Iowa State University Cyclones forward Tre King (0) looks for a drive around Western Michigan Broncos forward Markeese Hastings (0) during the second half at Hilton Coliseum Sunday, Dec.18, 2022, in Ames, Iowa. Photo by Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune
Happy holidays, Fanatics!
It hardly feels like the holiday season without preparing to attend another Iowa State bowl game this month. I’d gotten awfully used to visiting warmer climates as Christmas approached, but it will be a nice change of pace to spend the holiday with my family.
Make sure to enjoy that family time a little extra this year then let’s hope the Cyclones’ absence from the postseason lasts only one year.
We all need an excuse for a vacation before we’re all forced to suffer through the excruciatingly cold winter months around here.
*** I’m feeling optimistic after Tre King’s Iowa State debut on Sunday in which the Eastern Kentucky transfer tallied 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, two rebounds and two steals. King isn’t likely to be someone who challenges for the Big 12’s scoring title, but he gives Iowa State another scoring option around the basket.
He looks the part of a Big 12 athlete and brings even more versatility to Iowa State on the defensive end with his ability to guard multiple positions. It will be good for him to get another game under his belt on Wednesday when Omaha comes to town.
We’re a little more than a week out from learning a lot more about where this Cyclone team stands when Baylor visits Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 31.
*** National signing day is on Wednesday, and Iowa State is set to welcome its highest rated class in program history into the fold. Headlined by Ankeny quarterback JJ Kohl, this class currently ranks as the No. 39 class in the country by the 247Composite.
Kudos to Matt Campbell and his staff for keeping this class largely intact despite having a down year on the football field. That is far from an easy task in today’s world of NIL recruiting.
*** I say they’ve largely kept this class intact because I do think there’s the possibility for one defection before prospects put pen to paper on Wednesday. Lincoln High School wide receiver Beni Ngoyi officially visited Nebraska over the weekend and said he plans to decide between Iowa State and the Cornhuskers on national signing day.
Landing Ngoyi from the Huskers’ backyard was significant for Campbell and his staff when he announced his commitment to the program back on July 20. A lot has happened since then, though, including Nebraska moving on from Scott Frost and bringing in new head coach Matt Rhule.
Frost and his staff didn’t make Ngoyi a priority, but Rhule and his staff have. Will the Cyclones be able to hold off a final push from the hometown school?
To be decided.
*** Speaking of Rhule and Nebraska kids, it will be interesting to see how well Nebraska’s staff does with keeping in-state kids at home. The Omaha and Lincoln areas have become significant recruiting grounds for not only Iowa State, but Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State and several other major programs in the upper-Midwest.
There’s a whole bunch of programs that have benefitted from the disfunction in Lincoln over the past 20 years.
I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn every high school coach from Nebraska City to Scottsbluff has been impressed by Rhule and his staff. There’s been a lot of discussion about how this staff is paying more attention to in-state recruiting than any other in recent Husker history.
This is just like how every program that brings in a new strength staff suddenly has more guys who are bigger, faster and stronger than they’ve ever been in their lives. They went from four guys benching 350 pounds to 25 guys meeting that benchmark. They’ve got more guys running 4.3 second 40 yard dashes than at any other time in the program’s recent history.
I say that to say… we’ll see.
Nebraska’s been talking about locking down its borders for 20 years through five different head coaches. Each staff has done the best job of working with high school coaches in the state, then you’ll hear about how they weren’t actually giving the schools the right amount of attention once that staff starts losing football games.
*** Speaking of strength staff praises… be ready for similar discussions in Ames this offseason. I’m sure there will be a lot of people telling us about how much better the Cyclones look under new strength coach Reid Kagy once winter workouts start in January.
Let’s all just agree to wait to buy into those claims until we’ve seen Iowa State’s football team back on the field next fall.
*** Late last week, it was announced Manhattan transfer Jose Perez’s waiver for immediate eligibility at West Virginia was denied by the NCAA. Hoops fans will remember this story is notable because of the fact Manhattan fired their coach just days before the start of the 2022-23 season.
As a result, Perez, and a number of his teammates, elected to enter the transfer portal. The preseason MAAC Player of the Year had a lot of options to continue his basketball career. That career should be able to continue immediately considering he didn’t play a game for Manhattan this season.
Instead, the NCAA reportedly denied his waiver and Stadium’s Jeff Goodman says it is because Manhattan didn’t support his immediate eligibility. Manhattan says that isn’t true and it was a decision made by the NCAA.
The bottom line is someone is making a poor decision here.
If this does truly fall fully on the NCAA’s shoulders, then it is further proof of how archaic and out-dated the organization’s rules and decision making process are.
If Manhattan really denied the waiver, then it is fully grown adults showing a sickening level of pettiness to prevent a player who isn’t going to play for their team anyway from competing elsewhere this year.
And I’m saying this as someone who supports a team that West Virginia has to compete against this season!
Let the guy play for crying out loud.
*** If there’s one major lesson to take away from the Perez and Manhattan drama, it is this…
DON’T FIRE YOUR COACH DAYS BEFORE THE SEASON IF YOU HOPE TO KEEP YOUR ENTIRE ROSTER TOGETHER.
It feels like that shouldn’t need to be said in today’s world of college athletics, but, apparently, it does.
*** Speaking of today’s world of college hoops, a tweet by ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla caught my attention last week.
Could this be true? It is certainly possible.
It comes off more like an old-school coach carrying water for all the other old-school coaches, though. Sure, there will be jealousy involved in the world of NIL, but presenting it this way makes it seem as though some of these issues never could have popped up in a world prior to NIL.
That simply is not true. Jealousy and things of that nature have always been part of the team dynamic, and the best teams are the ones that are able to overcome all of those things in order to come together for the common goal.
NIL didn’t need to come into the equation for that to be true.
The more disappointing part of this is seeing that there are players out there frustrated by not being paid what they were told they’d be paid by the adults in the room. If you’re going to be part of the NIL game, you better be ready to follow through on your promises no matter how big they might be.
The schools (or collectives or sponsors or whatever) that don’t follow through on their promises are going to be exposed.
People who closely follow the undercurrents of college athletics know this is nothing new, though, as well.
From the dawn of time, schools and coaches have been making promises to student athletes only to turn back on those promises once those student athletes arrive on campus.
Whether that promise is playing time or something else, coaches have been making promises to recruits for a very long time without any intention of following through on those claims.
The difference now is athletes can hold schools and coaches accountable for their promises. If you don’t follow through on your end today, you’re going to see your best players going into the portal and playing elsewhere in the future.
Accountability and culture are going to be the things that define the next era of college athletics. The coaches and programs that hold up their ends of bargains are going to benefit while the coaches and programs who have thrived off making empty promises will start to deteriorate.
We shouldn’t have needed the introduction of NIL to bring that change to the forefront. We definitely don’t need former coaches blaming this on the athletes who put their trust in adults making promises.