Rhoads’ agreement sparks memories of Magic nearly 30 years ago.

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Dr. Jerry Buss won 10 NBA championships – the most of any owner in league history – with the Los Angeles Lakers.

A shrewd business executive, Buss was second-guessed in 1981 when he agreed to a 25-year, $25 million contract with 21-year-old Magic Johnson. It was the longest and richest contract in professional sports history.

Dr. Buss said he did it to increase the Lakers’ profile.

“(Magic’s) skills, style and charisma will make the team a huge winner and a huge draw,” Dr. Buss said.

The Lakers, under Magic’s direction, quickly became known as “Showtime.” Titles and capacity crowds did become the norm at the Forum as Dr. Buss had projected.

Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads agreed in principle to a 10-year, $20 million deal Friday. What Buss said about Johnson 30 years ago came to mind.

Rhoads’ enthusiasm, excellence and risk-taking approach (on-side kicks, fake punts, etc.) reminded me of the skills-style-charisma characteristics Buss shared about Magic.

The hope in Cyclone Nation is that Rhoads’ commitment yields the dividends that Magic delivered to LA.

Upon signing his deal, Magic said he wanted to be a “Laker for life.” After Rhoads’ agreement was announced his father, Cecil, told the Des Moines Register that his son “has fallen in love with Iowa State.”

Maybe, there are more parallels than originally thought.

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

Re-alignment series: if it’s all about the football “brand”, then consider this.

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Countless words have been written and said about conference re-alignment the last two years, and the assertion that “it’s all about football” has been a common theme.

“Brand” became a catch-all phrase for what a school (and its football program) brings to the table. In college football terms, “brand” is a school’s reputation for success.

To measure “brand” for schools, which made conference moves recently, let’s take a look at overall winning percentage and bowl records for the last five seasons.

Here are school winning percentages from 2007-11:

1.    Big 12 (.789 average) – TCU (.844), West Virginia (.734)

2.    Big Ten (.662) – Nebraska (.662)

3.    SEC (.610) – Missouri (.712), Texas A&M (.508)

4.    Big East (.596) – Boise State (.908), Houston (.662), UCF (.585), San Diego State (.443) and SMU (.381)

5.    Pac-12 (.561) – Utah (.766), Colorado (.355)

6.    ACC (.482) – Pitt (.603), Syracuse (.361)

Here are bowl records from 2006-10 (listed in order of winning percent) and note the Big 12 additions made bowls each of the last five seasons and tied for the most victories:

1.    ACC (.750 with 4 appearances, 3 wins) – Syracuse (1-0), Pitt (2-1)

2.    Big 12 (.700 with 10, 7) – TCU (4-1), West Virginia (3-2)

3.    Pac-12 (.667 with 6, 4) – Utah (4-1), Colorado (0-1)

4.    Big Ten (.500 with 4, 2) – Nebraska (2-2)

5.    Big East (.467 with 15, 7) – Boise State (3-2), San Diego State (1-0), SMU (1-1), UCF (1-2) and Houston (1-3)

6.    SEC (.222 with 9, 2) – Missouri (2-3), Texas A&M (0-4)

If conference re-alignment was truly about football, the Big 12 made the biggest gains in raising its “brand”. There may be more historical college football brands than TCU and WVU, but in the last five years it’s not all that close.

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Re-alignment series: like it or not, conference footprints have gotten much larger.

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The worst part of conference re-shuffling has been the loss of geographical rivalries.

There is a reason that the high schools in Des Moines play each other instead of those in Waterloo. There is a reason the Lakers share a division with the Clippers, Warriors, Kings and Suns instead of the Cavaliers and Heat. There is a reason the Broncos don’t join a division with the Vikings, Bears, Packers and Lions.

Geographical proximity strengthens rivalries.

Here is the breakdown of the average distances new conference members are from other campuses in the leagues they are / have joined:

1.    ACC (623.5 miles) – Pitt (546), Syracuse (701 miles)

2.    Big Ten (626) – Nebraska (626)

3.    SEC (707.5) – Missouri (642), Texas A&M (773)

4.    Big 12 (800.5) – TCU (449), West Virginia (1,152)

5.    Pac-12 (907) – Utah (724), Colorado (1,090)

6.    Big East (1,554) – SMU 1,157), Houston (1,212), UCF (1,248), Boise State (2,062) and San Diego State (2,089)

The average distance to travel for the new members in the ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 are similar. The outlier is the Big East. Like it or not, larger conference footprints is a fact that every league has accepted.

In the last installment of this series on re-alignment Friday, we’ll look at football program “brands”.

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Re-alignment series: how do new league members stack up in overall athletics excellence (Directors’ Cup)?

