Vander Sanden's Top 5 - Positives

Each and every Thursday, former ISU team captain Luke Vander Sanden gives his weekly top five surrounding the Iowa State football team. This week, Vander Sanden breaks down the top five positives that fans should consider when discussing the football team. Check it out right here at

1.  Talent


Number one on the list is talent.  This is a simple statement, and I will keep it short and sweet if I can do so.  Iowa State has the talent and the athletes across the board to compete with anyone on their schedule.  Five or six years ago, there were teams on the schedule that we didn't stand a chance with.  I think you should be excited and have the expectation that Iowa State will not fall that low again.  Sure, we don't have five-star and blue chip recruits across the board, but what we do have…are guys who will NOT give in to adversity and quit.  We have a program full of fighters, clawers, scratchers, and most importantly, winners.



2.  Experience


I had to go back and look in the dictionary for a complete definition of this one.  What does experience mean?  Well, when using it with Iowa State Football, it means the following: the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time.  Why would Vander Sanden add this to his list of top fives?  I added this because we have been so close to the Big XII title game.  No, I am not looking that far ahead this year, but the fact of the matter is that we have so many players that return on the team who know the gutless feeling of coming up short.  There are some guys who have experienced it two straight years, while others have only experienced it once.  If we take care of business one game at a time, it could be a special year.  Sure, players need to execute and coaches need to coach, but let us as fans let them take care of that.  We control how loud we cheer, and how big of supporters for ISU Football we are going to be.  Let us as the fans do our job, and let the team do their job.  We need to stay positive in the sense that there is so much experience on this team.  They know what it is going to take to get to the ultimate goal. 



3.  Tradition


Third on the list is tradition.  I think a lot of us forget what Coach McCarney was dealt with when he took over the helm at Iowa State.  Sure, he has been at ISU for a long time, and he is now the dean of coaches in the Big XII.  I only know of what ISU was in the early 1990's from the word of mouth. From what I understand from a lot of fans, and Coach Mac himself, is that ISU was a dump in every single aspect of the word. That is the best way to put it.  Coach Mac has worked his tail off with his staff to get ISU where it is today.  A lot of head coaches inherit tradition.  Coach Mac has built tradition at Iowa State.  Sure, we all want bigger and better bowls each year.  In reality, a lot goes into that.  From key players missing games and even the season due to injury, to players not taking care of business in the classroom, to players getting in legal trouble; the coaches can only do so much.  Ok, so maybe I got off my point a little bit.  Tradition is something that Iowa State is establishing.  Six wins out of nine wins over Iowa is a good start.  Five years with bowl appearances out of six is a nice addition as well.  We have everything in place to achieve greatness.  Coaches will put together the best possible game plans, players need to execute those game plans, and big plays need to be made at crucial times in games.  When all these things happen and come together, the foundation for success will only get more established, allowing for tradition to be built.




4.  Coaching


Number four on the list is coaching.  The game of football starts with coaching.  I talked to Ellis Hobbs a while back about Iowa State, as he was a former teammate and captain of mine.  He discussed with me how Iowa State is further ahead of a lot of schools across the nation in terms of hard work, requirements and standards of their players, etc.  He was so prepared to get to the next level and continue his career.  That doesn't just happen.  With the guidance of the coaches, he made it to the next level.  Without ISU's coaching staff, he would probably be roaming around Ames, or heading back to his hometown in Texas searching the job market.  Let's be positive with the coaching staff.  That is their career.  They spend countless hours striving on ways they can make their team with the players they have…be as successful as possible.  Are the coaches frustrated this year?  I am sure they are.  The reality is that if you dwell on what could have been or what should have been, nothing but failure will leak within a program.  Tackle what is at hand, be supportive, stay positive, stay focused, and learn from your mistakes; players and coaches alike.  I fit in the same category like the rest of us.  ISU Football is a release for all of us from our own daily lives, and we all would like ISU to be 4-0.  A win is a win, and I will take one any day of the week!




5.  Defense


Last on the list is defense.  I think we all are a bit surprised of how the defense is performing with the lack of offensive production.  We all thought the offense would carry the defense up to this point in the season.  That should excite all of us for there are so many young guys playing big time roles on Saturdays.  It shows so much promise for the future of Cyclone Football, and it shows the character of the young men they are bringing into the program.  I can't imagine do the things these players are doing as young bucks.  I hope, just like the rest of you do, that ISU's offense will just explode here in one of these games real soon!  Once they do, watch out!  Because Iowa State will have a potent team offensively and defensively!  That really excites me, and I hope it excites all of you as well!


In conclusion, I hope all of you have read into these top five points that I have made.  I am speaking from a fan's perspective, as well as from a former player's perspective.  I will admit, I am one of the first ones to be upset when things aren't going like they should…or I should say how I thought they should.  The true character of a person is how they respond to these situations.  Are you going to throw the red flag up, throw in the towel, hide under the bushes, or even whatever it might be take a domino effect and hamper the outcome of things to come?  I would have to say all of us would say no.  I haven't seen the ISU Football team of 2006 do this, and I don't see it happening.  Stay positive, be supportive, and let's go get the Panthers on Saturday night!

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