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Hawk Talk Daily: Random Thoughts

You know, when they ask the players about a playoff, the majority say they like the way it currently is...and I'm with them.

You know, when they ask the players about a playoff, the majority say they like the way it currently is...and I'm with them.

Dec. 18, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Random thoughts as 2011 continue to work its way to 2012 here in the Heartland...

Have any of you ever watched the show, "The Cake Boss"? If not, I suggest you check it out. At a minimum, you'll find it amusing. Me? I enjoy it immensely. So much so, meeting Buddy and visiting his bakery in Hoboken are now officially on my bucket list. My next order of business? I have to start a bucket list...



I know I made a (backhanded) reference to a college football playoff last week. I'll be a little more clear today: I am not a big fan of the idea. Like those who pine for a change annually this time of year, I'm almost certain I shared this personal opinion a year ago. I like what we have now, a lot. Lots of teams - some that, admittedly, shouldn't be bowling at all - get to end their season with a "W" in a location presumably more attractive from whence they came. What's wrong with that? And, I'd probably go so far today to say I'd likely grow to accept a "Plus 1" model, if I must. Times change...and I'm able to adapt. But, make no mistake, folks will find issues with that solution, too. It's just the way this topic is.

Monday is Devon Archie Bobblehead Night in Carver when Fran's squad entertains Central Ark ansas in the Hawkeyes' next-to-last non-conference game of the season. I enjoy the bobbleheads. So, too, do our fans...which is the primary reason we offer them. Tip is set for shortly after 7. See you there.

And, if you can't make it Monday, consider the 2-for-1 on Thursday in Carver: Bluder's Bunch versus Mississippi Valley State at 5 p.m. followed by Fran's Hawkeyes against Boise State at 8. Here's the Christmas gift for Hawkeye basketball fans: Get to the Arena before halftime of the women's game and purchase an adult ticket for $9 and take the UI Athletics Department on the offer to stay in the house for the men's game free of charge. Oh, yeah, boys and girls high school aged and younger are always admitted free to weekday games of the UI women's team so, on Thursday, they get two games for free.

Alas, it appears chances are pretty slim we'll be celebrating a white Christmas here in little ol' Iowa, which, in my humble opinion, is an absolutely great place to live, work, play, raise a family, follow and (if you're so inclined) shape the political landscape, grow old, and so much more.

For those of you who find comfort and/or confidence in trivia, chew on this one: Iowa's participation in the 2011 Insight Bowl marks only the second time in UI football history that the Hawkeyes are making back-to-back appearances in the same bowl game. The first happened in 1986 and 1987 when Iowa made consecutive trips to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl...and the won both games - 39-38 over San Diego State in '86 and 20-19 over Wyoming a year later.





A tip of the fedora to....fans of the football Hawkeyes. The UI is on a pace to realize an increase of about 25 percent in tickets sold to this year's Insight Bowl over last year's. My hunch is that those who made the trip a year aog are responsible for a nice chunk of this. That group had a great visit capped by a great night of football and, undoubtedly, shared that experience with friends and other fans who have acted on the opportunity to experience the same this year.


My job requires that when I look at a box score, I note the attendance at the event being scrutinized. With respect to the previous paragraph, I noted with a smile when scrutinizing those box scores that attendance at the second Holiday Bowl was slightly better than attendance at the first. I'm inclined to think the same will be true when it comes to Iowa's back-to-back visits to the Valley of the Sun. I'm also inclined to believe all involved will be very pleased with the year-over-year comparison of television audiences as well.

Kirk mentioned Friday - with justifiable pride and/or satisfaction - that 13 seniors were given Saturday off to celebrate their graduation from the UI. I mention this because it provides me another opportunity to point to THIS story about Iowa's football program and its success on the "student" pieces of "student-athlete." And, yes, some friends of the UI and fans of the Hawkeyes may grow tired of us beating this particular drum but, frankly, it's important, so I'll take any opportunity I can to share it.

And, lest you think our interest falls exclusively on our football program's academic success, click HERE to peruse a collection of good stuff that's 24 sports programs wide.

Seems to me holiday parties routinely bring out the best dessert trays. This year's have been no exception. In fact, the offerings at one I was delighted to attend a week or so ago were among the best ever...almost too good looking to eat. But I did. And they were good. Really, really good.

A tip of the fedora to....fans of the football Hawkeyes. The UI is on a pace to realize an increase of about 25 percent in tickets sold to this year's Insight Bowl over last year's. My hunch is that those who made the trip a year aog are responsible for a nice chunk of this. That group had a great visit capped by a great night of football and, undoubtedly, shared that experience with friends and other fans who have acted on the opportunity to experience the same this year.

We'll stage the first-ever Klatt family bowl game challenge in the coming weeks. We're big Big Ten Conference football fans, so all of the games involving Big Ten teams are a part of the contest. So, too, are all of the BCS games and, of course, the national championship game. Each game will have a point value based on the obvious: The national championship game carries more points if predicted correctly then, say, the Little Caesar's. The Insight Bowl -- for obvious reasons -- will carry the same value as a BCS game and the total points scored in that game will be used to break any ties...but there won't be any ties. My predicted winner: My daughter. She's been on a roll the last few years with the NCAA hoops bracket and my hunch is she'll fare pretty well in this little bit of holiday fun for our family. The prize? Bragging rights, of course.

I'm feeling pretty good heading into the heart of the holiday season for lots of reasons including the fact that the strands of lights hung with care outdoors at our home have glowed as planned more times than not thus far. That hasn't been the case in the past and I've been lovingly chided about that.

Is it just me, or is the Insight Bowl gaining a little mo' in terms of being seen as a little more competitive and a little more entertaining than when first reviewed in the minutes after its pairing was revealed and, yeah, I'm talking to you, ESPN Bowl Game Show guys. All three of you panned it pretty good. As we march toward kickoff -- which is now just under two weeks away -- it seems more and more have come to their senses and now clearly see the potential for a really good Friday night college football game. Click HERE for one such example.

Allow me to join the chorus that is wishing only the best to our retiring defensive coordinator. What a wonderful man and a brilliant coach, Norm is. I'm confident his 2011 defense saved their best for last. I know Norm did...as anyone who has spent anytime whatsoever in Iowa City can attest: "Don't drive too fast down Melrose," Norm smiled as he closed his visit with the media on Friday afternoon. "You'll get a ticket. That guy out there will get you. That's the only hazard (when working as a football coach at the University of Iowa), that cop out on Melrose."

Go Hawks...and may I be among the first to wish you a happy and safe holiday season.