Ben’s Blog: Coaching changes, from a player’s perspective

By Ben Lamaak, Contributor & former Iowa State lineman

Hello again Cyclone Fans! I have been in Ames for the past two weeks and I finally feel at home again.  Workouts have been going great.  We workout from about 10 a.m. to noon or so with Coach Oyster on a daily basis. After that, we do some stuff on our own, whether it be position drills, snap and throw, auxiliary lifts, cold tub or other recovery things.  I am starting to feel more and more comfortable with all of my times and body weight.  I still have some minor things to clean up that should only make them better.  I’ve been weighing in the 305-308 range, so that is encouraging.  I spent yesterday watching the 2011 Iowa State Football team workout.  It was a weird feeling to be watching from the outside.  After they finished working out, I got to spend some time working with the offensive line on some position drills and offensive install with Coach Bleil.  It was fun to be able to help them, especially the young guys and I will try to help as much as possible in the future.  Like always, I am going to take a different spin today and write about the coaching changes I went through while at Iowa State. It was a pretty crazy ride during my five years in Ames. I don’t think many athletes can say they had three coaches in that small period of time.  It all started with Coach Dan McCarney, when he offered me a scholarship and I accepted/enrolled in the fall of 2006.  Coach McCarney was a great coach and even a better person.  I couldn’t have felt more comfortable around a coach.  That year was a whirlwind.  Our record wasn’t the best and it was late in the season when rumors started to spin.  I didn’t know how to react to those rumors.  I was a 19-year old redshirt and I thought Coach Mccarney was a God.  I never thought he would be fired.  I remember when he called a team meeting before one of our practices during the Missouri week.  He told us that he would be stepping down as coach and I didn’t know what to think.  I remember how emotional that locker room was.  We couldn’t have gone out on a higher note thanby beating Missouri and carrying Coach off the field. After the game, the locker room had an awkward feeling to it.  I remember feeling hopeless and wondering where we would go from there.  None of the coaches that recruited me were going to be around.  After the season, we were still working out with our strength staff and waiting to hear who our new coach would be.  We heard many speculations and we had a scheduled team meeting one winter night.  We were all nervous and anxious to see who our new coach would be.  A unfamiliar guy walked in and introduced himself, “Hello my name is Gene Chizik.”Coach Chizik was a man with a vision.  He had previously been at Auburn and Texas and knew how to win football games.  He took the  job at Iowa State knowing it was going to be a challenge.  We were a young, inexperienced football team.  That first winter and spring under Chizik, we got after it.  We hit the weights and conditioning hard.  It was hard to look at a entirely new football staff and it took some time to trust them.  After a while, I began to trust Coach Chizik and his staff and I believe that our team was buying into their philosophy.  That first year, we started off pretty rocky but got our first win against Iowa.  We struggled that year, but we won two Big 12 games late in the season and you could tell we were improving.  Coach Chizik and his staff always made us feel at home.  We had numerous team functions where we spent time together.  He really preached a family atmosphere and it was.  That second year during fall camp, I remember him calling us up one practice and he told us we had 10 minutes to go change in the locker room.  We had no idea what we were doing.  We boarded some buses and headed to the movie theater.  He had rented the entire theater and we all watched Miracle as a team.  That season, we continued to struggle after winning our first two games.  We ended up going 2-10. After the season is when the speculations started to spin.  We had heard all these rumors and honestly we laughed them off saying who would want a coach that has gone 5-19, no offense but that isn’t the best record.  Right at the point where everyone started to feel like a “family” is when we heard the news first coming from ESPN.  A week or so after we had our banquet and he told us he was here for the long haul and we were going to get this turned around, we were being called in for a team meeting.  He walked in and told us the news that he was going to take over at Auburn.  It was such a mind boggling experience.  I never had a problem with Coach Chizik.  I got along great with him and his family.  It was a tough thing to swallow.  We knew we were going to have to learn a completely new system, trust another staff and have to rebuild once again.Someone who I respected through this whole experience was Jamie Pollard.  He called us all together after this whole ordeal and vouched for all of us to stay and prove everybody wrong that we could win ball games.  I really respected him and the emotion he displayed to us.  We were back again at step one, without a coach.  We again heard all these rumors and speculations.  I remember I was at home in Cedar Rapids when I got at call at 7 a.m. and it was Coach Paul Rhoads.  After our conversation I went and Googled him because I didn’t know his background.  He sounded so excited and motivated to be back in his home state.  I have a hard time putting into words what its like to play for Coach Rhoads.  I couldn’t have asked for a better coach to come in and take over after all of this stuff had happened.  His coaching approach was different and he truly was a “players coach”.  He cared about us and we could tell.  He was so passionate towards Iowa State.  It was really motivating to play for a coach like that.  I feel like Coach Rhoads will be here for awhile and do great things.  He knows how to get his players ready to play.  I don’t see him leaving or using this as a stepping stone in the near future.  I feel this program is heading in the right direction. Some people say that football is a game of learning life lessons.  I truly believe this statement.  I think that the five years I spent at Iowa State really prepped me for whatever is next.  I feel my teammates and I could handle a lot of the situations in the real world for what we went through at Iowa State.  We really matured in those years.  I feel like it happened for a reason.  Those are just another few things that I wanted to share with you.  Thanks again for reading! GO CYCLONES!!!!


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