This is the time of year when breaking news and compelling topics are hard to come by, unless of course a scandal is unfolding.
Thankfully, that doesn't seem to be the case this offseason—thus far.
As a result, many of us in the sports media industry use this time of year to compile grandiose lists through painstaking research and/or uneducated hunches, since you the reader/listener/viewer have more time to digest and debate them.
This week's Monday Musings is the second part of just such a composition. A conversation starter, if you will.
It's still too early for projecting the upcoming football season, despite the fact I've already purchased four different college football preview annuals. Therefore, even though I'm relatively new to the Cardinal-and-Gold bandwagon, I do know how to read a media guide. I also know Dan McCarney and Earle Bruce, a couple of pretty good sources on ISU gridiron success stories. Hence, it's time for me to name what I think is the Iowa State football dream team through the 98-year history of the program.
Two weeks ago we gave you our all-time offense, which you can find by clicking here: http://iowastate.theinsiders.com/2/261672.html. This time around we conclude our composition by giving you the all-time Iowa State defense and special teams.
Defensive line—Mike Stensrud (1974-78)
Iowa State's last All-American on defense in 1978, Stensrud helped lead Earle Bruce-coached squads to consecutive bowl games in 1977 (Peach Bowl) and 1978 (Hall of Fame Bowl). Twice named consensus All-Big 8 as well. A four-year lettermen who recorded 306 career tackles. Also enjoyed an 11-year career in the NFL. Arguably one of the best players to ever wear a Cyclone uniform, regardless of position.
Defensive line—Merv Krakau (1970-72)
Named Iowa State's first All-American on defense in 1972. That's right, that means it took 79 years of intercollegiate football for the Cyclones to have a defensive player earn national acclaim. Also named All-Big 8 for an ISU squad that finished the season at the Liberty Bowl. By the way, only twice has ISU put players on offense and defense on All-American teams in the same season. Those two dynamic duos are Dexter Green and Stensrud in 1978, and Krakau and George Amundson in 1972.
Defensive line—Shamus McDonough (1979-82)
Was never named to an All-American team, but he is ISU's all-time leader in tackles by a defensive linemen with 335. Was an All-Big 8 selection as a senior in 1982. I chose McDonough over Ron McFarland – an All-American in 1977 – because McFarland played just six games the year he was so honored.
Defensive line—Jack Trice (1923)
What can you say? The darned stadium is named after him! Most of you may not know this, but Trice only played about a game and a half on the ISU varsity squad. He was a star on the freshman team in 1922, after following his high school coach, Sam Willaman, to Ames after he got the ISU job. He played in the season-opening win against Simpson in 1923, and then played at powerful Minnesota the following week. The Cyclones trailed the mighty Gophers by a score of 14-10 at halftime. He was later trampled on an off tackle play in the third quarter. After doctors in Minneapolis failed to diagnose his broken collar bone, he was sent home with the team. The next day, local doctors discovered he had respiratory problems and his condition worsened until he succumbed to internal bleeding and hemorrhaging on Oct. 8, 1923. The next day, classes at ISU were cancelled to observe his memorial, which was attended by over 4,000 students and faculty at the time.
Linebacker—Matt Blair (1971-73)
Could be the best defensive player to ever play at Iowa State. Was named a consensus All-American and All-Big as a senior in 1973. Still the only All-American linebacker in Cyclone history. As a sophomore (freshman were ineligible back then) in 1971, he was the second-leading tackler for the Sun Bowl-bound Cyclones with 121. Shared Sun Bowl MVP honors with future Pro Bowl NFL quarterback Bert Jones in that game. A six-time Pro Bowl selection himself for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, including an All-Pro designation in 1980. Played in two Super Bowls as well, and his 160 pro games is the most by any Cyclone in NFL history.
Linebacker—Chris Washington (1980-83)
Was never named All-Big 8, let alone an All-American, but Washington is still the leading tackler in school-history with 457. He still owns the single-season tackling record at ISU as well, with 168 as a sophomore in 1981. Played five seasons in the NFL with the Buccaneers and Cardinals.
Linebacker—Keith Schroeder (1969-71)
Overshadowed in his era by Blair, Schroeder still ranks as the second all-time leading tackler in ISU history with 398. In fact, two of the top four individual season marks for total tackles – 167 in 1971 and 161 in 1970 – still belong to this former All-Big 8 selection. Also had the honor of captaining the first ISU football team to ever play in a bowl game.
Defensive back—Barry Hill (1972-74)
The only All-American defensive back to ever wear a Cyclone uniform. Finished as the leading single season-interceptor (9), as well as career-interceptor (21), in ISU and Big 8 Conference history. The only Cyclone to play in four postseason all-star games. Also one of just two ISU players to nab four interceptions in one game, turning the trick against Kansas in 1974. Played two seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins.
Defensive back—Marcus Robertson (1987-90)
A two-time All-Big 8 selection as a cornerback, Robertson switched to safety in the pros and enjoyed a stellar 11-year career in the NFL that included multiple playoff appearances and Pro Bowls.
Defensive back—Mark Doubrava (1989-92)
A two-time All-Big 8 selection, his 334 career tackles still ranks as the best mark ever posted by a player from the secondary. The last safety to win the Reuben J. Miller Award, which goes to the ISU player who made the most significant contribution to the football program for the year.
Defensive back—Tony Washington (1968-70)
Led the Cyclones in interceptions in 1969 and 1970, while being named All-Big 8 each of those seasons as well. His 14 career interceptions ranks second behind Hill as the most ever at ISU.
Placekicker—Jeff Shudak (1987-90)
Named the All-Big 8 kicker his freshman and senior seasons, he still ranks as the top scorer in all of Cyclone lore with 266 points. Owns the two greatest field goal-kicking seasons in the history of ISU football, nailing 20-of-25 attempts as a freshman and 19-of-27 attempts as a senior. Leads all ISU kickers with six field goals longer than 49 yards in his career. Also holds career marks at ISU in total field goals (58), extra points (92), and consecutive field goals made (11). Still the only man in an ISU uniform to kick five field goals in a game.
Punter—Marc Harris (1993-96)
This is an anemic position to choose from, especially since the Cyclones have never had a player named All-American or even All-Conference as a punter. Statistically, Harris is the top punter in ISU history, but his two years as a starter the team was combined 2-19-1, so those stats are skewed because he had plenty of attempts. Nonetheless, his 43.1 yards per punt tops the charts at ISU, and he's one of just two Cyclones to have two punts over 70 yards in his career.
Return specialist—James McMillion (1989-93)
Joins the legendary Dwight Nichols as the only three-time All-Conference selection in ISU history. Owns three of the 12 longest punt returns, and two of the 12 longest scoring plays, in school-history as well. Also the only Cyclone to return three punts for touchdowns in a season and a career.
(Steve Deace can be heard on the radio in Iowa each weekday from 3-6 p.m. on 1460-KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network. His next column will be published on June 21st.)