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Peterson: ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit calls Iowa State’s Matt Campbell a ‘superstar’

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Iowa State vs. Iowa is significant, regardless where you live
Randy Peterson, rpeterson@dmreg.com

AMES, Ia. — A memo, to Iowa State fans still annoyed that someone would dare suggest Matt Campbell isn’t long for Ames: Stand down.

Kirk Herbstreit, for one, has changed his tune.

“I really don’t see him leaving,” Herbstreit said on Andrew Doughty’s High Motor podcast Monday. “I’ve talked to a number of athletic directors who have looked at what they’d have to pay to be able to get him to leave, and every one of them said it’s way too steep.

“I give credit to Iowa State for pretty much locking him down and not allowing other schools to come in and take him away.”

So, to Iowa State fans attending ESPN’s “College GameDay” show in Ames on Saturday, take heart in what college football’s top network analyst says now, in spite of what he said before. He’s dramatically changed his tune, and he sees Campbell and the Cyclones as a sturdy match.

“I said two years ago for Iowa State fans to enjoy Matt Campbell while they can, because he’s probably going to be coaching somewhere else pretty soon,” Herbstreit recalled on the podcast. “Of course, he ended up extending his contract, and I heard a lot from Iowa State fans after that.

“It wasn’t a reflection on Iowa State. It was more just what you see typically in college football.

“When a guy has a big year, and he comes out of nowhere at someplace that’s not necessarily a traditional power — you see an AD who’s at a big-time school like a Florida or a UCLA or one of these more recognizable names — that’s somewhat desperate to bring in a coach that’s going to get their fan base excited. Who better to do that than a guy like Matt Campbell?”

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Remember that Campbell’s most recent contract includes a $6 million buyout. Remember also that trying to beat 2-0 Iowa in Saturday’s 3 p.m. game at Jack Trice Stadium is the only thing on your coach’s mind.

His only thought is on trying to beat the 18th-ranked team in the country. His focus is on the present of a program that has progressed a lot since a 42-3 loss against Iowa in his first Cy-Hawk game.

“That game was certainly a crescendo of where we were in that moment,” Campbell said during his weekly press conference Tuesday. “We were, as a football program, being exposed. It was a harsh reality.

“From us as coaches, to our players, to everybody involved — bringing those harsh realities to the forefront. And then it was about, ‘How are we going to fix it?’

“Sometimes, you need to be humbled and hit rock bottom. And that was certainly a rock-bottom moment for our program.”

Since then, Iowa won 44-41 in overtime in 2017 and 13-3 last season.

“They’ve been consistently successful, in my opinion,” Campbell said of the Hawkeyes. “They know who they are. They’re not trying to be somebody else. The reality is, when you know that and become that, then you know your answers to some of the challenges that maybe come within a game and certainly from season to season.

“There’s a lot of respect for that.”

There’s respect for Campbell’s program, too. And after consecutive eight-win seasons, it’s justified.

“Matt Campbell is kind of an up-and-coming superstar,” Herbstreit said on the podcast. “What you’ve watched him do at Iowa State — he’s got a long ways to go there, but it feels like they’ve become the new Kansas State of the Big 12 (Conference).”

That’s about as big a compliment as it gets. During Snyder’s two stints and 27 seasons at Kansas State, he changed Wildcats football from horrible to nationally noticeable. He won two Big 12 titles. He was just the fourth active coach to be enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame.

“(Iowa State) was 8-5 again last year and got a lot of people’s attention,” Herbstreit continued. “I thought he would be a guy who would probably be gone. They were able to extend him out, and from what I understand, he has a buyout that’s so steep that he’ll probably be in Ames, Iowa, for the foreseeable future. I don’t think anybody will come in and pay what they’d have to pay to get him out of there. . . .

“He’s either going to continue to do it at Iowa State, or somebody’s going to pull him away, but I think he’s a future superstar in the business.”

Randy Peterson is the Iowa State columnist for the Register. Reach him at rpeterson@dmreg.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Subscribe today at Des Moines Register.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.

Source: Des Moines Register