Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

I'm really stoked to be leaving for this trip in less than 24 hours.  The chance to see Iowa State play football one more time this season is the biggest reason.  The product Rhoads puts out is one that is fun to watch and makes  you SO PROUD to watch.  I think ISU matches up well with Rutgers.  I think its a pretty even match-up.  Rutgers will have a home field advantage.  I think Iowa State will have a motivation advantage.  Everyone wrote off ISU making a bowl game at the start of the year.  Vegas had the over/under on wins at 2.5.  They were favored in only two games.  You know the story. 

The Cyclones are playing their best football of the season right now.  Rhoads is giving the team a chance to enjoy themselves this week and I think that is awesome.  This game is really just an exhibition.  Its great for these students to get a chance to experience New York and play in Yankee Stadium.  The benefits of playing in a bowl game have little to do with what happens on the game field.  Its about the extra practices, the traveling with the team, the increased fan excitement and the national exposure.  With that being said I can't see this team being unprepared.  Giving Wally and Paul a couple weeks to come up with a defensive game plan for struggling offense is the key.  I can't see ISU giving up more than 20 points to this Rutgers team.

Offensively I'm excited to see the progress this group has made in the last month.  They are extremely young and this game is a chance to showcase the future on that side of the ball.  It will be interesting to see how Herman calls this game knowing that all of Buckeye Nation is watching (even though Meyer will call plays).  I predict there will be at least one flea flicker, one wide receiver reverse and someone other than Jared Barnett will throw a pass.  I also look for Jeff Woody to get a lot of carries and go over the 100 yard rushing mark.  I think James White will pitch in with another 60 or so yards and ISU has a chance to rush for over 200 yards.

I think the first team to get past 24 points will win this game.  I think that team will be Iowa State.  It will be a struggle offensively at first.  The defense may get a turnover or two to set up the offense with good field position and an early score.  At the end of the game Cyclone Nation will be SO PROUD of this team and this experience.

Iowa State 27  Rutgers 20

Bowl Predictions Continued....

Need to get these done here before we leave for New York!!

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
BYU vs Tulsa

Picking against BYU in the Armed Forces Bowl.  I love me some Golden Hurricanes.  That sounds like Urban Dictionary talk.

Tulsa 31  BYU 26

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Iowa State vs Rutgers

****Check back shortly for this prediction!

Franklin American Morgtage Music City Bowl
Mississippi State vs Wake Forest

Mississippi State 23  Wake Forest 13

Insight Bowl
Iowa vs Oklahoma

I sincerely hope Oklahoma is amped up for this one.  I don't think they will be.  I think Iowa will get off to a decent start, but I think Oklahoma is too good for this to be close.  Landry Jones makes a statement and then weighs his options in the NFL.

Oklahoma 32  Iowa 13

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Texas A&M vs Northwestern

Texas A&M gets one more win as a member of the Big XII then rides off into the SEC with an amazing 7-6 record.

Texas A&M 38  Northwestern 27

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Georgia Tech vs Utah

Its tough to prepare for a completely different style of play than you are used to.  Utah should have had plenty of time to come up with a scheme.  I don't think that scheme will be enough.

Georgia Tech 31  Utah 21

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Illinois vs UCLA

This might be, no IT IS, the worst bowl game match-up of the season.  A team with a losing record against a team that lost their last six games.

UCLA 26  Illinois 16

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Cincinnati vs Vanderbilt

SEC >Big East, Vanderbilt > Cincinnati

Vanderbilt 23 Cincinnati 20

Virginia vs Auburn

I hate to say it but I have to go with Auburn on this one.  Too much talent.

Auburn 27  Virginia 20

TicketCity Bowl
Houston vs Penn State

Both teams honestly could be playing in a much better bowl game.  Penn State should be.  Houston had their chance.  Either way the folks at the TicketCity bowl are happy to have this match-up.  Penn State will slow down Houston but can't muster up enough offense.

Houston 24  Penn State 17

Capital One Bowl
Nebraska vs South Carolina

South Carolina is good.  Nebraska struggles on offense.  Spurrier > Pelini

South Carolina 23 Nebraska 10

Outback Bowl
Georgia vs Michigan State

I'm really starting to hate all of these Big Ten vs SEC bowls.  I think the Big XII and SEC need more matchups.  Anyway, I do think Michigan State can win this game.

Michigan State 31  Georgia 28 (OT)

Outback Bowl
Ohio State vs Florida

Outback Bowl gets the match-up they wanted.  Urban Meyers new team against Urban Meyers old team.  This match-up looks a lot sexier on paper than it really is.  I think Ohio State is better and they want to give Luke Fickell one last win.

Ohio State 24  Florida 20

Rose Bowl
Wisconsin vs Oregon

This would be a fun game to watch.  We will be driving back from Kansas City during this time so we won't get to catch all/most of it.  I think Oregon is too much for Wiscy.

Oregon 41 Wisconsin 38

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Stanford vs Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State is out to prove they deserve a shot.  Luck will be out to prove he deserves the top draft slot.  They both are correct.

Oklahoma State 37 Stanford 34

Monday, December 26, 2011

More Bowl Predictions

This week is when it gets interesting.  The match-ups will get closer and one of the biggest factors in these games will be motivation.  That is tough to judge.  You are talking about 18-22 year olds (Unless you are Brandon Weeden) that have been on campus, then home and then onto a bowl destination all in the last week.  One thing I have started to learn is that every team prepares for bowls differently.  ISU for example spends very little time on campus preparing for the opponent.  They instead focus on fundamentals and getting the 2nd and 3rd string players reps with the 1st team.  They got to New York on Christmas Day and will have about a typical game week worth of preparation.  Iowa, on the other hand, go to Tempe, Arizona on the 23rd of December giving them an extended stay in Arizona.  They also did not give the players much time, if any, to get home this last week.  I cannot speak to whether they allowed them to go home before last week but I do know that ISU gave their players the 18th through the 24th off.  Just a few differences in preparation can go a long way.  Remember, these are merely just exhibition games.  On to the picks....

Record thus far:


AdvcoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Missouri vs North Carolina

This one is tough for me.  I want UNC to win.  I think UNC has more talent.  I think UNC is more distracted with a new coach and their top WR possibly suspended because his name was on a flyer for his birthday party that occurs AFTER the bowl game.  Missouri is probably the favorite in this game but because I picked UNC in both of my bowl pools and I need some more upset picks I am going with...

UNC 27  Missouri 26

Little Ceasar's Bowl
Western Michigan vs Purdue

Purdue is bad.  Really bad.  Western Michigan?  I don't really know but I think they will have more fun playing in Detroit than Purdue.

Western Michigan 27  Purdue 20

Belk Bowl
Louisville vs North Carolina State

A battle between the two weakest BCS conferences.  I will give the upper hand to North Carolina State in this one.  Russel who?

North Carolina State 30  Louisville 26

Military Bowl
Toledo vs Air Force

Not sure how I can pick against Air Force in the Military Bowl.

Air Force 42   Toledo 39

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
Texas vs California

Texas is a quarterback away from being a really good team.  I really hope they don't find one for awhile.  However, I think they have enough to overcome the Cal Bears in this one.  Texas will get two 100 yard rushers in this one.

Texas 30  California 28

Champ Sports Bowl
Florida State vs Notre Dame

Remember when Brain Kelly was going to be introduced as the next coach at Iowa State ESPN?  Well that didn't happen and it looked at first like ISU wished they had.  Not so fast my friends, Kelly is proving to be a giant d***head and hasn't found life in South Bend as pleasant as he may have previously thought.

Florida State 26  Notre Dame 22

Valero Alamo Bowl
Baylor vs Washington

People laughed several years ago when I said RGIII would be the next Vince Young if not better.  He brought Baylor into college football relevance by himself.  I really hope he goes into the draft this year selfishly.  Not because I think he will be really successful at the next level but because I don't want to see him in Jack Trice Stadium next year.

