The Dating Game. Two former Iowa basketball commits have found new homes where they'll be allowed to run and play with the other basketball players and not be cooped up in that little cage all day. The third player? Well, not so much.
- Brust Slips on Banana, Blames Appeal Process. The only former Iowa commit still in play for Fran McCaffery, Illinois combo guard Ben Brust, was getting interest from Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, among other schools. There's just one problem: By Big Ten rule, a player that signs a letter of intent with a conference school cannot transfer to another BXI institution without approval from the league office. Despite Iowa's acquiescence, Brust's request was denied. Unless the league changes its mind, Brust is stuck with Iowa...and the 27 or so non-Big Ten teams that have offered him a scholarship.
- California Dreamin'. Aaron Fuller, the only current player to defect following Lickliter's ouster, has signed with Southern Cal. He has a redshirt season to burn and some room for development; the transfer might be the best thing that could happen to him.
- From One Football School to Another. It was abundantly clear once he decommitted that South Dakota power forward Cody Larson had virtually no intention of returning to the Iowa fold; rumors quickly circulated that Larson had been contacting other potential suitors while Lickliter was twisting in the wind, and his late-season off-the-court issues made a fresh start far from home desirable. Which is why we weren't in the least bit surprised when he committed to Florida late last week.
Moving Deck Chairs on the Titanic. In the wake of two seasons where attendance plummeted to levels never before seen at Carver Hawkeye Arena, and in response to repeated complaints about stadium atmosphere, the Athletic Department has decided to reseat CHA starting in 2011-12. If you had any hope that Iowa's new seating plan would accommodate the students who, you know, pay tuition and stuff to keep the University running, it's probably not a good sign that the announcement was made by "associate director for donor and patron services" Mark Jennings:
Carver-Hawkeye Arena will undergo a reseating plan based on a point system and giving levels beginning with the 2011-12 basketball season.
The plan is similar to Kinnick Stadium’s reseating before the 2006 season but with one major difference, according to Mark Jennings, Iowa’s associate athletics director for donor and patron services.
Jennings said athletics officials have worked on the reseating plan for about 18 months. Seating areas are zoned based on I-Club contributions. Giving levels per seat for zones 1, 2 and 3 are set at $600, $400 and $200, respectively.
Iowa will use a point system to determine seating within the zones. Points are based on annual donations and years as a season-ticket holder. Jennings said all pledges — not just actual cash — toward the renovation will count toward seating. Seating-level points are compiled after the fiscal year ends June 30.
Students? You're not getting any closer, because you're poor, and we don't want poor people in our arena:
Jennings said the department worked through several suggestions before formulating the plan. One was to stretch students around the arena’s bottom bowl, similar to Michigan State’s Breslin Center.
"Obviously we had to talk about it, but when you’re trying to fund a $43 million project, the students aren’t asked to pay for that," Jennings said. "So we had to be realistic. We did move the students closer to opposing bench. We do have the 4,200 seats blocked for the students should they ever come back in those kind of numbers."
Jennings has finally put a name to the sentiment that has run through the athletic department since Barta took over: Students are a necessary evil, to be marginalized and moved as far away from the "real" customers as possible. If the university were actually interested in students coming back "in those kind of numbers," they would let them sit in seats that weren't atrocious (and the student seats are exactly that, in the corner of the end zone with about 30 feet of concrete between the first row and the floor). If it were up to the administration, students wouldn't even attend games; they would stay in their dorm rooms and not bother the geriatrics in the nearby seats. Of course they are correct. It's not like Michigan State, Illinois, Duke, and UCLA fund successful and profitable basketball programs by putting students in premium seats near the floor.
EXPANSIONMA...you know, I'm a little sick of this. In the face of what is clearly an impending Big Ten power play against its member institutions, the Big East has hired former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue as a special consultant to its next round of television contract negotiations. Tagliabue's first public move as a Big East consultant? Bitch about the Big Ten:
Tagliabue, who played basketball at Georgetown, admits that he is a bit of a novice when it comes to the nuances of college sports. But he had some stern words for how the Big Ten is handling its potential expansion.
"It’s very disruptive to everyone outside of the Big Ten," Tagliabue said in a phone interview on Thursday. "Everything outside the Big Ten is held in artificial suspension. The Big Ten looks at a bunch of choices and everyone else has to deal with the depreciating value and a ton of negativity. I hope there’s a better way. Otherwise it’s going to have a terrible negative effect on everyone other than the schools in the Big Ten."
"One of the real challenges for the networks is to provide value, but you only provide value in markets where you provide traction," he said. "Is Minnesota and Rutgers going to get a big rating on Long Island? Give me a break. Every game isn’t Michigan and Michigan State."
He added, "Am I going to rush home from a tennis game on Saturday to watch Minnesota and Rutgers if I live on Long Island?"
Mr. Tagliabue: If you're at a tennis game on Saturday, you're not racing home to watch football regardless of who is playing. I'll bet Tagliabue won't be so dismissive of the conference when they're showing jai alai on BTN, though. The former commissioner was joined in his bellyaching by that never-ending source of Big East lament, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
The writing is on the wall for the Big East and Big 12, and the conference commissioners are only beginning to realize the threat that Jim Delaney's Death Star creates. These two conferences are new kids on the block, without the traditional ties that keep the Big Ten, SEC, and ACC together, and without the infrastructure to make anywhere near as much money for their member institutions as the long-established conferences can provide. Big East football has been a joke since Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College defected to the ACC, and as the NYT article above points out, television revenue is driven entirely by football. The Big East is low-hanging fruit, and Jim Delaney is a hungry giraffe.
- Iowa golf, coming off its most successful season in a generation, won last week's Hawkeye Invitational by 12 shots over Miami (Ohio) after posting the third-lowest 18 hole combined score in program history. Sophomore Barret Kelpin shot an 8-under 64 in the final round.
- Hawkeye baseball, behind the pitching of sophomore Jarred Hippen, took two of three from Michigan over the weekend. Michigan is a contender for the Big Ten championship; Iowa is most certainly not. This fact has led mGoBlog's formerlyanonymous to contemplate ritualistic suicide.
- UI athletic donor of the century Roy Karro, whose $3M donation helped build the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame, died last weekend at 91 years old.
- Rejus Benn, who presumably still hates Iowa, apparently hates his former teammates and coaches at Illinois even more: "I didn't have a quarterback. I went through three quarterbacks, I had a change of offensive coordinators, I didn't have the right guys around me that I thought I needed to win."
- Kentucky Derby long-shot Paddy O'Prado has Iowa-based ownership. POP is 25/1 to win currently, but comes from a turf background and faded down the stretch of his Derby qualifier, a shorter race than the 1 1/8-mile Derby.
- Mad Men returns July 25. I've already started drinking martinis and smoking three packs a day in preparation.