Tag Archives: Alabama Crimson Tide

Baby, It’s Cold Inside – What in the Name of Jerry Tarkanian Has Happened to College Basketball?

Lots of places are cold lately

Lots of places are cold lately

I miss the old UNLV Runnin’ Rebels of Jerry Tarkanian. You knew those guys would score 90 points every time out. The question was if they’d hit 100 or 110.

I miss college basketball, period. I’ve covered two games in the last five days. There weren’t 100 points total in either one.

Last Saturday it was Purdue 49, Iowa 45. Nothing can be that wretched for a long time, I said to myself.

Sure, if four days is a long time.

Wednesday night, I was among the eyewitnesses who saw Drake edge Northern Iowa, 47-46. 


At one point in the game, there were 26 points and 24 turnovers.


What happened to a once-entertaining game? Where’s Tark? Whatever happened to Showtime? Or at the very least, a team that could score 50 points in a game.

Something worse happened Wednesday than the brick-laying turnover fest at UNI. At Champaign, Penn State beat Illinois, 38-33. No Fighting Illini player scored more than seven points.

Penn State shot 28.3 percent from the field and won!

The teams’ combined 71 points was the lowest total in Division I men’s basketball since Monmouth beat Princeton 41-21 in 2005.

“Naismith probably rolled over several times,” Penn State Coach Ed DeChellis said after the game.

Illinois’ point total was its lowest since a 33-31 loss to Minnesota in 1947.

Get this: Illinois is ranked 18th in the country!

Other scores from Wednesday: Western Michigan 46, Eastern Michigan 38. Nebraska 46, Colorado 41.

Some Wednesday scores from outside the Midwest:

Oklahoma State 92, Texas Tech 82

Florida 83, Alabama 74

Louisville 94, Providence 76

Hofstra 99, James Madison 94

Those are basketball scores. Those are basketball games. How I miss them.


I Voted for Utah


I wrestled with my AP ballot from the moment Utah drilled Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl on the night of Jan. 2 until the end of Florida’s 24-14 BCS title-game win over Oklahoma Thursday night.

What tipped me to Utah was when I entered Carver-Hawkeye Arena late Thursday afternoon, and a Per Mar security person said “Mike, you’ve got to vote for Utah.”

“OK, I will,” I said, and proceeded to watch bad basketball and then file a column on it. I had ample time to listen and then watch to the second half of the Gators-Sooners game.

It’s a good thing that Per Mar guy didn’t tell me to throw eggs on the court or drop a thousand thumbtacks on the steps leading to the arena floor, huh?

All right, before this goes any further – I made up my own mind. And I admit a Florida blowout of Oklahoma would have made it harder to hit the “send” button when I e-mailed my Utah-No. 1 pick to New York late Thursday night.

If Florida were to play Utah next week, would I bet on the Utes? No.

So what? I wouldn’t bet on Florida were it to play USC next week, but I ranked the Gators second and the Trojans third. We’re voting on a season of work, and I like what UF did slightly more than what USC accomplished.

Utah’s season was perfect. I don’t think you can do better than perfect, especially when the perfect run ended with an utterly fabulous performance against an Alabama team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation for five weeks.

Did the Utes play Florida’s schedule. They did not.

Did they get upset at home by anyone the way Florida fell to Ole Miss? They did not.

Would they be able find any SEC teams who would schedule home-and-away series with them? They would not.

The only reason Utah isn’t the national champion, as far as we’ll ever know from now until nothing remains in Salt Lake City but, uh, salt, is that it never got the chance to play for the title.

This isn’t a Mid-American Conference or Sun Belt Conference team that ran the table and finished with a win in a Motor City or GMAC Bowl, both of which are seeking government bailouts.

No, this is a team from the Mountain West Conference, which won six of eight games against the Pac-10 this season. It’s a legit league, one that deserves a place at the BCS trough. Not that the six greedy-pig BCS conferences will ever start sharing with others. 

