Scheelhaase already seeing differences between the Big 12 and Big 10

New Iowa State running backs coach Nate Scheelhaase speaks to the media for the first time since being hired on Friday, March 9, 2018.

It has not taken Nate Scheelhaase long to see the differences between the Big 12 and the Big 10.

Iowa State’s new running backs coach and former quarterback turned staffer at Illinois knew about the explosive offenses and playmakers of the Big 12, but now he is getting a chance to see them in action firsthand.

“I think there are a lot of differences. The Big 12 conference I think from the outside looking in everyone knows how dynamic some of these offenses are and how many points are scored, how many yards are gained during games,” Scheelhaase said last Friday. “I think the athleticism of this conference is different than what I’ve been used to. You have guys all over the field who can really, really run, that can really, really make plays, which is exciting.”

“It will get even more so when we start game planning and watching those teams I feel like I’ll see more of those nuances.”

All those things Scheelhaase said are not any kind of secret. They have been the narrative surrounding the Big 12 for nearly 10 years, but it is striking when you consider how much time Scheelhaase spent around the Big 10 before making the move west to Ames.

Even though the Big 10 is hardly three-yards and a cloud of dust these days, there is a clear difference in the style of football played in the nation’s two premier midwestern leagues.

“More so you’re going to lineup I-formation. There’s going to be a bunch of guys in the box,” Scheelhaase said about the schematic differences. “You get a lot more of that in that conference versus here you’ve got receivers flying all around the field, the ball going from left to right, fast tempo. Just a lot more than what I’ve been used to previously.”

While all of those things could be overwhelming for a young coach jumping into a different league, Scheelhaase’s offensive experiences at Illinois were not really typical for the traditional Big 10. The Fighting Illini largely used a spread scheme in his time as the signal-caller and in the recent years since.

Plus, it helps to know the team he is joining is full of guys prepared to handle the dynamics of the Big 12.

“The good news is we’ve got a bunch of them on our roster too,” Scheelhaase said. “Which will make it exciting.”

Jared Stansbury


Jared is in his fifth year covering Iowa State football and basketball for Cyclone Fanatic. He's the site's lead reporter for ISU recruiting. He worked as the site's intern for three years while studying Journalism in Iowa State's Greenlee School of Journalism. He started as the full-time staff writer in May 2016. Jared has spent five falls covering Iowa high school football as a reporter for KMA Radio, 1460 KXNO and 1430 KASI. He's the sideline reporter for KASI's Ames High football broadcasts and has appeared frequently on the station's baseball broadcasts during the summer.

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