Summer Series #2a: Iowa State Q&A with WRNL

So I really wanted this to be part #2b, as I thought it's probably a little more entertaining than the analytical breakdown (well I guess you can be the judge of that), but today got busy with a bbq outing mid-day and my wife needed the desktop for work, and I wasn't going to attempt to do this on the tablet. I just have Men's basketball to break down, so that will be tomorrow. Earlier this week, I sent over a long list of questions for CyHawk over at WRNL who graciously agreed to play along. True WRNL wit was able to shine through like grease on a napkin. This was also meant to be supplementary content, as Iowa State doesn't play baseball, so I thought it would be fair and great entertainment as well. Follow the jump as we get an inside perspective on an Iowa State fan's take on all things Cyclones.

GTCat: From an outsider perspective, and given the similarities in our Universities, I feel it’s easy to root for what a guy like Paul Rhoads and what he is able to do for a demographic of fans like Iowa State fans, as it seems very relatable. And with that being said, I believe he has earned a solid spot in the football offices in Ames for his efforts and accomplishments for years to come, but regardless of whatever success he has had, I would find it a bit unnerving to sign any coach to a 10 year contract extension. 6 years would seem like quite the commitment. I mean a lot can happen in 10 years. Give me your take on his extension and/or the general consensus amongst Cyclone fans on his new contract.

CyHawk: Paul Rhoads is, far and away, THE most beloved 18 - 20 head coach in college football history. The way you guys felt about Bill Snyder in '91? That's how we feel right now about Rhoads. So much so in fact that until you brought this up, I hadn't even thought of it as a drawback.

A 10 year contract may seem crazy when your coach is on death's doorstep, but Paul is still a pretty young coach. And he really seems to get what it takes to win at Iowa State. He understands that he's always at a disadvantage, and he uses whatever tools are at his disposal, whether it be trick plays on extra points or simply exuding enough sheer charisma to get a 2-star linemen to run through a brick wall. And moreso than anything, he seems to actually give a crap about Cyclone football. As a result, the whole fanbase has a big sloppy mancrush on him. (Or, in some cases, just a regular old crush). So everyone is pretty much thrilled with the thought of 10 more years right now.

GTCat: With the attention brought towards Iowa State via Paul Rhoads’ 1 upset a season program, it appears the crowd sizes have sustained well over 53,000 a game and the donor oil ethanol money (whoops not Texas) is coming in enough to improve facilities. I know they’re adding a new admin/workout/training table facility I believe in the corner of the North endzone, but give me your take on the new videoboard ala Kansas Turnpike KTAG, like it or is it akin to last year’s Cy-Hawk trophy? Also any steam on wrapping the stadium into a horseshoe shape these days?

CyHawk: To be fair, it's a one "major" upset a year program. One of the reasons we're so thrilled with Rhoads is because we're winning 5-6 games a year when we're slated to win 2 at the beginning of the season. But the big upsets are what have the butts in the seats. They have a once downtrodden fanbase looking up to the stars and going "Hey, just why in the hell can't we beat the #2 team in the nation?" The fans are turning out once again because we can believe in Cyclone Football. You can't buy good press like that.

I think we all love the scoreboard too, to be honest. Crowd noise is integral to homefield advantage, and if you can't fill it with people, putting in a giant sound-generating wall on one end zone helps make up for that deficit. Just ask our neighbors to the east, who insist that "the scoreboard was louder when Iowa had the ball" last year. The South End Zone project, on the other hand, is still in the pipeline. We have only recently been filling up our stands to capacity - the need for more seats was rarely an issue outside of the Iowa or Nebraska games.

GTCat: Where do you project Paul Rhoads’ career out in comparison to the ole pal Dan McCarney-man? Do you think Paul will be more successful, less or about the same?

CyHawk: MacCarney's big downfall was that he was too conservative. Conservative is something you do if you've got a roster full of 5-star recruits and you are a physically better football team. When the other teams consistently have better athletes than yours, conservative gets you nowhere. You need a gambler. You need Paul Rhoads. Rhoads will get the same wins that Mac did in a shorter time.

GTCat: Why were so many ISU fans upset with Bill Snyder cancelling what was a poor TV presentation of 40,000 fans in a 76,000 seat stadium series in Armageddon? Don’t get me wrong, I was at both games and both were fantastic, but I found it embarrassing for both fanbases involved who both have great passionate home crowds which is what both universities need represented in front of the nation. Oh and any more insight into any amount of disdain for our fans/university/head coach is welcome. I myself have never understood it as I’ve always classified ISU under the “should be able to go to a road game and feel right at home with the Ag cronies” category. I will make it to Jack Trice soon, I promise.

CyHawk: We were losing a lot of our traditions at the time. The annual "troll Nebraska" game. The annual "play the slaver staters for a telephone" game. Until the promise of Riot Bowl I, Farmageddon was all we had left. Seeing it diminished was just too much for some Cyclone faithful to handle, I guess.

I've always thought of it as "respectful hatred" between the schools, but the animosity stems from the fact that you used to suck worse than we did! Remember the halcyon days of the Big 12*, when we'd get together with Oklahoma State and hang out in the cellar?

*editor's note, but correct me if I'm wrong but as far as the Big 12 days of 1996-present are concerned, I only remember the dark ages of "hanging out in the cellar" being 2004, 2005 and Ron Prince

We see a team like Texas Tech succeed, we can rationalize it away because they're close to a lot of good players and it's not freezing cold there 5 months a year. When we see Kansas State succeed, we get jealous because we feel like we should have been able to do what you did. However, if we continue to do well (and god forbid actually win against you guys for once) I think that animosity will subside.