By the way, Iowans, I had the Hawkeyes 16th. That may actually have sold them a little short. Had they won one more game, I think you could have made a loud argument to have them at 10th or 11th in the final rankings.

Ifs and buts. Like what if Utah had played Florida …

My top 25 ballot:

1.       Utah

2.       Florida

3.       USC

4.       Texas

5.       Oklahoma

6.       Alabama

7.       TCU

8.       Penn State

9.       Ohio State

10.   Boise State

11.   Oregon

12.   Mississippi

13.   Texas Tech

14.   Georgia

15.   Oklahoma State    

16.   Iowa

17.   Virginia Tech

18.   Cincinnati

19.   Oregon State

20.   Missouri

21.   Pittsburgh

22.   Northwestern

23.   California

24.   Michigan State

25.   Rice


Thanks to Utes, 2009 is Off to a Great Start

A day that had a rather severe start for yours truly is having a wonderful finish.

You get up at 3 a.m. (Iowa time) to get to the Tampa airport for the first of three flights that get you back to Cedar Rapids, two of them on American Eagle planes that would make sardines claustrophobic.

That was after eight days on the road, and eight nights of not getting one decent night of sleep. Maybe that came from staying in a hotel that was too close to an airport. Or too close to a freeway. Or too close to a Waffle House.

But the first blast of Midwest winter air felt great as I stepped outside The Eastern Iowa Airport. Tomorrow, it will probably feel like winter. Which is less than great.

So I got home, settled in, turned on the tail end of the Cotton Bowl, and fell asleep. I completely missed the Liberty Bowl, which was intentional. I slowly came to with the Sugar Bowl on in the background. I’d see Utah was ahead, and assume I was dreaming. Especially when it was 21-0.

Then I woke up, and naturally Alabama clawed back to 21-17. Yecch.

But the Utes got even tougher, and held on to vanquish the Crimson Tide.

I love this for two reasons. One, Alabama Coach Nick Saban is a joyless mercenary. Every game his teams lose is good for sports and the planet.

Two, I had Utah No. 5 in my latest AP Top 25 ballot. No one in the AP panel had the Utes any higher. I had them above USC and Penn State, and caught grief from fans of both because of it

But look at me (and Utah) now, my babies! That’s a Top Three team at the worst, the end. At 13-0 with wins over bowl-winners Oregon State and TCU, and now this disposal of the vaunted Crimson Tide in New Orleans, which is in SEC country.

Utah took its BCS bowl invitation and rubbed the power conferences’ faces in it. Just like Boise State did two years ago.

I’m under no obligation to put the winner of the Florida-Oklahoma BCS title game No. 1 on the final AP ballot next Thursday night. I probably will, anyhow, unless it’s a lousy game.

But let’s see what Texas does against Ohio State first. I may vote Texas No. 1. Or USC. Or, dare I say it, Utah.

Utah 31, Alabama 17. Such dire predictions for 2009 have been issued in many circles, but the year is fabulous so far.

Hawkeyes Coldcock Gamecocks


Well, well, well. That was quite a display of efficiency the Iowa football squad displayed against a South Carolina team that showed all the poise and precision of a home video during an earthquake.

I said it at the end of my column that should be posted Thursday night on http://www.hawkeyebowlgame.com,  and I’ll elaborate here. I think Iowa is one of the 10 best teams in the nation.

Where will the Hawkeyes be ranked in the Associated Press poll late next Thursday night after the BCS title game? Probably 21st or 22nd, maybe 23rd.

But if you went on how teams were playing in November into December and January, can you honestly name 10 teams that are better?

The obvious ones on their bodies of work: Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama, USC, Penn State, Texas, Texas Tech. That’s seven. Although, you take Penn State with a grimace the way it fell so far behind in the first half of the Rose Bowl against USC.

Add Utah if it plays Alabama close in the Sugar Bowl. If Ohio State isn’t routed by Texas, you probably have to include the Buckeyes. I’d certainly include 11-2 TCU, as well.

