Iowa Spring Game – What to watch for

Tonight at Kinnick Stadium the Iowa football team will finish up their spring practice with a game in front of their home crowd. It has been an uneven spring camp for the Hawkeyes as injuries have slowed the progress of some areas. Iowa is also installing a new offense with offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz taking the reigns in year 1. Here are 3 things to watch for if you’re making your way to Kinnick tonight. The game begins at 7:00 and will be available on BTN on tape delay at 8:30.

  1. Who’s the quarterback?

Coming into the spring, Kirk Ferentz said that they would be having an open competition. Many believed that was only window dressing. After Nathan Stanley came in as a true freshman and beat out Tyler Wiegers for the back up spot, it seemed inevitable that Stanley would be the guy for 2017. That hasn’t been the case and Kirk Ferentz said this Wednesday, “It’s really close right now, and I see this thing going into camp, probably midway into camp before we have to make a decision. But if we had to do it right now, we’d be throwing darts.”

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2. What is happening at safety? 

Before the open practice at Valley Stadium 2 weeks ago, it was announced that starting free safety Brandon Snyder had been lost with a torn ACL. Snyder came on last season and the year went on and combined physicality and know how to the position. With Synder out, is it as simple as moving Jake Gervase in as he was the back up? Keep an eye on Amani Hooker, the sophomore out of Brooklyn Park, MN. He has been somebody that has been getting praise inside the program, he may be making the move over. And can Miles Taylor bounce back after a rough 2016? Bad angles, missed tackles and blown assignments hurt him last year. As a senior, the time is now.

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3. Catch the Ball!

After the injury to Matt VandeBerg last season, the Iowa wide receiver corp saw some rough outings. A mixture of an offensive system that didn’t work with the Iowa run game created an ugly situation. The Hawkeyes are currently down to 2 scholarship wide receivers going through spring practice, Adrian Falconer and Devonte Young. Nick Easley has been gaining love from the coaches. The walk on from Newton caught 72 passes for 954 yards and 7 scores a year ago for Iowa Western in the JUCO ranks. He’ll be needed.

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The freshman won’t be on campus until this summer, but they’ll be needed. The good news is that the tight end position appears to be stacked. From blocking tight ends (Peter Pekar, Nate Wieting) to athletic mismatches (Noah Fant, TJ Hockenson, Shawn Beyer) along with Dowling Catholic product Jon Wisnieski trying to get on the field after having injuries hamper him during his seasons in Iowa City and a young man making a move to the position where his dad was an All American (Drew Cook). Lots of weapons, different styles, can Iowa utilize them correctly?

The Future of the Iowa/Iowa State Football Rivalry

Earlier this week, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University announced an extension to their football series that will continue the annual game through the 2023 football season. The Hawkeyes and Cyclones have played annually since 1977. It will be 46 years of continual games when this version of the contract finishes. The question becomes what is the future of the rivalry?

Both Iowa State in the Big 12 and now Iowa in the Big Ten play 9 conference games annually. With a 12 game football schedule, this makes it difficult to have much wiggle room for other non-conference games away from the home stadium if you’d like to play 7 home games a season. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta has maintained that Iowa needs to play those 7 games in Kinnick Stadium each season for the athletic budget. Another reason is the impact to the Iowa City/Coralville region and the local businesses. Iowa can afford to have a year where they only play 6 home games. According to the USA Today database, Iowa brought in $105,969,545 in revenue in the 2014-15 school year. The local business aspect is where the money is difficult to monetize. Iowa State has done things differently and have played only 6 home games, including this season. If Iowa State can get away with it, certainly Iowa can with a larger revenue stream.

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The landscape of college sports continues to evolve and what it will look like in 2024 is nearly impossible to understand. Who would have thought that Xavier and Creighton would be part of the Big East? That Rutgers and Maryland would be members of the Big Ten? What we do know is that the grant of rights for the Big 12 will be up in 2025 and the Big Ten TV deal will finish in 2023. The Big Ten could make a move towards Texas, Oklahoma and/or Kansas at that time to get to 16 members. If that’s the case, what does it mean for the Big 12 and more importantly for Iowa State? That has to be a huge concern going forward for the Cyclone side.

But back to this series, as it is currently constructed. I propose a 2 year hiatus from the series after the completetion of the 2023 year. After 2 years off the schedule, Iowa and Iowa State sign a 4 year deal to play annually again, then another 2 years off. This allows the freedom for both schools to either find a home and home series with another Power 5 program, find a neutral site game to play or just schedule another “buy” for their home schedule. The series doesn’t go away, it just has breaks.

