It began with joy when the Clones
triumphed over their hated rivals in a 23-3 whooping in
So then we moved to basketball season. Street and Smiths magazine had our beloved Cyclones ranked 13th to begin the year. Common fans were thinking Sweet 16. Intelligent fans knew that a young frontcourt would struggle early. Nobody expected Wayne Morgan's squad to get snubbed not only by the NCAA tournament, but also the NIT. Wow, yet another up and down emotional season.
The year was supposed to be over. Cyclone fans were supposed to do what they always do in the off-season. It should have been time to break down who will be the backup SAM linebacker and who was going to be the third man off the bench next season in basketball.
It was supposed to be like any other off-season. It was supposed to be like any other off-season with Bruce Van de Velde at the helm.
If I can steal a line from the
It's Jamie Pollard's world. His opponent it just a squirrel trying to get a nut.
Cyclone athletics are now Jamie Pollard's world. His opponent is anybody who gets in his way of taking ISU to the top of the Big 12.
When Pollard was hired in
September, Cyclone athletics changed. The mindset of
In a year filled with drama, I undertook the task of fitting the 10 biggest stories in Cyclone athletics into one list. Take a look at CN's top 10 stories of the year for Cyclone athletics.
10 – Gymnastics Finishes 6th at Nationals
It's time to give these young
ladies some props that they don't often get. The team competed in their first
ever "Super Six" competition in front of over 7,000 fans in
9 – The Tornado Game
If I could jump into the cliché'
that about every journalist in the market took full advantage of, let me. Do you
get tired of people asking why our mascot is a bird? No offense Cy, but you
weren't our mascot on November 12 against
8 – Football Season Ticket Sales
Number 8 has Jamie Pollard written all over it. Pollard asked Cyclone fans for help. He asked them to buy 30,000 season tickets for next year's football season. This week Cyclone Nation set an ISU record. Cyclone fans surpassed the 27,707 mark and now they are well on their way to the goal of 30,000 that Pollard originally set. The great thing is that it's only May.
7- The Return of Adam Haluska
I'm not afraid to admit that I
looked forward to this event as much as any sporting event in my life. This was
before my prime CN days, so before the game a group of friends and I went to a
local establishment for what us college guys call "FAC." I could tell at that
very moment that we stepped in the door that Hilton would be in rare form that
evening. Normally at FAC you see girls in short skirts, Frat boys with popped
collars and some idiot wearing flip-flops in 20 degree weather. Not on December
9. Instead of the norm, the bar was blanketed with red. The band playing at the
bar paused between every song to start an inappropriate chant towards our
6- March 15 – Talk About "Madness"
Okay, so the Clones got snubbed by
the NIT. Cyclone fans were in enough pain. What does CBS Sportsline columnist
Gregg Doyel do? He goes Biggie Smalls on us. He slit us down the back and threw
salt in the wounds. Doyel wrote a story accusing
5– 23-3 –
This was probably the best thing
to happen in the past year in Cyclone athletics, but not the biggest. Why is
that you ask? It's simple. Cyclone fans should expect to beat
4 – Cael Takes Over
On March 29 a legend (Bobby
Douglas) moved on and a young, vibrant gold medalist in Cael Sanderson took the
helm of the
3- Morgan Fired
Wayne Morgan's dismissal at
"The fact that we didn't make the NCAA tournament, or the NIT, contributed to this decision, but I want to emphasize that clearly it is not the only reason for making this decision," Pollard said at his press conference announcing the firing of Morgan.
"I don't' believe that I see the trends of a basketball program that can compete on an annual basis for Big 12 Championships and put itself in the NCAA tournament. I don't see the foundation there that has the ability to annually do that," Pollard said.
Whatever the reason was, it had an
enormous impact on the rest of the "off" season. Not only did Morgan have a
press conference of his own pleading his innocence to members of the media, an
exodus of players would follow him out of
Wayne Morgan's record during his
first three year's at
2- Greg McDermott Hired
Greg McDermott was obviously no
Wisconsin Milwaukee head coach Rob Jeter was supposed to be the man. Everybody, including this site, believed he would be Morgan's successor. Pollard, like we all should have expected, threw us a big-time surprise.
On the morning of March 22, just four days after Morgan was fired, McDermott was hired to take over the program.
"I wanted someone who had a sincere passion to be the next coach, someone who was committed to bringing back Hilton Magic," said Pollard of McDermott in his opening press conference.
That's what Pollard wanted. That's what Pollard got.
"I'm one of you. I'm a farm by
The hiring of Greg McDermott was
special in a number of ways, but the most important thing is McDermott's ability
to relate the fans, something I believe Coach Morgan lacked. Like McDermott
said, he is one of us. He knows
Next year's team will be depleted with departures from top players in the program, but McDermott is on the right track. He's bringing in his guys and will have a defensive oriented team in the future, something the program under Morgan lacked.
"Next year's Cyclone team is going to defend. It's all about the team next year," said McDermott.
Normally when a team is as disappointing at the MBB team was last year; excitement would be tough to find on the horizon. Greg McDermott has changed that. Cyclone fans are excited to move on and they are pumped to win again. Greg McDermott is the man who will get them there.
Why am I so confident? Because Jamie Pollard says so. That brings us to the number one story of the year.
1 – Pollard to ISU
Why can't ISU get to the next level? That's a question Cyclone fans have been asking for years. The answer has two parts to it. Leadership and more importantly vision.
Take a look again at my top 10. Notice what about half of them have in common. They wouldn't have happened if Jamie Pollard had not been hired. Wayne Morgan would still be coaching the basketball team, Greg McDermott would be somewhere else and ISU wouldn't be anywhere close to selling 30,000 season tickets in football.
Pollard isn't only an AD; he's like one of the guys. He'll talk to fans outside of the stadium not because he has to, but because he wants to. He'll say what he thinks even if you don't care. He gets it. Finally, we have a leader who gets what this job it truly about. Being an athletic director is all about the people who support you. Without them, athletics on any level wouldn't exist.
Pollard didn't take this job to
run a mediocre athletic program. The man has a vision for
"One of the main reasons that I
came here is that I firmly believe that this place is primed to go to a whole
new level that people can't even imagine. One of the best things about
Jamie Pollard is the man who can do it. Jamie Pollard is the man who will do it.
Let's just hope we can keep him in five years when he transforms ISU into a national power.