GTCat: Outside of your linebackers Jake Knott and AJ Klein, who are you most excited about seeing on the defensive side of the ball, and what should we expect to see from them?

CyHawk: Ter'Ran Benton should be in fine shape picking off errant Big 12 QBs, and will probably earn himself the only other all-conference nod outside of the LBs. Quinton Pompey, for breaking my Scrabble Board. Jack Knott should be fairly impressive as well.

GTCat: Who’s the horse you’re riding in the QB battle? Or if you knew one was going to have all of his downsides corrected who has the greater potential?

CyHawk: Steele Jantz, and not just because his name has greater comedic potential for blog articles. He looked like a big lumbering version of Seneca at times in the first three games last year, but after he got injured at UConn he never quite recovered. He lost the quick scramble that made him so dangerous. After a full year to heal, I think that Jantz has the higher potential ceiling and will get the nod this fall.

GTCat: If the Mayor has only been back in Ames for 2 years, how did the city previously police itself? Did the roadways fall apart? I kid. But what has Hoiberg’s presence meant to the ISU community as a whole since his return, outside of wins and losses? Has the magic returned to Hilton Coliseum?

CyHawk: There's a very old and famous story about a prodigal son who leaves home at a young age and then returns many years later to his family, only to be attacked by a jealous brother. It's called "The Lion King" and it marked the peak of Disney animation*, back before they started outsourcing the making of all the good movies to their Pixar department.

*editor's note, I'm more of a Pinocchio guy myself

What was I talking about again?

Oh right... Hoiberg.

Bringing a hometown hero in as a coach can always backfire. Sometimes it's hard for a fan base to shed their previous perceptions of the player and some are disappointed when a great player doesn't translate into a great coach. If this year is any indication, however, he was paying attention during all those years in the NBA.

He's a good coach. He knows the NBA, and more importantly people IN the NBA. Iowa State is not going to be able to offer these kids what Duke or Kentucky or hell even Kansas can offer: Guaranteed National TV time due to Name Brand Legacy. But Fred Hoiberg can put your ass in The League. Even if you washed out at Minnesota and stole a laptop. And I think being able to offer that is a huge advantage for Iowa State that we simply didn't have in the past as far as recruiting.

GTCat: Without being one of those elite basketball programs like Kentucky, UNC, Duke, Kansas, Indiana or UCLA or whatever that category is, I think the best you can hope for outside of that is to be a regular in the NCAA tourney expecting to maybe catch lightning in a bottle once out of every 5 years or something. Do you see Hoiberg getting you to a 2-seed like the Tinsley-Fizer year, and possibly a conference championship? What is the mayor’s ceiling?

: I think most of the fanbase would be extremely happy with consistent tournament appearances right now, and I do think that ISU might snag a 2 or 3 seed some year - because I think Hoiberg will win or share at least one regular season Big XII title. Maybe a sweet 16 appearance or two? Not enough tournament games in the bank yet to get a good feel for him there, but he's a smart, solid coach who just took a gamble on making Iowa State "Transfer U" for a couple years and it seems to have paid off.

GTCat: Beauty and the Beast night (or whatever the Wrestling dual + Gymnastics night was called): were you a regular attendee in college?

CyHawk: Not really, and it was nothing against either of the two sports. The Engineering Dept. at ISU has a lot of night exams on weeknights - I didn't get to see a lot of Cyclone sporting events.

GTCat: Iowa State is and now West Virginia are the only two schools in the Big 12 without a baseball team. For one, does it bug you that you and your fellow Iowans don’t have a chance to ever make the short trek to Omaha to watch your team if destiny would ever shine down on you in that way? Or two, if the athletic department was to add another men’s sport, which would have a greater backing: Baseball or Hockey?

CyHawk: This is a loaded question. Do I, personally, think that bringing back the baseball team would be great? Yes, because as a college sports blogger not having baseball to write about makes the summer offseason last from March until August. We're so bored over at WRNL already that we're starting Political Action Committees. [<----- SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT]

I think that baseball would have a decently sized but very "meh" crowd and following and would probably lose money as a whole. I think that hockey would have a very small but incredibly fanatical devoted fanbase that followed them to most away games. They would probably lose money at an even greater rate.

GTCat: After sweating it out with us and Baylor over the last 20 months or so about whether or not our "landing spot" would be gracious, I think it's safe to say you and I are both happy to be able to still be in this Big 12 conference. I don't know if you are aware or not, but in everyone's 16-team "super-conference" scenarios, it seams about everyone else in the original Big 8/12 footprint other than probably your fans uses ISU as the sacrificial lamb to make geography/pairings of divisions work out. Meaning, I've seen a lot of Kansas + Oklahoma + Texas teams = one 8 team division and Iowa State, ND, WVU, FSU, Louisville, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Cinicinatti concoctions. With an outlook like that, how does that make the average ISU fan feel about the outlook of the future if something like that was to unfold?

CyHawk: They never should have released that damn custom conference simulator in the last NCAA Football game. You people all went crazy.

That said, I think we would be alright. We could probably be fairly competitive in that division, to be honest. But the travel costs would suck a lot. It would make some of the olympic sports almost impossible to keep afloat.

That said, what I'd really like is a 12 team conference with the old Big 8 teams left (and WVU) as a division. You, us, the chickenhawks, the Oklahoma schools and a bunch of appalachian mountaineers drunk on moonshine. Just like the old Big 8 days. Tell me that doesn't sound like a fun division (that saves on travel costs.)

GTCat: Once again, thanks for your time, so I’ll close with this getting to know a little more about the fan CyHawk. Do you own a pair of cardinal and gold striped overalls?

No, but my wife is a K-State fan. Farmageddon gets ugly around these parts.

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