Baylor 42  Washington 31

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mike Leach "Swing Your Sword"

A few tidbits and post-reading thoughts from ANOTHER book I just finished up.  Mike Leach's story written by him.

  • Mike Leach is a funny guy.  Doesn't seem surprising, but man I would love to have a conversation with him.
  • Mike Leach is an educated guy.  He took the path less traveled by getting his law degree first and then going into coaching.
  • This guy has earned his stripes and has succeeded everywhere he went.  Without playing college football he was able to become "National Coach of the Year".
  • Texas Tech went from bottom of the Big 12 to near tops in the nation in graduation rate under Leach
  • His coaching tree includes the likes of Ruffin McNeil, Dana Holgorsen and Art Briles.  Not bad.
  • Leach basically taught Mangino everything he knows.
  • Values thinking outside of the box obviously is always open to new ideas
  • Craig James is a douche
  • Adam James is a douche
  • A majority of Texas Tech's administrators are douches
  • Moral of the story: Mike Leach got screwed because of 800,000 dollars and a dad that wouldn't shut up.
  • Leach was able to access all of the e-mails from Tech administrators and James proving guilt on trying to plot to get him fired.
  • Joe Schad and ESPN are shady.  Be careful what you believe from the "Worldwide Leader in Sports".

It really is a book worth reading.  I learned a lot about Leach, life, football and politics.  It really makes me want to root for this guy at Washington State.  I'm glad he is getting an opportunity again.  Swing your sword.

Death to the BCS

A couple tidbits and post-reading thoughts from Death to the BCS authored by Dan Wetzel

I first must say that I was somewhat against a playoff at the FBS level in Division I college football.  I was worried it may kill the bowl system, make the regular season less relevant and take away from the magic of college football.  Turns out I was completely buying into everything the "cartel", as Wetzel puts it, was wanting me to believe.

  • A 16 game playoff could be held over the same time frame as the bowl season currently runs.
  • The bowl season could still thrive as the money for the playoff could help offset and subsidize smaller bowls.
  • Could give all 11 conference champions a chance to win a national championship.
  • Would give college campuses and towns additional revenue.
  • Keeps regular season meaningful with conference championship races and the ability to earn home field advantage.  Think about the races in NFL.  Now think about how the races would look after 12 games. 
  • Would create a "March Madness" like opening weekend.  Think about a Friday/Saturday with four college football playoff games on each day.  AWESOME! 
  • The amount of money this college football playoff would bring in would dwarf the amount the current system brings in.
  • Big Ten commisioner Jim Delaney has been a big opponent to the playoff because his conference has the largest share of the "small pot" of money.  
  • Bowl presidents make a ton of money and the whole process is rather sleazy.
  • Currently many universities go to bowl games and lose money even after their conference helps them out.  With EVERY conference getting a share of the projected 750 million dollars in revenue all schools could come out ahead.
  • Conferences would get shares of the total pot based on how far teams advanced.  Your conference plays in 3 playoff games, your conference earns 75 million dollars. 
Here is how this seasons playoff might have looked....

1) LSU vs 16) Louisiana Tech (Friday December 16th, 11 a.m.)
2)Alabama vs 15) Arkansas State (Friday December 16th, 2:30 p.m.)
3) Oklahoma State vs 14) Northern Illinois (Saturday December 17th, 11:00 a.m.)
4) Oregon vs 13) Southern Mississippi (Saturday December 17th, 9:00 pm.)
5) Stanford vs 12) West Virginia (Saturday December 17th, 6 pm)
6) Wisconsin vs 11) Kansas State (Saturday December 17th, 2:30 pm)
7) TCU vs 10) Michigan State (Friday December 16th, 7:30 p.m.)
8) Clemson vs 9) Arkansas (Friday December 16th, 6 p.m.)

There are some salty matchups in that first round.  There are some snoozers.  EVERYONE would be watching though.  My seedings may be off but assuming top seeds advanced, the second weekend you would have these matchups....

8)Clemson @ 1)LSU (Saturday December 24th 11 a.m.)
7) TCU @ 2)Alabama (Saturday December 24th 2:30 pm)
6)Wisconsin @ 3)Oklahoma State (Saturday December 24th, 7 pm.)
5) Stanford @ 4) Oregon (Saturday December 24th, 9:30 pm)

That would be one hell of a Saturday football schedule!


4) Oregon @ 1) LSU (Monday January 2nd, 7 p.m.)
3) Oklahoma State @ 2) Alabama (Monday January 2nd, 2:30 pm)


3)Oklahoma State vs 1) LSU @ the Rose Bowl (Monday January 9th, 7:15 pm)

This still gives teams like ISU a chance to participate in a bowl game.  It still gives them a shot to sneak into the playoff and compete for a national championship.  I don't know as if a playoff with this many teams would ever be realistic but it is certainly fun to think about.  I think the best short-term resolution we will get is a "Plus One" or four-game playoff.  I really like the idea of all conference champions participating however.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bowl Week Predictions

First and foremost I look forward to watching this ISU commercial again this week....

CPR is worth his weight in gold.  He has done more marketing for ISU through YouTube videos than they could ever purchase.  I love that this will be played after every bowl game.  Now on to this weeks games.

Current Record: 2-1

Beef O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
Florida International vs Marshall

Marshall, Marshall, Marshall.  Get it?  No, they will not win this game.  I am really surprised that Cristobal is still there.  He won one game his first year on the job.  This victory tonight will give him 9 for the season.  I could see him being introduced as Pittsburgh's new coach by the end of the week.  If not there, somewhere.  This guy is legit.

Florida International 23   Marshall 16

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
TCU vs Louisiana Tech

This game intrigues me as an ISU fan for two reasons.  Reason number one is obviously TCU joining the Big XII next season.  A future opponent of ISU's as early as next season, it will interesting to start getting to know this "cinderella".  Reason number two is to watch Louisiana Tech's offense.  Tony Franklin is their OC.  He may very well be calling the shots for ISU next season.  He worked with Rhoads for all of five games at Auburn before he was canned.  I think he is better than that experience.  He runs spread camps all over the state of Texas.  I would not object to this hire.  As for the game I think TCU has too much for Louisiana Tech in this game.

TCU 34   Louisiana Tech 23

Maaco Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State vs Boise State

Once again Boise State gets screwed with their bowl placement.  It is BCS or bust for them and I guess that is why they are joining the Big East.  How awesome would that be if ISU played in the Las Vegas Bowl?  Rhetorical question- It would be epic.  Arizona State is in a state of flux right now.  They canned their coach and now are stuck with a coach who lies more than Nick Saban.  This game could get out of hand if Boise State shows up motivated.

Boise State 48   Arizona State 30

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Nevada vs Southern Mississippi

Without Hawaii playing in this game, no one will be there.  Usually without anything else on (aside from the Christmas Story marathon) everyone is at least watching from home.  This year a full slate of NFL games precedes the Hawaii Bowl.  I know this is on later, but it still doesn't put the spotlight on it as much as usual.  As for the game, it won't be much of one.  I hope Nevada at least gets to enjoy some beach time.  Southern Mississippi wins by two touchdowns.

Southern Mississippi  34   Nevada 20

And before we conclude these lead pipe locks let me bring you a weather update from NYC....

December 28th   High 44 deg  Low 36 deg
December 29th   High 44 deg  Low 36 deg  (SHOWERS)

On the contrary in Cedar Rapids....
December 28th  High  35 deg  Low 25 deg
December 29th  High  36 deg  Low 23 deg

Who said we aren't going somewhere warmer?!?!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

ISU Basketball Rankings for 12/18/11

These don't include today's game, but it won't help the rankings any.  Statistics aside, if this team doesn't start playing more consistently and giving up big scoring runs, they won't be competitive in the Big XII.

