Lawrence, KS - After Sam Richardson led Iowa State to a victory against the Kansas Jayhawks in his first sustained playing time Saturday night, Cyclone fans were quick to pronounce the redshirt freshman Iowa State's newest quarterback savior. This makes Richardson the sixth straight Iowa State quarterback to have this honor bestowed upon him.
"Oh man, did you SEE Sammy Football Saturday night?" longtime Cyclone fan Robert Fredette asked rhetorically. "The kid's gonna be amazing, and he's only a redshirt freshman!"
"Mark it down," Mr. Fredette continued. "With Richardson leading this offense, Iowa State, National Champs, three years maximum."
This kind of talk may seem hyperbolic, but Iowa State is used to heaping lofty, premature praise on new quarterbacks. For a program that has struggled at the position for the past decade, this should be expected. Jennifer Sullins, an Iowa State fan who made the road trip to Lawrence last Saturday explains, "Ever since Seneca left Ames, ISU just hasn't had great quarterback play. But it's weird, 'cause every quarterback since Bret Meyer has won their first start. It raises expectations, but no Cyclone QB has really met those expectations. Until now, that is. This kid, Sam? He's different. He WILL win the Big 12 with ISU."
Unfortunately, these raised expectations are quickly dashed once a quarterback gets more starts under center and Iowa State's decade-long tradition of mediocrity continues. Once fans are given time to see a player's complete game, including his flaws, they turn on a quarterback, concluding that the player "sucks," and insisting that his backup is actually superior to the starter in almost every way.
Still, studies show that Iowa State fan support and expectations are never higher than after a new quarterback's first game. A list of arguments Cyclone fans have made for each quarterback over the past decade follows:
Bret Meyer: Winning bowl games! The new Seneca!
Austen Arnaud: Way better than Meyer! That guy sucked! Look at the arm strength!
Jerome Tiller: He fucking beat Nebraska!
Steele Jantz: That name! The comeback kid!
Jared Barnett: He fucking beat Oklahoma State!
Sam Richardson: He can find the open receiver and complete a pass! HE IS OUR NEW GOD!
Sam Richardson may be the latest victim of this perpetual hype machine, but he won't be the last. Several Cyclone fans are already expressing concern about facets of Richardson's game. "Sure, he beat Kansas, but it's Kansas." Iowa State fan Jeff McGehee drunkenly explained in the stadium parking lot after the game. "Kansas is garbage this year. And 23-27 for 250 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions? Yeah, pretty good, but let's see what Sam does against West Virginia next week. Besides, I heard Grant Rohach has already won the starting job next year."
So it appears that Iowa State is well-equipped to continue its tradition of putting each new quarterback on an impossibly high pedestal, only to succumb to anger, disappointment and frustation when the quarterback inevitably struggles. To his credit, Sam Richardson seems to be taking his new status as Iowa State's savior in stride. "Coach had been telling me all week to get ready, get ready, 'cause there was a chance I could get in the game this week," Richardson said. "I knew I could help this team win, so I just took advantage of my opportunity when it came."
When asked if he was worried about the eventual backlash to his success, Richardson laughed it off. "Oh man, I'll do the best I can to be ISU's savior. At least till the fans come for me with the nails and a cross."