Saturday, December 24, 2005

Nice road trip guys

Get on a plane, return with a trophy.

ISU found a way to win three games in Hawai'i against three decent teams.

If they can convert that can-do attitude to the XII schedule, things could get interesting.

I look forward to seeing the men play on TV again, though. Each game was too late for even this hard-core to listen- the mini-Clones in the house get up far too early for midnight radio!


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bad news for ISU

Colorado made a great hire in Dan Hawkins.

He only won 3 titles in 5 years as head coach in Boise. His team clubbed ISU in the Blue Turf Bowl in 2002. His offensive philosophy will further push the wishbone/triple option days of the 80's Big 8 even further into the recesses of our memories, and continue the evolution of the B12 into the second coming of the 80's WAC.

One has to wonder, though, if he will be coaching under the Walden Clause: We don't care whether you win, but you have to be clean. After the scandals that have rolled through that football program the last 15 years, a clean coach will be a breath of fresh air.

Then again, as the only survivor of CU's 2004 round of firings, Barnett only got canned after the product on the field went bad. So perhaps all is acceptible, as long as one wins.

We will know in a few years. Snyder's rep at KSU didn't take long to ferment, and I suspect Hawkin's rep will solidify quickly.


Early Guess: ISU's in!

One of the favorite winter activities of the basketball writer is predicting the Field of 65. Fox Sports has an early one.

Two things jump out: ISU is "one of the last in", and the XII only gets 4 teams in. Clearly, TEXTI'm not the only one who has noticed that the league isn't very strong this year.

I expect that either one team will rise up and roar through the league with less than two losses (OU is a likely suspect), or it will be a wild any-team-on-any-night that will drive fans and bettors nuts, and produce a champ with 4, 5 or even 6 losses and needing tiebreakers to get the #1 seed in Dallas.

Hang on for a crazy ride.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Opportunity Ahead

Just when one is getting down in the mouth about ISU dropping a game they shouldn't have, some possible sun on the horizon:

The Big XII is, shall we say, in transition. There isn't a single standout team yet.

A quick look at the Sagarin rankings has Colorado- yes, a team coached by Ricardo Patton- at the top of the heap in the XII. When your best win is over #125 St. Mary's, we don't know much about you yet.

Look down the schedule at the start of ISU's B12 run:

KSU (#35, SOS 269) and suddenly struggling Texas (#17, 191) at home, roadies to Tech (#171, 295) and Nebraska (#133, 307), a$m (#87, 333- weakest in the league) at home, at Mizzou (#114, 170), then home for KU (#93, 68) and CU (#10, 125). I'm not going to predict a 8-0 start, but there are plenty of winable games there. If ISU can get its offense into a flow, a strong start is there for the taking.

The next two weeks will be the key.



Sunday, December 18, 2005

Two Trick Pony

My rough count of the last 5 minutes for the ISU offense against Ohio State:

7 possessions
2 turnovers
1/7 shooting (including an airball 3)
1 missed 1/1 front end
2 made free throws
7 points

That isn't going to do it, friends. It seems the ISU offense is too often a Two Trick Pony: create fast break points off defense and rebounds, or points off dribble penetration. The last 5 minutes had too much standing around waiting for someone else (read: Curtis or Will) to get things going, and not enough cohesion to know what play to run to give them a high-percentage shot.

With the number of new faces, this is to be expected. Ohio State is a pretty good team, and has a whole fistfull of seniors who know how to get things done. Hopefully ISU can work out those end of game issues before any more losses that kill their RPI, and B12 games in general.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Excellent Iowa Analysis

Visit Crosscyed for a nice player breakdown of the win over Iowa, plus some notes.

From the other side, check out the Pat Hardy's column in the IC PC: Alford says the right things. Alford says the right things.

Wha? Could this be the SA we know and love may be maturing as a coach? Where's the fun in that?


When will this end?

At what point does SUI again stop scheduling in-state schools in athletics? It's just embarrassing for them.

They earn nothing from the games. When they win, they will be criticized for not winning by enough. If they lose, the sports world reacts with "What is wrong?" horror. 2005 is another perfect example. Football got dumped by an ISU team that peaked in September and needed 6 weeks to get back on stride. Basketball looked to be Top 10 worthy until UNI and ISU appeared on the schedule. Now a cloud of questions surround the team, as it has 3 of the last 4 years.

Steve Alford has shown during his career that he can focus his team on the big goals- like Big 10 Championships- but they stumble over the pesky teams that don't understand their place in the basketball universe: UNI, ISU, Northwestern, and St. Louis come to mind. Second rate programs daring to battle with Top Tier programs like Iowa. Don't they know who they are?

The simple solution is to just stop scheduling teams that are beneath Iowa's abilities. UNI and ISU are not worthy a date with Iowa. The don't have the fan base, the money, the stadium size or the coaching talent that Iowa has.

In fact, the whole Cy-Hawk trophy concept should be scrapped. It simply brings Iowa down to the level of trade schools like ISU. We stated flat out last spring that the Cy-Hawk Trophy is an award that ISU should never win. If you are Iowa, why would you make a big deal out of something that should never happen? Why not have a trophy competition with Wartburg? It is just as likely Wartburg would win the series as would ISU.

The sooner Iowa realizes how damaging their scheduling of in-state schools is to their Championship prospects, the better.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

This will be a maddening bunch

Basketball will be a wild ride all winter.

ISU lays an egg against Fresno State, then dominates Drake in Des Moines. Go figure.

Each game will be a question of "Which team will show up?" Monday, it was Good Cyclones. Friday it could be Bad Cyclones, or at least, Cyclones Who Are Trying Too Hard, which is easily mistaken for Bad Cyclones.

This bunch could easily beat KU twice and Texas at home, and yet get swept by CU and lose at Baylor.

If I was Steve Alford, my plan would be to have Brunner touch the ball on every possesion at least once. The old "Shoot it up and crash the boards" strategy will work well on two fronts: SUI will get lots of garbage buckets, and will decimate the ISU front line with foul trouble. It's a perfect plan.


Upon further review

I got a chance to watch the KU debacle on tape. Some thoughts:

1) It's concerning how easily ISU can be made one-dimentional. Stack 8 in the box and it's all on Meyer's shoulders.

2) KU's 2nd TD wasn't.

3) ISU gets little pressure with the 4 man rush, and needs 6+ to really put heat on. Rushing 5 only ensures a pass completion for a first down.

4) The players and coaches clearly got "tight helmet" down the stretch and choked. Just like MU '04. Just like NU and MU '05.

5) Game plan for TCU: allow ISU to jump out by 14, insert the backup QB they don't have tape on, and watch said QB shred ISU's prevent D. TCU wins. It worked for MU and KU, (and almost CU) why not TCU too?

I hope I get proven wrong.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Hang on, this could be rough

You can't say you weren't warned.

I called Iona as a possible loss for ISU. While they responded with a win over a feisty UNI club,win over they then followed that with a home loss to a Fresno State team that few think much of. Witnesses (like the excellent Lone Clone) blame a lack of effort on defense for the FSU loss.

Now come Drake and SUI, two clubs who circle their date with ISU as soon as the schedules are announced (although SUI would deny that). Defensive intensity may be the only chance ISU has in these games. I now expect ISU to lose both games, especially SUI, given their strength inside. Brunner should score 30+.

Until the five new bodies on the interior figure out where they are headed, this could be rough going. Hang on tight.


Charlie Brown

There is no other way to describe ISU football other than as the Charlie Brown of the Big XII.

Given their performance with titles on the line (MU '04, at KU '05) and in OT (see previous, plus NU and MU '05) Cyclone fans have no choice but to know, deep down in their hearts, that when ISU has the chance to achieve greatness, they will find the way to lose in the most agonizing of fashions.

They never got blown out in '05, which is a vast improvement over the past, but they gave each of their 4 losses away, and to arguably inferior teams.

Their Bowl prize? A genuinely good TCU team that could easily kick their butt if helmets aren't screwed on correctly.

We will give a more detailed analysis in the coming weeks, but we can only assume that somehow, some way, Lucy will pull the football away.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Blackout notice

Due to work commitments, this site will most likely be dark until December 4th at the earliest. I'll be traveling with unknown access to internet and time to blog.

If you are not already subscribing to this blog with an RSS reader, I would highly recommend it. My sporadic blog style is not well suited to regular scheduled reading.

I thank you for your patience. With any luck we will have mucho good news to discuss when I return.


Quick Hoops thoughts

Saw the Portland State game in person, and some thoughts about the next few weeks:

-This team is a work in progress, and will be very interesting in 6 or 8 weeks. Unfortunately, losses to any of the following are possible, or even probable: Iona, UNI, SUI, Drake, and Ohio State. Simply too much confusion on offense to develop much flow, and uncertainty on D leads to the occational breakdown and hurts rebounding. They had better have things squared away before this brutal trifecta: Texas, Lubbock and Lincoln in 8 days. Ouch.

-I really like the way Taggert keeps the ball way above his head down low on offense, which allows him to shoot easily, not have the shot blocked or ripped away by shorter players, or make the quick pass to another shooter. It's a skill too few big men possess these days.

-Cyclone Alley has sold around 30,000 tickets (my estimate). When those kids get hopping, there may not be a tougher venue in college basketball outside the ACC. Hopefully they will have reason to hop.


Retrun the favor

If ISU were to win Saturday in Lawrence, it would return the favor of a demoralizing loss to the Jayhawks back in '99.

