Postscripts: Week 5


Postscripts is my weekly wrap of the week that was on the road and in college football. Look for my travel news and notes here each Thursday, along with some of my opinions about what’s happening in the college game we all love. – Matthew Postins

Man cannot live by football alone. Well, he certainly can try. But once in a while, a side trip is required of us all. So, it was in Iowa last week.

Tucked in the far northeast corner of Iowa, in a small town called Dyersville, is the farmhouse, cornfield and baseball field used in the movie “Field of Dreams.” After my second straight day of shooting stadiums — in this case Iowa, Cornell (IA) and Coe — I was within an hour of Dyersville. Going to the set is free. Taking a tour of the farmhouse is $5. Since I wasn’t sure my schedule would permit it, I decided that if I went I would just hit the field.

So I went through town, took a right on a farm road and for a bit I thought maybe my phone’s GPS was lost. Then you come over a small ridge and it’s right there, just like the movie. There have been a few small changes — a sign at the front of the drive, a gift shop and a small, white picket fence around the farmhouse that I don’t remember from the movie — but otherwise it’s the same.

The field? Still there. In fact, there were people playing catch. It’s allowed. I saw one man, probably in his 50s, playing catch with another man who was probably nearly 80 but still played baseball in some way. They didn’t know each other. They just played catch.

The benches that Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones and Timothy Busfield sat on while watching games on the first-base side? Still there.

The cornfield? Still there too. In fact, you can walk right up to it. So I did. And there was still corn yet to be harvested.

It’s really quite amazing. For free you can drive to Iowa and take in one of the best pieces of baseball Americana around. I remember when that movie came out in 1989. It instantly became one of my favorites. I’m fortunate that I can still play catch with my dad every once in a while when I get back to East Texas. I would have loved to have had him there that day.

If you can make it happen, do it. It’s worth every mile spent driving to get there. Just know that the field is not a year-around attraction. The field is from April to October. The home tour is open 360 days a year.

My adventures in media. A quick look at the weird stuff that happened to me as I covered these games this week:

I hear there’s a bee shortage. No one told Iowa. They were everywhere.

Oddly enough, the Iowa Steak Fry, one of the signature Democratic fundraisers every year, was in Des Moines last weekend, the same weekend I was in Iowa. No wonder those downtown hotel rooms were so expensive.

Everything that could have been happening around Wartburg College was happening on Saturday — football, cross-country lacrosse, soccer. It’s a great complex. But goodness it’s crowded on gameday.

My post-trip quick note. We have plenty of content coming at College Football America and RoadTripSports.com from our Week 5 travels (we were at games in Iowa, Texas, Kentucky and Ohio). But for me, here are my quick notes on the two stadiums I visited last week:

Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium

Iowa State: It was my first trip to Jack Trice Stadium, and our publisher, Kendall Webb really likes the stadium. It’s easy to see why. Good sightlines all the way around, an expansive concourse, end zone clubs for high-rollers and recent expansions make this one of the Big 12’s best stadiums. There’s enough room on the sidelines to shoot and not feel cramped (though I could have done without the dozens of boosters roaming the sidelines, but what are you going to do about that?). Plus, because they built the home side with its back to the west, the home team gets the shadows and the road team gets the sun on those afternoon days. Jack Trice, if you’re not aware, was the first African-American student-athlete at Iowa State and died from injuries suffered in a football game against Minnesota on Oct. 6, 1923. It was his second collegiate football game. The field was named in his honor in 1984 and the stadium was named in his honor in 1997.

Wartburg: The pride of Waverly, Iowa, Wartburg has become one of the real Division III stalwarts in the middle of the country. Zimmerman Field at Walston-Hoover Stadium was dedicated in 2001 and, for the second time in as many Division III games, they had their own video board (just like Hardin-Simmons a couple of weeks ago). H-S used theirs mainly for videos and graphics. Wartburg took it one step further with player photos after touchdowns. The stadium seats just 4,000, but it’s a cozy facility with good concessions (burgers cooked while you watch) and an athletic facility that borders one end zone. Another nice touch is that the stadium recognizes its top track and field stars along the concourse. Finally, the Knights have their own student-run TV broadcasts of home games through KnightVision, so if you want to check it out from your couch, you can. Just go to wartburg.edu/knightvision.

Also, check out the galleries from some of the stadiums I’ve visited this season (more are coming):

Abilene Christian

Hardin-Simmons

Princeton

Yale

Iowa State

Stadium counts. According to our handy FBS Stadiums We’ve Visited list at RoadTripSports.com, I am now up to 51 FBS stadiums visited after my visit to Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa. That won’t be changing for a few weeks as I’ll be sticking close to home.

