Thursday, March 30, 2006


The breeze that is carrying new coaches into ISU is blowing through the marketing department, too.

I cannot recall football tickets being sold in a smarter way in the spring. Rather than focusing on selling full and split season tickets at the maximum price, Pollard and crew are doing their best to make all of the hardest to sell seats disappear first at a discount price. Jaime grasps some economics that has escaped earlier staffs.

The biggest drag on season ticket sales, after frustrating product on the field, is the ease of buying a walkup ticket. At four or five games each fall actual seats are available the day of the game, which keeps Cyclone Football an option to many fans. They can wait until Saturday morning to decide to go or not. Weather, opponent, the games on TV, the mood of the spouse, and any other variable can scrub a fan from going to the Jack when they haven't made the cash outlay. By selling those normal "walkup" tickets in April, buying anything but an SRO on Saturday will become a crap shoot, which will convince many to just commit and buy a season ticket next spring.

This could be an excellent year to be a scalper, as thousands may learn the hard way that supply has dropped, hopefully dramatically.

With the $99 end zone ticket gone, ISU is now pushing two other brilliant options: Season Hillside for $125 ($17.85 per game) and "Cy's Pack", actual seats in slow-selling sections for $150 ($21.42). An actual seat and a better view for only an extra $3.50? That should be a quick seller.

The most important thing is that come August, when people really get football on the brain, the only thing left will be full-price season and single game tickets, and hopefully a sellout for a game other than Nebraska. Get people in the habit of planning their weekends around Cyclone Football, rather than going to Ames only if it is convenient. Iowa fans view football that way, even when they sunk. Nebraska fans do, even as they have slid to merely being good. The sooner ISU fans change their thinking, the better.

The extra cash will come in handy with all the buyouts going on.



When Pollard moves, he moves! He has now hired and fired two coaches in the time it takes most schools just to form a hiring committee. Jaime has already matched the number of important hires some ADs make in a tenure.

If the new AD is anything he is decisive. He has a plan and we are headed in his direction. Whether that plan bears fruit we can only wait to see, but the man in charge certainly isn't shy about jerking the ship away from icebergs.

May Cael have the Gable touch.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Another new start

First of all, I think the McDermott hire was the best case scenario given the circumstances. I shake my head at the naysayers who complain that GM doesn't have "national recruiting experience". It's a chicken/egg situation. It's hard to recruit nationally at any mid-major, because you're a mid-major, and at the same time, you don't necessarily have to. UNI had three players who would have started at either ISU or Iowa this year, and all were from the Midwest. Iowa's five best players are natives.

GM will be fine, both in coaching and recruiting. He has an eye for talent, and runs a system that fits the talent he has. Most ISU fans prefer a team that may be a notch down athletically, but overachieves on the court- the opposite of what we had this past season.

The '05-06 Cyclones were much like a buddy's 60's-era British sports car: A real hoot to ride when it's tuned up up and tearing down a curvy road, but the downside is that it only performs that way about 20% of the time. The majority of the trips are frustrating slogs of misfiring pistons, a grumpy clutch and lousy acceleration.

The Morgan Cyclones were devastatingly good when focused and motivated. They could drop a 20-2 run on you at any time. But those times were few and far between, and the norm was undisciplined offense and half-assed defense, which was devastatingly bad to watch. If your scheme gives up six dunks and a dozen layups each game, you had better be filling it up on the other end Grinnell-style.

I was looking forward to the development of an all-out "40 minutes of Hell" style in Hilton, because it can be so much fun to watch. But in the end, winning at all is more fun than losing with style, so Morgan had to go. I was one of the last to admit that the inconsistency of the Cyclones should be laid at the feet of the coaches and not the players. I'm old school in thinking that a player should arrive ready to commit maximum effort towards whatever the coach draws up; that thinking has gone out of style. So it goes.

Here's hoping that a new scheme and 40 minutes of effort lead to more wins for the Cyclones.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Ten minutes

Wayne Morgan's tenure at Iowa State died in a ten-minute span.

Wayne was watching DSM Hoover play at the Iowa Boy's State Tournament Wednesday when his cell phone rang.

