Massive Memorial Day Weekend Mailbag

I don’t think that I’ve ever done this, but I’d like to post this Memorial Day mailbag in honor of my late, great Uncle Dean Livingston who passed away earlier this week. My Uncle Dean was a great journalist and being that we are the only two “media men” that I know of in my entire family tree, I always felt a special bond with him, even though I only met him twice in my 29-years of life. My "style" of journalism is a heck of a lot different than what he practiced, but hard working men like him paved the way so hack bloggers like myself could make a living doing what we do today. 

So cheers to you Uncle Dean and God bless.  

And cheers to you and yours this weekend Fanatics. Let’s take this time to remember the great times with those who are no longer here with us today.

Now then, let’s begin this incredibly lengthy mailbag with a question from MLawrence. 

MLawrence writes: Which has made the bigger impact on the men’s basketball team, Coach Hoiberg’s coaching (for example his offensive scheme or his plays after a break) or his recruiting?

CW: There is no doubt that Fred Hoiberg has developed into one of the top in-game coaches in college basketball over the last four years but I will go with recruiting on this one.

Why? Well, put it this way. Tom Izzo is a great in-game coach too. But if Tom Izzo, Fred Hoiberg, Coach K (I’m too lazy to spell out his name) or Kevin Ollie coached TCU (and its current players) a season ago, the Horned Frogs still wouldn’t have been any good.

Coaching is important, no doubt. But ultimately, players win games. Without good players, a coach can only do so much. Luckily for Iowa State, Hoiberg realized this the day that he took the job. The cupboard was nearly empty and that’s why he went the transfer route – to give Iowa State a chance to win sooner rather than later. He is a great coach, but would not have been in the Sweet 16 a year ago without great talent on the floor. Having said that, I do believe that Iowa State (from a talent standpoint) probably overachieved last year, so Hoiberg absolutely deserves a large chunk of credit. 

Rhillary writes: I got a question for you C-Dub (though it might be better in a podcast because I’d want to hear Adam and/or Blum’s response to). If you could change the outcome of any one game/event in Iowa State athletics history (all sports), what would it be (and why)? 

CW: You’re right Hillary. This could be a great podcast topic. In fact, I feel like I could write a short book about this. A guy could certainly fill it with multiple chapters…

You know, I think that there is one obvious go-to answer here. That’s the Elite Eight loss to Michigan State in 2000. If Iowa State wins that game, I believe they would have won the national title. That’s the only game that I can think of that if you change the result, a national title is a probable outcome. 

One comes to my mind in football (modern day)…

Let’s go back to 2005, at Nebraska, in a 27-20 double-overtime loss to the Huskers. That was the best Iowa State football team that I have ever covered (my opinion, of course). The next week, demoralized from that crushing loss in Lincoln, the Cyclones lost at home to Baylor (who was far from being the Baylor that we now know at that time). Another overtime loss, to Missouri, followed the loss to Baylor.

Would beating Nebraska in 2005 have reversed what I thought was a disappointing 7-5 season (loss to TCU in the Houston Bowl)? I guess don’t know that for sure. But I truly believe that if they would have beaten the ‘Skers that day, a trip to the Holiday Bowl (at least) and a Big 12 Championship Game berth would have been the outcome. That would/could have changed a lot for the Iowa State football program in years to come. 

Regardless, that was the most disappointing season in modern day Iowa State football history, even more so than 2002 (again, only my opinion). 

KCClone1 writes: With Luke Knott now cleared for football activities, who do you predict will be our 3 starting LB’s against NDSU? 

CW: My projection right now is for the three starters to be Luke Knott (WILL), Jordan Harris (MLB) and Jared Brackens (SLB). Any of those three could end up being wrong though. I wouldn’t call any of them a lock. After all, Knott has been inactive since the middle of last season. I guess that spot will depend on Jevohn Miller’s offseason development. Harris has the skills to be a quality Big 12 linebacker but mentally, he just isn’t there yet. I’m projecting him to “click” in August. If not, I’d guess Alton Meeks. Drake Ferch exited the spring as Iowa State’s No. 1 SLB but I don’t see how he’ll actually start the opener over Brackens.

