Aaaaaaand I’m back!  After an offseason writing about women’s football, it’s time to get back to talking Hawkeyes!  The season opener for the 2013 Iowa football team is just two weeks away, and excitement is again in the air.  There’s so much to talk about, so let’s get back to talking Hawks with a preseason edition of random hash.

Jim Zabel

The biggest story of the Hawkeye offseason was a sad one.  As all Hawkeye fans have certainly heard, Jim Zabel passed away earlier this summer at the age of 91.  Zabel, a 1944 University of Iowa graduate, called Hawkeye games on the radio for 49 seasons until Learfield bought the exclusive broadcast rights in 1996.  He lived and breathed the Hawkeyes to the end continued to host his radio show, Two Guys Named Jim, right up until his death this past May.

I’ll write a whole post about Zabel here soon, but I wanted to acknowledge the loss of this Hawkeye icon.  It will be a strange feeling to start the 2013 Hawkeye football season knowing that Z be commenting on the action.

Ross Pierschbacher

More recently, many Hawkeye fans are up in arms over some bad news on the recruiting front.  Ross Pierschbacher, considered one of the top high school recruits in Iowa, recently flipped his oral commitment from the Hawkeyes to Alabama.

Pierschbacher is a prime example of why I don’t follow recruiting all that closely.  When he committed to the Hawkeyes a few months ago, I could have spent a lot of time analyzing what kind of player he’d be for the Hawks.  But had I done that, I would have been annoyed by his decommitment, because it would have meant I wasted all that time researching a Crimson Tide player that I no longer have any interest in.

I’m glad that there are fans who follow Hawkeye recruiting…it really is the lifeblood and the future of any college football program.  But I’m also glad that I’m not all that invested in it, because getting frustrated with the Pierschbachers of the world isn’t worth it.  Fortunately, despite the Pierschbacher decommitment Hawkeye recruiting overall is going very well, according to the people who are really in-the-know about such things…so that’s exciting.  The Hawks appear poised to rebound from their disappointing 2012 campaign.

Omar Truitt

Speaking of recruiting, I had a very nice random encounter a little while back that shows how Hawkeye fandom is stretching all the way out here to DC.  I’ve been training for the Army 10-miler in October, so my wife and I have been going for a long run every weekend.  A few weeks back, my wife and I had just finished a run when a very nice lady called about to me and complimented my shirt…naturally, I was running in my Hawkeye gear!

We started a conversation, and she mentioned that her nephew is a football player who had just committed to the Hawks!  She said he was a wide receiver/defensive back, and she was bursting with pride over his commitment.  Long story short, her nephew was Omar Truitt, a 2014 recruit.  So even though I don’t generally follow recruiting, I have a new favorite recruit to keep an eye on over the coming seasons!

Clinton High School Hall of Fame

On August 30, 14 individuals will be inducted into the newly-created Clinton High School Hall of Fame.  This class includes two people who will be of interest to Hawkeye fans – Ken Ploen and Duke Slater.  Ploen, of course, was the Rose Bowl MVP-winning quarterback of the 1956 Big Ten championship Hawkeye team.

Duke Slater, on the other hand, is my favorite Hawkeye athlete of all time, an icon in American sports.  I will be in Clinton for the induction ceremony, which will be held before Clinton’s season opening game against Davenport North High School.  Representing Duke Slater at the event will be members of his extended family – including Slater’s niece, who is traveling all the way from Georgia!  It should be a great event, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Duke Slater get some well-deserved recognition!

FryFest V

That’s where I’ll be the evening of August 30, but that morning and afternoon, I’ll be the same place as tens of thousands of other Hawkeye fans.  The 2013 edition of FryFest will be taking place on Friday, August 30, and I’m happy to announce that for the first time, I’ll have a booth set up at the event!  I’ll be meeting and greeting Hawk fans, and I’ll have all my books available for sale…as well as a few great Hawkeye books from other authors.

It should be a terrific event…can’t wait to see you all there!

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