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
I was fully expecting to wake up
and see Brian Kelly getting off a private jet at the
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.
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."