Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

Oct. 4, 2010

EDITOR’S NOTE: Later this month, the UI Athletics Department will officially introduce its new free daily e-newsletter, “Hawk Talk Daily” — “HTD” for short. However, we decided to re-introduce a popular column from last year’s “Official Sports Report” — OSR — in advance to celebrate the start of the 2010 college football season. If you want to make sure you are on the list to receive HTD, send an e-mail to gohawks@hawkeyesports.com with “HTD” in the subject line. We’ll keep you posted as the launch of HTD nears. Enjoy!

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Some random thoughts after a Big Ten primetime event in Kinnick…

A tip of the fedora to the 69,000 or so who dressed for success Saturday night at Kinnick. The stadium was stunning. An idea that was borne in the football offices came to life under the bright lights of primetime nationally televised college football thanks to some of the best fan-atics in the land, Hawk fans. Kudos. Congrats. And, why only 69,000? Well, the 1,500 or so Penn State fans were never expected to be a part of our party.


It was great to see Chad Greenway on the playing field at Kinnick. And, quite honestly, when he took that run from the tunnel to 9-year-old Maddie Strauss, the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital’s “Kid Captain” for the game, he looked more than eager to make a few tackles for the home team. If you haven’t read about Chad’s visit with the team, click HERE. It speaks volumes about the young men who play football at Iowa and the older guys who are making their experiences as Hawkeyes special.

The family of former UI cheerleader Mary Lee Nagle Duda did a really nice thing – and surprising one, at that – to Mary Lee herself Saturday night when they introduced her and a gift of $1.5 million to the UI Foundation to establish the Mary Lee Hawkeye Spirit Fund to assist the UI in maintaining its tradition of encouraging student, alumni, and public support of the school’s athletic programs. “You have to understand,” Fritz Duda said. “While Mary Lee was a cheerleader during her time at the University of Iowa, she has also been a cheerleader for Iowa her in her private life.” Based on the expression on her face during the ceremony pregame on the turf of Kinnick, Mary Lee is a big fan of the Hawkeyes and was very surprised by announcement. Heck of a deal.

One of the things I kind of pay attention to is what a quarterback does during a break in the action, particularly in a big game or a big point in any game. I like the guys who leave the huddle and go talk face-to-face with head coach and offensive coordinator. Chuck Long did it regularly. Chuck Hartlieb, too. I’m sure other good ones as well. And, Saturday night, I smiled when Ricky Stanzi did it when the game officials were reviewing whether A-Rob had successfully flown over the endzone at the end of his **-yard run that ended in the heart of the student section. I’m not sure if it was Ricky’s first trip to the sidelines in a big moment as a Hawkeye, but I’m hoping it’s not his last.

Here’s a piece of advice: Take a moment sometime during the next seven games to soak up and savor the work and effort and, yes, dominance of Iowa’s defensive line. It’s special. Very special. Not your-every-day-of-the-week-special. No, it a something-very-extraordinarily special. Jonathan Babineaux and Colin Cole anchored a pretty good one not so long ago for the guys in black and gold…but units as deep and as talented as this one aren’t every-season experiences. Lots of “Next Level” guys in this mix.

Me thinks Brett Morse has pretty good hands and the knowledge that running north-south is the quickest way up field. Heck of a deal.

I had dinner in with the photographers Saturday. That’s a tight – and entertaining – group. The conversation that was most interesting was about the evolution of the equipment they use. Of course, it still takes tremendous talent to get that “perfect image,” but all agreed that the equipment they use make that task easier than ever before. Much like what technology, e.g. golf clubs and golf balls, has done to that game. But, again, success still requires a skillful human at the trigger.

It was a veritable who’s who on the sidelines Saturday. Greenway, Seth Olsen, and Tony Moeaki were among the former Hawkeyes watching the victory from field level. Oh, yeah, the Big Ten Network’s – and WHO Radio’s – Jon Miller was also taking it in. Miller did it after having done a two-hour edition of “Soundoff” pregame from inside the PWB.

The Hawkeyes don’t own exclusively the No. 1 spot on this week’s chart for toughest remaining schedule. They share it with their sister-institution, Iowa State. The cumulative record of both Iowa’s and ISU’s remaining opponents is a cool 23-5. Heck of a deal.

Speaking of Penn State’s iconic head coach, I have to ask: Is it “Joe Pa” or “JoPa?” I’ll find out and report in later.

OK. I admit to having scratched my head about Joe Pa’s decision not to go for seven in the final seconds of the first half. Seems logical…down by 17, on the opponents’ 1 and with lots of mo. “Don’t you go for it?” I asked myself while watching the action from statistics booth managed by our media relations staff. Then, while waiting in traffic, Coach Joe gave a simple answer to the question during his post-game visit with the media: Take the 3 to make it a two-possession game. Then score seven when you get the ball first in the third quarter. “That’s the one that got away,” PSU’s legendary coach said, lamenting Iowa’s goal-line stand that ended an 8-minute drive by the Lions to open the second half. That’s why he’s on the sidelines with a million wins and I’m doing what I’m doing….which, for the record, includes very rarely second-guessing the guys that walk the sidelines for a living.

I’m not sure there’s more to be written about how true freshman middle linebacker James Morris just strapped on the helmet and took control when called upon. Somewhere in eastern Iowa today there is one very, very, very, very proud “Shoe Guy” and wife.

Speaking of No. 1: Speaking of Penn State’s iconic head coach, I have to ask: Is it “Joe Pa” or “JoPa?” I’ll find out and report in later.

Speaking of No. 2: Speaking of the media, what do they do during a bye week?

Random Thoughts is written by Rick Klatt, the UI Athletics Department’s associate athletics director for external affairs, and is an exclusive feature of Hawk Talk Daily, the daily e-newsletter of the UI Athletics Department.

Go Hawks!