Monday Musings

There aren't many positives after you lose 56-7 at home on national television. And let's just say our publisher isn't exactly the sunny-side up type of guy.

Well, what is there left to say after you suffer a 56-7 defeat?

When the player most deserving of individual accolades following a ballgame is the punter, you know it wasn't a good night. Unfortunately, it's pretty much what I expected all week long.

The Cyclones went to battle against the mighty Sooners without a single player that would start for the nation's top-ranked team, and maybe only have a couple of guys who would even make the two-deep in Norman.

That may sound cold and harsh, like a doctor who gives you a diagnosis that you have a terminal disease. But it also doesn't change the facts.

Right now the two thematic elements that would best describe a movie based on ISU's 2003 football season would be injuries and youth.

If you're looking for hardcore analysis from me this week or some Pollyanna, pie-in-the-sky talk of a fourth straight bowl game look somewhere else. 56-7 pretty much says it all.

I've got way too much faith in Mac to say the sky is falling, but Chicken Little is in the bullpen warming up as far as 2003 is concerned. This is officially now a rebuilding season and any games ISU wins the rest of the way will be considered upsets. Again, that may sound cold and/or harsh. But it's also the truth.

I will promise you this: better days are ahead. They're just not going to be here this year.

Remaining Goals for the Season

I'd like to see the 2003 Cyclones accomplish three things the rest of the way that would hopefully provide some momentum for 2004.

First, I'd like for ISU get out of the season with Austin Flynn still alive. I, along with many of you, was curious as to why Flynn was still in the game as long as he was. A quarterback that runs 15-20 times a game only has so many hits his body can take, and I'm not sure what he can learn when his team is down by 40. If this young man is the franchise, then you've got to protect him. And since the offensive line clearly isn't capable of doing so yet, it's up to the coaches to pull the plug. We already know Austin can take a hit, because he's been taking dozens of them in every game.

Second, it would be nice to see some young playmakers emerge. Unfortunately, just when it seems someone in a cardinal-and-gold uniform begins to get hot he gets hurt. If the goal is to develop depth for the future than ISU is succeeding, albeit not under the mop-up duty conditions it was hoping for.

Third, beat somebody you're not supposed to beat. And I'm not talking about Missouri or even Texas Tech. I'm talking about one of the Big 12 powers, because if this program is going to reach the next level in the future it's going to need the confidence it can do just that.

Big – Really Big – Men's Basketball News

Against all odds, forward Jackson Vroman has won his appeal to the Big 12 office and will be eligible for the first semester.

Vroman wasn't officially declared ineligible by the university, so don't look for any public proclamation saying he's eligible now. However, a Big 12 stipulation that is called the Jamaal Tinsley/Byron Hanspard rule had made Vroman ineligible pending his appeal for the first semester. Vroman was ineligible because he had not done enough academically by conference standards during the spring semester.

We here at CN were repeatedly told by our sources that a successful Vroman appeal was a real longshot, and it's also one of the reasons that ISU's schedule was back-loaded. Nonetheless, whatever reasoning the Big 12 chose in granting Vroman a dispensation, it means that only Tim Barnes won't be there when the season begins.

Barnes was declared ineligible by ISU. Vroman and Barnes still face disciplinary action for their arrests this summer.

By the way, this is a perfect time to remind you that the next issue of CN Magazine is our men's basketball preview. If you're not already a subscriber, you'll need to be one by Wednesday in order to receive this issue in your mail at the end of the month.

My Top 25

How I rank the top teams in the country this week.

1. Oklahoma (4-0)…You never root for a player to get hurt, especially a great one. But it would be poetic justice for the Sooners lost All-American Antonio Perkins for this week's game against Texas after leaving him in the game to pad his stats during a 40-point blowout of the Cyclones.

2. Miami, Fla. (4-0)…Two of next three games are at Florida State and at Virginia Tech. Don't be surprised if the Hurricanes lose both.

3. LSU (5-0)…Will face a desperate Florida team at home this weekend, but the Bayou Bengals won't play a road game this season against a ranked foe. Other than the Sooners, LSU has the best shot to go undefeated.

4. Ohio State (5-0)…Defending national champs have scrapped their way to a 19-game winning streak. However, either a night road game at Wisconsin or a rested Iowa squad likely will hand the Buckeyes their first defeat since the 2002 Outback Bowl.

5. Florida State (5-0)…A win against Miami this weekend and the Seminoles could find themselves in the Sugar Bowl because they'll be heavily favored in every game the rest of the way. Looking more and more likely that Bobby Bowden will catch Joe Paterno this season to become the all-time winningest coach in the sport's history.

