Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The City of Cedar Rapids needs some Management

What is the City Council of the City of Cedar Rapids thinking these days?

Today's Gazette front page headline reads "Golf Slice". The online version reads "Council to discuss selling Twin Pines Golf Course" or at least part of the 155 acre golf course.

Clearly, the article points out mismangement in the City's current golf department operations. It appears the City Manager is now testing the City's stewardship responsibilities as he nears his first year in our community.

As one council member stated, it is appropriate to review City assets and determine how to best use them. Further, how best to provide services is another important factor.

So, what is with the trail balloons coming out from the City Manager and one of council members prior to the review?

I am concerned when the City appears to be putting the cart before the horse. Why stir up the emotions within the community with trial balloons prior to going through a thoughtful review process. Let's review our City assets. Let's determine how to best use them.

We have an outstanding community. Quality of life is a very important and does impact economic development and jobs. Recreation services are important for our community. If you survey golfers in the community (ie: taxpayers and citizens), you likely will find many wanting the City to outsource management of the golf courses to professional contractors.

You don't have to go outside Linn County to get good feedback. The article pointed out when they asked Marion Mayor John Nieland, "saying he'd keep the course and turn it over to private management before selling it for some other purpose.He noted he can play more cheaply before 10 a.m. at Hunters Ridge Golf Course in Marion and St. Andrew's Golf Club in Cedar Rapids, both private courses, than at Twin Pines."
The City Council needs to get there ducks in a row. Outsourcing management is likely going to be discussed here in the future, as the City Manager floated during the completion of the City's management restructuring. The Golf Courses lend themselves to a good option for a new management structure. Efficiency and better management should be seeked first, before selling City assets.


Lunch with a Lacrosse player last week

My wife and I took a customer of ours out to lunch last week, while he was in town from New Jersey. Getting to know the customer, we got to talking about his hobbies, since he is new to the industry and we wanted to get to know him better. It turns out he is a lacrosse player, who played at Hartford, before transferring to a Division III school, also out East.

He's on the road pitch hitting for an ill colleague, so he is missing his Tuesday/Thursday lacrosse league this summer. Talk about a sport that seems to be on the upswing?

My wife isn't much of a sports fan and she was spoiled attending her first Iowa Football game ever. In 1985, #1 vs. #2, Iowa vs. Michigan at Kinnick Stadium, with the Hawkeyes winning on Houghlin's FG as time expired, 12-10.

In getting started on putting together my first blog, I was admiring the artwork of HawkLax6 that he was sharing with people on the Hawkeye rivals network. Turns out, he is a former member of the University of Iowa's Lacrosse program, small world, after spending my Friday discussing a sport that you don't catch all that often in Cedar Rapids.

Here's my salute to those post-graduate lacrosse players this week. Like Rugby, what a sport to enjoy on your off-time.

Call me a wimp, since basketball, softball, golf and bowling are about all I work in these days on my off-time. For those rugby and lacrosse players, we salute you for continuing your passion!


Looking for that lost video, anyone?

Surfing the Bluejay Cafe, I ran across some discussion of NCAA On Demand. DVD sales available through the NCAA of various past sports championships or tournament games. As one message board writer mentioned, JayZ wrote:

"Nice. They have a lot of old Creighton tourney games as well as soccer and some baseball too. I would like to get some of those old school basketball games. Like some classic Jordan. The Bird vs Magic championship game. Those tight shorts are brutal though. At $25.00 each, the NCAA sure knows how to make $$$$$."

I could insert a picture, but for the sake anyone reading, I'll pass!

Watch an example of NCAA On Demand: 2000 College Cup Championship. Or, if you prefer a little basketball... here's a sneak of Nick Porter in CU vs. Nevada in 2007.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Golf fans and Fans of Zach Johnson may want to pick up the next issue of Golf Magazine

Cedar Rapids' very own, Zach Johnson, will be on the cover of the upcoming issue of Golf Magazine. The July 2007 issue will feature insight from Zach and more. Check it out at newsstands soon.

The Masters Champion exclusive will talk about how to "Make More Birdies" in an article for Golf Magazine.

Highlights include:
  • How to control your wedge
  • Make the putts that count
  • Stiff your full irons

Further, the magazine will have a British Open Preview.

Both Zach Johnson and NFL pro QB Kurt Warner are graduates of the former Regis High School in Cedar Rapids. Regis is no longer a high school, but former high school has two famous athletes (Johnson and Warner) and one infamous celebrity of late (A-Rod's girlfriend).

The new Catholic high school in Cedar Rapids, Xavier, will celebrate it's 10th anniversary this fall. Former Catholic high schools, Regis and LaSalle, are now used as Catholic middle schools in Cedar Rapids.


