Out with the old, in with the new.
Gone is Paul Rhoads, and in comes the new electrifying, amped-up coaching staff for the 2016 season. Under the tutelage of Matt Campbell, this program has risen to levels of hype never before seen.
With the kool-aid getting guzzled as fast as college freshmen drinking that first week of school, there is nothing this staff can do wrong.
And we haven't even played a game yet.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, we will soon be there. On September 3rd (at 7 p.m. to be exact), after a long day of debauchery and drinking Natty Lites, the UNI Panthers come to town.
Here are FIVE reasons to be optimistic about this upcoming season
As Coach Rhoads said on his way out, the cupboard is not bare. The old staff finally figured out the right way to recruit, except for them it was in the 11th hour. They decided to bring in more JUCO's on the defensive side of the ball, and finally realized you need more speed if you want to be competent in this league. Add to that, we've had a few more hits than misses recently, including the Willie Harveys, Brian Peavys and Mike Warrens of the world. This team has a lot of bright stars that will be shining for a few years to come.
Now, I'm not going to go NCAA FB on you all and say any of these studs are winning the Heisman anytime soon (damn EA Sports for ridding us of any sheer possibility to do so), but there is a lot more Big 12 talent on the field than we have seen in a long time.
The Big Three
To piggyback off the talent tree, we have three of the best offensive playmakers ISU can say they've had since my personal favorite of Sage/Ennis/JJ Moses back in 2000, when that crew went 9-3. What makes it even more exciting is that we will have at least two more years with the likes of Joel Lanning, Mike Warren and Allen Lazard lining up on the offensive side of the ball (save for Lazard going all NFL on us, which I don't see happening).
Warren has displayed an incredible amount of patience reading his blocks and hitting the hole, Lazard continues to hone his craft of being a deep threat receiver, and Lanning, well just ask that safety from Texas who got hit by the LanRam.
Coaching Staff's Fortitude
It all starts at the top, and the man who has gotten this far will continue to climb the mountaintop. But he won't be alone. Campbell has taken what he learned at different schools and brought those same people along with him for the ride. The cohesiveness and comfortability of everyone on this staff is second to none, and isn't something you can put a price on.
And, oh yeah, Jamie Pollard better be ready to open up the checkbook to keep Campbell's cronies on staff, because that continuity is imperative.
Back Loaded Schedule
If you look at the schedule for the upcoming season, you can realistically pencil in three wins (UNI, San Jose State and Kansas). After that, there are a lot of question marks. The good thing is, the Big 12 is down this year, and there are a lot of unknowns from the likes of K-State, West Virginia, TCU, Texas and that team from Waco that everyone keeps talking about.
After the big dogs get out of the way, ISU plays what looks like the easiest part of their schedule. Save for the Sooners of course. That Bobby Stoops loves to twist the knife by the way.
Here are 4 of the last 5 games on the schedule:
October 29th vs. Kansas State in Ames
November 12th vs. Kansas in Lawrence
November 19th vs. Texas Tech in Ames
November 26th vs. West Virginia in Ames
The biggest reason why I see this as a strong turning point to the season, is that these games are played in the friendly confines of Jack Trice Stadium.
Advantage, Iowa State.
Luck and Injury Factor
Please God, for once can we go through a season without a QB controversy or injury? (It hasn't happened since 2007, and that wasn't until Phillip Bates transferred.) So far, it appears that Joel Lanning looks poised to firmly preserve his spot as QB1.
The health of the offensive line has to get better too, right? Hopefully the strength and conditioning staff has worked long and hard to maintain these 300-pound bodies for multiple Saturdays in the fall.
And last but not least, all we ask for is a few more bounces our way. I mean, last year there were two games in a row where an opposing player fumbled the ball and it immediately bounced into his teammate's arms in the end zone -- you can't make this stuff up.
I think it's about time that the Cyclones catch some breaks for once.
They deserve it.