Dec 30, 2017; Memphis, TN, USA; Iowa State Cyclones players celebrate after the game against the Memphis Tigers in the 2017 Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.Iowa State Cyclones defeated the Memphis Tigers 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Iowa State’s Director of Athletics, Jamie Pollard, quite properly wore a smile as he strode into the site of Saturday’s post-Liberty Bowl win news conference that featured Matt Campbell (and Rudy Campbell), Allen Lazard and Joel Lanning.
Cyclone fans had descended upon Memphis in droves, draining Beale Street establishments of beer long before ISU doused the 19th-ranked Tiger fans’ spirits with a 21-20 triumph riddled with adversity and — as usual — a sharp dose of controversy.
I asked Pollard what element of this magical few days stood out to him the most: How well Cyclone fans traveled, the massive pep rally, the resilience and grit of this 8-5 ISU football team?
As usual, the quality of his answer rose above the quality of the question.
“I’m just really excited for Cyclone fans,” Pollard said, “because they’ve waited …”
” … very patiently for a moment like this.”
*** ISU won eight or more games for the first time since the magical 9-3 campign in 2000.
*** The Cyclones beat three ranked teams in a season for the first time ever.
***They absorbed body blow after body blow this season and countered each one with a smile and a Rocky-esque, “Is that all you’ve got?”
“I’ve always said the Cyclone fans have done far more than we’ve given them and today, it felt like a second there, like, ‘Here we go again,'” Pollard said. “And this team found a way. And one of coach Campbell’s messages to them was every game this year when we lost, we learned. This almost was K-State all over again. And we learned in that K-State game how to have resiliency.”
Call it a makeover. Call it a refusal to fall back into self-defeating patterns so persistent in the past. Call it anything you like, but maybe next year when someome thinks, ‘Here we go again,’ they’ll be thinking of this win, not a slew of close losses.
“So I think it’s the new Cyclones,” Pollard added. “I think our fan base has a lot to look forward to.”