Thursday, June 17, 2010

In Midst of Conference Chaos, Hoiberg Quietly Having a Very Successful Summer

It’s safe to say ISU Basketball Coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t been too distracted by all the conference realignment garbage. Hoiberg has quietly put together a very impressive nucleus to the beginnings of a successful long-term basketball program in his first few months at the helm. The Mayor has landed two very highly regarded transfer players in Chris Babb and Anthony Booker, a solid junior-recruit from the state of Texas named Anthony Odunsi, and polished it all off with a phenomenal coaching hire in Charlotte’s Bobby Lutz. Here’s a closer look at each:

--Chris Babb: Babb is a 6’5” shooting guard who started 23 games as a sophomore last season for Penn State. He averaged 9 points per game, was third on the team in assists, and made 69 three-point baskets.

--Anthony Booker: Booker is a 6’8” power forward who’s transferring from Southern Illinois. Booker averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds as a sophomore. He was a Rivals Top 50 player in high school and was recruited by Kansas.

--Anthony Odunsi: Odunsi will be a high school senior at Fort Bend, Texas in 2010-11. He is a 6’3” point guard who averaged 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists a game as a junior. Odunsi had offers from Vanderbilt, Stanford, and Arkansas.

--Assistant Coach Bobby Lutz: One of the biggest criticisms of the Hoiberg coaching hire was his lack of head coaching experience. Critics claimed he would need to hire a veteran, experienced coach to be his assistant. Mission accomplished! Bobby Lutz comes from the Charlotte 49ers of the Atlantic 10 Conference where he won a school-record 218 games and guided the school to 5 NCAA Tournament appearances and 3 NIT’s in 10 years. Not only did Hoiberg find an experienced coach, he found an experienced HEAD COACH who had a ton of success in a very good Division 1 basketball conference with the likes of Xavier, Temple and Richmond. Lutz should also help with recruiting from the east coast. This was an absolute gem of a hire by Iowa State; a real diamond in the rough.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Worshipping Bevo: Longhorns Save The Big 12


In India, cows are so sacred that even their dung is considered “an efficacious disinfectant” ( Politicians strengthen their political campaigns by endorsing cow protection laws. Cattle are considered religiously divine because of their ability to provide milk that keeps infants alive. As of Monday, June 14, 2010, football and basketball fans of schools like Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri may also think cows are holy. Well, Longhorns anyway.

Facing the very real prospect of being left homeless from an athletic conference standpoint, The University of Texas Longhorns saved the day for the members of the teetering Big 12 Conference by turning down an offer from the Pac 10. And for that, this Iowa State Cyclone fan is eternally grateful. So what if our wagons are hitched to Texas? So what if the Longhorns are calling all the shots--they have been ever since the Big 12 started. They’re the “cash cow.” That’s how it works in business and that’s life. Besides, for schools like Iowa State, hitching the wagons to Texas just resulted in a financial windfall. According to the new proposed television contract, Iowa State will receive a guaranteed $17 million in TV revenue. In 2007, ISU made just over $7 million. Keeping the Big 12 in tact means keeping teams like Iowa State relevant nationally, which means easier recruiting, easier ticket sales, easier promotion. In fact, Texas may not have only saved the Big 12; they may have saved the entire infrastructure of college athletics. Had Texas joined the Pac-10, the formation of 4 “Super Conferences” would have been well under way, completely changing the landscape of college football and basketball as we know it.

The same article about Hinduism referenced earlier noted, “In India, the cow is believed to be a symbol of the earth - because it gives so much yet asks nothing in return.” It’s safe to say that Texas isn’t exactly “asking nothing in return.” In fact some might say they are as greedy an institution as there is in college athletics, that the Longhorns are the reason this whole mess started. The University of Texas can’t help it that its athletic programs are so dominant. Just like an elite athlete like LeBron James and Alex Rodriguez can demand a lot of money because they’ve earned the right to, the Longhorns have similarly played their hand. Many sports fans across the nation might consider Texas a closer rival to Satan than divinity, but to the smaller members of the Big 12, like it or not, we bow down.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Worst Call In Officiating History?

Call him the new poster child for Southwest Airlines’ “Wanna Get Away?” Ad campaign. Major League Baseball Umpire Jim Joyce will probably “wanna get away” permanently after perhaps the worst call in sports history during the Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Indians game Wednesday night. Detroit’s Armando Galarraga had a perfect game (no hits, no walks) going into the 9th inning. Just how rare is a perfect game in Major League Baseball? Since 1880, it’s only happened 20 times. Amazingly, two of those have come this season, one last week by Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay. It was about to happen for the second time in less than a week when Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson mad a miraculous, over-the-shoulder catch, sending Detroit fans into a frenzy with one out in the 9th. Galarraga then induced an easy ground out for out number two. Then, with fans on their feet, Cleveland’s Jason Donald hit a ground ball that forced Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera to range toward his right, and make a quick throw to first where Tigers pitcher Galarraga clearly had the runner beat by a full step. Only problem was, first base umpire Jim Joyce didn’t see it that way, calling the runner safe, destroying what should have been a history-making night.

I found an old article on that listed the top ten worst calls in officiating history according to their writers. Here’s the list:

1. Denkinger calls Royals' Orta safe at first
2. Colorado's fifth down
3. Soviets get extra time in 1972 Olympic hoops
4. Jeffrey Maier assists Jeter home run
5. Brett Hull's skate in the crease
6. Maradona's "Hand of God"
7. Thanksgiving Day coin flip flap
8. Mike Renfro ruled out of bounds
9. Eric Gregg's wide strike zone
10. Charles White's TD and fumble in 1979 Rose Bowl

Based on this list, and what I know about sports history, I think one could easily make the case that Joyce’s blown call with two outs in the ninth inning of a perfect game may top that list. Something that’s only happened 20 times in 130 years shouldn’t have been denied on a play like that. Granted, it was close, but you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the man on the verge of history in that case. It’s a call Joyce (and Galarraga) will have to live with the rest of their lives, much like the Bill Buckner between-the-legs error and umpire Tim McClelland and George Brett’s pine tar incident. If I’m Joyce, I’m grabbing the first flight out of town and taking a month-long hiatus, cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride for a while!