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Iowa State sponsors 18 intercollegiate sports. A handful of them generate most of the headlines, but each of them is important in helping define the success of Cyclone Athletics.

One of the best measures for overall competitive success is the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup. It is a comprehensive annual measure of athletics achievement (based upon post-season finish) on each college campus.

Iowa State strives to be a Top 50 program in the Cup every season and, in special years, challenge for the Top 30.

How do the schools, which jumped to new conferences through the re-alignment process, compare for all-sports achievement? Here are their most-recent five-year average finishes in the Directors’ Cup:

1.    SEC (avg. 27th) – Texas A&M (11th), Missouri (43rd)

2.    Big Ten (28th) – Nebraska (28th)

3.    Big 12 (46th) – West Virginia (43rd), TCU (49th)

4.    Pac-12 (63rd) – Colorado (58th), Utah (68th)

5.    ACC (87th) – Syracuse (76th), Pitt (97th)

6.    Big East (91st) – SMU (72nd), Boise State (73rd), San Diego State (82nd), Houston (105th) and UCF (122nd)

The Big 12’s new members – TCU and West Virginia – have been Top 50 programs on average for the last five years. The Horned Frogs and Mountaineers compete on a national level in many sports. Their profiles will mesh nicely in the Big 12.

Be sure to read the fourth blog in this series on re-alignment Thursday when we review geographic proximity of league members.

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Re-alignment series: Academic performance of athletes per GSR puts Big 12 on top, again.

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As conferences held press conferences to welcome new members, it quickly became part of the process to recognize the academic reputations of those universities.

That’s a good thing as it re-affirms what should be a central mission for athletics departments… graduating their student-athletes.

Historically, the measurement for academic success has been the federal government-reported student-athlete graduation rate. In recent years, the NCAA has introduced and placed an even greater emphasis on a metric called the Graduation Success Rate.

The GSR was developed at the request of university presidents, who wanted to more accurately measure today’s more mobile college students. The GSR adjusts for student-athletes, who left school early to enter professional ranks, and transfers. It’s a more meaningful measure than the Fed Grad Rate.

In the most-recent GSR data, the Big 12’s incoming members (TCU and West Virginia) have the highest average rate and both schools registered a mark of at least 80%.

Here is the breakdown in order of conference average rate:

1.    Big 12 (82.5% avg.) – TCU (85%), West Virginia (80%)

2.    ACC (82%) – Syracuse (86%), Pitt (78%)

3.    SEC (77%) – Missouri (81%), Texas A&M (73%)

4.    Pac-12 (76.5%) – Utah (79%), Colorado (74%)

5.    Big East (76%) – SMU (84%), UCF (83%), Boise State (74%), San Diego State (70%) and Houston (69%)

6.    Big Ten (74%) – Nebraska (74%)

Tomorrow, in this space, we’ll review overall athletics performance using the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup finishes.

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

Re-alignment series starts with a review of big-stage presence in football & basketball. Big 12 wins.

Conference re-alignment has significantly altered the landscape in college athletics. Which leagues emerged from the recent shifts as the biggest winners?

The answer depends upon your personal perspective and what you value. Each day this week, I’ll use a different measure to rank order the leagues’ new or future members.

The schools included in this study are TCU & West Virginia (Big 12), Pitt & Syracuse (ACC), Boise State, UCF, Houston, San Diego State & SMU (Big East), Nebraska (Big Ten), Colorado & Utah (Pac-12) and Missouri & Texas A&M (SEC).

Today’s benchmark is recent, big-stage presence in football and basketball.

In the last half-dozen years, the new Big 12 members have participated in more BCS games and/or basketball Final Fours than the new schools in the other five major conferences combined.

·         Big 12 has six – West Virginia: 2006 Sugar Bowl, 2008 Fiesta Bowl, 2010 Men’s Basketball Final Four, 2012 Orange Bowl; TCU: 2010 Fiesta Bowl, 2011 Rose Bowl

·         Big East has two – Boise State: 2007 Fiesta Bowl, 2010 Fiesta Bowl

·         Pac-12 has one – Utah: 2009 Sugar Bowl

·         SEC has one – Texas A&M: 2011 Women’s Basketball Final Four

Your personal parameters might be different, but for major sport big-time performance in recent times, the Big 12 wins handily.

Tomorrow’s review will center on the academic performance of student-athletes.

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

Sanu is the latest star receiver to challenge Cyclone secondary

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There were 36 receivers in FBS football with more than 1,000 yards receiving this fall. Six of them had at least 100 receptions.

Rutgers’ Mohamed Sanu was on both lists. He registered 109 catches for 1,144 yards. Sanu’s stats jump off the page.

The 6-foot-2 junior was a unanimous First-team All-Big East selection He is also the next challenge for Iowa State’s pass defense.

