Ahh 2020. The magical time in history where staying inside and watching TV was the healthiest thing you could do for yourself. With the sports world grinding to a halt at the hands of Rudy Gobert in Mid-March, most of us sat inside during the Spring and Summer months and wondered when we would have any sort of live entertainment back in our lives.
But never fear. In late July, Adam Silver and the NBA, along with our neighbors to the North in the NHL, managed to put together intelligent plans to make sure we all didn’t go crazy. Sports were back, and the masses cheered. Both the NFL and College Football followed soon after, but the Big 10 dragged their feet like a thrice-divorced middle-aged man. It didn’t matter.
Sports were back.
In a year full of uncertainty, fear, and dread, the commonalities that brought us together (and tear us apart in hilarious ways on Twitter) were ultimately what created bright spots for us all.
There were plenty of moments this year worth mentioning in the Iowa State Universe. Did you know Fran Fraschilla joined us on a podcast to rewatch the Iowa State-Baylor Big 12 Championship from a few years ago? Did you know Rece Davis joined Levi and co. to talk through his scathing review of the football team during the College Playoff Selection Show? Did you know we successfully staged a coup in Southeast Asia that no one has talked about (kidding... maybe)?
Anyways, here are our favorite pieces from the worst year in modern history, as chosen by the contributors who made them.
2/7: Arguing with Myself: Is Steve Prohm a Good Coach?
In a piece that hits even closer to home now, I argued with myself about whether or not Steve Prohm is a “good” coach. This is without a doubt my favorite article I’ve ever written, as it allowed me to indulge myself as the ultimate arguer, AND talk about basketball.
5/18: The Recycle Podcast: Fran Fraschilla
How do you generate content when the entire sports world comes to a half? Re-watch games, of course! What started as a way to stay sane during the summer, turned into a full-fledged, organized podcast product. Who would’ve thought...
I’m proud of Jake for being the best host we could have, I’m proud of Es Tas ad reads, I’m proud of Ryan (may his WRNL career RIP) and his scorching takes, but most of all, I’m proud of this episode.
Snagging Fran (shoutout Jake) to talk through the 2014 Big 12 Title Game was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and was an absolute treat to be able to talk hoops with arguably the game’s best analyst.
5/18: WRNL: An Oral History
How did the greatest SBNation blog in internet history get its start? Hear it from the guys who created it, themselves.
11/18: Breece Hall Isn’t Getting the Attention He Deserves From The National Media
What can I say? Someone’s gotta stick up for Breece! After numerous Heisman predictions didn’t even have Breece Hall listed, I talked through Troy Davis, history repeating itself, and the lack of respect this program has gotten over the years.
11/27: 69 YARDS TO DESTINY: Cyclones defeat Texas 23-20
I tend to write a majority of recaps for football, but this is hands down my favorite that I’ve had the privilege of writing. In one of the most ‘over the hump’ games in school history, it was made even more memorable by a nice, game-winning 69 yard drive. The Cyclones essentially locked their place in the Big 12 title game after Cameron Dicker can’t connect on a field goal that typically goes in against Iowa State. Also worth noting, SB Nation featured this article on their College Football Page, no big deal.
12/2: Twister Sisters Before The Storm: Bring On TCU
This article specifically does not have much meaning, but it was the start of WRNL’s consistent coverage of the Iowa State women’s basketball program. With the help of David Braga, Dylan Coon, myself and others, we hope to expand our coverage in 2021!
12/30: Sources: Brian Ferentz emerging as candidate for NY Jets head coaching position
I had the pleasure of breaking the news to the sports world, Brian Ferentz was definitely probably leaving his parents basement. Head football coach Brian Ferentz has a nice ring to it.
3/30: Recruit Scouting Report: Hunter Dekkers
Even though he only got limited action in his freshman season, this scouting report sought out the talent of Hunter Dekkers and predicted him as the future of Iowa State. In just seven passing attempts, he proved me right!
5/18: The Recycle Podcast: Fran Fraschilla
Without a doubt, the highlight of my year. We were on a hiatus of no livesports so we decided to watch some of the best games in Iowa State history. What we thought might be a two or three part series turned into an entire podcast for most of the quarantine!
