Saturday, December 06, 2014


So the football season ends like this:

Two wins that could have been losses.
Five losses that could have been wins.
Five losses that were over at the opening kick.

Few Cyclone fans expect to go 10-2, but having a puncher's chance in most games will keep the crowd happy. Winning a majority of the close ones will, too. Close out a couple of the games where you had leads in the fourth quarter and the grumbling isn't as loud.

Is the program that critically broken? 5-19 over two years says that something needs to change, and given the long-term results of ISU football, the cure is probably something radical.

Would a beefed up walk-on program help plug the gaps when injuries set in? Would bringing in more projects and putting them on partial schollies get anywhere? Would a tweener choose a quarter ride at Iowa State over a full-ride at Illinois State or Northern Illinois?

I suspect that given the choice, a DC would take a senior who was a two-star recruit over a freshman who was a three-star. Just understanding where to be can make all the difference, and that's something that only comes through experience and reps.

Just throw numbers at the problem- having 40 Quarters on your squad should yield you the 4 senior injury replacements you need to hold things together. Let the Quarters (and former Quarters, once they earn full-rides) wear the experience like a badge of honor. K State has 55 players in their two-deeps who were once walk-ons. When you can't get 5 star talent, filling the gaps can make the difference.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

One Thing At A Time

Clearly the Gods of Sport are allowing our Cyclones to only be good at one sport at a time. As one ascends, the other declines.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Close and not so close

There will always be days for Cyclone Football like last Saturday- a physically better team in need of making a statement does just that. Weaknesses get exploited over and over.

The mismatch games only highlight the need for Iowa State to be deadly in close games. Pull out the two they found a way to lose and they are 4-4, 2-3 in conference, and in a whole different mental state. They have to develop a reputation that puts doubt in the mind of the opponent when the game is within a score in the 4th.

"Don't let them hang around" has to be the calling card.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Red Zone

The Cyclones were better on offense against Toledo, and all but two of their possessions went for multiple first downs and chances to score. But it was in the red zone the Cyclones almost lost the game. Had the three first half field goals been touchdowns, ISU probably leads at the half and wins going away. Instead, we all had to hold our breath during an onside kick try.

The play of the game may have been turned by Nigel Tribune. On a 50 yard run by Toledo, Tribune ran the running back down for a tackle at the ISU 25. The Rockets had to run 8 plays over three minutes to get the TD to draw within 7. Had he Tribune let the back go for the score, the offense would have needed to burn four minutes off the clock, a tough trick when you are only averaging a short 3 yards per carry. It would have been antacid time had things played out that way.

A win is a win is a win. This may be a good time to play Texas.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

One Step Forward

It's wonderful when your team finds a way to win a game the other team isn't interested in finishing. Many of the predictions were predicated on "Iowa State can't finish, so Iowa should win", so it's nice to put that to bed for a little while.

I find it funny that it's now Iowa City that can only get a sellout when the visiting team sells a lot of tickets,  since that was an issue that dogged Cyclone fans for years.

Yet each win by Iowa State pushes the end of the football series closer to reality. Iowa isn't interested in this Cy-Hawk thing if it means losing to Little Brother half the time. Iowa State needs to get their licks in while it can.

Saturday, September 06, 2014


I've been watching Cyclone football for about 40 years now, and I've seen what transpired today about 75 times in that span. Stop me if you have heard this before:

- Spunky undermanned Cyclones surprise everyone by playing over their heads.
- A couple of crazy plays results in an Iowa State lead
- Spunky Cyclones have chances to put the game away, don't
- Opponent says "Thanks, we'll take the win"

And people wonder why Cyclone fans are a cynical, paranoid bunch?

When you have the smallest budget in the league you have to keep your expectations modest. Being a tough out is your goal. But you have to take advantage of a situation when you can, otherwise your opponents will just wait for you to fall apart.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Make no mistake- North Dakota State is a solid team. They would be middle of the pack in the Power 5 conferences, and would push to win a league like the MAC or Mountain West.