The '99 season saw ISU finish 4-7, but with narrow losses to 11-1 KSU (35-28; ISU wasted a huge lead), 7-5 CU (16-12), and 9-5 Texas (44-41; winning kick as time expired). Entering the KU game with a 4-6 record still gave ISU hope of a momentum building win to end the year with, and help gear up to what would be a breakthrough 9-3 campaign.

Instead, Terry Allen (now an assistant in Ames) led the Jayhawks to a come from behind win to raise their season record to 5-7, and as close as he got to 6 wins after his rookie 5-6 campaign. It was a classic McCarney "Play not to lose" ending, and it really brought out the dogs, making 2000 a definate Do Or Die season for him. Fortunately he Did, and has continued to steadily upgrade the program.

A win for ISU would improve their record- but likely not their bowl position- and severly damage the outlook for Coach Mangino. At 5-5, it's "Win or Stay Home" for the Jayhawks: a trip to sunny Orlando or unsunny Ft. Worth would be their bowl prize. Since the '03 KU team used a freefalling Cyclone squad to earn their 6th win and a trip to Florida, it would only be appropriate to deny KU a similar trip this year.

Here's hoping.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hopefully, a turn for the worse

Now that Bill Snyder has decided to retire, the KSU adminestration will somehow find a knucklehead to drive the program back to it's pre-Bill days.

You have to admit, it is much harder to find the guy who lifts a program up than it is to find the guy who brings it down.

Exhibit A: the Gibbs/Schnellenberger/Blake period at OU
Exhibit B: Franchione at a$m
Exhibit C: Allen/Mangino at KU
Exhibit D: Solich/Calahan at NU
Exhibit E: Everyone who has coached Michigan State since George Pearle
Exhibit F: Duncan/Criner/Walden at ISU

While some of these programs now have a coach who will lead them to better things, one never knows when the hire is made. Personally, I thought Terry Allen had a better chance of success at KU than Glen Mason did at Minnesota. I couldn't have been more wrong with that one. It's a crap shoot, really. Who would have thought Gary Pinkel would have struggled this long with Brad Smith as his QB?

Here's hoping KSU hires the wrong person. The North Division needs a patsy to replace ISU.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Progress, progress

ISU's win over Colorado was yet another step forward in the maturation process of Cyclone Football. ISU beat another ranked team. They beat a team that had consistently won over the Cyclones. ISU won despite not having an effective running game. They beat another team that will be bowling. ISU held onto narrow leads, and made the big plays that would decide the game.

All are good news. The season finale at KU will be a bear, with KU having the XII's best defense, home field, Senior emotion, a bowl trip on the line, and a coach on the hotseat. Traditionally, all those factors would have meant a sure Cyclone loss.

This year, I'm not so sure. The poise ISU has displayed, the tenacity on defense and resourcefulness on offense gives me hope that an eighth win, and a better bowl bit, may be in the offing.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


While on a long drive today, I was struck with the differnce in "physicality" the Cyclones have presented this season as compared to last.

It is an imperfect comparison, but in general, ISU has dished out this season what it recieved last season from:

Okie State

One can rightfully argue that Baylor and Nebraska both had a huge turnaround compared to their '04 games against ISU, and I say fine, that will happen. ISU is ahead, at this moment, 4-2.

Folks who witnessed the meltdown at Mizzou say that ISU was in control for about 52 minutes. Half a star, then.

But those four games are a complete turnaround from '04. Iowa and a$m toyed with ISU, and could have won by far more than they did. KSU was in control until the fourth. OSU, while helped by early turnovers, kept the Cyclones in check.

Each were dominated by ISU from gun to gun. It's been a long, long time since ISU put down four opponents in that fashion.

The next two games will separate ISU from Just Another Season and Season To Remember. ISU was essentially even against both CU and KU last year, splitting the games. This observer was quite nervous at how well the Jayhawk Motionless Offense was moving in '04 before the QB got hurt, which became the turning point in both the game and KU's season. KU coulda-woulda-shoulda won their last 4 including ISU, and with their starter at QB would have done better than the 1-4 finish that did them in.

Hopefully the newfound muscle can finish the job the next 2 games, and ISU can create a bit of national buzz they lost during the 3 game slide.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Fun with numbers

I found myself in a library this week, so I did some research.

Peterson's 4-year Colleges is an interesting but hard to carry read. It lists information about every college in the US and Canada, from the smallest trade school to the snootiest Ivy League. I scribbled some numbers that make for very surprising comparisons.

What follows is the name of a school, it's enrollment, and the percentage of the freshman class that has an SAT score, verbal and math, above 500, 600 and 700. ( I was unable to find a source for the percentage of test takers scoring in each threshold.) I have grouped them by conference, alphabetically, along with some other schools for comparison.

Baylor 11.5 89/92 46/50 10/11
Colorado 26.1 87/91 40/50 6/9
Iowa State 21.3 82/89 47/62 13/23
Kansas 21.3 18/96 24/57 30/11 #
Kansas State 19.1 18/93 24/48 30/9 #
Missouri 22.1 89/87 51/54 12/11
Nebraska 17.1 79/86 43/51 13/16
Oklahoma 20.3 18/98 24/75 30/18 #
Okie State 18.8 70/76 23/33 3/5
Texas 37.4 88/92 55/66 15/23
Texas A&M 35.7 82/88 43/57 8/13
Texas Tech 23.3 78/86 27/36 4/5

Illinois 29.6 90/97 63/82 18/45
Indiana 29.5 71/77 27/33 4/7
Iowa 20.1 87/91 50/54 16/16
Michigan 24.8 95/98 70/85 20/41
Michigan State 35.4 74/82 35/44 7/10
Minnesota 32.7 86/90 50/60 20/13
Northwestern 8.0 99/100 91/94 51/63
Ohio State 37.5 85/91 42/54 9/14
Penn State 34.8 88/93 43/61 8/16
Purdue 30.7 77/84 30/43 5/10
Wisconsin 29.7 91/97 60/77 16/28

Dartmouth 4.1 100/99 93/94 65/70
Drake 2.9 86/90 47/60 13/13
Grinnell 1.5 99/99 86/91 48/46
Luther 2.6 89/93 60/63 14/16
Northern Iowa 11.3 55/66 29/27 6/8
Notre Dame 8.3 98/99 86/91 44/54

# only ACT scores reported- percentage of students scoring an 18, 24 and 30

Some notes:

First of all, sorry about the formatting. I didn't want to muck things up with frames.
This is NOT a scientific comparison, just a snapshot. My logic is that the higher the percentage of students in the right hand column, the tougher the acaddemics. Stat is not my day job, I'm sure someone will point out all the things I've done wrong.

My own personal comparison of how the ACT and SAT compare: the ACT has a higher percentage of students at 18 and 24 compared to the SAT 500 and 600, but the 30 and 700 are in the ballpark of each other.

I was surprised by how similar the Big XII schools are, and how big the spread is in the Big 10.

As always, this is for entertainment purposes only. No wagering.


Cyclone hitting stride at right time.

First of all, K State isn't very good.

Their offense is downright anemic, and if not for the tight end and monsterous fullback, would be non-existant. The Cyclone D was easily able to shut down the running game and harras the QB, leading ISU to a 45-17 drubbing.

Take the last 4 games as a unit, and the D is making games winnable: they contained two talented running QB's, and demolished two subpar offenses. Turnovers are leading to short fields, easy scores, and a demoralized opposition. The fact that a healthy Stevie Hicks has perked up the offense is a bonus.

And while this winning streak is unprecidented (the first time ISU has scored 37+ points against three straight conference oponents) it gets much steeper the rest of the way: Colorado in Ames and at Kansas. CU is probably the best team ISU will play this year, and KU will most likely be 5-5 and needing a win to go bowling and save their coach's job. (KU had only scored 46 points in their previous 5 games before today's 40-15 win over Nebraska. A blocked punt and an INT were both returned for TDs, and a safety helped pad the final.) Those will be tough nuts to crack.

But now is not the time to doubt the Cyclones. When on a roll, you bet the roll continues. Three straight breathers is a heck of a roll.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My football view has changed

I had always been a bit skeptical of the Great Back School of football. I always looked at the talented offensive linesin front of the marquee backs and assumed they were at least half of the equation. All it takes is a team that throws in #2 after #1 gets hurt and nothing changes to question the Great Back. How many All-Pro backs did Denver produce that later found little success after moving to another team?

But Saturday's ISU thumping of a$m made one thing clear: ISU is a very different team with a mostly healthy Stevie Hicks carrying the rock. When the running game has to be respected, Meyer is free to shred bad pass coverage. It was a pleasant change of scenery for the Cyclones- dumping a perrenial power on their field, and going away to boot.

All Hail the Great Back Theory!


Sunday, October 30, 2005

An interesting experiment

My day job is in television, and I do a bit of freelance work running camera for ESPN and Fox Sports. I often get funny looks when I respond to the question "How was the game?" with "I don't know; I didn't really see it." I now have a way for people to understand how uninteresting the view sometimes is.

TBS airs a game in prime time each Saturday night. On Dish Network, 5 cameras are fed live to the satellite with no editing, or graphics to get in the way: all you have is that camera and whatever the audio mix the main game is receiving. You can hear what is going on, but you only see whatever that camera is shooting. Trust me, it's much less interesting than you think. IN the case of TBS, Saturday's game between Texas and Okie State featured 5 camera feeds: two at field level, one on the goal post, one higher from a corner, and the end zone shot.

