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Meeting the Media
Sunday started with a joint press conference starring South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier and Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz.
There were a lot of the usual questions such as those about “speed” in the SEC, Spurrier’s Florida connections, Shonn Greene’s background, bowl preperation, and that sort of stuff.
One interesting item of conversation was Spurrier’s comparison of Alabama as the SEC school most like Iowa. Ferentz noted that the Gamecocks didn’t play the Crimson Tide so Iowa wasn’t able to gain anything from how South Carolina might play a team like Alabama or Iowa.
Spurrier was also asked about going winless. Why? Because his final year as a player in the NFL was in 1976. With Tampa Bay. The 0-14 ’76 Bucs. The Ol’ Ball Coach noted that he was rooting for the Lions today (although they did lose to finish the season 0-16 of course).
Practicing in 80 Degree Weather
The first 15 minutes of Iowa’s practice was open to the media over at the University of Tampa. Nothing too exciting to report from there. Just typical practice stuff while the media was in the room anyway.
Snakes On a Plane Near a Roller Coaster
The Hawkeyes and Gamecocks spent the afternoon and evening at Busch Gardens. Sure looked like a busy day there, not surprising with all of the holiday vacationers. Talked to a couple of people from Cedar Falls. They were pleased to get a lot of Hawkeye autographs in the park.
Some of the Iowa Football players boarded the SheiKra. I am told that the drop on the “dive” coaster is 200-feet at a 90-degree angle.
The Hawks and Gamecocks hung out with some loud Caribbean Flamingos and “Lily.” Lily you see is a 14 year old, 12 foot, 90 pound Burmese Python.
It was entertaining to see the reactions of the athletes as they held Lily and put her around their necks. Julian Vandervelde noted that he has seen enough of them on Animal Planet and will not be attempting this should he see one in the wild.
Matt Nelson’s Random Notes
– It’s really weird to look out your hotel and see the Goodyear Blimp. Raymond James Stadium is visible a couple of miles away and Tampa Bay hosted Oakland Sunday.
– Hawkeye fans will find a depressed bunch in the Tampa Bay area this week. The Buccaneers lost their home finale to former Hawk Robert Gallery and the Raiders. While they needed a win and some help, they got neither and the NFL season is over in this area. “Sinking ship” is the term I believe is appropriate.
– I was driving around the Tampa area from site to site today listening to that Raiders/Bucs game. It’s amazing how good some of those local radio play-by-play guys are. Not that I would expect them to be bad, but when you consider some of the national tv network play-by-play men…
– Both the Tampa Tribune and the St. Pete Times were available on street corners here today. Not only in newspaper boxes I suppose, but also by people standing in the medians and selling them. This was a sight on many corners in town.
– Busch Gardens probably wasn’t too happy with “SheiKra” today. It was having some sort of maintenence problems this afternoon and delayed the Iowa Hawkeyes as they waited to ride the roller coaster for about 45 minutes. Oops.
– Need Super Bowl merchandise? You’ll find it here. Super Bowl XLIII will be here in Tampa on 2.1.09. Drive around town and you’ll find stores that simply sell themselves as “Super Bowl Merchandise.” They’re filling strip mall store fronts and even extinct sitdown restaraunt buildings.
– Monday John Campbell is scheduled to arrive at the Outback Bowl. The big team luncheon is tomorrow at Noon. Look for that and much more Monday on KCRG-TV9 News and KCRG.com!