In Central Iowa, their isn’t anything bigger on the sports landscape than the Cy-Hawk game. It gets week long build up, it is THE topic for the whole week. But that isn’t the case in Eastern Iowa. I lived in Eastern Iowa for 7 years and though it is still a rivalry, it doesn’t burn as hot over there. It’s the reality of the situation. Another reality is that Iowa State has been hugely successful over Iowa over the past 2 decades. Without that aspect, I don’t think you’d see the same number of Iowa fans hoping to move away from the series.

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Their are many moving parts that will decide what the future of this rivalry is. If Iowa can build momentum to become a bigger national brand, they could decide it’s time to move away from the series completely. What is conference expansion pillages the heavyweights from the Big 12? Would a home and home series make sense with a school that is no longer in a “major” conference? Does Matt Campbell turn Iowa State into a consistent winner that has a bigger national profile and has the game gain more national prominence? These are questions to ponder going forward. What we do know if the game will go on for 7 more years. From there, it’s anybodies guess.

NCAA Tournament to return to Des Moines

After a successful turn hosting the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament in 2016, Des Moines has been named as a host for the 1st and 2nd Round of the 2019 Tournament. Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines will be hosting 6 games over 2 days on March 21st and 23rd, 2019.

In 2016, Iowa State was the host school for the regional meaning that the Cyclones basketball team couldn’t play at Wells Fargo Arena. The NCAA Tournament selection committee works to protect top 4 seeds and have them play as close to home as possible. Even as a #4 seed, Iowa State had to travel to Denver for their opening round games. That won’t be the case in 2019 as Drake University will be the host school.

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Des Moines will be one of 2 sites for the Midwest region along with Tulsa, OK. The other regions for the 1st and round rounds are Hartford, CT and Columbus, OH in the East, Salt Lake City, UT  and Seattle, WA for the West Regionals and Jacksonville, FL and Columbia, SC in the South.

The 2019 Final Four will be played at the new US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Sweet 16 & Elite games will be played in Kansas City (Midwest), Anaheim (West), Louisville (South) & Washington, DC (East).

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Artist Rendering of Final 4 at US Bank Stadium Courtesy of Minnesota Vikings

Marty & Miller Announce Increased Digital Platform

martyandmillerMarty & Miller are excited to announce an expanded digital platform for the “Marty & Miller” program. Marty and Miller will continue their partnership with Mediacom with their live show Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 on Mediacom Channel 22/HD 822 and will be providing daily podcasts of the show across Stitcher and iTunes.


“Our research has shown that AM radio was not reaching the desirable 25-54 age demographic in the way that we wanted. We are looking to increase our presence to that demo while providing the great sports talk format that has been a part of the Des Moines market for 21 years with Marty & Miller,” Marty Tirrell said.

The show will continue with it’s hard hitting sports commentaries along with story lines that matter across the state of Iowa and the Midwest. Trent Condon will expand his role in the 5-6 pm hour with a dedicated look at the Iowa high school sports scene along with Iowa colleges. “Trent has grown a great following and knows the high school scene as well as anybody. We are excited to bring him aboard in an increased role to expand our coverage of the high school sports and the local colleges with an emphasis on the Big Ten, Big 12 and Missouri Valley conferences,” said Tirrell. “We’re very excited about this new realm in broadcasting and we’re looking to hit it out of the park with our high school and Iowa college sports coverage.”


The show will continue to stream on and you can watch the show live at for those that don’t have Mediacom. The show will also continue to be on Sirius/XM 93/203 on “Sports Overnight American” with the Sports Byline Radio Network. You can upload the daily podcasts each hour through the Stitcher app and on I-Tunes. You can download the show through the Stitcher app here:

“Ken & I were late to the digital party, but we are excited about this new venture. We may be late, but we’ll be the last to turn out the lights,” said Tirrell.


Marty and Miller – Mar. 28, Hour 3

Dylan Montz, covering Iowa State Cyclones football & basketball for Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Marty and Miller – Mar. 28, Hour 2

Jason Simbal from CG Technologies and Ian Casselberry from Awful Announcing.