 Ken Pomeroy rankings
Rank - 77 (9th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 15-16 (5-13 in Big XII)
Aggregate projected record - 16-15 (7-11 in Big XII)

Sagarin rankings
Rank - 68 (7th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 17-14 (7-11 in Big XII)

It's remarkable how close these two projections are.  I think ISU fans should be happy with a record like this.  A trip to the big dance is unlikely, and this would likely mean a NIT berth.  

Anyone who follows kenpom.com, knows the significance of the four factors.  They are effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, offensive rebound percentage, and the ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attempts.  ISU ranks very well in all categories on offense, however, they are lacking when it comes to defense in one particular category - turnover percentage.  In fact, ISU only causes a turnover on 18.5% of their opponents possessions, ranking 283rd in NCAA Div 1.  

Here's my take - ISU doesn't have a true point guard, that's obvious.  While most will focus on the effect on the offensive side of the game, it affects the defense as well.  Without a true point guard presence, there's no on-ball pressure in the half court.  I hesitate to say that most turnovers come from the point guard position because I don't have the stats to back it up, but it's safe to say for most teams (ISU an unfortunate exception), the point guard handles the ball more than the other players.  Thus, on a per-possession basis, it's not unreasonable to think the point guard position would have more turnovers.  

Here's my solution - play Bubu Palo more.  Again, no stats to back me up (what's up Ken?), but it looks like he gives more pressure on the defensive end, not to mention on offense (next week's update?).  Scholarship or not, he needs to play more.   

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Paul Rhoads Announces He is "All-In"!

With the news that Paul Rhoads has agreed to a 10-year, $20 million deal with ISU both parties made a statement.  Paul Rhoads will not be leaving anytime soon.  I realize coaching contracts mean next to nothing.  However, with Paul Rhoads and the fact that it is a 10 year deal I feel confident to say he will be here for awhile.  If one of the big boys come strolling along maybe this changes.  Paul has shown it will take more than a mediocre job at a BCS school to jump ship.  He has also told his wife he will retire in his mid-50's.  This contract takes him to that age.  The salary bump Rhoads is getting is enough to move him up to 9th (out of 10) in the Big XII.  It will be interesting to see what the actual details of the contract are.  I am sure there are bonuses up the ying-yang in this contract but how much money does a person who resides in Gilbert, Iowa really need????

Paul Rhoads will still make about 2 million less than his coaching counterpart who resides 100 some odd miles east.  Looking at the production, Rhoads is a much better value.  Fortunately for ISU he still appears to be one of the most underrated coaches in the nation.  His current record stands at 18-19 which to the naked eye doesn't look to impressive.  As an ISU fan I hope there are a lot of naked eyes out there.  People forget this team was favored in TWO games.  One of them was against FCS Northern Iowa and the other was against one of the worst teams in FBS with a lame duck coach.  Not many expected a bowl game this year let alone two in CPR's first three years.  Keep in mind he is just a failed two point conversion attempt away from going to three straight bowl games people.  I still agree with that call by the way.

While Kirk Ferentz is the highest paid employee in the state of Iowa for his back to back seven win regular seasons its interesting to think about what an ISU fan should expect from CPR in the next ten years.  Its important to keep in mind that this is still a program with three bowl wins in the history of the program.  With the current structure of the Big XII I don't know as if ISU can win a conference championship.  If they were to add two teams and get back to a conference championship I would feel as though a conference championship game appearance or two wouldn't be out of line.  However, I must say this year of Big XII football was fun to watch.  I enjoy playing every team in the league and although it may be tougher it has to be a great recruiting pitch to recruits in Texas guaranteeing them two games played in the state each year.

Lets say Paul Rhoads does indeed stay the duration of this contract.  Here is what I feel we can realistically expect as Iowa State fans.  Remember with Rhoads though a lot of time the theme is "expect the unexpected".

Bowl Games: 8 of 10 years (This would be over double the current amount of appearances in school history)
Bowl Wins: 6 of 10 years (This would triple the current amount in school history)
Conference Winning Percentage: .500 or above with current system
7-8 win Seasons: 6 of 10 years
9+ win Seasons: 3 of 10 years (if including bowl wins)  This would mean going undefeated in non-conference play and going 6-3 in conference play or 5-4 with a bowl win.  This group was close to going 4-5 in conference play this season.
BCS Bowl Appearance: First, I hope this system is no longer in place by the end of his tenure but I really think this may be the ultimate ceiling for ISU with the current system.  However, it is discouraging to think that Kansas State this year went 10-2 and failed to make a BCS bowl as an at-large.  I feel the two programs are very similar.
Attendance: I really feel fans need to make sure they support this program.  Fans for years have whined about the administration not stepping up.  I feel JP has done an excellent job and it is time for ISU to guarantee its players 50,000 plus at every home game.  Next year will be the ultimate test without UNI, Iowa or Texas on the schedule.
South End Zone:  With Rhoads here for the next 10 years this project needs to get done.  This does not necessarily mean a 70k stadium.  It would not really add a whole lot to the capacity.  What it would do is provide more expensive reserved seats for season ticket holders as well as provide a much better atmosphere for college football.

In elementary school a friend convinced me to start cheering for Iowa State during the NCAA tournament when Kelvin Cato and company were making their way to the Sweet 16.  It has been a whirlwind ever since.  Odds have been stacked against this athletic program year after year.  I feel as though this football program has the most momentum since I have been fan.  Keep in mind they didn't even make a bowl game prior to me starting my ISU fanship.  With Rhoads at the helm I can't help but think what is possible for this program.  I have had season tickets for the last seven years, a tradition I plan on keeping alive.  However, it is time for myself and the rest of Cyclone Nation to step up, start contributing and declare ourselves "All-In"!!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Opening Day of Bowl Season

Ah, it is that time of year again.  Time for games between mediocre teams in front of tens of fans all broadcast on ESPN and sponsored by some type of food, internet site or baseball cap.  I really do enjoy it.  I enjoy the bowl pick 'ems.  I enjoy the highlights.  I enjoy how it lasts just short of the NBA postseason.  It bridges the gap to spring football and gives us one last helping of college football.  I am going to attempt to pick these games.  Not because I think I am an expert, but because I would like something to take credit for should I get lucky.  Here are tomorrows picks!

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Temple vs. Wyoming

Owls are red.  Cowboys are brown.  Wyoming will be the one's leaving with a frown.
Temple 31    Wyoming 20

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Ohio vs Utah State

Frank Solich had a career record of 58-19 at Nebraska.  They finished the season in the top 10 three seasons in a row.  His last season was 9-3.  Good enough to get him fired.  What?!  Nebraska since has not finished the season in the top 10 and has a total of 34 losses since his tenure.  You may be aware of the mess at Pitt right now too?  Common among both places?  Steve Pederson as the AD.

My first underdog pick of the bowl season.  I like Frank Solich.  May he turn Utah State into hashbrowns.


R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

San Diego State vs. Louisiana Lafayette

San Diego State still has enough of its roster from last year under Brady Hoke to put a hurtin' to the Rajun Cajuns, which may be one of the coolest mascots in college football.  They will be playing close to home but San Diego State needs to get used to traveling across the country beings as though they are a member of the Big East now.

SDSU 33-La Lafayette 19

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Revisiting My 2011 Predictions

 Here is the deal.  I made some rather bold and fearless predictions in January.  They were very specific.  I assigned a "boldness" scale to each of them back then.  I will give myself a portion of these boldness points and try to beat my "batting average" next year.  Enjoy.

2011 Predictions

Here are ten sports related predictions for 2011.  Some are bold, some are not.

1.  The Oregon Ducks will defeat the Auburn Tigers in the BCS National Championship game by a score of 52-49 in the highest scoring BCS title game yet.  On a side note, TCU will finish 2nd in the AP poll and receive at least two #1 votes. (Bold scale: 3)

*VERDICT: I missed on this one in multiple ways.  Auburn wins on a last second field goal and it wasn't quite that high scoring.  ZERO points.
2.  The New England Patriots will defeat the Chicago Bears in the 2011 Super Bowl by a score of 27-17.  Wes Welker is named the Super Bowl MVP for his 12 reception performance. (Bold scale: 5 due to the Bears prediction)
*VERDICT: I missed on both parts.  Neither the Patriots nor the Bears made it to the Super Bowl although the Bears came pretty close.  ZERO points.

