BREAKING NEWS: Sioux City Journal Still Sucks

Ross: I grew up in Sioux City.  I spent the formative, newspaper-reading years of my young adulthood reading The Sioux City Journal.  Even as a pimply fifteen-year old, I could tell that it was a piece of shit paper with slanted coverage and brain-breakingly stupid columns.  So in a way it's reassuring to know that in the ten years since I lived in the Siouxland area and read that tripe every day, it hasn't gotten any better.  At all.  It's still a godawful piece of shit, although at least they figured out how to print color photos without making them look like abstract art.  This literally took years to fix -- and western Iowans wonder why the rest of the state seriously considers abandoning them to Nebraska or South Dakota.

The latest piece of mind-numbing idiocy comes today in a column defending local boy Brennan Cougill, the doughy freshman center on the Iowa basketball team who's seen his minutes decline in recent weeks [It may have been written by Cougill's mother. We can't rule it out.--OPS].  High school newspapers that get personally vetted by the coaches have more journalistic objectivity than this piece.

Mum’s the word, it would seem, about Brennan Cougill’s status on a University of Iowa basketball team that continues to flounder far from its many glory days of the past.

OPS: His status? He's eligible and playing. Status confirmed. End of story. How often he's playing, however...

Ross: Indeed, the interwebs have been abuzz with speculation about the Dessert Fox's* playing time.  Or not.

The 6-9, 255-pound Cougill, who shattered the all-time metro scoring mark in a city that has been loaded with Division I talent for the last 15 years or so, started seven of the season’s first 12 games as a true freshman for the Hawkeyes.

Ross: This seems like a bit of an exaggeration.  There was Kirk Hinrich, of course, Kyle "The Ginger Assassin" Galloway,  Cougill now, and a few dudes who went off to play at UNI and Creighton, but the Siouxland area has not exactly been the biggest hotbed of talent.  For a metro area of roughly 100K people, it seems like it's produced a fairly average amount of Division I talent.  Aplington-Parkersburg, this is not.

Illness and a little back trouble have complicated the former Bishop Heelan star’s first season in Iowa City, we’ve been told.

OPS: "So here's the answer to your question... IF YOU'RE A GULLIBLE MORON DICKWAD! Here, let me ignore evidence and recklessly speculate that the Internet's dragging him down." No really; that's all you'll get out of this column.

Also, conveniently omitted is the fact that Aaron Fuller's healthy now. In those aforementioned first 12 games, Fuller averaged fewer than 10 minutes per game as he recovered from ankle injuries. Now that his ankle's working, he's been a hair under 30 minutes (29.8, if you must know) over the last six games. Those minutes have to come from somewhere, and it might as well be a 255-pound guy who's been largely ineffective in the paint.

Further proving the point: Cougill did play 21 (ineffectual) minutes vs. MSU. The reason? Fuller was in foul trouble, logging only 19 minutes and committing four fouls on the day. Cougill's minutes aren't disappearing, they're just going to a player who's better when he's healthy. End of story--wait what do you mean, "the column only just started"?!

But after consistently logging double-digit minutes in the games he hasn’t started, the reigning Mr. Basketball in our state totaled a mere three minutes in Iowa’s last two games, logging two against Tennessee State and one against Penn State.

Ross: Ah yes, Mr. Basketball, that surefire indicator of future greatness.  Why, I'm sure it guarantees Cougill will be every bit as unstoppable as other college standouts (and past Mr. Basketball honorees) like Clayton Vette (2007), Josh Van Es (2005), or Carlton Reed (2004).  Also of note: there was one thing of interest about those games against Tennessee State and Penn State that was slightly different.  Let's see, what was it... oh yes, Iowa WON THE FUCKING GAMES.  So, naturally, it's perfect timing for a hit piece.

Instead, the Hawkeyes, limping along at 7-11, have been playing with 6-7, 250-pound junior Jarryd Cole and 6-6, 230-pound sophomore Aaron Fuller, averaging 8.3 and 7.3 points, respectively, as their primary inside personnel. Everyone else in the mix is 6-5 or shorter.

Ross: Which cleverly ignores the fact that Fuller's scored 20+ in each of his past two games (again, both Iowa wins) and gone for a double-double in each as well. 

The Hawkeye message boards have been getting quite a little traffic on the subject and the observations range from disgruntled to insulting.

OPS: Welcome to the Internet. It's been like this since, oh, forever. Cougill's not fucking special. Also, "quite a little traffic"? That grammar isn't tortured, it's straight up murdered and dead.

[Note: I swear that NW Iowa did not just discover the interwebs, despite what this column may lead you to believe.--Ross]

Some fans who’ve dumped their "precious’’ thoughts on Hawkeyereport.com are spouting off that Brennan isn’t quick enough for the Big Ten game and crowing over how they’d predicted his struggles all along. Most, however, have contributed far more thoughtful comments and expressed general disdain for the outspoken critics.

Ross: Indeed, it's so much more constructive to dump your "precious" thoughts in a newspaper column in a two-bit piece of shit newspaper.

