As a result, my review of the Cyclones this week comes through the "I Love the '80s" slant. If you're not old enough to remember Twisted Sister, Rocky III, The Breakfast Club, Spandau Ballet or catfights between Linda Evans and Joan Collins, I apologize.
With lyrics of '80s songs as the backdrop, here are some thoughts about the Cyclones…
"Just a man and his will to survive" (Survivor) I know he's had his ups and downs during his freshman season, but you've got to give rookie QB Austin Flynn credit for continuing to fight, scratch, claw and give it everything he's got…every Saturday. He's played behind an inexperienced offensive line at times, which hasn't made the adjustment from high school ball to the powerful Big 12 any easier. But, something tells me Flynn has "the eye of the tiger" and will keep battling to the end.
"Hit me with your best shot" (Pat Benatar) After following the coverage of media day for the ISU men's basketball team, I am excited for Jake Sullivan as he enters his senior year. This guy has been through a LOT of stuff during his career in Ames and you KNOW that he's been working on his game as much as ever. Hopefully, rookie guards Will Blalock and Curtis Stinson can penetrate and kick to Sullivan for a ton of three-pointers this season.
"Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing" (Prince) This lyric could aptly describe the playing time for Tim Barnes and Jackson Vroman during the first semester this season…and that's IF Vroman "finds his way back" (Jefferson Starship) to the roster at all. Sadly, it also describes some of the academic effort put forth last spring by a couple of guys who Cyclone fans were counting on for big things this winter.
"I ain't the worst that you've seen" (Van Halen…with David Lee Roth) Despite the despair and criticism being slung about by some disappointed Cyclone fans this fall, Iowa State's program has been through much, much worse than this. I remember watching the Cyclones under Jim Walden in the early '90s and wondering if ISU would make it to a bowl game in the next 30 years. I certainly never envisioned the Cyclones playing in bowl games for three straight seasons…within the next decade. It hasn't been easy this year, I know…but hopefully, this is just a bump in the road.
"I'm coming down, coming down, like a monkey" (Genesis) Absolutely no relevance. It was such a stupid lyric that I felt it needed to be mentioned. And now I can't help it…I'm thinking of Michelob TV commercials with the song "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" playing in my head. Nooooooo! By the way, what was the deal with monkey lyrics in the '80s? "Shock the monkey" and "bangin' on the bongos like a chimpanzee" were other references that seem more than a little goofy today.
"The time has come to say ‘fair's fair'" (Midnight Oil) You can't argue with the fact that Iowa State's record the last couple of seasons would have been better if the Cyclones were playing Okie State, Texas A&M and Baylor instead of Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. Last year, ISU's three opponents from the South were 17-7 in the league, while the other three schools were 9-15.
"I should've known better than to let you go alone" (Whitesnake) As much as I liked Larry Eustachy as a basketball coach, he obviously had some issues off the court. And you can bet your house that new coach Wayne Morgan won't be driving separately to road games this winter.
"Coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago" (Sade) Do you think Sade knew that Chicago is NOT on the east coast? Just wondering.
"I hang on every word you say" (Tina Turner) In his first season as the Voice of the Cyclones, John Walters is doing an outstanding job. I've heard from several ISU fans who are enjoying his play-by-play more and more as the season goes along.
"Been in trouble with the law since the day they was born" (Waylon Jennings) Let's hope that ISU's basketball program has seen the last of its off-court difficulties for a while. One of the biggest challenges facing Coach Morgan is to improve the behavior and image of the entire Cyclone program.
"You take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both and there you have…" (Alan Thicke and Gloria Loring had something to do with this) …Cyclone fans feelings about Coach Dan McCarney. After bringing the ISU football program back from the dead, Coach McCarney was revered throughout the state. But, during the difficult stretch of the last 12 months, some of the Cyclone faithful have become doubters. Ah yes, the life of a coach.
"I was born in a small town" (John Cougar Mellencamp) Former walk-on wide receivers Lane Danielsen and Jack Whitver played their high school ball at Dike and Grinnell, respectively. These guys have provided outstanding examples for all the other small-town athletes who want a chance to play big-time college football.
"I'm holding out for a hero" (Bonnie Tyler) Iowa State fans are pinning a lot of hopes on Will Blalock to help lift the men's basketball program out of the funk of the last six months. Even Coach Morgan has gotten in on the act, comparing the freshman guard to Allen Iverson. Talk about having a lot to live up to…at least ON the basketball court, that is.
"You always live your life never thinking of the future" (Yes) Quite the opposite is true in Ames. I doubt there has ever been a year when more freshmen were key members of BOTH the football and basketball teams.
"Everybody's workin' for the weekend" (Loverboy) An obvious choice for Iowa State's football program. But, I think the cumulative efforts of the coaching staff and players—combined with the upcoming bye week—could enable the Cyclones to provide ISU fans with some exciting moments in the final four games of the 2003 season. And for the record, I doubt I'll ever have TWO Loverboy references in one column ever again.
"We're not gonna take it anymore!" (Twisted Sister) After the upcoming bye week, I hope this is the attitude that the Cyclones take going into their game against Kansas State. The last five seasons, Iowa State has lost to the Wildcats by an average score of 49 to 11. Wow. Time to pull a George McFly and knock Biff on his butt.
(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. His columns for CN online are published each Tuesday and Friday. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)