Now that the Big XII media days are wrapping up, it's important to look back and reflect on what we've learned. Specifically, what we've learned from Paul Rhoads about the 2012 Iowa State Cyclones. And the answer is, not much.
Media days are designed to obfuscate as much about a team as possible. They allow writers to write basically the same articles year after year, changing names and plugging in slightly different quotes, then retiring early to the bar. Writers like this system, because it lets them get drunk and do less work. Coaches like this system, because most coaches don't like dealing with the media. It's a sweet symbiosis.
And media days are always so boring because coaches don't want anything interesting to leak. Because something interesting is unique. And something unique can be used to put you at a disadvantage. Even a fairly interesting coach like Paul Rhoads only has a couple good quotes per year at media days. One has to read between the lines to find anything worthwhile. So with that in mind, let's parse some quotes from Paul Rhoads' Big XII media day press conference.
Paul Rhoads: There’s a huge amount of energy that’s surrounding our football program right now that’s created an increased excitement both internally and externally as we head towards the 2012 season.
I think that’s supported by the fact that we’re going to open up a brand-new state-of-the-art football facility this fall. We had record-setting attendance last year in three different categories. Season ticket sales, single season attendance at all six of our home football games were over 51,000 for the first time in the history of Iowa State University football. The season ticket sales for 2012 have already surpassed those marks.
Hollleeee shit, guys. You may not believe it, but we are ready to set the world on fire. I am so fucking fired up for this season that I can't really sit still right now. The stage tech had to staple my pants to the chair.
Now I know what you're thinking: Iowa State? What does setting the world on fire mean to those guys, seven, maybe eight wins? First of all: Fuck you. I know you don't care about us. Chuck, stifle that yawn. I can hear you developing Type 2 diabetes from up here.
Second of all: Yeah, it kinda does. Eight wins would be a great year, all things considered. Iowa State doesn't have the resources of Texas. Hell, we don't have the resources of BAYLOR anymore. We don't have the winning tradition of Oklahoma. We don't have an evil wizard on our side like Kansas State. But what we do have is pride. And a group of coaches that are ready to coach the shit out of these kids week in and week out. And if you ignore us, we'll sneak up on you and beat you. It happened to Nebraska in 2009, it happened to Texas in 2010 and it sure as shit happened to Oklahoma State last year.
And our fans recognize that. I can't walk across campus without people stopping to take their picture with me. We're going to have fans spilling out of Jack Trice into the parking lots this year. And yeah, slowly but surely, we're upgrading our facilities. New football facility this year, and you know we're going to bowl in the south endzone soon. Gotta have some place for those fans to sit.
Q: How has the coordinator change affected your offense?
PR: I think the coordinator change has been a very positive move for us. Courtney Messingham has been on our staff the entire four years. He’s coached three different positions now on offense, coordinator of half of our special teams.
This was a move welcomed by our team. He’s an intelligent guy that I think is going to do a fantastic job of play calling as well as putting a plan together. And I think play calling is the biggest piece to being a coordinator, especially in this league.
Fuck you, Tom Herman. Fuck you right in your Mensa-loving face. You know what, I'm GLAD you're at Ohio State. I was getting worried that I was going to burst a blood vessel on gameday when I had to put on the headset every few minutes to ask you what the ever-loving christ you thought you were doing up in the booth.
Quick example: Remember the bowl game? Probably not, 'cause I'm pretty sure you were busy measuring drapes for your new office in Columbus when you should have been calling plays. Let me refresh your memory. First plays of the game are three straight runs that go for a combined 41 yards. Hey, that's working pretty well! What are the next three calls? All passes, all incomplete. Thank god Guyer hit the field goal, or that game would've started out REALLY ugly.
But now Iowa State has a new coordinator, and he's MY guy. Came in with me four years ago to coach tight ends, and he immediately developed Collin Franklin, the best tight end Iowa State's seen in a decade. Then I moved him to wide receivers last year, and he immediately increased their production by 35 yards per game. He's a players coach, and the guys respond to his teaching. So yeah, I have a feeling he knows how to develop a functional offense. Something you seemed incapable of doing in your three years on the job.
Q. Paul, you have Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz, a quarterback battle once camp opens. Do you have a time frame on when you want to pick a starter? And how important is it going to be to get more consistent play out of a quarterback this year?
PR: Well, first one easier, probably the same as last year all the way through the last scrimmage of training camp before I’ll make that decision.
