I can’t stop thinking about football. At my advanced age, I have given up on trying to change. So, in the 52 Trap “process” I was watching film of Big 12 games and taking notes about various on-field and conceptual items. One of which was what I thought about the various head coaches. What makes them tick, their flaws, their strengths, and how they will try to play their hands next fall.
The more I thought about it, the more my fondness grew for our head coach. Not that I had ANY negative feelings to start with, but it was a bit like the Grinch when he is finally touched by Cindy Lou Who. My heart swelled with pride.
Then, I checked Twitter and saw this:
Funny, endearing, and man, his desk is organized.
I like Coach Matt Campbell...and this is why.
Young and Wise
It’s easy to forget that Campbell is in his mid-30’s. He speaks confidently and with wisdom beyond his years. He remains one of the youngest Power 5 coaches in the country. I believe P.J. Fleck nudged him out this year for the number 1 spot.
But, Coach Campbell’s youth is a different youth. He and his staff certainly have a lot of energy, but that isn’t the defining characteristic of his persona. He isn’t a gregarious sort either. What he exhibits is a steady, strong undercurrent of ambition. I think he truly believes what he preaches.
Coach Campbell is one of the rare people that poured his faith and energy into a single goal and has ingested the elements to accomplish those goals from many older and tried sources. It’s remarkable, really. He’s unwavering in his plan and he works it with an eye for every detail.
It reminds me of the man who is the oldest coach in college football and is in the picture above. Yes, Gandalf himself, the white wizard of Manhattan. Strength, confidence, family, and a belief in his purpose and methods. I think Matt Campbell is cut out of the same cloth and sincerely hope he offices in a building bearing his name in Ames years from now.
College assistants move around a lot. They are fired or given better opportunities. It isn’t easy to keep a cohesive staff together under the pressure and culture of college football. One of the masters of doing so is the aforementioned Coach Snyder. In fact, all of the branches of the Hayden Fry coaching tree are excellent at staff retention.
Coach Campbell kept his staff intact with only a few exceptions in the move over from Toledo. Further, there were no major changes this off-season. It’s reasonable to expect this to remain the case until his assistants are plucked for head coaching or coordinator jobs elsewhere (looking at you and your budget, Jamie Pollard). The contrast would be an improved Kansas team that switched out six position coaches this off-season.
In my opinion, the cohesion of your staff is a building block for long term success. The consistent message from core staff is what builds culture and reinforces it when adversity strikes.
Plus, it shows that he is a good boss. Campbell is capable of building loyalty from his staff, which trickles down to his players, and will trickle out to the fan base as well. Winning culture is built on loyalty and trust, and I believe Coach Campbell has shown his mettle in this regard while at Iowa State.
Man With a Plan
You can’t build a house without a set of plans. Well, maybe you can, but it will fall over when the big bad wolf blows on it.
Matt Campbell has a plan for Iowa State. You can garner great insight into this from the Ames Tribune article that appeared last August. The man actually carries around his “plan.”
The exciting thing to me is that the plan isn’t just an X and O scheme. It’s total development. Nutrition, training, and character are part of it. It’s detailed enough to have height, weight, and speed parameters for the various position groups to aid in recruiting.
The thing I like best is that though he sits as the CEO of the program, the policies and procedures are not developed by the various vice-presidents; instead, it emanates from him and the vice-presidents are given the latitude to work within the defining parameters. Organizational theorems aside, I believe this to be a proven method of building a football program at the Power 5 level.
Coach Campbell has stretched the recruiting areas beyond the traditional ISU and Big 12 footprint. Personally, I think it’s brilliant to do so. He brought in LeCharles Bentley to teach advanced technique and training regimens to the offensive line. These two moves are a part of a larger plan that will pay dividends.
Campbell is unfazed and determined in his implementation of the plan. Where we fans often look for quick fixes and short cons, Coach Campbell is playing the long game. It is intricate, delicate, and inspired.
Who is the most powerful wizard? We should run a poll — Dumbledore, Gandalf, Merlin, Yoda, the Genie from the Lamp?
This poll is closed
Genie from the Lamp
Well, I know who it is in the Big 12. Matt Campbell has some wizardry in him. He can win because he is a winner. He puts in the work to be winner.
Mostly, I just like him. I don’t know him from Adam, and will probably never get the chance to meet him. That makes this complete speculation and he may be something completely different than my perception. But, as the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones, I think we have a good dude that sets the bar high for his coaches, his team, and we the fans.
It is possible that Coach Campbell sets the foundation for winning and is plucked by an up-the-scale program before he hits 40. That would be the natural order of things. But, something tells me he might be different. I hope so, because I sure like the trust I have in him, his staff, and his vision for Iowa State.