MONDAY MUSINGS: An important moment for Matt Campbell


1 – My attitude toward the Iowa State football program is very mixed.

I believe that in today’s world with the resources Iowa State has, a beyond loyal fan base and a little bit of luck, this program CAN and should expect to go to at least a small bowl game every single year.

If you’re mocking that aspiration because you think it isn’t enough, scour the Iowa State football record books and you will see that kind of consistent success is unheard of. The current setup of the Big 12 isn’t doing Iowa State any favors either.

If you think that goal is too lofty because of those record books, well, let me say to you this: It’s a goal. That’s what goals should do – inspire and challenge individuals and groups to reach heights never seen before. 

There’s no denying though that history is against Matt Campbell.

However from the day I watched him knock his opening press conference out of Story County, I have been impressed with Iowa State’s young, Advocare loving coach. In front of and behind the cameras, he has been fantastic. His staff is accessible, friendly and most importantly energetic. This group has joined the rest of college football’s powers in the year 2016 and is using simple tools like social media to its advantage. 

I’ve been impressed, so very, very impressed.

But I’m at the point in my career where I refuse to call anything or anybody a “home run hire." 

I don’t know that. Nobody knows that. Hell, Dan McCarney might still be the coach here had a kick or two gone a different way (sorry Shaggy). Paul Rhoads would still be Iowa State’s coach had he gotten a couple more calls or breaks over the last two years. 

The margin for error here is just so small.

What I do know though is that players win games. 

Matt Campbell and his staff got a player on Friday with the commitment of tight end Chase Allen, who chose the Cyclones over Michigan, Nebraska and Florida State to name a few.

A quick hit on Allen: I love the fact that he is a tight end. At 6-foot-7, 230-pounds, he will immediately be able to help in the pass and run games. He is versatile – a guy who the staff will be able to use in many different ways. 

More importantly though, to me, this was a symbolic acquisition for Campbell – proof that he can beat the big boys for big time players. 

I have no clue how many games Matt Campbell will win at Iowa State but now, I in fact do know that he will be able to get a player or two. With that, I can’t wait to see what this staff does on the 2017 recruiting trail with an entire year to piece together a class. 

2 – I’ve been hearing for weeks that Iowa State wants to bring in a JUCO quarterback to back up and possibly compete with Joel Lanning this offseason however details have been hard to come by.

Jacob Park, a former Georgia commit out of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, was on campus this weekend and very much could end up being that guy. 

Park is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound pro-style quarterback who along with Georgia, had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Virginia Tech out of high school when he was ranked as a top 15 gunslinger in the class of 2014.

Information on this story has been hard to come by so all I can really say is to stay tuned. We should know more in a few days.

3 – After Saturday’s 72-62 loss to Texas A&M,I wrote about how I felt like Iowa State’s assist-on-field goal ratio was down this year but really didn’t have statistical proof to back it up. That’s exactly what the enCYCLONEpedia Kirk Haaland does, who provided me with the following (Iowa State’s assist-on-field goal ratio over the last five years): 

2012: 57.1 (80)

2013: 58.2 (57)

2014: 62.4 (10)

2015: 58.2 (66)

2016: 51.3 (203) 

So I was right – in a big way.

It’s important to note that Iowa State is still a top-10 team (No. 9) when it comes to offensive efficiency this year so there’s no drop-off at all there. That’s a good thing. 

Now, the question I have is what’s different? 

I’ve come up with a couple of things. 

Georges Niang and Monte Morris are simply getting more baskets on their own this year and this Iowa State team doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of 3-point shooters on the floor (like in the past) where the drive and kick game could consistently be effective. In general, assist numbers are higher when you have shooters on the floor. The efficiency number is still high because Iowa State’s 2-point field goal percentage is 57.7 percent – 14th best in the nation.

…The absence of Naz Mitrou-Long.

The majority of the field goals that he made were assisted threes. Instead of Long, Deonte Burton and Abdel Nader are seeing more time. They naturally score more on unassisted field goals because they aren’t really catch and jump shooters – they are drive it to the rim guys. 

Make sense? 

Just a theory.

4) I re-watched the Texas A&M game yesterday and came away thinking, “That was a good team that Iowa State just lost to but not a great team.”

It was still a decent loss – meaning that it won’t affect Iowa State’s resume. But at No. 5, I do believe the Aggies are overrated.

5) More fun on Twitter with Kirk Haaland.56af8469aab3213c103ea 

6) Iowa State’s Tuesday opponent, West Virginia, is in a bad spot right now.

Starting forward Jonathan Holton (9.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game) is out for Tuesday night’s trip to Ames due to an indefinite suspension. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers were just killed by Florida (88-71) in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Stay tuned to CF later today for another “film room” session with Jared Stansbury, who will break down West Virginia’s daunted press.

7) An early look: KenPom has Iowa State beating West Virginia 81-77 with a 63 percent chance at victory on Tuesday night. The site also has the Cyclones finishing the season at 22-9 with an 11-7 mark in the Big 12.

8) Saturday night’s heavyweight bout between Kansas and Kentucky was a thing of beauty for college hoops junkies. 

I could be wrong (I often am) but here’s a prediction: That victory will “right the ship” for Kansas and give the Jayhawks momentum to turn things around off of that recent skid.

Even so, KenPom is still only projecting an 11-7 league mark for the Jayhawks this season.

Stay tuned.

9) First Barry Sanders. Now Calvin Johnson.

Being a Vikings fan, I’m bitter and genuinely don’t feel bad for any other fan base in the NFL, but I do hurt for you Lions guys out there. That’s a bad break. However with the last week in the NFL, I can’t say I blame Johnson for hanging up the cleats. 

10) A few housekeeping notes with National Signing Day coming up on Wednesday.

I will host our annual NSD live chat on Wednesday morning starting at 7:30.

Also, don’t forget to mark your calendar for Feb. 11 and the annual Cyclone Fanatic Recruiting Party (that will include special guests). It’ll take place at Thunderhead Sports Bar in Ankeny. More details to come.

Have a great week everybody.