April 18, 2012

Barta expects night game

Gary Barta is on the road again this spring hitting the I-Club circuit. The second stop on the spring tour wasn't a long drive as the Iowa AD headed to Cedar Rapids. He discussed a wide range of topics, including a likely night game at Kinnick Stadium this fall, Fran McCaffery's contract, and if he has voted for the new Cy-Hawk Trophy.

Q: Well, you are back on the I Club circuit once again.

BARTA: Yeah, it is that time of year. All year long we are sort of bringing fans to Iowa City. I think at one point we figured out that over a million people come to visit our events either at Kinnick or Carver. This is our chance to get out to see everyone in their communities and say thank you.

Q: It's really worth it to get out to all of the different communities and rub elbows with all of the Iowa fans.

BARTA: It's really worth it. When I took the Iowa job, I told the President that I knew all the small towns in Iowa and all the back roads to get there because I had worked at Northern Iowa for seven years. I love going to all the communities across the state, I really do. It does get pretty busy because we try to compact it into a short period of time and that can wear you down, but I really enjoy it.

Q: We knew this day was coming…the bubble is coming down.

BARTA: (laugh) I'm just glad it was on our terms. We are excited because what it symbolizes. We knew we had to get far enough along with the new indoor facility that it would be ready for two a days. We now know that it is going to be ready for fall ball, so we can take down the old bubble.

Q: Night games for Iowa Football this fall. Have you heard anything on that front?

BARTA: We are in conversations. None have been officially determined or announced, so I really don't have anything to report. I am pretty sure we will have at least one in Kinnick. I would be surprised if we had more than one. Contractually, ESPN and the Big Ten Network will get that all settled in the next couple of weeks.

Q: Are you guys going to start the Big Ten/Pac 12 series, at least on the basketball front, this coming season?

BARTA: We are still working through the details. When we first decided to go to nine Big Ten games in football several months back, that was going to start in 2017 because of all the previous schedules that we had. If we go that route with the Big Ten/Pac 12 series, I could see us starting then. I don't see us starting it this year with the other sports, but hopefully as soon as possible.

Q: You and Coach McCaffery have an opportunity now were you could possible look at his contract. Any discussions on that front?

BARTA: It is a two way street. We really haven't talked specifically about a new contract. We haven't had our end of the year consultation. Now, we are on the same page because we meet every week. Whether we have a new contract or not, and again, I am not certain if we will or we won't, but I do know that I am absolutely certain that we are on the same page. We are both comfortable where we are at.

Q: Safe to say you are please with the progress being made with the basketball team.

BARTA: Absolutely. You always want to win more. When we lost to Oregon, we wanted to win that game, so we could go one more. When we beat Dayton, that was a thrill. When I look at what he has done in bringing excitement back to the program around the state and the crowds that are returning, it's very positive. When I look at beating four Top 25 teams, I am thrilled with where we are headed.

Q: On the football side. You have probably seen more of spring practice than the rest of us. What are your thoughts on the addition of Greg Davis and the promotion of Phil Parker and how they have done so far?

BARTA: One of the great aspects of our program has been the stability. But, it has been exciting to see the change. When I watched spring ball, people were trying to breakdown how the offense and defense did, you have to remember that the offense has been in place for about 12 days. It is far from a finished product and what I love is the fact that you have a great level of experience with Coach Davis and a great enthusiasm for our program from former student-athletes with Brian (Ferentz) and LeVar (Woods). Phil Parker is very familiar with our program and is now in charge. It has been exciting and invigorating and fortunately we don't have to play a game yet.

Q: The Dan Gable statue goes up this week. Talk about honoring Coach Gable.

BARTA: It is fitting that it is during a week when we have the Olympic Trials in Iowa City. I think it's great. We have tried to honor Dan in so many ways with a retirement party and a trophy between Iowa and Iowa State. This is sort of the last touch during the Olympic Trials where we are going to set an all time attendance mark for US Olympic Trials. It is fitting that we are able to unveil a statue of Coach Gable. We will now have Nile Kinnick in front of Kinnick Stadium and now forever we will have Dan Gable outside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Q: Have you voted for the new Cy-Hawk Trophy?

BARTA: I'm not going to. (laugh) I have seen the designs and obviously we went through a process with several designs on the table. I think Hayden was involved and several people from Iowa State were involved. We narrowed it down to three and that was the first time I saw it, when it was down to three. From my perspective and I am assuming Iowa State felt the same way, all three looked fine and now let's have the fans vote.

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