If you bounce around the feeds, you discover one constant: one or both coaches is on one camera or another almost every single moment of the game. The director only takes about one sixth of the potential coach shots he could take. You only have to watch a close-up of a receiver blocking a defensive back on a running play two or three times before the charm of "watching the camera you want" wears off. I would like to line up six monitors, put the "Game" in one and these other 5 options in the others and use it as a class for the casual fan. To have the headset traffic from the truck going out would be even better.

That would be true entertainment.



As I drove back home after a weekend out of town, I contemplated what dimissive headline the Register would conceive to minimize ISU's thrashing of a$m in College Station. "A&M AWOL" was the best I could arrive at.

It is sport among Cyclone fans to dream up Register headlines that pick out any downside of ISU success. Perhaps "ISU survives big plays" would have been apt for Saturday, with one Aggie TD scored on a long run, and another called back by a holding penalty. The Rag often finds a way to downplay the big moments in Cyclone Nation while pumping up every tiny glimmer of hope from Iowa City. A win over a last place team by Iowa is a "Crushing"; the same win in Ames is "workmanlike". A close loss to a better team "Valiant" for one; "Horrific" the other.

So imagine my surprise at the positive spin Saturday's win received. "Historic" read the headline, the copy even more glowing, accurately reflecting the dismantling of a team some had thought was a darkhorse in the league. How fun to read about the same game you watched on TV.

Perhaps a play on "Silent Killers" would have been appropriate given the way normally boisterous Kyle Field fell silent as the margin grew bigger. Most of the fans left late in the third quarter. When your fans are making more noise than the home team, you know you have done your job.

The win does make one wonder just how good this team can be, since we have witness how bad- most of Illinois State, the first half against Army, the second half against Baylor, the last 10 minutes versus Mizzou- the team is capable of playing. But we should all step back and enjoy the moment: 8 solid quarters of football against two South teams that dominated ISU on both sides of the ball just last season. Two complete games with little to turn the nose up at. A team on a losing streak coming to Ames this week, and the North leader on the horizon. Potential abounds, still. One can even contemplate a bowl trip to a town other than Shreveport. Happy day, happy day.


Sunday, October 23, 2005

For once, a fourth quarter breather

It has been a tough few weeks for Cyclone fan. Saturday's 37-10 win over Okie State at least gave ISU fans a relaxed fourth quarter for a change.

Most of it came from OSU's five turnovers, but who is to quibble? They won a game they had to and should have won. They flexed some defensive muscle. They passed the ball well. It was all a bit of a relief, even after some early nervousness when OSU took a 10-7 lead. But when you have found a way to lose your last three, any win is a good win.

So now ISU starts another frantic run towards bowl eligibility, but none of the four remaining games are gimmies. A road trip to a$m is a likely loss given history, and home games against KSU and CU will be challenges. On paper, the best matchup for ISU, at KU to end the season, could be a trap. The Cylones could win all four. They could also lose all four, and I would be surprised by neither circumstance.

The sooner they get two, the better we will all feel.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bad teams, take 3

Everything I stated in my last post still holds true. Bad teams find a way to lose. Iowa State fans have been witness to the maxim for more than 100 football seasons.

The only bright spot to come from the three losses is the chance to chant the Cyclone Classic Cheer: "Wait 'till basketball! Wait 'till basketball!" (like Nebraska cares).

One glimmer of hope: ISU has left on it's schedule three teams that rank below it on the current Sagarin rankings: OSU this week, K State and Kansas, who has an amazingly motionless offense and will probably fire their coach at the end of the year. Win all three, and they get another bowl trip, and opponent the can beat and the three weeks of practice to work on next season. That's the goal now. Anything more is gravy.

It was ironic that during the loss to Baylor the ISU marketing department began running their TV ads for the coming hoops season. The men's team has a great slogan: "I Will". Taken to heart, it should encourage each player to play his role, do his job, win some games. When a team has some filthy talent like Stinson, it is natural to begin to stand around and wait for him to make the play to save the day. There were moments during Jamaal Tinsley's senior year that this happened. Hopefully Wayne can get his crew to avoid these lapses at critical moments.

It is that slogan that seems to be lacking in the football team at the moment. When the key opportunity presents itself, the football player just can't catch the pass, grab the fumble cleanly, or score without fumbling. One play in each loss would have resulted in a probable win, and ISU is getting BCS buzz. Instead, they are hanging on for dear life.

A game of inches indeed.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bad teams find a way to lose

It was appropriate that the worst and third worst B12 teams (from the perspective of all time conference records) met in Ames, both coming off OT road losses to their nearest conference rival. Each team had plenty of chances to win last week, both each found the way to lose. The Baylor-Iowa State matchup resulted in less one team winning, more the other team finding a way to lose.

Each program has historically struggled to win games in the league. Near misses were always punctuated by the blown play, the dropped pass, the defensive stop gone aray. ISU had the opportunity to put Baylor on the ropes, but fumbled. A fine scoring drive died on another fumble. Baylor eventually sealed the game by converting late first downs on bad defensive assignments.

Like last week at Nebraska, ISU had chances to win late, and failed on every opportunity. Today, the Cyclones again failed when opportunity knocked. ISU, despite easily moving the ball most of the day, found the way to lose.

Which means the Cyclones are now at a crossroads. Each of their remaining games is winnable, on paper. Each game is also, on paper, loseable. Three wins gets a bowl bid, more a nicer bowl bid. But this team's lack of playmakers makes even three wins a reach. The season is at a crossroads, with no gimmies in sight.

ISU was Baylor's fist B12 win back in '96. They are now BU's first conference road win. The Bears appear willing to toss the designation of "Doormat" on someone else. Hopefully the Cyclones make the plays to avoid that tag.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Perspective is a funny thing

I was in the stands for the ISU-Nebraska game in 2004, and the differences in the two teams was stark. ISU looked skilled, polished, strong. Nebraska looked small, slow and confused. It was a complete flip of what we are used to seeing in the series.

Fast forward a year, and read the quotes coming out of Lincoln.

“I think it’s been on all of our minds. It was a bad loss. They were a beatable team, and we should’ve beaten them.”

What game was he watching?

ISU outplayed the Huskers in every phase of the game until the last 10 minutes. Only when the ISU staff went to the soft prevent zone to prevent the big play did the Nebraska offense find any life. The 7 point margin was as close as the game got at any point.

ISU was beatable? Well, so were the Huskers. Even more so.

I suppose it's the only good face the Nebraska staff and crew can put on the game. A loss to ISU is not easy to swallow for the Big Red crowd. Coach Calahan can't start the post game presser with "They've passed us in both talent and scheme. It's going to take a while for us to catch up in both." The earth would open up and swallow him whole the moment he crossed the Missouri. So the loss is couched as "We should have won. A break here, a play there, we win."

Another loss this year and they might consider giving up football; if they lose 3 of 4 to the Cyclones, clearly they have forgotten what they are doing. Which way to the baseball field?

The ISU game is critical for Nebraska. A win, and they are in the driver's seat for the North title. A loss, and every team on their schedule is looking at them as a possible benchmark win, bad record or not. With Tech bringing it's wild road show into Lincoln the following Saturday, NU needs some confidence against a quality opponent. Fast.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Iowa Factor

If the CSJ staff were betting types, money could be made by simply betting on the teams that Iowa avoids in their conference schedule.

Since the Big TenEleven went to the "Miss Two" schedule in 1993, two conference teams are off the schedule of each conference team. Those teams come on and off in pairs, so each team misses a home and home with themissing opponent.

Since that schedule was begun, the teams Iowa has missed have gone to bowl games at a much higher rate than the conference as a whole, 70% to 59%.

According to JHowell's excellent site, since 1993 Big TenEleven teams have made 78 bowl appearances out of a possible 132 seasons (11 teams x 12 seasons) for a 59% appearance rate. Of the 24 teams Iowa hasn't played in that span, 17 have earned bowl bids, or 70%. 2004 was the first year that the streak was broken, as neither Nothwestern or Indiana went bowling- although at 6-6, NW was on the cusp. In fact, in 6 of those seasons both teams Iowa missed went to bowl games ('93- WI OSU; '94 WI OSU; '97 MSU PSU; '99 MI PU; '00 MI PU; '01 IL OSU).

The case can be made that Iowa dodged possible losses due to the luck of the scheduling draw. In several of those years ('93, '97, '01 ) playing one or both bowl-earning teams missing from their schedules could have knocked Iowa from bowl contention.

Interestingly, only the '03 Northwestern squad would have been bounced from a bowl with a loss to an Iowa team they didn't play. The other 16 Iowa-dodgers had wins to spare, meaning Iowa gained more from this schedule anomoly than the teams they missed.

Who to like in 2005? Michigan State and Penn State, both of whom have jumped out 4-0 and 1-0 in the Big TenEleven. iowa dodges two more bullets, while getting Indiana and Northwestern back on their docket. Imagine that.


Good team? Bad team?

Three games in, and the jury is still out on the 2005 Cyclones. Good team with a couple of bad nights? Bad team with one perfect effort against a rival?

Much of ISU's win over Army left the observer wanting more: More effort, more heart, more execution of what ISU wants to do well. ISU was simply outplayed for much of the game, yet pieced together opportunities to eek out a win. They exerted themselves at the right times and the right ways to get the win, just as they did against Illinois State.

Like the win over Iowa, I view this from the "The Glass Is Half Full" section of the stadium. Cyclone teams of the past would have wilted before the cadets and lost going away, tumbling from the ranked to the just rank, and simmering in their own gutless juice to a 4-7 finish. This Cyclone unit overcame an inspired Army team, the pressure of national TV, and their own bad road and halftime-deficit history to win the game. The victory was earned through defensive pressure and opportunistic offensive play.

