James Morris: Freeway face of the Hawkeyes

Iowa athletic department puts his image on billboards

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On the southern edge of I-380 in Cedar Rapids heading toward Iowa City, there is a University of Iowa athletics-billboard that virtually screams at you "IT'S GREAT TO BE A HAWKEYE."

I'm sorry I don't have a photo of the billboard to post here, but it didn't seem prudent to pull over on the Interstate and snap one off.

Iowa associate athletic director Rick Klatt told me via email that the billboard is up in Des Moines, too.

On the right side of the billboard is the image of No. 44 in determined football mode. Iowa senior linebacker James Morris is No. 44.

"(The) use of James in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids is a no-brainer," Klatt wrote. "He is the epitome of our new mantra: Win. Graduate. Do it right.'  (He’s playing a big role in righting that “Win” thing this year…and is already a grand slam on the “Graduate” and “Do it right” pieces…)

This week, I asked Morris if he had any resentment about the school using his likeness to try to sell football tickets without him being able to collect a dime for it. I sprang that on him out of nowhere at the team's weekly Tuesday interview session with the media. But he's a far-brighter person than I'll ever be --that's fact, not pandering -- so I knew he would answer the question the way he wanted.

"There is certainly compensation, just not in terms of a dollar amount," he said. "That's the state of college football that we're in right now.

"Speculatively, what's right, what's wrong, what is in line with free markets and labor negotiations, and all those things, I try to stay away from those things and just worry about football. But obviously, there's questions."

Not that Morris will have to worry about making ends meet after this season ends. He'll prosper in the NFL, or he'll prosper somewhere else. Or both.


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