I know it’s difficult to do.
We’re in the midst of a season where the Cyclones are aspiring for a conference crown and games are in full swing and flying at us at a breakneck pace. A new battle every two to four days that is sure to be as physically draining as watching games on television or in person can ever be.
Every Iowa State game is an event and pivotal to staying at the top of the standings. Every other Big 12 game is broken down and discussed in terms of what would be the best scenario for Iowa State. The polls are being watched like hawks. The RPI formula is being re-assessed. We wonder if Ken Pomeroy or Jeff Sagarin could pass simple math classes. National writers that dare slight our chances get eviscerated by our Twitter machines.
We live it every day. Every game. Every win and every loss. Every made shot, blown call, and bad break is rehashed and used as fodder until the next game. It consumes us. Every day and every hour.
But, on the Eve Eve of College Game Day kicking off their season campaign in Ames, I think we need to pause and look around for a moment. I’ve tried to do it each of the last three seasons and especially last year as February turned to March. While we’re consumed with every tidbit from the basketball program like Danny Stensland randomly not being on the bench we really need to stop and appreciate what is happening in Ames.
It wasn’t so long ago that the basketball program was dormant at best. After a run from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s under the watch of Johnny Orr, the Cyclone basketball program experienced sporadic success under Tim Floyd, Larry Eustachy, and Wayne Morgan before the program faded into the distance away from college basketball relevance.
Think for a moment how helpless we felt when Greg McDermott wasn’t working out and his contract didn’t allow for much change to be made. Four straight finishes in the bottom three places of the Big 12 and not a single win at the conference tournament since 2005.
Even when McDermott left for Creighton, we had no idea which direction to go. Think of how it felt like a Hail Mary to hire our Golden Boy, Fred Hoiberg. Sure, we had faith in Fred for many reasons that were full of merit but we really had no idea what we would be getting.
Hoiberg loaded up with transfers but there were so many questions. From their ability on the court to their track record off the court to could a guy with so little coaching experience put that all together.
And here we are. Since the start of the 2011-12 season to now, the Cyclones are 86-34 (36-21) with a conference tournament crown, three trips to the NCAA Tournament and a 4-3 record at the Big Dance.
With all of that and so much more to consider, how can we not pause and appreciate what has been done here. The turn-around from conference doormat and irrelevance to College Game Day visiting for a game that will mark ISU’s 49th consecutive game as a ranked team – a school record.
At some point on Saturday if you’re at the game, before tipoff take a moment to take it all in. Look around at the lunacy. Forget about the latest bracketology or the conference leader board for a few moments. Check out the scene as it unfolds and the atmosphere as it tenses for explosion before the game. Even if just for a moment, stop, and appreciate the transformation that we have all witnessed up close and personal.
You owe it to the program, the players, and the coaches to appreciate all that has been done in the past three and a half years. But, you owe it to yourself too. We get so caught up in everything that it is easy to forget to enjoy what we’re experiencing and watching. We forget to have fun when we get so hung up on the roller coaster of wins and losses.
If only for a moment on Saturday whether you’re embedded with 14,000 friends in Hilton Coliseum or your local game watch just take a moment to pause, soak it all in, and remember to enjoy the ride.