Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Columnists' Corner

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: Despite more and more research that suggests there is no direct correlation between athletic success and spending, athletic departments keep spending.

Ron Morris, Columbia State: Lou Holtz's autobiography "Wins, Losses, and Lessons" should only be read with a copy of "Under the Tarnished Dome" sitting nearby so the reader can get the other side of Holtz's life story.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Entertaining piece on the carnival atmosphere surrounding Iowa's media day (subscription, so story is in comments).

Kurt Kragthorpe, Salt Lake Tribune: Imagine if quarterback Tommy Grady had stayed at Oklahoma instead of transferring to Utah.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times: You have questions? We have answers. Ten questions and 10 answers about the Washington Huskies.

Tim Wise, Washington Post: It's time for Maryland and coach Ralph Friedgen to run another reverse (registration).

Ron Kantowski, Las Vegas Sun: Entertaining off-topic piece from our favorite city. Sports journalists say anything you can do while drinking a beer and/or holding a cigarette cannot be considered a sport. They've never seen John Daly play golf.

1 comment:

dawizofodds said...

Aug. 8, 2006

Iowa's Paparazzi Have Their Day

Mike Hlas
Cedar Rapids Gazette

IOWA CITY, IA - The Holiday Inn here didn't understand the magnitude of the event it hosted Monday. Or, it wisely kept things under wraps.

"SEAFOOD BUFFET EVERY FRIDAY 5 TO 9" read the hotel's marquee as you approached after coming off Interstate 80. That the hotel was the site of the first portion of the University of Iowa's annual football media day wasn't publicized.

Which was probably a good idea since it would have drawn millions of Hawkeye fans. That's if you based public interest on the number of media people who showed up to eat cold cuts and pasta salad on Iowa's tab before getting a taste of how a major-college football program presents itself to its state.

Not that enough "fans" weren't present as it was. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz got a round of applause from some in the hotel's ballroom as he arrived at the podium for his press conference.

At least 10 television cameras were set up in the ballroom. Which will surely be more than at an average campaign stop next year when Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain and two dozen or so other candidates establish temporary residence in Iowa for something far less important: running for President of the United States of America.

Yes, there were 10 TV cameras a-blinking, nine recorders on Ferentz's podium a-taping, an eighth year of Ferentz a-speaking, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Besides the usual media mopes like me, media day welcomes those who can't get credentialed for Iowa games because they're from too small an outlet. The Anamosa Journal-Eureka, the Tipton Conservative, the Washington (Iowa) Evening Journal - this was one day they got access to players and coaches. Good for them.

Hey, who claims first-teamers on Iowa's depth chart? Is it the threesome of Anamosa, Bankston and Mount Vernon, or the trio of Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines? The first group has one each, the latter none.

Ferentz began by issuing the only two real bits of news. Starting defensive end Kenny Iwebema is being withheld from practice until he gets a personal situation resolved, and second-team cornerback Ma'Quan Dawkins is taking a medical red-shirt this season.

The coach then took 30 questions, none of which was probing or hard-hitting. Why would they be? These are the good old days of Hawkeye football, even coming off a 7-5 season. The next person you meet who doesn't think Iowa is headed to a fifth straight January bowl will probably be the first.

After Ferentz took the 30th question and we were adjourned, a dozen sportswriters surrounded Ferentz to ask what they hadn't wanted everyone else to hear. Thus, their better angles could only be stolen by each other, not the world at large.

Then, a caravan journeyed to the Hawkeyes' practice field on campus for an hour with Iowa's assistant coaches and 90 minutes with its players. The entire media day lasted as long as a game and seemed as long as winter, which is when these seasons end.

Kicker Kyle Schlicher was the first player of note to surface. He immediately was circled by three people carrying TV equipment and 13 more with notepads.

Schlicher seems like a fine, genial young man, and is an excellent kicker to boot. But what's there to really ask him other than "How's the foot?"

Quarterback Drew Tate arrived about a half-hour later. He should have a good idea of what Lindsay Lohan and Jennifer Aniston endure when paparazzi invade their space.

Tate was a pied piper. He briskly strode onto the field, with the media mice determinedly following. He got swallowed by people battling to ask questions amid the whirring of clicking cameras.

Telecasts, radiocasts, Webcasts, Podcasts ... a cast of dozens were recording the thoughts of a 21-year-old college student who throws a football. His answers were a lot better than some of the questions.

"How does it feel to be a Heisman candidate?" someone asked Tate.

"It doesn't mean anything," he replied.

"Have you guys thought about running the table and winning the national championship this year?"

"No."

Better queries did follow.

"Which is worse, a blitzing linebacker or this (answering these questions)?"

"It's about the same."

"Which hurts more, being hit by a linebacker or being hit by us?"

"It's about the same."

Finally, all the broadcasters, camera people, photographers, Webmasters, bloggers and writers returned to their corners of the state to transmit all they learned.

Whatever that was.

Mike.Hlas@gazettecommunications.com