Blum: Adjustment Bureau Revisited

By Brent Blum, ColumnistFollow Brent on Twitter @BrentBlum

(I intercepted this memo from the Adjustment Bureau’s college sports representative– aka Man in Hat #45 — to the Large Hatted One — the boss of the Bureau — following Iowa State’s 37-31 win on Friday night.)

(Before reading, make sure to read part one HERE.


November 18, 2011
Ames, Iowa

Dear Large Hatted One,

My work in Ames is done. Your command to take the Cowboys of Oklahoma State out of the BCS title race has been carried out. Order has been restored for the time being. But just to warn you,  this was not a simple case and I figured I better further explain the trip so you can fully comprehend.

First off, you should have let me known prior to my excursion about the place the residents of Ames call "Outlaws." I needed a place to take my hat off on Thursday night and figured I could conspicuously blend in at this Outlaws establishment. As I expected, there were plenty of other hatted gentlemen and lasses in attendance, but this turned out to be a large mistake. The mass amounts of fuel the natives called "Busch Light" was consumed and it led to some regrettable decisions. I think one of the Tri-Delts stole my hat, but the memories get a little foggy after 1 a.m.

I can only remember fragments of the rest of the night. Something about Sips, Superdogs and LMFAO songs — which by the way, tell Man in Hat #21 in the pop music bureau, good work on getting the public to listen to those dudes despite the fact a kindergartner could write the lyrics. They just yell "party rock" over and over and then mix in something like "I’m running thru these ho’s like Drano? " Brilliant.

Luckily, I was prepared and came equipped with several back-up hats.

The gridiron contest started out like most ordinary games. I was actually pleasantly surprised with how well the Iowa State squad matched up with these Cowboys. Early on, I thought I would have a relaxing evening and our good pals Paul Rhoads and Wally Burnham may just stifle the Cowboys without any adjustments needed. It was still scoreless near the end of the first segment of play.

Unfortunately I got a little distracted at that point. One, I was still nursing a minor hangover from the evening prior. And two, there was this gal on the sideline with a microphone named Samantha Steele and well, you know, it was hard to concentrate. And before I knew it, I looked up at the score machine and Oklahoma State was leading 24-7. That was definitely my bad, but seriously Large Hatted One, she can throw a spiral. For real, it’s on YouTube.

But don’t worry I got things corrected.

The Cyclones were certainly a feisty bunch. They reminded me of that Butler squad we escorted to the NCAA Basketball finals two straight years. (Which is still one of our greatest feats. Gonna be honest, didn’t think we could pull it off twice in a row, but I needed some feel-good cleanliness after OK’ing the Chizik – Cam Newton title earlier in the year. Yuck.)

The Iowa State team kept battling back. They just wouldn’t quit. They scored on a running back scamper to cut the lead to 24-14. I figured this may be a good time for a little adjustment and with a little snap of the finger they recovered an onside kick. It was poetic justice for the Cyclones because apparently they got hosed by the fake men in hats and zebra stripes during the Baylor game on an identical play. (As you are aware, the only real Man In Hat in zebra stripes is Man in Hat #17 aka Ed Hightower. His fro-wig has magical powers.)

The on-side kick changed momentum, but I didn’t want to make my presence too obvious,  so I had the one they call Jared Barnett fumble inside the 10-yard line. And to make it even more painful, I added a lengthy review on top of the fumble. I felt bad doing that. It was a definite groin kick to the Cyclones.  But it was still early, I needed to throw off the scent a bit.

A Cyclone field goal cut the lead to a one touchdown with minutes left in the third segment of play. At the beginning of the last segment of play, the Iowa State sound machine orchestrator started playing "Sweet Caroline." I love me some Neil Diamond.

At that point, Mr. Diamond really inspired me. I had a great last hour of work. You’re not going to believe this.