My photos. My galleries from my Week 5 games are below. Plus, to see all of our game and stadium galleries, click here to go to our Facebook page.

Texas at Iowa State

Coe at Wartburg

Stanford’s Bryce Love

Heisman candidate of the week. Check out my Heisman piece, which is up at RoadTripSports.com. It features my Top 5 players and some additional players to keep an eye on. But Stanford’s Bryce Love is our candidate of the week. He has run his way into contention with a mind-boggling 1,088 yards in five games this season. He has a perfect storm situation in that he plays for a major school, plays on a road paved by former Stanford back Christian McCaffrey (a Heisman finalist himself) and there isn’t a quarterback to overshadow him. He could be in this for the long haul, but there are big games ahead.

Previous Heisman Candidates of the Week profiled: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (Week 1); Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield (Week 2); Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph (Week 3); Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (Week 4).

Hot seat coach of the week. I took some time Saturday night to remind people of the following…

This was a bad hire from the get-go, in my opinion. A school like LSU, which has a standard of seeking national championships, should never hire a coach that has never sniffed one as a head coach. But, here we are. Troy’s win in Death Valley — under the lights no less — broke a 49- game non-conference home winning streak for the Tigers. Orgeron has succeeded as an interim coach twice, but never as the “man.” And he likely won’t succeed here.

But he probably won’t be fired this season because his athletic director, Joe Alleva, approved a sweetheart contract for Orgeron, one that provides the coach a $12 million buyout if he’s fired in 2017. That buyout de-escalates every year of his contract. If you’re wondering, Alabama’s Nick Saban makes $7.2 million a year and has no buyout, per SECCountry.com.

But LSU may not be stuck with him. A fan has started a GoFundMe page to raise the money for Orgeron’s buyout. Can they start one to foot the bill for Les Miles’ buyout? That’s $9 million still owed.

Previous hot seat coaches profiled: Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M (Week 1); Bret Bielema, Arkansas (Week 2); Mike Riley, Nebraska (Week 3); Steve Addazio, Boston College (Week 4).

Troy’s Neal Brown

Hot coaching name of the week. It really couldn’t be anyone else but Troy’s Neal Brown. The guy took his Trojans into LSU homecoming and handed them a loss at night in Death Valley (and the Trojans got paid nearly $1 million to do it, too. Gotta love money games). The Trojans tapped Brown to take the program over from their legendary coach, Larry Blakeney, a former Auburn quarterback who won 178 games, eight conference championships and led the Trojans’ transition from FCS into FBS at the turn of the century. I mean the playing field at Troy’s Veterans Memorial Stadium is named for him. Brown spent time with Blakeney from 2006-09 and then moved on to be the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech under Tommy Tuberville and Kentucky under Mark Stoops. When Brown returned to Troy he led the Trojans to a 4-8 season in 2015. But last season he led the Trojans to their first 10-win season and their first Top 25 ranking in FBS, along with a bowl win. This year he has the Trojans contending again for the Sun Belt title. But struggling Power 5 schools are going to remember that win over LSU in September and come calling.

Previous hot name coaches profiled: Mike London, Howard (Week 1); Tim Rebowe, Nicholls State (Week 2); Frank Wilson, UTSA (Week 3); Dave Clawson, Wake Forest (Week 4).

By the way, my Hot Coaching Names piece is up at RoadTripSports.com this week and features updates on our Yearbook selections and the addition of a few other names.

A special thanks. Each week College Football America Yearbook is on the road covering college football games, and we couldn’t do it without the cooperation of the sports information directors that work for those schools. We just want to thank the following SID departments for their graciousness and help in doing what we do — Iowa State and Wartburg (Matthew Postins), SMU (Chuck Cox), Thomas More, Mount St. Joseph and Cincinnati Christian (Kendall Webb).

By the time you read this we’ll be ready for Week 6 and I’ll be prepping for my next game.

Our work on other sites. The great thing about what we do with College Football America is that it enables us to support other partners that we work with, such as the American Football Coaches Association, CowboysHQ.com and HeartlandCollegeSports.com. Our photos are used in AFCA newsletter and publications on a regular basis. I cover the Cowboys for CowboysHQ and am putting together scouting pieces on potential 2018 draft picks. I also cover the Big 12 for HCS. Below you’ll find links to some of our work with those entities in the past week.

 

 

Where I’ll be this week. I’ll be in Fort Worth, Texas, for the West Virginia-TCU game. I intended to be at that one all along. The national spotlight from ESPN College Gameday will be an added bonus.

We’ll see you down the road.

Matthew Postins is the editor-in-chief of the College Football America Yearbook. Catch up with him on Twitter at @PostinsPostcard.


 

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