We had some awesome episodes that you can listen to wherever you get your podcasts, but the highlight was having ESPN personality and self-proclaimed Cyclone fan, Fran Fraschilla join the program.
Being able to pick his brain with Sean and Ryan on basketball and his hatred of Kansas fans for an hour and 32 minutes (and 59 seconds, yes I have that memorized) was the highlight of my 2020.
12/4: Opinion: Where is Xavier Foster?
Iowa State has struggled this basketball it’s prized four-star recruit on the bench for a lot of it. Despite him not being 100% college-ready, I made the argument to play him anyway.
Jared “Jar Lar” Larson
2021 INA Award Nominee - Best Use of Graphics
Feb. 21: Cyclone Gridiron Greats: Catching up with Gene Williams
Gene Williams is perhaps one of my favorite interviews I’ve done, just because of how organic the conversation was. I recorded this in the basement of Hamilton Hall when I should’ve been focusing on JL MC 302 (sorry Gary).
March 13: Iowa State Players in Professional Football: Part 5A (2000s)
I added 39 more Cyclones to my running list (since 1920) of Cyclones to play professional football. From Darren Davis to Michael Bibbs, this specific decade not only featured great uniforms, but great football players.
April 27: UndisBUTTEd: Iowa Agricultural College at Butte Athletic Club (1896)
This game isn’t even in the media guides I read as a Little Cyclone. Don’t worry, this one is brief, at only 750 words, enjoy this fun sized recap of a game from yesteryear.
June 3: Former Cyclone head coach Johnny Majors has passed away at 85
The legendary Cyclone head coach was my first interviewee here at WRNL, so if you’d like to read some of his stories he told me, check the above article.
June 17: The Jack Trice Resource Database
Not so fun fact, I tested positive for the cororo two days prior to this article series coming out. Fun fact, it made me super productive, finding newspaper clippings for almost every Iowa State football game from 1892-1939.
Nov. 25: Cobra Football Season Retrospective
Outside of WRNL, I landed a job in August down in Sigourney.
Here’s a season recap of the Sigourney-Keota Cobras’ season (10-1).
pretty stoked about this page in this weeks News-Review, pick up a copy today! pic.twitter.com/dmIY4nkAyT— Jared Larson (@Jar_Lar) November 25, 2020
Nov. 30: Dreams of Long Ago: Stories of Those That Played for the 1912 Cyclones
Some historical content pertaining to a MVIAA championship (shared) winning team.
This has been a challenging year for everyone, including us. We’ve tried to take the lumps in stride and put out good content in spite of what looked like potentially an entire summer, fall, and winter without any sports, and everybody on my staff has done a good job of staying engaged during a time when a lot of us sort of checked out.
There are a lot of great articles and podcasts I had a chance to be a part of, but I’ll let the people who came up with the ideas to showcase their accomplishments, and highlight a few things I did this year that I’m proud of, or think they’re at least worth a re-read.
6/18: The Iowa Twitter Pokedex
With Iowa popping up in the news earlier this summer amid accusations of racism in the football program, we decided to give anybody on social media encountering Iowa fans for the first time a guide to the wilderness,.
7/9: Iowa Band Disappointed in Missed Opportunity to Leave a Stadium Correctly for Once
Once we found out this year’s CyHawk was cancelled, we just knew the Iowa Marching Band would be more disappointed than any of us.
8/3: Rebranding the Big 12: an Experiment
After this summer’s sprees of rebranding among professional teams, including the NHL’s new Seattle franchise, the Washington
Redskins Football Team, and the soon to be renamed Cleveland Indians, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the schools in the Big 12 and take a stab at giving them new nicknames, whether they need one or not.
10/2: Oklahoma Hype Video
I’ve been splitting hype tape duties with Matthias since 2017, but this seven-minute-long monster I put together for this year’s Oklahoma might be my favorite one I’ve ever done, even if it isn’t the most-viewed. It took more than six hours to finish, but I actually made a hype tape set to DragonForce.
