Monday, April 28, 2008

10. Iowa State Cyclones




We go from the plains of West Texas to the northernmost nowhere that is Ames, Iowa. This is a surprise to some, I'm sure, because if there's one thing the Cyclones do well, it's not football. But overall, Iowa State's athletic department is actually in fairly good shape. The Cyclones are basically Missouri with worse football and no baseball, and that overall strength gets ISU the #10 spot.

Competitiveness: Look at Iowa State's football program, and you think that the whole department is a joke. But in women's basketball, Iowa State is a perennial contender, and is almost always in the NCAA Tournament. Volleyball is now a consistent finisher in the top half of a difficult conference, gymnastics is always in the Top 20 nationally and I haven't even begun to talk about the Cyclones' wrestling program, which was the national runner-up last year. Beneath the surface, there's a lot to like about Iowa State.

Championships: Surprisingly, the Cyclones only have two titles in wrestling, easily their best sport. But ISU has three crowns each in men's and women's basketball, plus another two in gymnastics. That's a pretty solid amount. Iowa State has yet to have a period where it's not a threat to win something, and it doesn't just win in one sport.

Facilities: These might be the worst in the Big 12. Jack Trice Stadium is nothing but a glorified high school stadium. The Hilton Coliseum is used for all indoor sports, and while it is a decent facility, it was built in the 1970's. As such, it lacks the charm and tradition of venerable old buildings like Gallagher-Iba Arena and Allen Fieldhouse, and it lacks the modern amenities of places like Reed Arena and Mizzou Arena. It does have a strong Cyclone fan base, but that's another category.

Fan base: And here we have said category. The Cyclone fan base is supportive throughout good and bad of its teams, which is either a testament to how loyal ISU fans are to their beloved cardinal and gold, or a testament to how little there is to do in Ames, Iowa and the state of Iowa in general. Most likely, it's the first one, because there is Des Moines, which has some entertainment value.

Coaches: I'm not sure how, but Iowa State has some good coaches. Bill Fennelly is an excellent women's coach, also known as the man who was Brenda Frese's final boss before she went to Maryland. Gene Chizik is supposed to be a very good football coach, and Greg McDermott has similar credentials in men's basketball. Volleyball has experienced a rising from the ashes under Christy Johnson. With the exception of Fennelly, these coaches have been at Iowa State for three years or less. If they stay in Ames, the future could be bright.

Important sports: Football and baseball are almost or actually are non-existent in the race, but Iowa State has a solid basketball past that isn't too distant. With the right leadership, it's not hard to see these programs becoming relevant again. The solid past and possibility of a good future have ISU as the best of the bottom of the barrel in the Big 12.

My time is up. You've all been great. Enjoy Cross Canadian Ragweed.

6 comments:

hoosierdaddy1913 said...

6 degrees of Tito in this blog post relates to Bill Fennelly. As mentioned in the blog, Fennelly was Brenda Frese's boss at Iowa State from 1996-99 before Frese took the head coaching job at Ball State. Frese is one of four sisters and her second youngest sister, Marsha, used to be an assistant at the University of Illinois women's program from 2003-2007. As many of you know, Erin McCarthy (my girlfriend) plays at the University of Illinois, and I talked to Marsha Frese a number of times while she was coaching Erin. Thus, the degrees of connection...

Dan Angell said...

Wow. Just, wow.

Tigerlooza said...

I thought you weren't gonna factor past into the equation. Colorado should get more football props then if you're going by that scale.

Dan Angell said...

That one is actually used against Texas Tech. Colorado's past isn't good enough in anything but cross country. Before you say anything, I give CU no credit for winning a BS national title with a undefeated Georgia Tech. CU had one official loss and two actual losses. The rest of the past isn't strong enough.

hoosierdaddy1913 said...

This is horribly inconsistent blogging. I need you to step up your game mr. author

Dan Angell said...

What did you expect, with finals and projects flying left and right? I haven't had time to do much of anything lately.