I get to hang out with friends & family at ISU football games on a friend's bus while we're buried up to our armpits in quality food & cold beer. It's been a wild ride for the fan base, and we lost most of our games, along with an honorable coach this year. I haven't gotten much feedback for these columns, which bothered me at first; until I realized that most feedback consists of "Dude, you SUCK. How'd you get this gig?" I guess that your silence means you've been at least moderately entertained. One thing about my "fans" before I go on to the meat of my article: I'd like to apologize to the CN poster who stopped by our tailgate after the game to meet me this week. My brother in law decided to have a little fun with him and pointed him towards one of our drunken buddies, while I was standing by the grill at the other end of the bus. Sorry about that dude. Look me up in Oklahoma City & we'll have a beer or twelve.
We decided to get an early start for the last game of the year. My wife got tickets for three of her nieces and had them over at our house for a sort of "slumber party" where the girls helped her fix the chili & other food we served on Saturday in between watching movies and doing their nails. I woke up early and headed north to get onto the bus with most of the heavy accessories. We arrived at the lot along Elwood across from Reiman Gardens at about 9am, and for once we had a parking space available north of the drainageway. We parked at the SE corner of this section, right across the drive from the porta-pots. Not a bad location, but considering the problems we faced later, I wish we'd been a little less conspicuous. Since the weather was a little cold & windy last Saturday, we decided to bring my bro-in-law's fire pit and a healthy supply of firewood. Unfortunately, we were notified by security that ISU has a "no wood fires" policy in the tailgating lots. Apparently, some sub-genius brought a chainsaw to a game last year and started cutting down trees in the area surrounding the parking lot, which has caused ISU officials to ban wood fires. We were told that we could burn "Duraflame"-style composite logs or paper, but NO WOOD. It didn't matter that we'd brought all our own wood with us, policy is policy and we had no chance to talk sense into the security guards. Maybe I'm just an idiot fan here, but I would think that a situation like this should cause ISU to ban……..oh, I don't know……..maybe CHAINSAWS? Banning wood that tailgaters brought with them is one of those dumb%&& moves that I've come to expect from the ISU administration. Luckily, my wife hadn't arrived yet, so we had her stop by Lowe's to pick up a case of Duraflame logs. By the end of the night, we were darn glad to have that fire. Unfortunately, we got to see the dark side of the ISU security forces because of our fire pit. Some of our crowd came back to the bus at halftime & used some of the firewood to keep themselves warm. I was at the game when this incident happened, but from what I was told – a student member of the ISU security detail walked up to the group that was standing around the fire pit, kicked over the fire pit and sprayed the embers with a fire extinguisher. I expect this kind of rinky-dink BS from security at Lawrence, Kansas or Iowa City (both places where I've run into Barney Fife-wannabes on game day), but having it happen to us in AMES really curdles my milk. If Jamie Pollard reads this article, I'd like to make ONE suggestion. I'll trust you to hire our new football coach, and I'll even support your efforts to reserve the close-in parking lots for big donors, but PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE step back and take a look at this policy. Ask yourself "Is there a better way to keep order in our parking lots?"
For anyone thinking "Well, your group must have been acting like drunken idiots, and they probably deserved to get tasered & hauled off to jail" – I might agree that we're drunken idiots, but apparently we WERE NOT acting like idiots. At least that opinion is shared by the two Story County deputies who were standing with our group and talking while the moron from ISU Security had his Eric "Respect my Authori-tay" Cartmann moment. When the guys asked the deputies "WTF is up with that?", they responded with "Hey, don't look at us; it's not OUR policy they're enforcing". I don't relish calling out stupidity when it comes from someone wearing the cardinal & gold, but if I don't complain about it, the stupidity will never change.
Anyway, now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's get back to the game. I wanted to get over to the stadium in time for the pre game introductions, but visitors to the bus and the need to get some of the coolers and food put back on the bus before game time made me miss the first couple of minutes of the game. If anyone was watching Fox News on Saturday and saw an interview with some moron with a scraggly beard wearing a fur hat – that was me! I ran into the camera crew while I was walking along Elwood, and agreed to say some words about Coach Mac's departure. I tried to give some well thought out opinions (yes, I do have a few of those sometimes), but in retrospect I think they'd have liked it better if I'd flashed some gang signs and shouted out "Yo dawgs, CycloneNation.com is the bombdiggety!" I still think the producers at Fox told the reporter to "find the goofiest looking hillbilly in the crowd and get him on camera". Mission accomplished.
