Monday Musings

In his weekly word to Cyclone Nation readers, editor-in-chief Steve Deace bucks conventional wisdom and says the Iowa State football team should prefer Boise to Detroit, and gives his reasons why. Plus, Deace says Cyclone fans should be excited about Larry Eustachy's team. Read about that and more.

What will be colder this week, the temperature in Boise or the reception a potential bid to the Humanitarian Bowl will get from the residents of the Cyclone Nation? Let's face it, if a tie was like kissing your sister then being forced to play the Broncos on their very merry blue turf is akin to marrying her for a lot of Iowa State football fans.

Unfortunately, such may be the fate of the cardinal-and-gold. The bowl that some players mocked just a few weeks ago is now the cultural epicenter where they'll be counting down the final seconds until the New Year. Wait, I'll take that back. Since the Boise Bowl is actually a late morning kickoff, I'm guessing -- win or lose -- that the Cyclones will be on the last train to Clarksville before sundown.

Iowa State Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde said it best with this quote in the Des Moines Register on Sunday: "I guess the moral of the story is not to let your destiny rest in someone else's hands."

Translation: you don't get selected to play in the Humanitarian Bowl; you get sentenced to it after a home loss to UCONN. Being exiled to Boise is a punishment pronounced on those teams guilty of not taking care of business. That is a capital offense in today's high-stakes game of college football. We can try to spin this here at Cyclone Nation™ as a reward for the ISU football team, but we'd be lying and you all know better anyway. So do the players and coaches, I'd imagine.

Nonetheless, there could be worse things than partying with Baby New Year in Boise. For instance, how does a losing record and staying home sound? That's what I thought. The bottom line is that if you are a football program on the evolutionary scale of an Iowa State, you don't turn down any bowl bid. You don't turn down the extra 15 practices. You don't turn down a potential recruiting pitch. Heck, Clemson is a program steeped in tradition and they "lowered" themselves to play in the Humanitarian Bowl last year.

Here's another question: is going to Detroit to play Toledo that much more desirable? I love the Motor City, and since I'll be in Michigan visiting some family for Christmas, a trek down I-94 to visit state of the art Ford Field would be pretty convenient for me. But in terms of program prestige, I can't believe that the Motor City Bowl ranks astoundingly higher than Boise. Cincinnati -- yes the mighty Bearcats -- was Toledo's foe in this game last year.

If the goal of the program is to play the best possible opponent it can find in a bowl game and improve the perception of its season, then Boise it should be. I know it's a little like choosing the Lady or the Tiger. But do you get more respect from beating a ranked Boise State team whose only loss is to SEC West Division champ Arkansas on the road, or for defeating a Toledo squad that will likely be throttled by Marshall this week in the MAC Championship Game? No matter which way you slice it, there's not much to gain and a lot to lose for the Cyclones. If they beat any one of those teams, there's a little snickering about beating an ugly duckling. If (God forbid) they lose to one of those teams, the snickering will become a resounding roar of laughter.

Back in their 1980s salad days, did Hayden Fry and the Hawkeyes turn down bids to play Wyoming and San Diego State in bowl games? Nope. Granted, those games were in sunny San Diego on real grass made by the Lord and not a sea of false field that kills and maims birds, but the Cowboys and Aztecs aren't any better than the Broncos.

I also doubt fan excitement about a game with Toledo is marginally higher than a showdown with Boise State. As far as the fans are concerned, being selected for either of these games is reminiscent to being the last kid chosen for kick ball in grade school. Again, I'd imagine there's a similar sentiment inside the walls of Fort Jacobson as well.

That's why you go to Boise. Take that chip on your shoulder with you, and make the Broncos pay for the disappointment and anger you're feeling right now. Take it out on a ranked opponent with a sparkling 11-1 record, not the second best team in the MAC. There's nothing else to do in Boise other than play football, and get back to basics. Given the sluggish way the Cyclones finished the season, that could be the perfect prescription. Can you imagine the motivation the Iowa State players will have to work harder throughout the offseason coming off a bowl trip to Boise? Once you've gone Boise, you don't want to go back. The Cyclones will survive their Apocalypse Now, and remember to take care of business when opportunity is knocking next season.

