminisce about how each ripped the still-beating heart out of every Iowa fan last season....A Nebraska-esque non-conference slate will send them to Big Ten play at 8-4. They go 6-10 in the conference and finish at 14-14.
I Was Right:

Um, no.

I Was Wrong:

Well, for starters, the universe didn't collapse on itself when Northwestern played Northwestern State. Plus, Iowa didn't play Northwestern IN EVANSTON, which is the annual kiss of death (the Hawks missed it so much that they went and lost at Penn State, just so we all didn't forget what it feels like). But let's get to the more substantive points.

Northwestern doesn't have all the athletic ability in the world (so I guess I was right about David vs. Goliath). They win with efficiency. They slow the game down and turn you over and get themselves easy baskets on those dreaded backdoor cuts. Plus, they try to shoot you out of the gym. The problem for Northwestern this season? They were just about the least efficient team in the conference. They averaged a horrific 0.9 points per possession in conference play. Their turnover rate was middle-of-the-pack. They shot 27% from behind the arc (so much for the 3-point-raining Croats). Oh, and their opponents scored 1.1 points per possession. (I would thank Big Ten Wonk for the numbers, if he still existed). You simply can't win with numbers like those. And if there's one thing Northwestern didn't do, it was win.

Prognosis: Kevin Coble looks pretty good, and he's got plenty of time to get better. But Doyle is gone, along with Scott. I have no idea how bad it can get, but it's Northwestern. Believe me, it's pretty bad.

BOILER UP (22-12 overall; 9-7 conference)

Seriously, am I the only one who thinks Matt Painter is the long-lost Shane McMahon clone?

From the preview:
This is a pretty big leap for a pretty horrible squad. The reason why? Well, it's in large part due to their schedule. Boiler has only one game with Wisconsin, the Fighting Izzos, ILLINI, and Iowa. While you certainly want two against Iowa, you don't mind avoiding the rest. That means Boiler could start 3-1 in the conference before a trip to Badgerland.... Finally, they get the bottom feeders at home in March. That, my friends, is a recipe for 7 wins. Throw on a dollop of experience, a dash of coaching (Painter got quite a bit out of absolutely nothing last season, and is only bound to get better), and this team should be OK....Boiler had trouble on the road last season. Painter's still learning the ropes. And the big men aren't there. But all of those things could be fixed by mid-January. We couldn't say the same thing about Gene's combover. Yes, things are looking up for Boiler....They could very well go 11-3 in the non-conference. I think they're going to finish at about 7-9 in the Big Ten. Purdue goes 18-12 and grabs a spot in the NIT.
I Was Right:

This one was much closer to reality. Purdue went 11-3 in the non-conference and was able to finish 20-10 in the regular season. They spanked the bottom-feeders in the last three games of the season, grabbed a win over Iowa in the conference tournament, and got themselves into the NCAAs. They still sucked on the road, only getting conference road wins at Northwestern and Penn State. But they were much improved at home, holding court against everyone but tOSU. It was, in fact, eerily similar to Iowa's season. And McMahon was genuinely terrifying the hell out of me until we hired the National Coach of the Year last week.

I Was Wrong:

Apparently, losing all your relevant road games and finishing in the middle of the Big Ten gets you an 8 seed in the tournament now. That is, unless you're Iowa. But I digress.

Prognosis:

Good, young coach who is improving as a recruiter, and only two players of any relevance leaving is usually a sign of promising things to come. But Carl Landry was an absolute monster for this team, and David Teague wasn't half bad. That's a lot to lose. If they can find replacements - and that's a big if - Purdue should be back here next year. If not, it could be a struggle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Big Ten Year in Review - Minnesota/Penn State

(NOTE: This was originally posted back before the Big Ten coaching change festival began. Now that we have stopped, I am moving this column back up to the top. I'll be reviewing the remainder of the Big Ten through the week.)

So, now that the annual Billy Packer Douchebag Extravaganza is entering its second week - and my bracket is in flames (the chalkiest tournament in recent memory, this March Madness) - I'm going to begin reviewing the Big Ten season. I'll be referring to the preview I did in December, pointing out where I was right and, more often than not, where I was wrong.

MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS (9-22 overall; 3-13 conference)

I think that pretty well sums it up.

