Sporting News Report: All things ISU

By Chris Williams, Publisher

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Last week, I broke down what Athlon’s 2010 college football preview magazine had to say about all things Iowa State. Today, the Sporting News is on the hot seat.

Here we go.

On your Iowa State Cyclones

The Sporting News is smart. They don’t give guys like me much ammo. Why? Because they don’t predict records. Athlon recently predicted that the Cyclones will go 3-9 next year. That caused me to go on a writing rampage. In fact, my keyboard still hasn’t recovered.

The Sporting News predicts Iowa State to finish fifth in the Big 12 North, in front of Kansas State. That’s fair. Sure, Iowa State could finish as high as third in my opinion. I guess that with the obvious question marks on defense, a sixth place finish wouldn’t shock me either. So really, I can’t throw a ton of stones at the publication for their fifth place prediction.

Iowa State did get singled out in a few other parts of the magazine as well.

For instance, head coach Paul Rhoads was awarded the “Big 12’s Best Interview” by the Sporting News.

I’ll buy that. Rhoads tells you what he thinks. The way he wears his heart on his sleeve reminds me so much of Dan McCarney, it’s not even funny. Still, we all know that his is Mike Leach’s award to lose, if he’s still in the league, which he’s not.

The Sporting News labels one player on each team in America as the “Next Big Thing.”

Iowa State’s “Next Big Thing” is none other than linebacker Matt Tau’fo’ou. I’ve heard good things about Iowa State’s junior middle linebacker so this doesn’t blow me away. I got to interview him after the spring game. He seems like he really has his head on his shoulders. I kind of figured that maybe the publication would have gone with one of the youngsters, Jake Knott or A.J. Klein. Still, Tau’fo’ou is a fine choice. Nobody honestly knows much about how he’ll perform next season so why not?

No Cyclones were listed on the Sporting News’ All-Big 12 team. That was expected.

All of Ames, Iowa was handed a prestigious award from our friends at the Sporting News.

The Worst Road Trip award? Iowa State  (in November).

As an Ames resident, I take offense to that. Ames is beautiful in November. What’s not to like? Oh you think it’s cold? It’s called a change in season Sporting News. That’s normal you know? Besides, who doesn’t like going out in campustown on a cold November night, watching sorority girls run around in skirts like it is 80 degrees out. Good times. I love Ames. I would have given Ames in November the “Best Road Trip” award. We keep it real at Iowa State.

Sporting News on the Big 12

The Sporting News didn’t get too creative with their picks atop the Big 12’s two divisions. They have Texas winning the South, with Oklahoma coming in second.

In the North, Bo Pelini’s Cornhuskers of Nebraska are supposed to take the title. You won’t find a publication in America to argue that.

The biggest beef I have with this year’s Sporting News college football preview is their fascination with Kansas.

This publication has brand new coach Turner Gill’s Jayhawks taking second in the Big 12 North and the issue even goes so far as to rank the Jayhawks 31st overall in America.

Really? I could ask about 218 questions about this but I’ll keep it simple Sporting News.


Kale Pick is set to be Kansas’ starting quarterback in the fall. He’s only passed for 22-yards in his career and will be learning Gill’s new offense. On the bright side, he was efficient last season, going 4-for-5 on the year (JIMLAD.) It’s a good thing that he’ll have experienced wide receivers like Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe to throw to. Oh yeah, I forgot. Along with Todd Reesing, those guys are gone too! Johathan Wilson, a guy who didn’t score a touchdown and recorded 449 yards, is Kansas’ top returning receiver.

This makes no sense at all.

Forget the Big 12 talk. One could argue that two through six in the North will be at total crapshoot this fall. Fine. But Kansas, as the 31st best team in America? Seriously?

I just don’t get it.

Here’s what makes even less sense about this theory. The Sporting News applies arrows beside every team in the conference. There is an arrow pointing up, which means the team is ascending. There is an arrow pointing from side-to-side, which I assume means just staying about the same. Then there is an arrow pointing down, which means descending. For the record, the Cyclones got a descending arrow.

But the Sporting News gives Kansas a side-to-side arrow. Missouri, who they rank third in the North, has an ascending arrow.

Besides, you cannot convince me right now that Kansas won’t be 2-2 heading into conference play in October. A Friday night road trip to Southern Miss (Sept. 17) and a home date with Georgia Tech (Sept. 11) will be no picnic. Sure, they could do better, but those aren’t locks.

Again, I don’t get it, but there’s no need to dwell on this minuscule issue though.

Individual Big 12 notes

Like all publications, the Sporting News hands out a chunk of individual preseason awards. A lot of these were predictable, like Ryan Broyles being the league’s “Fastest Receiver.” Baylor’s Robert Griffin was listed as the conferences “Best Athlete.”

The majority of these selections make sense.

The one that doesn’t is listing Kansas State’s Bill Snyder as the league’s “Best Coach.”

Excuse me while I look at my calendar. Yep. Just as I suspected. We’re in the year 2010 Sporting News. Not 1997.

So you’re telling me that if these voters at the Sporting News were going to start up a Big 12 program, they’d want Bill Snyder heading it up?

Come on. That’s ridiculous. He’s a fine football coach. In 1999, I would have bought this. I refuse to right now.

The Sporting News is awfully high on Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick. They rank him as the Big 12’s “Top NFL Prospect.”

Maybe those people in Lincoln aren’t crazy for expecting their defense to be better in 2010. The magazine is so high on Crick that they rank him as the top player in all of college football. Not bad.

Still, let’s say that Nebraska’s defense is better next season. They were pretty darn good last year. If you can’t score points and constantly turn the ball over, you’re not going to be an elite team nationally. Nebraska’s offense is the key.

On Iowa State’s schedule

Did you know that the Cyclones have a tough schedule next season? Has anybody brought that up to you yet?

Here’s how the Sporting News ranks every opponent on Iowa State’s 2010 slate.

Northern Illinois – 49th Yes. The Sporting News ranks the Huskies ahead of Iowa State…by a landslide (Iowa State is ranked 82nd). The publication also calls for Northern Illinois to with the MAC West, while going to the prestigious Little Caesars Pizza Pizza Bowl.

Iowa – 13th The Sporting News calls for Iowa to take third in the Big Ten. A Capital One Bowl appearance is the pick for the Hawkeyes.

Kansas State – 85th

Northern Iowa – FCS teams are obviously not ranked but it is noteworthy that the Sporting News predicts the Panthers to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley standings.

Texas Tech – 36th The Sporting News believes that Tommy Tubberville will lead his team to the Dallas Football Classic in year number one of his tenure.

Utah – 22nd According to this publication, the Utes will be heading to the Poinsettia Bowl while taking second place in the Mountain West Conference.

Oklahoma – 10th The Sporting News has the Sooners finishing behind Texas in the South, while appearing in the Sugar Bowl.

Texas – 9th Bring on the Fiesta Bowl.

Kansas – 31st Scroll up to read my thoughts on this absurd ranking. According to the Sporting News, the Jayhawks are in line for a trip to the Holiday Bowl.

Nebraska – 7th The Sporting News has Nebraska ranked ahead of Oklahoma and Texas, but being left out of the BCS, while the South powers are included. Clear as mud right?

Colorado – 74th This magazine actually has Dan Hawkins going to a bowl game, That’d be the Pinstripe Bowl in NYC.

Missouri – 33rd – If the Sporting News is correct, Tiger fans will enjoy San Antonio and the Alamo Bowl.