Lisa Bluder delivers high praise for Hawkeyes, Caitlin Clark

IOWA CITY − The stars were in town as the Pat McAfee Show broadcast live from the University of Iowa’s Field House on Friday.

Guest host and former Iowa football star Dallas Clark was part of the four-person panel for the first two hours, and the Iowa faithful who braved the morning’s surprise snowstorm had the chance to see women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder up close exactly 24 hours before the women’s team kicks off NCAA Tournament action Saturday.

WWE superstar Roman Reigns and ex-NFL punter Pat Angerer, donning a Brett Greenwood jersey, also joined the show. A full replay is available on the Pat McAfee Show YouTube channel.

Here’s what you missed:

High praise from Bluder as Clark keeps focus on tournament

Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder appeared alongside McAfee and company and talked about what it’s like coaching a star like Caitlin Clark, the long-term impact of Iowa’s star, and looking ahead to the tournament.

McAfee, an ESPN personality, first wondered how Caitlin Clark has garnered so much respect from her teammates and how she stays humble as a superstar.

Lisa Bluder to receive Robert D. and Billie Ray Character Award - Drake  University Newsroom

“Everybody matters on our team, no matter who you are, what your role is, and they buy into that,” Bluder said. “But they are not jealous of Caitlin because they know she works hard, harder than anybody, she’s a goofy teammate, she shares the wealth. I mean she gives out Nike gear like it’s candy.”

Clark will enter the WNBA Draft after this season. Bluder said she hasn’t taken one moment for granted.

“I know how fortunate I have been as a coach to have the greatest player in America, men or women, basketball-wise,” Bluder said. “But I haven’t gotten emotional about the end of the year. … I haven’t really thought that far. I kind of keep the blinders on and go one game at a time.”

Clark’s national profile has already positively impacted Iowa’s recruiting, Bluder said.

“With the added TV exposure, you’re on the television and recruits can see you and that’s a good thing,” Bluder said. “And they like what Iowa’s all about. They like the fan support, they like the community, and it’s a really fun brand of basketball.”

The show also put in requests for players, including Iowa’s star guard, but they were respectfully denied.

Said McAfee: “(Clark) is so locked in and focused, she said, ‘I don’t have time to be doing any shows. I need to win a national championship for this team, for this school, for this state. So the coach is coming over, nobody else, and we embark on a journey tomorrow that’s going to lead us to hanging a banner on this campus and being national champions.”

Dallas Clark, McAfee deliver high praise for Hawkeyes, Caitlin Clark

Former Hawkeye tight end and McAfee teammate Dallas Clark levied high praise for Caitlin Clark, comparing what she has done for the University of Iowa to what their ex-teammate Peyton Manning did in Indianapolis: Put it on the map and completely change the culture around a place.

“You watch all these interviews, she’s always putting her team first,” Dallas Clark said. He said he doesn’t think that there is a better person to have as the face of the game.

Iowa's Lisa Bluder rips NCAA as Caitlin Clark surpasses Lynette Woodard for  major college scoring record | Fox News

McAfee matched the ex-tight end’s praise, saying Clark is special and her story is, too. Growing up in Iowa, staying in Iowa, and “maybe winning a national championship with Iowa.”

“There’s certain humans on this Earth that, in between the ears, are built different than everybody else and in those massive moments, with the whole world watching, where you could maybe second-guess yourself, …she’s just unconscious,” McAfee said.

Later in the show, McAfee also praised the team around Caitlin Clark for allowing her superstardom to shine through and allowing her to take in every moment in her journey.

“It does feel like the perfect team to come together around a superstar that we’ve never seen before,” McAfee said.

McAfee says Iowa is ‘magical place’ after braving snowstorm

McAfee opened the show by introducing Hawkeye legend Dallas Clark to a roar of cheers and thanked Ty Schmit, a member of his crew, a Waterloo native and an Iowa alum, for bringing him and his boys to Iowa for the first time.

“As soon as we got on to campus, you could feel it,” McAfee said. “This is a magical place.”

A heavy snowfall on Friday morning dumped a few inches of snow on area roads and significantly slowed travel, but hundreds showed up and stood through the three-plus hour show, earning autographs and even some silly souveniers from McAfee and company.

Ryan Hansen covers local government and crime for the Press-Citizen. He can be reached [email protected] or on X, formerly known as Twitter, @ryanhansen01.

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