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  1. #1
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    Post Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    DMR link


    By SEAN KEELER
    REGISTER COLUMNIST

    April 20, 2007

    The little birdie gets around. Rick Hartzell has heard the whispers, just like everybody else. But Greg McDermott is a friend of his, so he did what anybody would do when the rumor mill says a friend of yours doesn't want to play you anymore.

    "I asked him about that, point-blank," Northern Iowa's athletic director says of Iowa State's men's basketball coach. "And his answer to that was, 'That isn't the case. We'll always play Northern Iowa.' He's my friend. I trust him. We've heard that rumor and I've asked him, straight up."

    Fair enough. So why won't it go away?

    Last summer, Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard floated the idea of moving some of the Big Four games to one site - Wells Fargo Arena - as a means of phasing out the Cyclones' road games at Drake and Northern Iowa. That got the ball rolling.

    This week, it landed in the Hawkeyes' court. The Big Ten expanded its conference schedules for men's and women's basketball from 16 to 18 games. Adding league games in late December probably means you're looking for more creampuffs earlier in the month.

    Given that criterion, the Bulldogs - who swept in-state competition last winter - and Panthers - who beat both Iowa and Iowa State - no longer comfortably apply. Is there such a thing as being too good for your own good?

    "I'm not ready to jump to conclusions yet," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta says. "The series is important to us."

    But not nearly as important as it is to Northern Iowa and to Drake. Hartzell once estimated that a home game with the Hawkeyes or Cyclones was worth $150,000-$250,000 per year to the school. Iowa and Iowa State are guaranteed sellouts at the Knapp Center.

    Win. Win. The Bulldogs and Panthers get a nice gate. The Hawkeyes and Cyclones get nonconference road games with teeth. The fans get a shot at New Year's bragging rights.

    "I think it's great for the state," Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb says. "I think it's a great tradition."

    One that should be preserved. Nurtured. With Steve Alford's exodus and Tom Davis' retirement, every Big Four program has changed head coaches over the past 16 months. Things are just starting to get interesting.

    On the bright side, Hatfield Clubb says she hasn't heard a peep from Iowa City. Neither has Hartzell. The Panthers and Bulldogs are comfortably on the Hawkeyes' slate for 2007-08. But beyond that?

    "There's no question we're going to have to look at the rest of our nonconference schedules and see if we need to change how we do business in the future," Barta says. "I'm not at all ready to predict that we're going to eliminate (games with) the in-state rivals."

    At the same time, the truth is this: The Panthers and Bulldogs, even as both enter what figures to be rebuilding campaigns, aren't so cute anymore. Nor are they a couple of gimmes.

    The Hawkeyes and Cyclones have far more to lose than they could ever gain from these games, dignity notwithstanding. You win, you were supposed to. You lose, it's Armageddon.

    But they play anyway. Bless 'em for that.

    "They have plenty of room for in-state games if they want to play them," Hartzell says. "I can't imagine why they wouldn't. And I can't imagine that the public pressure that they'd get if they tried to get rid of them would be something they could stand."

    You would hope. If something isn't broke, then why do we keep talking about fixing it?



  2. #2
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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    As a fan they're somewhat fun games, especially for those from the state of Iowa, but the fact is it's basically charity for ISU and Iowa to play both of them home and home.



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    Money aside, Drake and UNI were no better this year than they've been in the past. IMO, still the same creampuff. We and IU were just horrible.


    Exaggeration is a BILLION times worse than understating.

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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    Quote Originally Posted by wartknight View Post
    Money aside, Drake and UNI were no better this year than they've been in the past. IMO, still the same creampuff. We and IU were just horrible.
    While I wouldn't go so far to call them the same creampuff, a big part of why ISU and Iowa went oh-fer against UNI and Drake was because both teams were bad. Especially early in the season.



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    UNI is still a very solid team and I don't see them falling off too much with Jacobsen at the helm. Don't people remember just how bad UNI was? They were terrible.




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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    Can you imagine ISU and Iowa not playing Drake and UNI? I think it's just so built into the psyche of the state now that our four D-1 teams will play each other every year.

    As for the home & home...I don't think that it's really fair of us to talk about cutting that when:
    • Both UNI and Drake beat us this year
    • UNI has made 3 NCAA tourney appearances in the last 4 years...and we have made 1
    • Drake is getting better, and had a winning season this year for the first time in...a LONG time
    Even though there really aren't that many UNI or Drake die-hards (with there being more UNI ones than Drake), the amount of outcry over ISU or Iowa cutting these games would be immense. While it may work better money-wise if we didn't play them (or at least didn't on the road) and would be an advantage for us if we only played them at Hilton, these two programs aren't the little kids they always used to be. The MVC is for real, and I don't think the quality is going to die off soon. So, instead of being afraid to play them, let's give them the respect they deserve, and tell 'em to "bring it on!" Then we can have a real "state championship."


    My first ISU basketball game - Fred Hoiberg was on the court.
    My first ISU football game - Paul Rhoads was on the sidelines.
    But they hadn't yet reached their full potential.

    SO PROUD that things have come full circle. #cyclONEnation

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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    I agree DSM4Cy.



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    I think us considering getting rid of these to home and home series is as stupid as Iowa wanted to get rid of ISU home and home on the football schedule.



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    Where's the outcry now from Hawk fans who were lambasting Pollard/Morgan for even hinting at changing up the non-con schedule?



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    Quote Originally Posted by EggMcClone View Post
    As a fan they're somewhat fun games, especially for those from the state of Iowa, but the fact is it's basically charity for ISU and Iowa to play both of them home and home.

    What's the problem with helping out instate schools? We need to play OOC road games sometime. Its a good experience for our guys in games that really don't mean much other than bragging rights.



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    I don't think there is a whole lot to this story...



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    I agree with most of you that the idea of dropping these two games is a bit silly. I hate to say it, but iowa has more of an argument for dropping ISU in football than we would for dropping UNI and Drake in basketball. Besides, do you really think Mac would drop UNI?


    "I'm starting to think some Iowa fans heads are getting too big." -- Tigerhawk22

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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    I just wish UNI would stop making us play in the worst atmosphere in college basketball, AKA the dome. I realize they can sell an extra 2,000 tickets or so, but that place is horrible for fans and players alike.



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    I'll agree it's a good money maker for UNI and Drake. I went to the UNI game this year and all tickets were priced at $30. They were $15 for every other game of the season.



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    Re: Big Four basketball games on thin ice?

    The UNI/Iowa game will be played in the Mcleod Center next season. I am presuming they will all be in there from now on.



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