Let's see, we're nine days away from National Signing Day and the official unveiling of Dan McCarney's 2003 football recruiting class, plus Larry Eustachy and the men's basketball team finally won a conference game and next play at first place Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.
But what is the hot topic of conversation the past few days? A picture of Coach Eustachy apparently hamming it up with some co-eds and their male admirers after 2 a.m. in a Columbia, Missouri campustown pub.
While I was flat on my back recovering from a pinched nerve the past few days, many of you debated your Hawkeye counterparts online about the authenticity of the photo, which dubiously first appeared on a pro-Missouri Internet message board.
However, that debate came to a conclusion with an admission from ISU Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde to the Des Moines Register over the weekend that he was informed by LE that he indeed had his picture taken after the Missouri loss on Tuesday night. Now, no one has specifically said the picture in question was the one LE was specifically referring to.
But nobody has said it wasn't, either.
Frankly, many of us in the media have been familiar with LE's willingness to carouse the social scene for quite some time. LE likes to have fun, even the kind of fun some of us may frown down upon for a man of his age and stature. But since it has never spilled over into becoming a distraction for the basketball program, and since he has done nothing illegal like being cited for OWIs as have some other coaches, the media has decided that what is said and done on the mile stays on the mile.
That all changes now. From this point forward, every fan of a rival Big 12 school or – dare we say – fans from a certain school east of here, will be filing their Eustachy sightings online. We'll get more pictures, and about 99.99999 percent of them will be doctored. Many of you are likely to be angered and embarrassed and motivated to start your own online jihad.
Knowing Eustachy, it's highly unlikely that he'll care and even more unlikely that he'll be aware of it at all. LE just kind of does his own thing. Whether it's putting Chris Alexander back on the team over the objections of unnamed forces inside the administration, giving Jerome Harper a second or third chance to get into school, or lining up an excruciatingly soft non-conference schedule that turned some into former season ticket holders.
In my opinion, that oblivious to the politics of the moment mentality is both LE's biggest weakness and strength as a head coach. He shuns publicity and the press, even when it may help him sell his program, and instead focuses squarely on his basketball team. The upside of that single-mindedness of purpose are those two Big 12 championship banners hanging from the Hilton Coliseum rafters. The downside is flaps like this "photo-gate" and the summer-long lingering speculation about why Shane Power left.
Eustachy simply isn't into imaging, just winning. He'll do things his way, whether we like it or not. He doesn't care what we in the media or fans think of his schedule, his after-hours decorum, or hardly anything else. He's here to win basketball games, period. Whatever charges LE's battery clearly has little or nothing to do with public opinion. A 10-year contract, plus a resume that includes several coach of the year honors and conference titles, gives a man that type of security.
Now, if I were Bruce Van De Velde would I be overcome with joy about the picture in question? Umm...no, not at all. I don't know if I have ever seen a picture like that taken with a Division I college basketball coach. Can anyone imagine Bob Knight, Eddie Sutton, Roy Williams, or Rick Barnes posing for such a photo? How about Johnny Orr or Tim Floyd? Well…then again, Orr probably posed for dozens of photos like that, coach. J
It's one thing for that photo to be taken in Dallas after the Cyclones just finished winning the Big 12 Tournament, but it probably rubs some people the wrong way that it came after a loss that dropped ISU to 0-4 in the Big 12. I can't imagine that LE would look favorably upon Jake Sullivan tying one on after a loss like that. Then again, maybe he wouldn't give a rip. I dare not presume to speak for LE since we clearly don't march to the beat of the same drummer.
The photo aside, what has been particularly interesting to me is watching the predictable reaction from the fan bases headquartered in Ames and Iowa City. The red-meat faction within the Hawkeye Nation is almost a cliche with its willingness to look down upon anything Cyclone. Obviously, the cardinal-and-gold chose to play the always-useful haughtiness card in response.
Both stereotypes have holes. Iowa is considered the more refined school, but it has had players and even a coach wrestle with issues of alcohol abuse in recent years. Iowa State is considered much less patrician, but Omar Bynum is so far in the doghouse he's learning to bark and we didn't see Royce Hooks and Brent Nash hovering around the sidelines during football season, did we?
However, I'm also not buying this "LE is a man of the people" spin, either. I have never met a single ISU fan, member of the media, or ISU administrator that complimented LE for his public relations. Everyone, myself included, agrees he has a charming personality. We'd just like to see it more. Now, Dan McCarney and Bill Fennelly are two men who know how to work a rope line, so to speak.
There is a bottom line here. The only reason photo-gate is getting that much play at all is because the Cyclones have won five of their last 17 games in the Big 12. If LE would've posed for this photo three years ago after a memorable win in Columbia, nobody in this state would've cared. It still would've been written about, but in a far more humorous context. These types of things tend to have more staying power when the daubers are down.
As a Cyclone fan, you should be far more concerned about a 1-4 record in the league and the distinct possibility of missing the NCAA Basketball Tournament for the second consecutive season than whether LE prefers it "tastes great" or "less filling."
Countdown to Signing Day
Iowa State is just about finished with its 2003 football recruiting class, which many analysts have pegged as the best yet for Coach McCarney. Thanks to all of you who have chosen to follow Mac and the staff's progress here at Cyclone Nation.com. However, with just nine days remaining until Signing Day, that means time is running out for you to get Cyclone Nation's first football recruiting yearbook in March. If you are already a subscriber to Cyclone Nation Magazine, you will automatically receive the football recruiting issue.
But if you're not, you're going to miss 32 glossy pages sprinkled