And we most definitely need better play from the quarterback position if we’re going to become a better football team, and namely in the area of accuracy. Our quarterbacks completed, I think, 51 percent of their passes is all last year. We threw too many to the wrong-colored jersey.
If we’re going to be a better offensive football team, which is very important in this league to be a better football team, it’s going to take better quarterback play.
Jesus, if I knew who was going to be the starter, don't you think I would have picked one already? I don't like this indecision anymore than the players or fans do. How about this for a time frame; I'm going to name a starter sometime between this date and our first game against Tulsa. Sound good?
Because here's what I have right now: I have two average quarterbacks with experience who showed flashes of brilliance last year. Steele Jantz made some of the most amazing plays I've ever seen a quarterback make, but he was usually forced to make those plays because he'd played himself in a terrible situation. And Jared Barnett knows how to make this offense run, but he's young. And he makes head-slappingly stupid decisions too.
So once fall camp starts, I'll have a good idea of how far these two guys have progressed. I'm praying that the light has clicked for one of them and they can play their way into the starting spot. Because ISU can't survive another season of our QBs only completing half their passes. We'll get eaten alive in the Big XII. So we'll make the quarterback position as easy as possible for both Barnett and Jantz. With Messingham simplifying the playbook, hopefully it'll allow at least one guy to complete a bubble screen.
Q. Paul, when you said probably be the most talented football team you’re going to put on the football field, do you define that in terms of the top 22, 44, full roster, and how shocking would it be for Iowa State to win the Big 12 this year?
PR: I’m trying to think how big — what I could use to describe how big that would be, that shock. And at the same time I say that we’ll go into all 12 football games with expectations to win them. That’s how our kids are going to prepare, and that’s how I expect the kids to take the field and play.
I think it’s both the top 22 and the top 44. And I separate those two. This is without a doubt our deepest football team.
I finally believe just about every location we’ve got a two-deep; that if one guy, his shoelace broke or he broke his collarbone, we could put a guy in and we’d be okay. Where in 2009 we had six offensive linemen that we would have played. I think the starting 22 overall are our best group. So I don’t have a roadmap that said that in 2012 we better be at this point, but we are progressing like I hope our football program would to make that talent level our best football team and a football team that wins more than three Big 12 games, like our three previous have done, is going to be based largely on how our quarterbacks play and the improvement of our defense, especially our defensive line.
Heh, win the Big XII, that's a good one... *cough* fuckyou *cough* Sorry about that, had a little tickle in my throat.
Look, there's no need to be patronizing. You and I both know that Iowa State is probably not going to win the Big XII this year. But I wasn't kidding when I said this is the best team I've ever had at Iowa State. I say that every year. And every year it's true.
Because we aren't recruiting star athletes at Iowa State. It just doesn't happen. Geography, history, money... These factors are all aligned against us. But we can recruit athletes that fit our system. And the more athletes we get that fit our system, the more we're able to do what we want on the field. And this year we have the best depth of any Cyclone team I've coached.
It's all about depth and development at Iowa State. Get a solid two and three-deep at every position, coach them to play the game the way we want them to play it, and the results will come. So yeah, it would be shocking for Iowa State to win the Big XII this year. But in five years? Maybe not so shocking.
Q. You have a tough home schedule when it comes to the Big 12. You have K-State, Baylor, OU, and WVU all at home. Obviously those are tough games. Obviously it helps to have them at home. What are your thoughts on that?
PR: You gotta protect your home stadium. And we’re going to have to do that against what we always know is going to be a tough schedule. It’s one thing I sort of look at to see where people rank us, and I haven’t seen one prognosticator say anything lower than five as far as where they’d rate our schedule again this season.
It’s something we’ve gotten to know. It’s a challenge that our players embrace, one they better or they’re not going to survive.
I'm not kidding. Get the fuck out of this conference room. If I have to sit through this dog-and-pony show, the least you can do is ask interesting questions.
Of course we have a tough schedule. We play in the Big XII. This conference is stacked with tough teams from top to bottom. Oklahoma is a national championship contender. Oklahoma State and West Virginia are coming off BCS bowl wins. Even Kansas has the potential to be decent this year, depending on how Dayne and the Fat Man perform.
So yeah, it's a tough schedule. It's ALWAYS a tough schedule. I don't know if you've been paying attention, but Iowa State usually has a top ten schedule every year. Playing nine conference games, plus Iowa, PLUS Tulsa this year is going to be difficult. But this is Iowa State. We do this every year. We're up for the challenge.
It's going to be a great year.