3.  The Iowa State MBB team will finish the regular season 19-12 and win their first game in the Big XII tournament.  With a home win over a ranked Kansas State team as their lone "signature" win, they fail to crack the NCAA bubble and are invited to play in the postseason NIT tournament, their first postseason appearance since 2005. (Bold scale: 4)

*VERDICT: I was three wins off on the 2010-2011 Cyclones.  I really thought they might make a run.  They didn't, but were still fun to watch.  ONE point.
4.  The Philadelphia Phillies win over 100 games in the regular season along with the necessary 11 wins needed to win the World Series.  The Red Sox win 98 regular season games, but fail to make it to the World Series due to a late injury to Carl Crawford. (Bold scale: 3)
*VERDICT: Hey!  I was somewhat close on this with Philly getting to 100 wins.  However, the fell to the Cardinals in the NLDS and the Red Sox crumbled late and didn't even make it to the postseason.  I will give myself ONE point for this prediction.
5.  The Chicago Cubs will make the playoffs and get beat in the first round by the Phillies.  Carlos Zambrano has a resurgence and gets to 17 wins.  Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood combine for 50 saves and combine with Sean Marshall for one of the toughest bullpens in the NL. (Bold Scale: 7)

*VERDICT: Holy cow.  Biased much WrigleyIvy?  I missed by 8 wins on Zambrano, 19 wins on the Cubs and 15 saves on Marmol and Wood.  Not to mention Zambrano was prohibited from being in the clubhouse by the team late in the year!  NO points awarded for these predictions.

6.  The 2011 ISU football team goes 6-6 and is invited to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.  Paul Rhoads picks up his first victory over Iowa Redeyes, I mean Hawkeyes but will fall to UCONN on the road.  Jerome Tiller is the starting quarterback against UNI, but Steele Jantz sees significant playing time and becomes the starting quarterback by season's end.  (Bold Scale: 8)

*VERDICT: If there is something I know its Cyclone football.  Let me toot my own horn by saying Vegas predicted ISU for 2 wins, TWO.  This was a VERY bold statement.  I predicted their win total, their bowl and the win over Iowa.  However, ISU DID win against UCONN, Tiller was NOT the starting QB at the beginning of the year.  Steele did see significant time at the beginning of the year.  I will give myself SIX points for this pick.

7.  Oklahoma wins the first Big XII championship with round-robin scheduling and plays TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.  The Texas Longhorns have another mediocre season finishing 8-4 and are invited to play in the Holiday Bowl. (Bold Scale: 3)
*VERDICT: Hmmm.  Well, OSU was crowned the champions however OU still controlled their own destiny heading into the last game.  They will not be in the Fiesta Bowl.  Texas IS heading to the Holiday Bowl, however with just mediocre 6-6 record.  I will award myself ONE point.

8.  The Big Ten renames their divisions the Violators and Coke heads.  Nebraska loses to Ohio State in the inaugural Big Ten Championship game.  This will be the last time anyone other than Michigan plays in the championship game for the rest of the decade as Jim Harbaugh returns home in 2012 to turn the Big Ten into Michigan vs Ohio State as all others return to mediocrity and continue the tradition of losing to the SEC on New Year's day. (Bold Scale: 9)

*VERDICT: In so many ways I was off with this one.  I am going to award myself ONE point because of the idea of Michigan and OSU dominating the B1G in the near future.

9. Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck both return to Stanford to go undefeated and win the first season of the Pac-12 conference.  They are invited to play in the 2012 National Championship game, but because this is a 2011 prediction post, I cannot predict the outcome of this game.  Before the championship game occurs Rich Rodriguez is fired shortly after his team loses to Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl.  Jim Harbaugh accepts an offer to come back to Michigan but still coaches in the NC game. (Bold Scale: 8)

*VERDICT: Once again, I'm off in a number of different ways but I need to give myself some credit.  RichRod got fired, Luck returned, and--well that is about it.  TWO points.

10. Mark Cuban successfully implements and funds a plan for an 8 team playoff.  The playoff system is announced to begin in 2013.  Conference champions will NOT receive an automatic bid to the playoff.  ESPN will buy the television rights to all games and Bud Light will be the main sponsor.  The MCS (Mark Cuban System) Playoff winners will receive a $5,000 stipend and an iPad.  The Big Ten decides to boycott the playoff system because the Big Ten Network was not awarded the rights to the games and "its not fair they have a championship game and the winner doesn't receive an automatic bid", which makes them look into contraction. (Bold Scale: 10) 
*VERDICT: Maybe some day.  ZERO points.

Total Points Awarded: 12
Total Points Possible: 60

Batting Average: .200

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MY sporting wish list

Here's my list (in no particular order, please remember that), then a couple I've marked off.  Ha, I think that'll be another separate list.

*) Unworthy of any number, unreasonable as it may be unattainable, my holy grail of sport, is an ISU football team playing in the national championship.  No amount of money, no prior plans, nothing, could keep me from having the best possible seats in the biggest sports event in Iowa State University history.  This experience, of course, would have to include ISU fan #1 sitting next to me.

1) Wrigley Field - been there, but haven't done the bleachers or the rooftops.  At the same time, the view from the stands, without the ads and video and other garbage, is THE BEST in all of sports.

2) Lambeau - in the dead of winter.  No other NFL atmosphere like it.  Other than maybe...

3) Soldier Field -probably not quite the same now that they redid it.  (The recurring theme is that old stadiums hold more value for me.)  Still, passionate fans + a unique environment = a great experience.

4) Red River Rivalry - because it looks cool on TV?

5) Fenway - missed the real Yankee Stadium, and Shea too.  Am I joking about Shea?

6) Any golf tournament - The Masters would be cool, well above any other majors.  I've had a tournament in my backyard for 6 years and haven't gone.

7) Rose Bowl / LA Coliseum - old school bowl stadiums are the best.  The Cotton Bowl falls into this category too.

8) Jerry World - plenty of opportunities here too.  It's the 9th(?) wonder of the modern world.

9) Tennis tournament - this is kinda silly, but it's allowable because I played JV, right?  The US Clay Court Championships had been in Houston for the past several years.  Not a grand slam event by any stretch, but it still attracted some decent talent.  Again, didn't go.  The super level would be the U.S. Open or Wimbledon.  It'd depend on whether I wanted to get drunk and loud or clap politely between services.

10) Manchester United "football" game - craziest fans on the planet, AND you can bet on games at the stadium!!!

Finally... seriously guys, you missed these?!?

Ever heard of the Olympics?  What about the World Cup?  THE biggest sporting events on the planet, only occurring every four years!  I'd pick the World Cup first, surprisingly perhaps, but there are some pretty badass events in the winter Olympics.  The Olympics are tough because most aren't spectator sports.  But, it's THE OLYMPICS.  The World Cup is full of crazies no matter who plays, a couple billion people are watching on TV, and it's held in some interesting areas of the world.  Count me in.

The takeaway from all this should be that there are sporting events worth planning a (huge) trip around.

P.S.  My travel buddy is out of commission the next couple of years.  Who will step up?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Sporting Event Bucket List

I got thinking the other night of all the different sporting events I would like to see.  Obviously I enjoy watching ISU athletics some events that were previously on my bucket list were crossed off or soon will be crossed off because of them.  I'll start with a few things I have done that I think are pretty special.

March Madness (In Vegas)- The two times I have done this really have been some of the best times of my life.  I vowed to make sure I returned every year, but due to this New York trip it might not be happening. 

Football Handicapping in Vegas- I have done this a couple times now and it is pretty intense.  The Venetian is the place to be and I am excited to go back.

