Leadership comes in different packages

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Volleyball coach Christy Johnson-Lynch appears calm, composed and level-headed no matter the situation. Paul Rhoads, the football boss, is excitable, intense and emotional.

With those characteristics as backdrop, it was interesting Monday to hear the coaches describe two of their key players and potential leaders for 2011.

Rhoads was asked about first-year starting quarterback Steele Jantz.

“He has the personality that indicates he’ll be unflappable,” Rhoads said. “He’s the same guy every day. Never too high, never too low. He’s a one-play-at-a-time guy.”

The book on Jantz reads calm, composed and level-headed.

When Johnson-Lynch took the microphone she shared insight about Kristen Hahn, her new libero and the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

“She’s got that libero personality,” Johnson-Lynch said. “High energy and kind of a sparkplug type player. That’s what she is naturally and that is the type of personality to really excel at the position (libero).”

In other words, she is excitable, intense and emotional.

Jantz and Hahn are two Cyclones in their first seasons as starters. Although their approaches are different, their coaches are confident in their leadership qualities. It’s a tale of contrast that will, hopefully, lead to many wins this fall.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Cyclones surpass 35k season football tickets

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Are you ready for some football?

Coach Paul Rhoads admitted Monday that the mood of his team has changed as game-week preparations started.

“It’s a different atmosphere now that game week has arrived,” Rhoads said. “It was distinct at practice Sunday. We’re anxious for this week.”

Apparently, the team’s excitement is matched by the Cyclone fan base. And, the ticket sales numbers prove it.

For only the second time in school history, Iowa State has surpassed 35,000 season football tickets sold. The only time ISU sold more was in 2007 when a season ticket was required for admission to the Iowa game.

The Cyclones’ current season ticket total is 3,500 more than a year ago with potentially more sales yet to come.

“Historically, we sell more tickets through the first month of the season,” Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. “The current numbers are hard evidence that Cyclone fans are very excited about this year’s prospects.”

Based upon season tickets in the fold and traditional walk-up sales for the season opener, the Cyclones are optimistic that a crowd well above 50k will be on hand Saturday night when UNI comes to town.

A good looking weather forecast helps matters as well.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Rhoads wants pressure on the (opposing team’s) QB

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Most of the preseason football chatter at Iowa State has revolved around the quarterback position. That’s fair. Everyone likes to project how the offense will perform.

Coaches like to preach, however, that defense wins games. Coach Paul Rhoads is a former defensive coordinator and he enters his third season knowing the Cyclones need to get more of a pass rush to improve as a defense.

“We hope to pressure more and we’d like to start with a four-man rush,” Rhoads said at media day. “We have not done that (gotten a pass rush with four men) the past two years.”

Iowa State has ranked last in the Big 12 (conference games only) with six sacks in both 2009 and 2010. Four players (Brandon Sharpe, Texas Tech; Aldon Smith, MU; Von Miller, A&M; and Jared Crick, NU) had more sacks than ISU in 2009 and Miller repeated that feat last season.

But, Rhoads, warned, you bring pressure cautiously.

“You make a decision (to rush) based upon the ability to hold up in man coverage,” Rhoads said. “I think we have a couple of corners that can do that. We’ve got to figure out if our safeties can as well.”

So, although most of the talk has been about the QB competition this year it’s likely that Rhoads has also been watching the safeties a lot, too. He wants to rush the passer and that option is dependent on the play in the deep secondary.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Seven bowls in the mix for Big 12 schools

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The Football Bowl Association (FBA) has certified 35 bowl games for 2011-12. Seven of those games involve Big 12 schools, meaning that 70% of the league’s membership is guaranteed a bowl game this season if they meet the required number of victories.

“College football is about going to the post-season,” Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads said earlier this month. “We want to win post-season games and that’s our goal year-in and year-out.”