Softball collisions and Church Softball

I have participated in the Independent Church Softball League in Cedar Rapids off and on since my youth. Actually, since returning to my hometown after college and work out of state, I have played each season.

Tonight's games were highlighted by collisions at 2nd base taking out the shortstop or 2nd basemen depending on which game.

It's great to go out and compete each week, but the collision is becoming far too often the case when players are running. No one is out there to be the next Derek Jeter or A-Rod, but keeping everyone out of harms way seems to be getting harder and harder.

Even non-contact injuries seem to be par for the course at 3rd base dating back to last season.

At least if something does happen, we have the US Health Care System to depend on. I know a guy from England, who is a weekend warrior in Football, soccer for our Americans. He blew his knee out. But, because of socialized public health care in England, he was put on a waiting list for 6 weeks for his MRI. So much for getting help, if needed.

While I can do without the collisions and injuries in Church Softball, at least I can say I am proud to be an America, despite the good, bad and ugly of our own health care system. Actually, the fellowship of 14 inch Church Softball is very enjoyable. Now, if you are a good hitter with power looking for a church to join and play softball for, then we may want to talk to you. Our team is lacking offense this season.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

What Preseaon College Football Magazine is the best?

Ever since I began following College Football in 1974, I have always been a fan of preseason college football magazines. From the look of thing, it appears that Street & Smith's is going retro this season, as the picture below shows.

Which Magazine is the Best?

While Street & Smith's has been a favorite of mine over the years, Phil Steele's College Football Review clearly is a fan favorite. As his magazine states, it's Jampacked With Information!

2. Athlon
3. Lindy's
4. The Sporting News
5. Street & Smith
6. Joe Freist (a magazine I pass on every year)
7. Game Plan
8. ATS Consultants (another one of those betting varieties)
9. Football Action
10. Blue Ribbon

Of course the list and rankings above can be found on page 307 of Phil Steele's 2007 College Football Review. In stores now!

The Internet has certainly brought about a wealth of information, but the old college football propaganda from these various publishers is always good for a laugh, conversation and to fill the void of no college sports during those dog days of summer.

Interesting enough, many of the magazines seem to up the publication dates each year, so some of the information can be a little lacking, when player departures or sad to say in the Big Ten, the past two seasons, deaths, impact the outlook of the coming season.


Oregon State wins back to back CWS titles!

The Oregon State Beavers beat the University of North Carolina to win their second straight College World Series title on a 3rd strike call pitch.

For over 20 years, I have a good friend who has been heading over to Omaha each year to catch the series. Attendance continues to grow.

If you have not attended a College World Series before, it's well worth the trip. The City of Omaha puts out the red carpet each year for the Series.


Big Ten info from a Rivals Network Message Board

Big Ten Cumulative Standings 1980-2006

Occasionally people ask where they would rank the Big Ten teams in football tradition, so I pulled this out in some free time. This is cumulative from 1980 through last season. Penn State has been a member since 1993.

1. Michigan (173-43-4 .795 Big Ten, 247-78-5 .756 overall, 13 titles, 14-13 bowl games)
2. Ohio State (157-57-4 .729, 243-82-5 .744, 9 titles, 12-12 bowls)
3. Penn State (69-43 .616, 116-54 .682, 2 titles, 8-2 bowls)
4. IOWA (126-87-5 .589, 193-126-6 .603, 5 titles, 9-10-1 bowls)
5. Wisconsin (103-113-4 .477, 176-141-5 .554, 3 titles, 10-5 bowls)
5. Michigan State (103-113-4 .477, 151-159-5 .487, 2 titles, 5-8 bowls)
7. Illinois (100-115-5 .466, 141-164-6 .463, 3 titles, 3-8 bowls)
8. Purdue (97-119-4 .450, 143-165-5 .465, 1 title, 4-7 bowls)
9. Minnesota (74-145-2 .339, 134-174-2 .435, 0 titles, 4-5 bowls)
10. Indiana (70-149-1 .320, 121-182-3 .400, 0 titles, 2-4 bowls)
11. Northwestern (66-154-1 .301, 100-205-3 .330, 3 titles, 0-5 bowls)

If you're wondering how the Hawks have done against each team over the same period, here you go.
Northwestern 19-6 .760
Wisconsin 18-6-1 .740
Purdue 16-6-1 .717
Indiana 14-7 .667
Michigan State 13-7-1 .643
Minnesota 17-10 .630
Penn State 6-4 .600 (also went 1-1 before they were a conference member)
Illinois 13-10 .565
Michigan 6-15-1 .295
Ohio State 4-16-1 .214

Also, Iowa State 18-9 .667

I want to thank message board poster: Cliffo...Clavin from the Rivals Network for sharing the information on the Iowa Football Message Board.

