Thursday, December 03, 2015


The bar is pretty low for a new coach, but Campbell has certainly won his first few days on the job. Says the right things, does the right things.

Hopefully it leads to winning.

Campbell does have one advantage- having coached against Iowa State the last two seasons, he knows exactly what he is walking into from a personnel and scheme standpoint. Few surprises.

Simple Math

Winning football games at Iowa State is a simple, two step process:

A. Hang around games until the 4th;

B. Win games in the 4th.

Rhoads was 10-6 his first three years in 10-point-or-less-games, but only 3-13 his last four years.

The constant underdog has to stay above .500 in the close games to survive.

Seven wins across his last four seasons would not have set the world on fire, but it would have meant a bowl trip and keeping one's job.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Finding Yet Another Way To Lose

This week: Fumble on three of your last four possessions, including with 10 seconds left on the opponent's 30!

While this isn't the biggest margin given up by ISU ('92 at home to Kansas, up 45-14, lost 50-47) this was the most painfull, since that KU team finished 8-4. K-State probably ends 5-7.

In the big picture, the Cyclones have been blowing second half leads for 35 years under 6 different coaches- why would changing staffs result in wins?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Our Lady Of Perpetual Disappointment

A program like Iowa State can't consistently give up 4th quarter leads if it's going to get anywhere.

The loss to Okie State was the third game just this year they probably should have won.

Five first downs in the second half isn't going to do it. Iowa and Toledo were similar stories.

Same some, different verse, different decade.

Sunday, November 01, 2015


Few things are more fun than watching your 3 star guys out scheme and outwork 5 star guys.

Most of the time talent is able to make the key plays to pull a game out of the fire. But not this time.

Sunday, October 04, 2015


The CSJ staff has been watching Cyclone football since 1974, so they know what a bad football team looks like.

Kansas is a bad football team.

That doesn't lessen the importance of Saturday's blowout. The team needed to smack somebody around. The fans needed to see the Cyclones smack somebody around. Fortunately, the Cyclones were able to smack somebody around.

The defense is solid, and it will be interesting to see how they do against the high octane spreads in the rest of the league.

It would be nice if the offense could get get something going in their first 3 or 4 possessions. Lots of heartburn in Trice as drives stalled in the red zone, if they got going at all.

At least Iowa State won't go oh-fer the season. They may be on a 1-17 streak come Thanksgiving, but we will worry about that then. Celebrate!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Step One: Success; Step Two?

Iowa State's win over UNI confirmed one thing: The Cyclones are able to beat quality FCS competition, and they did so without running the ball very much. Other have noted they didn't really try to run- no outside runs, no read-option- but they moved the ball well and scored above last season's average.

Now comes SUI. As usual, the GoBlas are favored, and they looked good dismantling Illinois State. Yet I won't be shocked if Iowa State beats them again, for two reasons:

- Iowa drops a road game for no good reason each season. They are a different team in the white jerseys

- Iowa often gets a case of Tight Helmet (and/or Tight Headset) against Iowa State. They shouldn't, but they clearly do. Iowa has been the better team overall in most of their losses to Iowa State since 1998, so some part of Iowa State's success has to be mental. If nothing else, Iowa State comes into this game each year knowing they have more at stake. ISU has fewer winnable games each year than Iowa, so they have to take advantage of every opportunity. Iowa views the game as Just Another Game- it rarely makes or breaks their season when it comes to bowl-eligibility. They don't have to put extra weight on it, so they don't.

Iowa State has won 3 of 4 in the series after Iowa won 3 straight, but the road team has won the last 3.

Iowa State's next challenge is to prove that they can beat Poor to Decent FBS teams, and Iowa is certainly in the Decent category. Until I see a running game emerge and how the reconstructed defense competes with a quality offense, I expect Iowa to win by 10. Unless they get Tight Helmet, the ISU by 3.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Go with the streak

Until shown otherwise, I will assume Iowa State can't beat top level FCS teams. UNI by 10.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Game On

This isn't original analysis, but we are going to know everything we will need to know about Cyclone Football in the first two weeks.