I arrived at the game about four plays before Mizzou scored their first touchdown. On the first drive of the game. Uh oh. Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt. Our offense's misfires were somewhat overshadowed by Brandtner's massive punt which pinned Mizzou inside their five yard line. That kid's been a consistent performer for us this year, and he's still a red-shirt freshman. I can't wait to see how he performs next year. Meyer's lone interception of the game was a freakish double-tip that, for any other team in college football, would have hit the ground instead of landing in the outstretched arms of a Mizzou player. Oh well, at least we held Mizzou scoreless for the remainder of the quarter. That's something to take as a positive, right? Our defense had two GREAT pass breakups in the second quarter down in the South endzone, which caused Mizzou to settle for a field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, Moses cracked off a big one which was negated by an ISU penalty. Iowa State then unleashed their secret weapon – Ryan "having a Barry Sanders-esque day" Kock. Kock was making runs through traffic up the middle, taking delayed handoffs around the end, and basically doing everything but running deep pass routes. The only questionable call, in my opinion, on this drive was the option call inside the five that blew up and lost five plus yards. Why run the option when we've got Kock ripping up turf like a ferret operating a D7 Caterpillar? The redeeming thing about this mistake is that it set up one of those old familiar "fade pattern to Blythe in the left corner of the end zone" plays. We pinned Mizzou deep on the next kickoff, and forced a punt after giving up some real estate. Sumrall had a nice return, which was negated by another penalty. I can understand when underclassmen make these mistakes, but we've seen plenty of seniors make the same mistake during this season. These mistakes take away a disproportionate amount of momentum because they force the offense (which, in case you haven't noticed, hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire this year).
After halftime, we took the kickoff & marched downfield. The offside penalty against Mizzou during Shaggy's attempted field goal gave us a 4th and two from the six yard line. ISU took a chance by giving the ball to Scales on an off-tackle counter run, but it paid off handsomely. This was a chance that needed to be taken, and our coaching staff recognized it for what it was. Kock finally punched it in from short yardage, and ISU took the lead at 14-10. A three and out followed, with ISU's next possession featuring runs by Scales, a circus catch by Nickel, and a GREAT catch by Davis along Mizzou's sideline. Kock came into the game after the big catch and continued to chew up Mizzou's defense like a big red combine mowing down beans. At the end of this drive, Kock had a great cutback run that ended up with him running over Flynn in the end zone. Apparently, Kock got tired of abusing Mizzou players and decided to hit Flynn once just to mix things up a little. Mizzou's next possession had a lot of diving catches because Daniel had a lot of time to throw the ball. I guess that's what happens when your line holds ISU's defensive line like Jack Benny clutching the first dollar he ever earned. Of course, that excuse doesn't explain why Mizzou's tight end was wide open on the first play of the second half, or why Mizzou's running back dinked & dunked his way into the end zone on the next play. At least they missed the two-point conversion. Brandtner had another boomer of a punt on the next possession that pinned Mizzou DEEP in their own territory.
Anyway, you all know how it ended. ISU seemed to choke away the momentum, Mizzou drove down to the one-foot line and seemed to score the go-ahead touchdown with less than twenty seconds left…..BUT WAIT! Holding, on Mizzou! Fourth and eleven, Mizzou. Chase "Waaah, Waaah" Daniel then ran around in the backfield looking for an open receiver until Moorehead put him out of his misery with a sack.
Chris and I talked about continuing this column even though football season is over (and only the clinically insane tailgate out in the lots for ISU basketball), and I think I'll give it a whirl. Don't expect me to produce any content on a regular basis, but I'm always happy to share my supposed wisdom with anyone who'll listen. I'm going to try and make it up to a few basketball games this winter, including the Mediacom classic in Des Moines. If we can get our hands on some tickets, I'd love to visit the Carver Hawkeye mausoleum for the big game next month. Of course, I'll be in Oklahoma City for the tournament, and I'm hoping to make it to multiple ISU hockey games as well.
Now that football season's over, it's "coaching search" season. That should prove to be entertaining, to say the least. Thanks to all the hardcore fans who braved the elements for Mac's sendoff, and for the last time this year……… I'll see you out in the lots in 2007, Clone Fans.