Wrigley Field (Bleachers, Rooftop)- I enjoy the bleachers much better but the rooftop is a pretty cool experience as well.  I've been able to see two of the biggest rivalries in MLB (Cubs vs Cardinals and Cubs vs White Sox) at Wrigley Field.

Visiting 10 Different MLB parks- Some of them still exist, some of them don't.  This topic will appear later on my list.  Coolest stadium?  San Francisco.

See a Game in Lambeau Field- It is quite an atmosphere there.  By no means am I a Packers fan, but the experience was pretty cool.

Visit Yankee Stadium- Coming soon.  Although it will be for a football game I think the opportunity will be pretty special.

The List....

Visit Every MLB Park-  I think the more realistic scenario is to see all 30 MLB teams play a home game.  Baseball stadiums and the different layouts fascinate me.  Would really enjoy seeing Fenway Park before its too late.

Go to a SEC Football Game- It is just a different ball of wax down there.  I think it would be quite the experience to be present at one of these games.

Attend the Red River Rivalry- In connection with the Texas State Fair I think this would be a hoot.  Fried food, rivalry, good football, warm weather.

Attend a Game in Madison Square Garden- I was hoping the Knicks were playing at home during our trip so I could cross this one off.  It is supposed to be the mecca of basketball, so I think it would be worth seeing.

Attend either a NLCS clinching or World Series clinching Cubs victory in Wrigley Field- Might not ever happen but I would have to pull out all the stops if the opportunity arose.

Be in Attendance for Every Cyclone Football Game (1 season)- It would be fun to see an entire season unfold in person.  It would be pretty possible in my opinion during a year in which ISU has seven home games and plays Iowa in Iowa City.  That would leave two trips to Texas, a trip to Oklahoma and a trip to Kansas.

See a Bears Victory in Soldier Field- Seems pretty small but I have never seen my favorite professional football team play a home game.  I'm a Bears fan and I have been to Lambeau and not Soldier Field.  What's up with that?

Spend Super Bowl Sunday in Vegas- Prop bets, prop bets, prop bets!

I'm sure I left a few off the list.  What is on yours?

New York, New York

I will be the first to admit New York City was not my first choice for an Iowa State bowl destination.  However, after deciding to make the trip I have done some more research on NYC and am getting more and more excited.  I think it truly will be a great trip for the players, coaches and fans.  Warm weather is nice in December, but this truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity for everyone involved.  Here are ten reasons I am looking forward to this trip.

10.  The Cyclones have now taken me to Houston's Reliant Stadium, Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium (3 times), Las Vegas, Tempe, Columbia (MO) and now New York City.  I love seeing different stadiums and cities.  I really enjoy seeing different baseball stadiums.  My #10 reason I am excited for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl is the chance to see the new Yankee Stadium.

9.  I've been fortunate to visit a lot of different places around the country.  My only experience out east was Washington D.C. when I was younger.  I have never really been tremendously interested in visiting New York in the past.  JMeeks wanted to go out there a couple summers ago and I didn't really understand why.  The east coast is truly a different experience.  Reason #9 is this trip presents the opportunity to go to the east coast and experience New York City.

8.  New Year's Eve in New York City.  This is supposed to be the place to be on NYE right?  I've spent NYE in Houston and Tempe why not New York City.

7.  Statue of Liberty.  I've seen it on television and in books.  This is a chance to see it in person.  I just hope it looks like this...
6.  Central Park.  I was a big fan of the Home Alone movies.  I had the Home Alone game for my GameBoy and on the Super Nintendo.  I want to see what this Central Park is all about and throw bird see all over JMeeks and watch him scream.

5.  TMNT.  I want to see the land of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  I love those dudes.  The movies were great.  Cowabunga!!!

4.  Times Square.  No, I don't plan on standing outside for hours upon hours without beverages and without restrooms to see a ball drop.  Would it be cool to say you have done it?  Yes, absolutely.  Is it worth it on your first trip to NYC?  Absolutely not.  However, I do look forward to seeing what this Times Square is all about.

3.  Ground Zero.  One of the biggest moments of United States history, one that happened when I was a freshman in high school happened in NYC.  I still and always will remember sitting in the wrestling room during physical education class.  At that time I really didn't know the significance of the World Trade Centers nor did I know at that time how big of a travesty this truly was.  Football practice was cancelled after school and when I got home seemingly every channel had constant coverage.  I knew this was big.  I look forward to seeing this area and the tribute to the victims and the hero's of 9/11.

2.  New York Style Pizza.  I love pizza.  I really freaking love pizza.  I have had New York style pizza but I haven't had pizza from New York.  I'm getting hungry thinking about it.  As a kid I had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy that shot out pizzas.

This really could have been #1....

1.  Cyclone Football.  At the end of the day I really look forward to seeing these boys play again.  This has really been a special season to be an ISU fan.  The team was favored in TWO games and won SIX.  A season that just about started with a loss to UNI ended with a trip to NYC.  It is a season I will never forget.  A season that included two of the most memorable games I've ever been to.  It would be a shame to not take advantage of the biggest win in school history.  Paul Rhoads is putting out a product on the field that is fun to watch and I simply can't wait until the 30th.  Getting a chance to tailgate at different establishments in Manhattan and the Bronx will truly be something different and special.  I really truly hope Rutgers packs the house.  It will be hard for ISU to bring a ton of fans but both teams deserve a great atmosphere whether that be hostile or supportive.  I think it will be a fun game to watch and the chance to win a 2nd bowl game in three years is pretty unbelievable considering where this program was at just three years ago.  Here is a clip from Paul Rhoads last night to get you fired up....

And this post wouldn't be complete without a few music video's....


Let's GO CYCLONES!!!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Kenpom and Sagarin Rankings for ISU Update 12/7/2011

 Ken Pomeroy rankings
Rank - 81 (9th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 15-16 (5-13 in Big XII)
Aggregate projected record - 16-15 (7-11 in Big XII)

Sagarin rankings
Rank - 65 (5th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 15-16 (5-13 in Big XII)

Surprisingly, Iowa State's rankings have risen, even though the team has lost 3 games and hasn't looked very sharp.  It's tough to figure out what to make of this.  The rating for kenpom has increased from .5972 to .7097, which makes the better projections make sense.  However, the Sagarin rating has only moved from 78.93 to 80.59, not exactly a step change.  More importantly, the rest of the conference has taken a huge drop.  Texas, for example, has dropped from 89.65 to 77.89.  Again, it takes two teams to play a game and other teams' drops have obviously helped Iowa State's projected record.

There's a hundred things I could glean from the statistics at kenpom.com, but I'll highlight just one statistic during each of these updates.  We can understand more about the Cyclones from these very unique stats.  This week, I'll take an easy one.

Offensive Efficiency - 108.1, rank 43rd
This is a good offensive squad for the Cyclones.  Obvious?  Well, this stat backs it up.  This is somewhat surprising because of the cold shooting ISU has had the last couple of weeks.  Of course, they should be good, the starting five are out there because they're the best offensive players.  It's essentially four shooting guards and Royce White.  Chris Allen is a bit of a chucker, Ejim is really slumping, Christopherson has been struggling having to run the point and they haven't really run much offense for White in the post.  Yet, still, this offense has been successful.  It's only the 6th best offense in the Big XII right now, but really has a chance to be something special.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Iowa State vs Kansas State Predictions

When is the last time your Iowa State Cyclones have been only a 12 point underdog ON THE ROAD to a top-15 opponent?  Sorry, this was a rhetorical question and I don't really have the answer off the top of my head.  Maybe in 2002 against Oklahoma?  Anyway, on to the game.

I really feel good about this game from a Cyclone standpoint.  Kansas State is the type of team that will play really close ball games.  The last two seasons I have been downright pissed walking out of Arrowhead Stadium losing to these guys.  I have to hand it to Bill Snyder though.  He will go down as one of the best college football coaches of all time.  His teams always play disciplined and fundamental, which really speaks to his coaching considering the amount of junior college players he recruits.  Here is the analysis.

