You all knew this was coming.
Our namesake was calling.
The massive brand and top-tier SB Nation website that is “Wide Right Natty Lite” has to stand for something right?
Well folks, here it is.
Shaggy, Part 1.
It was the year 2004, I was a senior in high school, and had the opportunity to travel the two and half hours to Ames for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see MY Cyclones play for a Big 12 North crown. Their schedule was more favorable than a backyard brawl with my little brother, who was four years my junior.
Iowa State did not have to play Texas OR Oklahoma that year, and coming into town was a downtrodden Missouri squad, who had fallen off the wagon, losing five in a row. Led by Brad Smith, this Tiger squad had been ravaged by injuries, while Iowa State had the opportunity to play Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game.
The kicking game at Iowa State had been abysmal for years, and had become a running joke on campus. The student section crossed their fingers and closed their eyes every time the team came out to attempt even a PAT.
It was so bad that a walk-on named Bret Culberson (who wasn’t even on the team before the year), took over duties halfway into the season, and had been a solid 7-for-8 on FGs. Not only that, but Culbertson, a freshman out of Des Moines, had a team picture even Dirk Diggler would be jealous of.
The Cyclones looked sluggish on this brisk November day, with temps as low as 22 degrees, and wind howling up to 35 mph. The running game was non-existent, and Stevie Hicks was still ailing from a nagging hip injury, averaging an abysmal 2.0 yards per carry.
Down 7-14, the defense held its own, giving Bret Meyer and the offense a chance to tie it up in the fourth quarter. After a 35-yard pass play to Todd Blythe, Hicks plunged across the goal line to tie it up with 9 minutes to go. After punts by each team, Missouri was driving when running back Thomson Ombogo fumbled, and the legendary Stevie Paris rumbled down the field 53 yards into field goal range.
There were just over two minutes left, and all the Cyclones had to do was CENTER the ball in the middle of the field and sneak out of this one with a victory. If only Paul Rhoads had taken notes…
You all know what happened. Culbertson tried a 24-yard kick, the equivalent of an extra point, and missed, you guessed it - WIDE RIGHT.
The air went out of the stadium. Mizzou started with the ball in OT, where they had their own problems with kicking. Another freshman who was 0-for-2 on the year, split the uprights putting the Tigers up by 3. Iowa State still had a chance, only to piss it down their leg as we all knew they would.
After missing a wide-open Ben Barkema, the cardiac Clones drove to the 3-yard line, only to watch two Barney-Cotton-esque running plays go for negative-3 yards. Deciding not to use the man with Inspector-Gadget-Arms Todd Blythe, Cotton drew up a fade pattern instead for Jon Davis, and the ball was intercepted in the end zone.
Game over. Outright Big 12 North Championship over. Another kick to the nuts.
I remember making the long, cold, profanity-laced walk to the parking lot with my grandparents, and grandma exclaiming “There’s always next year…..”