The Big 12’s bowl slate for this season includes the …

·         Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (Dec. 28 vs. Pac-12 in San Diego)

·         Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 29 vs. Pac-12 in San Antonio)

·         New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 30 vs. Big East in Bronx)

·         Insight Bowl (Dec. 30 vs. Big Ten in Tempe)

·         Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Dec. 31 vs. Big Ten in Houston)

·         Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 5 vs. BCS in Glendale, AZ)

·         AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 6 vs. SEC in Arlington, TX)


“Our yearly expectation is to win a bowl game and enjoy that experience,” Rhoads said. “Now, we don’t just want to eat steaks and go to an amusement park. We want to win, too.”

The pursuit of that bowl victory begins in eight days.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Athletics budgets on the rise

ACC schools have increased their athletics department budgets by an average of 14.6% in the last two years according to research compiled by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal. The Big 12 was second among BCS conferences with a 12.6% average increase.

One of the factors is new league television deals. The ACC doubled its TV revenues when it signed a new ESPN contract. The Big 12 recently agreed to a deal with FOX Sports for its second-tier rights.

At a local level, the Cyclones’ athletics budget increased 17.3% over the two years. Iowa State still ranks last in the Big 12 for athletics budget, but the gap with competition continues to narrow. The only league school with a higher percentage increase was Texas, which raised its nation’s largest athletics budget by 18.2%.

The Longhorns, in fact, tower over everyone nationally in sports budget. Their FY12 projection is $153.5 million. To put that into perspective, UT is $27,000,000 higher than the nation’s second-ranked (in budget terms) school, Ohio State.

“A lot of change in spending is related to making reinvestments in facilities, based largely on money from new TV deals,” Iowa State’s Jamie Pollard is quoted as saying. “We’re going forward with three new projects (scoreboard, Cyclone Sports Complex and a football training facility) and we’re taking on debt for that, but we’re doing so knowing that revenue is going up.”

If you want to review Michael Smith’s research, click here.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Stay engaged on the trophy process

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The audience (media and on-lookers) at Tuesday’s Cy-Hawk Football Trophy news conference seemed relieved after officials said that a new trophy is in the works.

It has been a difficult week for many folks associated with Iowa’s corn industry. These hard-working, honest people felt run-over by a flood of negative publicity about the football trophy. People were disappointed with the creation that was collectively produced by the athletics departments, their multi-media rights partners and Iowa Corn.

The question quickly became “how can we turn lemons into lemonade?”

The answer was, start over with the creative process and give the passionate football fans in the state a chance to participate. The fact that some of you care enough to express opinions is what makes this rivalry fantastic.

Concepts for a new trophy are being gathered. Voting on new designs will begin relatively soon. I hope you stay engaged and be a part of the process. Being a critic is easy. Helping find a solution is a bit harder, but more satisfactory.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Making it easier to follow the Cyclones

You may have noticed a few recent changes to cyclones.com.

As technology continues to explode, we are trying to keep up and deliver our content in new ways.

We have improved our video distribution capabilities through an enhanced media player and direct links to videos from stories. We are offering video / audio packages together (yearly, 4-month or monthly memberships) in the Clone Zone for the first time ever.

Sometimes, you just have to marvel at the impact of …
* Facebook  – its community would be the third-largest country in the world
* Twitter – nearly 55 million “tweets” are shared daily and 300,000 join the fad every day; and
* YouTube – more than 24 hours of video are added every minute of every day.

To take of advantage of these channels, we have aggressively used them to share our news. You can see a comprehensive list who participates on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube by clicking here.

Our communications staff will host live blogs at many more home events this year. We continue to add elements to the Cyclone Mobile Network. Several thousand people are already enjoying the alerts, promotions and give-aways on their mobile devices.

We are also trying to make cyclones.com more portable to fit into your busy schedule. New apps for the iPhone and Android are available in their markets. An iPad app is soon to be launched, too.

We greatly appreciate your loyal support of the program and hope that these technological advancements make the experience better for you.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Jantz “emerged clearly as #1″ per Rhoads

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The path that Steele Jantz took to become the starting quarterback at Iowa State was not the conventional route.

