“Those who do not heed history are doomed to repeat it.”
Yes, Iowa State’s football program will probably always remember its post-early 1980s past. The years of failure, the years of semi-success, stomach churning seasons (including those where a coach basically abandoned his team) and head-shaking game-play decisions.
But sometimes, it’s good to forget history and write a new chapter.
One of success. One where winning and giving your best matter. One where players buy into the system and want to go out and represent the Cyclones on the gridiron.
After five years at the helm of Iowa State, Matt Campbell has turned this program into a winner.
Never thought I’d say it. No, really, I never thought it’d say it.
Five years ago, as Paul Rhoads was being raked over the coals for his play-calling in the “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” gut-wrencher loss to Kansas – I was writing that Iowa State might not even be competitive in the Gateway Conference or Missouri Valley Conference, leagues where I thought the Cyclones might at least be more competitive.
Four days ago (as you read this), 12th-ranked Iowa State not only defeated Oregon in a New Years Day six bowl, they outright dominated.
After trading touchdowns in the first half, the Cyclones took advantage of a late first-half turnover and began turning a close game into a rout, and from there, the Ducks were outmatched and outmanned.
Yes, there were of course those hiccups that every other team that plays a big game like this face. One couldn’t have blamed the Cyclones if they would have lost badly to the Ducks, given the likelihood of eyes-open-wide-in-awe. This was virtually an all-new experience for Iowa State.
That didn’t happen. Coach Matt Campbell and his staff had the team ready, focused and ready to go. They went out and accomplished and the score tells the story.
Breece Hall maybe said it best. As quoted by the Des Moines Register: “As coach (Matt) Campbell said, we were the laughingstock of the Big 12 at one point. Just envisioning what coach Campbell thought that we could do here. That’s the reason why I came here. To see what we accomplished today, it’s Iowa State history.”
Certainly, Iowa State will open 2021 season inside the top 10 and be a big favorite to win at least the regular-season Big 12 title. It’s possible that the Cyclones could scratch an itch called Iowa and see Campbell get his first victory over a Kirk Ferentz-coached Hawkeyes team.
Whether that gets ISU into the College Football Playoffs remains to be seen. Two, perhaps three teams are perennials: Alabama and Clemson to start, plus either Notre Dame or Ohio State.
There’s always room for a newcomer.
The idea of moving the 2021 March Madness to a centralized location – namely, Indianapolis as the hub – seems like a good idea.
They bubbled up the NBA last summer for the playoffs and that seemed to work well. They got through by the skin of everyone’s teeth with the World Series being played in one location.
Now, we’ll see if getting thousands of people, representing 67 schools, into one centralized location.
I’m guessing that Lucas Oil Stadium will be where most of the highlight games will take place prior to the Final Four, although three other arenas in Indianapolis – Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fiendhouse and Indiana Farmers Coliseum – and locations in Bloomington and West LaFayette are also hosting games.
If this works, it would get me to wondering if Iowa could have hosted a NCAA Men’s Tournament or other major college event of this caliber. Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City has hosted the NCAA wrestling championships before, and Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines has played host to a NCAA men’s basketball regional.
Already, you have three capable arenas – Wells Fargo and Carver-Hawkeye, plus Hilton Coliseum in Ames – that could host games. The Knapp Center in Des Moines, home to Drake basketball, is one possibility. Other locations might include the Alliant Energy PowerHouse (formerly the U.S. Cellular Center) in Cedar Rapids, the Five Flags Center in Dubuque, the McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, and (just down the road) the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs.
Right there, there’s seven arenas that could have play host to what would have been regional games this year. Think of the tourism and economic revenue this would have brought Iowa, even with reduced crowds due to COVID-19, and much more, and that’s just for starters.
For now, Indiana gets the tournament and it appears they’re in good shape to pull this off, knock on wood and God willing.
And hoping that in 2022, such a playoff system will not have to be put in place and that the NCAA “March Madness” tournament will take place under normal circumstances.
A show of support for a colleague, Larry Peterson, who retired this month from the Creston News-Advertiser after 36 years covering the Panthers, Southwestern Iowa Community College and other area schools.
Peterson spent some time in Atlantic prior to his long stint in Creston. Shortly after his graduation from the University of Iowa, he came on board as a news and sports reporter at the News-Telegraph in January 1980. He spent four years here before moving to the CNA, where – with the exception of a year or so at the Mason City Globe-Gazette – he’d spend the next 36 years, covering both news but mostly sports.
Like most sports reporters, the memories are likely endless. There was the good – the state championships, all-state players and college successes. The 1997 boys’ state basketball championship and the state titles for their wrestling program (helmed by current Riverside athletic director Darrell Frain) are likely among them.
There were of course the scary moments and tragedies. Like me – as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago when a referee passed out at a basketball game I was covering – he also witnessed athletes passing out and their lives being on the line. Such as at the 2015 Iowa state dual team wrestling meet when a Creston wrestler collapsed from a heart-related issue. Thankfully, the wrestler was revived and recovered, but again, there was likely that moment where he thought he was going to have to write a eulogy for a teenaged athlete.
I’m sure the awards were countless in a number of categories, and among them was the Iowa Newspaper Association’s Distinguished Service Award. All of them well-deserved.
A big article appeared in the News-Advertiser this week that touched on just a few of those career highlights, along with all the other news he’s covered through the years, the crime, the tornadoes and so forth.
I’m sorry I didn’t cross paths with Larry that often. I do communicate with him via social media. Still, I think that regardless of the number of times we’ve crossed paths at events – whether just a couple of times (like me) or many, many times – we’ve all learned a lot from him.
I just hope that my time here in Atlantic can be half as successful as Larry’s has been in Creston. That he’s meant so much to the athletes he’s covered through the years is something I’ve always aspired to be, and I think it’s an honor to hear what I’m sure many former Creston athletes have told Larry through the years: “Thank you for covering me!”