A Few Thoughts with Bob Ryan



     That would be my Final Four predictions. I thought I was fairly safe going all chalk with Duke, Arizona, Kansas and UCLA. Guess not. But I’ve never been very good at this prediction business.
       So what can I can I tell you about this upcoming Final Four that you don’t already know? It’s Roy Williams’ ninth, but you probably already knew that. The other three are all first-timers, or, as the Brits would say, debutants.  It’s been a long road for Oregon’s Dana Altman, this being his 28th season. For Mark Few it’s a final vindication of a spectacular coaching career that should send him some day to Springfield where he can make a Hall of Fame acceptance speech. He is 18-for-18 in NCAA tournament appearances since succeeding Don Monson for the 1999-2000 season, but this is Gonzaga’s first time past the Elite Eight.
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Frank Martin? Or, should we say Francisco Jose Martin? H’s only had to wait 10 years for this great national exposure. He has a great back story of being a second-generation Cuban-American raised by a resilient single mom. plus a high school coaching career that brought him state titles and heaps of scorn over alleged recruiting improprieties. And then I find out he spent four years under my nose as an assistant at Northeastern and I never met him. My bad. I will say he has carried himself magnificently this week.
     By the way, Roy’s lifetime record ain’t bad, either. How does 814-216 (.790) sound?
     I have nothing against Carolina, Oregon or South Carolina, but I shall root unabashedly for Gonzaga. I just think that what Few has accomplished at that school is one of the great coaching achievements of all-time, and I would be really cool if that institution could get one title for a deserving school and fan base. The Few numbers really are staggering. When the Bulldogs take the floor on Saturday his coaching record will stand at 501-118, which is a gaudy .818 winning percentage. The Zags have won 20 or more every year of his tenure.
     For those of you keeping score at home, Gonzaga is bidding to become  the eighth Catholic university to win the NCAA title. They are the 15th Catholic school to reach the stage we now know as the Final Four.  And they are the seventh Jesuit school to do so. This is really apropos of nothing, except that I was hunting for something fresh to impress you with.
     OK, I can’t leave you hanging: the seven Catholic school champs are San Francisco (Jesuit), Villanova, Georgetown (Jesuit), Holy Cross, LaSalle, Loyola of Chicago (Jesuit) and Marquette (Jesuit). The Final Four participants are St. John’s, St. Joe’s (Jesuit), St. Bonaventure, Providence, Seton Hall, Seattle (Jesuit) and, oh yes, Notre Dame. Perhaps this info will come in handy at your next cocktail party.
      I’m sure it has seemed like a very long 360-some odd days for Williams and his returning players since their last trip to the Final Four. They will forever carry around the dual memories of the Marcus Paige double-clutch three that appeared to have sent them into overtime in the championship game and the answering three-pointer by Kris Jenkins that wiped the smiles off Tarheel faces everywhere and placed them on the faces of Villanova Wildcats the world over.
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     So there’s no doubt Carolina will be supremely motivated, perhaps more than the other three schools put together. Unfinished Business is a powerful motivator.
    But I don’t know that for sure, and you don’t, either. Surely, Gonzaga, with its 36-1 record and the heady feeling of having been ranked number one earlier in the season, has a very strong sense of purpose. The Zags carry the weight of 21st century history with them. Oregon likewise expected big things for this season. I was a bit surprised when I hauled out my Blue Ribbon Magazine prior to the tournament and was reminded that the greatest pre-season basketball mag of all-time picked the Ducks number 2 (behind Duke). The Zags were #16. And yet I think Oregon may already feel, you know, fulfilled.
     Of course, with regard to South Carolina, no one would ever cop to a “We are just happy to be here” attitude at a Final Four, but if ever there was a team that has already given itself, its coach and its fans far more than they could possibly have imagined, it is this 26-10 South Carolina team some thought was undeserving of a tournament bid to begin with. Come to think about it, once upon a time a team from not too far away from Columbia, South Carolina, lurched into the tournament and then won six extraordinary games. By the way, has Jimmy V found somebody to hug yet? So goofy things can happen, especially when you have a player such as SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell on your side.
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     I’m not officially picking a winner, but I will rank the teams in logical order of Best Chance To Win. 1. North Carolina. 2. Gonzaga. 3. Oregon. 4. South Carolina. But it’s actually 2. Gonzaga and 2A Oregon. That’s a tough call.
     But why should you listen to a guy who was 0-for-4?
     One more thing: I have to say it:  Gonzaga’s mantra should be “The Few, The Proud.” C’mon. How many chances will you get for something like this?

Lane Heating & A/C Ticket Giveaway

Milwaukee Notes – Friday Edition