Once he got to Ames last spring, Jantz joined three teammates in a battle to become the starter. Jantz, like the others, was told by Head Coach Paul Rhoads that they would be examined and measured daily in the areas of “decision making, throwing accuracy and getting things done with (their) feet.”

Saturday, night the coach confirmed with enthusiasm that Jantz will be the starter.

“As we went into camp, the problem was a positive one… we had (multiple) guys playing well,” Rhoads said. “One just needed to play better. We went through the entire camp and Steele emerged clearly as the #1 guy.”

Can the player with the least experience at Iowa State and in Division 1A be successful?

“Guys come from JC all the time and make the transition,” Rhoads said.

The last junior college quarterback to hit campus and win the job at Iowa State was Seneca Wallace in 2001. Wallace, who like Jantz played at a California JC before transferring, is one of the Cyclones’ all-time greats.

Before he came to ISU, Jantz played football at Hawaii and the City College of San Francisco. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton, had a similar path going from Florida to Blinn JC before leading Auburn to its special season.

Jantz, of course, will write his own script. But, he has clearly emerged as Rhoads’ choice.

“After the second scrimmage (Wednesday), we had a pretty good idea” Rhoads said. “His decision making has improved every day.”

And, his best decision was joining the Cyclones last spring.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

Cyclones earn re-certification from NCAA

Several prominent athletics departments have been accused of major rules violations since last season. Most of the allegations revolve around impermissible benefits provided to student-athletes.

Outside of rules violations – which get most of the headlines – there is another set of expectations for NCAA members that relates to academic integrity, gender/diversity issues and student-athlete welfare. It is called re-certification. The NCAA wants to ensure its members are operating within the principles established and requiring schools to re-certify every 10 years is how they manage it.

The Iowa State University Athletics Department started its self-study more than a year ago and it learned Thursday that it did earn its re-certification. The process is a self-study of the department directed by campus leaders.

Tahira Hira, Executive Assistant to the President, chaired a hard-working committee of nearly 25 individuals who prepared our report. Dr. Calli Sanders, Senior Associate A.D., was on the point for the athletics department.

“The day we received notification that Iowa State University had been re-certified, there was great satisfaction in the President’s office,” Hira said. “So many individuals gave countless hours of their time to prepare our report and I wish to offer my sincere thanks for their dedication.”

At a time when several compliance missteps have been leading college sports headlines, it was welcome news on the Ames campus to learn of its re-certification success. The certification process is separate from the NCAA’s enforcement arm, but nonetheless, it is an indicator that proper operating guidelines are in place at Iowa State.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow

 

Coaching staff returns intact

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Continuity. Familiarity. Routine. Consistency.

Each fall, more than 100 men report to college football training camps across the nation. Getting them organized, on task and comfortable with expectations, procedures and game plans is challenging.

Having the same teachers – in this case, assistant coaches – simplifies and speeds up the process. That’s why your often hear college football coaches celebrate continuity on their staffs.

Paul Rhoads entered camp several weeks ago with the same nine full-time assistant coaches from last season. That is a plus.

The Cyclones have returned their entire football coaching staff just three times since 1995.

Dan McCarney’s first staff returned in whole for the ’96 season. Rhoads was on the Cyclones’ staff then. Gene Chizik kept his group together in his two years (2007-08) at Iowa State.

The only other time that ISU had the same staff in consecutive seasons (since ’95) was 2004-05 when Terry Allen (TE), Tony Alford (RB), Barney Cotton (OL), John Skladany (LB), Chris Ash (DB), DeMontie Cross (OLB), Todd Fitch (QB), Mike Grant (WR) and Mike Nelson (DL) were working the sidelines.

It’s fair to assume that having the same teachers with the same expectations and the same methods are a good thing. Familiarity breeds success and that intangible – in the form of the same coaching staff – will favor the Cyclones this fall.

Reader feedback is welcome at 2minutetimeout@iastate.edu. You can also follow me on Twitter at: twitter.com/SteveMalchow