Besides, it worked for Hayden Fox and Minnesota State, right? Didn't they go to Montana or somewhere suffering through a blizzard for the Pioneer Bowl in season four of the TV show Coach? Then what happened in season five? The Screaming Eagles won the national championship. Who says life can't imitate art? I know for a fact that Dan McCarney is a better coach than Craig T. Nelson.

Basketball Jones

I had the chance to check out Larry Eustachy's crew on Friday night against Mercer, and I was impressed. The three newcomers are all legit. Tim Barnes is quicker than any player I've seen during the LE era, Adam Haluska has tremendous athleticism, and Jackson Vroman will provide some much-needed tenacity and scrappiness. This class is pretty good now, and it's scary to think of how good ISU would've been if Chris Alexander and Jerome Harper would've made it.

I love the way Barnes pushes the ball up the court, and he's a primary reason that ISU won't finish 10th in the Big 12 in scoring again. What I saw against Mercer was up-tempo and fun-to-watch basketball. Which is a needed departure after last year's series of slugfests.

Marcus Jefferson and Omar Bynum bring experience and versatility off the bench. Jefferson, in particular, could be a spark plug with his instant offense. For me a question mark is a lack of depth and scoring from the block. The onus falls on Jared Homan there.

Finally, that leaves Sullivan, who doesn't have an ounce of fat on him after a rigorous offseason workout regimen. He will flourish next to Barnes and is a better all-around player as well. His experience at point guard last year helped him to see the court better, and on defense his improved physical conditioning really shows.

Depth is a concern, and the Cyclones can not afford a significant injury to any of their top 7 players. If Iowa State stays healthy, look for it to return to the NCAA Tournament with a 19-10 record.

Holiday Gift Suggestion

Permit me one moment of blatant commercialism. If you aren't a subscriber to Cyclone Nation already, now would be the ideal time to sign up, especially as a holiday gift for yourself or a friend or loved one who happens to be an Iowa State sports fan.

Just in time for Christmas, we're offering a year's subscription to our monthly, glossy Cyclone Nation Magazine, AND a year's subscription to our Total Access Pass Premium Insider for just $99.95. Or, if you're already a subscriber to our magazine, you can get a year's subscription to our Total Access Pass Premium Insider service AND an annual subscription to ESPN The Magazine for just $79.95.

Cyclone Nation.com's Total Access Pass Premium Insider has been the first to provide information about every Iowa State football and men's basketball recruiting commitment since we went online in August, so between now and February's signing day you won't want to miss out. To take advantage of these great offers, click here:

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Finally, allow me to thank all of you who already subscribe. In less than four months, we already have 60% of the total online subscribers the old Cyclone Illustrated had before it went out of business. And sales of our magazine ranked number one on TheInsiders network in October.

Bill, Amy, CI Steve, and I really appreciate it.

The Cyclone Nation™ Top 25

If we had a vote in the AP Poll, here's what our ballot would've looked like this week:

1. Miami, Fla. (11-0)

Last week: 1

This week: #16 Virginia Tech

2. Ohio State (13-0)

Last week: 2

This week: season completed

3. Iowa (11-1)

Last week: 4

This week: season completed

4. Georgia (11-1)

Last week: 5

This week: vs. #17 Arkansas in the SEC Championship

5. Kansas State (10-2)

Last week: 7

This week: season completed

6. USC (10-2)

Last week: 8

This week: season completed

7. Washington State (9-2)

Last week: 9

This week: at UCLA

8. Oklahoma (10-2)

Last week: 3

This week: vs. #12 Colorado in the Big 12 Championship

9. Texas (10-2)

Last week: 10

This week: season completed

10. Notre Dame (10-2)

Last week: 6

This week: season completed

11. Michigan (9-3)

Last week: 11

This week: season completed

12. Colorado (9-3)

Last week: 16

This week: vs. #8 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship

13. Penn State (9-3)

Last week: 12

This week: season completed

14. Alabama (10-3)

Last week: 15

This week: season completed

15. West Virginia (9-3)

Last week: 19

This week: season completed

16. Virginia Tech (9-3)

Last week: 22

This week: at #1 Miami, Fla.