Good teams overcome bad nights. So far, we have seen the extremes of how ISU can play, and they are 3-0 headed into Lincoln. They have found the way to win. Hopefully the good game/bad game trend follows form and ISU is lights out at Nebraska.

Until proven otherwise, this ISU squad is unlike their predessors: They win even when they shouldn't.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Here lies Trev Albert's career

We mustn't let the football season pass any further without noting the end of Trev Albert's national TV career. It's death was self-inflicted.

Trev felt he wasn't "being respected" internally, so he decided not to show up for work on a football Saturday. They pull Beano Cook from his cyronic chamber every Saturday so he can wax about the glory that was Notre Dame back is '23, but Trev skips out? That's the only day of the week he really HAD to be there- ESPN could cover any of the other six days. Knucklehead.

I'm sure he will get another gig- CBS maybe, or FOX if they decide to spin up a weekly football show, perhaps radio- but he will never again have a pulpit with the reach of the ESPN blowtorch, and the universe it a better place for it. For of all of Albert's stupid opinions- and every talking head is paid to clutch a few tightly to his chest- the most laughable was how he was an unashamed Nebraska apologist.

NU gets thumped by Colorado, then gets a shot at the title? No problem!

NU recruits thugs to win? Why did they wait?

Also-rans like ISU think they are good enough to run with mighty NU? Ph-shaw! Pretenders! I don't care what the score was or how many games they have won the last 5 years. ALL HAIL THE GLORY THAT WAS NEBRASKA!

Because of that, I won't miss him a bit. While I realize that much of televised sports is entertainment first, I still want at least a shred of objectiveness in that entertainment, and that is where Alberts failed most often.


New year, same old excuses

Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of a Cyclone win over the despised Hawkeyes is reading the same old chestnut excuses trotted out to explain just how the mighty Hawks could be beaten by the lowly Clowns:

"ISU wanted it more"
"This game is their Super Bowl"
"McCarny's rah-rah is better in a big game than Ferentz's unemotional apporoach"
"Iowa always drops a non-confernce game they shouldn't"
"Iowa puts all their focus on the conference season"
"The Hawks would have won if it hadn't been for....."

Suppose ISU somehow wins in IC next fall. Simply cue up each of these lines and speak them to the Iowa fan nearest you, before he can get them out of his mouth. It will end the conversation quickly, and you both can get back to your beers.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Another corner turned

In many ways, Saturday's stunning upset of 8th ranked Iowa was new territory. Unlike so many Iowa-Iowa State games over the last 25 years, it was Iowa that looked tight, lacked emotion and effort, and gift wrapped the game for the other team. And unlike other Cy-Hawk clashes from the past, ISU was able and willing to take a game the other team was trying to give away.

Those twin developments should bring much joy to Cyclone fan as we look ahead to the rest of the season. If Iowa is truly good and ISU forced them into mistakes, ISU has a realistic shot at every game left on the schedule. If Iowa was a fraud at #8, they have a season of frustration ahead with 4 or 5 more losses possible. That's a long way from being touted as a possible #1.

But the fact that ISU took the gifts presented to them, and didn't try to level the playing field themselves speaks volumes about the state of the program. Consider all the games during in the recent series that ISU had a chance to win, but didn't: 1977, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, and even 2004. Iowa gave ISU the opportunity, but ISU couldn't capitalize. Not anymore.

For a final summary of Saturday, visit this blog and enjoy the photos. The last one is the best.


Monday, September 05, 2005

The runup begins

And so the hype for Iowa - Iowa State begins, and for the upteenth year the theme is: biggest game ever?

On paper, yes. Which should guarrentee a lousy game.

The best games come in unexpected years. The 1980 10-7 ISU win came between two teams that only managed 10 wins between them. 1990 had a wild 45-35 Iowa win in Iowa City. The 2002 36-31 ISU win mirrored the two teams seasons in reverse: Iowa's first half explosion equalled ISU's 6-1 start, and their second half collapse foreshadowed the Cyclones 1-6 finish. ISU's brilliant 3rd quarter was equal to the miracles Iowa would pull the remainder of the season.

I don't expect such excitement this year, however.

ISU's offense and FG unit still appear to be a serious work in progress. Iowa defense, while potentially not as good as last year, is still stout, and should hold ISU under 20 points.

Iowa's offense looks to be another juggernaut, and given ISU's inability to force pressure rushing 4 and a tendancy to get burnt deep, I expect Iowa to score whenevr they need to.

ISU can't win this game on their own; Iowa will need to lose. Hopefully the Black and Gold crowd get a case of Tight Helmet at inopportune times.


Saturday, September 03, 2005


Iowa State's win over Illinois State was less than impressive.

What we learned:

The defense is good enough to win some games. They are not good enough to carry the team against solid opposition.
Meyer can make great throws when given time.
The OL still can't run block well.
DeAndre Jackson can be beaten deep.
The kicking game is still an adventure.
Special teams, placekicking asside, is a stregnth.

Early prediction: Iowa 35, ISU 14. Just not enough O for ISU to keep up.

More to follow as the week progresses.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Another corner turned

The maturation of the ISU football program and fan base continues.

Ask your average Cyclone fan this: If ISU splits with Iowa and Nebraska, which win would you prefer?

CSJ's highly unscientific polling shows a sea change in the thinking of Cyclonedom: A win in Lincoln is preferred over a beating of the Hawkeyes. This is monumental.

When ISU football was just another program, a win over the Bumblebees would make or break a season. But with 2004's near-miss, Cyclone fan now realizes there are bigger prizes than downing Kirk and Crew. The Iowa game may not be second tier to NU, CU and KSU, but a loss to the former will easily be remedied by wins over the latter.

During the dark days of The Streak, Iowa fan would belittle Cyclone fan with: "The ISU game is less important than every Big 10 game." While I always doubted Iowa fans enjoyed a pummelling of Indiana more than a pummelling of ISU, they had reason to place the Ohio State and Michigan games above their matchup with the Cyclones. They still do.

But now, so do the Cyclones. That is the best sign of football health I can think of.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

So long, Bruce; Thanks for all the dollars

Bruce VDV has given notice: I'm jumping from the plane with no apparent parachute.

Which is the best way he could leave, considering the perhaps shabby treatment he has received from the University for being asked to work without a contract.

What did he do in that time? He cemented Mac, Fennelly and Wayne to contract extensions. He hired a potentially competent softball coach. He announced fundraising and ticket sales are at an all-time high.

Given results like that, I would recommend whoever hires him in the future continue the month-to-month standing. He does nice work not knowing where his next paycheck is coming from.

In my eyes, Bruce only had three black marks, two of which were forced upon him: Dumping baseball and Men's swimming (a gift from Gene Smith), the horrid way that LE's drinking was handled (a situation perhaps directed by the President's office), and his rather vanilla personality. Bruce was never very good on the summer rubber chicken circuit. He wasn't a glad-hander and back-slapper. He didn't buy trays of drinks at Kelly's. He somehow got donors to open their checkbooks and build things without be Mr. Smooth. He was an AD only an accountant could love.

That accountant is leaving ISU athletics in as solid a financial shape as they have been in recent memory, with a solid foundation for future revenue growth. While ISU's budgets still pale in comparison to most of the league, no ground is being lost, and ISU is performing at perhaps the highest win/dollar ratio in the XII.

For that, we thank you, Bruce.


Saturday, August 06, 2005

Blogs, rumors and the "working press"

In case you haven't noticed, the internet is rapidly changing how the news media does it's job. News consumers are no longer content to wait for the morning paper to find out how their team did last night. They want the box score, quotes and analysis almost before the game has ended. This is making it tough on all flavors of media, but most dramatically on the print folks.

Sometimes they lash out.

Nancy has one correct point: she has to verify everything she is going to print as fact. This means talking to the parties involved directly, which is the central tenant of good journalism.

Where she wanders astray is in her portrayal of those who post on message boards or write blogs like this one.

The money quote:

"Read the blogs if you want. Read the message boards. But do it for entertainment, not information. Don't accept anything you read on them as truth unless it has been independently verified.

Usual scenario: A loser tries to make himself seem important by posting information that makes him appear to be an insider, "in the know."

Worse case scenario: Gambling interests, bookies, the mob pass off inaccurate information about a player or team as truth to try to influence wagering or the outcome of a contest. They're counting on readers and viewers to be gullible.

Don't be."

While a few may be losers living in their mother's basements, most are not. We have jobs, families, lives. We just happen to be passionate enough about something to write about it. It's a virtual barroom argument.

But what is getting stuck in the craw of Nancy and the "working press" is that despite the vast amounts of smoke generated online, there is a significant amount of fire. Enough fire that sportswriters now cruise the message boards looking for the next one. It's part of their beat now.

In fact, most of the major local sports stories have been first reported, unverified, online: Coach Peterson's child porn, Eustachy's drinking, Jon Beutjer's roommate problems, Pierre Pierce's dating struggles, etc. Some of these floated around in cyberspace for days before the "working press" either noticed, or were able to get anything on the record. Flat out, they are getting beat, especially the Register.

A sports page that was once one of the nation's best is now second banana to papers like the Ames Tribune. They seldom send a staff photographer to away games for either Iowa or ISU, content to work with whatever AP sends them. Their drop in circulation month to month and year to year is way above the industry average, and no improvement is in sight.