In addition to Sanu (who ranked 18th nationally), the Cyclones have played against four other receivers who were among the NCAA’s Top 30 for yards receiving:

·         Kendall Wright (Baylor) – 131.0 ypg ranked 2nd

·         Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) – 111.3 ypg ranked 8th

·         Marvin McNutt (Iowa) – 105.8 ypg ranked 11th

·         Ryan Swope (Texas A&M) – 91.8 ypg ranked 26th

Iowa State’s defense was pretty effective against Wright (holding him 62 yards below his average), Blackmon (-12), McNutt (-44) and Swope (-51).

But, Sanu will be a new challenge. He had seven games with at least 100 yards receiving and he made 16 catches against Ohio. In the pass-heavy Big 12, the Cyclones’ pass defense was third-best.

It looks like there will be a pretty good battle when ISU and Rutgers collide in late December.

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

Cyclones have worn the underdog label well all season and they get another chance in bowl

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Iowa State enters its Pinstripe Bowl preparations as an underdog against Rutgers.

Coach Paul Rhoads noted several advantages the Scarlet Knights have and one is that Yankee Stadium is familiar territory.

“They have already won a game there this season,” Rhoads said in reference to Rutgers’ 27-12 win over Army on Nov. 12.

Yankee Stadium is only 49 miles from the RU campus, a short one-hour ride. For the Cyclones, the distance from Jack Trice Stadium to the bowl venue is 1,138 miles.

At a New York media conference Wednesday, A.D. Jamie Pollard noted the bowl will be a chance for “our 10,000-plus alums, who live on the east coast in the New York area” to see the Cyclones in person. Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti countered that his school has “200,000 living alums in the region.”

The 2011 Cyclones are familiar with the underdog role. They were favored only twice this season.

But, ISU keeps surprising. Four times they proved the experts wrong and they preparing to do it one more time in 2011.

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

Rhoads was talking about “practice” Sunday night, but in a different context than Iverson did nine years ago.

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Former NBA star Allen Iverson was a YouTube sensation in 2002 when his three-minute rant on personal work habits included 22 references to the word “practice”. Here is an excerpt:

“We’re talking about practice,” Iverson started. “I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about practice, not a game … but we’re talking about practice. Not the game that I go out there and die for … but we’re talking about practice.”

Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads was talking about practice Sunday when his Cyclones earned the school’s second bowl bid in three seasons, but it was in quite a different context.

“Bowl practice is invaluable, especially the developmental part of practice,” Rhoads said.

Although game preparation for Rutgers will take precedence, periods are also saved for development and scrimmaging of young players who normally participate on scout team.

Rhoads shared that he and his coordinators used part of their 90-minute weather delay at Kansas State Saturday to strategize on how to best utilize the developmental periods of bowl practice.

“It is when we can take the freshmen and drill and coach them,” Rhoads said.

For a young, developing team bowl practice is a huge asset. When schools are trying to build their programs and fail to earn a bowl berth, the lack of bowl practice widens the gap between the developing and already successful programs.

Iowa State will get more than a dozen practices to prepare for the Scarlet Knights. That is more than enough. Bowl practice for the young players, however, will be even more impactful on the long-term growth of the program.

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

The Cyclones in the Big Apple over the holidays… did you know it was 53 degrees at midnight Monday in NYC?

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When you consider New York City for the holidays, what comes to mind?

Is it the spectacular window displays along Fifth & Madison Avenues, the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, dropping the ball at Times Square on New Year’s Eve or ice skating at Rockefeller Center?

If you take the above and add in an afternoon of Cyclone football at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 30, the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl is an amazing opportunity.

As a college athletics employee, my schools have combined for 20 bowl appearances. That probably makes me very lucky and a seasoned bowl observer.

Without hesitation, I am suggesting that the Cyclones’ Pinstripe Bowl match-up with Rutgers in one of America’s most-desired holiday destinations is an opportunity worth your fullest consideration.

Yes, I’ve read and heard the arguments that the weather isn’t great in New York this time of year and it’s too expensive.

Did you know that average December temps in the Big Apple are 10-15 degrees higher than Des Moines? A member of our advance team reported that the temperature at midnight Monday night in NYC was 53 degrees.

Did you know that doing New York on your budget is only a mouse click away if you have any web searching capabilities?

The Pinstripe Bowl, in fact, knows the reputation of New York prices for the holidays and has partnered with Orbitz to help travelers plan. Their bowl tip sheet link is available by clicking here.

Everyone has their own wish lists for what a bowl should offer. But, when you factor in the Cyclones, New York City over the holidays and the Yankee brand (as game host), your imagination may be the only limitation for a trip you’ll never forget.

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