When Cyclones have the ball:
ISU has to get the ball moving again to keep the defense off the field.  It is supposed to be rainy and possibly windy.  If its not terribly windy I see the Cyclones throwing a lot of bubble screens to Jarvis West and company.  Look for Albert Gary to get looks over the middle and assuming Josh Lenz is back Jared Barnett will have a 3rd down receiver.  To be honest I think Rhoads and Herman have a few tricks in the playbook they have yet to show.  When the Cyclones got down against the Sooners I felt they were playing awfully close to the vest and I started to wonder if maybe Rhoads was holding onto something for this game.  Kansas State is tough against the run.  Jared Barnett will have to throw for 250+ for the Cyclones to win.  Advantage: Kansas State

When Kansas State has the ball:
They can run and run it well especially with their quarterback.  ISU has, according to stats, struggled against the run at times.  However, ISU is playing their best defensive football of the season.  Add in the fact that KSU can become, at times, one dimensional and ISU's best players are linebackers AJ Klein and Jake Knott and KSU could be in trouble.  One thing ISU needs to look out for is the reverse.  Oklahoma gained about 80 yards on just two reverse plays last Saturday.  I really hope Wally shoves eight in the box and leaves our corners on an island.  Advantage: Push

Special Teams:
I have been incredibly impressed by ISU's special teams (excluding the kicking game).  They seem to block extremely well on both punt returns and kick returns.  I really think they will break one at some point and maybe this is that game.  Kicking, however, reared its ugly head again against Oklahoma.  They brought their go to play (the missed PAT) out of the playbook again and I'm not a big fan of it.  Really if it wasn't for the kicking field goals part I would say ISU might have an edge.  However it is a HUGE part and thus Kansas State gets the edge.

Prediction:  I really think ISU can win this game.  It wouldn't surprise me one bit.  Kansas State has won A LOT of close close games.  Are they due to lose a close one?  If this game was in Ames I would be all for picking the upset.  Its not and I think the Clones will lose a close game.

Kansas State 16   ISU 13

Monday, November 28, 2011

ISU Bowl Possibilities

Disclaimer:  Any complaint or downfall of any of these bowls is obviously exponentially better than the flip-side (not being in a bowl).  You cannot overestimate how crucial this opportunity is for this team.  Here is a bit from Paul Rhoads at his weekly presser.

"Rhoads noticed a big difference between spring practice this year and the previous year because of the lack of bowl practices."

The extra month of practice along with another nationally televised game will help this program move even further along.  Depending on the opponent and the type of game that is played, who knows, maybe CPR will make another YouTube appearance.  WIN the bowl game and the Cyclones are sitting at least at .500 over Rhoads' first three years.  Did I mention the extra practice this extremely young team will get?

Possibilities (In order of best for ISU to at least we are in a bowl)  Note: The Insight Bowl is not in these projections.  Unless ISU beats KSU Saturday this really isn't a possibility.

 1.  Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA)
     December 28th     
     8pm CST  
     Against: Pac-12

This would be probably the best bowl ISU has ever been in.  It is a destination that a whole slew of Cyclones would travel to.  It is also the ONLY bowl game on at the time.  Around the holidays a lot of people will be watching this game.  I know it is always one of my favorites to watch.  A lot of people get caught up in the payouts.  Payouts really don't matter when it comes to bowl games.  The conference will split the net-payouts.  This bowl would give the Cyclones and this program the most exposure.  A chance to beat a decent Pac-12 would be a great step for this program. 

Probability: 15%

2.   Texas Bowl (Houston, TX)
December 31st
12 pm CST
Against: Big Ten

 Yes this is just one step down in the pecking order.  It would be an excellent destination for the Cyclones.  The fact that the game is in Texas, a prime recruiting ground for ISU, is great.  Warmer weather, also great.  A decent Big Ten opponent, splendid.  A 12 pm time slot on New Year's Eve?  Not ideal.  Figure in that there is a full slate of bowl games on that day and this game could get lost in the shuffle.  It helps NYE is a Saturday.  However, from an exposure standpoint it is not as good of an opportunity for ISU.

Probability: < 5%  The Texas Bowl will not pass on a chance to get Baylor, Texas, or Texas Tech.
3.  Ticket City Bowl (Dallas, TX)
January 2nd
12 pm CST
Against: Big Ten

I know, I know this is not a Big XII bowl game.  However, is this better than the Pinstripe Bowl?  Absolutely.  Let me explain.  Yay! January bowl game!  The Ticket City Bowl doesn't quite have the name some others might but January 2nd this year is as good as January 1st most years.  There are zero, cero, nada, zilch, none, bowl games on New Year's Day.  It is of course a NFL Sunday.  That makes January 2nd the day in college football.  This bowl kicks it off.  Here are the other bowl games that day: Outback, Capital One, Gator, Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl.  Think people will be watching those?  Think people will see highlights of the Ticket City Bowl during that game?  Rhetorical questions.  Downfall?  Its on ESPNU.  Unless you fell for the Digital Plus package just to get NFL RedZone like I did you probably don't get ESPNU.  Additional bonus:  Getting to play in the Cotton Bowl.

Probability: 40 %  The "Experts" would disagree with this percentage.  However, the experts don't know anymore than I do.  I really find it hard to believe ISU gets passed up by all of the Big XII bowls.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
December 30th
3:20 pm
Against: Big East

The only real benefit to this bowl is that it is a Big XII bowl.  The Cyclones would be better off against a Big Ten opponent.  They would be better off with fans in the stands.  They would be better off in an area they can recruit.  They would be better off not in this bowl.  This is the bowl I projected ISU would land in at the beginning of the year in my fearless predictions.  I really feel as though ISU might end up here unfortunately.  I really hope I am wrong.  Here is a little tidbit that makes me think if ISU falls to the Pinstripe Bowl they will take them.  There were ZERO bowl reps at Missouri's last home game against Texas Tech.  ZERO!!!! Something makes me think Missouri will get their usual treatment and won't get a Big XII Bowl.  Unfortunately for ISU if that is the case and they don't end up in a better situation the Cyclones could be headed to NYC.  Reminds me way to much of going to Boise.

Probability: 40%

Any Other Non-Big XII Bowl

There are numerous possibilities out there.  Military Bowl, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Beef O'Brady's Bowl and even the possibility of the Hawaii Bowl.  These would be better than the alternative, staying at home, yet not as good as some of the other possibilities.  However, I would place the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl above the Pinstripe.  ISU actually does recruit California.  NYC, not so much.

Probability: < 5%

My dream scenario:  Las Vegas Bowl

My realistic dream scenario: Holiday Bowl

My economically efficient scenario: Ticket City Bowl/ Texas Bowl

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cyclones Experience Growing Pains and Gains In Norman

As a lifelong Cyclone fan I was in uncharted territory this Saturday.  I really expected ISU to compete with Oklahoma in Norman.  Traditionally those two things just don't mix.  I had drank the Kool-Aid all week coming off the biggest win in school history.  The message boards were crazy this week and every article and sound byte I read or listened set me up for utter disappointment.  Sure, for every story about the Cyclones resurgence and for every Paul Rhoads YouTube clip there was someone there to bring me back to earth.  Hangover.  52-0.  Norman (which might as well be a four letter word to Cyclone fans).  Yet, I was confident this guy known as CPR would get the Cyclones breathing again in Norman (pun intended).  By the time 11 a.m. rolled around I was about as vulnerable as I have ever been.  This was setting up for disaster.

After watching the offense cough up the ball deep in their own territory I was starting to feel comfortable again as a Cyclone fan.  The defense then stuffed this potent offense and held them to a field goal.  After an Oklahoma botched snap and a quick ISU score the scoreboard reads ISU 7 Oklahoma 3 (Pending PAT).  Then came the missed extra point, ISU's go-to special teams play.  Yet the Cyclones are ahead of Oklahoma at the end of the first quarter.  Upset brewing.

