Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts
Jan. 1, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Random thoughts on the first day of a new year...
It feels odd to be home for the biggest day of the year in college football...and good, too. I'll start with the odd. If you choose to work in this business, New Year's Day is the one day of the year where you would prefer to be waking up in a hotel room. It's a pleasant by-product of a season gone well. And, frankly, thanks to the leadership and the student-athletes in our football program, my family has done just that more than a fair number of times over the years. The "good"? Well, that should be obvious, too. The victory Tuesday night in Tempe was a great way to end 2010 and provide a positive start to 2011.
You may have noticed that Lisa Bluder's squad lost a tough one last night at Penn State. You might not have noticed that Ohio State - the Big Ten's defending champion and pre-season pick to win the league again in 2011 - also lost its opener. While I'm at it, I might as well lump the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes with the Huskies from Connecticut. They also lost last night, to Stanford. My guess is that all three teams will rebound nicely. Each has too much talent not to do so.
Congratulations to Hayden Fry for his induction into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame yesterday. Obviously, it's very, very well deserved. It reminded me of one of things Hayden would say, usually during the spring I-Club banquet circuit, when asked how his team was going to fare the following fall. He'd smile that smile and chuckle, "Well, I'm going to the Rose Bowl. I just hope the team is coming with me!"
I'm not going to make any New Year's Day predictions about the 2011 college football season for the UI other than to say there's plenty of reason for fans of the Hawkeyes to be optimistic. From where I sit, there's simply too much talent on the coaching staff and on the roster to be thinking any other way.
Two wins in the books, five more bowl games to play. I'm betting the experts who were predicting the worst for the Big Ten will have plenty to chew on after another good day today by the good guys from the Heartland. I also like Ohio State's chances in the Sugar Bowl.
Speaking of books, I got through about 70 percent of the "Last Lion, The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy" and my son about 40 percent through George W. Bush's "Decision Points" during the trip to Tempe. We both benefitted from the extra three or so hours of reading time that came as a result of the fog that forced the team plane to land in Madison versus Cedar Rapids. No complaints, though. We won the game, so it really didn't matter.
Wednesday night's effort against Illinois by Fran's squad may be discouraging to some, but for me it's another sign of solid progress. I do wish the Hawkeyes could have caught a break with their schedule and I would have liked to have seen how our team and the fans in the stands would have reacted if we had taken full advantage of the intentional foul call midway through the second half. Oh, well. All in good time.
Speaking of Wednesday night, kudos to fans of the Hawkeyes for finding their way to Carver. Sure, there were more Illini fans in the building than any of us would like, but this, too, shall pass, and, in the meantime, we can all take solace in the fact that they paid full price.
It was wonderful to see Jim Zabel while in Arizona. "Z" made a visit to the Phoenix Convention Center for an appearance at the UI's Hawkeye Huddle and to participate in the Hawkeye Radio Network's Insight Bowl Special where he reunited with his longtime sidekick Ed Podolak. "I love it. I love it. I love it," he smiled as we shook hands. He was also kind enough to share that he enjoys these "ramblings." "I didn't know you had it in ya," he laughed.