Mymanfreddie writes: Luke Bryan’s "Crash My Party" album or Eric Church’s, "The Outsiders"?

CW: Is this some sort of a sick joke? Watch this piece of musical gold…

Now, watch this Luke Bryan clip. 

Please: Ask me again that question again with a straight face…

When is Jamie Pollard getting a lifetime contract?      

CW: Wow. That’s bold. Listen, I like Jamie Pollard as much as the next Fanatic but I’m not sure a lifetime contract is the way to go with the most important position in an athletic department. I would guess that even Pollard would say that. Now, that doesn’t mean that JP isn’t great for Iowa State. He gets it. He understands the culture and knows that in order to win here, you have to get creative and do more with less. But I just don’t think that Pollard needs a lifetime deal to feel the "love" in Ames. I doubt this ever happens. 

DandyCyclone writes: Will the Big 12 expand back to 12 teams in the next couple of years? The football schedule would benefit going back to 8 conference games.

CW: I don’t think so. There just aren’t enough schools out there to make it worth the Big 12’s while from a financial standpoint. It’s all about dollars and cents. Excuse me while I take four minutes and 20 seconds out of your day to let Puffy prove my point. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way and established that this is all about money and nothing more, let’s do some very simple math.

Currently, there are 10 teams in the Big 12. The Big 12 only has to split its television money 10 ways (equally). If the league wanted to add two schools, those two schools would have to bring enough money to the table (in the eyes of the television networks) to compensate having to split the check 12 ways instead of 10. 

Point: Those schools no longer exist.

And let’s just say that hypothetically, somehow, the league adds two teams. I still don’t see the Big 12 going back to an eight game league schedule. The Big Ten has what, 34 teams now (hyperbole alert)? They are going to start playing nine league games before too long. For what the networks are paying, they actually want good games now. Iowa State vs. North Dakota State doesn’t draw ratings. Heck, the ACC is going to start playing non-conference games against each other (huh?).

Times, they are changing folks. 

BallSoHard4Cy writes: Does ISU have the pieces to win a national title next year in basketball? There will be some height this year as well as some (unproven) depth.

CW: Title talk, huh?

“BallSoHard4Cy” isn’t kidding around today.

Sure. I guess they do. The reason I say that is I truly believe that college basketball’s way of crowning a champion is one of the worst in sports when it comes to the best team actually winning the championship. I’m not saying that I disapprove of the NCAA Tournament. Like everybody out there, I love the NCAA Tournament. But what it does is give a team like Iowa State, a good team that isn’t as talented as say, Kansas, a legitimate shot to win it all based off of how brackets are set up and other factors as well. 

So yes, the “pieces” are there. The pieces were there last year. Does Iowa State have as many pieces as probably 15 other teams in the country? Probably not. But that’s the glory of this sport. It gives the hot team at the time a shot (UConn last year). That’s really all that you can ask for. 

Cycsk writes: What will be the cost and donation levels for the parts of the new SEZ other than the Endzone Club? When will this be announced? How will the seat selection be done?

CW: I am pretty sure that Iowa State’s press release addressed all of this so I’ll copy/paste that for you right now.

How do I secure my End Zone Club seats?

Information on the new End Zone Club section, as well as other seating options for 2015, will be sent to all Cyclone Club members and season ticketholders later this summer.

  • All current football season ticketholders will be given first opportunity to purchase seats in new End Zone Club.Season ticketholders who currently have seats in the south end zone, will have first priority for End Zone Club seat locations OR they will be given first rights to re-locate to other seating sections in the new south end zone bowl of Jack Trice Stadium. 
  • Non-season ticketholders,who are interested in purchasing new End Zone Club seats, can fill out an interest form (click here). Those fans, who submit an interest form, will be contacted in late summer/fall (2014) with more information on seating options. 