Stinson was on the line. He told Coach he was going pro. Coach was not pleased. Curtis then passed his phone to Blalock, so that Will could chime in with a "Me too".

Wayne, agitated, went to the hallway to finish the call.

Ten minutes later, again watching the game, he took another call. This one was about his non-confrence schedule. Again, he left the arena, not to return.

I saw Wayne in Hilton Thursday night. He was walking alone, slowly, looking tired. I realize now he had the body language of a defeated man, one who had accepted his fate.

This was a humane dismissal, unlike the last basketball firing at Hilton. No circus. No dueling press confrences. Nobody twisting in the wind. It's done.

Ten minutes is all it took.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Do Something Different

Another ISU sports blog has appeared, and it's full of intrigue, behind the scenes rumors and cloak-and-dagger speculation. It will be an entertaining read one way or another.

Cyclone Fanatic's March 1st post laments a lack of fieriness out of Coach Morgan, and then his March 6th post sites unnamed sources as being stressed out over choosing sides within athletics over the status of Morgan's program. Next year is being called "The Year" for Morgan, due to solid veterans and a solid recruiting class. But the same complaints about Wayne from Season 1 still haven't been put to bed, and they all about how perception changes depending on the number of wins and losses.

Jeremy's money quote:

"If Morgan would simply show emotion on the sideline, he would be cut more slack than any coach at any other school. ISU fans want to love their coach, but they have to be able to relate to them."

That speaks to the feelings of many that I have had conversations with. When Wayne stares out at the court after something bad happens, people don't think he's doing anything. Fans must want a coach who is screaming and yelling at the players and refs the same way they are, whether the fans are in Hilton or their living rooms. But it was exactly that kind of ranting and raving that fans loved about Tim and Larry when they were winning and hated when they were losing. Johnny Orr was beloved for such behavior, but cursed when his teams collapsed on the road. LE "shamed himself and the program" when he melted down at the end of that infamous game against Michigan State.

The same goes with football. I read multiple posts in the early Ferentz years wishing Kirk would "show some of the fire Dan shows"; now the conventional wisdom is that Kirk is "professional" and "even keeled", while Dan is a "one-trick pony who's act gets old quickly". Fans adjust their perception to fit their feelings of the program.

John Wooden was famous for going entire games and only standing for time outs. I imagine modern fans would blame the occasional Wooden UCLA loss on a "lack of emotion".

If Wayne wins 20+ games next year, the lack of emotion complaint is out the window. 15 wins and Wayne is out the window. Personally, I hope its the former.


Tourney Coach

Bill has done it again.

The other 11 coaches in the league have to hate seeing ISU anywhere in their bracket come tourney time: ISU owns the best winning percentage in the history of the B12 tourney. And with a 72-68 win over Texas, that percentage is now .682 (15-7).

Granted, having two titles will help the average, but c'mon! They don't have the leagues best talent, percentage wise, so 15-7 is worth saluting.

But now comes the other side of the winning percentage coin: #1 seed OU. While OU is 11-7 all-time, they carry with them the 23-3 (.885%) record of the #1 seed in the tourney. Ouch. A #9 seed like ISU has never made it past the second round. Double Ouch. But even if they lose in that second round, they will have exceeded the #9 average of .400.

Here's to being slightly above average.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Win is a Win is a Win

From here on out, every win ISU can get is a good one- whether the victim has fired its coach or not. I'm not picky.

And with Stinson returning, it's never too early to play the "Next Year Starts Now" card. What the heck?

I want to be optimistic about Wayne's program because he, like Dan, seem to be genuinely decent fellows- the kind of guys you would want living next door to you. Not some slimey, smiling, looking to hop to the next job willing to pay him another $50 kind of coach.

So any wins ISU can earn, even without an NCAA bid, will help make this season less forgettable. If a nice finish can springboard into '06-07, all the better.

Now watch them get smoked in Boulder on "Everyone Is A Senior Night", and we will all be back to figuring out how much a buyout of Wayne's contract would be. We're a fickle, fickle bunch.