College basketball has returned to much fanfare in Iowa City this winter, as the Hawkeyes enter this Friday’s Cy-Hawk basketball game ranked 3rd in the AP poll. Since it is December and not February, there’s a chance this ranking could stick for awhile. Luka Garza is fast tracking to another All-American season, and many think this team has the ingredients to make a Sweet 16 run for this first time this century. However, not everyone is excited.
Being that this season is happening in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, coaches are having to wear face coverings. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery has elected at times to use a plastic face shield. Fran has been widely known for losing his cool on the sidelines. While the visuals of him with a shield came as a welcome surprise to officials looking for a some protection from Fran’s rage, not everyone is celebrating.
After an investigation, the team at WRNL has been able to learn that the university contracted with a small plastics manufacturer, Cedar Rapids Area Plastics, better known as CRAP, to supply Fran with shields for practices and games this winter. In what may be a situation of overselling themselves, CRAP could be pushed to their production limits if Fran is unable to control his anger.
“Once we learned about Coach McCaffery’s daily activities, we were obviously a little concerned. Of course, we tested our product under the most extreme conditions this summer, but there’s just no way to simulate the level of rage from Fran. Plastic can only be under that level of heat for so long. If a questionable call goes against him in a close game, that shield will melt right off his face.”
“We’re a small company, and we might not be able to manufacture face shields quickly enough if he is melting them at the rate we’ve projected,” said a company spokesman, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of chairs thrown in his direction. “Fran has typically struggled to get his teams through February. With six currently ranked teams on the schedule for that month, not to mention his history of technical fouls and ejections on the road, we could be in dire straights by then.”
Before I could ask how quickly they expect the shields to go, I heard a loud, angry voice on the other end of the phone and a rapid hang up. I couldn’t quite make out what was being yelled out, but it sounded like Jordan Bohannon couldn’t make enough free throws to end practice for the day. I received a text message a few minutes later saying, “It can happen that quickly.” I can only assume this conversation happened after a drop off at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
When approached for comment, Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said, “CRAP? We love CRAP! Wait, basketball season started already?” I relayed the company’s concerns to Barta, and asked if he would talk with Fran before putting this small company out of business. “Sure, Fran’s had his issues over the years, but you can’t argue with 4 NCAA Tournament wins in 9 seasons, so I don’t see a need to ask him to calm down.”
Things have gone well thus far with the Hawks off to a 4-0 start. But the Big Ten is expected to be the most competitive conference in the nation, with other ranked teams like Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Rutgers on the schedule. For the sake of CRAP and all plastic manufacturers within 50 miles of Johnson County, let’s hope Fran stays on the right end of the patented “Francon” spectrum. Stay tuned to WRNL for any further developments.