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Raise your hand if you thought former Iowa player George Kittle was destined to become one of the great tight ends in the NFL.

Sure you did.

Some of us weren’t sure Kittle would even make an NFL roster, and we figured he was over-achieving when he gained 515 yards receiving as a rookie last season.

He only had 314 yards in his best season at Iowa, 737 in his college career.

This season he gained 1,377, an all-time record for an NFL tight end. Kansas City’s Travis Kelce actually broke Rob Gronkowski’s record on Sunday, but Kittle came along about an hour later and trumped Kelce’s mark.

Here is what is most impressive: Gronkowski set his record with Tom Brady throwing to him. Kelce did it with record-setting youngster Patrick Mahomes.

Kittle did it with Jimmy Garappolo, C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens.

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Davenport’s Cleveland Barnes has been calling the Quad-City Times sports department for years — decades actually — to chat about what is going on in professional tennis and UCLA basketball.

Cleveland is always pleasant, chipper, upbeat, but we’ve never heard him happier than he was Monday.

He called to ask about a rumor he had heard, that his beloved Bruins had fired head coach Steve Alford. We confirmed the news for him.

"Hallelujah!" he said. "Oh, I’m so glad he’s gone. I’m going to go out and have myself a big dinner."

It sounds as though most people connected with the UCLA program had similar sentiments, especially the players. No one is more adept at wearing out a welcome than Alford. Just ask anyone who was around Iowa City from 1999 to 2007.

Barnes first became a UCLA rooter about 50 years ago when he lived in Chicago and went out to watch the Bruins and center Lew Alcindor play against Loyola. He became an instant fan.

"I’ve stayed on that bandwagon all these years and never have gotten off," he said, admitting it had become a little tougher to watch the Bruins recently as Alford’s team lost to such undermanned programs as Liberty and Belmont.

"Now I can watch again," he added.

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The Big Ten went 5-4 in bowl games over the past two weeks.

The much-maligned West Division was 4-1. The allegedly super East was 1-3.

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By the letter of the law, Iowa State defenders Willie Harvey and Enyi Uwazurike probably were guilty of targeting during the first half of the Alamo Bowl last week. Harvey was for sure and probably Uwazurike, too.

We had no problems with the calls, but the rule itself is ridiculous. A player who makes contact with the crown of his helmet (often inadvertently) while making a tackle should not automatically be ejected from the game. Go ahead and walk off 15 yards against their team, but kicking them out of the game every time it happens is excessive. The punishment exceeds the crime.

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You may have heard about the style of basketball that Grinnell College has played for the past several years. The Pioneers play very scattered defense, sometimes doing very little to prevent opposing teams from scoring two points so they can run down and try to score three at the other end.

Even at that, what former Pleasant Valley star Will Carius did to them Wednesday night was flat-out flabbergasting.

Carius scored 62 points to help Monmouth College claim a 116-88 victory over Grinnell. And he did it the old-fashioned way, without making a single 3-point field goal.

Carius did attempt two 3s in the game, missing them both, but he was 24 for 24 on 2-point attempts. He also was 14 for 18 at the free throw line and grabbed 18 rebounds.

In the process, the transfer from the University of Northern Michigan raised his season scoring average from 22.0 to 25.3.

***

Howard Eskin, the colorful sideline reporter for Philadelphia Eagles radio broadcasts, appeared on the morning show on Chicago’s WSCR on Friday and was adamant in insisting that the Eagles will defeat the Bears in their NFC playoff game today.

His reasoning was that he didn’t think much of Bears quarterback Michael Trubisky. Co-host Mike Mulligan decided to have some fun with him by asking a question about Eagles QB Nate Foles.

Eskin never caught on to the fact that he being mocked for not even knowing the first name of the player he was bashing.

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