This season all of the faithful Cyclone Football fans have seen what a special season this is. We have trusted in the process that new coach Matt Campbell has been talking about and now we are starting to see some of the payoff of that process and what can be achieved.
No one and I mean no one saw that win in Norman, Oklahoma coming. What a sweet win that was. To follow that up with the win again TCU at home at the end of October was just an amazing thing to witness as a fan.
Normally, the pattern is that every decade or two Iowa State will have an amazing upset. A good example of this is when ISU upset Nebraska back in 1992. What an amazing game that was. Cyclone fans would have to wait until 2011, when the Cyclones had an epic upset against Oklahoma State in Jack Trice Stadium. That is a long time to go between major upsets. This season, we experienced two major upsets of that caliber not only within the same season, but the same month. This really is uncharted territory for ISU fans.
Cyclone fans really don’t want to admit it, but really, the Cyclone football tradition is that of losing. We lose more games than we win. It can be difficult, but over time, you get seasoned to it and your expectations diminish and you expect less success for your team. Then along comes a special coach who says, “Enough is enough, we are not going to accept losing. We are going to start a new culture where winning is expected.” It sounds great, but how could it change when it has been this way for as long as people remember.
But then we start to see change. Instead of close losses, we start seeing close victories. We see going to a bowl game as a yearly expectation, not just a reward that comes every 5 seasons. We start talking about competing for Big 12 Championships, which has never really been mentioned before in the history of the program.
What is even more amazing than the winning we are seeing on the field is how he is doing it. Coach Campbell is not about taking short cuts. He is doing things the right way. It is just as important how the player acts off the field as they do on the field. They are expected to excel in the classroom and not just on the football field. The student athletes are expected to be involved in the community and do positive things and be positive role models. If a player is not on board for all those things, if they are just here to take from the team and excel on the field and do their own thing, they will not be around very long. That is the way it should be and that more than any victory or any amazing upset, is what makes me so proud of the state of the program right now.
By no means is the climb over. We are not yet where any of us want to be. The team has accomplished so much already, but there is still so much. We are entering into uncharted territory. We are witnessing our program going into a place that honestly, it has never really been before. This is just the beginning of the journey and trust me, I am enjoying every bit of the ride.
In this blog, I wanted to include this transcript of what Coach Campbell said to the team as he addressed them in the locker room immediately following their upset of TCU at Homecoming. I think his words speak for themselves.
“A couple of things for you guys. Listen to me and then I will let you go. So the biggest thing I’ve got to tell you is this. You are teaching the world, that in this sport, college football, toughness, discipline, and details still matter. That’s your platform. Your platform is, it is team above self. That’s the platform that you’re using. And no one wants to buy into that in our culture today. OK. Our culture says “it’s all about me. Our culture says “screw process. I want instant gratification.”
But here’s a fact and young guys listen to me. If you fall in love with the process…If you fall in love with the process, then eventually, eventually, the process will love you back. But see here’s what’s crazy about that. You don’t know when it’s going to love you back. OK. All you have to do is be prepared for your opportunity, when it’s ready to love you back. Now think about that, because that’s powerful. There’s some young guys in here that are still trying to climb the ladder. What you guys that have grinded it out, have stuck it out, have believed it out, you fell in love with the process. And the process is now loving you back. And if you let it continue on this journey, I’m telling you it’s a dark, lonely road. You see all this around you, they all want to buy the stock right now. Alright. They want to jump in. They want to be a part of it. OK. But you’ve got to shove it away. It’s a dark lonely road, if I told you, for you to stand on that platform at the end of this and the confetti comes down, and you stayed the course. It’s really hard to do. Easy to say. Well, what does that mean? That means people will say that this is the biggest game. Come on. OK. We’re not falling for that anymore.
It’s the next game. It’s going to be a great challenge. You are going to have to go on the road into a really hard place to play. We have to play again at 2:30. We didn’t even play our best football today. There was some great defense. At times, made some plays offensively. Didn’t play great on special teams again. OK. And there’s some things that we have to correct, but what? Isn’t that football? Isn’t that sport? Isn’t that what this is all about? Getting better, one day at a time. But you’ve got to collectively, listen to me, it’s not just the other guys. It’s you young guys. You have to make the choice. OK. Because the image one here projects the image of all of us. You’ve got to make great decisions. You’ve got to come back on Sunday ready to rock n roll.
If you fall in love with the process, at some point in life, the process will fall back in love with you. OK. It will give you everything you want. Back to January. Friday night. Saturday night. Nobody here. You could have easily took the hard road, but guys were in here working out. When no one is watching, that is sacrifice. It doesn’t just happen. Greatness doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice everything. In between 18 and 22 years old, that’s really hard. It is. It’s really hard. Cause we’ve got a lot of things grabbing at us.
I couldn’t be prouder of you. Awesome win for us. It’s great for our family, great for everything, but most importantly, great for you. Cause you sacrificed. OK. Because you sacrificed.
But it’s not over. To be honest with you, I could care less, they’re going to talk to you about a bowl, but I don’t give a shit about 6 and 6. Remember, this isn’t about being 6 and 6. OK. Only bullshit programs care about being 6 and 6. OK. This is about staying the course, and at the end of it, did we reach our full potential? And you can do whatever you want. We’ve got to get better. We must get better. And we must demand it.
Stay the course. Stay locked in. Come back tomorrow ready to rock n roll. I love you, but I appreciate you. I’m really, really proud of you.”
I ready to go play for this guy. What about you?