So those who do mediocre work, and who are barely able to justify their job at an operation that focuses not on the news, but on maintaining a 20% profit margin, get the most belligerent at those who do better work for free.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

And now, for the contrary opinion

In my last post, I played the wet blanket. Now I present an outsider who is willing to toss an damp sleeping bag on ISU football.

This Nebraska columnist holds to the most damning of opinions about ISU: If ISU can win the division, the division must suck. As in, ISU is a constant of football physics: they never improve much above a certain level, so if you lose to them, it says more about how bad you are than how good ISU might be.

He also gets a nice dig in about ISU celebrating a bowl win over Miami OH. I suspect after the year NU had, a bowl win would have been greeted with Gatorade showers all around.

And while he gives a nod to Dan and the rebuilding job he has done, the piece still has an air of "Enjoy it while we're down". Much like what Cyclone fans read and heard during their 5 year run over the Evil Empire. We've heard this record before.

We shouldn't be surprised. It will take a handful of division titles before the rest of the league thinks much of ISU.

This is a damn good time to begin. If winning itself isn't motivation enough, stuffing a trophy down a naysayer's throat should be.


Monday, August 01, 2005

Reel yourselves in, Cyclone fans

The CSJ staff was at a barbeque Saturday night where a circle of Cyclone fans were noisily arguing what the coming football and basketball seasons held. It was an awakening for us.

We have heard rumblings through the summer of bubbling optimism among the Cardinal and Gold crowd, but we could hardly believe our ears at some of the scenarios that were being seriously discussed.

"If the kicking game doesn't kill us, we win the Big XII North"

"If Taggert comes through, we can win the league"

"I think we can sweep Iowa in Football and Basketball"

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Slow down! What the heck has happened to the Cyclone fan of old? The "Just don't embarrass us" school of support? The "Just happy to be here" mentaility?

Yes, there were plenty of happy signs from last season in both football and basketball. Yes, with improvement in some areas both teams could be even more successful. Yes, that optimism has manifested in a record number of season tickets being sold for football, and should be expected in basketball.

But have some restraint. We are Cyclone fans, after all.

How many times have you let optimism carry your spirit away only to have it crushed on the turf of Norman or Lincoln or Iowa City? How many near misses have gone by over the years, dampening our souls for an entire spring and summer? How many season lost to one key injury, one huge turnover, one missed kick?

We want success as much as you, but we know better than to tempt fate and mock karma. Assume the glass is half empty until you get a finger in there to confirm otherwise.

Be hopeful, but keep it to yourself, Cyclone fan. Besides, nobody likes a "told you so".


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Perhaps ISU is serious after all

There may be hope on the Olympic sports horizon after all.

ISU made what appears to be a solid hire in Stacy Gemeinhardt, who comes from DII Emporia State.

Unlike her predecessor, Gemeinhardt brings a nice winning percentage to Ames, .688 in four seasons. Her team won conference titles and an NCAA berth. The team's record books were rewritten during her tenure. She won a B12 title as a player at Mizzou. On paper, she knows what she is doing.

Some may view DII success with scorn, that it's not "Big Time". It may have a smidge of merit when it comes to adjusting to recruiting DI talent vs. the DII skills she has been working with. But the staff at CSJ has always believed that winning coaches can win at any level: winning is winning. The strategies may shift a bit, but the skills are the same: developing talent, teaching X's and O's, motivating maximum performance every game.

Best of all, by hiring a quality coach for an Olympic sport, ISU confirms that it wants to compete in not just the revenue sports, but across the board. Hurrah!

Here's hoping the new staff can recreate the success it had at Emporia, and remove softball from it's "token Olympic and Title IX sport" status at ISU.


Friday, July 15, 2005

On a related note

Before Cyclone fan celebrates Football's newfound committment to winning at all costs, consider the recent and distant past for perspective:

Lou Holtz, who quit earlier this year as the coach at South Carolina, now appears to have cheated during his 6 years there. The best part: he cheated and still didn't win, finishing 33-37, 19-29 in the hyper competitive SEC.

Not that any of this should be a surprise. He left scandal behind him after tenures at Arkansas, Minnesota and Notre Dame. The surprising thing is that he didn't get caught cheating at neither William and Mary or NC State.

And in the thankfully distant past, we present Iowa State's own Jim Criner, who went 17-25-2 in four seasons (which his XFL bio describes as "helped the Cyclones become competitive"), got blown out by Iowa in each season, and landed the Cyclones on probation. Nice work, Jim.

While past performance is no guarrantee of future results, past cheating seldom leads to good places.

Hopefully Cyclone football players can avoid their own "Chalupa" episodes.


Welcome to Big Time Football

Nothing says serious college football more than ethical lapses, and ISU has now officially stamped "SERIOUS" across the front of it's media guide.

The return of Jason Berryman to Cyclone football will be viewed as a landmark in the development of McCarney's program. ISU is no longer content to be a program with high ethics and low winning percentages- they are all in emotionally. Jason is probably as high a risk to DM's credibility as any kid ever to pull on a red helmet in Ames, although there are reports that he may have learned his lesson and grown up a bit while in jail.

But the fact remains that DM's track record was simple: get in legal trouble, hit the road. More astute readers can rattle off the list of names who have gone this route. It now appears that ISU has again thrown off the burden of having athletic ethics as is going to be serious about its football.

Here's hoping it works out for everyone involved.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

A positive sign

In what I consider one of the most positive signs to come out of the athletic department in months, ISU has decided to not retain the servicesnot retain the services of softball coach Ruth Crowe.

I've considered the softball team the "canary in the coalmine" of Cyclone Sports. They have long been the doormat of the Big8/12, and a lack of interest by the AD in changing the situation told me that softball was just a sport to have to remain in athletic compliance, rather than be competitive. Crowe coached in Ames for nine seasons, and compiled a stunning .377 winning percentage. Most of those wins came in the non-conference schedule, since Crowe's squads only managed a .248 percentage in conference. When your program's high point came during consecutive 6-12 B12 finishes, you are either going to continue with mediocrity, or pretend to be serious and make a change.

Softball, like baseball, is handicapped at ISU. It's tough to develop a quality program in Ames when your league opponents can schedule home games in February. With the paltry budget ISU has for sports, the "Olympic" sports are going to get crumbs compared to Nebraska and Texas. But that can only live as an excuse for so long. There should still be the occasional season where everything falls into place, the breaks go your way, and you get a winning record. Crowe's teams never approached that.

Perhaps Crowe cooked her goose during the 2002 season when she complained about having to endure an invocation before the game at the private Baptist school. Her complaints were legally incorrect, they swung a negative spotlight towards her floundering program, and probably put her on a short leash. When the team's results only went south from there, a change had to be made.

So now the hiring process has begun. I will be curious to see who is the eventual hire: A coach with a winning track record on some level, or someone who will be a good "political" hire, and who will help keep ISU in compliance. It would be nice if the new coach can do both.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

It's that time of the year again

There are a few certainties about May in Cycloneland:

Football season ticket renewals are due;

Chemical warfare breaks out on lawns across the Midwest against the insurgent known as Crabgrass;

A few voices rise up lamenting all the suffering Title IX has wrought upon college athletics.

It is never much of a cry from a numbers standpoint, but those few can get loud after a few drinks. "Those damn non-revenue sports, especially WOMEN'S sports, suck too much money from the teams that people care about." And every summer, like crabgrass, the cries of a few must be addressed.

Even the casual observer has to admit that Big Time Sports in experiencing an unparalleled arms race. The money spent on Football and Men's Basketball is staggering, and increases exponentially. The money those sports generate can be staggering, too.

That money causes two struggles: one amongst the fan base, and another within the universities themselves.

Most fans understand that Big Time Football is the cash cow that funds everything else in athletic departments. A few grumble, wishing that every nickel that football generates would be spent on football, and the program run like the semi-pro team it is.

Every university has the cadre of academics who see the millions that flow into athletic departments, and wonder why athletics still needs money from the general fund to pay the bills.

One group wants to cut all big football and men's hoops from the athletic department and let them fend for themselves. The other wants to push everything on its own self-supporting island.

Neither are right.

First, only a few dozen of the 112 schools that play Big Time Football can even begin to be self-supporting in athletics. Some who claim they solvent are probably cooking the books. If Iowa City can't, with the fat ESPN TV contract they get a cut of, few can. So without selling 700,000 football tickets each year, it's a pipe dream for schools.

I am sure that if the NCAA did not mandate a minimum of 12 varsity sports, there would be schools with FB, MBB and nothing else. They would be officially semi-pro.

Which brings us to the question: Why have varsity athletics at the college level?

Or rather, why do some schools embrace the "Olympic" sports more than others?

Stanford has 33 sports. Ohio State, 31. Iowa has 21, ISU 14. Kansas State, 12, the minimum. A big spread amongst schools who all play Big Time Football.

But get outside of the Big Time schools and it gets more interesting.

Dartmouth has 31 sports. Wartburg 21. Loras 19. Grinnell 18. Yet those schools don't receive a dime in TV revenue, and token ticket sales, if any. Yet they have sports. They hire coaches, they build facilities, and find money for athletes that doesn't say "athletic scholarship" at the top. Those schools make the effort. Those schools believe athletics enrich the lives of the athletes and the campus at large. The find a portion of the general fund to make it happen.

Yet it is the Big Time schools that cut the most sports, who grumble about the "teams nobody watches", who cringe at a few hundred thousand in general fund cash going to athletics.

It's a sham, and an embarrassment.

I don't know how common women's athletics were pre-Title IX, Big Time schools or not. I know at Iowa and ISU, they were non-existent. But any administrator or fan who implies that a men's sport has to go away to meet Title IX is full of it. The problem of funding women's sports, and Olympic sports in general, isn't a lack of cash.