First, from the preview:
The rumors of Dan Monson's imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated over the past couple of seasons (to the point that the Star-Tribune made a "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline gaffe last March). He benefits from being the fifth-biggest game in town (Vikings, T-Wolves, Gopher football, and Gopher hockey are bigger, as are ice fishing and licking flagpoles). But this might be the season where he finally goes down. The Precious Metallic Rodents return zero seniors, and only four players with conference game experience. Vince Grier is gone, along with pretty much everyone else you ever saw in a Gopher uniform over the past season. And that team wasn't very good, either. They're replaced by a ragtag group of JUCO transfers and typically unathletic Minnesota big men. And the unathletic big men are their best asset this season. Yikes. Throw in Monson's traditional inability to win games (as in, one NCAA appearance in six years) and all indications are that this team will blow, a feeling that has been confirmed by early-season losses to Iowa State, Southern Illinois, Montana, and Marist. Ouch. This one's gonna hurt....You can't spell "Minnesota University Golden Gopher Basketball" without "STRUGGLING." 9-20, and Monson gone by February 1.
I Was Right:

Well, I was right about Monson. He was gone by the beginning of Big Ten play. And the unathletic big men were their best asset; the best Gopher all year was Spencer Tollackson (the aforementioned brother from My Name is Earl). Oh, and I hit the number of wins right on the money. Someone call Vegas.

I Was Wrong:

I was wrong to say there were no positives for this team. There were no seniors, so the experience of a Big Ten season alone should help, especially with the return of Coleman, Mackenzie, Tollackson, and Abu-Shamayla. All four of those guys showed a little promise this season. If they ever decide on a coach, they could be a little interesting next year. Also, I was apparently wrong on the number of games they would play. Not entirely certain why.

Prognosis:

Still pretty negative. The program has absolutely no continuity at the moment, and the athletic department really doesn't seem to care. They return everyone, but I don't know exactly how good that is. I would expect a little improvement next year, but 6 conference wins would be great unless Bob Knight is the next coach.

(UPDATE: Um, Tubby changes this quite a bit. I'm genuinely worried about Minny now.)

PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS (11-19 overall; 2-14 conference)

The closest PSU came to stomping an opponent all season.

From the preview:
JoePa, titanium knee and all, could probably outjump anyone on this team. That being said, they're young, they had a relatively good year last season (6 conference wins, NIT appearance), and their best player returns....Geary Claxton will make or break this team. He averaged 15 last season; getting into the 19-22 PPG range could take this team over the top. Combine that with some experienced guard play (2 senior starting guards, neither of which score a whole lot) and PSU might not be too bad....There's no size on this roster. They have a couple of stiffs over 6'9" but no low post threat. Actually, outside Claxton and Jamelle Cornley, who averaged over 11 PPG last season, there's not a whole lot of scoring here. Big problem when the team that scores the most points wins the game. Oh, and Claxton broke his hand and will be out until at least the second week of December....The Claxton-less Lions already lost to Stony Brook. And then they beat St. Joe's. So who the hell knows what's going to happen? I'll say they finish about 5-11 in the conference (they have a brutal two week stretch in February where they will face tOSU and Wisky twice each). They'll drop at least two more in non-conference play. That means something like 15-14 should be about right.
I Was Right:

They had no size or scoring. And JoePa could outjump everyone.

I Was Wrong:

I completely underestimated the effect State College apathy has on this team. I don't think Iowa fans can understand how little PSU fans care about basketball. Their spirit has been sucked dry by year after year of rebuilding projects, losses, firings, rebuilding projects, losses, firings, ad infinitum. England and Ireland haven't repeated history this often. Every coach walks into that program looking to turn it around, and every one fails to make an immediate impact, and the fans head for the exits. Ed DeChellis may soon be gone, for exactly the same reasons (Run Up The Score, if you want to chime in here on whether I'm accurate and why, I'd appreciate it).

I was right to say that Claxton was their best player, but even his Herculean performances couldn't hide the fact that this team sucked. Claxton finished with 16.9 PPG, but would have had to approach 30 to pull PSU out of its tailspin. In fact, some might argue that Claxton's return hindered the progress of this team in some way. I also failed to call the inevitable win at home over Iowa in late February, a pick so obvious a caveman could make it.

When I'm calling in a wager on Iowa-Penn State, I wonder, "Are
there demons inside this contraption controlling my thoughts?" I
don't know. My caveman mind cannot grasp these concepts.


Prognosis: I don't think Ed DeChellis is a particularly bad coach; he's just a mediocre coach in a no-win situation. He should get one more year, and I think he will. He returns a (hopefully) healthy Geary Claxton and the underrated, and very talented, Jamelle Cornley. They should be better. Then again, they can't be worse.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Le Anne Schreiber Has Balls (at Least For Now)

For those of you who are new here, one of my favorite targets was former ESPN ombudsman George Solomon. Generally, I attacked Mr. Solomon as a moron and a schill for The World Wide Leader, which in and of itself meant he was failing miserably in his role as an ombudsman. Well, Georgie Boy left ESPN last month, and this week we got our first look at his replacement, Le Anne Schreiber.