HYPE TAPE ALERT— Wide Right & Natty Lite (@WideRtNattyLt) October 2, 2020
2020 Iowa State Football Hype Tape - Oklahoma https://t.co/bJkSDEpLYc
12/18: SPECIAL PODCAST: Sitting Down with Rece Davis
Given how it all came together, the fact that this podcast even happen was kind of a miracle. An extremely popular figure on ESPN sitting down with little old us? What?
Either way, if you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’ve already listened to this pod, so you don’t really have to go back and listen to it again. How do I know? It’s our most-downloaded podcast ever, tripling the previous record.
12/18: Big 12 Championship Hype Video
For the biggest game in Iowa State football history, I wanted to create my best hype tape ever, and I think I did that. The people responded by making it our most-watched YouTube video ever, amassing over 28,000 views to date, more than double the previous record holder, Matthias’ Juicy Wiggle hype tape from last season.
2/4: Iowa Democrats Under Fire For Using Big 12 Refs to Certify Caucus Results
It feels unbelievable that the caucuses happened this calendar year, but as the calendar flipped to the next day without a winner, we managed to find out what took so long.
3/24: Fantasy Cyclone Basketball Draft ft. Tyrese Haliburton, 4/15: NFL Draft Interview ft. Steven Wirtel, 7/8: Interview with Pick Six Previews
Right as COVID forced the sports world to a halt, the Litecast was lucky enough to do interviews with a couple of now-former Cyclone greats and a national college football voice. Sacramento Kings guard and soon-to-be NBA Rookie of the Year Tyrese Haliburton joined us for a fantasy draft to put together our best starting 5, and promptly declared for the draft the day after we recorded.
Detroit Lions’ LS Steven Wirtel talked to us about his career at Iowa State, his experience at the NFL combine (he can bench more than AJ Epenesa), why Matt Campbell is the best, and preparing for the draft during the pandemic.
Brett Ciancia, aka @PickSixPreviews, joined the Litecast in the leadup to the football season. His advanced stats showed an Iowa State team primed for a breakout, which thankfully came to fruition. We debated Brock Purdy vs. Sam Ehlinger, and why Charlie Kolar is an All-American (he was). We also did our best to prop up a Heisman candidate from Iowa State, but it turns out we had the wrong one in mind.
11/24: Will Matt Campbell Be the Next Coach at Nebraska?
As Iowa State enjoyed a breakthrough football season, the Matt Campbell coaching rumors popped up again. Nebraska was an unexpected destination, so I sought out some answers.
11/28 Iowa State Fan Reaction Video
This is the pure joy from Iowa State fans right here. Waiting all these years for Iowa State football to climb the mountain in the Big 12. While the game in Dallas didn’t end the way we wanted, this certainly was one of those days that nothing else mattered in the world.
12/15 Iowa State Moves Up to #6 In College Football Playoff Poll
Another one of those things. Iowa State right on the outside of the top 5 in FOOTBALL. While it was great this season, with Matt Campbell I think it’s something we can look forward to happening again very soon.
12/3 Iowa State Hype Tape West Virginia
Ah hell why not. Hype tapes are fun.
5/5 The Supreme Court of Takes: Hampton v. UAB
I had a blast with this one. Ryan and I faced off in a square circle of basketball takes in what felt like a much more lame and sport nerdy 8 mile rap battle. The collaboration and team effort on this made it a whole lot of fun, and what would we do without the help of Jar Lar and his photoshop skills.
6/3 Litecast: Interview with Oni Omolie
I joined the Litecast almost a year ago, it was early January of 2020, and I went from a timid fourth member who gave insight on The Bachelor, to one of the main co hosts in a year. This was my first interview landing, and I had a great time having Oni on. He’s worth a twitter follow for all things Iowa State and gaming.
10/22 WANTED: Cyclone Larry and the Murder of @beer
This was my first crack at a humor article on the site. It was in memory of our sweet prince, Cyclone Larry, and the nerds who put him in twitter no man’s land for threatening the murder of @beer (an account that doesn’t exist, and is also a drink, and not a person)
Also Larry is back on twitter. And like actually back, not like Texas back. @CyGuyLarry