OK, that’s 10 if Utah and Ohio State hold up their ends. And 11 if Cincinnati wins over Virginia Tech in Thursday night’s Orange Bowl, though I’d take the Hawkeyes over the Bearcats on a neutral field 10 times out of 10. But a BCS league-champ with a 12-2 record has earned its place.

But that’s it. A 10-3 Georgia? Not sold. A 10-3 Oregon? Very good, but I think the Ducks-Hawks game would be a coin-flip. If Ole Miss upsets Texas Tech Friday in the Cotton Bowl, I rank the Rebels on an even keel with Iowa.

You know how this works, though. Those four losses hang over Iowa’s heads, and not being ranked all year makes it hard for the Hawks to ascend very far once they do get into next week’s rankings.

No matter. They had the bowl scene all to themselves for the first two hours Thursday and wasted little time showing America (and poll voters) what they had.

They’ll get a nice spot in August’s preseason Top 25 for the 2009 season. What they do with that is up to them instead of the pollsters.

One Man’s AP Top 25 Ballot

In my heart of hearts, I know Oklahoma and Florida and Texas are better than Alabama. But the Crimston Tide have run the table thus far, won at Georgia and LSU, and may be better than I (and many others) realize.

I kicked around putting Florida second ahead of Oklahoma given the way the Gators have mauled their last several foes, including Georgia.

Am I a homer to have Iowa 20th with four losses and Michigan State 22nd with three defeats, when MSU beat Iowa? I wrestled with it, but the Spartans got buried at Penn State Saturday, and no one buried Iowa this season.

But I think the Hawkeyes would beat Boise State, Ball State, and one if not both of the Oregon brothers, but ranked all four ahead of Iowa. The first two are undefeated and need no explanation. I think the Pac-10 is underrated this season, and think the Oregon twins are better than people realize. Oregon State is way better than it was in September when it got smacked down at Penn State.

Look, the SEC champ will meet the Big 12 champ in the title game, so the rest of this is just window dressing, anyhow.

1.       Alabama

2.       Oklahoma

3.       Florida

4.       Texas

5.       Utah

6.       USC

7.       Texas Tech

8.       Penn State

9.       Ohio State

10.   Missouri

11.   Boise State

12.   Oklahoma State

13.   TCU

14.   Georgia

15.   Ball State

16.   Cincinnati

17.   Oregon State

18.   BYU

19.   Oregon

20.   Iowa

21.   Georgia Tech

22.   Pittsburgh

23.   Michigan State

24.   Western Michigan

25.   Mississippi

Tom Arnold Weighs in on Iowa’s Win Over Penn State

The Hlog got an e-mail Wednesday night from Tom Arnold, actor/Hawkeye fan. Tom couldn’t make it back for the Penn State-Iowa football game last Saturday, but as you can see in his note, he had a good reason. His words:

I spent the last week in Okinawa, Japan for the Special Olympics and The USO so I couldn’t make it to Kinnick for the big game but me and a bunch of Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Pilots got up at 3 a.m. Sunday morning to watch the Hawks play live on Armed Forces TV (I learned about a little thing called the International Date Line, I must’ve been sick that day at Ottumwa High, and no, being a day in the future doesn’t make it easier to bet on the games … sadly).

Second only to?meeting so many Iowans in uniform, representing our country, I have never been prouder to be a Hawkeye in my life, and what a week, huh? The history books will surely note that my home state, starting at The Iowa Caucus, was directly responsible for the very first White Sox fan to be elected President of these United States (it gives me hope that a Cubs fan will make it to the oval office in my lifetime).

Since it was Veterans Day Weekend and the oldest soldier was a WW2 Vet from Bama, we rooted for the Crimson boys in the late game (6 a.m.). As the sun came up in the land of the rising sun, the sweet, sweet sound of “How About Those Hawkeyes?”, mixed with an occassional “Roll Tide” between “OOO RAH’s” echoed from Guam to Tokyo. Go Hawks. Tom Arnold