The other day I was listening to KXNO’s Sports Fanatics and came across a question that Chris Williams posed to his co-host (and WRNL foe) Ross Peterson – what are your favorite sports shows to watch on TV?
During the doldrums of the summer, this was a fantastic question to ask the audience, and was sure to light up the phone lines. First ones that came to my mind were E:60, Pardon the Interruption, and the Sports Reporters, just to name a few. In a regional mindset – its hard to beat Channel 13’s SoundOff, and I’m sure many of you have your own – and feel free to add in the comments section below.
In my opinion - the granddaddy of them all, the creme da le crème – has to be ESPN’s College GameDay.
It’s first show aired in 1987, and for the entire 32-year history, Lee Corso and his mascot-picking shenanigans have stood the test of time. The program carries with it the prominence of one of the best to analyze college football in Kirk Herbstreit, and the camaraderie and presence of Rece Davis and Desmond Howard.
Our parents from SBNation wrote this great column back in April and ranked which college campuses have NOT partaken in such lore, and out of those 11 Power-5 programs who is deserving the most.
Number one on that list?
Back in January 2015, the multi-powerful sports network traveled to Ames, IA for College BASKETBALL GameDay, and boy, they couldn’t have come away happier. The campus was electric, the stands were packed, and the atmosphere was second to none. ISU, then coached by Fred Hoiberg, hastily welcomed in the Jayhawks of Kansas that day, and showed the nation they were legit, beating the pants off KU.
Now its time to see Herbie, Bear, Corso and the Gang in Jack Trice Stadium.
What better time than now? Iowa State is coming off their first back-to-back eight-win campaign since the 70s, have one of the most impressive young coaches in America, and a team picked to finish 3rd in the Big 12 Conference.
I don’t know about you guys, but there has never been this much hype for a Cyclone football season. Ever. Mad Scientist...er...Defensive Coordinator Jon Heacock leads a top-ranked defense that returns 8 starters from a year ago, and even scouts from the New England Patriots are taking notes about our defense.
While ISU lost two of their top offensive playmakers to the NFL, they return a game-breaking quarterback in Brock Purdy. Purdy only recorded the best record ever by a QB in school history, going 7-2 last year. Oh yeah, his passing efficiency of 169.9 is the best by a freshman in the history of the NCAA.
Stats aside, why else should ESPN make their way to Ames, IA?
First off, the fans have continued to purchase season tickets at a record pace, nearing 43,000 for 2019, and over 50,000 have attended a game in Jack Trice Stadium for 52 straight contests! The tailgating atmosphere is second to none, with a plethora of lots and parking spots all in close proximity to the stadium. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, the fans seem to come out no matter what.
HOME FIELD SUCCESS
Ames, IA has been the place where dreams die for top programs. Just ask #2 ranked Oklahoma State, who lost out on their chance for a championship. Since Campbell has taken over the program in 2016, the Cyclones have knocked off TWO top-5 ranked teams in successive years, beating #4 ranked TCU in ’17, and shellacking #6 ranked West Virginia in 2018.
We already talked about the returning starters and the prowess of Coach Campbell, but there seems to be a shift of momentum towards the Cyclone football program. In years past, they were looked at as little brother, and not good enough to compete in the Big 12 Conference. Matt Campbell has built a foundation with depth that can compete and win any game on their schedule. Vegas has ISU’s over-under for wins at 8.0, and some national media are even proclaiming the Cyclones as a dark horse to win the entire Big 12
So which games on the schedule bode well for the bodies from Bristol to travel to Ames? First and foremost is the CyHawk game against in-state rival Iowa on September 14th. Second would be Texas, making what could be a cold trip for the Longhorns on November 16th. By that time, ISU could be vying for the best record in the conference, or maybe even playing for a shot at the Big 12 Championship. Other games of note are TCU and Oklahoma State.
So, for all of you suits up in Connecticut, take a long, deep look into the success that Coach Campbell and his staff has built here at Iowa State. The team is legit, the expectations are sky high, and you know the fans are ready for College GameDay to come to AMES!