WILLIAMS: On sports betting, quarterbacks, Hilton Magic Legends and media

My wife worked over the weekend and I’ve been one-on-one with my daughter for the last three days. I could write a novel about the Clones right now… 

Full disclosure: I’ve got a lot on my mind, as well as a handful of mailbag questions from you, so this column will be all over the place. Enjoy.

Let’s start on the Tailgate Tour and comments from Jamie Pollard, starting with yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on sports gambling. 

My first thought when it comes to the state institutions is at the instructions of the NCAA, they will publicly act like they are against this at every turn. The thing I love about Pollard though is that he doesn’t really take orders from anybody. 

Hence this quote, also from the Ames Tribune, on the idea of student-athletes profiting off of their name and likeness.

“My take is I’d be perfectly fine,” Pollard said. “If they want to monetize their name, likeness and image, let them go do it. I think there would be a big surprise of what the real value is.”

How many athletic directors have gone that far, publicly, when it comes to challenging amateurism? Not many, if any at all.

Back to the topic of gambling…

There is a considerable difference in the legalizing of gambling on professional sports compared to the college games. It all centers around the age-old amateurism debate. There’s a theory that it would be a lot easier for somebody to corrupt a young, unpaid mind compared to a rich, adult/professional one. So if you were paying these guys, would they be as vulnerable to corruption? 

Pollard is concerned about the compliance issue to all of this, which I totally understand. Behind the scenes, it’s going to impact these athletic departments greatly. But still, these institutions and the NCAA have been profiting off of student-athletes for decades. If they have to, they will find a way to cover these costs and still make millions in the process, despite what their books say at the end of the year. I’ll struggle to find much sympathy.

NEXT TOPIC: A Big 12/Big East Challenge? 

Makes sense.

With other leagues starting to do what the Big 12 has been doing for years – playing more conference games – it is becoming more and more difficult for mid-major programs to schedule high-major competition.

If you’re a high-major program, you’ve got to make sure to get your gate (because this is a business) while on top of that, worrying about your non-conference RPI, etc.

It makes sense that these large leagues bond together in scheduling agreements. You’re guaranteed to get a home game against a quality opponent once every two years, it’s a non-conference RPI boost and it’s a great game for television, which equals money.

Sign me up right now.

This is probably going to start happening more and more with football too, as the big conferences start to really put the squeeze on the little guys.


I really enjoyed watching Iowa State’s “TBT” team play last year. Thing is, that roster left a lot to the imagination. The 2018 edition will be no slouch. In fact, the Hilton Magic Legends might be one of the favorites to win the entire tournament.

Last week, Royce White committed to playing for the Hilton Magic Legends.

Over the weekend, Deonte Burton made a pledge that he would be there too.

The current roster for the Hilton Magic Legends looks like this: White, Burton, Tyrus McGee, Diante Garrett, Jameel McKay and Jared Homan. Wow. That’s one hell of a frontcourt. Let’s add another shooter and go win the thing.

Learn more about the team here. 


I’ll go with no. Iowa State hasn’t made it through a season without multiple starting quarterbacks since Austen Arnaud in 2008. I think Kyle Kempt is clearly the staff’s choice to begin the season as a starter but is he durable enough to make it an entire season without getting dinged up? Will the line be improved to the point where it will protect him? And is Kempt’s arm strength going to be an issue the second time around, where team’s can defensively game plan around it?

Iowa State can win with Kyle Kempt at quarterback – obviously (we’ve seen it) – but I’m not about to go on the record predicting he will start every game next season. History says there’s a very slim chance of that happening.

On the uniforms, my guess is we will learn more in the next month or so.

Is this my own personal preference or what would make the most sense in general?

In general: Bud Light, Coors Light, Blue Moon and something dark, perhaps Guinness. You’re covering pretty much every base there. Perhaps you’d throw in a cider for the ladies.

My picks: Busch Light, Coors Light, Des Moines IPA (Confluence) and Lager Ride (Reclaimed Rails). Those aren’t exactly my favorite beers but it’s a nice variety and I like the idea of keeping the two craft options local.

I know I am. Mainly so all of these hypocrites will finally acknowledge this is happening everywhere and has been for decades. Legal sports betting will have the same impact on these games like fantasy football did for the NFL 15 years ago. If fans are more invested, they will be more eager to consume the product. This is a win for everybody. Now my hope is the state of Iowa will use some of these extra funds for our schools and health care.

First of all, congratulations. There is nothing like it.

My wife is probably the best Williams to ask about this. I work on game days and generally do not participate in childcare during that time. However, I can tell you my daughter is three and to my knowledge, has only missed two Iowa State football games in her life.

This means one thing: My wife is a freaking trooper.

So to answer your question, take the kid next season. Get the kid used to it. My daughter loves all things Iowa State because I didn’t give her any choice. Brainwashing your child is perfectly fine in my opinion.

Tarique Milton (WR), O’Rien Vance (LB) and Reggan Northrup (LB).

Acceptable? Yes. Frowned upon, but acceptable.

It is certainly interesting. I’ve come around a lot more to the subscription model over the last few years. This is right in my wheelhouse as it’s what I deal with on a day-to-day basis keeping CF on the straight and narrow. Instead of going into the specific business models, let me put it this way…

The local sports page simply isn’t what it was 20 years ago. We used to pick up the sports section to read about high school sports and MLB box scores. It was jam-packed with information. These days, the sports departments have been gutted so much the paper is full of national stories (specifically from the Associated Press) and larger local ones – Iowa and Iowa State for example locally. There’s something missing with the local aspect of the sports page these days.

The thing is, EVERYBODY is covering Iowa and Iowa State. I know for a fact that we get more web traffic with our Cyclone coverage than any other publication out there. I say that not to brag, but to point out that obviously, the folks who crave the content like what we are doing do not care that we aren’t owned by a massive media conglomerate.

The real problem is the fact that for many years, sports departments are what funded the less sexy but very important beats that keep our local governments in check. That is why these publications absolutely have to stay in business. It is critical for our democracy.

But no, the sports page is not what it once was. I don’t believe it ever will be either. They just don’t have the staff to do what they once did. I feel bad too because there are a lot of talented people in these newsrooms across the country who are more than capable of doing awesome work but simply don’t have the resources to do it.

Another thing: Twenty years ago, you would put out a sports page and an editor had no idea who was actually reading what. Now, we see everything through analytics. We know who read what, when, from where and for how long and what device they were using. So if the Iowa Barnstormers aren’t getting any clicks on the web, why should the Des Moines Register, who has a shell of the staff that it did five years ago, commit valuable resources to cover it? We have to make the same decisions here in our coverage of Iowa State.

It’s a messed up industry right now but we’ll figure it out. My goal with CF is to create a quality space for Iowa State fans to share as a community and keep pumping out awesome content along the way.

I was skeptical of The Athletic’s business model a few years ago but they have so much capital built up that they’ve been able to attract many of the industries top names. It seems like every day somebody else is leaving for there. They are obviously doing something right.