I'm a native of Maplewood, Minnesota, a suburb of St. Paul. It was there that I was inflicted with the curse of being a Minnesota Vikings fan. There is still no known cure, though many times I wish there was. I'm also an avid follower of the Minnesota Twins and of course, the Iowa State Cyclones.
The Des Moines Register’s Andrew Logue had an interesting conversation with former ISU athletic director Gene Smith. (http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20130515/SPORTS0206/130515017/1094/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+cyclones+%28Iowa+State+Cyclones+sports+-+DesMoinesRegister.com%29&gcheck=1)
Smith, now the AD at Ohio State spent a little time contrasting the two athletic departments, their budgets and their expectations. That last part is what intrigues me. Smith points out that expectations at Ohio State are to compete for a national title while at ISU, he thought the ceiling was an eight-win season for the football team. My first thought is that today, expectations seem a bit higher, but the I thought, well, people love Paul Rhoads to death and he hasn’t won more than six games in a season, and it took a couple miracles to even get there. That shows how bad things got for Cyclones fans during the Chizik ere, I guess. More importantly, though, the question remains: What are reasonable expectations for ISU athletic programs? Is six wins and a bowl appearance enough to keep football fans coming back? So far, the answer is yes, since season ticket sales are poised to reach another record high. The excitement for Rhoads, however, could start to wane if 6-6 continues to be the best his squad can do. Or did ISU fans learn their lesson, after Dan McCarney raised the bar, then dropped below it. The Cyclone faithful may realize that sometimes the mediocre results you know are better than gambling on something better, and falling flat on your face. Coach Rhoads, for his part, talks about building a championship program at ISU, an admirable goal for any coach. Can he get there? He’ll certainly have a better opportunity than anyone at ISU has ever had, what with the new facilities at his disposal. On the other hand, the Big 12 seems more competitive than ever, making it a tough hill to climb. It seems no matter how you slice it, no matter how many shiny new practice facilities you build, bringing the ISU football program to prominence is no easy task. Whether ISU fans stick behind Rhoads could become a matter of meeting expectations, if they could just get together and decide what those are.