Spring season spurs Cyclones to 38th in Directors’ Cup standings

For only the second time in its history, the Iowa State Athletics Department finished in the Top 40 of the nation’s most-successful athletics departments from a competitive standpoint.

The 2014 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup final tally has the Cyclones in 38th place with 585.75 points. The school’s all-time best finish is 34th in 2010.

Iowa State had the fifth-best finish among Big 12 schools and tops in the state of Iowa.

The school earned 160 points in the spring season, which equaled its all-time record. The women’s track & field (60), women’s golf (51) and men’s golf (49) accounted for the spring points. ISU had averaged only 46 points in the spring season previously.

Iowa State also earned points from wrestling (64.5), men’s basketball (64), women’s cross country (63), gymnastics (59.25), women’s indoor track & field (51.5), men’s indoor track & field (46.5), men’s cross country (27), women’s basketball (25) and volleyball (25).

 

A decade of change from a Cyclone Athletics competitive perspective

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Ten years ago, Facebook was launched as a social network site open only to students at Harvard. Today, it has more than 1,230,000,000 active members in countries spanning the globe.

 Ten years ago, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel was $1.90 (per AAA). Today, that cost has increased to $3.66.

Ten years ago, Lance Armstrong won his sixth Tour de France race. Today, his accomplishments are viewed with skepticism.

Ten years ago, Iowa State finished last in the Big 12 All-sports standings. This year, the Cyclones climbed to an all-time record fifth place.

ISU sponsored 18 sports in 2003-04 and it still does today. Fifteen of those programs had the same or a better league finish this season than they did a decade ago.

Here is a comparison of ISU’s conference standing then (10 years ago) and now (this year):

  • Men’s Basketball – 8th then, 3rd now
  • Women’s Basketball – 7th then, 5th now
  • Men’s Cross Country – 11th then, 2nd now
  • Women’s Cross Country – 11th then, 1st now
  • Football – 12th then, 7th now
  • Men’s Golf – 8th then, 4th now
  • Women’s Golf – 11th then, 4th now
  • Gymnastics – 2nd then, 2nd now
  • Men’s Indoor Track & Field – 10th then, 6th now
  • Women’s Indoor Track & Field – 10th then, 4th now
  • Men’s Outdoor Track & Field – 7th then, 9th now
  • Women’s Outdoor Track & Field – 11th then, 6th now
  • Soccer – 9th then, 4th now
  • Softball – 9th then, 7th now
  • Swimming & Diving – 5th then, 3rd now
  • Tennis – 12th then, 9th now
  • Volleyball – 8th then, 3rd now
  • Wrestling – 3rd then, 3rd now

Change can be good.

In the case of ISU Athletics, the last decade has been one of continued improvement.

Half of ISU’s teams were Top 25 this year (a decade ago, only two)

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People love to rank things.

Where are the best places to live or eat? What is your favorite team? Who are you preferred music groups or entertainers?

In college sports, the focus revolves around the Top 25. With that as the foundation, how did Iowa State Athletics fair in the 2013-14 athletics season?

Half (9-of-18) of the Cyclone teams registered Top 25 finishes in their final polls or in their national championship competitions.

Here is the full list:

  • Cross Country (women’s): 7th in the final USTFCCA poll;
  • Basketball (men’s): 9th in the final Associated Press poll;
  • Wrestling: 12th at the 2014 NCAA Championship;
  • Outdoor Track & Field (women’s): 15th at the 2014 NCAA Championship;
  • Indoor Track & Field (women’s): 20th in the final USTFCCA poll;
  • Gymnastics: 21st in the final GymInfo poll;
  • Golf (women’s): 23rd at the 2014 NCAA Championship;
  • Indoor Track & Field (men’s): 23rd in the final USTFCCA poll;
  • Golf (men’s): 25th at the NCAA Championship;

The volleyball (27th in the final AVCA poll) and men’s cross country (32nd in their final poll) teams just missed the Top 25 cutoff.

Consider this for perspective… one decade ago (2003-04), gymnastics and wrestling were the only Top 25 programs at Iowa State.

It’s been a good 10 years of progress.

What will it look like in another quarter century?

The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) claims to be the oldest collegiate athletics conference in the nation. It began play in 1888.

Today, the NCAA Division III league features nine schools today, including seven from Michigan. The non-Michigan schools are St. Mary’s and Trine, which joined the conference more than 100 years after its founding. It was definitely Michigan-centric at the start.

But, it’s a new day with conference affiliations as memberships cross state borders more than ever before. The days of seven schools in Michigan joining hands are long gone.

There are positives (“bigger geographical foot print” touted by some) and negatives (loss of “traditional” rivalries and/or forced creation of “new” rivalries) as conference borders expand.

The point of this blog isn’t to suggest that one model is better than the other, but rather it’s a refresher on what “was” and what “is” from a conference alignment standpoint.

Twenty-five years ago (1989), there were nine leagues playing big-school college football. Geography was a key factor in aligning the schools.

Most interestingly, 25 schools were football independents in ‘89. That list included Miami, Florida State, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, West Virginia, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Louisville, Rutgers and Boston College among others. This fall, there will be six independents in Division 1A.

The number of states represented in each league has mushroomed in the last quarter century.

1989

Atlantic Coast Conference: schools from 5 different states

Big 8 / Southwest Conferences: schools from 8 different states (6 in the Big 8 and 2 in the SWC)

Big Ten Conference: schools from 7 different states

Pac-10 Conference: schools from 4 different states

Southeastern Conference: schools from 7 different states

This fall

ACC: 9 states represented; Big 12: 5 states; Big Ten: 11 states; Pac-12: 6 states; and SEC: 11 states

The ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC have all added representation from new states in the last 25 years. The Big 12 today has fewer states in its membership than what the Big 8 / SWC had a quarter century ago.

Is bigger (as in “footprint”) better? It is a personal preference. The real question is, what will things look like 25 years from now?

Several linemen distinguishing themselves in the engineering lab

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Iowa State boasts one of the nation’s best engineering colleges. It offers 12 different majors and five minors to more than 7,000 undergraduate engineering students at ISU.

The Cyclones’ undergraduate engineering program ranked 20th–best among public universities according to the 2013 U.S. News & World Report “America’s Best Colleges” rankings. The program’s job placement rate (six months after graduation) is a staggering 95%.

 A number of current and recent Cyclone football players decided to take advantage of that academic discipline’s significant reputation.

Three offensive linemen headline a pack of aspiring engineers, who double as Cyclone football players.

  • Daniel Burton (who started 8 games as a freshman) is majoring in mechanical engineering and earned Academic All-Big 12 distinction last fall;
  • Jake Campos (a highly touted freshman redshirt) is majoring in biological systems engineering; and
  • Kyle Lichtenberg (a 19-game starter as a Cyclone) is finishing up his degree in electrical engineering after earning Academic All-Big 12 honors three times.

Current Cyclones Ben Boesen (TE, construction), Robby Garcia (DL, civil), Ryan Glenn (OL, construction), Mitchell Harger (OL, aero), Brandon Harbach (RB, civil), Josh Jahlas (DB, civil) and Jared Weaver (LB, aero) are also engineering students.

There is a good partnership brewing between the football players and the engineers. In multiple cases, they are one in the same.