Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
I haven't written one of these in about three years. It's good to be back.
He Went to a Clambake and a Basketball Game Broke Out. Hawkeye Elvis, a/k/a our very own Cornshoe Hammaker, led off last night's midnight ET SportsCenter.
That man saved Daniel Murray from an adoring mob after the 2008 Penn State game and actually talked with Bloodpunch and lived to tell the tale. He's like Forrest Gump, only he's not an idiot and his football team went 4-8.
Todd Lickliter Was Soooo Not Getting Him on SportsCenter. Of course, Hawkeye Elvis' star turn comes due to Iowa's 63-55 win over Illinois last night. The win took the Hawkeyes to 8-9 in Big Ten play and 19-11 overall. A victory over the loathsome Nebraska Cornhuskers Saturday would give Iowa its first nine-win conference season since 2006-07 and first 20-win campaign since 2005-06.
The question is: Is that enough? Iowa is in the odd circumstance of having won almost every game it was expected to win and lost almost every game it was expected to lose. There are only a couple of games on the schedule (the wins over Minnesota and Wisconsin, the losses to Nebraska and Purdue) that the selection committee can hang their decision on, and so the body of work doesn't look as good as expected for a team that just went .500 in the nation's best conference and 11-2 in non-conference play.
As of last night, Iowa had crept back into the picture for Joe Lunardi (via our ESPN mole Chris Hassel), but just barely. The Hawkeyes are also back on the bubble at Yahoo! and had gotten back into contention at SB Nation before last night's win. The best thing might be that there are four SEC teams -- Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Alabama -- that are uniform bubble selections and that should cannibalize each other out of contention at their conference tournament. In the meantime, Iowa is the only team playing for its tournament life at the Big Ten tourney. It's still not likely -- that Nebraska loss really, really hurt -- but an NCAA tournament berth is still an outside possibility with a solid stretch run.
"U MAD, JAMIE?" -- B. Ferentz. As has been widely rumored for a couple of weeks now, Iowa football will hold an open practice at West Des Moines Valley High's 8000-seat stadium on April 20:
All #Hawkeyes in western Iowa need to clear their calanders on April 20th. We'll be holding an open practice in West Des Moines! Roll call?— Brian Ferentz (@CoachBFerentz) March 4, 2013
This does not replace the spring game, which will still take place in Kinnick Stadium on April 27. However, the Des Moines trip (and a couple of tweets from Ferentz about outreach to western Iowa) tell us what we already implicitly knew: Iowa's seeing some attrition in western Iowa. Presumably, Ferentz is thinking about recruiting; the Hawkeyes have struggled to win Des Moines under Kirk Ferentz, and failed to get a commitment from the western half of the state this year. But this also could be about ticket sales after a 4-8 season, where the state's biggest metropolis is a two-hour car ride from home games. In either case, a bit of positive PR is much needed.
The great part of this, though, is that Iowa is dropping into Des Moines on the day of the Iowa State spring game. It's not as if there are hundreds of Iowa fans who were going to drive to Ames that day to watch the Clones, or that ISU fans will be tempted by Ferentz's fiddling on their proverbial roof, but it will do one thing: Cut Iowa State's local media coverage on the day of their spring showcase by about a third. As Hlas correctly points out, ISU has a lot going for it in in-state recruiting right now, and any chance to undercut that -- even something as small as drawing more fans to a de facto road practice than they pull to their stadium for the spring game -- could help swing the balance of power eastward. Jamie Pollard is probably shopping for billboard space around Valley's stadium now.
A quick note on logistics: As we found out a couple of years ago, there is no proper (read: with beer) tailgating at the Iowa spring game at Kinnick, so presumably you won't be able to sit in the Valley High School parking lot amd get smashed while making grossly inappropriate remarks about high school girls like you're Wooderson or something. With that said, we'll be there, and maybe we can set up a gathering at a local establishment before or after the event. More details to come.
HOT SPROTS TAKEZ:
New basketball uniforms? New basketball uniforms. From McCaffery's call-in show this week:
New uniforms for the Hawkeyes next yr...Elite Nike program per McCaffery.— Rick Brown (@RickBrownDMR) March 5, 2013
Baseball lost 9-3 to Alabama-Little Rock hours after beating the Western Illinois Leathernecks 7-3 on a cold day in Little Rock. This is here just so I can type "Leathernecks". Leathernecks.
Our mention of it is a little late now that the game is over, but Scott Dochterman did a nice job of recounting Andy Kaufmann's buzzer beater for Illinois to defeat Iowa in 1993, yeah yeah yeah yeah, at the height of the Bruce Pearl phone call recording controversy, yeah yeah yeah yeah. Let's play Twister. Let's play Risk.
Devin Gardner has somehow been given a medical redshirt for his freshman season two years after the fact. That will keep him in Ann Arbor through 2014. Gardner missed much of his freshman season with a "back problem" later diagnosed as "not as good as Denard Robinson".
My favorite band, Phosphorescent, has a new album coming out, and it's streaming free at NPR. Just throwing that out there in case you like cool stuff, bro.
And finally, a sad Gone Baby Gone to Paul Bearer, the former manager of Undertaker and Kane, who died last night at age 58. He was creepy and scary and completely awesome in his role as "guy who holds the urn and talks in a weird voice" throughout our youth, and he will be missed. There is no word as to the cause of his death, but we presume he was buried in cement.