[Keep reading, by the way--the glaring logical flaws have only just begun.--OPS]

That’s the tough thing about our world today, I might add. With all of these anonymous message boards at their disposal,

Ross: Mind you, this comes in a column that contains no identifiable byline.  I'd say more, but I'm too busy drowning in the ocean of irony over here.

it takes little effort whatsoever for some loudmouth numbskulls to take pot shots at just about anyone in any walk of life.

OPS: "In any walk of life?" I don't see many message boards called "FUCK YOU CONSTRUCTION WORKERS."

"You are seeing the REAL Cougill now,’’ wrote one nitwit. "At best, he’s a D3 talent probably a better fit at the NAIA level.’’

OPS: Stop, no, and don't. Do not ever acknowledge the shit-mouthed-est of the shit-mouthed on the Internet, the ones who casually toss out insults against strangers without the courtesy of making it funny or entertaining (see how I toed the line of hypocrisy there then stepped way back like it was all on purpose? See that? That's a veteran move there). These people are the Westboro Baptist Gay-Haters of the Internet, except without the backing of a sacred text. They want to be noticed, and the only way they know how to do so is to spew ludicrously ill-informed, short-sighted, mean-spirited bile. Don't prove them right.

Several fans dumped water on that hurtful joker, who has probably spouted off countless times about any number of athletes and been wrong more often than not. As I’ve said many times, though, it seems to me God gave the loudest voices to some of the dumbest people.

Ross: CAN'T... STOP... LAUGHING... IRONY... TOO... OVERWHELMING.

Like me, most Hawkeye fans seem to think Iowa should be taking every opportunity to get Cougill as much playing time as possible.

OPS: Ahem. "Disagree that Brennan Cougill belongs in the NAIA" NOT EQUALS "Think Cougill should be getting 25 minutes a game in the Big Ten." Obviously, there's a cavern of difference between those two stances, but the columnist is drawing no distinction at all. Here's what I think for real: Cougill deserved the D-I offers he got, but he'd probably have redshirted on a decent team. Which side does that put me on?

Instead of letting Eastern Iowans take shots at a talented young man from Western Iowa, maybe some of you should jump on to this Web site and show Brennan some support.

Ross: Wait, what?  Is he really trying to turn this into some bullshit Eastern Iowa vs. Western Iowa thing?

If you knew him just a little, I believe, it would trouble you all the more to witness the abuse.

OPS: We don't doubt that Cougill is a good kid. He's an Iowan, after all. We do doubt, however, that painting him as thin-skinned and fragile does anything to help his perception. He's a grown-up, Mrs. Cougill. Treat him like one.

Matter of fact, it’s troubling that any of these unpaid amateurs making millions for their universities are treated so abominably by overzealous couch potatoes.

Ross: DAMN YOU AND YOUR UNFILTERED FREEDOM OF SPEECH!  WHY, BACK IN MY DAY, ONLY SERIOUS JOURNALIST TYPES COULD WRITE HIT PIECES!

The buck should always stop with the administration and the coaches. And, frankly, right now, Lickliter’s first two seasons of 13-19 and 15-17 are looking pretty good with only seven wins in the books and nothing but Big Ten assignments remaining on the slate.

Ross: Indeed.  But the timing of this piece is inexplicably awful.  Why pick today to drop that particular knowledge-bomb, considering that Iowa is coming off back-to-back wins?  Granted, it's a pair of wins over shit-awful teams, but still.  We all know there will be no shortage of ugly ass-kickings in the games to come -- why not save the potshots for a time when they're actually appropriate? 

Look, we've had issues with Lickliter's oft-incomprehensible patterns of player rotation for a few years now; this is nothing new.  But at least then it was when a guy like El Presidente reclaimed his spot on the pine after throwing up a pair of twenty-point performances against actual quality competition.  Cougill was not exactly setting the world on fire even when he got more minutes.  In 55 minutes of BXI action, he's grabbed five rebounds and scored twelve points -- he's not exactly the missing link.

The last two winters already represent the first back-to-back losing seasons Iowa has suffered since the days of a shorter schedule, the 8-16 and 10-16 marks the Hawkeyes put up in their final season (1974-75) under Dick Schultz and their first of nine winters (1975-76) in the Lute Olson era.

Of course, overall records are far less important than that Big Ten record. And, after finishing .500 or better in the league 18 times in 21 years before the ouster of Tom Davis, Iowa is undoubtedly headed for its eighth losing conference record in 11 seasons.

OPS: And you know what'll fix Iowa's slump? Benching the team's most productive player so Brennan Cougill--who is by no account ready for serious minutes in the Big Ten--can be on the court instead.

Look, I've been a benchwarmer too. You know where I got the most valuable experience? Same place where everyone else on a team gets the most valuable experience: practice. Not a game, not a game, we talkin' 'bout practice. That's where you get the most instructive work on technique, conditioning, and the run of play. Obviously, that's of little consolation to some hick-town homer who wants to watch the local boy actually play in games, but that is and should be of no concern to Lickliter or any other coach. Cougill needs to earn his minutes from Cole and Fuller, and he needs to do it in practice. Sorry, hack.

*From the Iowa/PSU liveblog. If you haven't, you must join us for one soon. They're as anarchic as you'd expect.

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