But giving up 34 unanswered to a team not named Baylor is going to raise serious questions about the direction of your program.

Data point: Since ISU's 2012 upset of Baylor, the team is 4-14. Two of those wins are over Kansas.

You don't have to win at Iowa State, but you do have to look competitive.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

-and so we being another football season in Ames, staring down another insanely hard schedule. Literally no gimmes when you include a favorite to win the Big 101112 West/Legends Division, a favorite to win the MAC and the three-time defending FCS champ. Whew.

Several have made the argument that ISU will go 3-9 or worse, Rhodes should be canned, etc. etc. etc. In other words, another typical summer expectation synopsis for the Cyclones. If the OL is riddled with injuries like 2013, 0-12 is in play. Magino can only do so much when the QB is running for his life, getting injured, and then is unable to run for his life due to injury.

My short answer: If the OL stays healthy and the offense can average 28+ per game, they find a way to get to 6-6 and a bowl invite. (It's all any of us want, really.)

But if the OL has to start using backups for extended snaps, look out below.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The White Whale Arrives

As I wrote at this time last year, I wasn't opposed to the idea of bowling in the south end of Jack Trice, I just didn't think it made financial sense.

But Pollard, the mad genius that he is, has found a way to make the numbers work. By adding a massive "Club Section" in the end zone seating area, 3000 fans will get the privilege of spending $750 on a season ticket that before was only $99. Granted, the club section will have amenities the current seating lacks- like a place to go when it gets too hot, too cold or too wet and porcelain toilets rather than Porta Potties. I suspect that section will sell quickly.

My only concern is that there be a plan for families who leverage Jr. Cyclone memberships into a family gameday activity. The current Jr. Cyclone membership won't be able to squeeze into the NE and NW corners under the current "Ya'll come" admittance policy. But $50 for a assigned seat on top of the current $50 Jr. Cy cost would be totally fair, and would move lots of families like mine from the grass to the seats.

If the reality looks in any way similar to the renderings, Trice may officially become a place you don't want to come play- and that will be great fun.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Too Much and Not Enough

The Cyclones have a certain offensive rhythm when they are successful, efficient, and winning. I can't put my finger on exactly how many passes it involves, but there is a sweet spot in their offense.

More than 10 baskets without an assist usually leads to offensive disaster and a loss. Fortunately, that has been a rare occurrence.  If Hoiberg is guilty of anything (and this is a minor quibble) is that his squad sometimes goes a pass too far when sharing the ball, which leads to a turnover. Nice problem to have.

That was evident early in their home win against West Virginia. Several possessions ended in a turnover when the extra pass was attempted, often inside and down low. After a time out the extra pass went away and shots went up. Score. The assists were earned, but the team stopped trying too hard.

Again- it's a good problem to have, but its interesting to watch it ebb and flow during the course of a game.

Bring Back Mirrored Schedules

I'm old enough to remember when the Big 8 basketball schedules mirrored opponents for the men's and women's teams, and each team would be home opposite weeks.

Back before TV completely blew up scheduling rhythm,  games were usually played on Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons. The men might be on the road for two games while the women were at home for that week, then they would switch. The convenient part was that each would play the same opponent on the same day- If the men were in Stillwater, you knew the women were hosting the Cowgirls.

That symmetry gave the season a nice bit of predictability.

"Travel partners" only added to this. In the Big 8 days, OU and Okie State went on the road together, as did KU and Mizzou, K State and Colorado, and Nebraska with Iowa State. If you had a home game week, you would play OU on Wednesday and then OSU on Saturday.  When you traveled south, you swung through Norman and Stillwater in the same trip. With 14 games spread across 8 weeks, you then had a built in night off during the week that you played your travel partner. Symmetry.

These schedules arose in the days of trains and buses, when a trip from Ames to Oklahoma was a project. Now that every road trip involves an airplane and is paid with a TV rights check economizing travel costs is less important. But two-game road trips with your travel partner conveyed, even subtly, that everyone was working together to make lives easier.

That ethic evaporated about the same time as basketball shorts stopped being short.