SIOUX CITY -- On the day after the big holiday, let’s dish out some post-Christmas leftovers:
We’ll start it off with that new early signing period the NCAA has created for football. In simplest terms, great idea. And, I’m often a little harsh when it comes to the NCAA and the hypocrisy of fattening purse strings all around except for those of the young people who do all the heavy lifting.
Some of the critics believe there’s a strong enough lobby to push back the date on this thing, but I’d honestly prefer to see it moved up to coincide with the other early signing period for most other sports.
Here’s why: For far too long I’ve watched multiple sport stars struggle with their options on what sport to play in college. At the Division I level, more than one can amount to biting off too much, especially if you’re serious about pursuing a degree.
What too often happened in the past, at any rate, is that a talented individual who played maybe football and basketball would be inclined to grab that bird in the hand, so to speak, and sign early for basketball. They didn’t want to let that scholarship slip away from them for fear nothing else would be waiting for them in the spring or even in February, when football programs started building for the future.
I never asked him, but I think of people like Zach McCabe, the former Heelan standout, who went to Iowa and had a very solid basketball career. There were times, though, when I used to tell people I thought Zach was probably the best quarterback on campus when the Hawkeyes weren’t exactly loaded at that position. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn Zach chose basketball over football because it was the sure thing in front of him at the time.
And, even if I’m way off track on that, I remember many others who might have wound up better off in a sport other than the one they chose.
So, the Hawkeye basketball team had their game with Colorado at the Sanford Pentagon last week and my old friend Stu Whitney, the fine Sioux Falls Argus-Leader columnist, thinks we should stop whining down here in Sioux City about Iowa breezing right past the Tyson Events Center to play in a 3,250-seat gym.
Quaint venue, I get it. Nice place and so on. Sioux Falls started a thing several years ago and they bring in at least one Division I matchup every winter now. TV pays the bills.
But my beef isn’t strictly based on envy. Rather, it’s a challenge to our community and also to Iowa or Iowa State to give some thought to making Sioux City more relevant. In addition to McCabe, didn’t we just give recently Iowa two guys who both started four seasons.
Heck, on top of this basketball thing, Iowa didn’t even bring any coaches to town for an annual I-Club get-together that never fails to attract a large crowd. When we’re given the opportunity, Sioux City and Siouxland tends to step up for these major college types of things. So let’s hope the I-Club deal was just a little hiccup.
For people like me that have had our heads in the sand, dealing with the most difficult personal crisis of my life, we didn’t get the memo on what has become of Michael Jacobson, son of The Journal’s very first Metro Athlete of the Year.
Michael, of course, is a 6-9, 230-pound power forward from Waukee who has been a starter most of the last two seasons at Nebraska. His dad is Dr. Bill Jacobson, a former multi-sport star at North High whose brothers Kris and Dr. Tom Jacobson are both still metro Sioux City residents.
Michael, at any rate, is now at Iowa State, where his grandfather, Bob Jacobson, played both football and baseball. Transferring from Nebraska, needless to say, Michael is required to sit out this 2017-18 season and will have two years of eligibility remaining for the Cyclones.
Iowa State has another transfer wearing street clothes as 6-6 guard Mariol Shayok, who left Virginia after three seasons, waits to play his last collegiate season next winter.
Speaking of ISU basketball, Steve Prohm’s almost entirely rebuilt rotation has recovered nicely from a disappointing 0-2 start, winning nine straight heading into their first post-Christmas contest Friday against Kansas State.
Not quite sure I follow the ever-changing RPI listings, which show the Cyclones at No. 43 despite the 9-2 record and a win over Northern Iowa, which is No. 33 but only 6-4.
Iowa State has another budding superstar in 6-2 freshman guard Lindell Wigginton, who starred for the prestigious Oak Hill Academy program in Mouth of Wilson, Va. Wigginton hails from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which is part of the scenic Halifax metro area along Canada’s eastern shores.
Senior guard Donovan Jackson (16.2) and Wigginton (15.5) lead the offense while 6-5 junior guard Nick Weiler-Babb (12.5) and 6-9 freshman Cameron Lard (10.0) are also in double figures. Weiler-Babb has stepped into the big shoes of Monte Morris and is averaging 7.4 assists a game, tied for seventh nationally.
Prohm certainly had a tough act to follow after “The Mayor,’’ Ames native Fred Hoiberg, finished five years at Hilton with four straight NCAA Tournament teams. Fred, 45, wanted the challenge of coaching an NBA team and he certainly found that with the Chicago Bulls.
The Chicago Tribune, one of America’s finest newspapers, has been downright vicious toward Hoiberg, now in the third year of a five-year contract. However, the tune has changed a bit of late as the Tribune digests a bold overhaul by the Bulls, cleaning house after seasons of 42-40 and 41-41 in Fred’s first two seasons.
Four starters from last year’s team hit the bricks with Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson both moving to the Timberwolves while aging Dwyane Wade, 35, rejoined LeBron James in Cleveland (Wade is averaging just 7.1 points). Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo is now the point guard with New Orleans. In addition, Doug McDermott is now with the New York Knicks.
With nearly an all-new team, the Bulls started this season with a dismal 3-20 record. However, a seven-game winning streak followed and they’ve made it back to 10-22 with Hoiberg earning considerable backing from his new-look team.