Northern Illinois’ season opener with Iowa on Sept. 1 at Chicago’s historic Soldier Field will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. Central Time and will be televised by ESPNU. Soldier Field Showdown III is the first of six games on an ESPN platform.
Its good to see that the game will be on TV. It wasn't for sure earlier, and NIU's game against Wisconsin was supposedly not on TV last year.
Q: What did you do with your year away?
A: I tried to stay involved. I went to Florida, Auburn and Iowa State. At some places, I (worked at some clinics). Others were just visits. In the fall, I went to Tulane where my son coaches. Then I visited my good friends Larry Fedora and Blake Anderson, who were at Southern Miss and now are at North Carolina. I sat in on meetings as they installed things. In the season, I would watch a high school team practice and visit with coaches. On Saturdays, I would watch a few games and tape others and would watch them later in the week and would make notes to see how people did things.
It was fun. I think I became a better coach because of it all. You can back off and see how other people do things.
KF: Let’s talk Kingsbury.
Doug Gottlieb: Chris Kingsbury. Do you know why he wore 14?
KF: Somehow, I can’t say I do.
DG: His favorite drink was a 7&7.
KF: Ha! Marb Reds, too.
DG: Kingsbury. He could shoot from anywhere. Remember he got in trouble for punching that dude when they were on the ground? I wanna say at Penn State?
KF: That's it. You haven’t really made it until you punch some dude from Penn State.
'A long time ago, in a sports world far, far away, the most thrilling brand of basketball in all the land was played in the Big Ten. Seriously.
The point totals that the Midwesterners used to put up would floor college-basketball fans today. In 1960, Ohio State scored 90 points per game, still the school record. In 1970, Iowa averaged an absurd 103 points per contest in Big Ten play. To put this in perspective, No. 1-ranked Kentucky is scoring 78 per game this season—and that's with the benefit of the three-point shot and the shot clock, which those old-time shorty-shorts teams didn't have.
"I grew up loving the Hawkeyes," Gatens said. "It was always my dream to play here. Iowa fans have a saying: 'Once a Hawkeye, always a Hawkeye.'"
In McCaffery's second season, the Hawkeyes are still rebuilding. McCaffery has two ESPN top-100 recruits, both Iowa natives, on board for 2012. Which is all well and good, Gatens said, but as a senior with just a few more weeks left in his career, he isn't content to go down without a fight. Frankly, he's running out of time.
"I'm just trying to get this program back to where it deserves to be," he said. "We've got a lot of young guys here. The program is going to be fine. But we seniors want to go out and create our own memories for the fans too.
"You just want to get everything you can out of it. We want to get the tournament. We haven't done it, but if we keep playing the way we are down the stretch, I think we can get into that conversation."
I don't remember anything else about the game -- I couldn't tell you who was playing for Mich at the time, though I assume it was leftover less Fab Fivers -- but what I do remember is this: Chris Kingsbury received a pass at half court, took two very small dribbles, and then pulled up from, no joke, at least 28 feet. He was actually standing on one of the logos that courts have in the area between the three point line and half court.
The act itself seemed so ridiculously audacious that I remember thinking -- wait, is time running out? Is the game about to end? Is he involved in some sort of halftime shootout to win a Pontiac Grand Prix? -- but no, he wasn't. In fact, he probably could've taken at least one to two more dribbles and shot the ball unguarded from 21 feet. But that, friends, is what made Chris Kingsbury Chris Kingsbury. He was so damn confident that he could hit a 28 foot three that he didn't feel he needed an excuse. That takes a Big Gulp of ego, and hubris, and cajones, as well as more than a few shakes of insanity.
And few folks were complaining about O'Keefe when Stanzi led the Hawkeyes to an Orange Bowl win or when Banks guided the team to the Rose Bowl in the 2002 season.
The meeting with Woods and Wilson went well, he said, and they have a good relationship with them. They feel like Woods is going to do a good job as defensive line coach and was told he will be filling that role permanently, but no decision has been made yet on a defensive coordinator. They were assured that whoever Coach Ferentz gets is going to be a good fit for the program and will run the same defense. Curry Sr. said they have discussed some names with the coaching staff such as Tom Bradley, Ron Aiken, and Brian Ferentz, but were told Coach Ferentz hasn't pinpointed who it is going to be yet.
"It’s really football country," the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Thomas said. "There is no other sports team there. Iowa is the talk of the town. Iowa football is Iowa. Everyone knows where you’re from. Everyone knows what you’re doing. Anywhere you go, you have the spotlight on because you play Iowa football. That really stuck out."
Some players like anonymity and others enjoy the attention associated with playing in a smaller town, and Thomas fell on the latter side.
"It’s definitely good. It’s definitely a plus," he said. "Everywhere you go, people stop to talk to you. You can definitely see the love these fans have for the players, for the program, and for the city.
"It went really well. It really changed my perspective on Iowa as a city, and as a program."
Our coaches work so hard recruiting in all sports. When you put all that time and energy – whenever somebody doesn’t finish with you, because that’s the goal – the goal is to win championships and watch, in this case young men, walk out the door with a degree in their hand. So anytime that doesn’t happen – they’re teachers, they’re mentors – so anytime that doesn’t happen they’re frustrated. And it’s not just this situation; it’s any time it happens.