It's a lack of will.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

This series shouldn't interesting

With Iowa's 4-0 shutout of ISU in softball, Iowa won the inaugural Hy-Vee Cy-Hawk Series over ISU 13-8.

A Cyclone win wouldn't have changed the outcome, as Iowa had built a commanding lead in the fall.

Given the budgets of the two schools, and ISU's struggles in "Olympic" sports, Iowa should win this 4 years out of five. An ISU should be an embarrassment in Iowa City.

Why it's stacked against ISU:

-A win in football is worth 3 points, while all other sports are worth 2. As long as Iowa is a Top-10 program in football and softball, that's 5 points right there. It's half over at that point.

-Since the basketball game is played in December, as long as Alford is coaching in IC, they win 3 of 4.

-Women's swimming in Ames is essentially an intramural team. 2 more points for Iowa.

-Despite the good play in women's basketball for ISU, the series will be a 50/50 proposition for the near future, with the advantage going to the home team. Again, if the game had been played in February this year, ISU would have won. Unfortunately, they play the game in December.

-Finally, the clincher: 2 bonus points for academics that each school could earn. This is the biggest gift to IC, and will clinch their wins for years to come. With the athletic graduation rate in IC 7 points above the national average, it's a lock for them for the near future. With ISU 3 points below the average, with high turnover in basketball as of late counting against it, that's another 2 points ISU will somehow have to pick up elsewhere, which is tough.

So despite an easy 4 points from two women's gymnastics duals each year, ISU has far too much to overcome to win the series often. The would require 3 wins in the 4 high profile sports- Football, Wrestling and Men's and Women's Basketball- to have a shot. That event is so rare it's not even worth discussing.

The difference is money. Being good in Olympic sports requires extra cash. Having enough academic types to ride the butts of football and basketball players, making sure they are getting to class, checking on their progress to graduation, takes cash. Buckets of it. Cash that a program like ISU, always on the verge of cutting sports and deferring capital projects, just doesn't have.

Add a permanent spot in the trophy case in Iowa City for this one. The field is sloped their way.


Sunday, April 17, 2005

Spring Game highs and lows

The CSJ staff was unable to attend the Spring Game in person, and had to steal moments on the radio. Mac makes a good color man, and isn't afraid to tell it like it is. When a reciever was held after beating his man, Mac credited the DB with holding "every way he knew how". Mac was, of course, his sunny-side-up norm, and plays were ususally more a credit to a guy making a play, rather than a someone screwing up. Knowing the playbook and defensive schemes gives a color man a unique perspective.

First, the good news, according to the press reports:

Meyer is a solid #1, and looked great. Not being pressured much helps.

Flynn's move to WR was brilliant. Great athlete with super hands, Flynn looks to be a go-to reciever for the fall. He is exhibit A of Mac's style of finding a way to put the best athletes on the field.

General athleticism of the fist team appears solid.

Now the bad. Fortunately, it's short.

The FG game still stinks. 4 of 5 attempts were missed. Ouch. 17 kickers on the team at the moment, and nobody can push it through. I shudder to think how many games that will cost ISU come fall.

Some posters on the message boards are questioning the OL, and why the first team offense couldn't crush the second team D. I will always contend that nothing can be spun more than a Spring Game. Some see inept OL play for the first team, some see depth in the second team D. It's the classic half-empty, half-full situation. Neither team ran much of the playbook, and each may have tried to work on weaknesses rather than highlight stregnths.

Mac is comfotable in his job, and doesn't feel the need to put on a good show for the few thousand that care enough to show up. Unlike the staff at Nebraska, who opened it up to prove to the massive crowd they do know what they are doing. That's nice, but they will need to win a few (or a lot) to keep the Husker fans content.

Again, the empty/full test: Great offense or bad defense? Superior talent or big drop off? Too bad their early schedule this fall, except for a game aginst Pitt, won't test them much. Their first 5 games are in Lincoln, and after roadies to Waco and Columbia, they could be 7-0 when the Sooners come calling.

BTW- It's impressive to see 68K show up in Lincoln for their Spring Game. Nice devotion. I would have to check my math, but I think 68K is the exact number of fans who went to see Nebraska basketball last season. Total.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Now that's a rivalry

Note: This is only somewhat off-topic. Bear with me.

If you watch SportsCenter, you saw the tape: A Champions League match between cross-town rivals AC and Inter Milan which featured dozens of lit flareserupted in a near riot being tossed onto the pitch, one of which struck a player in the shoulder.

Dozens of lit flares?

I can see one or two getting in taped to some guy's leg, but dozens require a group action. I've been to European soccer matches, and American fans have no idea the level of security that is involved. Most noticeably, each section of stands is fenced off from every other section. You can't just wander about. If your seats are in section 14, you go in and out the gate market for 14. That's it. Opposing fans have separate seating, isolated from the home fans, and their entrance will be a block away from any of the home fans entrances, just to avoid conflict. Cops in riot gear are everywhere. It's serious stuff.

Can you imagine the reaction if lit flares came out of the stands during the iowa-ISU game? It would be a full-blown riot. Anyone with more than 2 beers in their system would be going after anyone in the opposite colors. It would be madness, and great television. iowa-ISU would immediately vault up the rivalry charts and be compared to Ohio State-Michigan, OU-Texas and Florida-Tennessee. Talking heads would wring their hands, then off camera say "Wow! What passion". We would be Big Time Must See TV. The game would be an ABC national game for 5 years, guarrenteed.

Not that I'm condoning it. It's a truly stupid act, and somebody could have been seriously hurt. The iowa-ISU game would probably be wiped off the schedule indefinately, and whoever's fans lit it up would be branded as hooligans indefinately. Having ten thousand drunk fans partying the parking lot- like the game in Ames in 2003- looks tame in comparison.

We've got nothing on soccer. Nothing. It's best that way, too.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ranom thoughts

In no particular order:

UNC's best defense in the NC game was their zone. For whatever reason, it discombobulated Illinois' offensive flow, and left them with lousy 3 point shots as their only choice. They didn't make enough of them. When UNC played man, they got eaten up by UI's speed. When UNC played D, they were scary good. When they didn't, they were just another team. It must be nice to be able to turn it on and off like that.

With Roy Williams winning the title he never could at KU, and KU's loss in the first round of the NCAA's to #14 Bucknell, this was officially the Worst Tourney Ever in the eyes of Jayhawk fans. What a shame. 3 McDonald's AA's and they go oh-fer: No B12 title, no tourney title, first round loss in the NCAA. Bill Self will need to win one of the 3 next year, or his seat will start getting very, very warm.

Billy Packer is the master of the obvious. It took him 35 minutes of clock to notice that the officials were ignoring Illinois' moving screens. I saw it in the first 3 minutes. I know the producer is screaming in your year, but get your nose out of your notes. It's JV.

How close were the ISU women this year? They were tied late at Baylor, but lost. They win that game, they get every tiebreaker, and win the Big 12 title. Oh- and Baylor won the B12 tourney, and now is in the NCAA title game. Slouches.

All reports are that Todd Blythe is ahead of schedule on his repaired knee, and that Austin Flynn is now a starter at WR. Flynn could become the biggest position change since Billups move from RB to DB. Get the best athletes on the field.

I just can't dig into spring practice reports the way some fans do. Really, do we need to know how the #3 TE is progressing? That's why I could never be a legit sportwriter. Some eitor would want me to write about a teams prospects at middle outside linebacker in nickel packages. Ugh.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Entering the Horse Lattitudes

Once basketball ends, it's a long, quiet slog through summer waiting for football to spin up. Some fans, who are more serious than us at CSJ, can fill their spare moments with the endless horse race that is recruiting. We've just never had the heart for it, unless the player in question is a high-profile local kid, and even then it's tough.

We'll do our best to fill the summer with interesting things to keep you checking in.

Take today's tidbit:

In a long article that originated in the ISU Daily, and made the UWire, are two interesting nuggets. First, the NCAA may change the "K-State Rule" and allow wins against I-AA schools to count towards bowl eligibility, and it may take effect this fall, making ISU's bowl chances better. The game against Illinois State could go on as scheduled.

For us, the more interesting bit was buried at the bottom: who ISU tried to get a game with this fall, but could only get interest if they went on the road. It's a tough list: Troy, Houston, Minnesota, Southern California and Louisiana State. Only Houston failed to get to a bowl game, LSU lost to Iowa on a miracle finish, and USC won the National Championship. Playing on the road, ISU could beat 3 of the 5, but I wouldn't like the odds of it.

Which brings us to an interesting point: Is it more important for the football program to pay the bills, or get to bowls? Any home game is worth $700K minimum, even if it doesn't get you closer to being bowl eligible. Going on the road and losing doesn't get you any closer either, and you won't come away with much cash to boot. So home you stay.

The "K-State Rule" was implemented for two reasons: Preventing teams like KSU from playing 2 or 3 I-AA teams to pad their win total, and forcing more interesting I-A matchups. All that has happened is teams load up on mid-majors like Akron instead of Alabama. Everyone needs 6 home games, and will write the check to ensure it. No reason to create a penalty for those with smaller wallets that can't even get Akron.

Bring on the Redbirds!


Sunday, March 20, 2005

UNC simply too much

Perhaps the toughest thing to do in sports aside from stepping on the field in the first place is to admit when your opponent won because they were just better. Today, UNC was simply better than ISU.

