Schwartz: Sunday Notes – Dead Week Became A Busy Week
For it supposedly being college sports’ dead season, the Hawkeyes were in the news a lot this week.
You’re not going to find a lot of opinions in this Sunday’s column. We just wanted to point out six interesting ways – and one not-so-great way – the Hawkeyes are making news as spring draws to a close.
1. Staying Abroad
More than anything, what has kept former Iowa basketball player Aaron White so fascinating during his professional career is his patience.
Most American-born players would do almost anything to land on an NBA team ASAP. But White, whose rights are owned by the Washington Wizards, continues to see the European game as his ticket to a sustainable NBA career.
White doesn’t just want to reach the NBA as a 12th man who never sees the court. He wants to contribute. So White signed a new contract last week with a team in Lithuania. He previously played in Germany and Russia.
Could he have played in the NBA’s Summer League, gone to training camp, maybe or maybe not have made the Wizards’ roster, and kicked around the D-League? Yeah, probably, but “I don’t think it’s beneficial for me,” he told Ridiculous Upside last winter.
White has taken the long view, which is admirable. Not to mention rare.
2. In Good Hands
Before the current Major League Baseball season began, most who closely follow the game ranked the Houston Astros’ farm system among the best in baseball.
Houston knows what it’s doing, which is why it’s such a good sign for Jake Adams’s future that the Astros drafted the Iowa first baseman in the sixth round of last week’s MLB Draft.
Adams led the NCAA in homers this season. Yet he faces an uphill battle: It’s uncommon for college first basemen to have a clear path to the majors because first base is where many pro franchises hide their great minor-league hitters who struggle in the field.
But power is power. And landing in the sixth round of a 40-round draft is significant. Houston scouts well and develops its players. They’ll give Adams every opportunity to reach the majors.
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3. Can’t Keep Him Down
And speaking of ex-Hawkeyes landing in the pros, C.J. Beathard signed his contract last week with the San Francisco 49ers.
The consensus among scouts is that Beathard is a project who has impressed the team with a unique blend of skills and toughness. In other words, he can thread the needle and/or he can take a hit.
Of course, we already knew that:
4. A Parent’s Love
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And now for a Hawkeye most Iowa fans don’t know, but should.
Ken Aagard never played a sport for the Hawkeyes, but he has contributed as much or more to the world of sports media as anyone.
Aagard, an Iowa alum, is executive vice president of innovation and technology for CBS Sports. Last week CBS put out a short video about Aagard’s daughter, Ally, who in 2012 was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.
She beat the disease with the help of the medical staff at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Recently, Ally and Ken teamed up in the Fedex St. Jude golf pro-am. Here’s a short video about the two (via Facebook).
Aagard, who has worked on 20 Super Bowls and pioneered many of the technologies used in sports media today, led CBS Sports’ technical operations for nearly 20 years. You can read more about him here.
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Because you knew not everything Hawkeye-related this week could be positive, here’s former Iowa football player Damond Powell. He plays in the Indoor Football League.
Powell, well, I’ll just say it. He celebrated a touchdown by pooping the football. Let’s go out on a limb and assume he didn’t learn this while being coached by Kirk Ferentz.
6. A Welcome (Likely) Change
The Big Ten is considering moving from an 18-game conference schedule for basketball to 20. That’s good for a couple of reasons. First, it further reduces the inequity caused by the unbalanced Big Ten schedule (e.g. one Big Ten team has to play Michigan State twice while another has to play it only once, and some teams get to play Rutgers twice while others only get the Knights once).
Second, it potentially removes a couple of the lousy non-conference games from the schedule. For instance, last year Iowa hosted a team called UT-Rio Grande Valley. A few gimmes serve a purpose. Too many don’t help anyone.
7. An Awesome Change
Lastly, let’s celebrate once more the University of Iowa’s decision to put the Tigerhawk at midfield at Kinnick.
The announcement, made last Monday, drew near unanimous support from Hawkeye fans online. It’s going to look gorgeous. And already it’s one of those decisions that causes us to say, Why didn’t they do this sooner?
Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.