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    JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    Published Friday
    January 26, 2007
    ISU Athletics: In rough times, Pollard makes the tough choices
    BY LEE BARFKNECHT


    WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

    AMES, Iowa - Gene Chizik's tenure as head football coach at Iowa State is less than two months old, and already a referendum of sorts is under way.
    "We were at a spot in the program where we couldn't sell hope," Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said of the football coaching change.
    Season-ticket renewal forms went out last week, giving Cyclones fans a chance to vote with their checkbooks on whether they think hiring the former Texas defensive coordinator was a good move.
    Early returns indicate Chizik will have strong backing.
    ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said eight suites have been leased since Chizik's hiring was announced. That brings the total of commitments to 43 of the 49 that will be available once facility upgrades to the west side of Jack Trice Stadium are approved.
    Also, Iowa State just finished a six-month period in which more money was raised for athletics than in any previous full fiscal year.
    That indicates the rollout of what Iowa State calls "Taking the Next Big Step" is on a roll.
    "I believe people have bought in," Pollard said. "But how many, and how far they'll buy in, has yet to be determined."
    Some Cyclones backers may still be in shock after seeing football coach Dan McCarney, for 12 years the face and voice of ISU athletics, resign under pressure following a 4-8 season.
    What may surprise you is that among those saddened by McCarney's departure is Pollard.
    "Dan McCarney is one of the reasons I came to Iowa State," said Pollard, who took over as A.D. in October 2005 after serving as an associate A.D. at Wisconsin. "I built a house from where I can see his house.
    "I didn't want to have to do this. When I go by his house today, I feel that behind those walls is the man who should be the Iowa State coach."
    So why make the change?
    "We were at a spot in the program where we couldn't sell hope," Pollard said. "And if at Iowa State you can't sell hope, what have you got to sell?"
    Speaking of salesmen, no one beat the streets longer and harder for Iowa State than McCarney - a fact that Pollard is thankful for and fully acknowledges by calling McCarney "a remarkable man made of unique cloth."
    "But now I think we're at a spot as a program where we need less of that and more flat-out tangible results," Pollard said. "That's where Gene comes into play."
    Pollard created national buzz by hiring Chizik, who managed the defense on Auburn's 13-0 team in 2004 and Texas' defense during the 13-0 Longhorns' 2005 national title run.
    "I was ecstatic when I heard he would even meet with us," Pollard said. "Then the first time I met him, I told our president, 'He's the guy, if we can get him.'"
    How did Chizik sell himself to the Iowa State administration?
    Pollard said a lot of it was Chizik's answer to the first question of the interview: "What do you think is required to be a great Division I-A football coach?"
    "Gene was the only one we talked to who said, 'You have to be a CEO, and you have to be a leader,'" Pollard said. "We connected from that moment."
    Two other things from Chizik's background impressed Pollard. The first was that Chizik, while an assistant at Central Florida, used his own time and money to visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers regularly to learn.
    The second was when Chizik left Auburn. Instead of taking a head coaching job, he went to Texas as defensive coordinator in what many considered a lateral move.
    "It proved to me that he realized he didn't have all the tools he needed in his toolbox to be the type of head coach he wanted to be," Pollard said. "He was willing to risk everything he had built at Auburn to learn more skills."
    In Pollard's first 13 months on the job, he has replaced the head coaches in three sports close to Cyclones fans' hearts (football, men's basketball and wrestling).
    Each situation was different, Pollard said, but all relate to the Iowa State athletic department's attempt to move to a new place - out of the bottom of the Big 12.
    In an information campaign directed at ISU boosters, Pollard has shared statistics that show the Cyclones, in the Big 12, are:
    Last in budget at $28.1 million. Nebraska's is twice that, and Texas' is three times as big.
    Last in a five-year average of Directors Cup standings for the results of all sports and 89th nationally. Texas was first at seventh.
    Second to last all-time in league championships with five. Texas has 65 and NU 47.
    Third from the bottom in season football ticket sales.
    "It's the brutal facts," Pollard said. "Either we do this or we don't. But not trying is not an option."
    Little resistance has emerged to what amounts to a cultural earthquake in ISU athletics.
    "We all recognize the need for change," Pollard said. "We want to get everyone who is involved here out of their comfort zone.
    "What we don't know is if supporters see how much things really need to change."
    One guarantee is that Pollard won't go down without a fight. He grew up as a straight A student, but in citizenship never got better than a C.
    "I couldn't stand losing," he said. "And that hasn't changed."