But better is an understatement. While the Cyclones didn't play badly, they were simply overwhelmed but superior talent that was firing on all cyclenders. Homan was amonster inside, but UNC had two monsters of their own. Every tricky drive to the hole by Stinson or Blalock was met by an even tricker one. And so it went.

In fact, UNC looked so good at times that it was clear why they are the favorite to win the title. That makes the basketball world wonder: Is this the team that even Roy Williams can't screw up?

Roy had a long legacy of Kansas teams getting bounced early from the tourney, or making the Final Four only to falter at a key moment. This UNC squad certainly has the talent to overcome that jinx, but it will be interesting to see if they can.

Roy probably exercised some Cyclone demons from his psyche today. One could use up most of one's fingers counting up the times a Roy Boy Jayhawk team lost to a clearly inferior Cyclone squad. Hustle and moxie would down a team loaded with McDonald AA's. CBA free agents beating NBA All Stars.

Tonight, Roy can put those memories to rest. It may have been his last chance, too, for who knows how many times he will face ISU again in his career. If he wins a NCAA title, he can bury a whole closet full of ghosts, too.


Saturday, March 19, 2005


The Cyclones did what they needed to do: hustle, force some turnovers, make shots from the outside, and take away the opponent's rythym on offense. They did, and they dumped Minnesota to get an NCAA win.

The Gophers were good enough to keep ISU from ever looking flashy, or rolling up a big run to bust the game open, but they also didn't panic when the Gophers stopped doing stupid things and closed to within 3 in the second half. That may have been the biggest accomplishment of the day: staying under control and playing to win.

Now, a tremendous opportunity awaits: No. 1 seed North Carolina, in Charlotte. A win there would easily be in the Top 5 ISU wins ever, and could push for #1 if a bunch of the present Tar Heels become household names later in life. It would sertainly be on par with the "Varsity vs. JV" win over Michigan in 1985, which, for the math challenged, was 20 years ago. Nice symetry, eh?

If it's any consolation, the building will have a large number of Duke fans who have the second game of the session. Like good fans in a rivalry, they want to see their nemisis go down, and go down in a way they can mock. UNC fans rained down a chorus of "overated" as the Dukies struggled to finish off Deleware St. in their first round game. A return of that chant towards UNC would only mean good things for ISU.

Here's hoping.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

They're In!

ISU made the NCAA tourney, and there were no worries. As a 9 seed, they got in ahead of both Iowa and UNI. That's the good news.

The bad news is where they sit. Not only do they draw an improving Minnesota club, if they win that game, they get North Carolina, who is good enough to win the whole thing, in Charlotte. Can you say Home Game? Nuts.

Minnesota is a bad draw, statistically. They go a full 8 deep. They have good size and athleticism at both Center and Forward. They play good defense (63 ppg) and don't give up the 3 (32%). They rebound well (31 rpg). They REALLY block shots well (4.65 bpg) and steal like bandits (9.13 spg).

We can only hope that Wayne's trapping zone prevents Minnesota from finding a rythym, and that ISU can hit enough outside shots to keep Minny from packing in the lane.

From our view, both Iowa and UNI have a better shot at the Sweet 16. Regardless of the difficulty of each team's opening round game, ISU has by far the toughest matchup in the second round, and a coach in Roy Williams who has never been shy about delivering a beatdown when he can.

But it sure beats the NIT.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

One man short

Sorry for the delay- I've been traveling.

I listened to the call of ISU's loss to Tech in the car, and one thing was apparrent- ISU was good enough to beat Tech, if not run away from them, but they simply ran out of gas.

The same 6 guys who have burned all the minutes in the conference season did again Friday. First off the bench was Tasheed Carr, with 27 minutes. Dave Braet was next with 3.

Tech didn't go any further into its bench, but got 18 and 10 out of its guys, who hadn't played a game in 6 days. That was the difference.

Up 8 with 9 to go, Tech went 14-2 to take the lead and never looked back. ISU simply didn't have the legs to shoot a jump shot.

Fortunately, ISU won't have to play on consecutive days in the NCAA's. But with one more good set of legs, the Clones could have played their way up the seeding chart, which may have also hurt them more than helped.

The seeds to avoid are 8-9, because they get a second round date with a #1 seed. better to be involved in a 7-10, 6-11 or 5-12 game to avoid #1 so early. Here's hoping ISU can manage a #10.


Thursday, March 10, 2005


It was never in question, and comforting to see ISU put away early a team it needed to put away.

Our only lament is that there isn't enough bench to properly relieve the starters when the margins get big. Stinson played 35 minutes, Blalock 34, Homan 31.

If they still look fresh against Tech, then Wayne knew what he was doing. If they come out flat, well, that will be the first thing to grumble about.

A note about Baylor. It looks like Coach Drew is a decent guy, and is building a program the right way with young guys, rather than a slimy Juco-based quick fix. Hats off to BU for having the guts to be patient. I hope Drew gets a fair shake.

The drubbing of Baylor has guarrenteed an ISU NCAA bid. Any additional wins will only help their seeding. a$m losing to KState eliminates a$m somehow taking ISU's bid with a strong run in the tourney. Good for them. Enjoy the NIT. They will be scary in the coming years.


The Magic comes up short

It was to be expected that Hilton (South) Magic can only work so many times, and the Quarterfinal game Wednesday proves that.

For as lousy as ISU played on Tuesday, they went toe-to-toe with a very good Texas tech squad for all 40 minutes. While Keeler wants to imply that Tech benefitted from a quick whistle late, I think that is off the mark.

Tech had a very savvy play set up, once the almost guarrenteed a whistle. It was cose enough to shooting to be a shooting foul. So it goes.

What is becoming an almost weekly lament for us at CSJ is the continued struggles offensively against physical teams. The teams that slow down ISU play a "hands on" defensive style, and the best teams play that way. Long term, Fennely and crew need to figure out a way to overcome that, or they will remain a pretty good B12 program, but not an elite.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's better to be the heartbreaker

I admit it. I'd given up.

I listened to Rich and BJ describe a game where ISU only mustered 37% shooting- and needed a flurry at the end to raise it that high- and with 1 minute left and ISU down 7, I stepped away. I had an errand to run, so I stepped out of the truck at the most critical moment. I missed the free throws to draw within 1. I missed the blown CU layup, the frantic run back up the court, the 3 point try with a moment left on the clock. All I got was a pair of stunned announcers trying to describe that unlikely, and almost impossible comeback. Unbelieveable.

I almost feel bad for CU. They had the impossible dream, and almost, almost pulled it off in "Win one for the Gipper" mode. They had ISU forcing bad shots trying to get something going, seemingly handing the ball to CU when they would get within a possesion. Yet they couldn't pull it off.

One of the oldest sports cliches is that "Great teams find a way to win" but today was just sick. Heartless. Downright mean. CU's players will be haunted by that game the rest of their damn lives.

Lyndsey Medders is one cold-hearted bitch for making that shot, but I'm glad she's our bitch.


Monday, March 07, 2005

fact or fiction from the NCAA committee

There are some interesting situations locally that will show whether the NCAA is walking the walk they work so hard to talk.

The committee has long stated that factors in At-Large selections to the NCAA tournament include but are not limited to: Overall record, conference record, conference tournament performance, stregnth of schedule, road wins, record in last 10 games, record versus other tourney teams, best win/worst loss, and the RPI.

Let's look at how ISU and Iowa fare, since many of their fans think both deserve bids.

ISU, whose RPI is a releatively low 63, thinks it has earned a bid with a 9-7 conference record, and most importantly, a 9-2 run down the stretch, which included wins at Texas and Kansas, who will both earn bids.

ISU's only knocks are the start they had to the season, which included losses at Xavier, UNI, Missouri and at home to Colorado, which led to that low RPI. 9-7 in a good conference should get one in, and the Last 10 finish shows they are peaking at the right time. They should be in.

Iowa, on the other hand, has only a few things in it's favor: a better RPI at 54, and impressive early season wins over Texas, Louisville and Texas Tech, all who are in the tourney.

Iowa's downside is longer. A 7-9 record in a weak league is the first stumbling block. A loss at home to #114 Northwestern is the second. No quality road wins is third. The loss of Pierce is the foursth, because it essentially wipes those early season wins off the board for the committee. They are 5-5 down the stretch, with only a home win over Ohio State worth mentioning. On paper, they appear out.

Iowa appears even more out when you compare another team on the bubble from the Big 1011: Indiana. The RPI is only #69, and they are 15-12. But they went 10-6 in Big 1011 play. But their SOS is 18.

In the end, the committee has long championed confernce play as the most important factor, with last 10 a strong second. ISU should be in, early season be damned. If Iowa somehow gets in, and Indiana doesn't, the committee is playing by an unpublished set of rules.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

Cyclones get a huge win

Make no mistake: Saturday's win in Boulder was huge.

The fact it came over struggling Colorado does not lessen the importance. ISU had so much riding on this game, fans could have expected another Cyclone flame-out they have grown accustomed to over the decades.

The win did all of the following things:

It cemented an NCAA bid in most observers eyes. The most important factor for potential at-large teams is their record over the last 10 games played. ISU is now 8-2, and will probably be 7-3 when the seeding are made.

It boosted ISU's RPI to #62. Not great, but it will be discounted due to ISU's play over the last 6 weeks.

It locked ISU into the #5 seed in the BXII tourney, where they draw Baylor. Lose, and they draw a team they lost to as some point in the schedule.

Most of all, it proved to critics- and the Cyclones themselves- that ISU can win a road game that matters, one that they needed to win.

They came from behind to do it, on the road, in a place that has given ISU fits over the years.

