On Campus: Blum Talks Houston

In this commentary, Blum talks about everything from hooking up with Beyonce in Houston to Ennis Haywood's last game as a Cyclone. Commentary you'll only find here at Cyclone Nation.

I can't wait for the Houston Bowl. There are so many things to look forward to. Not the least of which is meeting Houston-native Beyonce at a local night club. "Hey Beyonce, you ever heard of Cyclone fever? You haven't, well it's your lucky day."


Ah, who am I kidding? I've got no shot and Jay-Z has lots of money. I'll stick to Yao Ming's groupies. Yes, that 15 hour trek seems daunting at the moment. Goodness knows, that drive through Kansas and Oklahoma may wear all of us down. And my car's cruise control is not functioning at the moment. Not good. My foot by the end of the drive will probably feel like Jeff Bagwell's shoulder and be extremely unreliable.


That's why they invented car games to kill some time. One I suggest is, "Cyclone line-ups." You say the year and those in your vehicle have to name the starting five in basketball, and the quarterback, running back, and one receiver in football. It wastes a good hour. For example 1996: "Jacy Holloway, Dedric Willoughby, Shawn Bankhead, Kenny Pratt, Kelvin Cato….Todd Doxzon, Troy Davis, Ed Williams, Ty Watley. Extra points for me. Trust me; once you delve into the early ‘90s things get difficult.


But, the drive home is always a bit more somber, regardless of a win. December 31st will be the last chance for Cyclone fans to see 15 Cyclone seniors. For most of them, it is the last time they will strap on the gear. Nick Leaders, Nik Moser, Tim Dobbins, Steve Paris, LaMarcus Hicks, and Cephus Johnson, Kory Pence, Troy Blankenship, Tony Yelk may get a lot of attention from fans. But, we can't forget program veterans and little recognized Brett Jarvis, Broc Bebout, Landon Schrage, and David Brown. These men put in just as much, if not more, work than the starters and did all they could to make Cyclone football what it is. And also Cory Wierson.


Wierson was an all-state recruit out of Waukee and was going to be an offensive lineman. He never played a down of football for Iowa State after fighting through a serious knee injury. After recovering from the surgery, Wierson was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. He beat it like the fighter he is. Now he is cancer-free and a key component of Iowa State's video staff and turf management team. It will be his final game with the team, as well. These guys don't get the publicity or Big 12 honors, but a win for them would mean just as much to them as it would to Leaders or Dobbins.


I'm not sure if we realize how close this Cyclone family is. When Bret Meyer says he wants to win for the seniors, he isn't just blowing smoke. They are all like brothers. They fight sometimes, but always have each other's back.


Quick story:  I'm broadcasting the Ames, Valley basketball game a few weeks ago. The game is well over, Valley defeating Ames by a wide margin. I'm cleaning up all of my gear and there is about 15 people left in the Ames Gym, mainly family members. As I'm leaving, I notice Bret Meyer and another Cyclone football player (I couldn't make out who it was) are hanging around. "What the heck are they doing here?" I think. Well, out of the Ames locker room walks future Cyclone quarterback Austen Arnaud. Meyer and the other Cyclone congratulate Arnaud with a friendly handshake/pound/hug like brothers do. I was astounded. Not only did my Meyer spend his Friday night paying to watch a high-school game; he waited a half hour just to say hi to a kid who would be pushing for his starting job in a couple of years. He didn't do it because he knew folks might see it, he did it because he's a quality young man and a leader. A leader of this Cyclone family.


That's what makes this Houston Bowl resonate even further. 15 members of the Cyclone family are going on to better things. This is their graduation party. There will be many cheers and meaningful tears. It won't be easy saying goodbye. We often get caught up in the recruiting game; it's exciting and fun to anticipate the next great one. But, while watching the game Saturday, don't forget about the current Cyclones that have been a part of ISU football, and in large part, our lives for 4, 5 or 9 years (Just kidding, Tony Yelk.)


Sorry to keep you, but one last anecdote.


Back in 2001, ISU had suffered the heart-breaking loss to Alabama in the Independence Bowl. Fans in the ISU section were shocked and in despair after a field-goal that looked ever-so good. I was so emotionally distraught, I couldn't say a word. I wasn't alone. One-by-one the Cyclones walked to the locker room with heads bowed and frustration leaping off their faces. The last Cyclone to come off the field was Ennis Haywood. Unlike previous Cyclones, he had a slight smile on his face. He stopped right in front of us and waved good-bye, after completing his final game in the Cardinal and Gold. Everyone stood and gave him a standing-ovation, not a dry eye to be found. Nobody knew that good-bye would be so permanent.


He jogged to the locker room, helmet held high in the air as if to say, "I will always be a Cyclone."




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