In 1981, Coach J. Hayden Fry helped eliminate the Big Ten's Big 2 dogma. In 1981, after 19 straight non-winning seasons, the University of Iowa won the Big Ten Conference Football Title and represented the Big Ten in the 1982 Rose Bowl. Iowa won the 1957 and 1959 Rose Bowls.

Since 1981, every team, but IU and Minnesota, have won a Big Ten title in football. Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993. Indiana's last Big Ten football title was in 1967, while Minnesota's last title was 1960.


IRL's Iowa Corn 250 Resembles Demolition Derby

In the inaugural race near Newton, the Iowa Corn 250 has a former Indy Winner today!


Is the Big Ten Network good for college fans?

Listening to The SportingNewsRadio on XM today, the subject of the Big Ten Network was discussed. Is the Network going to be good from the fans point of view?

Absolutely... getting your brand on TV is very important.

The Big Ten Conference is one of the premier sports brands among all NCAA conferences.

The SEC is now looking into a possible channel for the SEC. The Big Ten's concept is a good one. It will be an excellent way to get non-revenue and revenue sporting events on the air to alumni and fans everywhere. Further, non-sporting event content can be presented as well.

For schools like IU and Minnesota, it is a vehicle to get more games on TV. If it will work for the NFL and MLB to have their own networks, why not for the Big Ten, SEC and other conferences?
As discussed today on XM, the also ran games will make it first. But, just like when ESPN2 was launched, a solid match up will likely be thrown in there to help develop the network.

Right now DirecTV is on board. It it will be interesting to see how the rest of the providers, cable and other satellite, work things out for the Big Ten Network. As a Medicom customer, I will be very disappointed, if the two parties don't get matters sorted out before the end of August, when the Network is launched.

I am looking forward to the Big Ten Network and more Big Ten sporting events available on TV and likely through the Internet in the future. The Internet and TV are certainly crossing lines more and more.


Sports Message Boards: Good, Bad and the Ugly

Over the past several years, I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit and post on various sports message boards. Avoiding the rude and insensitive posters can be a challenge from time to time, but it is a nice way to discuss college sports and other topics associated with sports fans.

For Hawkeye Sports, two boards come to mind for me, though there are others I have visited over the years... or offer fans an outlet!

Hawkeye Report is the bigger one. Tom Kakert and the folks over at Hawkeye Report do a very good job keeping us up to date with Hawkeye Sports as part of the Rivals Network. Yahoo has bought the Rivals Network recently, so it will be interesting to see how things shake out.

Hawks Turf is another site I have enjoyed over the years. A free site that has weathered the storms over the years of the big paid sites. crhawkeye does a very good job from his home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The Rivals Network is my favorite. It is a shame that some sites don't offer a free spot or at minimum, an open spot, for premium members from rival teams. Examples of closed sites are Missouri and Colorado. With a former Cedar Rapids Washington athlete on the Colorado football team, it is disappointing not to be able to get some news from the message board on Maurice Cantrell, the starting fullback for CU.

I enjoy hitting various sites around the Big Ten and Big 12. Iowa State's site is only for premium members within the Rivals Network. At least, ISU offers something better than the other two.

A favorite closer to me personally is the Bluejay Cafe. A great site to catch up with Creighton University athletics. The Bluejays offer solid programs in men's and women's basketball, soccer and baseball. Making the NCAA Tournament this past season in all 3 men's sports and losing out in the Women's MVC Basketball Tournament in a heartbreaking OT loss.


Strength in the Classroom leads to Wins on the Field

Success in Athletics: a Mix of sports and academics, according to Sociologists' at the University of Maryland and the University of Iowa who have developed the Student Athlete Performance Ratings. The SAPR is the brainchild of Jeffrey Lucas, associate professor of sociology at Maryland, and Michael Lovaglia, professor of sociology at Iowa as reported in an article today in The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) by John Riehl.

The SAPR can provide recruits for college football or college basketball a way to measure a programs success in athletics with that schools ability to deliver a quality college degree.

Some of my favorite programs in both football and college basketball fair well in the recent SAPR rankings. The Iowa Hawkeye football program ranked 12th, tied with Oklahoma. The Creighton Bluejay basketball program finished 20th in the most recent basketball SAPR rankings.


Former Governor Tommy Thompson wins Linn Country Republican Straw Poll and speaks to locals at event this weekend in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

First weekend of Summer

Well, the College World Series wraps up this weekend in Omaha!

Back long ago, I would be enjoying the major league baseball season, but the dog days of summer have passed me by, when it comes to MLB.

Less than 100 days until college football season kicks off!

So, I thought I would try my first official blog.

As a huge college football fan, it will be likely geared towards college football. But, you never know what may be thrown in. A little politics! A little more college sports here and there. We will just have to wait and see.