Ah, The Offseason. That time of year when internet debates are as hot as the summer breeze and boredom can make even Big 12 Media Day seem interesting. Content dries up, recruiting hits a pause, and even football workouts don’t produce a lick of interest. Hell, the only real discourse worth listening to has surrounded the NIL beer deals that Iowa State and Iowa have stirred up for anonymous accounts to troll each other over. “No, OUR lager is better.” - @CloneFan69420
Never fear, internet friends. I’m here to provide some much needed #content alongside the rest of the WNRL gang to provide the first Iowa State-related random piece of the summer. So join me as we wander aimlessly through the offseason—a wasteland as empty as CHA with a top 25 team in town— as we explore a few topics that have popped up over the last few months that I find interesting (or not).
JT Rock Reclassifies... But Will It Matter?
A few days ago, Iowa State commit JT Rock announced that he would re-classify into the 2023 recruiting cycle and enroll in Iowa State this fall. The 7’1” center from South Dakota was originally slated to be part of the 2024 recruiting class, meaning the 2023-24 basketball season would be spent completing his senior year of high school. Rock referenced a desire to prepare his body and get himself ready for the grind of major college basketball as a major reason for his decision to enroll early. And who can blame him? With other prep schools calling and recruiting the Sioux Falls big man, Rock’s decision to get to Ames early can only be a good thing, right?
But here’s the thing. In my own, subjective, completely correct opinion, I’m not about to put any stock into a decision that likely won’t see dividends for another few years. Rock will likely redshirt this year, bulk up, and hopefully contribute during the 2024-25 season, where he will have 4 years of eligibility remaining (again, assuming he redshirts). Rock has been posting up against future plumbers and farmers, and is impossible to evaluate. I mean, look at the highlights:
What I’m not saying is that he’s gonna stink, let’s be clear. What I AM saying is that I think Rock has a lot of work to do before we can consider him a contributor. He will offer size that Iowa State hasn’t had in a while, but will need to really beef up before banging in the low post in the Big 12. Competition in practice every day will be great experience and hopefully he’ll get his feet under him quickly.
Gambling Fatigue & Campbellisms
Guess who’s tired of talking about this gambling investigation that’s shaking Iowa State’s football program right now? It’s me, I am. Also, so is Matt Campbell. At Big 12 Media Day in Arlington, Campbell did his best impression of Tim Robinson’s character from the latest season of I think you should leave. In the sketch mentioned, Robinson portrays a performer who puts on silent shows with the promise to pay any audience member who can make him talk. (The full skit is on Netflix. Go watch it)
Matt Campbell’s Media Day performance reminded me a lot of Robinson’s character. Everyone knows the gambling investigation revolves around key Iowa State personnel at this point. The question at this point PROBABLY isn’t “who” is involved, but “how severe” the punishment or repercussions will be.
Every time Campbell was asked about the gambling “scandal” on the field at Cowboys Stadium, you could see his internal eye roll as he put on his show for reporters.
“That investigation is ongoing and continues to not have a lot of clarity to it but I think we are closer to getting clarity. The thing I appreciate is that have allowed me to be removed from the process and just give me the results once the results come my way. The thing I would say for any of our young men is that either or not involved in this is you are teaching 18-22 year old men.”
Translation from Robinson’s character: “If I talk, you’ll get money. But I NEVER talk.”
I’ve long since thought that Mike Tomlin and Matt Campbell could both be in a room and talk for hours to each other without saying a single thing of substance. Campbell’s obvious inability to speak about an ongoing investigation aside, does anyone have a more boring repertoire of Coachisms than he does?
To further prove my point, can you guess which of the below quotes is something Campbell said during Media Day, and which is made-up? See if you can tell the difference:
A. [In response to Iowa State’s inability to close out close games last season]: Oh yeah, you know, I think we showed a lot of growth and grit in terms of getting to that finish line. I think, a big thing I stress to guys is how we need to be developing the right habits, really putting one foot in front of the other during practice, and really focusing on attention to detail to close out games. Really, I’m just proud of the way guys competed throughout the year.
B. [On adding new O-Line Coach Ryan Clanton]: You look at his own collegiate career and his growth process and the success that he has as a player to certainly what he has been able to do at Northern Iowa. When I look at the growth of our offensive line in general, I think one of the big things was physical growth and development, and I think that that group, whether you would say it was process or whether it was youth, that group needed to make big strides and big gains this year from a physical growth and development standpoint.
