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Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

To know Larry -- the shorter, good-looking guy here -- is to like Larry.

To know Larry -- the shorter, good-looking guy here -- is to like Larry.

May 16, 2011


EDITOR'S NOTE: "Random Thoughts" is a weekly feature of Hawk Talk Daily, a daily e-newsletter distributed to 60,000-plus fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes. To be added to the distribution list, call us at (319) 335-9431.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Random thoughts on the day after a long but exciting weekend for a bunch of guys who run fast, throw far and jump high...

The UI had the opportunity to stage - for the first time in well over a decade - the Big Ten Conference Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships this past weekend at Cretzmeyer Track and, as always, the staff did a fantastic job of providing the hundreds of student-athletes and their coaches a tremendous experience. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn't cooperate a full 100 percent. Most of the first two days of competition was run in a steady rain. So, the question is, which one of you didn't call you mom last week?



Now, it's a must to note that when the sun did break through the clouds on Sunday - the final day of the three-day track and field delight - it shone brightly on the good guys in black and gold...so good, in fact, that Iowa used a second-place finish in the meet's final event - the 4 x 400 - to claim its first championship in more than 40 years or, to give a different frame of reference, its first title since a time when a gallon of gas cost less than a quarter and I'd ride my 10-speed to the corner grocery store in my hometown and get a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread for less than a buck. To read about the big win and watch a free video, click HERE.

Here's one last frame of reference that I personally like because of the guy involved: The last time Iowa won the Big Ten outdoor meet, the Hawkeyes' very, very, very likeable head coach, Larry Wieczorek, was running distance events for the UI and, for the record, running them very well. To know Larry is to like Larry. Remind me one day to tell you a funny story about Mr. and Mrs. Wieczorek and a Klatt family garage sale. It's one Larry and I laugh about often.





Here's one last frame of reference that I personally like because of the guy involved: The last time Iowa won the Big Ten outdoor meet, the Hawkeyes' very, very, very likeable head coach, Larry Wieczorek, was running distance events for the UI and, for the record, running them very well. To know Larry is to like Larry. Remind me one day to tell you a funny story about Mr. and Mrs. Wieczorek and a Klatt family garage sale. It's one Larry and I laugh about often.


We are squarely in the home stretch of the spring sports season as evidenced by the fact that the UI men's golf team will be heading to suburban Indianapolis this weekend for NCAA regional competition. Mark Hankins' nationally-ranked squad is the No. 3 seed at the Indiana Regional, one of six that will be staged by the NCAA to determine the field that advances to the national championship in Stillwater, Okla., the first week of June. This is the third straight year that the Hawkeyes have been invited to participate in post-season golf and there's good reason for optimism: Four of the five Hawkeyes who will compete this year also competed in the post-season of 2009 and 2010. Experience...you can't beat it.

Need more evidence that the season is getting long in the tooth? Well, for the second straight season Jack Dahm's Iowa baseball team is making a late-season run. The Hawkeyes won seven of their last eight a year ago to sneak into the Big Ten Conference's post-season party where they won three games and finished in second place. Iowa took two of three this past weekend at Ohio State. Iowa's boys of summer have now won two straight series and four of their last six league games and will head to West Lafayette, Ind., for three games with the Purdue Boilermakers with a ticket to the 2011 Big Ten Tournament within reach. Here's a thought: Maybe the calendar in the clubhouse should display only the month of May.

By the way, Wieczorek's squad scored 110 ½ points on Sunday to jump from ninth place to first. Now that, my friends, is one heck of a come-from-behind victory and a brilliant way to put on a show for the home crowd. Impressive. Very impressive.

My boss, Gary Barta, and his peers will be huddling in Chicago this week for meetings that will undoubtedly cover a long list of topics including, apparently, more discussion of the pro's and cons of a nine game Big Ten football schedule. On the one hand, this would be a win for the fan of Big Ten football. On the other hand, it could put the Big Ten at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to post-season play. One thing is for certain, the first challenge is to make certain the move doesn't cost any of the league's 12 institutions the opportunity to play seven home games annually - a must for each of the 12 institution's athletic department budgets. And, it shouldn't come as a surprise that that sounds simpler than it really is. Should be a pretty good discussion, me thinks.

Speaking of football, I'm not counting the days like some to kickoff next fall -- I'm looking forward to playing a few rounds of golf with my son and enjoying some Scrabble with my daughter on the family porch -- but, like many, as time passes, I am getting more excited to watch how the country and Big Ten football fans respond to the first year of the marriage between our league and Nebraska. I continue to believe strongly that it's a great fit that has raised the bar competitively for a number of UI teams including, most notably, football and volleyball and baseball and track.

Go Hawks!