There was another TWWL-related event this week which grabbed my attention. ESPN Radio host, Kornheiser replacement, and overall massive douchebag Colin Cowherd unleashed an immature, idiotic, and mean-spirited attack on The Big Lead, a sports news site. Cowherd told his listeners to access the site on his command, overloading the servers and crashing the site, just for the hell of it. Obviously, we don't take kindly to them people 'round these parts (and Cowherd has a history of this kind of activity, if you remember this episode from last year). I'd get into the specifics of what happened next, but it's been well documented at Deadspin, mGoBlog, KSK, EDSBS, and just about everywhere else. In fact, he is now known throughout the eBays as "Schrutebag."

"Hey guys, what has two thumbs and loves being a Schrutebag?"

Now, this raises a couple of questions:
  • Was this action a crime or, at least, a civil cause of action? Already discussed in detail at mGoBlog, with the consensus being no crime or tort
  • This guy has an audience? His show blows. It's awful. But, apparently, there are plenty of people who want to listen to angry, unfunny, idiotic douchebaggery at the end of the morning. I assume these are the same people who buy Mudvayne records.
  • What would TWWL do to the Schrutebag? Early money was on "nothing at all," especially considering the fact that he's hosting the newest ESPN Classic turd (You know, the show that claims Ty Cobb and Tiger Woods are linked because, if he were alive, Ty Cobb would hate Tiger Woods? Yeah, that show is his.)
I guarantee if George Solomon was still in his former position, nothing would have happened. He would have ignored the story completely. But the new sheriff don't roll like dat. From her response:

Some of the politer terms my correspondents used to describe Cowherd's behavior were "immature, irresponsible, arrogant, malicious, destructive and dumb." I agree.

The official response from ESPN's communication department was: "Our airwaves should not be used for this purpose. We apologize." It is the kind of bland public statement that does little to assuage the anger and distrust of ESPN's audience over an episode like this. I could not tell from that statement how seriously ESPN regarded the offense, so I contacted Traug Keller, senior vice president, ESPN Radio, to get a clearer idea of ESPN's reaction.

Keller responded immediately to my request for an on-the-record statement. "We talked to Colin Cowherd, and we talked to all our radio talent, making it clear that you cannot do this," Keller said Friday. "Our airwaves are a trust, and not to be used to hurt anyone's business. Such attacks are off limits. Zero tolerance. I can't say it any stronger."

Keller said that he had not formulated a policy about such attacks on Internet sites until now because he had never imagined the possibility of them.

Is it a perfect response? Not exactly. Nobody's ponying up for the ad revenue lost at The Big Lead for the two days while their site was down. And in a week where Don Imus is being asked to resign over remarks which were clearly inappropriate but not causing a loss of income to anyone, the fact that Schrutebag still has a job, without any repercussions, is a travesty. But at least someone saw through ESPN's original (and typically worthless) response, and got TWWL to make a formal apology and state publicly that it will never happen again. I can't say how long Ms. Schreiber's newfound ballsiness is going to last in the face of the multinational corporate juggernaut she is supposed to patrol, but I've got to admit she's off to a good start.

UPDATE: You can sign a petition to have the Schrutebag fired. Of course, nobody will ever read it, but if it makes you happy, it can't be that bad...

Yee Haw! We's Gots Us a Masters-Winning Golfer!

This shirt might have looked better with the green jacket.
Then again, nothing looks good with a green jacket.


Congratulations to Cedar Rapids' own Zack Johnson, the first guy to ever have any desire to attend Iowa and win the Masters. Yeah, yeah, I know, he went to Drake, but I didn't see a bulldog headcover in his bag today, did I?

I would also like to thank Zack for naming his kid "Will." I don't know how many of you noticed, but King of the WASPs Jim Nantz didn't have much for a bad pun after Florida won last week (if you were bleeding from your ears due to a weekend's exposure to Billy Packer and didn't hear it, I understand). Well, because Zack and his wife picked that name, today Jimmy was able to trot out, "There's Zack with his son Will...and he showed us he had an 'iron will' out there today." Zing! If only Hootie Johnson was in Butler Cabin to welcome Nantz and his maniacal grin after the tournament, things would have been right in the world.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Not So Fast, My Friend...

A visual representation of the Dana Altman era at Arkansas

This morning, I made an off-hand comment on the clearly awkward press conference which welcomed Creighton's Dana Altman to Fayetteville. Well, apparently it was even more awkward than I thought, because the inside sources at CU have said that Altman is on a plane back to Omaha. That's right, folks. Altman "Majerused"* the Razorbacks and is returning to his little program that could. More details as soon as they're known...

* - According to Miriam Webster, to "Majerus" has two meanings: To back out of a job after accepting aforementioned job ("Rick Majerus totally Majerused USC"), or to clear out the all-you-can-eat crab legs buffet at a Bonanza restaurant ("Rick Majerus totally Majerused the Bonanza on 13th and Broadway")

Yeah, He's Nothing Like the Old Boss

So, Iowa hoops fan, we have our guy. So what, pray tell, can we expect from The Lighter?