17. Arkansas (9-3)

Last week: NR

This week: vs. #4 Georgia in the SEC Championship

18. Florida State (9-4)

Last week: 21

This week: season completed

19. Colorado State (10-3)

Last week: 13

This week: season completed

20. Florida (8-4)

Last week: 17

This week: season completed

21. Auburn (8-4)

Last week: 20

This week: season completed

22. Maryland (10-3)

Last week: 24

This week: season completed

23. Pittsburgh (8-4)

Last week: 14

This week: season completed

24. N.C. State (10-3)

Last week: 25

This week: season completed

25. Boise State (11-1)

Last week: NR

This week: season completed

Dropped out: #18 LSU, #23 Virginia

Honorable mention: #26 LSU (8-4); #27 Arizona State (8-4); #28 TCU (9-2); #29 Tennessee (8-4); #30 Oregon State (8-4).

The Cyclone Nation™ Heisman Ballot

  1. Ken Dorsey (QB-Miami, Fla.)…Repeat the mantra: 37-1 as a starting quarterback.
  2. Brad Banks (QB-Iowa)…Hoping for a Miami loss in more ways than one.
  3. Carson Palmer (QB-USC)…Will earn the recognition of the voter-rich West Coast after best season ever by a Trojan QB.
  4. Larry Johnson (RB-Penn State)…2,000+ yards is impressive, but level of competition bulk of yardage came against isn't.
  5. Willis McGahee (RB-Miami, Fla.)…The best player on the best team in the country probably won't win the award.

On the radar screen: Chris Brown (RB-Colorado) & Byron Leftwich (QB-Marshall).

The Cyclone Nation™ 2002 All-Big 12 Team

OFFENSE                                            DEFENSE

QB: Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech, Sr.)    DL: Cory Redding (Texas, Sr.)

RB: Chris Brown (Colorado, Jr.)           DL: Antwaun Bynum (Missouri, Sr.)

RB: Quentin Griffin (Oklahoma, Sr.)     DL: Keith Wright (Missouri, Sr.)

FB: Brandon Drumm (Colorado, Sr.)     DL: Andrew Shull (Kansas State, Jr.)

WR: Rashaun Woods (Oklahoma State, Jr.) LB: Teddy Lehman (Oklahoma, Sr.)

WR: Justin Gage (Missouri, Sr.)           LB: Terry Pierce (Kansas State, Jr.)

TE: Trent Smith (Oklahoma, Sr.)          LB: Lance Mitchell (Oklahoma, Jr.)

OL: Wayne Lucier (Colorado, Sr.)         LB: Derrick Johnson (Texas, So.)

OL: Derrick Dockery (Texas, Sr.)          DB: Terence Newman (Kansas State, Sr.)

OL: Justin Bates (Colorado, Sr.)           DB: Derrick Strait (Oklahoma, Jr.)

OL: Nick Leckey (Kansas State, Jr.)      DB: Rod Babers (Texas, Sr.)

OL: Bob Montgomery (Iowa State, Jr.) DB: Bobby Walker (Kansas State, Sr.)

K: Adam Benike (Iowa State, Jr.)         P: Mark Mariscal (Colorado, Sr.)

KR: Greg Heaggans (Kansas, Fr.)         PR: DeJuan Groce (Nebraska, Sr.)

Cyclone Nation™ 2002 All-American Team

OFFENSE                                              DEFENSE

QB: Brad Banks (Iowa, Sr.)                     DL: Terrell Suggs (Arizona State, Jr.)

RB: Larry Johnson (Penn State, Sr.)        DL: Cory Redding (Texas, Sr.)

RB: Willis McGahee (Miami, So.)             DL: David Pollack (Georgia, So.)

FB: B.J. Askew (Michigan, Sr.)                 DL: Rien Long (Washington State, Jr.)

WR: Charles Rogers (Michigan State, Jr.) LB: Teddy Lehman (Oklahoma, Sr.)

WR: Shaun McDonald (Arizona State, Jr.) LB: E.J. Henderson (Maryland, Sr.)

TE: Dallas Clark (Iowa, Jr.)                      LB: Courtney Watson (Notre Dame, Jr.)

OL: Wayne Lucier (Colorado, Sr.)            LB: LaMarcus McDonald (TCU, Sr.)

OL: Brett Romberg (Miami, Sr.)               DB: Terence Newman (Kansas State, Sr.)

OL: Derrick Dockery (Texas, Sr.)              DB: Shane Walton (Notre Dame, Jr.)

OL: Jon Stinchcomb (Georgia, Sr.)            DB: Derrick Strait (Oklahoma, Jr.)

