There will be two marquee games in the Big 12 this weekend that will go a long way toward ultimately deciding the conference champion as Baylor travels to Oklahoma and Kansas State makes its way to Fort Worth to battle TCU. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Iowa State will
slapfight tussle with Kansas in Lawrence as both programs look to avoid a last place finish.
Two years ago, Iowa State made a late November trip to Lawrence, needing one more win to qualify for a bowl game. After a meh start by Steele Jantz and the Cyclone offense, Paul Rhoads turned to Sam B. Richardson because he "liked the way he warmed up" and the gamble paid off.
Richardson went nuts on the woeful Jayhawk defense, completing 23-27 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns as Iowa State rolled to an easy 53-21 victory and became bowl eligible in the process.
Those were certainly better times for the Cyclone program. Although ISU was soundly thumped in the Liberty Bowl that year by Tulsa, it still marked three bowl games in Paul Rhoads' first four years in Ames. Sure they weren't great bowl games, but it was still a holiday trip for a fan base that had rarely gotten the opportunity to watch their team play after Thanksgiving.
Fast forward to today and oh how we long for those .500 seasons and scraping by week-to-week. Since that win over Kansas on November 17th, 2012, Iowa State has gone 5-17 and has managed to turn in historically embarrassing performances on several occasions, which is really saying something, considering that Iowa State is by all accounts one of the worst Power 5 programs of all-time.
But you know what? As bad as it's been for Rhoads and crew lately, it's been so much worse for the Kansas faithful. Since beating Iowa State in 2009 (and getting out to a 5-0 start), the Jayhawks have gone 11-54 and have only won just two conference games in that span. Simply put; Kansas didn't just bottom out, they fell into an endless sinkhole of suck.
And that brings me to the disaster that will ensue on Saturday.
We all point and laugh at Kansas' futility, but let's not kid ourselves here; if the Jayhawks' canoe has already capsized in the Shit River, well then Iowa State has lost its ores and is dangerously heading for some class-5 shit rapids.
Who are we to find amusement in Kansas' ineptitude when our own program is crumbling around us? It's like making fun of your buddy for bringing home a fatty and then sneaking your own hefty hump hussy out the back door when nobody is looking.
The fact is, that on Saturday, the two worst programs in the Big 12 will trip over their feet and stumble around for 60 minutes and when it's all said and done, absolutely nothing will have been accomplished because these programs are light years from even being what could pass as mediocre or average. A win for either school only represents that they sucked a little less than the other.
In that respect, the final score is inconsequential, especially for Iowa State. Does a victory really show any progress. Are we still pretending that is the goal for 2014? At least Kansas has come to terms with just how shitty their program has become. Fans don't show up, they run through coaches like Elijah Johnson runs through players that are clearly set, and they continue to play in that joke of a stadium without even offering a hint of upgrading that monument to incompetence.
Iowa State fans on the other hand continue to show up in droves to watch a clearly overmatched team and coaching staff struggle with even the most remedial of footballing tasks. Hell, we're even expanding the stadium just so we can get even more people in on the running joke that this program has become lately.
So despite all of their failures, perhaps we should be envious of our KU brethren. They know they suck and they accept that. They don't try and justify their program's awful existence by citing injuries, their deplorable past or the, "our schedule is just too hard" rhetoric that we often seen permeating our fan base. They wear a laughable crowd of shame, but at least they wear it well.
Earlier this year, I lauded Paul Rhoads for his off season moves, overhauling his coaching staff and boldly proclaiming that 3-9 wasn't an acceptable standard for this program. But here we sit at 2-6 and can we really say that this program has improved from 2013? I'll buy it some respects, but Saturday's 59-14 destruction at the hands of Oklahoma essentially took any good will that this program had built up and set it on fire and then pissed on the ashes.
Let's see what happens in 2015
This has been the common rallying cry that has been echoed time and time again throughout this fall and I've vacillated between its loudest yell leader and staunchest opposition more times than I can count. Truth be told, I'm not really sure what to think or feel anymore. I've called for Rhoads' head already this year and then turned around two weeks later and argued he deserved more time. For all I know, I might change my mind in a week or two, but I'm tired of watching wretched execution and inexcusable preparation from this program and I hope that you feel the same.
Now is probably not the best time to mention that I'll be making the trek to Lawrence this weekend, because I'm only further propagating the problem, but while I want to see Iowa State win, I've also come to the realization that there are two ways this program can prevail this weekend. A win on the field, as hollow as it may be, will at least feel good on the surface, but perhaps the bigger victory would come in defeat. A loss to this Kansas program just might be unpardonable for this staff.
Embrace the suck? Sure, why not.