Revisiting the ISU football media day

Paul Kix

Linebacker Justin Eilers stands on a chair, meaty arms crossed before his game-day jersey, grimacing for the snapping camera.

Head coach Dan McCarney stands in Hunziker Auditorium, single-breasted pinstripe suit mostly hidden by the podium, being frank for the rolling cameras and notebooks.

Quarterback Seneca Wallace sits on some Jacobson Athletic Building steps, his goatee hiding any apprehension he may feel about the upcoming season.

This is football media day … and you’re my guest.

When McCarney enters the auditorium, notice how reporters rush their tape recorders to the podium, searching for a spot on the glossy wood. The recorders make for easy reporting.

Let a tape take notes instead of a pen.

We don’t rush the podium though, oh no, we place it on our knee and press the red “REC” button.

We’re even lazier than the rest.

And what do these tape recorders notice?

McCarney knows his facts:

“… And our turnover ratio, we went from last in the Big 12 to tied for 5th in the Big 12 last year … in the preseason polls we’re ranked 58th, 64th, and 76th. This after finishing 19th to 25th in the country last year … [about UNI, the first opponent] 12 years in a row, they’ve won seven games or more …”

Dan McCarney has more ISU stats ready than Alan Greenspan has stock tips.

Aah, but notice that UNI quote.

Football coaches – and players for that matter – say, in overview, how good they’ll be this season, and then add stuff like, “The Big 12 is loaded,” or Iowa has “17 or 18” starters coming back, or UNI will be no “slam dunk” for Seneca Wallace.

Like the old cliche: “Good from afar. But far from good.”

C’mon. Let’s head down stairs. Interview some of the players.

You’ll notice the cacophony of optimism and triteness. It’s raining outside, so it echoes loudly off the plaques and encased memorabilia here in Jacobson.

Sounds like hyenas shouting. Listen closely. “We’re taking it one day at a time … I feel real confident in my leg strength … I just try to go out and make plays.”

You’ll notice all players are wearing game day uniforms. Some wear gloves. Some wear sweatbands at the elbows. Some wear gloves and sweat bands.

None wear equipment.

Eilers is posing on that chair again. He looks a lot different from the first time I met him.

It was last spring, and I went to his place to find out how he fractured his jaw. He told me he tackled running back Ennis Haywood without a helmet during spring ball.

I later heard he got in a fight.

Anyway, when I met him, his cut-off T-shirt, sweat pants and bandana made him look like he led Hell’s Angels.

But today, notice there is gel in his hair, stubble on his chin, and gold in his mouth.

He won’t confirm whether the gold tooth is from his Ultimate Fighting experiences. He only says that those days were “fun.”

Now notice the reporters arms stretching all over each other, shoving their recorders in Seneca Wallace’s face.

Remember McCarney saying Wallace will be the starter going into practice. This is what happens.

“It’s going to be a lot of pressure coming in,” Wallace says with indifference. “You just want to go out and play.”

Not exactly a Joe Namath WE WILL WIN THE SUPER BOWL headline, but he’s new. And maybe humble.

You’ll notice some reporters have tired of being here. They’re looking at the photographers bunching players together. Cameras flash when the *$@! YOU faces come to the fore.

No-namers (their jerseys literally don’t have a name across the back) get sick of standing around and answering no one’s questions. They leave.

Tape recorders threaten to run out of tape or battery juice. Reporters leave.

It’s 2:30 now, and the optimism has quieted down. I guess that’s our cue.

Thank you for joining me on the Media Day tour.

Paul Kix is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Hubbard.