Matt Campbell’s beloved Process has been tested against both success and failure. It’s endured adversity and the unexpected. It’s emerged as a guiding light for the Iowa State football coach, personally and professionally, and his Iowa State program.
We’re about to find out exactly how powerful that process is.
With ISU coaches and players scattered and separated due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the process that the Cyclones have relied upon over the past four years can no longer simply be a simple set of actions or a buzzword or a mantra.
We’re going to find out if the process is a mindset that the Cyclones are committed to, and if it’s something capable of binding together more than 100 people with a common goal and purpose without physical proximity and amid historically difficult circumstances.
“This is where your culture really comes into play,” Campbell said Tuesday.
It’s a culture that will be tested at extreme levels by COVID-19.
Players and staff have real-world concerns about health and safety, about families and jobs. They’re all apart, with social distancing canceling in-person classes on campus along with spring football (and any other gatherings), and there’s no telling when they’ll be back together. Heck, there is real concern about whether or not we’ll even have a football season this fall due to the virus.
That means ISU has to lean on the process like never before and it needs the process to be more than it ever has been.
The process has to be the constant. What the process truly is — or what ISU needs it to be — is commitment. The commitment to do what is required regardless of the challenges, inconveniences or extenuating circumstances.
A global pandemic certainly puts that to the test.
“Obviously it starts with a little bit of anxiety,” Campbell said, “but then you’ve got to sit down and say, well how do we win this challenge? How do we give our kids the best opportunity to thrive through it?
“You’ve got to find a routine. If you’re sleeping in until 11 o’clock every day, it’s probably going to be really hard for you to come back and thrive from this situation. And so, I think the thing that we’ve been able to do with our kids and continue to work really hard at, is find ways to connect with them, find ways, and again it all starts with the communication piece, is holding people accountable through a standard through communication, of getting a great routine set.”
A Zoom meeting or FaceTime call can only exact so much accountability, though. Getting yelled at through a 5-inch iPhone screen isn’t exactly the deterrent to bad behavior that extra sprints or a move down the depth chart provides.
It has to be a personal accountability down the line, from the 123 players who were expecting to be at spring ball this month to the bevy of coaches at ISU. There’s no one there telling you to get through that last rep in the weight room. There’s little peer pressure to get in the weight room in the first place. There’s less support for taking care of academics. It’s harder for the empathy many of these players in tough home situations need to come through a laptop.
If the process is going to be powerful for the Cyclones, it has to be a way of life. There has to be trust not only in the process but in each other’s commitment to that process. It has to be a lifestyle that is immune to the biggest disruptor any of us have seen in our lifetimes.
“We’re really fortunate to have kids that really want to continue to find ways to get better,” Campbell said. “It just forces us to have to be better and more creative teachers and something that I think I know our staff, even though at times it’s been painful early on, I think they’ve really started to better themselves and enjoy it and really even spearhead us in some ways that down the road we may be able to use and continue to get ourselves better which is exciting.”
Staying together while being apart might just be the greatest challenge Campbell’s process will ever face.
Source: Des Moines Register