In a strange coincidence, ISU split with all 5 teams in the BXII North, and was able to beat the 3 teams on the road that won in Hilton. The CSJ staff will have to dig deep into the archives to find another occurance of that happening.

ISU had to win in Boulder, and they did. A loss would have been devestating to seeding, selection and pyche.

As an aside: Why would any team NOT play ISU the way the Buffaloes did today? Sag back into a zone, limit penetration, double and triple Homan when he gets the ball, and force ISU to make some 3's. Today, ISU did, which forced CU into a man-to-man, which is strangely in ISU's favor.

When you can handicap a team by forcing them to play their preferred style of defense, you have something interesting going on.

The rest of the weekend will be easier to handle knowing ISU has punched it's ticket to the NCAA's.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Thieves with fresh legs

During the Big XII season, the contrast in the style of play between ISU's wins and losses has been stark. Wednesday's hammering of Mizzouri was exhibit A of what ISU does when it wins.

They drive to the hoop, drawing fouls and earning assists. They finish shots when they get in close, and score every time they get out on the break. But most of all, they steal. Rob. Thieve. They remove the ball from the opponent's posession with no guilt, no hesitation. It seems that a player is most vulnerable when they have driven past their defender and headed into the lane. Suddenly the ball is loose, and ISU is headed 3-on-1 the other way.

Conversely, Mizzou was in dissarray. Their first three optins are to chuck a wild 3. That works when you are Grinnell, but when you only shoot 31%, it's going to be tough to succeed. ISU only shoots 29%, but they shoot it half as often. When ISU swelled the lead from 10 to 30 in the second half, MU had no discipline on offense and even less on defense. ISU stole the ball at will, and got a good shot every time they wanted one.

ISU can seal an NCAA bid Saturday in Boulder, and they shouldn't lack for motivation. Their loss at home to CU wasn't just the low point of the season, it was the nadir of Hilton basketball since Polyester was a good fashion idea.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Fifth Seed, a sniff away from first

How tight are the XII WBB standings?

With a win at Baylor, ISU may have won the league title. Instead, they finish fifth. Wow.

Tuesday's win over KU was tough down the stretch. When ISU looked as if they were going to pull away, KU closed the gap, and almost won the thing.

Now, a week off to prep for the Big XII tourney. ISU draws Colorado at 2:30 next Tuesday. CU only managed 1 win in conference play, and their longtime coach has announced her retirement. While they will probably be full of "Win one for the Gipper" motivation, hopefully ISU can break out to an early lead and have something left in the tank for their Wednesday matchup with KSU.

I suspect there won't be many tickets availible for that one if it comes to pass.

Next week is one of the rare times the CSJ staff regrets having a day job. Oh to be independently wealthy, and hang out in KC for a week drinking beer, eating BBQ, and watching hoops.


Sunday, February 27, 2005

Play in, play out

ISU's seven game win streak played them into NCAA tourney contention. Sunday's loss may have played them out.

When the NCAA committee looks at the resumes of bubble teams, one of the big things are the "best wins" and "worst loss" lists. This lost to at 15-14 Nebraska team, at home, may hit the "worst loss" list.

The Cornhuskers exploited ISU's two big weaknesses: lack of depth inside, and flaky outside shooting.

By sending 4 to the offensive glass, NU got multiple chances, and also limited ISU's transition game by forcing the Cyclones to work hard for every defnsive rebound.

1-11 3 point shooting allowed the NU D to sit back and clog the middle, limiting Homan's touches and stymying penetration by the guards.

That game looked like January all over again, and ISU looked miles from being an NCAA worthy team. Even with two days off, they looked a half-step slow, and tired both physically and mentally. Even if they find a way to beat Mizzou Wednesday, I am unsure if they have enough in the tank to win in Boulder on Saturday, or to win more than their first round gaem in KC.

Eevn if they made the NCAA's as a 12 seed, it would take a tremendous effort to beat a 5, and effort I suspect this group doesn't have left in it.

I said this several times during the 0-5 start: Wayne's World only has one speed, and that's flat out aggressive and hustling. If ISU's 6 1/2 man rotation isn't able to do that, they are sunk.


A look back for the women

Past, present and future were all on display in Staurday's win over a$m.

First, the present. The Cyclones won the kind of game they often lose on the road: physical, with little flow, and often downright ugly. a$m, without any height, depend on speed and in your shirt (and often pulling your shirt) defense to keep the opponent from finding a rythym. That's a 180 from how ISU plays, and it the style of play they are most succeptible to, as has been noted in this blog before.

ISU might have lost that game had it been played in College Station. But it was in Ames, and they got the win. Good for them.

Now the future. Only 18 of ISU's 68 points against a$m came from players who return next year. On the year, 64% of the scoring comes from graduating seniors. Ouch.

While Lindsey Medders and Megan Ronhovde, who earn 20 points between them, are a formiddible pair, there are plenty of question marks going into next season.

And now the past. The CSJ staff went to lots of WBB games in the 80's and 90's before Bill arrived- now known as the BB period, as in "Before Bill"- and the experience was nothing like game day now. The most appropriate 80's costume for Saturday would have been someone dressed as 14,000 empty seats. I suspect the season attendance average then was less than 10% the 7230 the ladies are averaging this year. It was strickly friends, family, and those who had to be there. There were box scores that clearly added int he band and ushers to pad the numbers. It was that bad. And fortunately just a memory.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tired legs end the streak

The Cyclones seemed a step slow all night, and lost to a marginal A$M in College Station. Passes and shots that normally work didn't, and the pathetic shooting percentages reflect that.

It was the kind of night that had the game been in Ames, they might have survived. No way tonight.

4 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and an 8 minute stretch without a field sealed the deal.

Hopefully Wayne and crew do nothing but a few shooting drills the next few days leading up to Nebraska. The Clonies just look beat.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Now that ISU has everyone's attention.....

Win at some gym in Lawrence and suddenly everyone notices you're playing good ball.

Stinson is POTW on ESPN. (Follow the link at the top right corner.)'s hoops writer leads off his column with the Cyclones.

The RPI is rising to bubbe territory.

ISU is appearing on projected brackets.

Losing streak? What losing streak?

Wayne has lost the team? What?

To illustrate how good things are going, CyBlogger notes the press in Iowa City is wishing they were ISU.

Now comes a HUGE trap for ISU: College Station.

The school with the worst winning percentage since the league was formed, the Aggies are playing well at home. The team has spent the weekend reading all the good ink. Homan has to be exhausted from all the minutes he has played of late. Stinson has a long list of nagging injuries.

At some point this run has to come to an end.

I'll repeat it again: If ISU gets 2 more wins out of the remaining 4 games, and gets one in KC, they are in, no worries. Any wins outside of that will only improve their NCAA seeding.

Go get 'em fellas.


Sunday, February 20, 2005


Now that Wayne Morgan has the Cyclones on the "Rising With A Bullet" list, and their RPI has jumped about 100 points during the winning streak, how long before his name is linked to some other school who has a coach on the hot seat?

I'd say we won't have to wait until March.

Considering that a vocal minority were jumping on the "Can Margan" float only a month ago, it is further confirmation that college sports are ever more a "What Have You Done For Me Lately" business.

Enjoy the ride, Wayne. I hope it continues.



I always make a point of reading the papers that cover the opposing team. It is very illuminating to read what others think of ISU and their latest game. Saturday's win in Lawrence is no exception.

Begin with the Register's writeup, which reads of a team that did evrything well except shoot free throws, and one player who put the game on his back and took it for the win.

On the other end of the scale is the Kansas City Star, whhich call the game pitiful. They are hard on the Jayhawks. In their eyes, KU should have dispatched of the Cyclones like the hot dog wrapper that B12 teams usually are in Lawrence. But they didn't. It isn't about what ISU did or didn't do, if they earned the win or not. The visitor never wins. If KU loses, KU lost the game. This guy is Exhibit A.

Now KU has to struggle down the stretch to regain their status as a potential Number 1 seed. A team with 3 losses, the first of which didn't appear until this month, suddenly has issues. In the mind of Jayhawk fan, the entire season is single-elimination. Lose once, and hopes are dashed. This Isn't The Year. We Aren't Good Enough To Win The Big One. We Stink.

That's a tough way to view the world.

One final change in peerception fromm Saturday: Phog Allen is just another gym to Iowa State.

The last 6 years, ISU is 3-3 in Lawrence- and it could/should be 4-2 or 5-1.

The rest of the B12 is 0-40.

That's amazing, for both KU and ISU.

But it's just another gym if you're from Ames.



Fennely gambles and loses

Bill Fennely has had made a coaching career of stopping the opponents best players, and making a role player rise to the occation. Most of the time, it works. Saturday in Waco, it didn't.

When a player averaging 4 points a game uncorks 20 on you, maybe it wasn't meant to be.

Instead of being in the driver's seat for the conference title, the Cyclones will now have to win out just to get a bye in the first round of the Big XII Tourney. Not bad for a team projected to finish as low as seventh in the preseason.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Clarification: ISU's tiebreak versus KSU

Under the rules stated at, ISU loses the tiebreaker against KSU:

If both teams finish tied, since they split their head-to-head, the next tiebreaker is the record against North Division teams.

Right now, ISU has losses against KSU and Nebraska. KSU has only a loss to ISU.

Unless the Cornhuskers can do to KSU what they did to ISU in Lincoln, ISU loses that one.

The third tiebreaker is record against teams in order of finish, which can't be computed until the season ends.

Cross your fingers it doesn't come into play.