December 18, 2014

Big Four Classic extended 2 years

An event that brings four of the state’s top men’s college basketball teams to Des Moines has been extended. The so-called Big Four Classic involves Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Drake. The four schools have agreed to a two-year extension of the event held at Wells Fargo Arena.

This Saturday will mark the third year of the original four year contract. Saturday’s first game at 4 p.m. will feature Iowa State against Drake, with Iowa and UNI squaring off in the nightcap at 6:30. For the first time in the event’s history, the Big Four Classic is sold-out as more than 15,100 fans are expected to attend.

The contract extension means the event in Des Moines will be held at least three more years.

Iowa goes back to the basics in bowl preparation

As exam week winds down the Iowa football team returns to the practice field to resume preparations for the January second Taxslayer Bowl against Tennessee. Senior linebacker Quinton Alston says the time between the end of the regular season and the bowl game allows them to return to the basics. “During the season it’s a lot of game plan, schemes, but bowl prep, it pretty much takes you back to the basics,” Alston says. He says that extra month of the basic drills helps.

Iowa dropped its final two games to finish a disappointing 7-5 but senior defensive lineman Louis Trina-Pasat says the Hawks have put the regular season behind them after they went over the everything and they now are focused on getting better and the next opponent.

Senior offensive tackle Brandon Scherff was named Iowa’s fourth winner of the Outland Trophy last week and he is looking forward to playing one more game in a Hawkeye uniform. “Alll those accolades, they wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for the rest of the team…it’s nice, but we’ve got a job to do down in Florida,” Scherff says.

Tennessee is preparing for its first bowl game since 2010. The Volunteers finished the regular season with a record of 6-6.

UNI preparing the same after first loss

UNI coach Ben Jacobson.

UNI coach Ben Jacobson.

For the first time this season the UNI Panthers are preparing for a game after losing. The Panthers dropped to 9-1 after Saturday’s double overtime loss at Virginia Commonwealth. “In terms of our approach, it’s going to be the same as what we’ve done. We don’t get too crazy when we lose a game and we don’t get too crazy when we win a game,” UNI coach Ben Jacobson says.

He says the Panthers just did not make enough plays to get the win, even though he says they played great through much of the game. “We just left 9 or 10 plays on the table.”

The Panthers now get ready for Saturday’s Big Four Classic game against Iowa. One of the keys for the Panthers has been the play of junior guard Wes Washpun, who is averaging just over 12 points per game.

“Wes has been great, he was great again Saturday against VCU, played very well against Denver, he’s been one of if not our most consistent player through 10 games now. He’s just been terrific,” Jacobson says.

Jacobson says he has done everything will coming off the bench and he says it’s terrific that he has done it in that role.

By Elwin Huffman, KOEL, Oelwein


Former Hawk star Chuck Long now CEO of Iowa Sports Foundation

Chuck Long with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

Chuck Long with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long is taking over as CEO of the Iowa Sports Foundation, the organization that runs the Iowa Games, the Senior Games and the Live Healthy Iowa challenge.

“I’m excited. I’m honored to be here. It’s all come fast and furious, but this is a foundation that realy fits me or I fit it,” Long says. “When they came and approached me about it, I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of it.”

The Iowa Sports Foundation also runs an adaptive sports program to provide recreation opportunities to Iowans with physical disabilities.

“This one is near and dear to my heart ’cause I grew up with a brother with cerebral palsey, so I was part of his programs throughout his life and this is a very special program that I would like to grow now and in the future,” Long says.

Today is the opening day of enrollment in the foundation’s 10-week Live Healthy Iowa Wellness Challenge.

“It’s a program that I actually was involved with last year in another company — and any community or business or any Iowans that can get a team together of between two and 10 people and register on It’s $20 a person,” Long says. “It’s a really inexpensive way to be part of a wellness program.”

Long says last year he and his teammates kept track of their activity and nutrition — and wound up losing a “significant amount of weight.” This year’s Live Health Iowa Challenge begins January 26 and ends April 3.

Jim Hallihan, a former Iowa State assistant basketball coach who served 17 years as the foundation’s executive, retired in 2011 and Clarence Hudson, a former football coach and executive in Ruan Transportation, took over. Long, the new Iowa Sports Foundation CEO, was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1985 and he played professionally for the Detroit Lions and the Los Angeles Rams.

Long has more recently been a college coach and an analyst for the Big Ten Network.

