Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

March 17, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Random thoughts on Selection Sunday for Fran McCaffery’s squad and the eve of the same for Lisa Bluder’s…


Take it from a guy who was here 10 years ago for the first Herky on Parade: You are going to be blown away by the work of the artists on this year’s celebration of our beloved Herky, the recovery of our communities from the great flood, and 125 completed seasons of Iowa football, the 75th anniversary of the Ironmen, and the 25th anniversary of the UI Athletics Hall of Fame. Monday, May 5. Mark it down. It’s the day of the big unveil.

If you haven’t watched the story about the making of “Conductor Herky,” sponsored by the Hawkeye Express, please do. You’ll enjoy it: HERE.

Speaking of the Parade, thanks to all of the sponsors of the program, including Iowa City Ready Mix, a long-time partner of the Iowa Hawkeyes and a partner on the first Parade. Those concrete bases that the 70 or so Herkys that will be positioned outdoors will be affixed to will be the handiwork of the staff at Iowa City Ready Mix.

Based on the experts — and, in this case, these guys are pretty good, particularly this one: HERE — McCaffery and his staff and the student-athletes who are the 2013-14 Iowa Hawkeyes will break an eight-year NCAA Tournament drought. The good guys in black and gold appear destined for one of the bracket’s “10” lines; it’s not as good as we thought it could have been a few weeks ago, but it sure beats the alternative. The Hawkeyes will be dancing at the end of the day and that’s a good thing, Hawkeye fans…as the Gazette’s Mike Hlas suggests HERE.

I think being a 10 seed is superior to being an 8 or a 9. Your first round opponent is in theory superior to you on paper — a 10 plays a 7 — but the winner of that game doesn’t have the daunting task of playing a 1 seed with just one day of preparation. Slight as the margin of difference might be, I’ll take my chances with this UI squad of squaring off against a 7 in game one, getting the victory, and taking full advantage of that short prep time to figure out the best attack against a 2. In fact, as confident as I am about the abilities and leadership of this squad, I wouldn’t mind “falling” to an 11. That sets up a 6-3 sequence, a task Fran’s group is more than capable of running with.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the Big Ten will compete in March and April. It will also be fun to see how the stage changes the game when two Big Ten teams collide in the Big Dance.

Speaking of 6’s, that’s where this expert — HERE — has Bluder’s Bunch on the bracket for this year’s women’s basketball national championship. A 6 seed entertaining an 11 on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, March 25. The March to March by the Hawkeyes included a strong regular season paired with a nice run in Indianapolis. The selection committee should be poised to reward the Hawkeyes for their efforts and provide Iowa a real shot at two wins in Iowa City — which would be a first for Lisa, who, with an invitation on Monday night, will be taking the UI to their 11th NCAA Tournament, a total that includes a Big Ten-best seven in a row.

What’s the best way to start your spring break trip if your new UI baseball coach Rick Heller? How about a “W” and that “W” being your 700th as a head coach? That works: HERE.

Have you purchased your tickets for the NCAA Tournament games to be played in Carver yet? Let’s give Bluder’s Bunch the home court advantage it deserves: HERE.

Speaking of tickets, the UI Athletics Department won’t have many available for any of the sites that Fran’s team might be sent to, and what is available to sell to the general public will be even tighter if the Hawkeyes are sent packing to St. Louis and Milwaukee. If you’re thinking about following Fran’s team you might want to familiarize yourself with the options available HERE. If you’re a season ticket holder and a contributor to the National I-Club, you should also review this: HERE.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the Big Ten will compete in March and April. It will also be fun to see how the stage changes the game when two Big Ten teams collide in the Big Dance.

I’m on board with this decision by the NCAA: HERE.

As you might have heard, Kirk Ferentz’s squad is heading back to West Des Moines for another team practice this spring. The folks at Valley High School and the West Des Moines Community School District were fantastic to work with and it’s a great opportunity for central and western Iowa fans of the Hawkeyes to check out the 2014 squad.

There was a short flurry of misinformed online chatter and incomplete reporting when we announced last week the Board of Regents of the UI’s request to name of pieces of the new football facilities on the UI campus. The mistake made was the assumption that the recognition of the generosity of Stew and LeNore Hansen, and Richard O. Jacobson trumped the UI’s recognition of former head coach Hayden Fry in the reference to Iowa’s football facilities as a whole as the “Hayden Fry Football Complex.” The correct answer is this: The Hayden Fry Football Complex isn’t going away. Instead, the only change is the structures that fall underneath that umbrella which will be, specifically, Kinnick Stadium, the Ron and Margaret Outdoor Practice Facility, and the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center which includes the Richard O. Jacobson Football Operations Building.

The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital is accepting nominations for the 2014 Kid Captains who, this fall, will be — like their predecessors — an inspirational piece of game days at Kinnick Stadium. If you know someone who is deserving, please don’t hesitate to submit a nomination: HERE

From the Win. Graduate. Do it Right file, under “Graduate”… In case you missed it, James Morris was honored for his academic successes by the NCAA not too long ago. The senior linebacker from Solon, Iowa, was awarded a $7,500 postgraduate scholarship. Morris also earned an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship after being named a National Football Scholar-Athlete. He also was responsible for a $5,000 contribution to the UI’ general scholarship fund as a result of being one of four finalists for the Lott Trophy…

…and, from the same file, this time under “Do it Right”… Don’t forget about thinking about participating in one or both of these two special events: The annual Iowa Football Ladies and Academy featuring Kirk and Mary Ferentz — learn about it HERE — and the 380 Companies and Dick Vitale golf and Gala at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort and featuring ESPN’s Dick Vitale and McCaffery — learn about it HERE.

When the Big Ten charged to the east two years ago, I thought our league just may stage its men’s basketball event in New York City or somewhere near on occasion. A rotation between its current two favorite locations — Indianapolis and Chicago — and a third in what many believe to be the center of the media universe. The Atlantic Coast Conference leadership appears to have had the same thought: HERE.

This is really good stuff for Bluder’s Bunch and fans of that program: HERE.

Here’s another new media/social media head scratcher: The Des Moines Register’s Rick Brown wrote HERE about some fans of the Hawkeyes suggesting shortly after Iowa’s game against Northwestern on Thursday that they would rather not see their team in the NCAA’s field of 64.

Speaking of Rick, he hit a home run for me with this one about Fran, Margaret, and the hurdle confronting their son, Patrick: HERE.

Lastly, as noted HERE, 10 of Tom Brands’ guys are heading to Oklahoma City later this week with one goal in mind: Bring the big trophy back to Iowa City. As noted last week when discussing the goings on at this year’s Big Ten championship, the national champion in college wrestling isn’t already determined…and determined is probably a good word to use to describe the guys in black and gold. I’m confident they’ll at least make it interesting.

Go Hawks!