Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

Jan. 13, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Random thoughts on the second Sunday of the new year, and one that’s supposed to be a balmy to boot here in the Heartland…

A few days after being colder than the north and south poles, Iowa City and the Heartland is experiencing a much-deserved and much-appreciated January thaw. For those of you who don’t call the Heartland home, we are predicted to touch 40 degrees today after getting a good chunk of sunshine yesterday. Winter is a long way from over, but these two, three, four-day glimpses into the not-too-distant future come in handy for lots of reasons.


A year ago, many across the country figured the Iowa football team couldn’t tie its shoes, much less win eight games and advance to yet another New Year’s Day bowl game. So it should come as no surprise that, following the season just registered by Kirk Ferentz’s staff and squad — and in spite of some significant departures — expectations for the 2014 Hawkeyes are pointed 180 degrees in the opposite direction these days and that’s a good thing. Here’s a link to one of the latest looks into the future for the good guys in black and gold that has come my way: HERE.

If you haven’t checked out this month’s edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, here’s a link: HERE. The photograph of some of our football guys on the rollercoaster down in Tampa, Fla., makes my knees weak.

It’s another big Sunday for Iowa’s basketball teams: Bluder’s Bunch is at Madison looking to even its Big Ten record and build momentum for Thursday night’s game against Michigan State on Mediacom Court. Fran’s squad travels to Columbus looking to snap an eight-game losing streak to Ohio State, the No. 3 ranked team in the land which was dealt its first loss of the year earlier this week by Tom Izzo’s No. 5 Spartans.

This ESPN guy thinks like me when it comes to the game against the Buckeyes: HERE.

And here’s another about today’s game in Columbus: HERE. I include it in today’s Randoms for two reasons. First, I thought you’d enjoy yet another take on what should be a great game which will be televised live by CBS. Fran and the staff and the student-athletes gave CBS good reason to get the Hawkeyes back on their schedule.

Friday night’s showdown between Iowa and Oklahoma State on Mediacom Mat inside Carver was a supposed to be a toss-up, a barn-burner much like many others in the series between the two storied college wrestling programs. It wasn’t. Brands’ Boys led from start to finish, won eight of the 10 matches, and rolled to the largest margin of victory in a dual with the Cowboys since 1995. You can read about it HERE.

I was visiting with Jim Berg Friday afternoon. Jim is the guy at the top of the pyramid for HawkVision at Kinnick on game days. We were talking Iowa-Oklahoma State wrestling. It ended with me stating this fact: “It often provides us some of our best photographs.” This year’s dual was no exception: HERE.

My colleague Darren Miller opened his feature on Brody Grothus after the dual with this: “Oklahoma State head wrestling coach John Smith said the University of Iowa punched his team in the mouth Friday…and the Cowboys laid down. If that interpretation is correct, then Hawkeye sophomore 149-pounder Brody Grothus threw the first haymaker.” In the business, this is called the “lede” (pronounced like the work “lead”) and the goal is to craft a sentence or two attention-getting or thought-provoking or curiosity-piquing that readers like you and me want to read more. He did and it did. You can read the full story HERE.

Before I close the book on Friday night’s goings-on in Carver, I have a question to ask: Is there a student-athlete more electrifying to watch on our campus or even, the entire state of Iowa today than Iowa’s 133-pounder Tony Ramos? After watching him come ohhhhhh-this-close to pinning an arch rival Friday — his 31st win on Mediacom Mat — I really don’t think so.

Have you had the opportunity to watch Nate Kaeding’s debut as host of “Hawk 2 Hawk,” a new show exclusively available inside Hawkeye All-Access? In this first installment, Nate spends some time with NFL-er Marshall Yanda of the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. I think you’ll enjoy it…and you’ll find it HERE. Scroll down; it’s the first item under “FOOTBALL.”

If you haven’t checked out this month’s edition of Hawk Talk Monthly, here’s a link: HERE. The photograph of some of our football guys on the rollercoaster down in Tampa, Fla., makes my knees weak.

Speaking of Hawkeye All-Access, if I remember correctly, we had an all-time record of 50,000 video and audio downloads out of the official multimedia portal of hawkeyesports.com in December. Much of that was Outback Bowl-related, but a good chunk was also men’s and women’s hoops, and wrestling content…and more than 500 views of the most recent tour of the Iowa football team’s new operations center.

Larissa Libby’s GymHawks opened their season last night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a heartbreaker against Utah State. You can read about it HERE.

In the real newspaper version of this piece written by Jason Gay for the Wall Street Journal’s one-page-sports-section-wonder, there was one of those “Pull Quotes” that gets put in larger, bolder type in the middle of the story to (a) break up the gray space/text and (b) make a point/draw the attention of a reader glancing quickly through each page to the story. It read: “The NFL playoffs will go big, because big is the thing.” The story was about the inevitable expansion of the NFL’s postseason playoffs. You can read it HERE. From my perch, I think it’s perfectly predictable for you to replace “NFL” with the four-team “College Football Playoff.” It, too, will expand….someday and, most likely, sooner rather than later because, after all and as we’ve witnessed, big is the thing.

One time each season Lisa Bluder and her team kind of expand the school colors to include — hold your breath — red…but for a good reason: In support of the national “Go Red for Women” effort of the American Red Cross. You can read about it HERE. This year’s GRFW Day at Carver is Sunday, Jan. 25, when Iowa entertains Indiana. MidWestOne Bank has partnered with the Hawkeyes by purchasing 2,500 tickets to the event from which fans of Bluder’s Bunch can claim theirs at any branch of the bank in Johnson County. The Hawkeyes need your support to avenge their loss at Indiana in the 2014 Big Ten season opener and there are free tickets to be had for a game on what I’ll predict today to be a beautiful Sunday in the Heartland.

Sometime Thursday morning I stumbled across a printed copy of the team statistics for the current Big Ten men’s basketball and was surprised to see Iowa ranked fourth in 3-point shooting percentage. I guess I haven’t been paying enough attention to our perimeter shooting, enjoying instead the fun that comes at the end of our explosive (and numerous) fast breaks. Then, of course, that night the Hawkeyes proceed to route Northwestern thanks in large measure to 8-of-14 shooting from behind the arc. I doubt that today’s game will be decided by 3-point shooting, but it could be: Ohio State and Iowa rank first and second, respectively, in defending the three. One other tidbit about the Hawkeyes and their 3-point shooting: As of the end of the day Friday, Iowa and Nebraska each had attempted 251 3-pointers, a total that ranked 10th in the league and a whopping 111 attempts behind league-leader Minnesota.

I opened with a weather report. It’s nice here in the Heartland today, but certainly not as nice as it is in Hawaii where Hawk fan Zach is at it again, lurking a few strokes behind the leaders after three rounds of the 2014 Sony Open. Here’s the leaderboard: HERE.

Go Hawks!