If you haven’t noticed, you haven’t been paying attention.
It may be the middle of August, a time when the baseball races heat up with the weather. A time when professional golf wraps up its major schedule and heads into its playoffs. A time when NASCAR also turns into playoff mode.
But for the vast majority of you (and us), it’s football season.
Football is a big deal to us at The Gazette — at all levels. From high school to writing about our Iowans in the NFL, we take pride in what we cover and how we do it.
So forgive me for a little promotion today.
Again, if you haven’t noticed, this will be a big season for Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz. Entering his 20th season as head coach, Ferentz needs one victory to surpass Hayden Fry as the winningest coach in Iowa history. This is a big deal. Iowa has had only two coaches the past 40 years — that’s a big deal, too, these days — and they will be 1-2 on the career win list.
Marc Morehouse, with the help of night sports editor Sam Paxton, has been counting down all of Ferentz’s previous 143 wins. All of the stories can be found at TheGazette.com and a handful already have run in print. More will be coming, especially the closer we get to the Top 10.
These are sometimes serious, but mostly fun looks back at some of the biggest — and not-so big — wins of the Ferentz era. We encourage your input — good and bad — and your memories.
Keep an eye out for the final countdown.
We’ll get serious about the college football season starting Sunday, too, with a look at the Iowa and Iowa State teams position-by-position. This series will include a short feature on a key player and a look at the backups, plus a little analysis about the position. It will run through Aug. 26, which kicks off Week 1 for Iowa, Iowa State and UNI.
We’ll have plenty of UNI features during this time, too. Coe and Cornell also get things rolling next week with their media days. K.J. Pilcher will be spearheading that effort.
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And, of course, Mike Hlas will keep us all entertained with his look at the games, the players and coaches.
The high school season kicks off first, however, and we’ll have plenty of features, news and coverage over the next several months. Pilcher, Jeff Johnson, Jeff Linder and Douglas Miles will handle most of the heavy lifting here, but we’ll also get help from a group of outstanding correspondents. If you want to help us with coverage of your team, contact me at the phone number or email address below.
Our preseason poll will pop online Thursday and will be in Friday’s paper because this actually is Week 0 for the preps. There are a handful of games in Eastern Iowa on Friday, including a showdown between 2017 playoff teams Lone Tree and Midland in Wyoming. Winfield-Mount Union is at Springville, and English Valleys and Montezuma also host games Friday.
Our annual Iowa Prep Sports Preview section is coming Sunday. This 16-page football section features all 11 Metro and Iowa City teams — including the varsity debut of Liberty High School in North Liberty — as well as programs from Alburnett, Belle Plaine, Solon, West Branch, West Delaware and Williamsburg. Linder, once again, also breaks down all the district races.
Some of the stories already are posted at TheGazette.com with more to come over the next week.
The first Metro game is next Thursday when Washington hosts Prairie at Kingston Stadium.
And keep an eye on the website for the On Iowa podcast with Morehouse and former Gazette staffer Scott Dochterman. Hlas also will be podcasting this fall on Mondays, and webcasts will kick in during the season, too.
Football, of course, is king this time of year. But it’s not the only game in Eastern Iowa. High school boys’ golf already has started and we’ll preview the volleyball, cross country and girls’ swimming seasons next week.
College volleyball programs at Iowa, Iowa State and UNI also will be featured this week, starting today with media day in Ames.
Sit back and enjoy. I know I will.
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