Papers linking Ferentz to Cleveland

December 30, 2008

New England VP for personnel Scott Pioli will interview for the vacant general manager’s job in Cleveland on Wednesday. Pioli and Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz formerly worked together at both Cleveland and Baltimore with Bill Belichick. Therefore, in following the links, Ferentz is a top candidate for the Browns’ coaching job.

That’s at least what the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Boston Herald are reporting. Here are their links:

http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2008/12/if_pioli_gets_cleveland_browns.html

http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/football/patriots/view.bg?articleid=1142108&srvc=sports&position=0

It looks like the Ferentz-to-Cleveland rumor will continue through the end of the Browns’ coaching search. Look for the rumor to heat up and end, one way or the other, by next Sunday. Follow my colleague, Marc Morehouse, who reports the issue on www.GazetteOnline.comand his blog http://marcmwm.wordpress.com/


Carver project still a priority for Iowa

December 27, 2008

IOWA CITY — Six months after state regents approved a $47 million renovation and basketball practice addition to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, athletics department officials still are trying to raise funds for the project.
Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said the department has raised more than $7.5 million in private commitments for the facility overhaul. The department hopes to raise as much as $20 million privately for the project.
This past week we’ve had three verbal commitments — all above $100,000,” Barta said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but our goal is to break ground sometime late summer, and we’re still on schedule to do that. But we’ve got a lot of work to do between now and then.”
Iowa faces many obstacles in completing the renovation, including an economic recession and natural disasters that sapped many private contributions in the last six months. But competitors both within the state and Big Ten already have an advantage over Iowa in basketball facilities, which intensifies Iowa’s efforts to start the renovation quickly.
All but three Big Ten schools have stand-alone basketball practice facilities. Most of them have recent upgrades or are like Indiana and Purdue, which are in the process of building new basketball complexes. In-state foe Iowa State will have a new $8 million basketball practice facility by next fall after an Ames developer donated land and agreed to help build it.
“In this world of big-time athletics, to not have a practice facility I think it’s one more obstacle for teams as they struggle to get recruits,” said Bobby Hansen, former Iowa and NBA player and radio color analyst for Iowa men’s basketball. “Believe me, every time they go out and are visiting the competition, one of the first places they would show them would probably be the locker rooms. That’s where the kids are going to spend the majority of their time and in the practice facility.
“Now, it will get done here at the University of Iowa; we just don’t have a great timetable at this point. We’ve moved forward and gotten the approval from the Regents and we’ll try to get this thing started in 2009. I guess the only thing I can say is, the sooner the better.”
Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter acknowledges facilities are important in the recruiting process, but he is more concerned with helping his current players expand their skills. That’s difficult when both of Iowa’s basketball teams share competition and practice space with the volleyball squad at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa’s top-ranked wrestling team competes in the arena, as do the school’s gymnastics teams.
Sharing the arena creates time challenges, as demonstrated in one November weekend in which the volleyball team competed twice, the wrestling team hosted Arizona State, the women’s basketball team held a tournament and Iowa’s men’s basketball team hosted a game. There wasn’t enough time or space at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for Lickliter’s team and his opponent to practice, so Iowa practiced several miles away at the North Dodge Athletic Club. Oakland, Iowa’s opponent, practiced in the Field House’s North Gym, which hasn’t been used for competitive basketball since the 1982-83 season.
Oakland Coach Greg Kampe was highly critical of Iowa, calling the North Gym a “god-awful” place. Kampe told Lickliter he was concerned for his players’ safety by practicing at the aging facility. Lickliter denied any notion that Kampe was promoting an agenda to increase awareness about Iowa’s facility.
“We’re not close friends, we know each other and all,” Lickliter said. “It wasn’t something where he was pushing for me; it was something where he’d experienced it. He knew how he’d experienced other venues and knew the differences. I think it caught him at a time where he was willing to voice his opinion.”
Lickliter primarily wants a new practice facility so his players can shoot at the same location any time of the day.
“I’ve said this a number of times that if we recruit high achievers, they want to know ‘Where am I going to be able to do my individual work?’” Lickliter said. “That’s a real key where you can get in and do some shooting where it’s available at all hours.
“Our greatest need is a practice facility. This is a great game venue, so do I have a priority? Yeah, I do. My priority would be for a practice facility. But I’m very much a team guy. I love the Hawkeyes. I want to do what’s best for us in the long run.”
But adding a less expensive practice facility without improving the arena and the athletics department’s many offices is not feasible, Barta said. The project would refurbish the wrestling area, weight training facilities, department offices and elevators.
“The challenge with trying to break something like this up is you might get a part of it done, but you need the whole thing done,” Barta said. “There’s a chance if you get a small part of it done, you may never get the rest of it done.
“Right now our plan is we need the whole thing, we’re going to do the whole thing and as I told a couple of people and sent a letter to our campaign committee, Plan A is we’ve just got to continue to work hard. Plan B is to be successful with Plan A.”
Barta hasn’t set a monetary goal for the department before moving forward with the project. His predecessor, Bob Bowlsby, and other department officials raised $14 million privately toward the $89 million renovation at Kinnick Stadium. The department reseated the stadium to help pay for that renovation, and that’s how Iowa plans to pay for the Carver-Hawkeye Arena project.
In the arena, Iowa plans to replace the current collapsed seating structure and build permanent premium seating areas. Iowa will build two rows (100 seats) of courtside seating and 550 seats of club seating areas. The department expects to raise more than $21 million in new revenue generated from premium seating over the next 10 years. By reseating the arena based on donation levels, Iowa officials estimate to raise another $900,000 annually.
But those financial estimates aren’t a given in today’s economic climate. Barta, however, isn’t deterred.
“I had somebody come up and reminded me that when Carver-Hawkeye Arena was built, it was during the worst recession since the Great Depression,” Barta said. “I went back and looked up what the environment was economically and inflation and unemployment were at 10 and 11 percent, respectively — I think I’m right in saying that — and the prime rate was like 21 percent. So, we’re going through tough economic times, no question, but the need is great.”
Lickliter knows that better than anyone. He said the practice facility “was a topic” when he and Barta negotiated a memo of understanding in April 2007 for Lickliter to coach the Hawkeyes.
There were preliminary disagreements with other staffers over the court size but those have been resolved. Iowa officials have not received the project’s final designs from architects.
Hansen said everyone knows the project needs to be completed, but it will take a little more patience to make it a reality.
“We’re here to educate these young players and provide them a positive experience, and it just seems that moving them off campus to the North Dodge facility or to North Liberty (Recreation Center) that doesn’t make sense to me,” Hansen said. “But you’ve got to prove you can pay for it. I think Gary Barta’s doing it the right way; you can’t just willy-nilly and throw it out there. Yeah, we’d all like a bigger house or whatever it might be, but it has to be done responsibly and that’s the approach that he’s taken.
“It’s going to take a little more time, but it will get done.”
Contact the writer (319) 339-3169 or scott.dochterman@gazcomm.com


