Deategate excuse may not be full of hot air

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THE HAWK EYE
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THURSDAY, JANUARY 29, 2015
178th year — No. 202
Deflategate excuse may not be full of hot air
Physicist with local roots
works at university asked
to research ball inflation.
By CRAIG T. NEISES
cneises@thehawkeye.com
B
rian Metzger isn’t a highly paid
football coach. But as a physicist
at Columbia University in New
York City, the Burlington native has
what it takes to know the New England
Patriots may be on to something.
Blaming temperature variations as a
defense in an alleged
cheating
scandal
dubbed Deflategate
might be more than
merely hot air.
“A case could be
made,” said Metzger,
an assistant professor
of physics at Columbia.
Metzger
Patriots coaches,
quarterback and even the team’s owner
have denied seeking an advantage in
the team’s AFC Championship thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts by deflating some footballs used in the Jan. 18
game to pressures less than league
standards.
Head coach Bill Belichick, in a press
conference Saturday, cited temperature variations as a possible explanation for the low-pressure footballs.
According to a report in the New
York Times, lawyers representing the
National Football League contacted
the physics department at Metzger’s
school for help with the science of their
investigation.
Metzger was not approached directly
to assist, he said, but received an email
forwarded by the department secretary to faculty members. However, it
was his post about the request on Facebook that drew the media’s attention
after friends started sharing it.
In the post, which was cited in the
Times, Metzger said the “physics faculty were asked to consult on ‘matters
relating to gas physics and environmental impacts on inflated footballs.’ ”
From a physics standpoint, Metzger
said it should be expected balls inflated
in a room-temperature environment
will lose pressure when exposed to
cold, and a 2 pounds per square inch
drop might be in the range of a natural
occurrence.
“It seems reasonable to me,” he said.
Off to the races
The possibility, however, does not
rule out a human role. Saying with any
certainty, Metzger said, would require
laboratory testing to replicate conditions relative to the balls’ handling the
day of the game, including temperature
and other factors.
Metzger, 33, said Wednesday he
doesn’t intend to contact the lawyers
about participating in the testing and
noted “they may be upset with me” for
letting the cat out of the bag — or, put
another way, the air out of their football.
See Deflategate page 5A
Timeline
for ISP to
open is
unclear
Official says a fix for faulty
smoke control system will
take months to complete.
By BARBARA RODRIGUEZ
Associated Press
DES MOINES — There’s no clear
timeline for when the long-delayed Iowa
State Penitentiary will open, the head
of Iowa’s corrections department said
Wednesday.
John Baldwin told House lawmakers
on a government oversight committee
that officials are studying a potential
solution to a faulty smoke control system that’s held up the prison’s opening.
The process of completing the fix
requires a few months. Staff training at
the new building in Fort Madison will
take another few months.
“Our goal is to get (the inmates)
moved in as soon as possible,” Baldwin
said.
The $165.5 million prison was
scheduled to open last March to house
inmates at the old Iowa State Penitentiary, located a mile away. That prison,
which turns 176 years old in April,
remains open.
See ISP page 5A
Fuel tax
bill moves
forward
Law potentially would
increase tax 10 cents a gallon.
Associated Press
John Gaines/The Hawk Eye
Top, Trystan Peak, 6, shows his excitement with winning his race to his mother, Kristina Peak, at the Cub Scout Pack 25 pinewood derby Tuesday at
Asbury United Methodist Church in Burlington. Peak placed first in the Tiger Pack and second overall. Above left, Austin Fay, 8, reacts to the cars racing
down the track. Austin placed first in the Bear Pack and third overall. Above right, the Mercer Family, from left, Keri, Michael, 12, Michael Jr., and Matthew, 8, watch the races. Matthew won first place in the Wolves Pack and first place overall.
AG nominee defends immigration changes
Republicans glad to see
Holder leave the post.
By ERICA WERNER
and ERIC TUCKER
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Confronting
skeptical Republicans, attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch pledged a
new start with Congress and independence from President Barack Obama
Wednesday, even as she defended the
president’s unilateral protections for
millions of immigrants in the country
illegally.
“If confirmed as attorney general,
Iowa’s Oldest Newspaper
54 pages, seven sections
Business
City & Region
I would be myself. I would be Loretta
Lynch,” the nominee told her Senate
confirmation hearing as Republicans
showered criticism on the current occupant of the job, Eric Holder.
They said Holder was contemptuous
of Congress and too politically close
to Obama and repeatedly demanded
assurances Lynch would do things differently.
“You’re not Eric Holder, are you?”
Texas Republican John Cornyn, one of
the current attorney general’s most persistent critics, asked at one point.
“No, I’m not, sir,” Lynch responded
with a smile.
See Nominee page 5A
5A
3A
Classifieds
Corrections
2C
2A
Dear Abby
Deaths
Grassley leads Senate panel
while, Grassley
reported live from
the podium: The
hearing was “moving right along,”
Grassley tweeted
just before lunch.
“Is that against
the rules?” he
asked later with
a grin.
By LAURIE KELLMAN
Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles
Grassley, the Senate’s most enthusiastic tweeter, is steering the venerable Judiciary Committee into a
brave new world.
The six-term Iowa Republican, 81,
debuted as chairman Wednesday at
the confirmation hearings on President Barack Obama’s pick for attorney general, Loretta Lynch. Mean-
5C
5B
Editorial
Happenings
4A
2C
Grassley
Iowa & Illinois
Sports
See Grassley page 5A
2A
1B
TV listings
Weekend
4C
1C
DES MOINES — A bill to increase
Iowa’s fuel tax to pay for road improvements could be introduced as early as
next week, lawmakers said Wednesday.
Sen. Tod Bowman, a Democrat from
Maquoketa, and Rep. Joshua Byrnes, a
Republican from Osage, said they are
working on legislation increasing the
tax, potentially by 10 cents a gallon. It
would provide $215 million annually
for the state’s network of bridges and
roads, several of which are in disrepair.
“I’ve never felt more optimistic about
moving forward with the gas tax,” said
Bowman to a group of county officials
and business leaders gathered in Des
Moines to lobby lawmakers on transportation issues.
He noted the drop in gasoline prices,
as well as Gov. Terry Branstad’s support for increasing dollars for roads.
Iowa’s fuel tax is 22 cents a gallon,
including fees. It hasn’t been raised
since 1989.
The lawmakers, who lead the transportation committees in each chamber,
said they are working on ways to maintain the funding in future years. The
revenue from a 10-cent tax increase is
expected to decline as vehicles become
more fuel efficient.
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BURLINGTON, IOWA