Monday Musings

This time around, our publisher decides to touch on numerous Iowa State sports topics making the rounds. Everything from yard signs to basketball recruiting is covered as he attempts one last time to kill time before preseason football coverage begins.

The calendar still says June, so morally I have to take a principled stance against beginning my preseason thoughts on the upcoming football season. Of course, I write this as we begin to put the finishing touches on our football preview for CN Magazine, but I digress.

However, when we next publish another one of my idle ramblings, the calendar will indeed read July. And that's when we'll begin to ratchet up the preseason football talk.

For now, call this bi-weekly edition a little bit about a lot of things. Or, perhaps more appropriate, a little mental house cleaning on subjects that we might otherwise not spend too much time discussing.

Item #1—Bruce Van De Velde's contract status

Those of you that are frequent readers of this space already know that I am an advocate of giving Iowa State's at times-embattled athletic director a contract extension.

I'm not going to take the time in this space to detail again my specific arguments as to why I feel Bruce Van De Velde should be extended, because I have already done so. In case you missed it, you can click here to ready my May 10th column stating the case for Bruce:

By the time I get back from vacation, ISU president Gregory Geoffrey will have notified Mr. Van De Velde of his intentions regarding his future job status. Bruce's contract doesn't actually expire until next summer, but he is to be given the word on an extension by June 30th.

I think that Mr. Van De Velde will be given that extension. The word I hear through the grapevine is that momentum has swung in his favor with the very successful men's basketball season, obtaining the rights to the NIT men's-women's doubleheaders, and the promotion of the well-liked Frank Nogel as one of his right-hand guys in the athletic department.

While gauging Van De Velde's job performance among his subordinates, it's my understanding that Geoffrey found a consensus that Bruce has finally warmed to the job, made some good moves as of late, but is still in need of working on some in-house people skills. As a result, I'll predict a two-year extension for Mr. Van De Velde that would run his contract until 2007.

Item #2—Signs…signs…everywhere are signs

Those of you that have attended any of the recent Cyclone Club outings were already privy to this information, but it wasn't until last Thursday that I discovered ISU's new marketing campaign to promote football season-ticket sales.

In this election year, yard signs are commonplace. To capitalize on that craze, Iowa State has begun to pass out cardinal-and-gold – ok, make that mostly gold – yard signs for fans to place on the lawns as advertisements.

The idea is intriguing, and an excellent example of thinking outside the box during difficult financial times for the athletic department. My only problem with the concept is its implementation.

The signs feature too much of that gold that our beloved Dan McCarney loathes, first of all. They also read too much like a roadside billboard by being too busy to absorb in one quick glance. Plus, I think putting the phone number on there for season-ticket purchases is a little too tacky.

A better idea, in my opinion, would've been to go all the way with the political yard sign idea by promoting a "Vote Mac in ‘04" campaign. The sign would feature more cardinal than gold, and instead of a schmaltzy phone number listing would've gone more modern with just the athletic department's official website address.

But again, credit to the folks in the athletic department for at least trying some original ideas. Heck, I'm so impressed that they're willing to take creative chances like this that I may even place one of those signs in my own yard.

Item #3—Cyclones have hidden basketball commitment for '05

At the recent Sioux City Cyclone Club outing, men's basketball coach Wayne Morgan told the crowd that Iowa State has two verbal commitments for the 2005 recruiting class.

One of those commitments is local product Ross Marsden. Morgan said the second commitment is from a California kid. Now, due to NCAA regulations Morgan nor other members of ISU's coaching staff are not allowed to specifically discuss recruits publicly until they sign a letter-of-intent in the fall.

Of course, ever since Morgan made the cryptic reference to a mystery recruit, we here at CN have been peppered by questions from residents of Cyclone Nation eager to hear more about the latest stud brought to the stable by Captain Morgan.

Every once in a while in this business, you have to balance what is good for your business with what is good for ISU. In the short run, it would be a boon for us to break this commitment first, grab some cheap headlines, and attain some new subscribers.

Yet in the long run, we're here to serve ISU's interests ultimately. That doesn't always mean our opinions or reporting will be popular with customers or the Jacobson Building. However, in this case we feel – given what we've uncovered about this recruit – that it would best for ISU and thus Cyclone Nation if we kept this young man close to the vest for now. And no, I'm not going to offer any specifics as to why we feel this way.

We're not attempting to be overly pious here with our ethics. In reality, we here at CN feel it is best for ISU that we keep this stealth recruit under wraps for the time being. I will tell you that it is a junior college player, but that's all I will tell you.

Therefore, you can stop trying to trap me on the message boards with trick questions, or politely begging me in person after you corner me at Autograph's following our radio show (yes, that actually did happen). J

Item #4—Sobering budget news

The unusual fiscal restraint shown by the NCAA by not making a 12th regular season game in college football permanent is clearly hurting athletic departments with middling budgets the size of ISU.

The loss of just that one game, if it had been televised, led ISU to budget 4 percent less revenue for its already cash-strapped athletic department in 2005 as compared to 2004, according to the Ames Tribune.

As a result, the money discrepancy between Iowa State and in-state rival Iowa is now just $200,000 more than the difference between ISU and mid-major Northern Iowa.


Next year, the Cyclones plan to spend $27 million on athletics, while the Panthers have appropriated $8.2 million. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes have a $45.4 war chest at their disposal, and that's not even counting the $90 million they raised in private donations for the complete refurbishing of Kinnick Stadium.

The conference perspective is even more bleak. For instance, Texas spent $60 million on athletic department funding in 2004. That's nearly three times the cash that ISU has on hand. Only Baylor has a smaller athletic department budget in the conference.

Item #5—Time is running short

Those of that were waiting until the last minute to get your subscription order in for the football preview listen up.

Time is running short.

You have until July 2nd to subscribe to CN in time for our annual football season preview, which will hit your mailbox in late July. We're excited to be starting our third year, and also excited by thousands of you that have already chosen to support our product.

If you're on the fence, and want to check out what we have to offer, or if you're ready to place your order, just click on this link:

Item #6—Programming advisory

This week, we're having some special guest co-hosts broadcasting with me on Deace in the Afternoon on 1460-KXNO. The show runs from 3-6 p.m. central time each weekday. Here is this week's lineup for those of you that are interested:

  • Monday—Urbandale Mayor Brad Zaun
  • Tuesday—Former Iowa State football player Jack Whitver and University of Iowa assistant basketball coach Greg Lansing
  • Wednesday—Iowa State women's basketball coach Bill Fennelly
  • Thursday—Former JOCK personality Bob Dyer
  • Friday—My former KXTK partner Tim Darrah


(Steve Deace can be heard on the radio each weekday from 3-6 p.m. on 1460-KXNO in Iowa, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network. His next Monday Musings column will be published on July 5th.)



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