Let’s just put it out there. Between the quarterback carousel ride, some huge injuries and some games that didn't turn out in our favor, this fall has been kind of a rollercoaster ride for Cyclone fans. Obviously, the season hasn't been a complete bust, but it's certainly been very frustrating. There have been moments the football team looked like they wanted to storm into the top half of the conference and other moments when I wondered how they had won six games at all. Even with some great moments from David Irving, James White and Sam Richardson, the absence of Jake Knott and Jansen Watson down the stretch has been saddening. With Thanksgiving nearing and my Facebook feed full of posts about thankfulness, I offer my own words of gratitude – with a bit of a Cyclone twist. Here are a few things I think Cyclone fans have to be thankful for.
FIVE – Kirby Van Der Kamp.
I must confess that I’ve always had a weakness healthy appreciation for kickers. (It goes back to high school, but that’s a longer story and perhaps more appropriate for a Confessions Friday thread.) And Kirby deserves a lot of appreciation. If there’s a better punter in the nation, I haven’t seen him yet. He will most certainly be playing on Sundays in the future, and more Cyclones in the NFL is always a good thing. Especially for me. With the way my KC Chiefs have looked this year, I may be in the market for a new team soon.
FOUR – The defense.
They are the reason ISU was within six points of Kansas State. I was going to brag about how the Cyclone D held the Wildcats to just 27 points, but Baylor came along and burst that bubble last night. So let's move along to other bright spots. Only three teams – Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas – scored more than 30 points. We've had pick sixes from A.J. Klein and David Irving. And don't tell me you weren't screaming your head off for both of those. My only disappointment is that the team did not notch a shutout in Iowa City. I would like to have seen Wally Burnham attempt a mohawk.
THREE – Fred Hoiberg and company.
Yeah, I’m jumping into basketball season. Fred makes it enjoyable to think about basketball year around. I saw this year’s team play an exhibition game a few weeks ago, and I am excited about the season ahead. Melvin Ejim has only barely gotten started in showing what he can do, and I really think Korie Lucious is going to step up in a big way this year too. And then there’s Georges Niang. I haven’t been this geeked over a player after one game in a long time. He’s going to be a privilege to watch.
TWO – Paul Rhoads.
That game against 16th-ranked TCU was a multi-layered gift. Not only was it the annual Paul Rhoads Upset Special (H/T to poster Todd Dachshund for that phrase), but he provided new GIF fodder when he broke a headset. It was a glorious day to be a Cyclone fan. And that headset went up for auction, netting a pretty penny. But seriously, we’re going bowling for the third time in Rhoads’ four seasons at the helm. I think he might be spoiling us, but I am completely okay with that. It’s nice to have higher expectations each year rather than just hoping not to be the bottom of the conference.
ONE – We’re not Hawkeye fans.
There was a lot of optimism about this season in Iowa City. And why not? Two teams in their conference aren’t even able to compete for championships or go to a bowl. Their schedule favored a happy winning season. But here they sit on Nov. 18, two wins shy of being bowl eligible and only one game to play.
Did I miss something? Tell me what you think Cyclone fans should be thankful for.
NOTE: If you hate this post, you can blame CanAzn and KnowDan. I met them a few weeks ago while tailgating and they encouraged me to write more, so here it is.