DAMN IT! Everyone has already written this column today! Damn me and my stinking profession! So, just read these summaries of what to expect:
The consensus: July-in-Iowa stifling defense, coupled with insanely efficient (read: turnover-free, high points-per-possession) offense run by a never-ending line of long-range bombers. Remains to be seen if The Lighter will attempt to recruit more size, now that he can, and thereby improve those rebounding numbers. Also remains to be seen how The Lighter's vision of turnover-free hoops will work with The Living, Breathing Embodiment of a Turnover We Know as Tony Freeman.

Instead, let's discuss this Bill Simmons-inspired, Chicken Little, "Big Ten sucks at basketball" bullshit...DAMN IT! On his way out the door, Big Ten Wonk beat me to that one, too. Two things here:
  • Why is it that, at the end of every season, I (or someone similarly inclined who beats me to the punch) has to come out here and debunk these myths about Big Ten postseason play? Perhaps you all recall the Destruction of a Stupid Statement post from January, with regards to Big Ten bowl games? Now we need it again for basketball? Can't we all just agree it's an idiot-ass way of measuring conferences and that the people who trot it out every year are uninformed morons? It seems especially true this time, when the main antagonist is a self-aggrandizing, smug, obnoxious NBA fan who admits to disliking college hoops and only examines college players with an eye on who can best not care about an 82-game season next year. And yes, Bill, I'm looking directly at you (and J-Bug, if he's in the room). Since nobody can get in a word edgewise in your mailbags without you turning their argument into a stick man before returning to Durant-worship, we'll throw stones from our poorly-read blogs, instead.
  • Props to Big Ten Wonk for biting the hand that feeds him with this one, too. "The Big Ten is Better Than People Who Link To Me Say It Is" might win title of the year.
One last thanks to Big Ten Wonk, who is shutting his doors so that he may examine college basketball as a whole next year. It's good for everyone else, to be sure, but without his well-informed opinions and amazing statistical analysis, our arguments will sound like...well, like that last one above. Good luck and Godspeed, Wonk.

I've Already Purchased "FireToddLickliter.com"

Go ahead and make jokes, bastards.
He's got games to win and demons to exorcise.


Bravo, Mr. Barta. Bravo indeed.

At approximately 2:30 yesterday, I was having a phone conversation regarding the quickly falling sky around Iowa basketball. Altman had left for Arkansas (and if YouTube gets a clip of that incredibly awkward news conference, it will be here this afternoon). Lowery signed a big extension at SIU. Pearl, Majerus, and Stallings had turned down the job. It seemed there was no other option but to throw a bunch of money at Reggie Theus or Kirk Speraw and hope for the best.

And then a private jet left Indianapolis for Cedar Rapids, and a guy who had not even been on the radar to that point was the next coach of your Iowa Hawkeyes.

Meet the new boss. Jesus, let's hope he's not the same as the old boss.

TODD LICKLITER - New coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes

Positives: Um, does National Coach of the Year mean anything to you? Or how about a 29-7 season with wins over Notre Dame, Hoosier Daddy, Tennessee (as in, Bruce Pearl's Tennessee), Gonzaga, Purdue, and Maryland? How about taking the new national champions to the limit in the Sweet Sixteen? That do anything for ya?

More Positives: Obviously more concerned with winning basketball games than looking good and making googly-eyes across the floor at his wife; probably won't walk into every business in town and demand free merchandise; has yet to recruit a known felon (or give that known felon a second, third, or fourth chance); may use hair gel, opening a new avenue for the guys at Steve Alford's Hair Gel (and toddlicklitershairgel.blogspot.com is available); his teams play tough defense and shoot you out of the gym; obviously has little to no use for Lil' Sonderleiter, possibly leading to his defection; did I mention he was National Coach of the Year?

Negatives: Another guy with those vaunted Indiana recruiting ties that brought you the likes of J.R. Angle and Brody Boyd; the Michigan State student section may have a field day with his name; my dad's first comment was, "He looks a little like Cosmo Kramer."

Prognosis: When he's done here, we'll all be wearing gold-plated diapers. This guy wasn't even in the conversation, mostly because he was coaching at his alma mater, looking to get a big extension, and would undoubtedly be pursued by others. From the biggest Dana Altman apologist to ever run an Iowa blog, I've gotta say this was the better hire.

No details as of yet on the money, though that will likely come up at the news conference this afternoon.

And so it ends. Let the commenting begin. Go Hawks.

UPDATE: For more detailed statistical analysis, read this post from The Hair Gel.