OL: Derrick Roche (Washington State, Sr.)DB: Troy Polamalu (USC, Sr.)

K: Mike Nugent (Ohio State, So.)              P: Mark Mariscal (Colorado, Sr.)

KR: Broderick Clark (Louisville, Fr.)          PR: Derek Abney (Kentucky, Jr.)

Cyclone Nation™ Bowl Projections

New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 17: Sun Belt Champ vs. Conference USA #5)

North Texas (7-5) vs. Tulane (7-5)

GMAC Bowl (Dec. 18: Conference USA #2 vs. MAC #1/2)

Louisville (7-5) vs. Marshall (10-2)

Tangerine Bowl (Dec. 23: ACC #4 vs. Big 12)

Oklahoma State (7-5) vs. Clemson (7-5)

Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 25: Mountain West #2 vs. Pac-10 #5)

Air Force (8-4) vs. UCLA (8-4)

Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 25: Conference USA #4 vs. WAC #3)

Southern Mississippi (7-5) vs. Hawaii (9-4)

*Motor City Bowl (Dec. 26: MAC #1/2 vs. Big Ten #7)

Wake Forest/Texas A&M vs. Toledo (9-4)

Insight.com Bowl (Dec. 26: Big East #3/Notre Dame vs. Pac-10 #4)

Virginia Tech (9-4) vs. Washington (7-5)

Houston Bowl (Dec. 27: Conference USA #3 vs. Big 12 #6)

Texas Tech (8-5) vs. Cincinnati (7-6)

Independence Bowl (Dec. 27: Big 12 #5 vs. SEC #7)

Nebraska (7-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6)

Holiday Bowl (Dec. 27: Pac-10 #2 vs. Big 12 #3)

Washington State (9-3) vs. Kansas State (10-2)

Alamo Bowl (Dec. 28: Big Ten #4 vs. Big 12 #4)

Wisconsin (7-6) vs. Colorado (9-4)

Queen City Bowl (Dec. 28: Big East vs. ACC)

Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

*Seattle Bowl (Dec. 30: Mountain West #4 vs. ACC)

Oregon (7-5) vs. Virginia (8-5)

Music City Bowl (Dec. 30: Big Ten #6 vs. SEC #6)

Purdue (6-6) vs. Auburn/Arkansas

Humanitarian Bowl (Dec. 31: WAC #2 vs. Big 12)

Iowa State (7-6) vs. Boise State (11-1)

Sun Bowl (Dec. 31: Big Ten #5 vs. Pac-10 #3)

Minnesota (7-5) vs. Arizona State (8-4)

Silicon Valley Classic (Dec. 31: WAC #1 vs. Pac-10)

Fresno State (8-5) vs. Oregon State (8-4)

Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31: Conference USA #1 vs. Mountain West #1)

TCU (9-2) vs. Colorado State (10-3)

Peach Bowl (Dec. 31: ACC #3 vs. SEC #5)

Maryland (10-3) vs. Tennessee (8-4)

San Francisco Bowl (Dec. 31: Mountain West vs. Big East)

New Mexico (7-6) vs. Boston College (8-4)

Outback Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #3 vs. SEC)

Florida (8-4) vs. Michigan (8-4)

Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1: Big 12 #2 vs. SEC)

Texas (10-2) vs. LSU (8-4)

Gator Bowl (Jan. 1: Big East #2/Notre Dame vs. ACC #2)

West Virginia (9-3) vs. N.C. State (10-3)

Capitol One Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #2 vs. SEC #2)

Auburn/Arkansas vs. Penn State (9-3)

Rose Bowl (Jan. 1: Big Ten #1 vs. Pac-10 #1)

Iowa (11-1) vs. USC (10-2)

Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1: SEC #1 vs. BCS At-large)

Florida State (9-4) vs. Georgia (12-1)

Orange Bowl (Jan. 2: ACC/Big East #1 vs. BCS At-large)

Notre Dame (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (11-2)

Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 3: BCS #1 vs. BCS #2)

Ohio State (13-0) vs. Miami, Fla. (12-0)

Please note that California, Kentucky, and Alabama are not eligible for the postseason because of NCAA sanctions.

*We project the Mountain West Conference and Big Ten Conference will not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of their allotted slots.

(Steve Deace can be heard each Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m. on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines, the flagship for the Cyclone Radio Network)

 


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