The second quarter featured two more Cyclone turnovers and 20 unanswered Sooner points.  The defense was the only reason this was not a lot worse.  At halftime the score reads Oklahoma 23, ISU 6.  Blowout brewing?

The second half featured more of the same for both the Cyclones defense and the Cyclones offense.  The Cyclones defense played outstanding and the Cyclones offense sputtered.  Although the game never got close enough in the 2nd half to truly make the Sooners nervous they certainly couldn't have felt comfortable.  I came away incredibly impressed with this defense.  They played the game, not the scoreboard.  Over and over with their backs against the wall they came away with huge stops and turnovers.  Over the last four games (3-1) this defense is allowing 18.5 points per game.  These opponents typically average 37.8 points per game.  Wow, hats off to these guys.

Many people will come away discouraged from the offensive performance.  At the end of the day this group was featuring at some points 8 or 9 underclassmen including a red-shirt freshmen quarterback.  This offense was just beat by a defense belonging to the #9 team in the nation.  A defense featuring strength, speed and agility that made them blue chip recruits.  A defense that held a senior led Cyclone offense scoreless last season.  Growing pains.

Most of the players on this Cyclone roster were overlooked by the Oklahoma's and Texas' of the world.  Many of them were overlooked by BCS schools in general.  Yet, they continue to play, continue to improve and continue to show they will stand toe-to-toe with the big boys.  A 20 point loss can never be considered a "good loss" and in college football there is no such thing as a moral victory.  Everyone in that locker room expected to win and was extremely disappointed to walk out with a loss.  They will walk into the Little Apple next week against this weeks 11th ranked team in the BCS standings once again expecting to win.  So will a majority of the Cyclone fan base.  After the game there may be another YouTube celebration.  There may not be.  At the end of the day, these Cyclones will still be making their second bowl trip in three years.  Only a failed fake extra point attempt in overtime against Nebraska has prevented this from being a third consecutive trip.

ISU will likely start the game next week as double digit underdogs.  As Jeff Woody would put it "We've been favored two times in eleven games.  We have six wins.  You do the math".  I also think I can steal Paul Rhoads' famous line and speak for all of Cyclone Nation in saying "We are so PROUD!".

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Post Oklahoma State Thoughts Q&A

Q: Was this the biggest win in school history? (From Dan McCarney in North Texas)

Dan, this absolutely was the biggest win in school history.  Had it not been a bowl eligibility clinching win there would be an argument.  Beating the #2 team in the nation in their 11th game of the season is different than beating the #2 team in the nation at the beginning of the year.  Playing on ESPN was huge.  Being the only show in town was huge.  Causing BCS chaos was huge.  Having over 52,000 screaming ISU fans there was HUGE.  This was probably the most unbelievable atmosphere I have been a part of at Jack Trice.  To me this was similar to my 19th birthday against Colorado when the game was delayed because of tornado's.  I think the new Big 12 scheduling will pay off big for the Cyclones in their late year attendance.  Thanks for the question Dan.

Statement: You guys don't have a shot of beating Oklahoma State. (Hawk Fan at lunch)


Statement: ISU got lucky. (From Mike Hlas in Cedar Rapids, IA)

Luck is a funny word.  A word that has no part in being associated with this game however.  Nebraska turning the ball over 8 times in 2009?  That may have been a little luck.  Oklahoma State turned the ball over 5 times.  Those turnovers were forced and the Cyclones didn't even take advantage (only 3 points off turnovers).  ISU was down 24-7 with about 12 minutes left to play in the 3rd quarter.  They outscored them 30-7 the rest of the way.  They gained more yards than OSU, they won the turnover battle and they did something no other team had done all year: get Heisman front runner Brandon Weeden rattled.  The only thing that reminded me of "LUCK" in this game was Jared Barnett's performance down the stretch.

How crazy was the after party in Ames man?  Did you pound some Natty's??? (From Larry Eustachy in Mississippi)

Larry you would have been proud of Ames Friday night.  But unfortunately what happened in Ames that night will stay in Ames.  Forever.

What do you think Cyclone Nation would have done had I lined up for the game winning field goal in 20T? (From Zach Guyer in Ames)

There would have been vomit everywhere.  Take your most nervous moment in your life and multiple it by a gazillion.  There was no way that field goal was going in and you know it.  There's the Golden Rule and then there's the Cyclone Rule.  Cyclone Rule reads: ISU is prohibited from making easy, chip-shot, game-winning or tying field goals or extra points in any meaningful game.

Should I get used to these splinter's up my a$$? (Steele Jantz in Ames, IA)

I would buy yourself a nice seat cushion Steele and think back to the glory days when you were leading come back wins against UNI, Iowa and UConn.  And then hit the replay button over and over.  I have a question for you Steele.  Can you catch a football??

Where in the hell is Ames and how do I get there?!?! (From Recruits, Nationwide)

Central Iowa.  Just north of Des Moines.  Did you see that awesome movie Cedar Rapids???  Its just west of there, but far enough that the Cedar Rapids Gazette can't show up.  Pricks.

I missed the game.  What happened?  Who is Paul Rhoads?  What is a Cyclone? (From Caveman, in Underarock)

*What happened:
*Who is Paul Rhoads??
And again....

And again...

What is a Cyclone?

Just don't look it up on Urban Dictionary.  Don't even want to know what they think it is.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kenpom and Sagarin Rankings for ISU Updated

Ken Pomeroy rankings
Rank - 101 (9th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 14-17 (3-15 in Big XII)
Aggregate projected record - 15-16 (6-12 in Big XII)

Sagarin rankings
Rank - 85 (8th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 14-17 (5-13 in Big XII)

Iowa State's rankings have risen after 3 games and I expect we'll see that continue through the non-conference schedule.  Unfortunately, this happened last year as well, and the early ratings were a better prediction of conference success than their rating after tearing up one of the easiest non-conference schedules (340th out of 345).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sagarin Preseason Rankings for the Cyclones

Some posters on cyclonefanatic think Jeff Sagarin's computer model is better than kenpom.com, so here's Iowa State's preseason ranking from that site.

Rank - 78 (8 of 10 in Big XII)

According to his formula, ISU has a projected record of 15-16, 3-15 in the conference.  This is pretty consistent with the kenpom predictions.

I'll try to update this throughout the season.

Kenpom.com Preseason Rankings for the Cyclones

I just got back into Kenpom.com, one of my favorite web sites.  And its always interesting to follow the Cyclones through the season.  Here are the Cyclones preseason numbers.

Rank - 120 (9th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 10-21 (2-16 in Big XII)
Aggregate projected record - 14-17 (5-13 in Big XII)

None of the other statistics have much meaning right now, so lets compare to last years team.  The only number I could find was preseason rank from kenpom - 175.  So that's an improvement.

Last years' actual results.
Kenpom final ranking - 81
Record - 16-16 (3-13 in Big XII, 12th out of 12)

Is Ken Pomeroy's formula predicting a better season than last year?  It's tough to say, without seeing the full preseason numbers from 2010.  Coming into the 2010 season, ISU had lost players accounting for 69% of its minutes.  Add a new coach and the season's outcome seemed tough to predict.  This season, players accounting for 57% of the minutes won't be returning, but the coach stayed the same and ostensibly, the style of play.  Pomeroy's preseason predictions should be more accurate for this year's team.

Two teams make a game.  Iowa State's opponents could be overrated or underrated, too.  That's why the projected aggregate record is a better prediction, which spells an improvement in conference play but a step back overall.  And another year without a NCAA bid.  Let's hope kenpom.com is wrong just this one time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paul Rhoads Performance Review

A lot of people are raving about the job that Paul Rhoads is doing at Iowa State.  I decided to create my own performance review of Paul Rhoads.

