Welcome to the End of the World. So apparently the world is going to end this weekend. Total bummer, as I had plans to drink my weight in beer, golf, and watch professional wrestling. Instead, I guess my weekend will be spent fighting off zombies and surviving the post-Apocalyptic hellscape of Beyond Thunderdome. We imagine it will look something like this:
Anyway, Happy Rapture Eve, everyone!
Get Out Your Day Planners. Two pieces of basketball scheduling news hit the wires yesterday. First, Iowa unveiled the first four games of the 2011-12 non-conference basketball schedule, now apparently known as the "Dale Howard Classic" despite the fact that it involves neither Dale nor Howard and is exactly one year old. Discuss. The Classic tips off November 11 at Carver Hawkeye Arena against Chicago State. The Hawkeyes will face similar patsies on November 14 (North Carolina A&T) and November 23 (Campbell). Those two games sandwich the main event: A November 20 showdown with Creighton at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. It will be Iowa's first game at the new arena, but -- oddly enough -- Creighton's second, coming a year after the Bluejays were screwed out of a win against Iowa State at the Farg last fall. The atmosphere for that game, Greg McDermott's first run-in with his old team, was electric; we can hope this approaches that.
The other basketball scheduling news came from the Big Ten meetings in Chicago: According to Dochterman, there are plans afoot to start the Big Ten basketball season in early December in an attempt to avoid being overshadowed by bowl season. As the league has correctly pointed out, starting conference play in the last week of December puts basketball up against the juicy center of bowl week, and most fans don't turn their attention to basketball until mid-January. The proposed fix, though, makes absolutely no sense. Not only would the league still have to play through bowl season, but it would compete against football championship week, limit the number of non-conference games its teams can play (and thereby further decrease revenue for basketball programs that are struggling more than ever to turn a profit), play games during fall semester finals, and still keep all fans not located in the state of Indiana from turning their full attention to basketball until the conference season is a month old. I'm sure this is a solution to some problem, but it's not a solution to this problem. Go back to the drawing board.
India Goes to Indiana. The Iowa golfers are the three seed in the NCAA Indiana Regional, starting today at Wolf Run Golf Club in Zionsville, Indiana. The top five teams in the fourteen-team field will advance to the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma at the end of the month. As the always-excellent Rick Brown points out, this year's regional stands in stark contrast to Iowa's NCAA run in 2009:
Hankins left Michigan State to take over an Iowa program ranked 155th in the nation in 2008. The top 25 was still a pipe dream when the Hawkeyes pulled off their 2009 surprise by making it through NCAA regionals.
That 2009 team included Vince India, Brad Hopfinger, Barrett Kelpin and Chris Brant. All four are still on a Hawkeye team that is ranked 18th nationally by Golfstat and Golfweek entering the regional. They'll be joined by Jed Dirksen, a quarterfinalist in the 2010 U.S. Amateur who beat out Brad George in qualifying this week.
Iowa's regional includes five teams ranked in the top 25 nationally, including third-ranked Alabama and Tiger Woods alma mater Stanford. A trip back to the NCAAs -- which would be the second in three years for a program that hadn't made it in a generation prior to this group of players -- would be a fantastic way for this team to end what is arguably the most successful season in program history.
Iowa Has Always Preferred 'Reality Bites' to Singles. Iowa baseball, coming off a loss to Creighton in its home finale and in need of a sweep against OMHR to keep its slim hopes of making the Big Ten tournament alive, lost the series opener to Purdue 6-3, blowing a rare 3-0 lead in the last three innings of the game. The loss was so bad that HawkeyeSports.com published this box score:
You read that right: Purdue managed to score six runs despite being scoreless in every inning, either making this the worst loss in the history of baseball or proving that Tim Brewster has taken a job in the Iowa athletics department.
The loss essentially ends Iowa's season, one that started with modest promise and collapsed before the Hawkeyes had played a home game. Jack Dahm is now 190-246 in eight years at Iowa, and while nobody reasonably expects Hawkeye baseball to rival the southern schools, bottom-half finishes in the baseball equivalent of the MAC aren't going to cut it for much longer.
FURTHER SIGNZ OF THE APOCALYPSE
James Ferentz has made the Rimington Trophy Watch List, for the award given to college football's best center. It's the first "watch list" Ferentz has made since his court-mandated community service was complete.
The Big Ten is looking to increase contributions to student athletes, boosting scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance in an attempt to avoid the sort of shenanigans that are slowly killing Ohio State by giving the players some spending money. Student athletes are precluded from taking most part-time employment by both NCAA regulations and time constraints of class and practice; this is long overdue.
Bret Bielema thinks Iowa and Wisconsin should play for the Heartland Trophy in every football game between the teams, regardless of circumstance. That would include a hypothetical Big Ten Championship Game matchup. When asked for comment, Kirk Ferentz asked, "What's the Heartland Trophy?"
The Big Ten is instituting new rules to cut down on cut blocks. They include no cut blocks outside the tackle box by linemen, no cut blocks by defensive players behind the line of scrimmage, and no cut blocks by halfbacks who are moving or aren't in the pocket on blitz protect. No word on whether the new regulations extend to emo music on players' iPods.
For Des Moines BHGP bros: If you find yourself still on the planet Saturday afternoon with nothing to do, hit up the Iowa Craft Beer Festival.
And finally, this, presented without comment:
Have a good weekend, bros.