An article about what needs to change...
I got this from a friend. I don't know where it's from but he's right. We need to make a committment here and now to being better at everything we do.
The most sobering aspect to all of the college athletic conference realignment and expansion talk is how helpless Iowa State is to control its own fate as a member of the Big 12 Conference. President Gregory Geoffroy and Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said as much in a statement last week:
"?we also recognize that the long-term viability of the Big 12 Conference is not in our control - it is in the hands of just a few of our fellow member institutions."
Ouch. That's a cold splash of reality water right in the face. But it's not news. Iowa State has been largely powerless in the dysfunctional Big 12 since its ill-fated conception back in 1996. It's always been along for the ride, at the mercy of other more powerful members, just keeping its head down and hoping the checks keep coming.
And that's because of Iowa State's historical indifference toward athletic success. Which is not an indictment of the current leadership. Obviously President Geoffroy gets it when it comes to the importance of athletic success. Pollard is currently overseeing what will probably be ISU's best year ever in terms of "all sports" success, at both the national and conference levels. At last check, Iowa State was #31 in the Learfield Cup standings. That's great, but one year doesn't define who or what you are. A century does.
And for a century and change, Iowa State didn't try very hard in athletics. Certainly they were trying within the athletic department and there were periods of modest success in this sport or that and even national prominence in some sports. ISU did some good things when it followed the paths of least resistance - the wrestling path, the gymnastics path, the cross country path. But in sports where lots of other schools were really trying, ISU was rarely up to the task. By its own choice.
If you choose to be a nobody, you likely will be successful in becoming one. Iowa State made its choice through the decades and now it faces the consequences. Maybe it was early in the century when the school was unwilling to finance a football stadium for its own team, forcing athletic director Clyde Williams to sign the bank note himself (along with a few other individuals). Maybe it was in the mid-century, grossly under funding sports and causing a revolving door of coaches that undermined any real chance at winning.
Maybe it later in the century when President Robert Parks vetoed the hiring of John Cooper as football coach, or when the best player on the football team (Steve Lester) was booted for academics?even though he was 100 percent eligible by NCAA and Big 8 standards. Maybe it was this, maybe it was that. Maybe it was any of a thousand anecdotal examples that could be pulled from the historical record and laid out as evidence. Maybe it was any of them, but definitely, it was all of them. Iowa State - the institution of higher learning and lower athletics - is wholly responsible for its current predicament.
This is what happens when a university doesn't care about athletic success. When the culture peaks at indifference and valleys at contempt as it pertains to institutional perspective and faculty attitude towards sports and athletes. When a university's leadership can't or won't see the connection between athletic success and higher enrollment, the connection between athletic success and higher financial giving, the connection between athletic success and higher academic resources. When pride gets in the way of prudence. When academia just can't admit that athletics is important and deserves the resources and commitment needed to be successful. When winning a battle becomes more important than winning a war.
So now here we are. The mistakes of 1910, 1930, 1950, 1970 and 1990 come to roost in 2010. Iowa State, which had the exact same opportunity as every other school in the country to choose to be successful in athletics, instead chose the other route and now faces the possibility of demotion to the second tier of major college athletics. And down goes the entire university with it, likewise demoted. Disenchanted alums give less money or no money. Fewer young people in Iowa grow up as Cyclones and are less likely to choose ISU, impacting enrollment. Television exposure plummets. A greater reliance on out-of-state students drives up recruiting and admission costs. Tuition continues to climb, perhaps at an even greater clip. A cash-strapped state runs low on options for maintaining two premiere research institutions as the American Association of Universities level. And so it goes.
Or, maybe NOT. When the dust settles, if nothing else, Iowa State and its community should exit this experience seriously ****** off. And that emotion should be used as motivation to change the future. Because you can't change the past. You can't dig up the failed ISU leaders of yesterday and slap them to sensibility and right the wrongs. But the future of the university and its athletics program can be changed. The decision can be made to be something more than just a hanger on, an also ran, a schedule filler. Obviously, decisions to climb the ranks of the Big 12 have been made in recent years at Iowa State and the results are starting to show. Too little, too late perhaps when it comes to saving ISU's hide this time. If Greg Geoffroy and Jamie Pollard show up back when instead of the likes of uber weenie Gordon Eaton and bumbling Max Urick, maybe we're not having this discussion. But again, can't change the past.
Mountain West Conference? Dominate it. A rebuilt Big 12? Dominate it. A reborn Big 8? Dominate it. Conference USA? Dominate it. The Frick and Frack 12? Dominate it. The conference name and panache are immaterial right now. What's important is that Iowa State dominates it to change who it is and what it is in the world of Division I college athletics. And if it takes being humbled and humiliated to really light the fire, so be it. Nothing else seemed to do the trick through the years. Iowa State can, entirely of its own free will, decide to dominate its new conference if in fact the Big 12 as we know it disintegrates. It's not complicated. Make the decision.
Will these trials motivate Iowa State to make a commitment to athletics so it is a shot caller the next time? Because, there will be a next time. There's always a next time. College conferences have always been in flux and always will be. ISU can't do much right now to affect the outcome of Shake Up 2010; that ship has sailed. But it can do plenty to affect the outcome of Shake Up 2020 or Shake Up 2030. And it can treat its fan base to a whole lot of right way *** kickings in the interim. It just has to be embarrassed enough and angry enough and motivated enough to make the decision to do so.
It's clich?when one door closes, another opens. Iowa State could soon be presented with the OPPORTUNITY to make dramatic changes for the better. What it does with the opportunity is entirely up to ISU. It can seize it or it can gag on it, time will tell. We know it should already have a set of contingency plans in place, plans it has been crafting for some time now. Because anyone who didn't see the gaping cracks in the Big 12 foundation wasn't paying attention. I'll give ISU the benefit of the doubt and assume it knew that it's been living in a crumbling house for several years now. With a set of plans in place, it's wait and see time. Wait and see exactly what happens, and then successfully execute the appropriate plan.
Change is scary. But curling up in the fetal position is never the right answer to being scared. Make your choice Iowa State and make your choice Iowa State fans. Are you going to face change with a commitment and plan to shape the future, or curl up in a ball and cry about it?
Re: An article about what needs to change...
Re: An article about what needs to change...
parks did not do us any favors when he was president.jimmy hilton was the best isu president when it came to supporting isu sports.looks like president geoffroy is doing his best to support cyclone athletics.