I can't help but wonder how many Cyclone fans are privately hoping for losses to force a change in football leadership. 10%? 20%?

If the season starts 2-3 rather than 4-1, the debate will shift from If to Who.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Expansion Wishes

Since rumors of expansion has risen again, here is who I would invite if I was King:

BYU- large, loyal, national, underrated fan base. Mega eyeballs. Scheduling around Sundays is not a deal-breaker.

Cincinnati- Big media town, travel partner/rival for West Virginia.

Central Florida- Every school gets to travel to (and recruit) Florida!

Tulane- Every school gets to travel to NOLA! Downside- Tulane might not want to associate with Tech academically.

I know, that would be 14. But the Big10111214, the ACC and the SEC all make 14 work. It can't be that hard.

Besides- when the next big shakeout comes down there won't be enough chairs for the Big Time Football Lotto Payout Table for every school that wants in. This group includes Iowa State. But squatters have rights, and it will be much harder for a league to toss out a member than to pull in a new one. Better to start on the inside.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Post Fred, On to Prohm

During the crazy heights of the Eustachy era, LE would often start the post-game chat with Pete Taylor with some version of "celebrate night like this, because you never know when they will end".

Hiring Fred was a giant risk, but one that came up paid out far more than it didn't. Uncountable fun games in a short period, and a lifetime of "what-ifs".

Better to have had the time with him than not. Hopefully Prohm has similar or greater success, but perhaps he won't. Winning at this level is a difficult and volatile cocktail of talent, skill and luck. If it was easy to mix everyone would be doing it.

Embrace the good times, you never know when they will end.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Post Mortem

The eventual winner of the NCAA Tournament came from Iowa State's bracket. The team has to wonder what was left on the table. That makes two missed opportunities for a Final Four run in two years.

Hopefully those facts fuel their off season work and next season's play. Answer the bell every time. Focus. Hustle.

One comforting tidbit from tonight: This year's champion lost in the first round of last years tournament as a 3 seed.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Now Things Get Interesting

Down three ranked teams in a row, the last two on the road?

You intrigue me Cyclones, you really do.  Running the table now looks like more of a possibility than it did two weeks ago.

Too bad KU doesn't have many losable games left.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Improvement, but-

It was fun watching the Cyclones beat a ranked team by 20. The defense was solid start to finish, and the offense wasn't too rattled by WVU's constant pressure.

Often defense is just effort, like closing out on 3 point shooters. But I'm taking Saturday's success with a handful of salt, considering that the half-court is not where the Mountaineers get their work done.

Okie State? Texas? Half court teams. Slow them on the road and I will consider myself a believer.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

70 Minutes of Awful

I watched all 80 minutes of basketball played by Iowa State on Saturday- the women in Ames, the men on my telly. The two teams combined for about 10 minutes of entertainment. The rest was hard to watch.

The opponents were to blame. The Defense First, Defense Second, Offense If We Find It school of basketball played by both Kansas State and South Carolina is a bastardization of the sport. It may win games, but it has to suck the joy from the sport for both spectators and player alike. The prevalence of the style in the women's game is the single biggest factor holding the sport back from wider public acceptance. Like hockey, a couple of goons can reduce a free-flowing sport to a brawl.
The reason Iowa State has such a solid following is that when able, they are fun to watch. Too many opponents lace up their sneakers only to start a street fight on the court. But the audience that likes a street fight is going to choose the MMA over women's hoops every time.

The leagues could mandate a change by ordering referees to call fouls, but when a majority of the coaches in a league prefer Brawling over Scoring, no mandate will come. Referees will continue to ignore all but the most egregious fouls, and the sport descends to the level of the most violent and least skilled.

The only thing that will break the Street Fight Defense school of coaching will be sustained success of teams who put offense first. When defensive coaches lose too many games and recruits to offensive coaches they will have no choice but to switch styles.

The switch can't come soon enough.