Record: 16-17

To the naked eye this doesn't look too sexy.  However, his sixteen wins through a little over two and a half seasons is two more than the previous four years combinedOf these sixteen wins, eight of them of come in non-conference games.  Iowa State has lost three non-conference games in his tenure and two of those losses were to top 10 teams (Iowa and Utah in 2010) and the other loss came to the 2009 Iowa team that ended up playing in the Orange Bowl.  His conference record at this point sits at 8-14.  Once again, to the naked eye this number does not look to be very impressive.  Iowa State, by my calculations, has only been favored to win four conference games in Rhoads' tenure and 11 games overall.  This translates into his team winning four conference games they were not supposed to as well as an additional two non-conference games they were not supposed win.  Six upsets in 22 chances is a pretty good ratio.

Signature Wins: Nebraska 2009, Texas 2010, Iowa 2011, Texas Tech 2011

A mark of a good coach is the appearance of signature wins on his resume.  Paul Rhoads is running out of room.  These type of wins put a program like Iowa State back on the map.  These were all games Iowa State was clearly not supposed to win.

Nebraska 2009: Coming into the game as an 18.5 point underdog the Cyclones shocked Husker Nation with a 9-7 victory.  What makes this even more impressive is that it was done without their starting quarterback and starting running back--announced just before game time.  This spread would have been much larger had this been know when the spread was made.  It was Iowa State's first victory in Lincoln since 1977. 

Texas 2010: Iowa State strolled into this game as only (sarcasm) a 20.5 underdog.  They walked out with the program's first EVER victory over Texas and their first road win over a ranked opponent since 1990.  This victory seems less impressive after watching Texas struggle to a 5-7 season however you cannot put into words the monumental step this program took that October day.

Iowa 2011: In what is maybe the most exciting football game I have ever been at (ISU vs Florida State is right up there too), the Cyclones notched their first victory over Iowa under Paul Rhoads.  It was a big step in helping with in-state recruiting as well as helping ISU to a perfect non-conference slate.  The Cyclones were only a 6.5 point underdog and I don't expect this win will look as good at the end of the season however a victory over Iowa is always an important step to success at Iowa State.

Texas Tech 2011: This may be THE biggest win of the Paul Rhoads era.  Texas Tech doesn't have that sexy name when you look at it.  Consider that Texas Tech just put a whooping on Oklahoma the week before IN Norman and ISU had NEVER won in Lubbock and this win sounds much better.  A couple of things I forgot to mention include the point spread (14.5 points) and the POINT SPREAD (34 points).  The most complete game this team has put together in a long, long time.

Bad Losses: Kansas State 2009

What tells you most about this is that there is only one.  I would also like to point out that this is the ONLY game ISU has lost in which they were favored and they were only favored by a field goal in this game.  Why does this loss sting?  Grant Mahoney's blocked extra point with :32 seconds left that would have tied the game.  If they win this game, Paul Rhoads would still be without a loss in a game in which his team was favored.  It is important to note I do not consider margin of loss into the equation for this.  A loss is a loss and they will happen especially when you are the underdog.  Avoiding losing games in which you were favored to win is the key to program success.


This is a harder aspect to judge than the others because the only quantitative data available is recruiting rankings which is only a predictor of how good these athletes will be and really means absolutely nothing.    I will attempt to assess Rhoads' ability to recruit.

2010 Class:  Iowa State was ranked 9th out of the current 10 teams in the Big XII.  Only Kansas State was lower.  The bright spot of this class is the quantity.  Rhoads signed 28 athletes to this class.  Being able to fill out recruiting classes is sometimes a struggle for below average programs.  Once again, those are just rankings.  Looking at the players signed in that class it seems to look a little more impressive.  Players in this class include: Jared Barnett, Shontrelle Johnson, Tom Farniok, Durell Givens, Duran Hollis, Kirby Van Der Kamp and Jarvis West.  All of these players have at least two years of eligibility left and are already major contributors.


2011 Class: In 2011 Iowa State once again ranked 9th of 10 teams in front of only Kansas State (who is often penalized in these rankings for recruiting JC players).  Rhoads signed 23 recruits in this class included JC teammates Steele Jantz and Aaron Horne.  Many of these players were able to redshirt this season and many of them should be major contributors down the road.  What I have noticed about this class is the formation of pipelines in California, Florida and Texas.  Developing connections in these talent rich states is huge and should pay dividends down the road.  I genuinely get excited looking at the pieces Rhoads has in place with this recruiting class.


2012 Class (so far):  Keep in mind this class has not yet signed and is still a work in progress.  At this point ISU sits at 8 out of 10.  An improvement!  They have already received commitments from 14 athletes included 10 3-star athletes.  What excites me about this class is that already five Iowa players have committed.  ISU will never be able to build their program on Iowa talent but getting the best players in the state to commit to ISU is a great foundation for recruiting.  At this point the University of Iowa has only received a commitment from one Iowa player.  Rhoads has also received a commitment from a kicker and three HS quarterbacks.  I really believe simply adding as many great athletes to a roster and not necessarily a great tight end or a guard is a great start.  Get great athletes and speed adn turn them into outstanding football players.


Recruiting Trends:
*4 IA kids in 2010, 5 IA kids in 2011 and already 5 IA kids in 2012
*6 OL in 2010, 3 in 2011, 2 so far for 2012
*6 FLA athletes in 2010, 5 in 2011
*1 QB in 2010, 2 QB in 2011 and 3 in 2012 

This could be a rather large portion of this review, but I will attempt to keep it concise.  Rhoads is clearly a great motivator.  He is getting his teams to overachieve which is the sign of a great coach.  His ability to pull off the huge upsets he already has is an indicator of his ability to motivate.
Rhoads also has ignited a fire in the fan base.  He is passionate and charismatic.  Season ticket sales are at an all-time high and even the most skeptical ISU fans find themselves in moments of optimism.  Another strength of his is his aggressiveness.  Rhoads has proven he is not afraid to go for it on fourth down, run a fake punt or even run a fake extra point in overtime.  To me strings like this have to be pulled every once in awhile when the talent doesn't match up on paper.  Finally, his greatest strength to me is the respect he has from his players.  As much as we want this to be about football, I truly believe these students will be better people because of their relationship with Paul Rhoads.  If you have any questions about the mutual respect between his players and him watch below...

Weaknesses:  We have to take a step back and realize that this is just Rhoads' third year of head coaching experience.  Tricks of the trade such as in-game management, practice plans and travel arrangements will come with time.  There have been a few instances where Rhoads' teams do seem to be unprepared and unorganized.  This is to be expected with a fresh coach.  At times some fans have been critical of Rhoads being overly emotional.  I am not one of those select few, but I do believe his emotion and motivation to play with passion can result in stupid personal fouls.  I also believe it to be at least part of the struggles the offense seems to have early in the game.  Being able to help his players harness the emotion will be instrumental in moving this program forward.  I kind of hit on this earlier but Rhoads' teams seem to be undisciplined at times.  Too many times do his teams shoot themselves in the foot Plaxico Burress style with false starts, holds and sometimes illegal formations.  Rhoads needs to take a chapter out of the Bill Snyder book and let the other teams make the mistakes.  Easier said than done.

Reasons for skepticism:  ISU at times appears severely over matched.  Will they ever be able to get the talent to Ames to compete consistently with the Oklahoma and Texas' of the world?  I'm not sure what a realistic ceiling is for a program like Iowa State, but is it high enough to keep Rhoads around long-term.

Reason for optimism:  Just when you give up on his team Rhoads will prove you wrong.  He appears to have found a composed quarterback that limits turnovers and runs the zone read effectively.  He is just two wins away from bowl eligibility against a conference schedule that includes 8 teams that have been ranked at some point this season.

Final verdict:  Along with the rest of Cyclone Nation I am proud to have Coach Rhoads lead this program.  I think his "improve and plateau" strategy seems to be working.  I cannot wait for Rhoads to continue to improve this program and finding a way to keep him around is a must.

Go 'Clones!