All End Zone Club seats are based on availability.  Seats will be allocated in order according to Cyclone Club donation level and a donor’s priority points within that level.

NickTheGreat writes: Who’s the last one employed at ISU: Pollard, CPR or Fred? 

CW: Pollard. Coaches tend to come and go more often than administrators. Not that the other two aren’t, but I think that Jamie is here for the long haul.  

Cyclonespiker 33 writes: Which of Iowa State’s players will be newcomer of the year next year? 

CW: That’s easy. Abdel Nader will be that guy.

Isuska writes: Will ISU have any First Team All-Big 12 players this year for football?

CW: Yes. E.J. Bibbs as tight end as I really think that he will be spread out wide quite often, while still being labeled as a “tight end.” My guess is that his numbers will be as good, if not better than anyone else in the league.

Other than that, if he stays healthy I think that Tom Farniok has a shot. Quenton Bundrage has an extreme outside chance and maybe Cory Morrissey, but I doubt Iowa State’s defense will be good enough to sustain an first team all-league player. Bibbs is your best bet. 

Cdekovic writes: How is the replacement for Doc Sadler coming along? I see Rick Stansbury is assisting at T A&M. Might have been a good get.

CW: I’m sticking with what I reported the morning after Doc Sadler left for Southern Miss. I believe that Charlie Henry will be named as Hoiberg’s next assistant coach at Iowa State. I’ve heard nothing to make me think any differently over the last couple of weeks. 

Cyclones500 writes: If you were coach, who would you choose as starting 5 to begin the 2014-15 season? (Prior to McKay eligibility). Who will Fred choose (if that differs from your opinion)?

CW: My projection looks like this:

G: Monte Morris
G: Bryce Dejean-Jones
F: Abdel Nader
F: Dustin Hogue
F: Georges Niang

I am pretty confident with that prediction too.

00Clone writes: So….picking TCU to win the Big 12 again this year?

CW: Nope. I’m taking the Clones. What up now, wise guy?

Cmjh10 writes: Who is they key player to ISU success next year in football?

CW: Whoever wins the quarterback job, so my guess is Grant Rohach

Daserop writes: If you could interview any sports athlete who would it be and why?

CW: Perhaps a top-five question in Cyclone Fanatic Mailbag history. Good one, my friend.  

There are so many routes that I could go here. Obviously, I could choose one of my favorite athletes of all-time. Guys like Chipper Jones (just a good ole country boy), and Jared Allen (guy always keeps it real) immediately pop into my head. 

How cool would it be to have a long, sit-down conversation with Mr. “Straight Cash Homey,” Randy Moss?

But I only get to pick one? Let’s do Mike Tyson. For real, the guy is 100 percent uncensored all of the time. He’s obviously a little cray-cray. Facial tattoos and overall outrageous behavior aren’t the reason I’m going this route though. It’s because in a weird way, I place Tyson in the same type of category as Tiger Woods in golf. When Woods is playing in a tournament, people watch, right? Just look at the ratings from the Masters earlier this spring in which he was out with an injury.

Back in the day, during his prime or after, if Tyson was boxing, people watched! His character made that sport relevant which it clearly has not been for a long time. 

Out of all the sports athletes you have interviewed, which provided the most enjoyable interview and why?

CW: From covering Iowa State athletics, it is hands down Bill Fennelly. I’ve yet to interview a coach or athlete in this business who gives more genuine and thoughtful answers than Iowa State’s women’s basketball coach.

On a national stage, I really enjoyed interviewing former Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. recently. His story is very compelling. Here’s a guy who went from being on top of the world in IndyCar, got knocked down to the bottom of the hill in NASCAR and is still fighting and clawing his way back to the top. The guy could blink and have a top ride in IndyCar where he’d be able to run for championships but he’d rather prove to himself that he can be successful in the Sprint Cup Series. I’ve got a lot of respect for a guy like that. 

