On Campus: Let's Get it Done

The magician did it again. "Jamiedini" played all of us like a beat up game of Monopoly. Just when we thought the man couldn't one-up himself, he effectively made a coach appear right before our eyes.

Pollard's stealth search was the most impressive illusion since David Copperfield reduced a Carnival Cruise boat into a Micro Machine. (Or, perhaps, the most impressive feat since the same Copperfield managed to wed German supermodel Claudia Schiffer. Both are remarkable accomplishments.)

 

Pollard had the media fishing for 18 consecutive days. All the while, he was busy reeling in the biggest shark in the college football sea. When I heard the news Monday morning, my first reaction was, "What happened to Brian Kelly??" My second was, "Oh *choice word,* ISU just hired the next Bob Stoops." I took a small victory lap around my apartment feeling a mix of shock and pride. We just hired one of the most coveted coaches in the country. Our school just pulled one of the biggest coups in Big 12 history. This is our school? My Iowa State? I couldn't believe it.

 

I was fully expecting to wake up and see Brian Kelly getting off a private jet at the Ames airport and I would have been okay, not ecstatic, but okay with that. Instead, Gene Chizik was the man stepping off the plane and into the Ames fog for the first time. It was the equivalent of expecting to wake up next to Celine Dion and finding Jessica Simpson there in her place. (For singing practice of course…nothing else.)

 

The magnitude of this hire can't be understated. For all that Dan McCarney did to bring respect to this program, the Cyclones were still an after-thought in most college football circles. We were the cute little kid who occasionally would be noticed at the college football dinner table. With one signed check, we are now the ambitious young adult looking to take the world by storm. This was a statement hire. A "We're tired of being picked on" hire. The college football world definitely noticed.

 

Dan McCarney took this program distances that many believed would not be possible. But the baton needed to be passed. Players and fans both needed to be challenged. McCarney was the energetic PE teacher that everyone loved. Like most PE classes in everyone's childhood, it was fun and productive at times, but at a certain point the class grows stale and you are no longer challenged. PE just isn't the same once you get to high-school. Iowa State has graduated and is ready to take more ambitious courses.

 

Gene Chizik is the high-school chemistry teacher that demands excellence. He oozes perfection. He won't put up with any crap. Straight business. You learn or you fail. This will make many players uncomfortable. Everybody becomes a bit jaded when they are challenged. Nobody immediately enjoys being taken out of their comfort zone.

 

After speaking with a few players it was clear from their meeting with Chizik that he isn't here to rally the troops. He is here to find the best troops and make them as lethal as possible. He doesn't beat around the bush. He takes a chainsaw and tears the bush to pieces.

 

The best way from point A to point B is a straight line.

 

 Chizik doesn't want to be the players' best friend. He wants to be their best coach. Their best teacher.

 

Watching Jamie Pollard appear out of the tunnel Monday night, I saw a different look. It was as determined as I had ever seen him. He looked like a king returning after conquering the rival empire. He clapped with fervor. His passion flowing; his eyes focused. He had his man. The pieces are now in place. His pieces.

 

After soaking in his new environment, Chizik pumped his fist in the air. It wasn't a Johnny Orr fist pump. There wasn't much joy in it. It wasn't a celebration. It was more intense than that. His stone-faced, iron-jaw expression stayed the same. It was if he was illustrating to the thousands in attendance that he was ready to seize this opportunity and he wasn't going to let go. It is now time to move on. No more excuses. Straight business.

 

Pollard grabbed Chizik by the arm and directed his attention to the electronic ring surrounding Hilton that spelled out Chizik's name. It was like a king grabbing his prized knight. I could sense Pollard telling Chizik, "This is the kingdom I started and you will help bring to the Promised Land. This is our Cyclone Nation."

 

"Let's get it done."


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