C. [On Nate Scheelhaase]: Um, but there was something about Nate Scheelhaase that was really powerful. The football piece was one, but more than anything, was the human. What he stood for, what he believed in, leadership intangibles and why he was coaching. His why was to make a difference in the lives of 18-22 year old’s. And to me, that’s what I love, that’s my passion about coaching. The wins and losses are great, but developing human beings is what I love most about my job.
The Great NIL Beer Race
Swarm, Ames Lager, Green Jacket, Gold Jacket... Who gives a Stout? With the advent of NIL deals, we have now seen Iowa and Iowa State announce NIL-related booze products, with portions of sales going directly to each organization. Iowa State’s Ames Lager and Iowa’s Swarm beers have turned an otherwise incredibly boring summer into a who’s who of alcohol-related fan support. Conversation, of course, began once Iowa State announced the production of Ames Lager, a light beer manufactured by Westo brewing company up in Okaboji. Iowa fans, of course, then took to the little blue bird to express their displeasure and insistence of mimicry, as Ames Lager was announced AFTER Iowa’s Swarm.
THEN, in mid-July, the actual, official, Iowa State athletic department announced that they’d be partnering with Backpocket Brewing to produce “Clone Fest”, a festbier lager, to become the “officially licensed craft beer of the Iowa State Cyclones.”
Not only did the actual university announce a beer partnership (why?), they did so merely two weeks after the WeWill Collective announced their beer and support of the Iowa State NIL collective. Fans were understandably confused, myself included. NIL has complicated and twisted everything fans have understood about college athletics. In the olden days, way back in 2020, fans were simply asked to pay for tickets or donate directly to the university in order to support their alma mater or favorite institution. NOW, NIL has created a head-scratching schism in which fans are forced to donate directly to the players, or directly to the school. Should Farmer Jerry from Oskaloosa give his hard-earned dough to the university? Or is it better spent going directly to players, which may have a direct impact to retaining talent? Or maybe that money needs to go towards a facilities upgrade, so it should go directly into Jamie Pollard’s pocket?
Sadly, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. Iowa State’s NIL deals need to be successful to retain talent, and the university isn’t going to NOT accept donations... Fans are put in a precarious position and made to choose between their first and second born children.
Which brings us back to beer. I’m no marketing or sales expert, but wouldn’t the solution to solving this issue be to allow beer to be served inside Jack Trice and Hilton and just serve both? Kill two birds with one stone: Grant the fans access to booze during games, and support both the NIL AND university. Plaster signs everywhere that explain where proceeds go with each purchase, and watch the money roll in. At the very least, I won’t be quite as thirsty next time I go to a game.
Non-Conference Basketball Schedule or List of School Names from the Movie “Accepted”
Iowa State’s non-conference basketball schedule reads like a writer attempting to come up with names for the fictional school in the ole’ Justin Long and Blake Lively comedy, Accepted, where college kids create a fake university and shenanigans ensue (the mid-2000s were a different time):
- Green Bay
- Idaho State
- Grambling State
- ESPN Invitational (3 of: Boise State, Butler, FAU, Penn State, Texas A&M, VCU, Virginia Tech)
- Prairie View A&M
- Florida A&M (don’t say it)
- Eastern Illinois
- New Hampshire
The Cyclones non-conf strength of schedule is so bad that even most SEC football teams think it’s too soft. I heard Otz wanted to play Grinnell but they were unavailable...
In all seriousness, there’s two schools of thought here (coincidentally, ISU almost played both schools), with one being that playing in the Big 12 means there are plenty of chances for quality wins and that the non-con just doesn’t matter. The other is that you don’t get better by playing terrible teams. Just ask Bill Self, who would probably schedule the Celtics each year if he could.
I’m of the adage that playing against better competition is better in the long run. Iron sharpens iron, if you will. Give the fellas a chance to go into a hostile environment (and no, @DePaul does not count) and struggle. After all, there are plenty of chances for quality wins in conference play.
And yes, spare me the “this was decided years ago and scheduled out so far in advance” speech. I understand how it works but that doesn’t mean it’s not still terrible!
God bless the season ticket holders, who get to see... *Checks notes* Iowa and also 8 iterations of the South Harmon Institute of Technology. Looks like we’ll have to watch some over-eager coach make his team run suicides during a timeout again.
Campbell’s real quotes were B. and C. Thanks for playing!