Iowa tries to move past Drake debacle

December 26, 2008

Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter brought in his players Christmas night, five days after the team was shredded by Drake 60-43.

It was an abomination for Iowa. They were out-rebounded, out-hustled and blown apart in every area. It was the kind of game that sent Lickliter back to square one in preparing his team for the Big Ten.

“We really got a wake-up call at Drake,” Lickliter said. “They control that game form start to finish. They exposed some real deficiencies.”

At the team’s final practice session before breaking for the holidays, Lickliter gave the team some thoughts to focus upon following the loss. He wanted the team to recover, relax, reflect and evaulate while enjoying the small break. But he won’t “relent” in his approach to practice and his system, either.

“I thought going in to the last game we covered the things we need to cover, but I didn’t think our approach was where it needed to be,” Lickliter said. “What we tried to do is refocus on the aspects of our system and our approach in what we think we can make us more successful.”

Iowa hosts Western Illinois in its final non-conference game Saturday night. The Hawkeyes then open Big Ten play Wednesday at Ohio State.


Tucker’s pre-game status

December 20, 2008

Iowa freshman guard Anthony Tucker is in uniform taking shots in warm-ups. Although it’s unlikely he’ll start, it appears he’ll play against Drake today.

Tucker, who leads Iowa at 13.1 points a game, was suspended from the team Dec. 7 after an alcohol-related incident. He pleaded guilty Monday to public intoxication. He was reinstated on Thursday and participated in practice that day.

Tucker missed two games with the suspension.


Iowa FB, hoops to appear on BTN’s Greatest Games

December 18, 2008

    The Big Ten Network routinely airs some of the Big Ten’s greatest games (read greatest victories against other conferences or really good in-conference games). Iowa will take part in a few of those in coming months.
   On Dec. 30, the BTN will re-air the 2005 Capital One Bowl featuring Iowa and Louisiana State, ending with a 30-25 Iowa win. The 3-hour telecast airs at 10 p.m.
   Iowa’s 1987 NCAA Sweet 16 double-overtime victory over Oklahoma will air on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. Feb. 24. Iowa’s Kevin Gamble hit a shot from the top of the key with one second left to lift the Hawkeyes to the Elite Eight in Seattle.
   The network will air the 2004 double-overtime Iowa win at Indiana. Jeff Horner’s basket from the lane with two seconds left in the second overtime provided Iowa’s winning margin over the Hoosiers. That game re-airs at 7 p.m. Feb. 3.
   The network also will re-air Iowa’s 75-74 overtime loss in 2005 at Northwestern at 10 a.m. Feb. 28.


