The Greene Machine, Cyclones in reverse, the rap on Palin.

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A month ago, I said it appeared the state of Iowa had two FBS programs headed in opposite directions. I got the statement right, the teams wrong.

Since then, Iowa has looked great, crushing a bad Indiana team on the road, and thumping below average Wisconsin at home. Exactly what a good team does. We still don’t know where Iowa’s headed, but the smart money says it’s to a bowl game.

Meantime, Iowa State has played uninspired, bad fundamental football in back-to-back games. Iowa State made Baylor look like a good team, which it isn’t, and made Nebraska look like it’s 1998, which it isn’t. Nebraska fans walked away like they’re great again, but in reality it was just their third Big 12 win in two seasons, and two of those three wins came against Iowa State (that’s an ugly sentence).

I’m not shocked Iowa State is still struggling, it’s one of the toughest places to win in college football. Don’t take my word for it, just look up the past 100 years. The thing that does surprise me is how sloppy the Cyclones play. If I didn’t know Gene Chizik’s background, and hadn’t heard ringing endorsements from so many respected people, I would say Iowa State plays like a team that’s not well coached. If it continues, I will say that. For now, Chizik gets the benefit of the doubt.

It’s still too early. Chizik deserves more time and needs much more talent. If there’s no progress after three seasons, it’s likely not going to turn.

I said when Chizik was hired that I didn’t think he truly understood the magnitude of the difference between Texas and Iowa State, but I think he’s on his way. Iowa State will always be at a talent disadvantage with most of the Big 12. That makes it absolutely crucial that the Cyclones have better execution, fewer penalties and turnovers, more imaginative play-calling and daring defense, and more desire than the team on the other side of the ball. None of those things is happening right now.

Iowa State needs a win over Texas A&M to keep the fans engaged during November. A flop Saturday, and it’s going to get ugly. Especially in this economy.

Back to Iowa. How ’bout Shonn Greene. That guy is a pleasure to watch. He’s not going to win the Heisman (paging Colt McCoy), but Greene deserves consideration. Talk about an MVP, where is Iowa without Greene? I’m not sure any player means more to his team. Greene needed a signature game and a signature highlight. He had both against Wisconsin.

Think Bret Bielema’s feeling heat yet? They’re used to winning in Wisconsin, and now they’re wondering if Bielema won inside the Alvarez buffer zone. More than one person has compared Bielema to Steve Alford, and in this case, that’s not a compliment. Like Alford, I think success came a little too easily for Bielema, and the cockiness wore a few people out. Bielema may be a former Hawkeye, but not all in those Iowa football offices speak fondly of him behind closed doors.

When Bielema played for Iowa, he told Iowa State head coach Jim Walden at midfield, “Coach, you’ve been a real (expletive) the last five years. I’ve enjoyed beating you.” Walden replied, “I’m glad you enjoyed it.” Under the circumstances, not a bad comeback.

The Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series? The Rays? The Cubs can’t buy their way in, but the Rays play their way in? It’s just getting worse. At least I don’t work at the Fox network. Rays and Phillies. Look for ratings right around the level of the Des Moines City Council weekly meeting on channel 7.

I’m hearing good reviews from fans who have taken in an early Iowa Chops game. I haven’t made it to one yet, but it appears the new group listened to the fans and made the atmosphere much better and more fun. Cheaper tickets help too.

We had head coach Gord Dineen on SoundOff this week. Nice guy and funny. Andy was trying to get used to sitting next to the guy he used to “play” on video games. Andy liked being Gord because he’d, “drop the gloves and make somebody’s head bleed.” Nice. I think I saw that on Swingers.

DirecTV is using that dead child star from Poltergeist in its latest ad. That locks up the “bad taste” award for advertising in 2008.

ABC5 has a tough choice between Iowa at Illinois and Iowa State at Oklahoma State next weekend. Actually, it’s not that tough. They’ve got to go with Iowa at Illinois. I’m sure ABC/ESPN will find a way to get both games on anyway.

If you were one of the hundreds of people who signed up for all those prizes at Lolo Jones Homecoming at Jordan Creek Town Center, you can find the winners on our sports page. Click on the cleverly named “Lolo’s Homecoming Winners”. Some nice prizes from Lolo’s sponsors.

Crusoe is a surprisingly good adventure the entire family can watch. It probably has no chance.

While you were watching the NFL, I was watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It wasn’t half bad either, as talking dog movies go. It’s the kind where you know going in, you’ll hear Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, and you do.

Through a family friend, I got a sneak peak, sneak eat really, at Skybox. It’s formerly Coaches Corner or Fratellos. Skybox looks really cool inside, and it’s marketed toward sports fans who want to watch games in HD while eating and drinking in a little more upscale place than your average sports bar. I give it a good initial review. The food was delicious, and the beer ice cold and tasty. Skybox should open later this week.

Saturday Night Live just had its highest rating in 14 years, and I don’t think it was because Mark Wahlberg talked to a donkey. The opening Sarah Palin sketch was the weakest yet, even with her in it, but the Amy Poehler rap, with Palin on set, saved the show. You can watch it at

I’ll be glad when the election’s over. The divisive hate-talk is everywhere, It’s exhausting and depressing.

On my way to buy Black Ice.



  • Hawkeyes Fanatic

    Okay Keith I am sure you get this daily, but I absolutely love SoundOff and the sports team! Everytime I watch a sports segment, I crack up! There hasn’t been a day I havent walked away from the TV laughing. Good job and keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    The thing that impresses me about Shonn Greene is his story. For a man to take a year off and come back and do what he’s doing now speaks volumes about how good he really is. I don’t think any of the current players in the “Heisman conversations” could take a year off and come back and still play up to their potential. I’m not sure if the national media realizes his story and how impressive it really is.–Gary

  • shane - marshalltown (noted potty mouth)

    Hawkeyes Fanatic: Not to put words in Keith’s mouth, but compliments never get old and they’re always appreciated…I’ve gotten at least 2, maybe even 3 and they’re always cool!Anonymous:Just think how the Greene Machine would be rolling, had he been able to somehow stay in football shape during his absence…he would’ve torn everyone a new *bleep*hole from game 1 and possibly had 200 more yards on an already impressive total!

  • Cap

    Great interview with Gord Dineen Sunday night. Having an AHL program in Des Moines elevates the stature of the city to that of much larger cities like Milwaukee. The right people to help get the Chops organization moving in the right direction, but getting good coverage and exposure from the media is a critical component. The WHO sports team has risen to that challenge. The AHL is an important aspect of a robust sports culture in central Iowa, and I applaud you and your colleagues for aiding in the effort to increase appreciation of high-quality ice hockey in the capitol city.

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