6. Virginia Tech (5-0)…Hokies haven't really played anybody yet, or faced a stern road test. Nonetheless, their offense looks explosive and that's without tailback Kevin Jones lighting it up.

7. Arkansas (4-0)…If the Razorbacks win the next three games – Auburn, Florida, and at Mississippi – they could roll into the season-finale at LSU undefeated.

8. Georgia (4-1)…Despite losing their entire offensive line, leading rusher, and linebacker trio to graduation and the NFL, the ‘Dawgs are still the class of the SEC East Division.

9. Nebraska (5-0)…Missouri is rested and will be ready for a primetime visit from the Big Red, which leads the nation in total defense.

10. Texas (4-1)…For the first time under Mack Brown, the Longhorns finally won a physical slugfest against a ranked team. Now we'll find out if they're man enough for Oklahoma.

11. USC (4-1)…The Trojans have one of the worst pass defenses in the nation, which is why they probably won't win the pass-happy Pac-10.

12. Washington State (5-1)…Where would the Cougars be if they hadn't collapsed in the fourth quarter at Notre Dame?

13. Minnesota (6-0)…Granted the Gophers haven't played anybody. But their record counts for something and they'll get a wounded, down and overrated Michigan team on Friday night so look for them to remain undefeated.

14. Tennessee (4-1)…Casey Clausen suffered his first loss on the road as a starting quarterback in Auburn's 28-21 upset of the Volunteers.

15. Michigan State (5-1)…It appears the Spartans' defense is legit, and they've got the best quarterback in the Big Ten. Plus they've already won more games than they did all of last season. John L. Smith is the early favorite for Big Ten Coach of the Year.

16. Iowa (5-1)…If Smith isn't the Big Ten Coach of the Year, it could be Kirk Ferentz again. Despite injuries and three times facing double-digit deficits his Hawkeyes still had the heart and toughness to beat Michigan again.

17. Northern Illinois (5-0)…Got an unexpected gut-check against lowly Ohio. Should get tested again in two weeks at Bowling Green.

18. Pittsburgh (3-1)…The Panthers still have the talent to be a factor in the Big East race and are next in line to carve up the Fighting Irish.

19. TCU (5-0)…Horned Frogs keep overcoming some injuries to remain undefeated and in control of Conference USA.

20. Michigan (4-2)…The cowardly lion and scarecrow rolled into one. The talented Wolverines are the biggest disappointment in the country because they lack a brain and heart.

21. Kansas State (4-2)…The Wildcats showed guts and guile against Texas, but just didn't have enough offense. But they can still win the Big 12 North Division.

22. Bowling Green (4-1)…The Falcons' matchup in two weeks against Northern Illinois could be the biggest October game in the MAC in decades.

23. Purdue (4-1)…The Boilermakers have it easy until later this month when they face consecutive road games at Wisconsin and Michigan.

24. Oregon State (5-1)…Three reasons why the Beavers won't be in their first Rose Bowl since 1965: at Washington State, at Oregon, and at USC.

25. Virginia (4-1)…Watch out for the Cavaliers, who suffered their only loss on the road when standout quarterback Matt Schaub was hurt. They also get FSU at home the week after the Seminoles play Miami. Can you say letdown?

Out: #17 Oregon; #25 Washington

Honorable Mention: #26 Texas Tech (4-1); #27 Oklahoma State (4-1); #28 UNLV (4-1); #29 Wisconsin (5-1); #30 Utah (4-1).

My Heisman Ballot

  1. Larry Fitzgerald (WR-Pittsburgh)—Nothing has changed from last week. He's still the toughest offensive player to stop in college football. However, receivers who don't also return kicks usually don't win the Heisman.
  2. Jason White (QB-Oklahoma)—Is starting to amass some impressive statistics to go along with the fringe benefit of quarterbacking the nation's top-ranked team.
  3. B.J. Symons (QB-Texas Tech)—I know it's the system, but his numbers are so obscene – remember Andre Ware? – that they're worthy of notice.
  4. Steven Jackson (RB-Oregon State)—The nation's leading rusher deserves some recognition.
  5. Phillip Rivers (QB-N.C. State)—One more Wolfpack loss away from dropping permanently from the list, no matter how gaudy his stats are.

(Steve Deace can be heard on the radio in Central Iowa each weekday from 3-6 p.m. on 1460-KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network)

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