Radio Iowa Boys High School Basketball Poll 12/15/14

Class 4A
1. Iowa City West (4-0) vs Waterloo East (Tue)
2. Ankeny Centennial (4-0) @ #10 Valley (Tue)
3. Waukee (3-1) @ #8 Dowling (Tue)
4. DSM Hoover (5-0) @ Ottumwa (Tue)
5. Pleasant Valley (4-0) @ Muscatine (Tue)
6. North Scott (3-0) @ Davenport West (Tue)
7. Urbandale (4-0) @ Fort Dodge (Tue)
8. Dowling Catholic (3-0) vs #3 Waukee (Tue)
9. Dubuque Hempstead (3-0) @ Cedar Falls (Tue)
10.WDM Valley (3-1) vs #2 Centennial

Class 3A
1. Waverly-Shell Rock (4-0) vs Waukon (Tue)
2. MOC-Floyd Valley (5-0) vs Rock Valley (Tue)
3. Central DeWitt (4-0) vs Solon (Tue)
4. Spirit Lake (4-0) vs 2A-#5 Western Christian (Tue)
5. Davenport Assumption (2-1) vs Burlington (Tue)
6. Webster City (5-0) vs Hampton-Dumont (Tue)
7. Mount Vernon (4-1) @ Maquoketa (Tue)
8. Creston (5-0) vs Harlan (Tue)
9. Humboldt (4-1) @ Clarion-Goldfield (Tue)
10.Carroll (3-1) vs South Central Calhoun (Tue)

Class 2A
1. Cascade (4-0) @ Mid-Prairie (Wellman)
2. Dyersville Beckman (4-1) vs West Delaware (Tue)
3. IKM-Manning (4-0) @ Griswold (Tue)
4. New Hampton (2-1) vs Turkey Valley (Tue)
5. Western Christian (2-1) vs 3A-#4 Spirit Lake
6. Monticello (6-0) vs Maquoketa Valley (Tue)
7. Treynor (3-1) @ Oakland Riverside
8. Sheldon (4-1) @ Sioux Center (Tue)
9. Iowa City Regina (4-0) @ Bellevue (Sat)
10.Pella Christian (5-0) vs Pella (Fri)

Class 1A
1. Central Lyon (4-0) @ Sibley-Ocheyedan (Tue)
2. Danville (4-0) @ New London (Tue)
3. Gladbrook-Reinbeck (3-0) vs AGWSR (Tue)
4. LeMars Gehlen (6-0) vs Hinton (Tue)
5. West Hancock (5-0) @ Forest City (Tue)
6. Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto (4-0) @ Woodbury Central (Tue)
7. Colo-NESCO (5-0) vs North Tama (Tue)
8. Boyden-Hull (2-2) vs Okoboji (Tue)
9. South O’Brien (4-1) vs Remsen-Union (Tue)
10.Montezuma (4-0) vs HLV (Victor) (tonight)


Cyclones down Southern

Iowa State fell behind by eight in their opening half, raced out to a 27 points lead then held off a furious rally by Southern for an 88-78 win in Hilton Coliseum. ISU coach Fred Hoiberg was worried about a letdown and says he was disappointed in the way they started the game.

“It’s not totally unexpected when you had an emotional game like we had at Iowa,” Hoiberg says.

He says the great teams are able to forget about tough defeats and put great wins behind them.

Georges Niang led ISU with 19 points and Bryce Dejean-Jones returned from suspension to finish with 18. Hoiberg says Dejean-Jones was not great, and hopefully he will get back to playing the way he had before.

The Cyclones are 8-1.


ISU’s president open to Big 12 expansion, title game for football champ

Iowa State president Steven Leath says he and the other university presidents in the Big 12 conference are “investigating” whether the conference can have a title game to determine its football champion. Baylor and TCU were in the mix for the first-ever national playoff this year, but wound up not being placed in the four final slots.

“That was a tough one because with just a slight turn of events (the Big 12 Conference) could have had half the teams in the playoffs,” Leath says. “Instead we ended up with none, but we are enquiring with the NCAA for an exception to see if we could have a title game with only 10 teams — which currently is not allowed, so we’re going to at least investigate the exception rule so we can make a decision as presidents if that’s something we want to do.”

As Leath arrived at Iowa State three years ago, the Big 12 Conference was in danger of disintegrating with the exits of Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado but, with the addition of West Virginia and TCU, the conference survived. Leath is open to conference expansion.

“I’m probably like most Big 12 presidents right now. We’re receptive to the idea if they’re the right schools,” Leath says. “We’re in no hurry. The Big 12 is functioning very well. Our revenue-sharing agreement is great when you only divide by 10 versus 12 or 14, so you would need schools that actually add value to the conference. Otherwise it doesn’t make sense for us.”

The Cyclone football team finished the 2014 season with just two wins. Leath says coach Paul Rhoads understands “it’s a business” and a turn-around is expected next season.

“I’d like to get our football program where it needs to be, which is representative of a first-class university. We’re not there. The last two seasons were clearly disappointing,” Leath says. “As to Paul’s future, I can’t predict that. He knows, (ISU athletics director Jamie Pollard) knows that we want a first-class, winning program and that’s where we’ve got to be and hopefully he’s the guy to get us there, but either way, we’ve got to get there.”

Leath says you don’t want to win a way that you can’t be proud of and he’s proud of Rhoads and how the football players are doing in their classes, but winning on the football field is the ultimate goal. Leath made his comments Friday on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.