Hitler rants again, this time on Chizik

December 16, 2008

If you liked Hitler’s earlier rant on Iowa football, you’ll love this recent clip on former Iowa State now current Auburn Coach Gene Chizik:

http://www.overstream.net/view.php?oid=nhngm9tnmdlc

By the way, this clip came from the movie “Downfall.” It’s definitely worth watching with its English subtitles. One of the best World War II movies from the German perspective.


ISU could benefit from Chizik exit

December 14, 2008

Gene Chizik left Iowa State for Auburn with a navy-and-orange “Good-bye” stretched across the 50-yard-line  at Jack Trice Stadium.

It’s strange to think about today but this divorce, which feels more like an annulment, might be best for both parties — if Iowa State hires Turner Gill.

Chizik never seemed at home in Ames. I think most media thought he would make a good coach, although some of his game-day decisions were a bit baffling. It does seem a bit hypocritical for coaches like Chizik to preach to players about about finishing and commitment, and blasting former player Philip Bates for “quitting” yet when the first private jet down south has your one-way ticket, they don’t give it a second thought. But it’s not surprising, either.

That’s why ISU officials, alumni and fans need to realize this move presents them with a great opportunity. Gill has every intangible Iowa State needs right now. He’s got regional roots after a stellar playing career at Nebraska. He obviously can coach and recruit by taking Buffalo to the MAC title. Iowa State can even stick it to Auburn by hiring the coach most Tiger fans wanted, as evidenced by this column:

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/article/20081214/SPORTS0402/812140327/1002/sports

Hiring Gill would gain national headlines for a football program considered almost irrelevant among BCS schools. That’s what happens with three consecutive losing seasons and a 10-game losing streak.  Hiring Gill would generate positive publicity for a program desperately needing it. It might also help keep Chizik’s recruits and talented young players in Ames.

Who knows, maybe Auburn and Iowa State could meet next year in the Independence Bowl to prove which school got the best coach.


Key stat in Iowa-ISU

December 13, 2008

The one stat that surprised me the most in Friday’s Iowa-Iowa State game wasn’t the final score. It was the rebounding margin.

Sure, I didn’t think Iowa would win by 16 at 73-57. I wasn’t sure  Iowa could win by one point. But for Iowa to roll past Iowa State 38-23 on the boards was nearly unimaginable.

Iowa had out-rebounded all but three of its opponents, but none by as many as 15. The biggest margin Iowa provided before Friday was a 14-rebound advantage against Bryant. The three schools that had out-rebounded Iowa earlier — West Virginia, Kansas State and Boston College — all came from major Division I conferences.

Iowa whipped Iowa State in every area. Iowa led in points off turnovers (25-12), second-chance points (13-2) and fast-break points (11-2). The teams were even in turnovers (12) and assists (11). Iowa State had one more 3-pointer (8 to 7).

When the season is complete and the Iowa-Iowa State statistics are compiled into next year’s media guide, everyone will notice that Iowa won decisively. But you can’t put on paper the edge Iowa carried in effort. Iowa State played a sloppy, almost lazy game, especially in the second half. Iowa played inspired and with intensity. Both teams have an eight-day layoff before playing on Dec. 20. We’ll see if either team continues that trend.


Terrible towels invade Carver

December 12, 2008

On each seat along the first 22 rows at Carver-Hawkeye Arena sits a black towel with a gold Tiger-hawk logo. It appears Iowa wants a rowdy and active crowd for its game against Iowa State tonight.


Outback Bowl win worth major cash to Ferentz

December 11, 2008

Iowa stands two spots outside the USA Today Coaches’ Poll Top 25. If the Hawkeyes beat South Carolina in the Outback Bowl and jump back into the Top 25, it’s worth major bucks for Coach Kirk Ferentz.

A clause in Ferentz’s contract states if the team finishes the season in that poll’s Top 25, Ferentz receives a $100,000 bonus. If Iowa happens to jump several spots and land in the Top 20, that bonus increases to $125,000.

The Outback Bowl already has added some major coin to Coach Kirk Ferentz’s pocketbook. Ferentz, who is the highest-paid state employee, has a contract clause that if Iowa participates in a bowl paying out more than $1 million, he gets a $75,000 bonus. The Outback Bowl guarantees at least $3 million for its participants.


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