    Let my Fred's Posse Ride: Georges, Naz, Hogue, Bryce, Nader, Monte, Matt, and McKay.

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    Re: JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    I do not expect him to loose much in the future. Any word on how early sale of football tickets are going? Now that Jay Norvell took another job at UCLA, the names of all coaching candidates have landed for another team. They must have been fairly good in identifying good candidates for coaches...


    Let my Fred's Posse Ride: Georges, Naz, Hogue, Bryce, Nader, Monte, Matt, and McKay.

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    Re: JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    This is what many of us have always wanted...can't wait to see what will happen now that the dog has actually caught the fire truck.



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    Re: JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    Boy, I hope we can hang onto him...



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    Re: JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    If JP builds this into empire we think the program's headed to, I don't think JP will want to leave ISU. Why let someone else live in the glory of the fruits of your labor?


    Chuck Lidell: I paint my toenails with pink and black polish. Problem is, I get more paint on my toes and on the carpet than on my nails. Any advice?
    Maria Sharapova: Don't you beat up other guys for a living? I don't know how to answer this.



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    Re: JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobber View Post
    Boy, I hope we can hang onto him...
    Bobber, I am not singling you out, but this is the type of thinking that has gotten us in the position that we are in.

    As I said during the football season, Iowa State is a good job. We saw with the hiring of Gene Chizik that other people think so also. Now we have a person running the department who has the vision to make it known nationally.

    If we happen to get it going, which I believe will happen, and JP gets another job, then we hire another strong AD. It is the same if we lose one of our coaches, we hire another good coach.

    Enjoy what is happening, and instead of worrying whether or not we will lose JP, wonder why none of the people in charge in the past didn't do this already.


    Jeffrey A Crawford

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    Re: JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    It's been said before...... we have to support this guy financially. He has huge aspirations for Iowa State, and he has the mindset to accomplish his goals. Great article!



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    Re: JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    Quote Originally Posted by darts180 View Post
    Bobber, I am not singling you out, but this is the type of thinking that has gotten us in the position that we are in.

    As I said during the football season, Iowa State is a good job. We saw with the hiring of Gene Chizik that other people think so also. Now we have a person running the department who has the vision to make it known nationally.

    If we happen to get it going, which I believe will happen, and JP gets another job, then we hire another strong AD. It is the same if we lose one of our coaches, we hire another good coach.

    Enjoy what is happening, and instead of worrying whether or not we will lose JP, wonder why none of the people in charge in the past didn't do this already.
    I could not agree more. This is absolutely "spot on"!

    By the way, the things that Pollard is doing are not revolutionary...they either have been done are are being done in nearly all of the BCS conferences by schools that want to truly compete in athletics. This is not to knock Pollard...I'm certainly glad we have someone taking the necessary action to elevate our athletics program.

    Also, I think we need to recognize President Geoffroy's role in all of this. If he was not on board, this would not be happening. Having met him, I can attest that he is a great guy as well!



    I cheer for two teams, Iowa State and whoever is playing the hawkeyes.

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    Re: JP Speaks in Omaha World herald

    Thanks Bryce for posting the article, it was a great read and really impresses me that we have an AD that doesnt want to just settle for second place or just going to a bowl game.


    Boys and Girls those days are OVER!!!


    Thanks Jamie!



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