Archive for August, 2008

First impressions

August 29, 2008

As they should have, the Cyclones easily handled South Dakota State Thursday night. It could’ve been worse than the 44-17 final score, and frankly it should have, though the Jackrabbits gave away more scoring opportunities than the hosts.

Here’s what i came away thinking:

Austen Arnaud should remain the starting quarterback and get more snaps than Phillip Bates. He clearly has a better and more accurate arm, and looks far more at ease under center. Bates showed great athletic ability on some of his runs, but still needs work before he’s given the keys to the car more than a few series a game.

Alexander Robinson should become the Cyclones’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Stevie Hicks in 2004. He’s the total package.

Freshman wideout Sedrick Johnson will be a difference-maker…if Arnaud and Bates can get him the ball. The offensive line didn’t allow a sack, though the competition obvioulsy will get better.

Tight ends Derrick Catlett and Collin Franklin will get the ball a lot. J.J. Bass won’t.

The defense needs to tackle a whole lot better and cut down on silly after-the-play, 15-yard penalties. The tackling was atrocious at times as players went after the big hit instead of wrapping up.

That said, there’s a lot to be excited about.

Middle linebacker Jesse Smith was an animal out there, leveling SDSU quarterback Ryan Berry a few times on delayed blitzes. Linebacker Michael Bibbs had a fine game, as did the secondary filled with newcomers.

The pass rush was good, too.

The Jackrabbits’ longest play of the night came when receiver JaRon Harris picked up a fumble and scooted 76 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Special teams? Local boy Grant Mahoney was perfect on FGs and punter Mike Brandtner took the night off. ISU didn’t punt in a game for the first time since 1989.

Next up is Kent State, which upset ISU 23-14 in last year’s opener. That should be a little more competitive.

There were over 46,000 at Jack Trice Stadium last night. Expect more to show up next Saturday.


Shawn Johnson fever

August 27, 2008

I’m still in awe at how many people came to show some love to Olympic champion Shawn Johnson Tuesday night.

Wells Fargo Arena was jam-packed. Between 7,000-8,000 is a pretty safe estimate. Event officials told WHO-TV in Des Moines they now think it was closer to 10,000. Wow.

That’s how big Shawn John is right now. She’s Bon Jovi on the balance beam, especially with Iowans, who really appreciate one of their own. 

And it wasn’t all kids on the edge of their seat, waiting to raise up homemade signs. Adults — grown men, even — seemed just as excited. Boys, girls, parents, grandparents, people of all ages cheered the gold medal-winner.

And I’ve got to admit, it was kinda neat to see.

Unless you win eight golds like Michael Phelps, gymnasts are the most popular American athletes at the Olympics. Especially if you win, and you have as much personality, down-to-earthness and a pretty face like Shawn.

Nastia Lukin won more golds, but Shawn’s winning America’s hearts.

She was charming and funny on Letterman Monday night. She’ll lead a reading of the pledge of allegiance Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and wrap up the week with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.”

Shawn Johnson fever is sweeping the nation. I now am caught up it in.

K.C. Masterpiece

August 22, 2008

            Iowa State’s newly-announced football series with Kansas State at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., will be a huge financial windfall for the athletic department.

At minimum, ISU is looking at $800,000 more than it would have earned had the games remained at the schools’ home sites in 2009 and ’10. You don’t earn squat for road games.

Revenue for a game at Jack Trice Stadium is about $1 million.

The Kansas City Chiefs are paying ISU and K-State $1.8 million each over the two years, with additional monies possible depending on how well-attended the games are.

I would expect Arrowhead to be darned-near full.

Cyclone fans packed the place in 2002 when their team took Florida State to the wire. K-State people also represent well.

The Wildcats have played at Arrowhead four times since their K.C. debut against Iowa back in 2000. Only once was attendance below 77,000.

That boost to the budget is big-time for ISU, whose athletic budget is one of the lowest in the Big 12 Conference.

The series is a no-brainer for Athletic Director Jamie Pollard and K-State’s athletic department, which isn’t in much greater financial shape.

                For Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and even Texas A&M, an extra $1 million is great, yes, but not as great as it is in Ames, where cash like that can provide programs with financial security.

                And probably pay for new golf balls, balance beams or aluminum bats.               

                Some fans won’t like having to travel 3 ½ hours down Interstate 35, but just as many will think it’s the coolest thing ever. You don’t have to sneak beers into Arrowhead!

                Who doesn’t like the game day switch are Ames restaurants, hotels, bars and quickie marts.

                They make hay on those six or seven Saturdays each fall. Now, they won’t go out of business. They’ll just miss out on a big payday, while athletics rakes in money hand over fist.

                Home vendors aside, this is a great deal for Iowa State football and its fans, who if they couldn’t see a game at home, would probably pick Kansas City over every other location on Earth.