Thursday, November 30, 2006

Overinflated Expectations

The spinning has begun.

Fans of SUI have already started raising the expectation bar so high that Chizik is doomed, in their eyes, to failure.

Exhibit A.- Ron Maly, retired Register sportswriter. Check out some of his list of what Gene must do to keep his (and Jamie's) job:

1. He must beat Iowa four times every five years. In his one loss to the Hawkeyes in that five-year period, his team can'’t lose by more than three points. Chizik'’s first victory in the series must come next season, when Iowa plays at Iowa State.

2. Both Texas and Oklahoma play in Ames next season -- the Longhorns on Oct. 13, the Sooners on Oct. 20. Chizik needs to beat one of those teams- preferably Texas, the place he'’s leaving.

7. His Cyclones need to win the Big 12 North championship -- preferably next season or no later than the season after that.

8. Chizik'’s teams need to beat Nebraska two years out of every three. Sticking it to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, where some people still aren't sure Iowa State has a football program, will be important.

9. Chizik needs to be voted the Big 12 coach of the year very soon.

Beat SUI four of five? Beat the Huskers two of three? Beat Texas or OU next year? Win the North in the next two years? Is he insane?

I doubt St. Kirk, The Three Million Dollar Man and The State's Highest Paid Employee, could do that, or would be expected to, either. I don't know that Pete Carroll and half of his USC team could accomplish that- let alone a rookie coach with massive holes in the two-deep. Be rational.

Iowa fans (and ex-sportswriters) are trying to paint the dismissal of McCarney as "He didn't win enough" which I think misses the point. Dan probably did win enough to hang around. But he lost too much, to bad teams, to be rewarded with more years.

If Kirk went 0-8 and 1-7 in the 1011 in the span of four years, would he be retained? I don't think so. Why should ISU settle for that.

And give Gene at least a Spring Game before you start setting goals neither he- nor the miracle workers in Iowa City- can meet.



The Cy-Hawk closes to 5-4 with a Women's Hoops win in Iowa City.

Well done, especially for doing it the hard way, spotting The Team Out East 11 points after the tip.

Next up: the most anticipated ISU-SUI wrestling meet in recent memory.


Monday, November 27, 2006

As big a coup as Johnny?

Keeler- Chizik is possibly the biggest coup on Elwood Drive since Johnny Orr.

Ask me in five years. Here's hoping.


Time for fresh unis

At a school like ISU, a coaching change means a uniform change. If ISU is going to mimic someone, here are my personal favorites:

USC- the classic, essentially unchanged since the leather helmet days.

The Redskins from the 60's. Another good look after adjusting to ISU's cardinal and gold. (Photo from a Japanese Football League. Who would have thunk it?)

If we are going to revert to the gold helmets ISU wore in the 60's, why not the old school 49ers look?

What can I say? I like the yellow pants, even the USFL Philadelphia Stars version.

My point is this: I hate teams that have two colors (Blue and gold, red and blue, orange and maroon) who then wear unis that have as much white on them as possible. Leave that for the hundreds of teams that are (insert color here) and white. ISU is Cardinal and Gold. Wear both, dang it!

Which means, no this:


Pollard, Rabbit, Hat

Two hires, two surprises at the podium being introduced. Nice poker face. If Walden had as much misdirection in his game and Pollard does, Jim would still be the coaching a team dressed in a red version of LSU.

I hope Coach Chizik (gotta load that name in the spell check) finds what he defines as success in Ames: a long tenure, Conference and National Championships, a mountain of cash, helping to make boys into men, a couple of decent seasons so he can get a job at a proper Big Time Football School, whatever.

If Chizik uses ISU as a stepping stone, great. It means that A. ISU had a few good seasons in a row, and maybe one great season, and B. The program is probably in better shape that Chizik now finds it, making it easier to attract another talented coach and putting a bit of the "coaching graveyard" rep to bed. Bring on the wins.

Personally, I was excited to hire a coach with an extensive record as a head coach, since I wasn't real keen on going through the on-the-job-training thing again. But considering the last two coaches ISU hired were heads at their previous stops, and they eventually failed, lets go with another DC. That Weis guy seems to be working out, and he never played on any level.


Sunday, November 26, 2006


So the officials "made a mistake" in calling a hold against Missouri's probable winning touchdown play. Was the mistake that there wasn't a hold on the play, or that you don't call holding on 4th and goal with 30 seconds left? has some nice photographic evidence that it was indeed holding, or at least suspicious enough to draw a flag.

But what if the latter is the mistake? If the officials are reluctant to throw a subjective flag in a key moment, does that mean ISU's DB's should have held all of MU's receivers to defend the play?

I suspect that the "ISU screwed by bad calls" column is still a long way from equilibrium. A bowl winning field goal is no good when the ball was over the upright? Seneca didn't get the pylon against FSU?

Add your favorite blown play here.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stat geekiness

I admit to being a mild stat geek. I'm not enough of one to write my own spreadsheets or anything, but I love digging through boxscores and season summaries. It's scary how often you can pick up trends buried in the numbers.

