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The Curious Expectation of an ISU Football Team

The thoughts on where the ISU Program is going and what you should expect from Paul Rhoads and his mighty Clones

Hold Your Horses says Drake Ferch...
Hold Your Horses says Drake Ferch...
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

It happens every year.

The Lindy's, Athlon's and Phil Steele preseason magazines come out, and ISU is always picked to finish in the bottom half, second-to-last or the open slot above Kansas.

Vegas tabbed the Cyclones at 3.5 for Over/Under on wins. So far, pretty spot on, and really - can you blame them?

I've always been told that you can't look out your window and expect the rest of the world to see what you see.

As fans, we have tunnel vision. We post on message boards, we read daily opinion articles and we drink the kool-aid.

But a lot of what national pundits see is history, tradition and recent success.

ISU hasn't had a lot of that - especially in football.

There have been some opportunities to be had for Paul Rhoads and his program over five-and-half seasons, and we haven't always capitalized on them.

ISU has gone to three bowl games in five Rhoads years, and all three have been bottom-tier bowl games, against inferior opponents that don't exactly scream national attention.

And ISU has lost two of those three bowl games.

Rhoads has a 28-42 record in five and half seasons. Not exactly earth shattering.

Mediocrity has been ISU football. This 2014 team has progressed and improved, but it hasn't shown on the win column. The offense is finally clicking, and the team is young.

If ISU were a baseball player, it would be batting around .200; a singles and doubles hitter, with a ton of strikeouts, and very few homeruns. Every once in a great while we try to steal, but have been caught more often than naught.

ISU doesn't have the resources or the "We Pay Recruits Under The Table" Type Donors to get the horses. Stud recruits make coaches look good. At ISU, we have to do it a different way.

It's not like we have another T. Boone Pickens walking through the door to donate $100 Million to the program.

The Cyclones have to win by making the plays they are supposed to make. Don't make dumb penalties or commit turnovers. Win Special Teams battles. Quite frankly, the AARP sponsored by Bill Snyder way.

We don't have the 4- and 5-star recruits to cover up the mistakes, or the 200-yard running back to disguise the inept offensive line. Depth was always an issue in the McCarney years, but Rhoads is slowly building up the second- and third-team stringers.

Our round-robin schedule in the Big 12 makes ISU's Strength of Schedule one of the toughest every single year. Add Iowa to the non-conference, and this team has little margin for error.

The ceiling for this program is probably 6-7 wins, plus a bowl victory for the cherry on top.

Dynasties don't happen overnight, and Ames, Iowa isn't exactly the place where God hands out a National Championship.

Currently, I am drinking the Paul Rhoads Kool-Aid. He carries the right demeanor, understands what he can do with what he has, and has proven to knock off a few teams he shouldn't every once in awhile.

But this team needs to win the games they are SUPPOSED to win.

Teams like North Dakota State, Kansas State and a downtrodden Texas team need to be W's if we want to earn that National Respect for next year's preseason mag. There is no reason why ISU shouldn't throttle Texas Tech this year.

For some reason, Rhoads has had a hard time winning those close games.

You may not believe it, but it's you - the fans who take some fault in that.

Sitting in Jack Trice, it's as if we wait for something bad to happen. You see an opponent get the ball back with under two or three minutes and expect them to score. A kicker comes up for a field goal and we cross our fingers. A deficit at halftime, and the crowd bolts for the parking lot, only to never come back in.

You lose the first game, and EVERYBODY exclaims "Can't Wait Till Basketball Season!" That gets annoying real fast.

Of the five BCS Power Conferences and 65 teams, ISU currently sits at 59th in annual Football Operating Expenses, with $14.9 million in 2012-2013. The only teams below them are Utah (current top 20 ranking), Kansas (Football Coach Graveyard), Wake Forest (enrollment of 4,700), Washington State (no tradition), and Maryland and Rutgers (who were only brought into Big Ten for their media markets).

From the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X.

It all starts at the top, and we are moving in the right direction with Athletic Director Jamie Pollard.

Since 2010, ISU's athletic budget has increased by 17.3%, tops in the Big 12. While our financial cupboard is the smallest in conference, the wheels are turning.

And that south end zone is going to look SA-WHEET next year!

We have to do it OUR WAY.

One of my favorite assistant coaches is Shane Burnham. He is a rah-rah type of coach, that has been a great recruiter for ISU. He also takes to twitter and social media, and one of his favorite hashtags is #NotYourFathersIowaState.

Damn Right.