AngryPanda writes: What was more disappointing, the Vikings not taking Johnny football or Busch Signature Copper?

CW: You see this question confuses me. Is this an implication from THE AngryPanda that Busch Signature Copper sucks?



Here’s the deal. Do I sit around my house sipping on Busch Copper? No (although I did attempt to choke down a six-pack during the Daytona 500 in February) but like any beer, Busch Copper certainly has its place in this world. Camping on a brisk night? This stuff hits the spot, my man. At least, it has for me the two times I’ve been out this year. Because of this, I don’t consider Busch Copper to be a disappointment. It is what it is. It’s Busch attempting to get into the craft beer world. We all knew that this would fail, didn’t we? People don’t drink Busch because the sophistication of it. They drink Busch because it is awesome and cheap. Drinking a cold Busch Light, to me, is like flipping the bird to "the man" who has tried to keep the little guy down for all of these years. (Is anybody else out there feeling me or am I getting crickets in the background?)

So to answer your question, the Vikings FAILING to draft Johnny (freaking) Football was the bigger disappointment. My wife actually left my man cave during the draft because I was quote, “acting like a child,” when the Vikes passed on Johnny Franchise. When the Browns out-bid the Vikings to trade up for Johnny Purple, I then got a seat assignment on our couch for the rest of the night. 

ISUCubswin writes: I hate Evolution (mostly because I’m supposed to) and love their rivals, the Shield (mostly because I’m supposed to). If Evolutions motto, "Adapt or Perish," relates to our football program, what does the Shields motto, "Justice Isn’t Free," relate to?

CW: It isn’t a CF Mailbag without at least one WWE related question. Well done, ISUCubsWin. Way to carry the torch, brother.

For the record, I love Evolution and The Shield bores me. I like stables. No, I love them. But three guys running around dressed in black using dorky gimmicks like “justice isn’t free” and their goal being to “uphold the integrity of the WWE,” just isn’t my thing. (Full disclosure: I usually cheer for heels so yes, I am “that guy.”) 

To your question, how does “Justice Isn’t Free” relate to Iowa State athletics?

I honestly have no clue. I’ve been debating this in my mind for a while now and am drawing a complete blank. Anything I could write would be a reach. Thing is, when I wrote that “Adapt or Perish” column, it wasn’t something that I tried to create. I really was watching RAW one night, heard HHH talking and it made me think of Iowa State football. The whole thing was pretty organic. To give you an answer right now would be fabricated, which I’m not very good at. So I’m taking a rare pass but to reserve the right to come back to this question in a podcast in the future. Cool?

CYCLNST8 writes: ZERO picks in the draft. Will Charlie Strong return Texas to dominance? How soon?

CW: I really, really, really like Charlie Strong. However, the pressure of a job like Texas does scare me a little bit for a guy with his personality.

Prediction: Texas will improve greatly under Strong but not back to the level at which those folks believe it should be. Strong will get them to 9-3 consistently within two to three years and will then be fired for Nick Saban. Strong only has a five-year deal. Saban is the next head coach at Texas in four to five years (as it was CLOSE to happening this past offseason). You read it here first.

Isufan writes: 1. Are you, Blum or Gray most excited about the SEZ project?

CW: Um, Gray, I guess. Blum and I sit in the press box during games so this won’t really affect us. Gray on the other hand has season tickets. 

2. After the project gets going, could you do an interview with Ben Bruns about the generals of the project, and his opinion on how this helps our program?

CW: Absolutely. I will do that for you.

3. If Blum sat on your shoulders, would you guys be as tall as the Greek guy?

CW: Well, I’m like 5-10. Blum is short but not nearly as short as people make him out to be. That guy is what, 7-foot-1? Heck yeah. We’d be taller than him. Maybe…

Thanks for all of the great questions. If I didn’t get to yours, there is a chance that it will be featured in the next Cyclone Fanatic Podcast. Have a great weekend everybody!