With nine minutes left, I helped the one they call Barnett turn into Doug Flutie — he was one of my favorites — Flutie Flakes! Barnett went 7-of-9 on the pivotal drive and found Albert Gary in the back of the end zone to tie the game up at 24. Oh man, it was electric in the stadium — reminded me of our clubbin’ days when we allowed Miami and UNLV to rule the respective college football and basketball worlds.

Regrettably, with the game knotted up, I got pestered by another of the Tri-Delts, they are my weakness as you know sir. I neglected my responsibility. Barnett threw a deflected interception and  the Cowboys were set up in prime position to win the game. My bad.

I turned to code red. With just over a minute left, the Cowboy kicker who had missed just two field goals all year lined up for a relatively easy aerial attempt to salt the game away. You better believe I went to the fastball! The field goal sailed directly over the right goal post. It was painfully close just as I prefer. As it whizzed by I could hear my man Johnny Jams Walters screaming from the press box up above, "Wide Right, Wide Right!" I love the wide right. Never gets old. You see, the majority of kickers are weak mentally. It’s easy to infiltrate their mind. (Except for Janikowski. His fat cells make it tough to break through. Luckily he suits up for the Raiders and they mostly self-destruct on their own.)

The game went into overtime. The Cyclones scored right away. The Cowboys countered for the tie. It went to a second OT. And that is when our plan was executed to perfection.

I had been waiting for the perfect time to instruct our sophisticated plant Brandon Weeden to conveniently misfire. This was it. He had played his role beautifully. He was great enough to set the Jack Trice Stadium record by throwing for 476 yards, thus alleviating any of the conspiracy theorists that may be onto us. But his pass in the 2nd overtime was just  wide enough of Justin Blackmon and tipped by Jake Knott into the waiting arms of Cyclone senior Ter’Ran Benton on senior night. Storybook I tell you. Warmed my hatted head.

Iowa State turned things over to the battering ram Jeff Woody and I let things be. They did the last drive all on their own. It was a sight to behold. Cyclones win. Chaos as requested.

Now before I trek to Waco to adjust the Oklahoma-Baylor game on Saturday night, I want to take a minute to  reflect on the scene in front of me. Hear me out.

Sometimes I question the meaning of my line of work. It pains me breaking school’s hearts each week. I realize that the Southeast part of the country is a strange place, and if we don’t let the SEC schools be good at something then disarray reigns in all areas of life down there. Yes, I saw that ESPN documentary recently and the people are more unstable than ever. But there has to be a way to balance out the ledger. You see, I really enjoyed my time in Ames and these Cyclone fans deserve some consistent good. And I promise it’s not just the Iowa State Tri-Delts that have convinced me of this fact.

So I humbly ask that they get to keep Paul Rhoads for a while. He is building quite the program. You should have seen the celebration in Ames. It made me feel good for the first time in a long time. This program that has been decimated throughout history finally has some legitimate confidence. It’s an entirely new place. For so many years, it was expected Iowa State would melt down in close games. Now they keep winning. They are 5-0 this year in games decided by seven points or less. They have trailed in the fourth quarter in four of their six wins. They’ve won two games in overtime in this year alone. Prior to this year they were 1-7 all-time in overtime games. This isn’t the Cyclones we have grown accustomed to. It is a whole new world up here and I’m a big fan.

These folks in Ames are good, hearty people. They don’t demand National Championships like the unbalanced folks in the SEC. They just want more meaningful moments like what we had tonight. I saw grown men in tears, strangers embracing and families etching long-lasting memories. There was joy at every corner.

In a business where most are consumed by money, greed and petty jealousy, it was a pleasant respite to see a group of fans actually reveling in the moment. Not because of someone else’s failure, but because of substantial pride in their own unexpected success. That is what college sports should be about. And that is why the Cyclone fans kept coming back after years of misery. The surprise celebration is always the most monumental.

Now before I head to Waco, I need to make a quick pit-stop at Outlaws. Somebody there has one of my hats.

Best Regards,

Man in Hat #45