Iowa State has a good first day of practice after arriving in San Antonio
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN ANTONIO — Matt Campbell said something that caught my attention after Iowa State’s first Alamo Bowl practice Monday morning, when someone asked about the recent re-wording of his contract — in particular, the part that guaranteed his staff an additional $1 million before the end of the calendar year.
“In our profession, everybody wants to look at the head coach and say success is happening because of that person,” Campbell said. “That’s really not right in college football — (there’s also) 120 players and the coaching staff.
“I’ve been fortunate to have great assistants. To me, that’s way more important than what I’m given. It’s what we can give them.”
Campbell isn’t insinuating that he will veto all future raises. He’ll make $3.5 million for the work he’s done this year. His contract expires in 2024, which means nothing unless you’re recruiting for the future or unless you’re on the receiving end of the hefty buyout that may or may not come into play.
What Campbell is saying is that his assistants are just as important as he is — and if you don’t think some of them will be in demand after this week’s Alamo Bowl, you’re wrong. It was a collective effort that, in a matter of 37 games — and while playing in the only Power Five conference without a scheduling loophole — Iowa State was the first selection after the New Year’s Six bowls were announced.
“The assistants are a huge part of the success,” athletics director Jamie Pollard said. “We’re making sure they know that we appreciate them, both verbally and in the pocketbook.
“We’ve solidified that. We wanted to make sure they knew they were wanted here.”
So as they put their heads together for ways to slow down Washington State’s Air Raid offense, Iowa State fans will party on the Riverwalk.
“I looked at the forecast — Thursday and Friday are beautiful,” Pollard said while watching the Cyclones’ first practice. “I’d say (to restaurant owners), ‘Stock up on food, and make sure you have people working, because the Cyclones are coming to town.'”
Iowa State fans flock to almost anywhere to see their teams — like Kansas City for the Big 12 basketball tournament and like Memphis last year for the Liberty Bowl.
The 2018 invasion easily will include more than 20,000. Pollard said 14,000 tickets were purchased through the university. Another 10,000 or so fans are said to have bought tickets through the Alamo Bowl or third-party dealers.
To say the Alamodome will be Cyclones’ home field for Friday’s 8 p.m. game would be an understatement.
“Pretty phenomenal,” Pollard said.
Iowa State fans in the stands for the game, as well as the ESPN audience, will see a program that could be on the verge of even bigger things to come — in three seasons, Campbell and his guys have taken a Big 12 bottom-feeder to the conference’s most significant bowl after the New Year’s Six.
“Let’s put this game in perspective,” Pollard said. “The Alamo Bowl people characterize it as the highest bowl other than the New Year’s Six. They want to be one of those six in everything they do.”
But for Campbell’s team to be the first Big 12 bowl team picked after the College Playoffs selected Oklahoma and after the Sugar Bowl nabbed Texas — that’s pretty incredible for a program that won just two conference games in Campbell’s first season in 2016.
“It’s the culture of our team,” backup center Will Windham said. “You can tell by the good character of the men on this team. That’s the difference in how far we’ve come.
“Sure, there were good players back when I first got there. It’s literally the relationships— player to coach, coach to player and back down — that’s what it is.”
It’s better relationships. Everyone gets along. There are no cliques.
Windham is from San Antonio. He played a handful of high school road games on the same Alamo Heights football field on which Iowa State is practicing this week.
“Man, its unique,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything better. There’s not many people that get to end their career as a college athlete in their hometown.
“It’s really special to me.”
Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
Source: Des Moines Register