Which is why I love the basketball stats that CrossCyed is tracking. Really interesting stuff.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Just think

Had ISU played a decent second half in Iowa City, SUI would be bowless.

But what really stinks, as a Cyclone fan, is that SUI's "booby prize" bowl is a better trip than ISU has ever had.

Perhaps ISU could petition the 1011 to replace SUI in the league. We promise that our fans won't be as obnoxious as theirs.

Edit: One further thought- Iowa fan seemed very quick to toss out the "too many bowl games" bit whenever ISU accepted a trip to Boise, Shreveport or Houston. If they go to San Antonio, they can never again toss the "Too Many" line out as a slur towards anyone else's trip.



Where was that effort all year?

Why not feature the Ghost of John Riggins all season?

Why can you beat Mizzou as the weaker team, and not as the better team with a title on the line?

Saturday's win encapsulated everything that we loved about Mac's run, and much of what drove us bonkers.

That bit of dessert allows us a nice finish to what was at times an uneven meal.


Monday, November 13, 2006


K State's Ron Prince, in 11 games, has defeated more B12 teams that will finish the year ranked than Dan McCarney defeated in 12 seasons.

11 games vs. 12 seasons. 1-0.

It's time.


Friday, November 10, 2006


As folks recap DM's career, one game is often in the Top 10 wins: a 35-27 win in Boulder. It catapulted ISU to the Insight bowl, was a quality road win, and said for the first time that ISU was ready to play on the road.

By coincidence, that same day SUI beat a ranked Northwestern team, marking the ascendancy of Kirk's team into a power and the return of Northwestern to the second tier in the 1011. NW didn't even get off the bus that day, it was that bad.

Funny how teams can meet each other going in opposite direction on the same field.



The word is that J. Pollard is on the road to hire a football coach. Alone.

I didn't know he could do that.

The last major football hire in-state required a 17-person committee, four rounds of interviews, a period for public questions and blood and DNA samples.

I kinda like the new way.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Can this myth die already?

Of all the reasons given as to why ISU football struggles, none grates my teeth more than this chestnut:

"Ames is a tough town to recruit to. It's not very exciting."

If an "exciting" town is a key ingredient to winning football, how did Norman, Lincoln, Knoxville, Happy Valley, Auburn, South Bend, Fayetteville or Ann Arbor manage to draw enough talent to win? How come no school in any of these cities has won a title in recent memory: New York City, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, DC, St. Louis, Kansas City, Houston, Tampa, New Orleans, Denver, San Francisco/Oakland, San Diego?

When a writer or fan throws out the "it's tough to recruit there" line it really means "I wouldn't have gone there".

I've been to Manhattan, Kansas and Lubbock, Texas. If you can get winning players there, you can anywhere. Including Ames.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Past Tense

Tonight's Mac Call-in Show was eerie, as Mac and John were using the past tense, as if they know something the rest of us do not.

Reading between the lines, ISU is officially jumping on the coaching carousel, and I write that with both optimism and sadness. Optimism that Pollard has thrown down the gauntlet in football, as he has in both basketball and wrestling. Sadness that Mac could never completely turn the corner and win the big games when they were there.

Only the hardest, coldest Cyclone fan does not admire Dan as a person. While many would grumble at his endlessly sunny-side-up view of the world, few criticize him as a person. His stump speech still inspires the fattest and laziest fan to get up and run through the nearest wall. I can't help but wonder if he has a future as a fundraiser for Athletics.

Much has been made of the things Dan didn't do (like his 2 conference wins against winning teams), but I will add some more things he never did:

- Dan never bitched about how many fans did or did not show up for the game, or did or did not leave in the second half;

- Dan never went after the press to deflect attention from a lousy team or upset loss as Hayden did almost every season;

- Dan never played the victim, as Walden did his last 3 seasons;

- Dan never singled out a player as the goat, as Alford does;

- Dan never directly complained about a lack of facilities, money, or casual admission policies, but rather couched them as just another challenge;

- Dan never alienated the local high school coaches, which caused recruiting to suffer;

- Dan never appeared in public in a less than professional manner;

- Dan never got arrested for any of the multitude of things that people get arrested for;

- Dan never stopped being a decent man, which is why every Cyclone fan is able to make such a clear distinction between Dan the Coach and Dan the Person.

Dan the Person is someone that many of us, author included, wished we could be. Dan the person we will remember fondly.

It's been good to know you.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Worst team ever (or at least recent memory)?

That became the question during the second half of Saturday's debacle. I held that '94 was the worst, but I have been swayed.

The worst margin of loss in '94 was 28- to a 5-5-1 SUI team in Iowa City and a 6-6 OU team in Norman. The worst home loss was 18 to, coincidentally, a 6-5 KU squad.

The worst road loss (so far) is 25 points in Norman. The worst home loss (so far) is KU's 31- the largest road win for KU in 11 seasons of Big 12 play. Nice.

Those results certainly put '06 at '94's table. But since everyone thought ISU would stink in '94, '06 has been much more painful.

At least basketball is upon us, with zero expectation on the men's side. We can't help but be pleasantly surprised.