It's official. The Cyclones will be shipped off to Boise. And there's not a darned thing that anybody can do about it.
If you're an Iowa State football fan, get used to the snickers from your Hawkeye brethren. If the numbers 36 & 31, the date September 14th, and the phrase "One for the Thumb" now feel like a distant memory, believe me you are not alone. Oh, and it might be a good idea to stay off any of those Cyclone-Hawkeye smack talk message boards for a while, or at least until about 9 p.m. this Friday night after the Iowa-Iowa State basketball game is completed.
Reality – cold and hard as it may be (no geographical pun intended) – has set in like rigor mortis. No more "killer" lines about the wildlife maiming ground that is Boise State's infamous Smurf turf for me. Nope, it's just about gaining back some respect the Cyclones lost during a sadistic second half schedule now.
From this point forward, it's all about the football game here at Cyclone Nation HQ. Here's hoping the guys who wear the jock straps and headsets are also focusing on the same thing. My guess is they are, if they have half the pride we think they do.
Everybody, even their athletic director as recently as last Friday, is still lamenting that ugly and demoralizing loss to UCONN. Mac and the boys are suffering through the football equivalent of morning breath, and they have to travel all the way to Idaho to get rid of the nasty taste in their collective mouths.
If any members of the football team are reading this humble opus – and I'm sure none of you are because you have better things to do – allow me to offer some unsolicited advice:
Take all these snide remarks about Boise from me, all of the other members of the fourth estate, and player-hating Hawkeye fans and use them as motivation. Take the doubt expressed by some of your own fans regarding the program's competency following the UCONN debacle and plant that chip comfortably on your shoulder. Use the scorn and ridicule and go old school the next few weeks. Forget about all of the other distractions that usually accompany a bowl game and concentrate solely on getting ticked off. Get mad…no, make that very mad. The kind of mad that goes along with having something to prove. The kind of mad you had in the second half of the Florida State and Iowa games. The kind of mad that comes out of a need for redemption and a sense or urgency about losing a legacy. Treat this bowl bid as a business trip and a road game. Finally, imagine what could be at stake if you lose, and refuse to give up any ground the program has turned the last three years.
There, still think this game coming up on New Year's Eve is a joke? Just imagine the potential punch lines if ISU ends up losing. If nothing else, win it for Jamaal Tinsley and Kantrail Horton. Don't let another ISU team leave its heart in Boise.
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Big Week For Men's Basketball
The preliminaries are over for Larry Eustachy's team and the real competition begins for his rejuvenated Cyclones this week.
Tuesday night, a Boston College team that has qualified for the last two NCAA Tournaments visits Hilton Coliseum. If this game goes overtime, I propose that Troy Bell and Jake Sullivan play H-O-R-S-E to decide who wins. This game is going to be up-tempo, high scoring, and fun to watch for a national cable audience on ESPN. If you haven't been up to Ames yet to see Tim Barnes, Adam Haluska, and Jackson Vroman in person I can't think of a better way to get a first impression.
As if the Golden Eagles migrating to Hilton Coliseum wasn't enough, the annual Cy-Hawk hoops showdown is Friday night at Steve Alford's place. This is going to be interesting. The Hawkeyes are playing a style of defense they usually reserve for just the Big Ten Tournament and playing as a team; except for Glenn Worley that is. Watching Chauncey Leslie and Barnes go back and forth all night will be like attending a tennis match. Vroman will be banging down low with Greg Brunner as well. I'm almost looking forward to this as much as the football duels. On the basketball side of the rivalry, Alford and Iowa have had the upper hand recently. Alford loves to tout his record against Eustachy, and to say the two men aren't exactly chummy might be a bit of an understatement.
And I'm blessed enough to get to do our radio show on KXNO from courtside at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network before the game. As an old radio boss of mine used to say, "This job sure does beat going down a mine shaft with a flashlight."
Prediction from me: look for the Cyclones to blow out Boston College and then edge Iowa in a close one at Carver-Hawkeye.
By the way, aren't these games much more fun than Jackson State, Savannah State, Binghamton, Mercer, Western Illinois, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff? According to Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde, men's basketball revenue is down $350,000 from last season. I think a few more games like Boston College could help reduce that deficit and generate more preseason excitement.
Nonetheless, this is going to be a rebound season for ISU basketball. We here at Cyclone Nation™ project a 19-10 regular season record and at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
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